July 2008 – Good and evil went to war again on the big screen with the May release of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. This highly anticipated blockbuster is the second motion picture installment of The Chronicles of Narnia films from Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. The movies are based on the beloved seven-book series written by C.S. Lewis.
Prince Caspian is a follow-up to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which released in December 2005. The Pevensie siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy – who became the Kings and Queens of Narnia in the first film, suddenly find themselves back in Narnia where they discover that more than 1,300 years in Narnian
time has passed.
The Golden Age of Narnia, the blissful time in which they ruled, no longer exists due to a takeover by the Telmarines. The once delightful world is now very dark under the rule of the evil King Miraz.
The Pevensies have been summoned to help Prince Caspian, the rightful heir to the Narnian throne, fight to bring back the Old Narnia. The story becomes an extraordinary quest to find the mighty Aslan, rescue Narnia and restore the land.
What unfolds is more than a fairy tale. Prince Caspian is a biblically-based imaginary illustration of one’s journey of faith.
Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ stepson and co-producer of the film, told AFA Journal it was “a story about a return to truth, faith, justice and honesty after – in this case – a millennium and more of corruption.”
Lewis suffused Christianity throughout the Narnian chronicles, and in this particular story he made one’s need for Christ very apparent. The movie depicts what happens when one walks away from his faith in pursuit of himself. Yet, at the same time, it shows the redemptive value of clinging to a hope that is often unseen.
In Peter, we see a weak and wavering faith, while a strong and steadfast faith is displayed in Lucy, although she, too, has her struggles. The spiritual growth of the characters is weakened in the film when compared to the book.
Aslan – the symbolic Christ figure – returns, as representation of majestic salvation and power.
While the Christian symbolism is no doubt in the film, the parallels are not as overt as in the first film or as in the book. One familiar with Lewis and the purpose of his writings is more likely to draw spiritual conclusions from the movie than is one unfamiliar with Lewis and the Christian faith.
“The movie … all but leaves out the book’s culture war themes,” wrote author and culture critic Gene Veith on his blog, www.geneveith.com. “It is filled up with battle scenes of tedious havoc, … but leaves out completely Caspian’s backstory and the major symbolic episodes.”
Unrelated to Veith’s remarks, Gresham explained how much of the changes between the book and movie had to do with the structure of the book. Prince Caspian was written in Lewis’ masterful prose, which is not conducive to film medium.
“We had to make more things happen to bring the children into the story earlier … and make the whole thing come alive as film, and that meant changing the story quite a lot,” Gresham said.
He thinks the changes work well.
While there may be some disagreement over the film’s departure from the book, one thing is clear for all viewers and that is the battle between good and evil fought throughout the film. In fact, Prince Caspian exposes the dark, savage side of Narnia. It’s a grim look at the reality of evil that reveals the world’s need for Light.
Expect a great deal of evil and violence in Prince Caspian. The movie is rated PG for epic battle action and violence but is teetering on the edge of a PG-13 rating specifically because of excessive fighting and death. In one scene, a man is decapitated, but the camera cuts away before it’s shown. The movie is not gory, although some blood is seen.
Due to the ongoing battle between good and evil, the intensity level of the film is heightened. It contains several “jump scenes” and “gasping moments.”
There is also a very disturbing scene in which the White Witch returns with two grotesque, demonic characters. These characters are the most evil of them all. The scene is powerful, yet uncomfortable, in how it vividly displays the allure of sin.
Therefore, Prince Caspian is most suitable for older children. In addition, the film opens with a woman giving birth. It also contains some immodesty, several uses of “shut up” and shows a young couple kissing.
But for those who are mature enough to understand evil in view of divine goodness, Prince Caspian is a great film. It’s stunning, entertaining and engaging with a perfect blend of humor. The characters are believable as is the world of Narnia.
Prince Caspian is not a fanciful escape from reality but a frank reminder about humanity’s pervasive sin problem and need for redemption.