Sunday, May 25, 2008
I went to see Prince Caspian today, and for the most part I enjoyed it more than The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. (Although the final fight between Tilda Swinton's White Witch and Peter kicked butt and made the whole thing worth sitting through.)
As all the critics are saying, this is a "darker" Narnia... it begins with a woman giving birth to a male child. Her husband sees this as his cue to kill his nephew, Prince Caspian, so he can ascend to the throne of Narnia. However, Caspian is warned by his tutor, and flees into the forest where no soldiers will go. (Well, they will go, but reluctantly.) His tutor has given Caspian a horn, which he is to blow if he needs help. Caspian is almost captured by pursuing soldiers..and blows the horn.
In England, back in London, apparently, the Pevensie children are going to school. It's a year later. Peter resents not being treated as the king he once was, and he and Edward are bickering. Lucy and Susan are much the same, however. While they sit on a bench, a train comes...and when the train passes the Pevensie children are back in Narnia...and near the ruins of Cair Paravel, their former castle.
What happened to Narnia? The Telmarines invaded...and the great lion Aslan left the Narnians to their fate - to be butchered and/or driven deep into the forest. Now that the four sons of Adam have returned, they must save Narnia from the Telmarines who intend to invade their forest refuge and kill them all.
There is a clash, of course, between Peter Pevensie who still regards himself as King, and Prince Caspian who is older than he and had expected someone else... Peter also refuses to wait for Aslan to come and help them, as Lucy suggests. He no longer believes in Aslan.
In the end, Peter accepts that he can't do it on his own, and sends Lucy into the forest to ask Aslan to help them. Once Lucy arrives, and asks for that help, Aslan obliges...and the battle, in which hundreds had died on both sides, is soon over...
(Do you detect a tinge of contempt for Aslan here?)
All of the Chronicles of Narnia books are Christian allegories, and I have no problem with that. It's just very interesting what those allegories actually show about the Christian religion... (or any religion, for that matter!)
It's interesting to read the message boards on the IMDB about this movie. There are several threads up in arms about the "shameless Christian propaganda," so much so that you've got to laugh. Where were they when Catholics were up in arms about The Da Vinci Code and its "insult" to the Catholic religon? I suppose anytime a movie has a priest as a hero instead of a hypocritical villain, that'd be shameless propaganda, too.
(Don't get me wrong, like I said, I'm an atheist, I just find it interesting how some of my fellow atheists get all up in arms when a movie apparently showing Christianity in a positive light is "shamelesss." (I use the word apparently advisedly, of course, as I hardly see Aslan's passive behavior throughout the film "uplifting.)
But, of course, as many Christian pundits will say, and which is perfectly true, Christianity is the only religion that can be portrayed as hypocrital or ridiculous in movies. Hindus are up in arms about Mike Meyers The Love Guru, for example, and of course if you make any movie critical of the religion of Islam you can expect fatwas and the murders of all involved toot sweet.)
But, of course, just as the first movie was criticized, so is this one. "WHere's all the blacks?"
Well, I gotta tell you. Before the "sons of Adam" arrived, the only beings living in Narnia were dwarves, fauns, talking animals, centaurs, minotaurs, et al. When the sons of Adam arrived...well, there were only a handful, and they came from 1950s England...
But what about the Telmarines, in Prince Caspian? In the movie at least, they all speak with accents that sound Spanish, and it turns out that they came from "our world" and were pirates, and somehow found a portal into Narnia where they proceeded to kill all the Narnians and drive any survivors deep into the forest.
Sounds like the Spanish arrival in the new world to me... but if you look at the threads at the IMDB, they're being cast as Muslims invading the Christian worlds...ie. the Crusades, Muslim against Christian, rather than Spaniards against innocent native Americans. (And of course, the people who have that view of the movie are critical of the movie because of it. Just more propaganda against Muslims...)
The movie ends with Prince Caspian promising everyone that Narnians and Telmarines will live together in harmony. But, if there are any of those who dont' want to remain, Aslan will take them back to their original world... this is actually how the book ends as well...and I know there's someting allegorical about that as well.