Narnia: Prince Caspian, Disney-ified

Content Note: Image of Violent Lion

Narnia Recap: We'll be doing a couple of film adaptations before moving on to Dawn Treader.

Prince Caspian, American Adaptation

Before we go another word further, I really must request that you go read this parody at SarahTales. Because it is awesome, hilarious, and a very accurate text rendition of this movie. I'm not kidding. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not: it's pretty much an exact summary of this two and a half hour movie plus it makes me laugh until I have tears in my eyes pretty much every time I read it.

Alright. Done now? Good! Now we can talk about this movie.


Remember how the BBC adaptation was about fifty minutes long, all things considered? This movie is one hundred and fifty minutes long. You would be well within your rights to ask how Disney managed to wring one hundred and fifty minutes from this book, and the answer is very simple: they re-wrote pretty much everything. Interestingly enough, I actually approve of most of their changes -- and some of them will rather amusingly wreak havoc with the Theologies of the source material. Onwards and upwards! (I should warn you: I have seventeen pages of notes from this movie.)

The movie starts, very sensibly, with Caspian's viewpoint. Or, rather, we see Miraz being informed of the birth of his son and ordering the captain of the guard -- who looks for all the world like Tim Curry to me, and whom I will henceforth lovingly refer to as "Tim Curry Guy" -- to kill Caspian. Tim-Curry-Guy is clearly not very pleased, but orders is orders and he immediately sets to work on the business of prince-killing.

I've always thought that this setup is terribly short-sighted of Miraz, given infant mortality rates in Middle Ages settings, but there's something extra going on here courtesy (I think) of Disney. During the credit-zoom, we got to see a no-kidding eclipse, which is probably a quick reference to the astrology discussions in the book -- first on the tower in Caspian's youth and later when Glenstorm the centaur dispenses war council based on the positioning of the stars. But I'm pretty sure the book didn't include an eclipse on the night of Miraz Jr's birth, and I find myself wondering if any mythologies sprung up around the child later. By the end of the movie he'll be shuttled off to the Island of Ramlet with the rest of the dangerous prisoners of war, but I like to think that some of the remaining Telmarines later built up a mythology around the Moon Child and his eventual return to free them from the Sun King and his murderous Lion.

Anyway, Tim-Curry-Guy rounds up nine of his bestest soldiers and they crossbow the heck out of Caspian's bed chamber. Fortunately, Caspian is hiding in the wardrobe that doubles as an escape tunnel -- which I thought was a cute plug for the first movie. Then Cornelius saddles Caspian up, shoves the horn at him without a belabored explanation, and the chase is on! The Telmars balk just a bit at the woods, but plunge on in after a moment which makes them less superstitious but more realistic. Also: here is scenery porn. Then Caspian and his pursuers cross a stream that is just like that one in Lord of the Rings and WHERE ARE MY FOAM-FLECKED WATER PONIES, GANDALF? Eh? Ahem. And then Caspian is thrown from his horse and dragged by the stirrup for a bit, which seems like it would do more than just sting a little, you know?


And then Tyrion Lannister bursts out of the trees hollering, "A LANNISTER ALWAYS PAYS HIS DEBTS!" Except, okay, he doesn't, but you have to understand how weird this is for me because I hate-hate-hate Tyrion Lannister, but I love Trumpkin, and I especially love Peter Dinklage's Trumpkin, and it's interesting to me that there's a lot of similarities between how he plays both parts. So that's very weird indeed, and also very thought-provoking. I AM PROVOKED. More on that later. Maybe. If I remember.

And Caspian sees his number is up and figures there will never be a better time to blow that horn, and this is the part where Husband got to see me almost fall out of my chair because really? we're going to skip the tedious should-we-use-the-horn argument, Disney? YES, PLEASE. And yay for sensible adaptation decisions because this is so much cleverer than the way the book set it up. We're not even ten minutes in (I think) and we actually have a reason to switch over to the Pevensies. Alright! We cut to England, and one of the first things we see is Susan at a magazine stand, hungrily reading this:

Susan Pevensie reading a magazine called "Picture Post" which features closeup of a serious-looking woman driver in a vehicle.

The IMDB trivia page states that "Susan is browsing the magazine cart at the beginning of the London scene. What she is reading is the Dec 9 1939 issue of Picture Post. The Land Girl featured on the front cover is part of a civilian war effort group known as the WLA, Women's Land Army. It was started during WW1 to replace the men on the farms and in the factories in both the UK and USA." The timeline seems a little off: the Narnia Timeline sets Prince Caspian in 1941, which makes this magazine a few years out of date. But the general gist of the scene here is that Queen Susan of Narnia has decided to think a little less about Narnia so that she can think a little more about the war on her doorstep. And I think that is reasonable, practical, admirable, and -- yes -- mature behavior.

And I'm just going to spoil you right now: Remember how the LWW Disney adaptation made Susan (according to me) into a terrible harping shrew? Well, the PC Disney adaptation team apparently got the message and has decided to redeem themselves by making this movie as much about Susan (and Peter) as possible. Since with the final scene of this movie involves those two being banished from Narnia forever, I think it's a lovely send-off. I APPROVE OF THIS CHOICE.

So! We've established that Susan is mature and cares about the war going on around her. Let's also make her vulnerable and wounded by having a Nice Guy sidle up to her to make conversation, so that we can have this huge subtext about how she's effectively an adult with this huge history he would never understand and how Susan simultaneously wants to be left alone but also aches with the horrible loneliness of her special burdens. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Now let's move on to Peter who is brawling in the subway station because he's having enormous difficulty adjusting to not being the High King anymore.

