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Living in Narnia, Part 2

Imaginatively speaking I began living in Narnia long before that May morning in 2004. It all began one day in 1972 when my fourth grade public school teacher began reading a story aloud to our class. “Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.” I fell in love with Narnia beginning with that first chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe read by Mrs. Ewing. My parents soon bought for me the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia and I began to devour every chapter of each book. Prince Caspian was, perhaps, my favorite of all The Chronicles at that time, partly because of the climactic battle scene where a Telmarine head gets walloped off! Every nine year old boy relishes a good sword fight, especially where knights in shining armor are involved. I was no exception to that rule.

My own three boys have not been an exception either. During the time we lived in The Narnia Cottage I read all seven of The Chronicles aloud to my sons, who were then eleven, nine and five years old. We read a chapter each night before bed, and there were many nights when they begged me to read “just one more chapter!”

Thus you can imagine my three boys and I awaited the opening of the new Disney/Walden Media film version of Prince Caspian with keen anticipation. In December 2005 when we first watched a special screening of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Pevensie children fell out of the wardrobe back into the professor’s house, summer 2007 and the advent of Prince Caspian seemed too far away. And then the release of the second Narnia movie got pushed back to May 2008—which seemed an eternity!

But then the opening weekend of Prince Caspian finally arrived. We were practically on the edge of our seats as the first scene of the film unrolled. And then . . . we were caught up in the adventure and sheer magic of it all. The opening scene hardly gives the viewer a chance to breathe as we are introduced to the deadly political intrigue within wicked Miraz’s castle and young Prince Caspian (dashingly portrayed by Ben Barnes) is forced to flee for his life. Soon enough the Pevensie children (Moseley, Popplewell, Keynes and Henley are as genuine as in the first film) are called back into Narnia by the winding of Queen Susan’s magic horn in order to help Prince Caspian win his rightful throne. Before long we meet the old Narnians: Nikabrik and Trumpkin the dwarfs, Trufflehunter the Badger, Pattertwig the squirrel, centaurs, minotaurs, fauns, giants, and best of all—Reepicheep the valiant mouse! The cinematography in this movie is sensational, partly because it was filmed in so many stunningly beautiful places around the world, from a pristine beach in New Zealand to a fern-clad forest in the Czech Republic. Though there isn’t anything of Lewis’s Ireland in this film, we are living in Narnia once again. And thanks to the CGI mastery of Andrew Adamson (of Shrek fame) and his team, all the beloved characters of Narnia are brought to life in a way that would have been simply impossible not too many years ago.

I have read reviews by a number of die-hard Narnia fans who have been disappointed by the rearrangement of the story-line and additions to Lewis’s original story concocted by the makers of this movie. Certainly the coziness of Lewis’s 1950’s era children’s story has departed, and what we are left with is a summer adventure film to compete with the best of them. But is that something to lament? There are bound to be changes when one translates a work of art from one creative medium to another. What Andrew Adamson and the rest of the production team and cast of this movie have given us is another way of living in Narnia. The most important themes of the original work of art have been maintained and even enhanced. Though as an adult I might have liked a little less warfare in the movie and a little more of the journey theme from the original book, the intensity and length of the battle scenes worked well for my 15 year old son. So much so that he pronounced this film “better than the first one”.

When the credits rolled at the end of the movie I think I was just as sad as the Pevensies to be leaving Narnia once again. The last glimpse of Aslan left a longing in my soul no less real, no less poignantly present, than when I first read the Narnia books as a child. However, Walt Disney and Walden Media have also filled me with hope. Knowing that pre-production has already begun on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader I have a sense of assurance that when May 2010 rolls around my sons and I will be returning to Narnia along with Edmund and Lucy. And in the meantime, I can still go back and read the books. Thanks to C. S. Lewis we can all live in Narnia whenever we like.


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