Friday, December 16, 2005

Farewell to Shadowlands/Bringing Narnia to life

"Lucy said, 'We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.'
'No fear of that,' said Aslan. 'Have you not guessed?'
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.
'There was a real railway accident,' said Aslan softly. 'Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands - dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.'
...And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Now that I have read C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia in their entirety once again over the past week, I feel more qualified to give my assessment on what should happen with the future of the Narnia films. I do think there should be more, but not all seven books should be made into movies, as I have heard suggested. Nor do I believe any longer that they should attempt to condense several books into a fewer number of films (ie. squishing the events of two books into one film). I now strongly believe that there should be a trilogy of Narnia films made, of which one has already been released. The second film should be Prince Caspian, the fourth book in the series, and then the trilogy should end with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Each of the other four books should not be translated into film for several reasons. One is that they are each diversions from the core storyline of the Pevensies, and so it makes sense to limit the films to those featuring the Pevensie children. Second, these three books take place in the same experience more than the others, which feature great jumps chronologically and geographically to maintain the storyline. (Caspian is also a jump in time, but if you've read it you'll understand what I mean.) The third reason is that these three would be the best to see on screen, while the others might not hold the same kind of intrigue as a film; they make excellent books, but I doubt they would translate as well in to a cinematic presentation. A fourth reason is that, unlike The Lord of the Rings, each of the Narnia books can exist as its own entity. There is an overarching story, but not of the same sort as Tolkien's narrative, in which the beginning is dependent upon the end. The end of Dawn Treader could easily be taken as a concluding point for the film series with a little creativity (and hopefully some borrowing from the end of The Last Battle), and in fact the films would be better off ended there, rather than drawing it out. Narnia purists might disagree that it is possible to cut out the remaining four books and maintain the heart of the story, but I disagree with them entirely. Leaving some books to the imagination will only make the exercise of crafting Narnia films that much more valuable, because they will exist more as a version of the books, rather than attempting to supplant the books (much as Jackson's Rings apparently attempt to do). The fact is that in making these three films, most of the most interesting storylines and characters are brought to life (Reepicheep, Caspian, Glenstorm, Deathwater, the Dufflepuds, etc.), and the films do not drag on forever. Any other Narnia enthusiasts have thoughts on the issue?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous19.12.05

    I, a fellow Narnian enthusiast, couldn't agree with you more. In fact, it was pretty much exactly what I was thinking. Except that perhaps The Last Battle could make a fourth--but I haven't reread that one in a long time, so I don't know.



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