The brawl is interrupted by The Authorities, and Edmund pointedly tells a sulky Peter, "You're welcome." Susan chimes in with a "Really, is it that hard to just walk away?" comment, and Peter explains that he's having adjustment difficulties: "Don't you ever get tired of being treated like a kid?" And I love this line so much, because this book -- really, this whole series -- seems to be about how being a kid is the Best Thing Ever, and here Peter is saying that, no, really, it's not. Not always, and not for everyone. It's easy for an adult to romanticize childhood as Innocent! and Aslan Approved! and Fairy Tales! and Magic!, but it all looks a lot different when you're the child in question.

And I love this statement by Peter partly because it ties in so nicely with my theories about Adjustment Issues, but also simply because it seems so true to me. Peter is in the unique position of having been about as powerful as an adult can be, and then having to go back to being a powerless child, but his statement here is extremely non-unique: I did get tired of being treated like a kid when I was a child. Strangely, Lewis seems sometimes to grasp that, with his statements about Susan talking down to Lucy like a grown-up, or with Professor Kirke being likable because he treats the kids like adults. But then that all pisses down the drain when you have Aslan kicking kids out of Narnia the minute they hit puberty: it's no good, in my opinion, demonstrating that children should be treated like adults if you're then going to turn around and say that children are so essentially different from adults that one group isn't allowed on the same plane of existence as the other.

They feel the pull of the horn, and Disney switches things around so that it's Susan instead of Edmund who suggests holding hands, and Edmund demurs at first because holding hands isn't Manly. STOP GENDER-POLICING, AMERICAN ADAPTATIONERS. Like, was that really necessary?

Beach! They're on a beach!

And this is literally where I started sobbing, and I continued pretty much straight through to the end of the movie on my first run-through. Because you all do not understand how much I love beaches, and how much I would like to live on one. (I have a Plan for that, but nevermind that now.) I feel a pull from the sea that is stronger than the strongest Mary Sue Mermaid fan fiction you have ever read, okay? I love the sea, love-love-love it. And this ... this was their home, the Pevensies. They lived on that cliff up there, and they saw the sea every day, and they heard the waves at night, and when they were done with the hard business of ruling they came down here in the evenings to stop being monarchs and just be people for a little while, and then they lost this. They never even had a chance to say goodbye. And Husband asked why I was crying, because isn't it a good thing that they're back? And all I could sob out was that I was crying because they wouldn't be allowed to stay.


This is how much I love Narnia, even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes. I love it so much that I hate the fact that the Pevensies can't live and die there like it is the home that they feel it to be. I love it so much that I literally cried through a one hundred and fifty minute movie because it would hurt me so much to be yanked back and forth like the Pevensies are. I'm just saying.

Anyway. So. But. However. Moving on. *sniff*

The revelation that it's Cair Paravel is done very badly: they state twice that it really sure looks like Cair Paravel and plus it has Edmund's gold chess pieces scattered around, before Lucy "reveals" that the layout of the castle is just like Cair Paravel. No kidding, Lu. Then we cut back to Miraz so that Prunaprismia can frown suspiciously at him because she's not in on The Evil. And Miraz hauls Lord Lannister into the great hall of Bickering Backstabbing Nobles (who have various flavors of Spanish accents and are all umbralocks, with not a blond or redhead among them) and I'm already wondering who will volunteer to Trial By Combat on Tyrion's behalf, but instead Miraz is accusing Trumpkin of kidnapping Caspian.

And this is very odd, because the BBN have apparently never believed in Native Narnians. They call them "fairy tales" until Miraz hauls Trumpkin out as proof and then the hall is struck silent. And, um, okay, but Trumpkin isn't a giant talking badger, you know? He's a dwarf. I realize that's a fantasy-race in Narnia, but dwarfism also occurs among human populations, which is what the Telmarines are. So if I were a BBN who genuinely didn't believe in Native Narnians, I'm not sure that my Obviously Corrupt King hauling out a nice-looking man with dwarfism would immediately cause me to believe in "fairy tales". I feel like someone on the Disney adaptation team didn't think this one out, is what I am saying.

Trumpkin gets in a delightfully sarcastic line about "and you wonder why we don't like you" and then we're off to Cair Paravel again.

We're in the treasure room and Susan is beaming happily, so they apparently decided to cut the bit with her crying over the chess piece. But then OMG THEY GO THERE, when Lucy pulls out her clothes and wistfully says "I was so tall." "Well, you were older then," Susan says gently, and then Lucy looks up and IT CLICKS. She actually says, and this is actually in the movie, "Everyone we knew... Mr. Tumnus and the Beavers... they're all gone." And she makes the saddest face that has ever been made. That's not in the book. It's not in the BBC version. But it should have been and it's here now. Thank you, Disney.

Susan kills soldiers! Peter swims to save Trumpkin! Edmund sloshes around to grab the boat! ACTION!

