Disney's high-profile Narnia film made its grand worldwide opening at Londons Royal Premiere Wednesday night, amid the debate over its religious theme.
The Royal Albert Hall was transformed into an ice palace especially for the event to match the theme of the childrens novel "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" written by the renowned British author C.S. Lewis.
Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, as well as the Duchess of Cornwall, were among the guests, alongside with other movie stars and celebrities.
The film recounts the classic tale of four siblings evacuated from London during World War II who discover the secret land through a wardrobe while playing hide-and-seek in a rambling country house. They enter the fantasy world of Narnia a snow-covered world of good and evil where mythical creatures and talking animals live.
Since the White Witch rules the world, there is no winter and no Christmas. Only the return of the lion Aslan who Christians consider as representing Jesus Christ can bring victory in the coming battle to win spring and freedom back to Narnia.
There has been a worldwide debate whether the book has a clear Biblical and Christian theme, or whether the theme in the book is just there coincidently.
Last week, unpublished letters from Lewis himself to a child have hinted the authors intention to convey the message of Jesus Christ through the lion Aslan.
The letter, which was made public by a literary advisor to the Lewis estate Walter Hooper, tells the child: "The whole Narnian story is about Christ."
Meanwhile, some others have sought to play down the spiritual aspects of the film. Many critics have come from the director of "Narnia" itself, Andrew Adamson from New Zealand.
Sources from New Zealand media quoted Adamson as stating before the premier "Yes, Lewis wrote from his own beliefs and I was aware of not damaging any theological implications (but) he didn't write it as a biblical allegory."
"I take a bit of an exception to that because it's a very limiting view - the story is much more imaginative than that," he added.
According to Reuters, Lewis once said that the idea for the Chronicles of Narnia began not with an intention to write Christian fables.
"At first there wasn't anything Christian about them. That element pushed itself in of its own accord," he wrote.
Lewis did have some masterpieces on Christian theme, such as "The Screwtape Letters," after he was converted to Christians in 1931 following a famous nighttime walk with fellow fantasy writer and Oxford don J.R.R. Tolkien.
The upcoming Narnia movie is set to be a blockbuster with an estimated production and marketing budget of $250 million. It is expected that six more films based on C.S. Lewis' seven-book series about "Narnia" will be adapted to the big screen.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe will come to theaters worldwide on Friday, Dec. 9.