Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis, God & Hollywood

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Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis, God & Hollywood

“So what do you think of Prince Caspian,” you ask?

Early in the film, during the train scene where the kids are transported to Narnia, I jotted down the word “magic” and then scribbled something about George MacDonald’s “Phantastes ~ A Faerie Romance for Men and Women.”

This association would be a vote for Caspian. MacDonald was a literary and spiritual mentor to Lewis and his “Phantastes “makes the point that there is a very real and imminent, yet unseen world all around us.

Thus Caspian announces, “two days ago, I didn’t believe in the existence of talking animals… of dwarves or… or centaurs. Yet here you are, in strengths and numbers that we Telmarines could never have imagined.”

While somewhat predictable, the film offered some wonderful moments like the exchange between Lucy and Aslan.

Lucy upon seeing Aslan: “I knew it was you but the others wouldn’t believe me.”

Aslan: “Why would that stop you from coming to me?”

Edmund came close to believing Lucy when he confessed, ” The last time I didn’t believe Lucy, I ended up looking pretty stupid.”

Peter made the classic error of believing he could wage war without Aslan.

These metaphorical pieces about the faith journey are there in this film thanks to Lewis’ storyline, but also in no small part I am sure to Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ stepson whose job it is to maintain the spiritual intent while delivering an entertaining film. Credit is also due Michael Flaherty and Walden Media for their willingness to be true to Lewis’ Judeo-Christian views.

Some Narnia purists are unhappy with the adaptation of the books to film because of departures from the “original text.” The same complaints can be made about Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” You should know that in highlighting the positives in the film, I am not ignoring the disappointments. Look at my friend Jeffery Overstreet’s review and you’ll see a less flattering look at the same film.

Overall ~ the films do achieve an important aim ~ smuggling truth entertainingly. In the style of Pascal’s apologetic, they show “faith in Aslan” to be attractive, reasonable and perhaps true¢â‚¬¦in a way that makes you hope it is true!

This gentler slope into faith is entirely consistent with Lewis whose writings generally take that approach.

The Narnia film series is an interesting study in the “God and Hollywood” conversation. I think the reasons these films are working, while others are not are really very basic.

1) They are based on classic, well written books.
2) Imbedded in the Narnia series is a sophisticated understanding of the one true myth, the story all humans share in common.
3) The Narnia stories are imaginatively told.
4) The special effects enhance the entertainment value only because they grow out of the author’s imagination ~ Gresham told me he knew Narnia could not be effectively adapted to film until film effects caught up to what Lewis imagined in his head and transported to ours.
5) The filmmaking is in the hands of professionals as is the marketing.
6) The adaptation is stewarded by someone interested in translating Lewis intent not transliterating it.

As I work with thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance, it is interesting to me that virtually every one of them found Lewis early in their journey and found him a worthy, comforting companion in their lonely sojourn through a land of imitative mindlessness.

Where is the next generation of thoughtful creatives who blend the spiritual, intellectual and creative in crafstmanlike ways?

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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