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New C. S. Lewis film “The Most Reluctant Convert” is an inspiring account of a legendary story

Mark Legg is a staff writer for Denison Forum. He graduated from Dallas Baptist University with a degree in philosophy and biblical studies. He eventually wants to pursue his PhD and become a professor in philosophy.

C.S. Lewis (Max McLean) reflects on his spiritual journey in The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis. Courtesy CSLewisMovie.com
C.S. Lewis (Max McLean) reflects on his spiritual journey in "The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis." Courtesy CSLewisMovie.com

The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C. S. Lewis debuts in theaters on November 3 and brings the viewer into C. S. Lewis’ shoes, from his childhood to when his life begins anew as a full-fledged follower of Jesus. 

The short movie is based on the successful stage production by the same name, which heavily draws from C. S. Lewis’ own account in his book Surprised by Joy, sometimes using direct quotes. 

The biopic account is narrated by an older “Jack” Lewis who journeys with you, the viewer, through his life. Jack is played by acclaimed narrator and stage performer Max McLean, known for his solo stage shows based on Lewis’ books The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce.

The film also stars Nicholas Ralph as the younger Lewis and Eddie Ray Martin as Lewis as a child. The Most Reluctant Convert is directed by Norman Stone, who may be best known as the director of another film about C. S. Lewis, Shadowlands. 

Witness real-world sets

I’ve personally had the pleasure of going to Oxford and Cambridge, Lewis’ grave, the Kilns (his home later in his life), the Eagle and Child (a pub frequented by Lewis and Tolkien), and studying the legendary man. The movie uses all of these real-world sites as sets, bringing a unique realism to the story. 

Though the storytelling certainly delivers, the constant narration gives the impression of a documentary, and one should set their expectations appropriately. The film uses simplistic and beautiful cinematography as the camera follows the older Lewis through the critical events of his life.

Lewis’ reluctant conversion 

From bookish boy to young professor, Lewis’ spiritual journey moves from indifferent child to rationalistic teen and atheist, to a dabbler in the occult, to a weakened atheist, to a believer in the transcendent, to aloof theist, and, finally, to reluctant Christian. In each step in the process toward Christ, Lewis dragged his feet, putting up his best fight against God’s draw on his life. 

At the beginning, we hear a tirade from the old Lewis explaining what he would have said if you’d asked him “why he was an atheist” all those years ago. His beginning monologue tears down Christianity, posing the problem of evil with rational and rhetorical force. From the beginning, the viewer knows it would take God himself to move a man like this away from his atheism, and that is precisely what happened. 

Avid Lewis fans will enjoy how the movie fills between the lines of Surprised by Joy. People who have only heard of the Chronicles of Narnia will get an introduction to one of the most brilliant minds and greatest communicators of the twentieth century and his reluctant conversion to Christianity.

How to watch The Most Reluctant Convert 

The movie debuts on November 3 and has a short run through November 7. To see if the film is playing at a theater near you, visit CSLewisMovie.com

The filmmakers’ commitment to showing Lewis’ Christian story is apparent in their website, which includes a workbook that your small group or family can use to discuss the biblical truths in his story.