16 May 2008

Prince Caspian

My family and I just returned from seeing the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, Prince Caspian. You can read the IMBD information and plot summary here. You can also see the trailer and other Narnia related stuff at the Disney site.

Prior to going to the theater, I decided to listen to the story again via my iPod, with thanks to the Focus on the Family audio CDs made a few years back. Having the original fresh in my mind, I can honestly say that the big screen version of C. S. Lewis' second installment in the Narnia tales is well made, a feast for the mind as well as the eyes, and quite faithful to the original.

No doubt some will decry the portions of creative license that the movie makers take, but let's remember that movies are a much different medium than written literature, and certain accommodations must needs be made. One such accommodation involves telling the back story of what happens to Narnia and its creatures during the 1300 year absence of the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve--a.k.a. the Pevensie children. While the book can legitimately tell of a dwarf relating the lion's share (no pun intended) of Narnia's subjection to the Telmarines in one sitting, that would make for some tedious film making and viewing. So the movie spreads out the details of the back story, but the effect is the same: we learn how Narnia falls almost to ruin between visits to Aslan's kingdom.

The plot and story line of Prince Caspian do remain intact, even though some "fresh" elements get added to spice up the story for 21st century movie-goers. A slightly darker Peter comes out, as does some conflict between Peter and Caspian, and Susan does more fighting than in the book, but, in my opinion, these new elements do not detract from the story, the plot, or the message of Aslan restoring his land through the unlikely heroes of Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, and Caspian, not to mention the wonderful mythical characters--talking animals (Reepicheep!), minotaurs, etc.--that we've all come to love. An added battle at the castle of King Miraz, while unexpected, heightens the tension and provides a nice dramatic avenue for Caspian's discovery that Miraz actually killed his father, Caspian IX.

C. S. Lewis' themes of restored faith in Aslan and the restoration of Narnia still come through loud and clear. The scene of High King Peter dueling evil King Miraz and the final battle scene are well done. Whereas the book can describe the battle scene rather briefly, the movie version necessarily expands it for audience participation and "enjoyment" (after all, there's nothing like "rooting" for the young good guys in the midst of a furious battle in which the odds are stacked completely against them! :-).

I highly recommend going to see Prince Caspian, not only for the sheer enjoyment of a classic tale for both young and old, but also to keep sending a message to Hollywood movie makers that such classic tales are well worth putting on the big screen. What a marvel it is to have a clearly Christian story, complete with learning to "see" and trust Aslan, the savior, for all to view and enjoy. Just as C. S. Lewis no doubt sought to open the door to the message of the Gospel by means of his delightful fantasy stories, a new generation now has that same privilege thanks to the big screen version.

Now we'll have to wait patiently for a whole two years to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but something tells me it will be worth it come the 2010 release (again see IMBD). I just hope Edmund and Lucy don't look too old by then, and I look forward to seeing the annoying Eustace Clarence Scrubb, especially as Aslan painfully releases him from his dragon skin in that great baptismal scene.

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