Sunday, January 18, 2009
My Quandry: The Chronicles of Narnia movies
The Narnia movies have caused a bifurcation in my brain. I both love and hate them.
In my opinion, the first movie (my favorite of the two) is artfully adapted to the big screen from the novel by C.S. Lewis. There are some parts that I don't like, but the parts that I do like far outweigh the parts that I don't. I think that the musical score is excellent - I mean, can you not already feel the enchantment in the beginning when the children are on the train and that wonderful music is pulling you into fantasy? And I felt other moments on screen draw me deeply into the magic.
Even some of the non-magical scenes are my absolute favorites, like the one where Mrs. Macready is picking the children up at the train stop. "Perhaps we've been incorrectly labeled," and, "Small favors," are two lines from this scene which happen to be two of my favorites from the whole movie. That little scene is so well done that you believe in everything already - and the movie's barely begun.
Lucy and Mr. Tumnus steal the show. I must admit that as a child I never read any of the Narnia books. Once, when an animated version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came to TV, I sat down to watch it. I didn't get past the 'Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus' scene because Mr. Tumnus came off as extremely annoying - prancing around the light post saying, "Ooh, the City of Wardr Obe in the Land of Spare Oom!" I turned the TV off immediately. But not so in the movie. The 'Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus' scene is one of the things that makes the movie. It pulls the viewer right into Narnia.
Some of the things that I don't like have mainly to do with the overtly Christian messages in this children's story. This, however, is a deeply personal objection, and I realize that it is precisely the whole point of the story and why many of the book's and the movie's fans love this tale. Nevertheless, this is where the love/hate begins to rear it's confusing head. I am enchanted by a movie that I don't care for.
Now the Prince Caspian Movie. Definitely not my favorite. If the first movie caused a minor dichotomy of love/hate to arise in my head, this movie completed the bifurcation. I hated the message, and most of the acting, but there were two scenes which I loved. One of them is a song/scene pairing that was so powerful to me that I may actually have to go out and buy this darned movie, which I actually dislike heartily, so that I can watch that scene whenever I want to.
The two scenes in question are the 'return to Narnia' scene where the children find themselves back in Narnia, and the 'leaving Narnia once again' scene. This last one is the powerful one I spoke of. I can feel the emotions of the children as they walk back into this world, leaving Narnia behind - while the song The Call is being sung (and is placed absolutely perfectly into the scene, in my opinion). If the whole movie had been made with that sort of attention and emotion, then Prince Caspian would have been utterly unforgettable and pure magic.
And I thought that Edmund was a very fine young man indeed in this story. Much more mature than his older brother, Peter. Edmund is one thing that the movie gets right. He is believably a child who was once an adult who had a mighty change and became someone different from the child that he used to be very long ago - um - you sort of understand, don't you?
I can't speak to the novel/movie adaptation because I have yet to read the Prince Caspian book, but I will remedy that soon, and I am looking forward to seeing what went wrong with the screenplay (although what went wrong probably also had something to do with bad direction, which led to poor performances).
Anyway, that's why my brain hurts when I think of the Narnia movies. And it also goes to show how the right music can help make the magic happen, even if you don't actually care for major parts of the story.