Friday, May 16, 2008

Prince Caspian - Re-writing CSL Sux

Only being outside my house on short walks (2) over the past 4+ weeks, I got my beloved to take me out to see Prince Caspian this morning at the earliest possible showing. Having done so, I am sorry to say that the second installment in the Chronicles of Narnia franchise has already succumbed to Peter-Jackson-itis. What do I mean?

While the first film, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, stayed fairly close to the book of the same title by C. S. Lewis, the screenwriters of Prince Caspian, for reasons known only to themselves, decided to veer wildly away from Lewis's narrative. The film careens into an attack by the old Narnians upon the castle of the usurper King Miraz at the behest of High King Peter who seems to have been infected with the same bug that Peter Jackson gave to his film version of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings: he is uncertain, overbearing trying to compensate for it, and given to bouts of ubermensch grandiosity. This is not worthy of Peter in the book, Prince Caspain. It is not worthy of Aragorn ('Strider') in Lord of the Rings.

The one true characterization here (Lucy is worse than book self; Susan is better and gets to kill a great many more Telmarines with her bow and arrows) is Edmund. He is wiser, stabler, a go-to fellow you truly want in your corner. (Even Aslan comes off as an Ubermensch extraordinaire rather than a savior-figure for all.)

Screenwriters need to keep focus groups out of their decision making about rewriting classics like the Chronicles of Narnia. I hate to think how far the next one will go afield.


Henry Karlson said...

Remember, Douglas Gresham was co-producer of the film -- I think that should allow flexibility to the film. However, I still can't understand the love interest side to Susan, when Jack was clear he didn't like such additions to movies based upon novels when it was not in the novel.

Athos said...

Yes, Henry. Gresham, thought I, maintained a close grip on TLWW (right down to the blue bottle fly dying on the window sill). So I am surprised by the Peter-Jackson-itis approach to PC. I can only hope that Gresham says, "Never again," and keeps things close to his step-father's intent in the future episodes of the Narnia franchise. I can only hope.

Henry Karlson said...

I can only imagine that Prince Caspian, one of the weaker stories, was seen as needing something more.

So far, though I liked PC better as a movie than LWW in these big-budget versions, I have liked the BBC versions much better. The warmth and personality of the characters and of Aslan was much more apparent in them.

We both agree about Edmund in this one; the only one which I thought really was "right."

I do have hopes for VDT just because it should be able to have LWW integrity on its own.

I hope they do VDT, SC, and then Last Battle; if, after that, things continue, MN with Horse and His Boy last. But they need to do Last Battle when the children still are not too old.

Athos said...

Many do like the film version of PC more than LWW apparently; I do not. Nor do I see the plot of PC too weak for the screen as it was. And, while the Chronicles of Narnia generally are of a far different - shallower? - weightiness than LOTR, I still fear that screenwriters' egos shun the original authors' stories for the same reason: certainty that they "know better."

I too can overlook the weak f/x of the BBC version of the Chronicles and enjoy it more, if only for the score. Can't think of better Puddleglum; time will tell. Cheers