My take on “Prince Caspian” the movie

C. S. Lewis’s “Prince Caspian” is, in his words, about the loss of the true religion and its restoration. Narnia has forgotten Aslan, most of the animals have stopped talking, and a rigid, freedom-denying materialism rules. The Pevensey children and a motley crew of “Old Narnians” are charged with restoring the old ways.

Thus, “Prince Caspian” is about our times and the challenge of re-evangelizing Western culture. That’s what my book, The Soul of Prince Caspian: Exploring Spiritual Truth in the Land of Narnia, is about.

The movie, though, which I finally saw yesterday, all but leaves out the book’s culture war themes! It is filled up with battle scenes of tedious havoc (who knows that allusion?), but leaves out completely Caspian’s backstory and the major symbolic episodes. Missing is Lewis’s treatment of the Telmarines’ atheism (“there is no such thing as lions!”), his devastating critique of progressive education, the exploration of walking by faith and not by sight, the Bacchus figure making the important point that Christian cultural influence should lead not to controlling others but to freedom, etc., etc.

I am not too bothered with cinematic additions to a book adaptation when it’s necessary to tell a written story through visual means. Sometimes an addition can even bring out and heighten something in the original story (as the movie does with its handling of bringing back the White Witch; also its depiction of Reepicheep and his fellow mice). But next time, let’s have a director who understands what the book MEANS! (I suggest Ralph Winter.)

Review “Prince Caspian”

I’ve been traveling, commencing, and grading papers, so I haven’t been able to see the “Prince Caspian” movie. Have any of you seen it? If so, how was it?

How is Ben Stein’s “Expelled”?

Who has seen Ben Stein’s satirical take on the Darwinist establishment, “Expelled”? I haven’t, and I’m not sure when I’ll get to. I see that even conservative blogs are just aghast at Ben Stein daring to defend Intelligent Design and to ridicule evolutionists. How well does he pull this off?

“Prince Caspian” the movie

Here is a preview of the next Narnia movie, an interview with the producer: Behind the scenes of ‘Prince Caspian’.

HT: The Pearcey Report

Movies as the opiate of the people

As evident in last week’s blog about cricket, India makes for a good case study about the effect of pop culture on a traditionalist society. In this article about the struggles of India’s “untouchable” caste to break into the country’s “Bollywood” film industry–Bollywood No Longer A Dream Too Far for India’s Lower Castes ––we learn just how much the poor people are taken with the fantasies they see on screen:

Going to the air-conditioned cinema is a popular national pastime without parallel in this country, especially for low-caste laborers who work under India’s unforgiving sun — in construction, in farming, as cow herders and as fruit vendors. For Indians, most of whom subsist on less than $2 a day, the masala mixes of drama and dance are the ultimate escape.

So beloved are Hindi film stars that there are Hindu temples named after matinee idols. Political rallies always include a Bollywood starlet. Some political leaders are former actors. And in small-town theaters, audiences are so personally involved in the melodramas — often four hours long — that they whistle, clap, imitate dance moves and sing along with the songs.

“India is really a special place for film. It’s second only to religion in the way it occupies people’s minds and dreams,” said Barry John, a longtime drama teacher.

Hobbit, the Movies

The movie version of “The Hobbit” is getting under way. Here are some details:

Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was named on Thursday to direct two movies based on the J.R.R. Tolkien book “The Hobbit” to build on the blockbuster success of “The Lord of the Rings” series.

Plans to make a two-part precursor to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, based on Tolkien’s three-volume follow-up to his “Hobbit” story, were announced in December after settlement of a bitter legal dispute cleared the way for the project.

Del Toro, whose credits include “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Blade II,” will move to New Zealand for the next four years to work on both “Hobbit” films with executive producer Peter Jackson, who directed all three “The Lord of the Rings” movies, according to New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

The studios have said that filming will begin in 2009, with tentative release dates set of 2010 for the first film and 2011 for the sequel.

The plans call for del Toro to work back-to-back on “The Hobbit” and its sequel, which will deal with the 60-year period between that story and “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the studios said.

Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” was a pretty remarkable fantasy movie, however creepy and depressing, so he should be OK. Jackson, who did such a good job with the trilogy, will be in charge. That this two-movie arrangement will include not just “The Hobbit” but will cover the 60 years before “The Fellowship of the Ring” is interesting, indeed. I guess that means that filmmakers will be taking on at least part of “The Silmarilion.”