And I laughed so hard because Trumpkin is not amused at the children, and tears Susan a new one for her quip about "drop him!" that preceded the Telmarines dropping him not back into the boat but rather overboard. And then Edmund says, "Telmarines? In Narnia?" which is a complete fiction because they weren't around in the Pevensies' day, but you know what? GO WITH IT. It avoids a lot of backstory that didn't advance the plot anyway. And there is a nice Hitchcook zoom on the children when Trumpkin realizes who they are -- remember that this version of Trumpkin doesn't even know about the Susan Horn and was captured before Caspian even blew the horn, back when Trumpkin was defending Trufflehunter and Nikabrik -- and which I thought was amusing because it displays visually how disconcerted Trumpkin is right now. He woke up this morning planning to have a nice day, and the next thing he knew, he was meeting the Child-Rulers of the Golden Age. Tolkien could have done something nice with that, I daresay.

Trumpkin and Susan give Peter a look when Peter introduces himself as "The Magnificent", and I like that when Trumpkin and Edmund duel, Trumpkin punches him in the face. No courtly tradition for a guy who's had to live his entire life by his wits, and I think this serves as a nice counterpoint to the question of how useful the Pevensies are actually going to be. I mean, yes, they're accomplished fighters, but they also come from a very different time and a very different paradigm. They're not ready for a guerrilla war, and they've never had to fight without Honor, because they always took the battlefield from a position of privilege. I think you can make the case that they might be ineffectual here not because they're children, but because they're coming from too different a set of experiences.


Caspian wakes up and tells the Narnians that they're "supposed to be extinct". Nikabrik, who is played here by BBC!Reepicheep slash Professor Flitwick -- snaps "sorry to disappoint you" and then I have to be all sad that Nikabrik isn't long for the world. I like him, okay? Then Trufflehunter tells Caspian "you're meant to save us" on the grounds that anyone who shows up with Queen Susan's Horn of Legend in hand has got some 'splaining to do, and you know what ... fine. I prefer this explanation to the one about Caspian being the rightful ruler because he descended from that one guy who conquered Narnia as opposed to the current king who descended from him in a different way.

We are now through with five of my seventeen pages. This is a long movie.

The Pevensies are rowing down the river while Lucy gazes up at the trees. "They used to dance," she says wistfully, sad that the trees are now so still. Trumpkin tells her that it "wasn't long after you left" that the Telmarines invaded, which I think is a nice touch because it makes all this a little more cause-and-effecty instead of just Random Invaders approximately 1,000 years after the Pevensies would have died natural deaths anyway. And someone mentions Aslan and Trumpkin says, "Aslan? Thought he abandoned us when you lot did." ALL THE SADS. Peter looks uncomfortable and says, "We didn't mean to leave," and Trumpkin says solemnly, "Makes no difference now, does it?"


I mean, yeah, it wasn't the Pevensies' fault that they were yanked back to England. Any more than it was Caspian's fault that his great-grandcestor invaded Narnia and killed everyone. But Trumpkin is seriously saying that focusing on what is and isn't their fault is a distraction from the reality of the situation and ... I'm seriously a little in love with Disney!Trumpkin now. Because, yeah, it doesn't make a difference. Not to the Narnians, not really. It's nice to know, maybe, but it doesn't make it better. It just doesn't.

But Peter ruins it by saying, "It will." Okay, player. Let me know when you resurrect people with the power of your magnificence. (But I cling to the idea that we're not to agree with him here; Disney is adamant later on that Peter has been Wrongy McWronghead for quite some time. We'll get there.)

They drag the boat onto a beach and Susan helps with the manual labor. Lucy goes off to peer at a bear that she is certain is a Bear, and you'd think that folks living in Narnia would be able to tell the difference. I mean, there are non-talking bears, right? There were at the World's Beginning, and I can't think they'd be hunted out, and Lewis acts as though it's usually pretty easy to tell the animals from the Animals. Only this is a bear-bear or a lapsed-Bear, because it rushes Lucy and Trumpkin has to put it down because Trumpkin is awesome and see above re: Courtly Honor versus Staying Alive as differing warrior paradigms. Someone -- I think Peter, but I didn't write it down -- marvels that the Bear/bear didn't seem to be able to talk, and Trumpkin says sagely, "Get treated like a dumb animal long enough, that's what you become," which is incidentally a theme wonderfully well explored by The Satanic Verses so rock on with your erudite selves, Disney.

Action! Adventure! Bloodshed! Telmarines hunt Caspian in the woods! Trufflehunter goes down! Nikabrik goes back for Trufflehunter! YES DISNEY YES! Reepicheep as voiced by Eddie Izzard shows up. And he is really, truly lovely -- Caspian tries to flattery his honor/bravery/skill and Reepicheep is basically all, yeah, no. Also: the scene with Reepicheep taking out the Telmarines looks like a velociraptor is in the grass. JURASSIC MOUSE FTW. And then Nikabrik makes a joke about how Reepicheep really should kill Caspian, and I'm suddenly struck with the realization that all four of them -- Caspian, Nikabirk, Reepicheep, and Trufflehunter -- should have a sitcom where they all live in an apartment together in New York. And Trumpkin can be the friend who comes over to visit and makes hilarious sarcastic witticisms.

The girls call Trumpkin "DLF" and explain what it means and Trumpkin looks crestfallen and annoyed at the same time and says, "Oh, that's not at all patronizing, is it?" in just the right tone of voice. PERFECT. And it never comes up again. My god, Disney, you're on fire. Why aren't you always this self-aware?

Susan has a good quip where she explains to Peter how erosion works. And then in a nice touch, Lucy calls out that she sees Aslan, but we don't. I like that; it's an actual attempt to let the viewer make up hir own mind rather than bludgeon us with Lucy Is Right straight from the beginning. And Peter says, "Why wouldn't I have seen him," which all the sads and Lucy says "Maybe you weren't looking," which fuck that but I guess you can at least say that Disney tried to offer an explanation, which puts them one up over Lewis who didn't even bother.

