I saw Prince Caspian twice this weekend. I don't believe in seeing movies in theaters once if I really like them, any more than I believe in reading a book once. There's something about watching a movie in a theater with a group of people that heightens the experience more than watching something in a living room with a few friends does. There aren't as many distractions for one thing. I love going to midnight openings because everyone is so excited and so accepting of the flaws of a film and willing to laugh at the most ridiculous things. Maybe it's just because everyone is so tired! This is why I went to see the movie again a second time the next day: different audience, and I wasn't so tired. I wanted to see what I had missed the first time.
First of all, I think the movie was brilliant. Aside from the fact that there really isn't anything you can work with in the text to make a film. The action doesn't pick up until the book is 3/4ths over. Most of the book involves a lot of walking and talking and not much else. They had to make some major changes - expanding on some things and making some small changes to the plot for sake of making the book filmable.
I thought the greatest strength of the movie compared to the book was a little attention to that practical matter of how difficult it would be to go from being nearly thirty years old and the ruler of a country to being a British school kid again. For all intents and purposes, the Pevensies could all have been married when they ruled Narnia. They may well have had families. Peter especially would have suffered. As High King you get the idea that he took his job very seriously. He would have wanted to protect his Kingdom. Leaving it like that would have been awful not just on a personal level and the struggle at having to be young again, but in that frustration in being torn from his responsibility. I thought it was a brilliant move to have that frustration show in his character. It gave him depth that wasn't really there in the original book.
The transition Susan made was nice too - you start to see why she would have fallen into this obsession with 'worldly things' in The Last Battle - it's her defense. She doesn't do it because she's forgotten Narnia. She does it because she has to in order to keep her head. It wasn't easy for her to leave Narnia. So she throws herself into England to help herself move on. She just goes a bit far in the end. Speaking of Susan - how awful would it be to lose all your family in one go? I thought about that the other day when I was flipping through The Last Battle. Peter and Edmund and Lucy and her cousin Eustace, her parents, the Professor. . . they all die instantly. She's left completely alone while they all move on to Narnia v. 2.0. Horrid!
The spiritual aspect of the film wasn't quite so strong as the book, perhaps. In the book they make a bit of a fuss about when each of the Pevensies start to see Aslan again. The movie focussed a little more on the development and growth of the characters, which works better for a film. The messages they did keep, though, were strong. I was particularly happy with the chats that Lucy had with both Susan and Peter - both of whom come to her asking for advice on why they didn't get to see Aslan. Lucy tells Susan it's because she doesn't think that Susan wants to see Aslan, and she tells Peter that she thinks Peter isn't looking for him. How many times do we do that? We get so caught up in proving ourselves (Peter) or worry about what will happen because of our mistakes (Susan) that we stop looking for God and try to do everything on our own, or we don't want to find him in case he tells us what we already know. Wonderful.
I thought the movie did a particularly good job with the growth in Edmund. His character literally takes a 180 from the last film to this one. Now he is Peter's rock - he's the one with his head on. He saves the day more than once. Skandar did an excellent job with him. I suppose that might be another reason why Peter is able to maintain his hold on Narnia and Su isn't - Peter has Edmund. Edmund knows what it is to doubt. He relates to it. Lucy doesn't because she is so solid. Other than that, Edmund and Peter also fought in battles together as Kings. That's a kind of bond and trust that doesn't die. Susan doesn't have anyone to relate to. She goes to school away from the boys and Lucy doesn't understand - no wonder she has a harder time than the rest.
I admire Lucy, though. It isn't easy to be strong when those around you - particularly those you are closest to - don't believe you. That kind of innocent faith that she has is a real strength. She is also very forgiving - something I struggle with. As soon as Peter and Susan come to her for help - even though they've been awful to her - she stretches out that hand of forgiveness without question. What a wonderful lesson.
In the end, my favorite part is that idea of the restoration and the last days. The battle at the end is severely outnumbered. The Narnian's do everything they can and in the end they win because they have Aslan on their side, in spite of their lack of size and experience compared to the Telemarines.
Of course, being me, leaving the movie was the worst part. Aslan telling Susan and Peter that they were too old for Narnia and that they wouldn't be coming back hit a personal note with me since I turned 21 last week. Not that I am old by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm certainly not a child any more. I have this awful feeling that my days of living in my own kind of dream-land - my personal Narnia - will have to come to an end sooner rather than later as I enter the work force and start teaching in the next year. It's sad. I'm not so sure that I like it at all. It's very bittersweet this growing up business. Can't I be young and obsessed with literature and imagination forever? Where's that well of immortal water when you need it?