Saturday, 25 April 2009

Prince Caspian (making of)

The recent Prince Caspian film has come in for a lot of stick – “Ben Barnes’ accent is tosh”, “the children are annoying”, “the Telmarine army is too small”, etc. I watched it again the other day and actually thought it was quite good. Most criticisms probably occasionaed by jealousy at the rather good performances by the younger actors and their obvious enjoyment of the project. 

The book is perhaps the weakest of the Narnia series, consisting of long flashbacks, and with quite compressed action (not that any of this prevents the imagination from having a great time with the material, of course) which the film expands on, even adding a long extra plot element, the attack on Miraz’ castle. Although ‘inauthentic’, that sequence is exciting, and effective in underlining the early gung ho hubris of Peter and is well done on screen. Even better is the conjuring of the White Witch – fabulous cameo from Tilda swinton and very effectively done. 

Not surprisingly the filmmakers didn’t know what to do with the almost surreal bacchic revelry that occurs at Lucy’s encounter with Aslan towards the end of the book, so they ommitted it altogether. For me the loss of this section and the generally scanty appearances of Aslan were the disappointments. Maybe they couldn’t take Lewis’ Christianization of classical cultural themes and figures? They prefer a Disneyfication instead.

The documentaries on the DVD certainly show that many in the production team do not understand Narnia, whether willfully or because of ignorance.

The message of Narnia is that ‘we’re all one’
No it isn’t. That’s the “message” of Disney.
At the end of the movie, the day is saved by nature
Well kind of… The next comment does spot who’s behind that…
it’s Aslan
and Aslan, really, is an animal
CS Lewis is showing us that we can learn from animals and that we can learn from nature
But ripped from its context of dominion, gody rule, as found in Genesis 1 and 2 (which the script even recognised – “Narnia was never right unless a son of Adam was on the throne”, they rightly retained from the book) this is mere tree hugging.

The endless pre-menu adverts were also advertising a (straight to TV) film set in a corny pseudo-Indian setting with elephants, white marble and petals, plus a bronzed girl band… “The Cheetah Girls: One World”, on the Disney channel… Hurrah for vacuous universalism – that’ll save us, yeah