ANGRY SCENE! Animals and Centaurs shout at Caspian! I'm not sure how I feel about this, actually. On the one hand, it's nice to show that the Narnians are legitimately, genuinely angry and not all "ooh, nice human to be our leader" or whatever. Yay. On the other hand, they're very shouty and it seems like there's a risk that the viewer is going to think that Narnians are too interested in vengeance to see the opportunity here. Also: Caspian is very attractive and white and will people think it's SO UNFAIR for him to be yelled at. (He even asks, "You would hold me accountable for the crimes of my people?" and there's not really a great answer given, alas.) So ... mixed messages? I don't know.

There's even some internal fighting as the Animals and Dwarves go back any forth about ancient disputes ranging all the way back to who was on which side during the war of the White Witch. Again: Realistic that a myriad of races wouldn't work together perfectly when they come out of hiding, but potentially Othering that they look so fractitious. Not sure how I feel about that. Call it a draw, I guess. And then OMG LOOK! because there is a Girl Centaur with a sword. All the Girl Centaurs in LWW were archers because no girls are allowed on the front lines. Awesome.

Back to the children! Trumpkin and Lucy bond. Susan asks Lucy -- once they've bedded down for the night -- "Why do you think I didn't see Aslan?" And this question is so plaintive that it breaks my heart. Lucy sort of weakly offers "Maybe you didn't really want to?" but you can see her heart isn't in it. (Which: GOOD. That's a shitty thing to say to someone who is clearly hurting.) Susan says, very sadly, "I finally just got used to the idea of being in England," and Lucy -- who clearly hasn't thought of this -- asks, isn't she happy to be in Narnia again? "While it lasts," Susan says with all the sads, and Lucy's face dissolves into a matching sad because she's just now caught on that this isn't going to be any different from the last time: they're still not here to stay. THIS. OMG. THIS.

Nine pages left!

Lucy meets with Aslan in a dream sequence and she asks why he isn't helping like last time. He says "Things never happen the same way twice," which is a complete cop-out, and they don't even try to justify it. We just skip through to Peter and Caspian having a sword fight in the woods because ... I'm not sure. Then Caspian recognizes Peter ... somehow ... and everyone is chill again. Lucy whispers to Susan, "oh my gosh, he is so cute" when she sees Reepicheep, and he gently corrects her because he prefers "courageous, courteous, or chivalrous" to "cute", what with being a Knight of Narnia. I can see his point, to be honest.

The Narnians conduct a bloodless (and off-camera) raid for weapons, and Miraz has Tim-Curry-Guy kill some of his men for propaganda purposes. I feel like that sort of thing would get out and would be bad for morale, you know?

PLANNING AT THE HOW! Peter outlines a surprise attack on the castle since it's lightly guarded at the moment -- his point is that this is better than being besieged and starved out of the How. Lucy literally argues that it's Aslan's will for them to do nothing. And I find this hilarious since the source material Theologies was that Peter and Co. were to do whatever they say fit and not bother Aslan with their petty little war because he was busy, dammit. Also: Lucy is lounging on the Stone Table, which I'm pretty sure is supposed to be sacrilege in this world. Peter says "I think we've waited for Aslan long enough," but of course Peter is WRONG because American Theologies.

Sneak attack on the castle! A gryphon flies Edmund in so that he can play signal flares with his flashlight. This will malfunction later, naturally, and I can't help but wonder why none of the Narnians can make magical lights. I mean, really? There are stealthy mice! And now I'm confused because why are we doing conventional sneak tactics when WE HAVE STEALTHY MICE? There's a dozen of them! They could kill Miraz in his sleep, along with three-quarters of the rest of the castle! What's wrong with these people that they can't plan military strategies that take into account an advantage that no other army in their 'verse can even dream of? UGH.

And then there's a very weird sequence where we see a hog-tied cat -- courtesy of the mice -- and all I can think is that he looks just like hog-tied Aslan from LWW. And this was ... apparently intentional. I can't begin to understand this, so we're just going to assume that the Aslan thing was incorporated into the Mice culture somehow and ... and ... HELP ME.

Caspian abandons his post because he wants to rescue Cornelius. Which ... dude. Finish taking the castle and then free the prisoners, yeah? I'm just saying. And Cornelius tells Caspian that Miraz murdered his father, so Caspian abandons his post again to go confront Miraz when they were supposed to be, you know, letting the troops in. Note that the raid going south like this will be blamed on Peter and his LACK OF FAITH. *facepalm* Peter gamely tries to make lemonade from lemons, and in the middle of battle Susan decides to chime in and ask him "Exactly who are you doing this for, Peter?" which is supposed to be a statement about him fighting for his Pride rather than the Narnians, but can we talk about this later maybe?

They didn't bring something to prop the gate up, natch, so later someone will have to die holding it up. And then Susan starts STABBING PEOPLE WITH ARROWS. Ohmigod. And Peter is sad because his troops die, but ... isn't think kind of par for the course in Narnia? They fought how many wars? And lost how many soldiers? I don't know. I'm glad it still gets to him, don't get me wrong, but it seems like there's a bigger problem here than Peter's plan not working. Then Peter calls Caspian an invader and Caspian calls Peter an abandoner, and there's a nice yelling session until someone notices that Trumpkin is wounded. Lucy heals.

