May 29, 2008

The Saga Continues - Prince Caspian Review

Alright, so I'm probably biting off a bit more than I can chew with a full review, so I'll stick to a simpler version based upon impressions. The movie theatre was positively empty when I saw it, which was only the Monday after it was released. Therefore, I had the rare but pleasant experience of actually getting to pay attention to the movie itself.

"It's a lot darker than the original" is what the guy at the concession stand said. I have to agree. It doesn't deal with darker topics - Edmund's betrayal in the first movie tops anything Prince Caspian could come up with - but it consequently doesn't ascend to the same heights of redemption. If you're looking for a pleasantly Christian film - look elsewhere. Although the cinematography was stellar, including brilliant appearances by Reepicheep, I didn't find the same warm, righteous feeling I got from the first. Still, the second book was vastly different from the first, so I'm not terribly surprised by this. What really angered me was a complete shift of focus from book to movie.

In the book, the main focal point is social revival. The few faithful who remain were lifted up and founded a new society - one where the opression, the fear, and the corruption had been lifted and they could freely pursue their own betterment. Aslan, Lucy, and Susan roaming the land giving freedom to the captive - be it captive of the education system, captive of oppressive government, or captive of railroading progression. It was a wonderful fairy tale that not only showed how the war was won nearly without fighting - scaring the badguys away with trees is what did it - but that also showed how the result was a society free to be what they were meant to be. The priggish schoolboys, the irate father, and the bridge all were symbolically done away with in Graeco-Roman style.

In the movie, however, the focus is entirely upon fighting, and the reconquest of Narnia. The reliance on the supernatural - another thing that was key to the book - is gone, and strength of arms replaces it. The freeing of the countryside is written off, and doesn't even make an appearance. Instead, the film makers chose to highlight all the wrong elements of the book - those that Lewis himself chose downplay. "You'll find Narnia a much darker place than you remember," states Trumpkin (who, incidentally, isn't named...), and only because the director couldn't find it in himself to focus on the societal change. Wonderful fairy tales of societal restoration and supernatural reliance don't sell tickets - wars, fighting, and meaningless romance scenes do.


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Anonymous patrick said...

the makers of Prince Caspian kept to the original story surprisingly well... i heard they were going to make it into a silly pure-action flick, but thankfully this was not the case

May 29, 2008 7:05 PM  
Blogger Immortal Philosopher said...

Do you really think so? I am sorry, but I disagree. I found that by: A. Removing the non-violent revolution part (with Aslan, Susan, and Lucy); B. The insertion of the castle attack, which wasn't mentioned, hinted at, or even possible in the book; and C. The focus of the victory being upon military tactics and strength of arms (as opposed to the Telmarines running away from the trees); I think that they departed substantially from the book. Certainly, it wasn't The Matrix, but it focused on action far more than the book.

May 29, 2008 9:16 PM  
Blogger The Sojourner said...

I agree. If you want to read my (long and involved) review, it's here:

May 30, 2008 9:48 AM  

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