I kept telling people that I hadn't seen the latest Narnia flick, Prince Caspian, because I didn't want to be disappointed. Well, last week I realized that it was time to "bite the bullet" and watch the film. And I have to confess, I was pleasantly surprised.
As I watched, I had the impression that I had wrongfully prejudged the film, for I was having a wonderful cinematic experience. There was one scene, with the leitmotif of wonder I remembered from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in which Lucy dreams that she is watching Dryads taking shape and that she is in Aslan's presence, which is pure Sehnsucht (a.k.a. Joy).
Yet as I kept watching, I recognized what others had said about the film: it spends far too much time with the battle scenes. Furthermore, there is very little regarding the stories of Narnia-of-old that is part of the fabric of the original story. And I can't remember any mention of Bacchus or Silenus in the movie version. I would have enjoyed seeing a reproduction of Aslan's invitation to the children, late in the story, to "come ride on my back again today." Picture the scene when "both girls climbed onto the warm golden back as they had done no one knew how many years before. Then the whole party moved off--Aslan leading, Bacchus and his Maenads leaping, rushing, and turning somersaults, the beasts frisking round them, and Silenus and his donkey bringing up the rear."
I could go on expressing my wish-list for more delightful scenes from Lewis's imagination. Indeed, the film is a poor facsimile of Lewis's wonder-filled fantasy. I felt as though the screenwriter, having written an essay for a final exam, didn't understand the question. But apparently the producers had to appeal to a larger crowd than the millions who had already read the book. Wouldn't that group of people have paid a little extra to see a more faithful rendition of the story? I think they would have.
The fact is that I did have a joyful experience watching the film. In fact, it came across as a better product than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The setting and scenery are (again) beautiful. And the cinematography (from a lay-person's perspective) is impressive. It's a much better "action flick" than LWW.
The film left me anticipating the release of The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader,' hoping the producers (as a friend expressed) learn from their misdeeds on Prince Caspian and come out with a better product.
© 2009 by Stan Bohall