Prince Caspian on Film: A Victorious Return to Narnia
- Wednesday, May 14, 2008
“Structurally [Prince Caspian] is not a movie,” says screenplay co-writer Stephen McFeely. “It’s a 180-page book. When the kids get [to Narnia] and they meet a dwarf who tells them a 60-page flashback they are not involved in, about a kid they’ve never heard of named Prince Caspian. And they say ‘it sounds like he is in trouble ... we better go do something about that.’ So we wrote a memo when [co-writer Christopher Markus and I] first got the job that said what we have to all agree on is that somebody is blowing that horn really, really early—much earlier than the book—because the kids have to get here and meet Caspian.”
For the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan Edmund and Lucy, who returned to England from Narnia at the end of the first story, only one year has passed. So their return to a Narnia that is more than a thousand years older is quite jarring.
“Because they’ve been to Narnia before they feel like they know Narnia better than anyone else,” says Georgie Henley, who plays Lucy Pevensie in both films. “They come back to a completely different Narnia… they don’t cope with that well until the end [of the film.]”
Prince Caspian the film also examines what life in England must have been like for these children who had formerly been rulers of the magical land of Narnia. Lewis, McFeely notes, did not investigate this part of the story. “What happens if you are a king or queen of Narnia for 15 years, and then you walk back through the wardrobe,” asks McFeely. “You are a kid just like when you left and you have to go back to school for a year… before you were signing treaties and defeating giants. Now you have to go back to doing homework. We wanted to show the tough times. …”
Making Adjustments in Different Worlds
It is the character Peter, who seems to have the most difficulty adjusting to both life in the real world and returning to a Narnia where he is no longer the high king. The movie thoughtfully examines his inner struggles with pride and the tensions between “king of old” Peter and Caspian, the rightful heir to the throne.
“Peter feels very self-entitled, and his ego gets the best of him,” says William Moseley about the character he portrays. “He was the High King and then he got back to England and nobody had any respect for him. Then he got back to Narnia [and again] nobody had any respect for him…”
Much like younger brother Edmund in the first film, it is Peter who now has the most profound personal journey in Prince Caspian. And with Caspian now in the picture Moseley feels that Peter learns a great deal of humility in this film. “I think leadership at the end of the day is about serving other people, and serving your country and not serving yourself. Peter had to learn that valuable lesson…. Peter has to pass Narnia on to Caspian. There is a strong leadership journey for him portrayed here.”
This strain between Caspian and Peter ups the film’s tension. “It doesn’t feel like they hate each other, they’re just at each other’s throats a bit because they’ve been through all this stuff together,” says Ben Barnes who plays Caspian in the film. “I was pleased the way it came out.”
Adamson concurs: “For Peter [the return to Narnia] was a chance to reassess himself, to prove himself… So he didn’t really want Aslan’s help because that would mean he NEEDED someone’s help. He wanted to prove that he really was the high king. So [that’s why in the story] he is sort of the last one to come around to saying ‘ok, I need help.’”
“[Edmund] is always looking out for Peter and he doesn’t really get the credit he deserves…” say Skandar Keynes of his character Edmund. “One of the recurring themes is how he is helping Peter out and Peter is just kind of ignoring him.”
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