Monday, May 26, 2008

Review: Prince Caspian

The first remarkable event of Prince Caspian is a fight between Peter Pevensie and some school boys back in England.  Little brother Edmund rushes headlong into the scuffle and engages the older boys with Peter.  This is not in the book.
The fight in the tube station is not the only scene that has been added to the story for the screenplay.  There are two epic battle scenes that Lewis did not write.  For reasons that must be obvious to hollywood producers, the movie version of Prince Caspian took on a much more martial persona.  In order to make room for the battle scenes the long journey to Aslan's Howe was truncated mercilessly.  I was particularly disappointed by the nixing of Lucy's struggle to get the others to follow her when Aslan called her for the second time.  This, I think, is the meat of the story.  The older kids had a hard time seeing Aslan, and only after they believed he was there, could they see him.
The movie does maintain this theme, or a variation of it.  Peter is forced to have faith in Aslan, instead of himself.  Speaking of Peter, he is much more kingly in Caspian than in the last movie, which is good.  Susan continued in her weak faith, and it is much easier to believe that the movie Susan never returned to Narnia, than her literary counterpart.  One thing I've realized now by watching both Narnia movies, is that they are not meant to replace the books.  This too is good.  Weather it was on purpose or not, the film makers have not taken away all the magic of the books by converting them to cellulite.
Despite the differences from the books, some of the same emotions are present.  I was moved early on by Edmund's defense of his brother.  Reepicheep, one of Lewis' most beloved characters, elicits the same hero lust.  Likewise, the valor of all the Narnians in the various battles is moving.  Particularly the scene in which a scimitar holds up the castlegate amidst a barrage of arrows while his comrades escape is one of my favorites.  In this way the film makers have really captured the wonder of Narnia.
The film has not, and will not replace the book.  This is good, no film ought to ever replace such wonderful literature.  However, so far in Disney's Narnia series they have complemented the books admirably.

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