The Narnia Code

Reviews of The Narnia Code, originally broadcast on BBC1, and now available on DVD


"Norman Stone's engrossing documentary explores the theory that C.S. Lewis based The Chronicles of Narnia on medieval cosmology, with each book corresponding to a planet.  The brainchild of the former chaplain of Peterhouse, Dr Michael Ward, it is a persuasive argument for the series' "hidden third layer", with explanations delivered here with verve, acuity and self-deprecation.  Comprised largely of erudite talking heads and superior reconstructions, it is a winningly old fashioned slice of film-making" - Helen Stewart, The Sunday Times


"I was particularly gripped by The Narnia Code" - A.A. Gill, The Sunday Times


"The Chronicles of Narnia: anthropomorphic guff or masterpiece of literary concealment? . . . Focussing on the generally accepted theories of one Michael Ward - a self-effacing Cambridge brainiac who posits that each of C.S. Lewis's seven books corresponds with one of the planets - the film's delivery may be a little bicycle clips-and-brilliantine for some, but its staid exterior belies a thoroughly involving take on one of literature's most enduring conundrums" - Sarah Dempster, The Guardian


"Hold the front page: the puzzle of the Chronicles of Narnia series of children's fables by C.S. Lewis has been solved!  Many have previously looked to these books for hidden meanings - the seven deadly sins, the seven sacraments - but not until now has the so called 'Narnia Code' been unlocked" - Stephen Mulkearn, Metro


"An exciting piece of literary detective work" - Ben Felsenburg, London Lite


"Did C.S. Lewis's beloved Narnia Chronicles contain a secret code hidden within the text and the fantastic storytelling of magical creatures and far-off lands?  That is the question being asked by investigator Dr Michael Ward who presents his findings in this fascinating dramatization" - Brian McIver, Daily Record


Bloggers' Responses to The Narnia Code

"Every now and then, I come across something that wakes up a part of me that's gone to sleep.  Today was one such moment.  I'd stumbled across The Narnia Code, a BBC documentary about Michael Ward, who'd made what would probably be termed as one of the most fascinating literary discoveries in recent history . . . " - read more from La Petite Moi at Detail Orientation

"A genuinely wonderful programme," - David Couchman at Challenging Times

"Last night, I watched a BBC special on The Narnia Code.  It was revelatory in a most unexpected way . . . " - read more from Ian at Grace and Gravitas

"I was fascinated by the programme, The Narnia Code.  I think it raises lots of interesting philosophical questions at the end but primarily it's something that all C.S.  Lewis fans should watch," - Paul F. at Female First

"The Narnia Code, inspired by Michael Ward's book Planet Narnia, was broadcast on BBC1 last week. . . . The show brought back to me just how important a figure C.S. Lewis is. . . . The show started with a brief review of Lewis's life up until he began to write the Narnia chronicles.  It was illustrated by some poignant vignettes from his life such as the death of his mother, being tutored by the Great Knock and the Inklings arguing in the Eagle and Child pub.  These dramatic reconstructions worked extremely well and I could have happily sat through a much longer programme just telling the story of Lewis's life. . . . What of the Narnia code itself?  Ward's thesis is that each of the seven Narnia books is modelled on the attributes of one of the seven planets in the medieval universe. . . . The experts on the show disagreed about whether Ward's theory is right, but as I've said before I think it is plausible.  Like most medievalists, I learnt about the worldview of the Middle Ages at Lewis's feet, from reading The Discarded Image. . . . Michael Ward himself was also a good TV presenter (my wife was very impressed by his smile and manner).  Perhaps we will see some more of him in the future," - read more from James Hannam at Quodlibeta

"Just watched The Narnia Code on BBC1.  It's a fascinating look at the Narnia Chronicles . . . " - read more from Dave Bish at The Blue Fish Project

"[I]t was with a certain trepidation that I watched a BBC programme the other evening called The Narnia Code.  I was afraid it would irritate me not only by harping on about C.S. Lewis again but also by digging up conspiracy theories, Da Vinci Code style.  But I had to eat my words.  For once, TV delivered a programme that was theologically literate and thoroughly grownup," - read more from Marjorie Brown at St Mary's Primrose Hill

"[A]n excellent documentary . . . fascinating . . . wonderful," - Already Not Yet

"A very interesting programme shown on the BBC last night, especially if you're a fan of C.S. Lewis's Narnia series.  This programme explores the symbolism hidden in the Narnia books and discusses the relationship between faith and science.  Definitely worth a watch if you have some time," - Road To Joy

"When I first began to watch The Narnia Code last night (16 April) on BBC One I thought it was a joke. . . . In actual fact, a particularly interesting literary denouement was described and discussed.  The suggestion is that the Narnia Chronicles outline a theological astronomy, and Michael Ward (the man who ‘broke the code') was able to present his findings in a succinct and genuine way.  I must repent of my over-sensitivity and lack of faith in the BBC . . ." - read more from Nathan Morgan Locke at Christianity Explored

"I watched an excellent programme on BBC One last night, called The Narnia Code . . ." - read more from Ben Green

". . . Dr Michael Ward, in The Narnia Code, finds a further cosmic meaning to the books of C.S. Lewis.  I must admit that I was sceptical to begin with and thought that this could be a lot of nonsense (the sceptic in me!).  But, when I watched the programme on BBC iPlayer, I had that feeling that something has just quite easily 'slipped into place' and I believe he is right.  The programme was excellent . . ." - read more from Paul Sharkey's Days

"Hugely enjoyed watching The Narnia Code last night on BBC1 . . ." - read more from Michael Gilbart-Smith at Loving Church

"The Narnia Code is a fascinating story of the quest to discover a hidden layer of meaning behind C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles.  I found the argument presented very convincing and there is a wonderful elegance to Michael Ward's thesis that each of the Narnia books corresponds to one of the seven planets in medieval cosmology.  The documentary not only explores the thesis presented in Ward's book Planet Narnia, but gives a short and insightful biography of Lewis. One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary was the reminder of the breadth and depth of Lewis's interests and knowledge, as well as his extraordinary intellect.  I was left with the conviction that our lives are impoverished by an ignorance of the wide range of sources which informed Lewis's writings including the Bible and the Classics. . . . [T]his was very good TV and there was something very important identified in the reminder that the why of cosmology is as important as the how," - Philip Ritchie at Phil's Treehouse

"Anybody else catch this fascinating documentary on C.S. Lewis and the writing of The Chronicles of Narnia?  I started off watching this thing thinking it was a late April Fool, but I really got into it.  I just wish I'd recorded it," - J. Mark Oates at DVD Reviewer

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