In anticipation of the release of Prince Caspian I’m spending all week talking about Narnia on my own blog, Reading to Know. Pop on over and check out the book reviews and Narnia teaching tools that I’m highlighting this week! I am also reviewing the first movie in this series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, at Reading to Know.
This is the second movie that Disney is producing based on Lewis’ classic children’s series. Like the first movie, Hollywood has taken liberties in the storytelling in an attempt to capture and hold the attention of the modern cinema going audience. I know Hollywood does this and it’s probably something I’ll never get used to. In my (ever so humble) opinion, if a book is well-loved enough to even bother making a movie out of it, the need to change the story line to “be more appealing” is relatively non-existent. I don’t always mind it when the screen play adapts the book to make the story more understandable on screen. However, I do take issue when Hollywood goes so far as to change the story because they think by changing it it will become more palatable.
As a movie, Prince Caspian has it all: adventure, fairy tales, battle scenes and even a budding romance between Queen Susan and Prince Caspian. This movie keeps you on the edge of your seat and awakens the hidden depths of imagination in your heart and mind. It can move you to tears if you let it. I love this movie as a movie. It is entertaining and very well-done. As for the character of Prince Caspian, I mentioned in my book review of the same title that I didn’t like Caspian because being raised as a Prince seem to have made him incapable of functioning on his own in the real world. He’s a week character as an individual but in the book he draws his strength from other characters, making him palatable in the end.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, check out this synopsis of it. In the book it is noted that he blows Queen Susan’s ancient magical horn which calls the old kings and queens out of Narnia and accepts their help with grace, gratitude and dignity. In the movie Caspian blows the horn not aware of the power of possibilities in a “little toot” and then is constantly competing with High King Peter for control of the Narnian army. The movie is little more than two alpha males struggling to beat out the other in obtaining the faith of the people, as well as power of the throne. Lewis was very clear in stating in the book that no such animosity existed between the two young men and so that is bothersome to me in the movie.
Susan is also a bother in the movie. Lewis was notably again women engaging in battle but this movie totally disregards Lewis’ opinion on the subject matter. Whatever your thoughts on the subject matter, Lewis had his own. To take his character, who is a model of strength and virtue in and of herself and who rises to every challenging situation with female fierceness (all in a good way!) and turn her into the next Keira Knightly in King Arthur is kinda insulting. Why did they have to do it? Susan is known in the books for her excellent skills as an archer. She defends Narnia by bow and arrow whenever called upon to do so. She is brave in the books. I think the movie did overkill on her character in a way that is anti-Lewis. It could have been handled well, but I don’t think it was. And there simply is not enough time to argue why the flirting between Prince Caspian and Queen Susan, with the resulting kiss, was entirely inappropriate.
The good thing about this movie is that it highlights Lucy’s relationship with Aslan quite well. It is Lucy who has her eyes always opened for Aslan. She seeks him out because she loves him and deeply desires to follow after him. That relationship is not lost in translation from book to screen.
Despite changes between the book and the film I still have to settle on the opinion that the movies are more helpful than hurtful to this series. They are well made, which is a plus. The actors and actresses seem to take their roles seriously. Sometimes even the way that they are standing communicates the spirit of the character being depicted and that alone can speak volumes over the lines that do and do not exist in the book. I’m ultimate feeling generous towards the film and pardon the changes made because the overriding spirit of the book exists in the film.
They are already planning on making a third movie in this series based on the third book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It’ll be interesting to see how they pull that one off as there are some unbelievable adventures included in this particular book. If you haven’t read it – you’ll want to do so before the film comes out! In the meantime, polish up on both the films and the books! You really can’t have one without the other.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.