Movie Reviews

MOVIE REVIEW: C.S. Lewis onstage: the most reluctant convert

Biographical drama
76 minutes / 2018
RATING: 7/10

Imagine having the opportunity to go back in time and visit with C.S. Lewis, and not just at the local Eagle and Child Pub, but in his home, the Kilns, sitting across from him amongst his books and papers as he pulled on his pipe and shared thoughts from his latest literary efforts.

If that idea excites you, then you are in for such a treat! Max McLean’s one-man theatre production, C.S. Lewis Onstage is still touring across North America, but a filmed version is available on DVD and can be streamed on Amazon.com (Americans with Prime can watch it for free here). Mclean is Lewis, and we are his guests as Lewis recounts the story of his conversion. He shares how he rejected God as a school boy, and grew more adamant as a young man. He voices the atheistic arguments he relied on – arguments that are still in use today. But, as Lewis explains to us, if one wishes to remain an atheist, you can never be too careful about your reading. God used the talents of a diverse cast of writers to bring this prodigal back, from George MacDonald to G.K. Chesterton, and Tolkien too. Lewis explains how he was drawn back in stages, and only bent his knee because he couldn’t do anything else. His was a grudging bow; he was “the most reluctant convert.”

I absolutely love this film, but I can also see how this would be dreadfully dull for anyone who isn’t already a fan of Lewis’ non-fiction. It is, after all, just a man talking and talking and talking. I should also admit that as much as I enjoyed this, I also fell asleep several times as I made my way through it. That was due in part to the complete lack of action (no explosions here to wake me back up again), to the charming but decidedly calm manner of the man himself, and due also to the demand the film put on my brain – it requires complete attentiveness or else you just won’t follow the train of thought Lewis is laying out.

However, even if it did get me nodding, each time I started watching again I rewound to long before I winked out. I wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed a bit of it. This really is something to savor…even if that savoring should be done in chunks, spread out over a few nights.

As to cautions, I can’t think of any. Lewis was no 5-point Calvinist, but his conversion story makes him sound almost like one: the account he shares is of God grabbing hold of him. Lewis takes no credit for it himself.

So, who’d love this? Well, if you don’t already know Lewis, this is not a good way to first get introduced – it’d be overwhelming, which might well make it seem boring.

But for anyone who wishes they’d had the chance to meet Lewis, well, this is the next best thing!


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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jason

    September 24, 2019 at 9:57 am

    I will check this out if it can be bought in the uk.

    I’m no Calvinist either but surely our responding to the gospel by the grace of his spirit nudging us is true wherever you stand on this?

    • Reformed Perspective

      September 24, 2019 at 10:04 am

      I guess what struck me is that Lewis’ description of his conversion is that of someone who didn’t want it. My Arminian friends have sometimes spoken of God being a gentleman who would never force Himself on anyone. Well, as we know, God describes Himself as a father, and in my fatherly role I very often say, “Not your will little one, but my will be done” and no matter what direction they wanted to go, I turn them right around to the direction they need to go. That’s what a loving father may well do. And that’s was very much the impression I got of Lewis’s experience – God grabbed hold of him, and Lewis had no choice but to say yes – God as a loving Father.

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