Predictably disappointed by the movie version of Prince Caspian

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Jason Staples Substack

So I admit it. I’m simply not a fan of some Hollywood hack deciding to rewrite a classic for the big screen. Some tweaking, some extra background information, sure. But not a total rewrite — that’s unacceptable.

On the one side, you have the LOTR trilogy, which despite the constraints of time and the fact that each book is 500 pages, stayed pretty true to the basic plot line (and general traits of the main characters) of the master storyteller. (The one “major” mistake they made was having Saruman as the puppet of Sauron rather than as out for himself; I think they assumed that was too complicated for the theater audiences, though it wouldn’t have changed all that much.) On the other side, you have the newly released Prince Caspian, which bears strikingly little resemblance to its namesake.

For starters, the on-screen Caspian is in his early 20s. This of course differs from the book, where Caspian is a young boy of 10 or 12. Small detail, you say? Well, you see the problem is that a Protectorate is only needed until the boy comes of age. By the time Caspian was the age he was in the film (and he was clearly a strapping young man already trained with the sword), he would have already received his throne. But in the book, that part of the plot actually makes sense since he is still too young to sit on the throne (generally late teens would have been the time he would have received his throne). And, as an inexperienced youngster, the boy Caspian is in real danger when Miraz finally has a son.

Secondly, Peter is an absolute jerk in the movie version. He has major attitude issues (set up by the brawl in the subway — which is of course absent from the book) and is always wrestling with Caspian for authority. Basically, where the LWW movie showed him as a whiny punk, in this movie he’s an aggressive punk and an idiot. Of course, in the book, he is only helpful and is always trying to help Caspian learn how to deal with the authority he’s going to be receiving. Other things aside, it might be nice to actually the maintain character profiles as they were in the written versions. At this point, I could make a comment about Susan being involved in the fighting and their attempt to make her into a Legolas-type character for this movie (fighting with a bow in close quarters), but I understand our modern society’s need to see fighting women (as opposed to Lewis’ more conservative stance), so I will refrain. Oh. Darn. That one slipped out before I could stop it.

Aside from the character assassination, almost none of the main scenes in this movie were actually taken from the book. Again, I’m not asking for the book to be simply put on screen (though I do think that would be the wisest course for the Voyage of the Dawn Treader since that was pretty much perfectly written for the big screen), but maintaining a few of the critical moments from the book would be nice. The big castle siege? Didn’t happen in the book. But they just had to find a way for Caspian and Peter to look like fools. Great stuff. (I’d have loved for them to include the Bacchus scenes, too, but I understand that being cut, I really do. I probably would have cut it too given the time constraints. But I’d definitely have shot them for the “deleted scenes” section of the DVD or the “director’s cut” edition. this of course ignores Tolkien’s complaint about Lewis going overboard with his incorporation of old mythologies in that scene.)

All that said, I totally would have gone for Susan had I been Caspian at that age — the girl is beautiful (and I feel much better saying this now than I did a couple years ago since she’s now 19).

Tags: Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis, movie, review

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