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Peter T Chattaway

Narnia: Pre-release discussion of LWW

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Just posted this in another forum. Have we already discussed this angle?

- - -

FWIW, I just watched the featurette on WETA's creature design at apple.com's movie trailer site, and I have to say I'm a little concerned about the way Richard Taylor goes on about the realism and the incredible level of detail that he and his crew are going into on this film -- the interview clips with him could have been pilfered from the making-of featurettes on the Lord of the Rings discs, they're so similar.

And the potential problem I have with that is this: The whole point of Tolkien's subcreation was that he made a world that was fully realized and internally consistent in just about every way; thus, the detailed approach of Taylor etc. is perfectly appropriate to Tolkien's world. But Lewis wasn't writing an alternate history of our world, as Tolkien was; he was just throwing together a patchwork of his favorite myths and legends, with some cute images that popped into his head thrown in for good measure. Consider the image that started it all: that of a faun carrying gifts through a snow-covered forest. Where did these parcels come from? If Taylor were to say, "We wanted it to look like these parcels were really made by a gift shop in Narnia," what on earth would he mean by that? And what about the books on Mister Tumnus's shelf? Who are the publishers and printers in Narnia who manufacture those sorts of products? If Taylor were to say, "We wanted these books to look like they had really come off of a printing press in Narnia," what on earth would he mean by that?

I don't mean to slag Richard Taylor -- he does great work! -- but I'm not convinced that this approach will work for Narnia as it did for Middle Earth. Lewis's work deserves more of a "storybook" treatment, I think. (And the fact that the film will begin with an extended treatment of the bombing of London also raises questions re: the film's tone.)

I'll be happy if my concerns are proved wrong, though!

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Wow, I actually agree with Peter completely. Those are my concerns about the film too. I think, as strange as this may sound, they almost need to give the Narnia films a feel more in line with the Harry Potter films than the Tolkien one's, if that makes any sense to anyone.

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I would rather read the book it is a book so it is designed to be read not made in to a movie and watched.

Yeah. Rather like your own favorite movie, The Passion of the Christ, huh?

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Just posted this in another forum.  Have we already discussed this angle?

- - -

FWIW, I just watched the featurette on WETA's creature design at apple.com's movie trailer site, and I have to say I'm a little concerned about the way Richard Taylor goes on about the realism and the incredible level of detail that he and his crew are going into on this film -- the interview clips with him could have been pilfered from the making-of featurettes on the Lord of the Rings discs, they're so similar.

And the potential problem I have with that is this:  The whole point of Tolkien's subcreation was that he made a world that was fully realized and internally consistent in just about every way; thus, the detailed approach of Taylor etc. is perfectly appropriate to Tolkien's world.  But Lewis wasn't writing an alternate history of our world, as Tolkien was; he was just throwing together a patchwork of his favorite myths and legends, with some cute images that popped into his head thrown in for good measure.  Consider the image that started it all: that of a faun carrying gifts through a snow-covered forest.  Where did these parcels come from?  If Taylor were to say, "We wanted it to look like these parcels were really made by a gift shop in Narnia," what on earth would he mean by that?  And what about the books on Mister Tumnus's shelf?  Who are the publishers and printers in Narnia who manufacture those sorts of products?  If Taylor were to say, "We wanted these books to look like they had really come off of a printing press in Narnia," what on earth would he mean by that?

I don't mean to slag Richard Taylor -- he does great work! -- but I'm not convinced that this approach will work for Narnia as it did for Middle Earth.  Lewis's work deserves more of a "storybook" treatment, I think.  (And the fact that the film will begin with an extended treatment of the bombing of London also raises questions re: the film's tone.)

I'll be happy if my concerns are proved wrong, though!

If only I could be as clear. This is precicely the concern (half-formed,) that I have had since I heard about Taylor's involvement. Narnia isn't Middle-Earth, and shouldn't be. But really, if you look at shots, with no reference to origin, the filmic version of each world is virtually identical.

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FWIW, here's my response to someone else's response to that post about WETA etc.:

- - -

> > (And the fact that the film will begin with an extended treatment of

> > the bombing of London also raises questions re: the film's tone.)

>

> I think this may be justifiable. Back when Lewis wrote the Chronicles

> of Narnia, in 1950, The Blitz was still pretty fresh in peoples' minds.

> . . . Nowdays, that's something from the previous century. Showing a bit

> of it, as long as they don't go overboard, probably makes sense.

Fair enough. But I think "overboard" is a real possibility here.

Ironically, I think one of the best ways to justify such an intro, in terms of the *film's* narrative, might be to draw a parallel between the war in *this* world and the war in *that* world -- yet I also think it would be a mistake to portray the war in *that* world in the same sort of quasi-realistic way that Peter Jackson portrayed the War of the Ring.

So what sort of comparison *could*, or *should*, one make between the battles that open and close the film?

