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The Screwtape Letters: First Ever Full-cast Dramatization of the…

von Paul McCusker

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In his enduringly popular masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis re-imagines Hell as a gruesome bureaucracy. With spiritual insight and wry wit, Lewis suggests that demons, laboring in a vast enterprise, have horribly recognizable human attributes: competition, greed, and totalitarian punishment. Avoiding their own painful torture as well as a desire to dominate are what drive demons to torment their "patients." The style and unique dark humor of The Screwtape Letters are retained in this full-cast dramatization, as is the original setting of London during World War II. The story is carried by the worldly-wise senior demon Screwtape played magnificently by award-winning actor Andy Serkis ("Gollum" in Lord of the Rings) as he shares correspondence to his nephew Wormwood, apprentice demon, in charge of securing damnation of an ordinary young man. All 31 letters lead into dramatic scenes, set in either Hell or the real world with humans, aka "the patient," as the demons say, along with his circle of friends and family.… (mehr)
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Smart and funny, this book lets you in on the devil's schemes. ( )
  CCUMCLendingLibrary | Feb 9, 2019 |
I love dramatizations of beloved books, and this one did not disappoint. The voice actors are talented, and imbued C.S. Lewis's words with a great deal of immediacy. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
I think that Andy Serkis is a god among men -- or at least a very excellent devil!

I've read the book before -- it's entertaining, but I thought this dramatization was wonderful. Definitely worth a listen. I'd recommend it to anybody at all susceptible to Lewis's writing who likes audiobooks. It's completely enjoyable!

A caveat -- the last disc ends with several (about a dozen) original songs inspired by Screwtape, and probably not all of them will be to everybody's taste. I myself liked a couple of them, but not all of them. However, they are all very well performed, in their various styles.

Get it and listen to it! It's fun -- Andy Serkis is amazing. ( )
  deirdrea | Apr 4, 2013 |
In this audio dramatization of C. S. Lewis' quirky classic, The Screwtape Letters, Andy Serkis — also known as Gollum — stars as the delightfully villainous Uncle Screwtape. In this story, Lewis sets up a whole world seen from the perspective of demons, fallen angels who go out into the world to tempt humans to eternal damnation. Apparently Hell is something of a bureaucracy. (Who would have thought?) The Screwtape Letters is a classic example of what Lewis called "teaching in reverse," that is, explaining a concept from the opposite side. It's a idea that is both brilliant in its simplicity and highly effective.

The book is full of sly humor. Part of the humor comes from the constant inversions; everything is upside-down. Satan is known as Our Father Below, God is "the Enemy," and the humans being tempted are "patients" — which, of course, is entirely backwards since the demons are trying to make the patient worse, not better. It's also quite funny to watch Screwtape rip into his nephew for his unceasing stupidity, and then to see Wormwood try to bring a heresy case against his uncle (for appearing to believe that the Enemy actually does love the human vermin). All the little nastinesses of politics and interdepartmental feuding and jealousies are explored in a demonic context, and the result is highly entertaining.

But the humor is just the spice on the meat. There's just so much here, so many ideas and observations that are alarmingly spot-on. I don't want to even attempt to outline all the insightful comments Lewis makes on the human condition; besides my inability to do so, such an attempt might even go against Lewis' intent in writing the book. Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham talks about how Lewis politely refused the request of someone who wished to create an index of topics covered by The Screwtape Letters. Lewis' reasoning was that the whole game would be given away if the theology and philosophy in this story were codified and labeled as such. Placing these spiritual truths in such a fun fictional frame ensures that the book will always be read and enjoyed, simply because of its entertainment value. Lewis always finds a way to get past watchful dragons.

Of course, the construct of the story isn't a guide for sound theology. Hell is not a place where demons torture souls; it is a place originally created for the punishment of demons and they are hardly the ones going around making everyone miserable. Also implicit in the story is the idea that demons actually can cause a Christian to lose his salvation. This is false; a Christian can be tempted by demonic forces (look at Christ) but Christians are eternally secure in Christ and are kept by Him, not by their own efforts. Of course, Lewis wriggles out of these difficulties most amusingly by disclaiming, in his foreword, that demons can't be trusted and no doubt misrepresent a great many truths in the correspondence to follow.

I very much enjoyed hearing the story as a radio drama. Serkis carries the part brilliantly, from the opening scenes right to the (to me) heartstoppingly beautiful denouément describing what happens when a mortal dies and the veils of illusion and unreality are stripped from his eyes. Lewis' words in that section in particular resonate powerfully with me, not just because of his eloquence but because of the truths he is expressing.

Given all this wonderfulness, the "inspired by" (or should I say, "incited by") songs on the last disc — included as a bonus feature — are a big disappointment. A more artistically and theologically banal collection of music can hardly be imagined. The melodies are weak and boring, with nothing original or memorable about them. The lyrics, when not steeped in bad theology, are simply inane. In one song, the singer claims that the demon on his shoulder controls him, thereby removing all personal responsibility for his own sin. (Actually, the shoulder-demon control thing might be true, at least while he was writing the song.) I couldn't even listen to the songs all the way through and kept skipping to the next track, hoping it would be better than the last. Do yourself a favor and don't bother with any of the songs; they're dreadful. Another bonus feature included in this audiobook is a making-of DVD (which I have not viewed).

With the exception of the songs on the last disc, this is a very well-made production that I will certainly revisit. This fresh new twist on Lewis' diabolical classic is sure to entertain — and enlighten — many listeners, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I recommend it as an imaginative excursion into the landscape of temptation and the human heart. ( )
4 abstimmen atimco | Jul 3, 2010 |
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This LT work is for a radio dramatization. Please do not combine this work with Lewis' original, The Screwtape Letters or other variants. Thank you.
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In his enduringly popular masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis re-imagines Hell as a gruesome bureaucracy. With spiritual insight and wry wit, Lewis suggests that demons, laboring in a vast enterprise, have horribly recognizable human attributes: competition, greed, and totalitarian punishment. Avoiding their own painful torture as well as a desire to dominate are what drive demons to torment their "patients." The style and unique dark humor of The Screwtape Letters are retained in this full-cast dramatization, as is the original setting of London during World War II. The story is carried by the worldly-wise senior demon Screwtape played magnificently by award-winning actor Andy Serkis ("Gollum" in Lord of the Rings) as he shares correspondence to his nephew Wormwood, apprentice demon, in charge of securing damnation of an ordinary young man. All 31 letters lead into dramatic scenes, set in either Hell or the real world with humans, aka "the patient," as the demons say, along with his circle of friends and family.

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