Archive for May 18th, 2008

May 18, 2008

Not a review: Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian is the Narnia book I have owned the longest and read the most, and despite my odd relationship with these books over the years I’m still rather fond of it.
I watched Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on saturday. I’m not sure how well it works as a whole – parts of it felt rushed and possibly bewildering if one hadn’t read the book. But it was extremely entertaining and had plenty of pretty people and trebuchets. A few thoughts:

  • Why didn’t they make The Horse and His Boy first?
  • Susan is far more likeable than she is in the book. This not just because I have a crush on Anna Popplewell. Book-Susan is made annoying. Movie Susan is quite likeable, despite her tendency to look disappointedly at Peter and Caspian. Susan’s behaviour in Prince Caspian (the last book in which we actually see her) sets up her fate in The Last Battle. The movie seems to do this with her confession to Lucy about getting used to living in England and how long can this last and so on. I’m not sure it’s enough.
  • I’ve enjoyed how these movies deal with Peter’s character. He’s incredibly bland in the books, and is never really tested or found lacking by Lewis. Here, he’s flawed, occasionally nasty, and very much a teenager. I’m hoping they’ll do the same to Lucy at some point.
  • At the end of Prince Caspian, Peter and Susan learn that they can’t come back to Narnia because they’re ‘too old’. Their growing up in the movie is shown by Susan attracting multiple males and being attracted to one of them (this is the girl who gets kicked out of Narnia for wearing lipstick, so hey) and Peter affecting strange alpha-male behaviour, picking fights with every young male in the vicinity.
  • Wholesale disregard for plot allows the two prettiest people (Susan and Caspian) to gaze mistily at each other. It also means Susan is actually present during most battle scenes. Lewis would have disapproved. Susan’s gifts in LWW are a bow-and-arrows and a horn to call for help when she (inevitably) cannot defend herself; here she takes out an impressive number of Telmarine soldiers before falling over, shrinking back, and needing Caspian to Ride Heroically to the rescue.
  • Face-shaped, face-guarding armour with built in fake beard? I want.
  • Miraz describes the Telmarine conquest of Narnia in terms that are very familiar. Savage land, animals, not people, civilization, the bringing of. This makes Trufflehunter the badger’s insistence (the quote is taken from the book) that Narnia was never right except when humans ruled sound familiar as well. They gave us the railways, you know. I wonder what Lewis thought of colonialism. But then, we know what he thought of brown people.
  • The Telmarines, for some reason, have Spanish accents but occasionally sound Indian. Except Ben Barnes, who occasionally seems to be going for a Russian accent instead. I don’t know. But when in Narnia don’t trust any accents that aren’t BBC English. You have been warned.
  • If the Telmarines are brownish and bearded, how brown and bearded will the Calormenes be?
  • Did they borrow most of the props from The Lord of the Rings? Did they borrow Caspian’s Riding Heroically while being chased through a river from there too?
  • The fighting trees are brilliantly done. I’d always imagined them (as dryads) drifting over the surface of the ground – here, the roots play an active role. And you really get the feeling, when you see how deeply they’re rooted so that the ground is literally churning beneath the Telmarines, that the land itself is fighting back. I approve.
  • Miraz’s widow is quick to follow Telmarine-with-a-conscience back into our world. Speculation about the parentage of Caspian’s little cousin occurred.
  • Was it necessary to spoil an otherwise excellent scene (the caving in of the tunnels under the battlefield, thus causing Telmarines to fall into convenient pits) by having one piece of earth fall conveniently in front of Caspian? Making a ramp that enabled him to Ride Heroically into the sunlight? Sigh.
  • The song that plays as the children leave Narnia is awful. Why? Most of the soundtrack was perfectly decent.
  • Susan’s dress in this scene, though, is something I covet.

The next movie will have a dragon. And a sea-monster. And ships, and amusing one-legged creatures for comic relief. But no pirates*. And, tragically, no Susan.

*It seems a waste, in a ship-movie.

Edit: hilarity from PunkAssBlog