When I was a child, I found Narnia terrifying precisely because of its unreality -- like a lot of children's books, LWW allows children to process their fears by creating fearful things that are far removed from real-world terrors -- so if they make the war in Narnia realistic, they could very well lose the flavour of the book (and risk turning the film into a Lord of the Rings clone), but if they make the war more storybookish, well, *then* what is the point? The point of the *book* was *not* to contrast the real world with an imaginary one, at least not on *that* level. (This isn't The Purple Rose of Cairo here.)

But as ever, we won't really know until the movie's out.

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There's also a quite simple narrative problem the film presents if it doesn't clarify the horrors of the Blitz: younger viewers in 2005 don't have a cultural reference point for being embroiled in a war or evacuation. Most British kids certainly don't have any concept of this procedure and, therefore, Americans (and, indeed, the rest of the film going world) won't either.

It's important to clarify that the Pevensie's aren't on holiday at Professor Kirke's house. And that they've had to leave their families with the knowlede that they may not see them again. It's an immensly traumatic experience, especially for Lucy, which is why Peter and Susan are so willing to buy the idea that she may be play acting Narnia. (Also, as I mentionned elsewhere in this thread, there is an implicit suggestion in the books that Peter and Edmund are a little aggreived at leaving behind the excitement of a war for the countryside and would rather be in London. Their active involvement in the war in Narnia demonstrates to them what a horrific experience war is. Hence I have no problem at all with the film giving an extended treatment of the Blitz at its beginning)

Phil.

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True, true, all true, but if Peter and Edmund haven't experienced the horrors of war, hence their desire to stay in London, it's just possible that an extended Blitz would defeat that purpose and undermine their final "experience." (I believe that the BBC version--I know, I know, but bear with me--indicates that they're evacuated before the bombs start to fall, hence the boys' dissappointment.)

Wouldn't it get the point across better if the Blitz were not included, only referenced, so that the children onscreen, as well as the viewers, are left without a picture of war until the battle at the end?

Of course we won't know until the film's out (though we'll get an idea this April when the trailer is released,) but those are my thoughts.

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(I believe that the BBC version--I know, I know, but bear with me--indicates that they're evacuated before the bombs start to fall, hence the boys' dissappointment.)

Yep, that's right. And it's closer to the historical evacuations which were done as a result of the commencement of hostilities and the threat of bombing, rather than as a result. But I think the movie's stance is defenceible given how even *that* little sequence is becoming increasingly alien to today's youth. (I remember watching that episode with my grandmother who filled me in on the context of the Blitz.) Although watching it back nowadays it still holds up very well.

I guess I'm much less bothered by the embellishment of the Blitz and the war stuff which *does* fit into my own reading of Narnia than the seeming insistance of Richard Taylor et. al. to 'ground' the creatures of Narnia in their Greek origins rather than Lewis' more English intepretations, which *doesn't.* Peter's 'storybook' concerns ring home with me as well.

Phil.

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Ahh. I see. I think the Blitz could be introduced in a less alarming way, but, not having seen the film, I had better not pursue the issue. I would hate to have to eat my words come December. biggrin.gif

....the seeming insistance of Richard Taylor et. al. to 'ground' the creatures of Narnia in their Greek origins rather than Lewis' more English intepretations, which *doesn't.* Peter's 'storybook' concerns ring home with me as well.

Yup and yup. I'm agreed on both counts. (One thing I was impressed with--in a set report on theonelion.net--was the armor for the centaurs, which included two breastplates--one for the human heart, one for the horse's heart. It seems obvious, but I seriously doubt I would have thought of that....)

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Looks like Narnia's release date has been bumped up to December 9th. Maybe they're trying to beat King Kong into theaters because it's expected to do so well.

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I don't know if any of you know this or not, but The Matthew's House Project is doing a massive national lecture tour in relation to the release of the film. You can check out www.narniaontour.com for information and updates. With the amount of dates we have scheduled, there is bound to be something in your area.

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I have modified the thread title to incorporate the (unfortunate?) news you have reported, Jeff.

Does this mean Brian Cox will no longer be typecast as "the heavy"? (rimshot...)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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I don't know if any of you know this or not, but The Matthew's House Project is doing a massive national lecture tour in relation to the release of the film. You can check out www.narniaontour.com for information and updates. With the amount of dates we have scheduled, there is bound to be something in your area.

FWIW, I did notice this a while back, and blogged it.

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Love the children in the fur coats--they're perfectly Pauline Baynes.

The nostalgic me misses the White Witch's long, straight, spikey black hair, but Swinton certainly looks appropriately chilly, so I'm convinced she'll do well. Producers probably thought she'd look too "Morticia" if they went with the illustrations. And they may have been correct.

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More detailed and slightly different versions of the movie stills.

Looks beautiful!

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Wow... I love that image of the White Witch.

Edited by opus

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Those pictures look very much in the style of the most recent (American) covers of the paperback edition. Interesting.

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