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Want a twisty-dark reinterpretation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Try She Loved Blossoms More

At Tribeca, filmmaker Yannis Veslemes asks, 'Who needs a White Witch when you’ve got a mother?' in She Loved Blossoms More

She Loved Blossoms More
Image credit: She Loved Blossoms More

The new film She Loved Blossoms More, which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, opens with a young man waking from sleep in an empty old-timey wardrobe. The chamber immediately conjures up the doorway to Narnia discovered by the children in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And that’s not a coincidence. Blossoms is filled with little hints and details that suggest filmmaker Yannis Veslemes is doing his own very dark twist on that beloved fable.

As in The Chronicles of Narnia, the young man we meet at the beginning and his two brothers — who have fairy taleseque names Hedgehog, Dummy, and Japan — intend to travel by way of their sci-fi souped-up wardrobe to another world. Having lost their mother in a car accident, they intend to perfect their father’s research on time travel to find a reality where she still exists so they can bring her home.

Spoilers ahead for She Loved Blossoms More.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has no such mission behind the Pevensie children’s journey to Narnia. They stumble into that world. And yet, it’s also true that in the story the four of them had been sent away from their home in London to protect them from the bombings of the London Blitz. In real life some such children would become orphans. And most if not all wished they could go home again, just as Hedgehog, Dummy, and Japan do living alone in their shambling mess of a home.

When the Pevensie children enter the wardrobe they find themselves in a world of talking animals trapped in the midst of a battle between the Christ-like father figure of Narnia Aslan and the White Witch, who keeps Narnia in a perpetual winter. Meanwhile in She Loved Blossoms More, Hedgehog finds himself trapped between the constant requests for updates from his father Logo, whose name in Greek is a Christian name for Jesus Christ; and his mother, who turns out to have been a cold, distant figure in life. The title of the film in fact comes from a journal entry written by Hedgehog that Japan discovers late in the movie — “She loved blossoms more than her kids.”

And in death their mother has taken on strange magical powers, talking to Hedgehog through a flower growing from her grave and somehow using Dummy’s drug dealer girlfriend Samantha — who herself seems very witch-y at times — to keep them all high and manipulate Hedgehog. “Samantha” in Greek also means “flower” or “blossom,” suggesting that perhaps Samantha is really just a magical extension of their mother’s will. The fact that halfway through the the film she is transformed into a creepy three-eyed oracle who exists somehow in both worlds (below) only further underlines their connection.

The Lion, the Witch, the Wardrobe ends with the children defeating the White Witch and ascending to the thrones of Narnia, where they serve for decades without ever returning to the parents they abandoned. It’s a strange and disconcerting choice on the part of Lewis, and one that calls into question their whole experience there, including Aslan’s intentions.

Veslemes plays upon that idea, as well: At the end of the film, Hedgehog is able to pass through the suddenly-expanding wardrobe — which we learn was in fact their mother’s — to the alternate universe they’ve been seeking. There Hedgehog meets first his father, who has a papier-mâché head that makes him look like something out of a children’s story (and apparently was dead the whole time); and his mother, who once free of her grave stares at Hedgehog and screams, her eyes glowing. Both very clearly have evil intentions—his father to lure them all into this empty world so they could be together forever; his mother to be free.

Realizing that everything they believed is wrong, Hedgehog calls the real world where his brothers (and also somehow he himself) are watching television. Telling them their experiment is finally over, he breaks the hold of that place and his parents over them once and for all.

For C.S. Lewis, fairy tales were a way of teaching important social and religious lessons. But in She Loved Blossoms More, Veslemes underlines the danger of that way of thinking. Our parents are not gods, not every rescue is necessary or right, and if you’re not careful fairy tales will destroy you.

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