Book/page totals

Top 10 Lists

Friday, May 16, 2008

cover of Prince Caspian

I decided at the last minute that I wanted to re-read this book before I saw the new Narnia movie (I actually read the last ten pages in the movie theater), but I'm glad I did even though they changed so many things in the movie. It was delightful to catch the little bits that are directly from the book that I might not have noticed otherwise (like the Bulgy Bear sucking on his paws). Prince Caspian has never been my favorite of the Narnia books, but I think that must be simply because the others are so good and have so many interesting ideas in them, and not because this is a bad book. There simply isn't the scope for ideas that's provided by the many strange islands in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, or the fascination of meeting Narnia for the first time, or glimpses of creation and heaven that we get in the other books. But this story does have much to say about faith.

Narnia is in trouble again when the Pevensies return. Where before Narnia was oppressed and enslaved by the White Witch, now Narnia is wild, asleep, and hidden-- oppressed by humans who fear the fantastic Narnian natives. The landscape has changed so much in the centuries since Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy reigned over Narnia's golden age that a long section of the book is about them getting lost in the woods. Perhaps one of the changes they made in the movie are an extension of this-- in the book Peter is over-reliant on his sense of direction and knowledge of the land, where in the movie he is over-reliant on his skills as a military leader.

The ideas of faith mostly center around Lucy's interactions with Aslan. When they are all lost in the woods, she sees Aslan when no one else does, and they don't believe her. They made an interesting choice in the movie not to show Aslan when Lucy first glimpses him-- in the book it is easier to sympathize with and believe Lucy, but in the movie we are among those who don't get to see Aslan and don't know whether to trust Lucy. There is a great sequence in the book where Lucy is following Aslan and the others are following her without really seeing Aslan, although gradually they get glimpses of his shadow in the moonlight, and eventually they see him too. This is a great spiritual metaphor, because some people do seem to see God more easily than others, maybe because they are looking for him. But it also gives hope to those who don't see-- we can rely on those who have more faith until our own faith catches up.

It was hard to take the movie on its own terms because I kept thinking about what was different from the book. It makes sense that they would need to change and condense things to make this work as a movie, but some of the changes seemed like an excuse to have more battle scenes because I guess that is what movie-goers like (Lewis' description of the battles are always incredibly brief). It is also strange to listen to reviewers who don't like-- and don't seem to understand-- the Narnia movies. They think it is a poor attempt to duplicate the Lord of the Rings movies, and dismiss the talking animals as "cutesy." Whatever my quibbles with the changes they made to the story, my reaction to these kind of misunderstanding reviews makes me realize how much I value the movie-- perhaps because it allows me to enter into the wonderful world of Narnia and spend a couple of hours there.

Title:Prince Caspian
Author:C. S. Lewis
Date published:1951
Series:Chronicles of Narnia
Number of pages:216
Notes:repeat reading


Google Search