Then we have the bit with the White Witch, and it's alright. I like the werewolf when he's not shouting, and they made the hag a lady straight from Innsmouth instead of just suffering from scoliosis. And they brought Tilda Swinton back because she is awesome, naturally. Caspian realizes that, dude, not cool, and says "Wait, this isn't what I wanted", and there's a story in here about doing whatever it takes to win, and finding a balance between useless honor versus going too far in the other direction, but before we can explore that, there is FIGHTING and I really thought Susan would be there to arrow Swinton, but instead they let Edmund do it. And Lucy wields her knife with a verve that makes up for her unexpected lack of skill (didn't she ride into battle in Horse and His Boy? Wev.).

Did I mention this is a long movie?

Cornelius gets in a good line about Caspian being a "noble contradiction: the Telmarine who saved Narnia". It's still a bit White Knighty, obviously, but it's delivered well and I feel charitable. Then Peter has a heart-to-heart with Lucy and she tells him, "Maybe we're the ones who need to prove ourselves to [Aslan]," which lol-whut. So of course we're going to have a Traditional Duel (Caspian's time-wasting idea for a distraction!) so that Lucy can ride out to seek Aslan and ask him to pretty-please help save Narnia. With sugar on top.

Edmund stalks into Miraz's tent and explains the terms of the duel and also that he's King Edmund, not Prince Edmund. Then he sighs and says, "I know; it's confusing." I laughed. And then Tim-Curry-Guy gets some good verbal jabs in at Miraz. There's some Susan/Caspian flirting -- she tells him to keep the horn because he "might need to call [her] again" -- and then Miraz tells Peter there's still time to surrender and Peter says, "well, feel free". Disney, you guys are on fire tonight, I swear.

GALLOP FOR YOUR LIVES! Susan covers Lucy's tracks, and I swear that "battle-dress Susan" should be an action figure:

Actual writing in my notes:

We switch over to the duel and the Bear sticks his paw in his mouth out of concern for Peter and it is so sweet and touching. And I'm wondering why exactly they don't have Lucy's cordial for Peter since a, she doesn't need it right now, and b, apparently three-minute time-outs are normal for these duels. And then when the Telmarines attack, the Narnians say "SCREW YOU, ASLAN, AND YOUR SILLY HOW, TOO" and they yank the pillars out and cause the How to collapse and the Telmarine army goes down into the rubble with it. Wow. Also: Lots of arrows, and I imagine Susan is yelling "FIGHT IN THE SHADE!" in a very Spartany voice.

And this scene ... is amazing. Really. I mean, it's American! and Action! but there's just a huge amount of emotion that wasn't in the book. Seeing this battle, I can't help but care. I care about Susan and Peter and Caspian and Reepicheep and Trumpkin. And I care about their cause, about them winning this fight in order that they might live. Seeing them destroy the How -- pretty much the one sacred place they have -- because it was the only thing they could think that would help at this point ... it just breaks me up inside. This battle is real to these characters, even if it wasn't to their author. I'm blown away.

Aslan knocks Lucy off her horse because he's a jackass, I guess.

Then there is weird Theologies. Aslan asks why Lucy didn't come alone, and earlier, and she says she was scared to come alone. Which, you know, she's a little kid. Okay? She's allowed. And then she asks -- and note that this is in the book ... kind of ... but in a TOTALLY different place and context -- "If I'd come earlier, would everyone who died ... could I have stopped that?" and Aslan says "We can never know what would have happened," but everyone knows that means yes because that's how adults talk. So ... wow. Way to lay a huge guilt trip on Lucy for your inaction, Aslan. But on the other hand, Lucy just spent the whole moving being sanctimonious to Peter and Susan, so ... I'm glad that's reversed at least? No, I have no idea. Sorry, Disney.

And then Tim-Curry-Guy refuses to kill Caspian, but it doesn't matter because TREES. And I love the trees, they're actual trees, and they are helpful because they're trees, and not because the Telmarines are superstitious. Awesome. And then River God! And here is a picture of Aslan scaring the Telmarines into submission:

Haha! I am, of course, kidding. That is actually Aslan terrifying Trumpkin.


And then Aslan has the silent conversation with Peter and Susan, and Susan is heart-broken.






Oh my god. This. This is what I imagined it. This is how I imagined it. Disney got inside my brain, and somehow made this movie and I went all this time without watching it because how could anyone else get this "right", the way it was in my brain, and here it was. Anna Popplewell cries. And she's Susan.

Moving on ... somehow ... there's a door in the air. Tim-Curry-Guy goes through, along with Prunaprismia and Miraz Jr. And I think it's nice that those two were treated as genuinely good people who got sucked into Miraz's evil plans and are anxious to start over. HOPE YOU DON'T DIE ON RAMLET, GUYS. Peter tells the others, "We're not really needed here anymore," because he just wants to get on with this, and who can blame him. Caspian mentions their eventual return and we're treated to a heart-breaking "We're not coming back."

Lucy is correctly aghast at this, and asks Aslan if they're being punished. He says, "Your brother and sister have learned what they can from this world. Now it is time for them to live in their own." Which is still a terrible thing to do to them because you pulled them here, jackface and also you aren't giving them a choice in the matter but again at least Disney tried. And at least it wasn't because God Hates Puberty.

Then Lucy and Trumpkin hug, and it is all the sads in the world because they will never see each other again. They grew so close, but now it's over. Regina Spektor sings over the sadness, and Lucy cries, and I am spent.

