Dawn-Treading Where They Shouldn’t?

Dawn-Treading Where They Shouldn’t? August 26, 2009

Let’s just be clear. These Narnia movies aren’t supposed to be based on the books. They’re supposed to be based on the filmmakers’ *memories* of the books, which they might not have read since childhood. Because, you know, those memories will be so much better than the books. And who could expect a busy filmmaker to actually read the novel he’s adapting?

The best I can hope, I guess, is that they come up with a compelling script, as Cuaron did when he “adapted” Children of Men while disregarding the source material. But the first two efforts haven’t made me optimistic…

Here’s the update, via a link that Glenn McCarty sent in:

“Andrew Adamson, who wrote and directed the first two, is a producer on it with me and Michael Apted is directing,” said Johnson. “It’s a whole new franchise, I think it’s really benefiting from it. It’s a slightly different look. This one is different from the others, it’s in that [‘Seventh Voyage of Sinbad,’ old Harryhausen films] league and they go from island to island having adventures. I’m very excited about it.”

He added that “Adamson said something that was so smart early on. I had just re-read the book and he said, I don’t want to make a film based on ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,’ I want to make a movie based on my recollection of it. He took a 9-year-old boy’s imagination. He saw things that are not even in the book. Lewis left, sometimes major battles, on a single page, so Adamson just re-imagined it.”

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  • Gaith

    Now THAT’s funny, at least to moi. Speaking of “The Golden Compass”, director Chris Weitz recently broke his silence saying:

    The last film that I made was recut by the studio, and my experience with it ended being quite a terrible one… I now remember how much fun it can be to make a film.

    With Golden Compass I felt that by being faithful to the book I was working at odds with the studio… [Its visual effects] is the most successful element of it, I think.

    Source: bridgetothestars.net

    Say what you like about the directing on that movie, but at least Weitz tried to get the (hem, admirable) spirit through.

  • Corey

    I don’t know those books were short to begin with. What source material can they toss out? lol

  • They should have been more honest. The real explanation would be:”I read Narnia when I was a kid and then when I re-read it again I realized the battles weren’t big and violent and kids today would probably find it a bit hokey. What we thought would be really cool would be to take Chronicles of Narnia, a Christian allegory…remove all the allegory…and do the Narnia we remembered…which we remember as being more like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.”

    These fantasy novels depend so much on voice and having a director behind them that understands not only the story but the tone, themes and voice of the tale. It’s why Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” worked or why the “Harry Potter” franchise has so closely resonated with fans of the books–the people behind the scenes understood why the stories worked and what made them unique and then stuck to that vision. Narnia works in print becuase of CS Lewis’s voice and because the Christian allegory is so woven into every thread…instead they’ve taken popular characters, a bare outline of the story and then put it on the mold of every other franchise that works. I thought Hellboy 2 better captured some of Prince Caspian’s (the book) themes than Prince Caspian (the movie) did.

    The closest cinematic cousin to Narnia, by the way is, ironically, the Golden Compass…the film version also took out the backbone and theme of the story (atrocious as it was) and left it neutered.

  • Well, that partially explains why the first two Narnia films are limp and unwatchable, but I also suspect Adamson’s ineptitude as a filmmaker has a lot to do with it, as well.

    Re: CHILDREN OF MEN, I didn’t think Cuaron did so well with his adaptation. He completely squandered a very rich and intriguing concept, producing a film that was by and large style (there’s some admittedly beautiful direction here) over anything like substance. The script is the least compelling aspect of that film. It’s much the same as BLADE RUNNER, which similarly suffers from an undeveloped screenplay (but I think BLADE RUNNER’s style is more impressive, and therefore the film is more captivating than CHILDREN OF MEN).