Saturday, May 24, 2008
Jenna turned fifteen on May 14th. Prince Caspian came out on May 16th. Ever since we knew the date for the opening, the plan was to see it as a birthday present for Jenna. She would also be allowed to bring or friend or two. Well, the Peter Pan production messed things up and we were not able to see it until today.
Just from the previews I could tell that there were going to be some changes that I may not like. I have read all seven books and then read them to my kids as well.
Just so you know, I am going to try not to spoil anything here, but please know that they did take a few liberties with the storyline. The one that bothered me the most was the dumbed down vocabulary and dialog. These kids were supposed to be from England in the 1940's. Their dialog sounded pretty similar to what I overhear kids sounding like at the mall. That may be an exaggeration, but the movie most certainly did not stay true to the richness of C.S. Lewis' lovely use of language. It is sad that in an attempt to "update" the story for modern audiences they have taken so much away. There is also a suggestion of attraction between Caspian and Lucy that you will not find suggested by CS Lewis himself. The original hero would have only been 13 at most. The actor who portrayed Caspian is actually 27. The other actors are 21, 19, 17, and 13. All much older than the literary characters. There are also multiple liberties taken with the plot and sequence, although the themes are kept intact. If you have not read the book, please do so before seeing the film. Do not let this film be your only acquaintance with Narnia. Hollywood's Narnia may be more glamorous, romantic, flashy, and action-packed, but the Narnia of CS Lewis has so much to give.
It reminds me of the comparison of the original tent of meeting and the temple of Solomon. The latter may have been more grand to look at, but it had lost some of it's original glory in the process. I have written more about this in a previous blog called Better is not Necessarily Better.
Feminism also rears it's not too pretty head in this film in an attempt to make girls feel in equality to their male sword-wielding counterparts. In the original stories, the girls were expressly forbidden to fight in any of the battles, but since we are now sending our young women to die on the battlefield in real life, this movie feels a need to reflect those ERA politics.
However, for all my criticism, I would still recommend this film. The characters still learn the fundamental biblical truths we find in Proverbs 14:12 "There is way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." and Psalm 127:1 which reads, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain."
All of the children except for Lucy want to do things their own way, and even Lucy afraid to stand on her own for what she knows is right follows along after them. In the aftermath are extreme consequences. This is a theme in the original story and the film has retained the heart of this same theme.
I am still looking forward to the film adaptations of the remaining books, albeit with some trepidation. Douglas Gresham was a co producer on this film. He is the stepson of CS Lewis himself and wields most of the power of the Lewis estate and copyrights. If he allowed the minor alterations in this film, how far will they take the alterations in the next film, and the next? One possible hope may lie in the choice of the director for the next film. Andrew Adamson, of Shrek fame, has been at the helm of these first two films. The next director is rumored to be Michael Apted, the same one who directed Amazing Grace, which is the true story of the man who almost singlehandedly helped to bring slavery to an end in England. Though I haven't seen that film, I have heard that it was very well done.
We have two to years to wait. The next installment is not slated for release until 2010.
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