Final thoughts: This is not a great movie. I do not recommend this as a great Friday night date movie or anything. It is a LONG movie and it is draggy in places. But it is also a genuinely SAD movie that tries to deal with what I personally view as a genuinely sad story in a genuine manner. Whatever my feelings about Disney, I want it on record that I think they tried to take this story seriously and I think they did what they could to make the source material make some kind of coherent sense. I don't envy them that task.

Something I wrote in my notes, though. Keep in mind that the "happy" ending here, for Lewis, was that Peter and Lucy and Edmund came away from this and never moved on past this moment. Ten years from now, Peter's life will still correctly revolve around this last moment in Narnia, and he'll spend more time thinking and talking and reminiscing and re-living the world he can never go back to than he will in actually living in the world that he has been banished to. The Disney adaptation team didn't see that as healthy. They had Aslan say, explicitly, that Peter had learned all he could from Narnia and needed to move on to now live in England. Disney wanted Peter to look forward; Lewis insisted that Peter had to keep looking backward. My opinion, but there it is.

Final-final thought: Why do they keep tapping Liam Neeson to play asshole gods? Between Aslan and Zeus in Clash of the Titans, he's like the new Hollywood go-to guy when they've got an unsympathetic deity on their hands that they don't know what to do with. Weird.


newest reader said...

I had some problems with this movie from the start that have not been mentioned so far.
1. starting off with that queen screaming her head off at a moment when you'd expect she would just be grunting or something. It sure isn't what I'd expect in a movie aimed at kids. Plus I have heard human beings screaming in agony and it is not a memory I need refreshed.
2. They left out the dance with Silenus etc. The BBC movie at least did right by that.
3. Also they left out Caspian's reunion with his nurse, which gets me crying every time.
4. Use of some totally ridiculous catapults that would not work worth...It's been a few years and I don't recall how many kinds there were. At least the Tolkien movie had some realistic trebuchets. I build trebuchets, and the gizmos in this movie made me want to scream louder than Queen P.
Seriously though, you have helped me understand things about the movies and book both that I had missed and I do like your deconstructions.

mad.madrasi said...

OMG What a long post. Till now I only thought the Naria movies are exceptionally/unnecessarily long, but now I guess blogging about Narnia too could be long.

Theo Axner said...

The movie certainly isn't without issues, but I liked it. Unlike the LWW movie it took a whole lot of liberties with the source material, but almost every one of the changes was for the better.

Apart from what has already been mentioned, I loved how the internal Telmarine politicking became a subplot running throughout the movie rather than suddenly popping up out of nowhere near the end, and also the change that Miraz hasn't actually claimed the crown at the start - he needs, and exploits, the national crisis of the Caspian rebellion to have himself proclaimed king. I also liked how the movie actually showed Nikabrik and Trumpkin as friends.

And then Edmund says, "Telmarines? )In Narnia?" which is a complete fiction because they weren't around in the Pevensies' day, but you know what? GO WITH IT. It avoids a lot of backstory that didn't advance the plot anyway.

Back in the day I had a crackpot theory that the movies were simply going to write out Calormen completely and substitute a still-extant Telmarine empire (having Narnia as a former colony turned independent) for it. I still think there is some support for that in the PC movie. Edmund's remark would make sense if we'd seen Telmarines instead of the Calormenes in THAHB, and one of the regions shown to be pledging its support to the newly-crowned King Mmiraz is... Tashbaan.

The Dawn Treader movie did make references to Calormen so I guess my theory is out, though. Shame, I kind of liked it.

Tigerpetals said...

I did like that. And that was a good theory. I guess it could be explained away as him not wanting anyone conquering Narnia, but it doesn't sound right for naming people he hadn't known existed until that moment.

Aidan Bird said...

Because they loved the world. They lived there until well into their adulthood, and they came to love the world and the people. With this return, they saw how them being forced to leave due to magic! really hurt the land and the people they love. They knew they could be shut out magically at any moment, but the love they held for that land kept them going.

That's why they fought. They wanted to help the land they loved, even though they knew they could never truly stay there.

Yeah, Aslan treating them badly sucks bad. He doesn't even really acknowledge how much they truly loved that world. One of the many reasons to be frustrated and furious at Aslan... plus how he treats Trumpkin is another rage-worthy moment.

I think that's what I really liked about this adaptation. Disney did a good job of really showing that it was love that motivated them more than anything else -- though they did have the whole Peter and pride lesson going on as well. They especially did a great job of showing how the love they held for Narnia brought them tremendous pain, but it was a love they still cherished to some degree.

Tigerpetals said...

Another story that deals with Animals and their ability to talk is Wicked, both the novel by Gregory McGuire and the Broadway musical adaptation.

Nf V erpnyy, vg jnf gur cynl gung fnvq Navznyf ybfg gurve novyvgl gb gnyx vs gurl jrer gerngrq yvxr navznyf, naq vyyhfgengrq gung jvgu Cebsrffbe Qvyynzbaq.

I recall mixed feelings on this movie. I did enjoy it, but I think not enough to be sure I would watch the Dawn Treader movie. Then I saw spoilers about that movie and didn't watch it. But what you write here makes the movie sound much better in some parts, so I think I will rewatch it sometime.

redsixwing said...

As I understand it Animals are supposed to look somewhat different from animals.

That's helpful at least, I haven't read them in ages so couldn't recall if he was supposed to be distinct from your ordinary, garden-variety lion or not (aside from I seem to recall he was huge, and had sweet breath, which isn't a common trait among cats).

