So Prince Caspian is coming out in movie form in March, and I can’t help but feel great disappointment in advance as they butcher yet another of CS Lewis’ masterpieces.
Those of you who know me best know that I read the Chronicles around 30 times each growing up; they’re among my most treasured books. This, of course, is why it’s so painful to see some of the most important subtleties totally missed by the clueless people working on the movies. And yes, this includes Lewis’ stepson, Doug Gresham, who from all accounts is a wonderful guy. He just seems to have little idea what much of the symbolism his late stepfather embedded in the books actually means.
This ignorance is often seen on places like Wikipedia, where I have had to correct entries (sometimes multiple times) claiming that the White Witch symbolizes the Devil (she most certainly does not; the Devil in the series is Tash), completely missing the point of the Stone Table, and missing so many of the the essential points.
I also cringe at the criticism of Lewis as a misogynist or someone who was anti-sexuality (or at least feminine sexuality). Susan’s having “grown up” and given up on Narnia at the end of the Last Battle is typically cited as evidence for this, but anyone who has read Lewis’ non-fiction knows it’s a bunch of baloney. Lewis was far from a prude or a Puritan; he only insisted that sex/sexuality be confined to marriage (shocking!). I suppose I should write something up on that sometime.
Getting back to the movies, it absolutely hurt to see the lack of Hebrew lettering on the Stone Table in the LWW movie — it totally missed the symbolism Lewis spends a number of pages building up. (The Stone Table is, of course, the Law.) The head wolf’s name being changed from Fenris Ulf to Mordred (though this was probably for pronunciation’s sake) also missed the point — Fenris was of course the “ulf” (Scandinavian word for “wolf”) of the underworld and the end of the world in the ancient Norse myth. It was a nice touch for him to be the chief of the secret police for Sin (the White Witch, being powerful, beautiful, alluring, and captivating of course symbolizes sin). The movie of course misses all this.
And what was with the ridiculous chase scene? The book was built on suspense (and very effectively so), while the movie just obliterated that aspect for a very poorly executed action scene. A hasty and suspenseful trip to the hill of the Stone Table would have been much more effective in building the plot — of course, this is what Lewis chose.
I don’t want to simply complain because the books are better than the movies (when is this not the case?), but I just wish the movies were put together by people who had a clue what Lewis actually intended to portray in his stories. Don’t just cut details that could easily be left in because you don’t know why he included them.
Oh, and I’m still bitter at Doug Gresham for having the publishers put The Magician’s Nephew first in the series simply because he misunderstood a letter from Lewis to a boy who had read through several times already. Would someone start the Star Wars series from Episode I? Of course not! The brilliance of Magician is missed unless it’s read after LWW and Prince Caspian have been read. It’s just a shame all around.