From USA Today‘s story on the “tightrope” that the makers of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian have walked, between satisfying Christian fans of the book and broadening the movie’s appeal:
He also had to leave out some beloved scenes and characters. Goodbye to Greek God Bacchus and his wild girls who in the book accompany Aslan on a joyful romp; writer Stephen McFeely said the Greek gods are no longer an easily recognizable cultural reference.
Um, isn’t that kind of the point of the story? That the culture — both Narnian and English — has lost touch with its mythic, imaginative roots, etc.? Certainly one of the things I always liked about the Narnia books — and movies like Fantasia (1940), pictured above, which also depicts Bacchus — was the way they introduced me to stuff like this when I was a kid.
I do like the Gresham anecdote that comes near the end of this other bit from the USA Today story, though:
Adamson also updated the movie for 21st century mores. To make it more inclusive, he added female dwarves, child-aged fawns and an “Afro-centaur” (Cornell John) as Glenstorm, the noble half-man, half-horse. In addition, the Pevensie sisters, Susan (Anna Popplewell) and Lucy (Georgie Henley), join the battle, which they avoid in the book.
For Adamson, it was an obvious choice to allow women an active role in the fight. Referring to the gift of bow and arrow that Susan received in the first movie, Adamson laughs, “If she’s just going to make sandwiches, then give her a plate and a knife.”
Adamson made his case for the changes to Gresham by arguing that Lewis’ female characters become stronger as the book series progresses — something he attributes to Lewis’ real-life romance with Gresham’s mother, Joy Davidman. Gresham agreed. As evidence, he recounted an encounter he witnessed between Lewis, Davidman and a longbow-wielding trespasser on their property. Davidman carried a small “garden gun.” When the man aimed a drawn arrow at the pair, Lewis chivalrously stepped in front of Davidman to shield her. He remained for a moment until Davidman, a Bronx native, commanded, “Goddamn, Jack, get out of my line of fire.”
“That whole kind of experience of my mother’s determination and personality I think changed Jack’s ideas towards women,” says Gresham.
I have heard variations of that anecdote before, and I do like it, even if I am somewhat dubious about the way Adamson invokes it here — or the broader characterization of Gresham’s mother — to turn Susan into another generic “girl power” killing machine.