I still wish they'd managed it in a way that made him look less uncanny. Dx

insert obvious joke about the Deeper Magic here


Thomas, I like your fantasy ending.

Thomas Keyton said...

Haven't seen this movie, but can I complain for a moment about how Aslan's semi-anthropomorphic face (especially in the snarling pose) really bugs me? It's like... you couldn't just go for LION. No no, you had to make him more human as well. This is a snarling lion.

I seem to remember something Mr Beaver said about non-humans that look human...

Seriously, that Aslan face is just weird. It reminds me of nothing so much as what a lion might look like with seven Horcruces (insert obvious joke about the Deeper Magic here).

Also: Tyrion, you're entertaining sometimes and I love some of your lines, but can someone throw you to the Others in their first attack? (My fantasy ending has Sansa as epic justice-bringing queen; GRRM will most likely make me very sad.)

redsixwing said...

I will join you in the Tyrion Lannister-hate. Argh!

Haven't seen this movie, but can I complain for a moment about how Aslan's semi-anthropomorphic face (especially in the snarling pose) really bugs me? It's like... you couldn't just go for LION. No no, you had to make him more human as well. This is a snarling lion.

Aslan's face is too wide, his eyes are too small, his nose is too broad, and something seems off about the proportion of the jaw to the rest of the face, and where are his ears? It makes him read very 'uncanny valley' to me.

Liam Neeson has a glorious voice, so maybe that's why he keeps getting picked? IDK, but he's on the list of "people I could listen to as they read a dictionary."

Boutet said...

As I understand it Animals are supposed to look somewhat different from animals. So there's at least an in-text reason to make Aslan-lion look more... Aslan and less lion. Or something. He's not described as looking like a regular lion.

Scribblegoat said...

The end of this movie makes me bawl. Bawl. But then, all the Narnia movies so far have done that to me. My girlfriend and I saw Dawn Treader in a pretty much empty theater, and when it was over I literally sobbed on her shoulder to the point that we had to hide in there for ten minutes before she could get me to the car, since (SPOILER) actually taking the time to build relationships between-and-amongst the Pevensies and Caspian makes it so BRUTALLY obvious that the books are a.) a narrative of making the Pevensies love things and then taking them away and b.) a narrative of giving orphaned Caspian actual family(/lovers) and then tearing them away two by two. (I have a lot of sympathy for movie!Caspian in inverse proportion to my lack of sympathy for book!Caspian.)

What really slays me at the end is the song -- "I'll come back when you call me, no need to say goodbye."

In my head I am building a fanfic where Susan gets left out of heaven because Aslan genuinely needs her for something in England and can't tell her because the experience of knowing she was being excluded from heaven for years and years because Godlion said would turn her into an annoying martyrous sort through no fault of her own. And it breaks Aslan's heart to do it to her, but he has to do it anyway. That is an Aslan I could respect almost as much as I want to hug Susan and make it okay again.

Ana Mardoll said...

(Also, a fight is a duel, not a dual. Dual is an adjective.)

Yeah, I remembered that after the post went up and fixed what I could find, but that word gives me all kinds of problems. No matter how many times I'm corrected, I still do it wrong for some reason. *sigh*

Isator Levi said...

"I hate-hate-hate Tyrion Lannister, but I love Trumpkin, and I especially love Peter Dinklage's Trumpkin, and it's interesting to me that there's a lot of similarities between how he plays both parts. So that's very weird indeed, and also very thought-provoking. I AM PROVOKED."

If I had to guess, I'd say that Dinklage might bring a similar sense of snarky dignity to both roles, but it comes across better in Trumpkin because he's a bit more polite and genuinely oppressed.

Ana Mardoll said...

@chris: I find it DEEPLY AWESOME that you thought of me when Susan said that. Because I would totally say that. That whole scene, actually, just *gutted* me. But in a good way.

@ Isator Levi, YES. You put it perfectly: that's (for me) a look of deadened pain following bad news that can't be undone.

TW: Cancer

In fact, I'm pretty sure I went around with that face for several days this year when my dad was first diagnosed. I distinctly remember that dull numb sensation of feeling like everything is slipping away while you watch. Not fun.

Asha said...

I remember seeing this in theaters when it came out, and I enjoyed it. I had no real memory of the book, because it had been so long since I had first read it, but it did what I remembered the books not addressing. I have a friend who adores Lewis and the Narnia books and will defend them to the death. I wish he could see the bad in them, as well as the good.

Btw, anyone else read that totally awesome Torchwood/Narnia fic that had Susan as a member of Torchwood?

JonathanPelikan said...

Why fight for a world if you're going to be ever-so-quickly expelled from it, by that world's god, for completely off-the-wall reasons? And then again?

(Speaking in my personal feelings:) Seriously. Fuck C. S. Lewis. At least when it comes to the Narnia series. Fuck him. Fuck him to hell.

Mark Koop said...

I'm curious, why do you hate Tyrion Lannister? Do you dislike Game of Thrones in general anyway? Most people I know who love Game of Thrones also cite Tyrion as their favorite character. Mine favorite has to be Arya, but Tyrion is nowhere near the bottom...

chris the cynic said...

"While it lasts," Susan says with all the sads, and Lucy's face dissolves into a matching sad because she's just now caught on that this isn't going to be any different from the last time: they're still not here to stay. THIS. OMG. THIS.

