Let’s hope they do a better job than Disney did with Prince Caspian.
Disney cited ‘budgetary issues’ as one of their reasons for not continuing the series. Prince Caspian earned $420 million, compared with $745 million for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. No wonder. Prince Caspian was a dog of a film.
Some Hollywood directors seem not to have the slightest understanding of their target audience, or even of the fundamental workings of drama. The prime audience for any of the Narnia series are people who have read and loved the books. Drama works when people care about the characters.
So why include in the first ten minutes scenes which are not in the book, which serve no positive purpose, and which make the audience dislike or distrust the characters who drive the story? These were the scenes of Peter and Edmund fighting in the railway station, and Susan lying to a boy who wanted to befriend her. These scenes made the key characters look violent, self-important, selfish, dishonest and shallow. This impression was confirmed by their behaviour through the film. It is impossible to care what happens to characters like this, so it was impossible to care what happened in the film.
Some teenagers (and some adults) are like this. But the characters in Lewis’ books are not. They are fallible, sometimes weak, always human. But they are also courageous, caring, even noble. The exception in the film was Lucy, who was delightful. But she could not carry the film on her own.
And then there was the idiotic attempt to suggest sexual tension between Caspian and Susan, which culminated in a passionate kiss. Pathetic.
I remember watching an episode of the US made version of Dr Who, originally a BBC programme I had loved for years. The special effects were brilliant, the Tardis looked better than ever. Then the Dr kissed his assistant. Instant reach for the remote.
You can make your own cirque de so lame programmes with kissing in them. Well, some of them aren’t so lame. But put kissing in Dr Who, and you have crossed a line, my friend.
Likewise with the Narnia stories. You can make films about shallow teenagers finding themselves, and maybe some of them aren’t so bad (though I’m struggling to think of one).
But don’t make a film that twists into dullness the characters I love from the books, that leaves out all the themes that were Lewis’ reasons for writing the book – honesty, courage, dignity, forgiveness, the balance between trusting God and taking responsibility – and then tell me that’s Narnia, and expect me to pay to see it.