instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Return to Narnia

My apologies for wandering from the subject of Narnia for a couple of posts.

I saw the movie over the weekend. It met my expectations, but didn't exceed them, maybe because what with reading the books and watching the BBC versions with my children and blogging about it I've been over-Narniaed over the past few months.

For Narniaphiles, I don't think there's much to object to, in terms of adaptation, that rises above the level of quibble. I'd say the major quibble is that it turns a fairy tale into a Hollywood movie (not surprising, I suppose, given the director's resume). The Witch is greater and Aslan is lesser than in the book, creating more of a balance than is really required for fairy tales. The opening scenes also weaken the overall air of Faerie; Narnia seems much smaller than England, when in the book the Professor's house is a small and isolated outcrop of this world attached to the sprawling country inside the wardrobe.

If you haven't seen the movie yet, here's a condensed version of the screenplay:
LUCY: Ooh, look! A faun!

EDMUND: This lady makes me feel all funny inside.

LUCY: What have they done with my pet faun?

PETER: We have to go home.

EDMUND: I think, for no particular reason, I’m going to go for a walk in the snow.

LUCY: Ooh, look! A lion!

PETER: We have to go home.

SUSAN: I wish my presence in this movie served some purpose.

LUCY: What have they done with my pet lion?

PETER: We have to go home.

LUCY: Yay! I got my pet lion back!

PETER: Let’s fight! Retreat! Retreat!

LUCY: Yay! I got my pet faun back!

SUSAN: At least I got to kill something.

PETER: We have to go home.

ASLAN: Narnia is now restored to an Edenic paradise which is yours to rule.

PETER: I suppose we can stay. But just for fifteen or twenty years.
There's some hope the forthcoming DVD will have new or expanded scenes to help fill out some of the motivations and characterizations the theatrical release left out.