I thought of you when I saw this, whenever it was that I saw this.

welltemperedwriter said...

I remember being really annoyed that they left Bacchus out and wishing they'd kept him in and cast Ben Barnes in THAT role.

But I freely admit that that was entirely personal preference on my part. ;)

ancusohm said...

I really liked your deconstruction. You picked up on a lot that I didn't notice when I saw the movie. Although, there is one thing. You seem to be really moved by scene where Susan learns from Aslan that she won't be returning to Narnia. You say Susan looks heartbroken (and that would be a heartbreaking revelation), but, too me, she looks bored. Is that just me? Does everyone else think she looks really sad? I'm just going off the images in the review (I can't seem to find a video of that scene), but /to me/ her expression seems kinda vaguely bored, but maybe I'm just really bad at reading her expression. What do other people think?

Oh, and, Ana Mardoll, if you don't mind and if it won't take too much time, would you mind saying why you hate Tyrion Lannister? I can think of several very good reasons for hating him. I'm just curious what your reason/s are.

Isator Levi said...

Susan looks to me how I imagine I've looked after receiving certain devastating news.

A kind of growing numbness as your pain leaks out through your eyes.

It's a sadness I associate with those things that, by their very nature, one knows one cannot change. The more explicit stuff seems to emerge from sudden, malicious circumstaances, or the result of something escalating beyond one's ability to deal.

Redwood Rhiadra said...

Just a minor nit:

when Trumpkin and Edward duel

I didn't know Robert Pattinson was in this movie :-)

Ana Mardoll said...

It's a minor miracle we've gone this long without more slip-ups of that sort, really. :P

Steve Morrison said...

Susan looks sad enough to me—she seems about to cry any moment now.

Marie Brennan said...

Before this movie came out, I had been re-reading the books, and formed the skeleton in my mind for the Susan story I would write if I ever write a Susan story. And then I saw this movie and it wasn't my story, but it was Disney trying to address pretty much every single point that gave rise to my story (like the adult/kid thing, and the yanked-in-and-out thing, and the puberty is bad thing), so I pretty much loved it to pieces for that alone.

Plus, y'know, they did what Lewis should have done from the start, and handled Caspian's story as an actual story, rather than as an enormous infodump to be dropped on the Pevensies. I may not agree completely with every plot decision they made as a result, but it's still a 9000% improvement in quality of narrative, what with the tension and conflict and characterization and all those things that were missing from the book.

MaryKaye said...

I do not see the sads in those stills either, but maybe it is contextual.

In _Out of the Silent Planet_ the Mars natives say to Ransom that it is better to have many kinds of thinking beings than one, because they balance and correct and complement each other. In _Perelandra_ it's discovered that, none the less, this will never happen again; it's humans and only humans from here on out forever.

The banishment from Narnia reminds me of this. It would be better for the children to stay in Narnia, and it would be better to have many kinds of hnau rather than only one kind, but that's not what God/Aslan is going to do. Maybe this is supposed to show God's ineffability but it fits better for me with a pagan god who is not entirely good.

Brenda said...

I'd forgotten just how funny that parody is!

I didn't like the movie when I watched it, but I like your rundown of it... And there were several things I thought of while reading it, which now I can't remember...

I think Lucy is with the archers in the battle in "The Horse and His Boy".

(Also, a fight is a duel, not a dual. Dual is an adjective.)

Makabit said...

I think Peter Dinklage is brilliant, and I am a big fan of what he did with Tyrion Lannister, so I definitely want to see him in this. If I can stand the whole thing.

I also like the scene in "Elf" where his character kicks Will Ferrell's ass. "Hey, jackweed, I get more action in a week than you've had in your entire life. I've got houses in L.A., Paris and Vail. In each one, a 70 inch plasma screen. So I suggest you wipe that stupid smile off your face before I come over there and SMACK it off! You feeling strong, my friend? Call me elf one more time."

(As I've said before, the concept of a high fantasy novel where dwarfs are human people with dwarfism was one of the things that really sold me on George R.R. Martin early on.)

Anyway, a great actor.

As for the question of offing Caspian once Miraz Jr. is born:

First, crossbowing the heck out of the kid's bedroom does not make a whole lot of sense to me. What if he gets hit in the face, and you can't have an open casket for uncle to weep decorously by? Someone takes the child riding, and he falls from his horse, and its a terrible pity. Very easy.

As for why now, we need more information about Telmarine culture than we have, but I wonder if they're a bit like the Ottoman Turks, and the assumption is that only one potential heir of any given sultan survives the power struggle. Everyone else gets offed. Apparently the boys would sometimes start to assassinate one another quite young, even if Papa was in excellent health. Just to make things easier down the road. Perhaps Caspian has supporters at court--or Miraz has enemies--who will target Miraz Jr. to secure Caspian's position as heir, but will leave Miraz Jr. alone if Caspian is removed from the picture. Or perhaps Miraz was unsure he was fertile before this--he is not presented as a very young man, and this is apparently a first child--but now that he's got a living son, he assumes that he can get more even if this one does not survive to adulthood. Perhaps he had no children with a wife or wives before Prunaprismia?

The Ottomanesque theory, of course, also suggests that Caspian himself might be motivated to remove his young cousin from the equation. That he does not think of this may suggest that this theory is mistaken, or perhaps that Caspian is really, really out of touch with Telmarine culture...which, given that we get almost no hint of what it might be through him, does not seem out of the question.

Post a Comment