A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Chonicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

August 22, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

Prince Caspian, as a story, does a few things with Narnia that lend it a wistful air. With the first story I talked a lot about how quickly I fell in love with the entire world of Narnia. How I wanted from the first time my dad read to me from the books to find a way to get there myself. I talked about how wonderfully the first big budget Hollywood Narnia movie made the entire land real from the lamp-post to the shores of the ocean and Caer Paravelle. With the second book C. S. Lewis allows us to return to that glorious country, but changes the game.

When the four children from the first story do get back to the land where they were once kings and queens they find that things are uncomfortably different. For one thing, time being what it is in Narnia, it has been hundreds of years since they were last there. Their old castle is in ruins. The landscape itself has changed. They themselves are the stuff of ancient legends now in Narnia. This is one of the most heartbreaking things to realize – that everyone they knew or cared fo in Narnia is long dead by the time they have returned.

The other big change is that Narnia is not quite the magical place it once was. Humans have come to Narnia – a race of people calling themselves the Telmarines, who have their own royalty and their own intrigues. In the centuries since High King Peter ruled Narnia the proper Narnians, the talking animals, Fauns, Centaurs and other magical creatures have been ostracized and marginalized. Indeed most humans now consider them myths and fairy tales.

Young Prince Caspian (who is not quite so young in this movie as I pictured him in the book) has fled from the castle of his father because his uncle the regnant has set out to assassinate him and set his own infant son on the throne. Caspian goes into the deep woods to seek help from the magical creatures from the tales he was raised on. He teams up with a dwarf and a badger and uses Susan’s horn, an artifact from Narnian legend, to summon the kings and queens of old. (Everybody is somewhat nonplussed to find that the kings and queens of old are all young children.) Together the Pevanzies must find a way to return the rule of Narnia to a king who will respect its original citizens rather than vilifying them and trying to wipe them out.

A word here about casting. I mentioned yesterday how amazing the casting in these movies is, and this film really is an excellent example of that. Of course there’s Tilda Swinton as the White Witch, which is absolutely inspired casting – she is so creepy and intense. I love that the film makers find a way to fit her back into each film. I love the choice to age Caspian up a bit and make him more believable as a powerful leader and potential ruler of Narnia. What really strikes me, however, and perhaps this is odd, is the all-star collection of little person actors this series attracted. As with the BBC series before it this set of Narnia movies chose to cast little people as the dwarfs in Narnia, and all of the ones who get a lot of screen time are familiar big-name actors. The first film features Deep Roy (a favorite of ours) as the White Queen’s sled driver. This movie gives prominent roles to Peter Dinkledge (who impresses me more every time I see him and is one of the greatest actors working today of any stature) and Warwick Davis (who appeared in two of the BBC movies as well.) What star power!

Much has been done to make this story more cinematic. Amanda re-read the book before writing her review, and you should read her review to see just how much work needed to be done to take the book, which involves a lot of talking about faith and belief and walking around, and make it a big spectacle. This movie involves huge epic battles, a lengthy attack on the Telmarine castle, and of course astonishing special effects. It’s a fantastic treat for the eyes and on that level alone it is a worthy successor to the first Narnia movie.

I also have to admit that I actually quite like the twists that Lewis threw into the formula, making Narnia a deeper and a more wistful place. It makes it all the more special to be allowed to visit that land again.

August 22, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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