Friday, July 5, 2024

Good Movie Additions: Prince Caspian

Book-to-movie adaptations get a bad reputation from years and years of Hodge podge work (see fans of Percy Jackson and their movies) but I still stand behind the apple pie metaphor from a blog post TJ did years ago. It’s an adaptation, after all, not a direct translation. So some artistic liberties are taken. Some adaptations cause fans to die a little inside (see the Burrow burning in Half-Blood Prince) because they’re unnecessary, but some enhance the feeling and theme of the story (see Stephen’s post about Dawn Treader). I guess my point is that not all creative additions to book-to-movie adaptations are bad. That’s what I want to delve into with some of these blog posts. Today’s example: Prince Caspian.

Susan’s Awkward Encounter and Peter’s Fight

Perhaps it was foreshadowing for her eventually forgetting Narnia, but a couple times it almost seemed like this movie went out of its way to make Susan less approachable (and yet more appealing to Caspian--which wasn't in the books). The first (and funniest) of these was when she briefly took on a fake name at the train station to avoid being hit on. But of course that awkward encounter was interrupted by Peter and Edmund getting in a fight. I liked the additional scenes before entering Narnia because it put the four siblings in this struggle being back in England, despite ruling for years in Narnia (imagine going through puberty twice....). Especially for Peter, it set up his prideful persona that had to be shed later on in the movie to make way for Aslan's will.

The Urgency of the Mystery

In the book, the Pevensie siblings were excited to get back to Narnia, but they seemed to just be along for the ride, as far as all the mystery. In contrast, the film explicitly pointed out that things had changed since they left Narnia. Cair Paravel had been attacked, their friends from their reign were likely long dead, and even the questions asked to Trumpkin added a sense of urgency to their arrival in Narnia. Even the fact that Caspian blew the horn as he was pursued (not to mention Trumpkin's kidnapping and execution) gave a sense of urgency, as opposed to waiting endlessly before calling for help. Something was wrong in Narnia and the events of the movie had a pacing that knew it had to be fixed. But still there was time for a wardrobe change before encountering Trumpkin (kings and queens have to make a dramatic entrance, after all).

Waiting on Aslan

In the book, the Pevensies and Trumpkin encountered Aslan long before arriving at Aslan's How. But in the movie, Trumpkin took the kids to Caspian and even had a failed attack on Miraz (a scene which I heartily enjoy, despite having no precedent in the book) before putting their faith in finding Aslan finally. Maybe it's just the time of life I was in when I saw these movies (Prince Caspian helped me a lot with waiting to go back on my mission, just like Peter had to wait to go back to Narnia) but there's something deeper to me about the Narnians having to wait on Aslan repeatedly before he was ready to appear. Like Lucy said, "Maybe we're the ones who have to prove ourselves to him." The book had good lessons about faith too, but I loved the movie's version.

Caspian's Vengeance

While in the book the Narnians pledged themselves to Caspian quickly and he seemed to be blindly faithful to the kings and queens of old, the movie version showed all the harm and trauma he'd been through. Hated by his uncle, who tried to have him killed, only to be found by the Narnians who didn't want to trust him and to learn that Miraz had killed his father too... it's enough to get under any man's skin, never mind a teenager. So I liked how human Caspian was in the movie. He was flawed and impatient and it nearly drove him to resurrecting the White Witch (I love that she had a reappearance in the movie, instead of only being spoken about in the book). Unlike Peter, whose pride manifested as being over confident, Caspian's showed up in anger, wanting to claim what had been taken from him. But like the High King, Caspian also needed some humbling.

Like last time, tell me where the movie fell short and where you think the artistic liberties won out. And as with all Narnia posts...

For Narnia and for Aslan!

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