For the most part the filmmakers remained true to the book. The things they did change added to the dramatic tension.
- Edmund endangers other members of his family by running back into his house to grab a picture of his father while the family is fleeing from the London blitz.
- Peter needles Edmund several times (“grow up,” “do what you’re told,” makes him wear a girl’s fur coat, etc.) early on, which makes the White Witch’s seduction of Edmund more plausible.
- Mr. Tumnus apparently drugs Lucy with some tainted tea and puts her to sleep with his pan pipes in creepy scene which must’ve made every parent in the audience who didn’t know the plot start thinking, “Oh my God -- pedophile.”
- Father Christmas gives Lucy and Susan weapons (a dagger and bow and arrows, respectively) in addition to the gifts they were given in the book. This is interesting since in the book the girls are specifically told not to fight because “when women get involved in war, it’s nasty.” Like war isn’t nasty to begin with. Duh.
- Aslan’s sacrifice was muted so much, the kids in the audience weren’t the least bit upset. That was a problem, I think. Either the kids didn’t buy that he was dead, or they didn’t relate to him as the loving savior that he is supposed to be. In contrast, the kids were much more upset when the witch clubbed the chained up faun Tumnus in the head in one scene. Perhaps they could relate to the faun more because he was frail and looked more human?
- In the book the only ones who know of Aslan’s death are the two girls. In the movie, the girls send word of Aslan’s death to their brothers and the army of good creatures, so they go into battle thinking they’re going to lose, which is good tension.
- The children’s personalities are more well defined in the movie, except, perhaps, for Peter, who is generically good, but not annoyingly so. Susan tries very hard to be logical, which is something all women are accused if not being. It’s hinted that Edmund may have a closer relationship than the other siblings with their absent father who is off fighting WWII, so he’s the one who’s lost his support system. Lucy is babyish and sensitive, and apparently incapable of holding a grudge.
- Susan is the only character besides the witch who straight up kills somebody. Although Peter does kill the wolf Maugrim who is menacing his sisters, it was essentially an accident since the wolf leapt on his sword. Susan on the other hand dismissively shoots the witch’s dwarf henchman in the heart when he tries to attack Edmund at the end of the movie. The kids in the audience liked that.
I’d say they’re off to a good start with the series. They could’ve made the witch scarier, but the movie was satisfactory.
Six more books to go.