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When the first instalment of the film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, was released in cinemas three years ago, the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee went into a virtual tailspin of indignation. Narnia, she wrote, and the series of adventures of a group of wartime schoolchildren who magically gained entry to this enchanted kingdom, represented everything that was most hateful about religion. While admitting that the Christian allegories so ­reviled by Philip Pullman and all right-­thinking people everywhere would probably go over the heads of most children, adults, who “wince at the worst elements of Christian belief, may need a sick-bag handy for the most religiose scenes”.

Really, Polly? Everything that’s most hateful? She should get out more. How about ­witnessing the execution of a gay Iranian, or the decapitation of a filmmaker in broad daylight in a busy Amsterdam street? She’d need an awful lot of sick-bags for that.

Maybe she just has a weak stomach. It couldn’t have helped too that the movie, along with the just-released second in the series, Prince Caspian, and the five future instalments, are the work of Disney, who of course, in the Guardianista universe, officially handle public relations for the Great Satan. But Polly and her friends shouldn’t get too worried — the allegorical subtext in Prince Caspian remains very sub indeed, and far from being a synthetic Hollywood adventure-fest, the tone is surprisingly English.

Lewis himself dismissed much of the analysis of those who saw something intentional and insidious behind the adventures of the Pevensie children as “pure moonshine”. “I couldn’t write in that way,” he said in Of Other Worlds, his collection of essays and stories. “It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn’t anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.”

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