Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Obsession (The Narnian Rant)

...there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."~Aslan, Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Everyone has an obsession. Something from their very earliest of days that has captured them...captivated them more than any other thing.

For me, it wasn't so much a "thing" as it was a place. A special, secret place only accessible to those who were chosen...chosen to slip from the wooden confines of an apple-wood wardrobe into a snow-covered pine forest with a lamp-post burning eternally at its center. A place where fauns dance, ordinary youths can become royalty, and a mighty Lion rules with Love.

When I was ten years old, my brother brought us a VHS tape of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. From the very first moments of the movie, my heart was captivated. I remember vividly sitting on that couch with my sister, hardly daring myself to breathe in case the magical spell of Narnia would break and life would once again be dull and ordinary.

From that moment on, I was obsessed. Narnia became an addition that my youthful mind could simply not release. I devoured the books, watched every film, and spent hours perusing commentaries written by others regarding this magical world that had woven its spell over me. In fact, I was so convinced that the world was real that I opened myself up to much humiliation and ridicule by my peers, often to the point of tears.

I am now twenty years old. The spell of Narnia has yet to break.

So tonight, when I went out (despite being sick) to see the brand-new movie version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I had wavering yet high hopes. I should have set the bar a slight bit lower, knowing what I do of Hollywood and the tendency to take a beautiful thing and fit it into a less than stellar mold. And after reading the interview on Yahoo!Movies (link:, I should have prepared myself for disappointment.

And yet, the innocent Narnian child dwelling in my heart was far too excited to pay my grown-up fears too much heed.

...flash to the end of the film.

As the credits rolled, I found myself sitting next to my husband in the darkened theater, my mind in a bit of a quandary. Honestly, I didn't exactly know what to think about the film that I had just seen. If I had not been an avid fan...or rather, a long-lost citizen of the Narnian realms...I might have left that film with an air of wonder and enchantment. For I will not deny, the movie was powerful and emotional enough to ring something deep in the heart of any viewer. However, knowing what I know and loving Narnia the way I do, I felt a bit muddled up in my heart.

There were so many things that I did not agree with...however, I will limit my observations in this rant to keep from sounding like a spoiled child or an overzealous fan with too much of an opinion.

1.) Eustace called his parents "Father" and "Mother." I almost leapt from my chair. Lewis wrote within the first six lines of the book that "...Eustace did not call his parents 'Father and Mother,' but 'Harold and Alberta.'" This might seem like a very trivial matter; however, it is something that Lewis specifically wrote within the first paragraph of the book. This means it was, for some reason, excruciatingly important to him as the author, and therefore, it should just as important to us as the reader. It bothered me.

2.) The Lone Islands were nearly unrecognizable. With the exception of the name and the barest shell of the events that actually were written to have occurred there, nothing was the same! The fact that Lord Bern was in a jail cell, the purpose of the slaves, the fact that Reepicheep was not taken captive...almost everything about that particular section was so discombobulated and so distant from the original that there was not even a whisper of familiarity.

3.) On the same note as the Lone Islands...when the youths are captured by the slavers, Caspian struggles against his bonds and cries out, "I am your King!" This irritated me to no end. In the book, Caspian SPECIFICALLY tells Edmund and Lucy to tell no one that they are Narnian royalty until the political status of the islands has been determined. In fact, when they are captured, Lucy desperately attempts to tell their captors who she is, but Caspian swiftly silences her with a shout and a look of warning.

4.) The romance between the Ladystar and Prince Caspian was tremendously underplayed. For the sake of piquing the interest of the tweenie-girl element, it was made to look like both Prince Caspian and Edmund were falling for the Ladystar. However, C.S. Lewis specifically wrote Caspian and the Ladystar to fall dramatically in love the moment they least, Caspian was supposed to. The Ladystar was to remain aloof for a bit before sending the prince on his way to finalize the last details of his quest.

There is much more...but I feel as though I have whined enough. I will, though, add a few positive notes that I found along with the negatives.

1. Eustace was SENSATIONAL. I was immediately impressed by their choice of casting, and he will most definately make a welcome addition to the cast. His acting was wonderful -- he truly had me convinced that he was the most foul boy to ever walk the earth, and his change from fiend to fierce and valiant warrior truly touched me. In fact, he was responsible for my two favorite moments:

a) The change from dragon back to a human boy. The connection, sorrow, and shame that Eustace shared with Aslan was truly amazing, and struck a chord with me deeply. Watching the love that radiated from the Lion to the boy truly reminded me of the way my Savior views me, even in my sin. It was a dramatic and touching moment, indeed.

b) At the very end of the movie, Eustace picks up the painting and moves to hang it back on the wall. In the same motion, Lucy and Edmund slowly step out of the frame, leaving just Eustace to remount the painting. It was a very beautiful and powerful moment, almost "passing the baton" from the final two Pevensie royals to the new warrior who will usher in the end. It was truly a moment that brought me to a flood of tears.

2.) The sea serpent. Breathtakingly epic and extremely frightening for a PG-rated movie. It was truly a mark of sweet genius on the director's part. To say I loved it would be an understatement, to be sure.

3.) Aslan. Need I say any more on this one?

All in all, I have not yet given up hope on these new renditions of my favorite tales. There is still a chance for The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew, and The Last Battle to rock my world and remind me of why this land holds me in such a tight captivity. The spell is not yet broken...and I pray it never does.

Never forget -- further up and further in.


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I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon