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Friday, December 09, 2005

NERD LIFE: Back from Narnia

When I was about four or five years old, my mother read C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to me. As soon as I learned to read, I read it myself. I have read it several times since then. Saying I have reverence for the source material would be a bit of an understatement.
I knew I was going to be disappointed going into the film, but not this much.
My main problem with the film (which will from here on out be called TLTW) is the main problem I had with The Lord of the Rings' films, only amplified by ten, because I liked Peter Jackson's trilogy for the most part.
The problem is that both films in some way miss the focus of the books, the hearts of the stories. The Lord of the Rings' main focus is the ring. The ring must be destroyed, and can only be done so by "the least of these", a hobbit, a creature no one has any expectations of. The smallest, weakest creature becomes the most important. This is my favorite aspect of the book, and also the film. The film somewhat marginalizes this aspect, instead playing up on the battles of the greatest warriors-but the film does not forget the hobbits. They get lost sometimes but are still given their due. They are still the heroes, and they still get their moments. I still tear up when Sam tells Frodo, "I can't carry (the ring) for you, but I can carry you," not because I think of their characters in the books, but because the characters in the films are well drawn, and I care for them-I understand who they are and what they are supposed to do, I like them, and I root for them.
TLTW is an entirely different beast. The focus is on the restoration of order-which is also a central theme to LOTR, but is even more important to TLTW. Narnia is lost in a 100-year winter under an unjust ruler, the White Witch, a woman who turns her detractors into stone. Four children come to Narnia from Earth, just as Aslan the Lion, the true ruler of Narnia, is coming to make things right. The children don't choose to go to Narnia, but when they get there, they do make decisions.
Edmund, one of the four, betrays his siblings to the White Witch and by Narnia law, he must pay for his crime. Meanwhile, Aslan arrives in Narnia, the winter ends, and spring comes. This is obviously a joyful moment. It hasn't been spring in a hundred years. Aslan also decides to take Edmund's place in judgment and will die for him. The Witch kills Aslan, and because she is evil, decides to wipe out everyone who is on his side. After she leaves with her evil army, Aslan comes back to life because of an even older Narnian law (If an innocent victim dies for a guilty one, the innocent will come back to life, the film spells out). Aslan goes to the Witch's castle and sets free all she has turned to stone. The hero's sins are paid for, the captives have been set free, and now Aslan can kick evil's ass. He does so quite easily. He sets the children up as kings, and Narnia rejoices.
Obviously, the theme of restoration isn't just the theme-it's the story.
So why hasn't someone told this to Andrew Adamson, director of TLTW? I'm not sure what his film is about. I know his film ends with a thirty minute battle scene the book gave one page to. I know that the battle isn't the important thing-it's Aslan's resurrection and healing of the land that is important. Once he takes care of this, he knocks the witch around like a rag doll, and it's over with. (Aslan heals the land-thirty pages. Aslan's army fights evil, and Aslan kills the Witch-one page)
Instead of focusing on the important things, the important things become details. What becomes important is a fight where we are expected to root for characters we don't know, lead by a character (oldest child, Peter) who is unevenly developed. Aslan and all that healing crap get about five minutes. What's important are LOTR wannabe fighting shots in a movie that wishes it could have a PG-13 rating, but can't.
ALSO, the four children grow and develop their distinct personalites in the book. They do not in the film-if the book did not exist, this argument would remain.
In the LOTR's books, I know and like the characters, I understand what they have to do and why. The same goes for the LOTR's films. The same goes for TLTW by C.S. Lewis.
The same does not go for TLTW by Andrew Adamson. I like the performances by the actors, especially Georgie Henley as Lucy, and I like some of the sets, but I do not like the film.
I could whine all day, but I think I will leave it at that. I'm not happy.
Also, WHY did Dianne Farr leave Rescue Me for Numbers, a far inferior show?
Why, Santa Claus, why?


Jordan said...

It was alright.
I saw it Thursday night. I might have to see it again because some guy next to me was talking and being annoying the whole movie. So, I didn't get to enjoy as much as I might have.

I agree with you though. The movie definitely doesn't find the heart of the book. Whatever heart that's in the film doesn't come off well either. The directing and casting could of been alot better. I found myself and the audience (perhaps a bad influence?) to be laughing at parts that you shouldn't laugh at: the kids at some moments, some of the deathes, some of the dialogue. Its pulled off way better in your own imagination.

The material was a bit uneven too, in the movie. Something kids won't even get. Some things adults will just laugh at. It's not a "everybody" movie. It's half and half.

But Lucy was great. She was my favorite by far. The only kid actor that really brought it home. Her and Mr. Tumnus were splendid to watch. My favorite seen is when they meet and go back to his house. I kinda wish the whole movie coulda have been about their two characters and little adventures. Even if it wasn't true to the book, at least it wouldn't be a movie screwing up the original material. I think the director might have been able to handle a little story like that (maybe not) but the whole epic masterpiece it was going for didn't come off.

La lalalala :)


-E said...

I knew I didn't want to brave the crowds and see it the first week it was out. Thanks for letting me know I made the correct choice.

Brokeback Mountain, however, I will fight crowds to see the midnight screening of.


Jon said...

NERD LIFE: Very good points Nic. As usual you have destroyed everything I love and I love the hatred I have for your uncanny ability. There probably should have been a period in there somewhere, but I just wanted to irk you.

RANT LIFE: I'm sure you've already read it, but Lost Horizon is an excellent book. I only mention it because of the moderation reference. Actually, also because Jordan gave it to me as an early christmas present.

NERD LIFE: I think categorizing your entries adds +200 gain to your AWESOME level. You still need to work on you BEARD level. You'll never make it to 6th degree Dwarf if you don't!


Anonymous said...

Neal and I are discussing going to see this movie while he's here for Christmas but...neither of us are sure. The books are very special to both of us as well (for a couple reasons) and we're worried about something being ruined with this. Heck, the sermon contest was enough to make us question it more seirously after our first initial doubts of whether the movie would do the book justice or not.

I'm going to definitely refer him to this post, though, so he can have the opinion of another who holds the book in deep reverence.