Friday, May 16, 2008

Prince Caspian, Is That You?

Saw the film this afternoon. It was absolutely beautifully filmed. The cinematography was magnificent. The action sequences were great; the story flowed well. But something bothered me...the story seemed slightly familiar. It reminded me of a story with the same name by C. S. Lewis. In a few places, even the dialog seemed to have been taken right out of Lewis' book, though often, the wrong character has the lines. This film even has a lion, similar to Lewis' Aslan, but more distant and mostly absent from the film. In fact, the film starts off so well that I really thought that someone might have made a movie of Lewis' book. But shortly into the film, I realized that this was a nearly entirely made-up story that takes place in Lewis' Narnia, but lacks the charm, innocence, and clean precision of Lewis' classic.

OK. So, it is supposed to be the real Prince Caspian. And I know that they cast Caspian much older than he is in the books; I forgave that months ago, during production, since it makes the three year gap (in Narnian years) before Dawn Treader easier. And I can understand certain edits for the sake of the story. But some changes, like some of those in the LWW film, are unforgivable. Here are a few major blunders (spoilers ahead!):

Reepicheep, most noble of mice, would NEVER say, "Shut up." Not even to a squirrel.
Peter is not a brawler (he and the other children were sneaks and liars in the first film, so I guess that fist-fighting is the next anti-social step for Peter).
Susan and Caspian do not kiss, ever; this was completely unnecessary.

All other complaints are nit-picky little things...not enough Dr. Cornelius, no Nurse, no Silenus nor Bacchus, wild dance nor wine, no school boys turned into pigs, and no astronomy lessons in the high tower; too much arguing between Peter and Caspian, too many silly mouse jokes (though overall, Reep was well done!), and way too much liberty with the story line.

But it was good in some unexpected ways. It was, in fact, a bit like a totally new Narnia story, with more depth of character in the Telmarines, greater landscapes, more manly kings, creepier villains, and more complex story twists. The film is long--2 hours and 20 minutes. Looking at Narnia for this period of time is a delight in itself, and if nothing else, Narnia is Narnia in this film. The river god, the hag and werewolf, the centaurs, the animals, the Telmarines, the ruins of Cair Paravel and Aslan's Howe, were all near perfection. Here, the director's vision was close to Lewis', and, ultimately, provides us with the satisfaction we all crave when we peek into that other world. It also proves that someone read the book carefully enough to get the setting right.

So see it, support it, and let's hope the Dawn Treader will steer a course closer to the story line.


Anonymous said...

I saw "Prince Caspian" last night.

and after reading your post I completely agree with you.

I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan and nit-picking was pretty much all I did during the movie.

But your take on the movie was very much like my own. Good post.


Chari said...

WHAT??????? NO astronomy lessons in the tower?????? That is one of my favorite parts of the story......sigh. HOW can they do Caspian without that????

Oh, well.........I will try to appreciate the movie for itself :).....I see it tomorrow.

Thanks for your opinion, MacBeth!

Kimberlee said...

Well, I haven't seen it yet but my family all agrees with you! But they sort of expected it so it wasn't so bad.

Leticia said...

I too felt the film was a bit long, however, as you said so well, it's an opportunity to be in Narnia just a bit longer.
Like the Pevensies, the longing for Narnia stays with me. . .

Anonymous said...

I found the film really, really violent. Peter goes from having trouble killing a lion in the first film to killing like 400 people here. And the scene where the "Old Narians" are trapped in the castle and mowed down via crossbows? Totally unnecessary and disturbing.

My kids and I weren't prepared for what we saw. My mistake seeing the first showing on Friday and not paying closer attention to reviews. My younger kids were in tears. However my teenage son thought it was great. :+)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. It's good to hear that the basic story wasn't totally re-invented.

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Thanks for the review-- I will quote it on my blog! Our newly 13 yr old is taking many friend to see it today!

patrick said...

too bad they cut out some of that part where Aslan confronts Lucy about trusting her convictions, but i guess they had to make it appealing to the masses... great observations on your review tho

Monica said...

I felt they greatly lessened the story. It was shallower, and it was poorly told. Great fx, though.

I hate the traumatized psyches of the kids... sheesh, give me a break. Do they think they are adding depth by having Peter be an idiot? There was depth in the book they could have built upon... they didn't need to make Peter an unlikeably whiner with fighting issues. Oy.

I really hope another team does the next movie, or I won't be seeing it.