Monday, May 26, 2008

more about Prince Caspian

As previously mentioned, I didn't like the new movie version of C.S. Lewis's Prince Caspian. I felt that it missed the spirit of Lewis's book. My musings on the subject have helped me realize how much seemingly little things can affect a story.

Prince Caspian's age, for example. It was obvious from the movie posters that this had been changed. In the books Caspian is a little boy, maybe about 11. In the movie he is a young man, maybe about 19. When I first heard about this change, I shrugged it off as no big deal--how much difference could that actually make?

As it turns out, a lot! After our varying levels of disappointment with the new Prince Caspian, my friends and I gathered to watch the old BBC version we'd grown up on--a version which, while it lacks CGI or any budget to speak of, stays very close to the books. And there was Caspian again, the Caspian I remembered: fresh-faced, starry-eyed, and clinging to faith.

In Lewis's story, Caspian is a child. He thinks like a child. He's bold like a child. He's black and white as children are, resilient, and willing to believe in the impossible. He doesn't know for sure that Aslan, the kings and queens of ancient times, and all the mythical creatures of Narnia exist--but he hopes against hope that they do. Once he discovers two dwarves and a talking badger in the woods, nothing can shake him from his faith. We know Caspian will make a good king, even if he doesn't, because he glories more than anything in Aslan.

The Caspian of the movies is far more adult. He's caught up in political machinations, desires for revenge, deep doubt, and competition for the throne. His story isn't a bad one--but it's not the story C.S. Lewis told.

As I've thought on it, I've come to believe that C.S. Lewis was painting the idea that "a little child shall lead them." He wrote about child-heroes not only because he wrote for children, but because for all of us, the way to the kingdom is by becoming--and believing--like a child.

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