Fantasy Friday – Prince Caspian

Well, I finally saw it—Prince Caspian, the movie based on C.S. Lewis’s second book in the Narnia series. By now, I’m guessing most of my visitors have seen it as well, and some of you, twice.

I purposefully stayed away from most reviews because I wanted to see the movie without a host of expectations, but it’s hard to flit around the blogosphere and not pick up on the tenor of the discussion. From what I’ve seen, there is hardly agreement.

Some reviewers were nearly irate over how the movie ruined the story. Others thought this movie was a huge improvement over The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Some accused the film makers of purposefully filtering out the Christian symbolism.

Here’s a sample, this from Sebring Cinema and Sports:

Where Adamson falls short is in his development of the characters and Lewis’s emphasis on innoncence and faith as the elements that propel the children’s relationship to Aslan and the magic of Narnia. He fumbles with it, and he loses us a bit when he raises the question of why Aslan does not save Narnia the same way he did before. It is, primarily, the erosion of innocent, childlike faith that begins to separate the older children from the younger – the pure faith by which we follow God when he calls whether or not anyone else does. It is a lesson we all need to learn or to be reminded of, and one that Adamson serves up halfheartedly.

On the other hand, Andrew Adamson himself says in an interview with Indielondon:

Andrew Adamson: I think CS Lewis would have hated the term allegory. He never intended the book to be allegorical. Certainly, he wrote from his own beliefs and he was a Christian. But he never intended it to be a direct allegory. And I didn’t steer clear of anything [any religious allegory]. I think everything that’s in the book thematically is in the movie. I just think it’s up to people to interpret it however they want – and that’ll be differently for people in different countries, from different cultures and different generations. You know, I read the book when I was eight-years-old and I didn’t know what allegory meant. I just thought it was a great adventure. Obviously, I look at it now and I get much more of the mythology and the other things that are going on and, as a filmmaker, you want to tap into all of those. But I think the movies are really reflective of what the books are.

(emphasis mine)

And in the same interview, he said, after re-reading the book once the movie was made:

I felt like I was reading the same story, just told differently …

My take? I loved the movie. It was the same story and different, by the very fact that it was a movie, not a book.

There were some changes, but certainly not as many as The Lord of the Rings movies made. There were some hints at key themes rather than full development. So be it. I was more pleasantly surprised that the themes were there at all. The bit I’d read ahead of time implied the movie was stripped of these thematic elements.

Cinematically, it was excellent—well-acted, great scenery, fast-paced, entertaining, up-lifting, without holes in the plot, funny, touching, special effects were special and not distracting, believable battle scenes, and on and on. It was really, really well done.

Most of all, however, I came away wanting to re-read the book. Now that’s probably the best part of seeing a movie, don’t you think? 😉

4 Comments

  1. I’m glad you saw it. I loved the movie also.

    At the same time I didn’t like thinking of it as Prince Caspian. The differences did bother me. I felt the filmmakers were unfair to Peter. He was always, in my mind, noble and good. Not perfect, but good. In the movie, he was not likable from beginning to end, I thought, and that was unfortunate.

    It worked as a plot device, but it hurts when they mess with a well-loved character like that.

    Still, the movie was way better than LWW. It was exciting and well done and there were lots of good lessons wrapped into a very enjoyable story.

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  2. I thought it was a great movie, but I have to admit I still like what Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings movies better. I know this is going to sound like heresy (especially from a writer), but I actually thought Peter Jackson improved the books. To me, the books become way too descriptive, to the point that the storytelling suffered.

    Lewis, on the other hand, wrote for a younger audience. His world, while serious and full of danger, is also more innocent in a way. I think some of that, when translated to the screen, doesn’t come off as well as it does in the books.

    Still really enjoyed the movie, but I remember liking the books a little better. How often can you go to the theater these days and see redeeming films?

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  3. I went in knowing the movie had a lot of changes, but all the same noticing the differences kept me from fully enjoying the movie the first time I saw it. So I went again! One of the things I liked was the way little bits from the book were put in – from Pattertwig to DLF to the Bulgy Bear sucking his paws. Watching an extra scene between Caspian and Doctor Cornelius (from the video game, on youtube) made up for not seeing much of their relationship in the movie. I did miss Caspian’s nurse, though.

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  4. I know the difference between books and movies used to really bug me, but not so much of late. Not because the screenwriters are doing a better job of it either, I don’t think. Somewhere along the line I think my expectations changed. I’m not really looking for the exact same product, I don’t think. I’m looking for a story that’s much the same but not the way I pictured it. Sorry, but no matter how good the movie, it can’t improve on the imagination, in my opinion.

    Sally, J, Katie, thanks for giving me your feedback. I enjoy seeing how other people reacted.

    I don’t know if you all are up on the controversy between Focus on the Family’s Ted Slater and Christianity Today over the latter’s review of Sex and the City. While one reviewer covered that movie and a different individual wrote about Prince Caspian I do find, along with Slater, that it’s ironic CT reviewers rated SatC as a 3 1/2 star movie, while PC was only 2 1/2. Hmmmm. Perhaps their reviewers, if they are going to give that kind of a rating, need to be operating on one identifiable standard. Or drop the stars altogether.

    Becky

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