Mick Silva’s Advice for Writers; Narnia’s Makeover for High King Peter

Silva ponders

Mick Silva on the voice of the Christian writer.


High King Peter of Narnia’s “small mind”

In C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, High King Peter did *not* have a “small mind.” But it seems that American filmmakers are almost incapable of portraying a valiant, decisive, noble leader. It’s as if we don’t believe it’s possible anymore.

Aragorn, that great king in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, was given a Hamlet-like complex, a severe insecurity, and all kinds of debilitating doubts by the filmmakers. In the Narnia movies, it appears that High King Peter is about to fall victim to the same disease.

See what Steven D. Greydanus reports from the Prince Caspian junket, over at ArtsandFaith.com. He recounts what was said about revisions to Peter’s character. Apparently High King Peter now has a big ego, but a small mind. So much for the noble, mature leader of Lewis’s world.

Now remember, Lewis and Tolkien didn’t mind movies being made of their stories so long as the core, the heart, the meaning of the stories remained intact. I’m more and more concerned, from the buzz I’m hearing, that Prince Caspian the Movie has little to do with the meaning of Prince Caspian the Novel. The storytellers seem to be writing in their own meanings. They shouldn’t have bothered with Lewis. They should have made up their own stories. Ahh, but then they couldn’t have exploited the beloved name of C.S. Lewis, could they?

Again, I hope I’m wrong. I hope the movie arrives and surprises us by preserving the core of Lewis’s story. But based on reports from trusted friends who have seen it, that looks less and less likely.

I encourage you: Read the book. Then you’ll be able to make a fair assessment not just of the movie as a movie, but of the movie as an adaptation.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.