Prince Caspian on Film: A Victorious Return to Narnia
- Wednesday, May 14, 2008
And with Edmund’s character arc so severe in the first film, the writers struggled to figure out how to handle his character in this second film.
“We were always worried about Edmund because … he fixed the most about himself in the first movie,” says McFeely. “So it would be unfair to him and the audience to make him a little crud muffin at the beginning of this movie. So then what do you do, you start with a character that’s pretty noble and has a good head on his shoulders?” Edmund instead of being a character in need of redemption for his treachery, becomes a great little action hero. In addition to getting a key role in the main action sequence, Keynes gets several fun bits of comic relief that prove him to be both witty and endearing.
Breaking Up the Action
It is the humor of Prince Caspian that breaks up the intensity in an action heavy film. Several of the Narnians, many of them completely rendered on computer, provide some welcome comic relief in the midst of all the intense action and character growth. “I was actually pleased at how much the audience laughed,” says Adamson of the test screenings he sat in on. “Reepicheep the mouse is a great character in the book, and any time you have a mouse say something it instantly becomes funny.” Trumpkin the dwarf, portrayed by actor Peter Dinklage, displays a cynical sense of humor that also works to ease the film’s tension.
Like most books adapted for film, what’s more important than the details are the themes of the story. Prince Caspian not only contains the amazing special effects and action choreography you would expect in a contemporary fantasy epic, it also includes a poignant emotional journey for the characters. According to Mark Johnson, a film should always be about characters and story telling … “are [the viewers] going to be compelled to follow these characters...? It’s not about ‘does this explosion work’ it’s about ‘do we care?’
Added to the story, which will no doubt cause a good deal of discussion, is an action sequence where the Narnians attack Miraz’s castle before he has a chance to attack them.
“In the book Reepicheep suggests raiding the castle and going after the Telmarines; [it’s] not something they do in the book but something worth expanding on. I read to immerse myself in what the book was and see what came out of it in the writing process. And it evolved toward a more action-driven film [than the first],” says Adamson.
“The raid is a huge failure,” says screenplay co-writer Christopher Markus. But we wanted to give Peter that [scene], so he can come across as stiffly heroic … we really wanted to test his mettle and break him a little bit so he could build himself back as a person.”
By all accounts, C.S. Lewis’ step-son and guardian of the Lewis estate is pleased with this second film, telling Christianity Today in a recent interview that although Prince Caspian is a poorer book than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it ended up being a better movie.
This success is largely due to Adamson, Johnson, et al and their reverence for the themes of the source material.
Going Back and Moving on
“I grew up in Papua New Guinea and that’s a country that has gone through an awful lot of change in the last 22 years," says Adamson. “I’ve never gone back there in part because I know the place where I grew up doesn’t really exist anymore. So [like the Pevensie children] I related to the sense of loss of not being able to go back to something that you grew up with. Like the old saying 'you can’t go back to your childhood.' That’s what [the Pevensie children] are going through … going back to a place that doesn’t exist and having to accept it and move on. So as much as I wanted connection I wanted the audience to feel that sense of loss as well.”
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