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Reepicheep's Characterization  

Col Klink
NarniaWeb Nut

This isn't a thread to talk about the casting of Reepicheep. It's for talking about his overall portrayal. I feel like Reepicheep is one of the hardest characters to get right. Both the BBC series and the Walden movies did some aspects of the character well but others not so...much. I think this can be affirmed by looking at the threads when Eddie Izzard was recast. Some Narniawebbers were really disappointed that he wouldn't be returning. Others were neutral or even glad.

My problems with BBC Reepicheep mainly had to do with the casting. While his dialogue was drawn from the book, I feel like the actor lacked the dignity and courtliness to evoke the character. He mostly came across as really angry. Of course, Reepicheep should be fierce. He's probably the most bloodthirsty good character in the books. 😆 But he's also supposed to be really polite and aloof. Like I said, it's hard to hit that sweet spot for this character.

Both the voice actors for Reepicheep in the Walden movies were fine IMO. But the scripts portrayed him as too cynical and self aware for my taste. I mean Reepicheep should be self aware about his status as a mouse; it's a sore point for him. But I feel he shouldn't mention this himself except very delicately. For example, when a shocked Caspian says, "you are a mouse," I don't think Reepicheep should have sighed and said, "I was hoping for something a little more original than that." Instead he should have just give Caspian a death glare. 😡 Sort of like that but icier.

To pick one controversial line, a commentator on one of the podcasts objected to Reepicheep telling Pattertwig to "shut up" because he felt it went against Reepicheep's kindness. ... /#comments I also object to the line but for totally different reasons. 😏 I don't feel like Reepicheep was a particularly kind character in the books. I see him as being very aloof and, like I said, bloodthirsty. The nice things he does are done out of a sense of duty rather than charity. The "shut up" line bothers me because I feel like Reepicheep should use more elaborate and dignified language even when under stress. That's part of what makes him entertaining, the contrast between his small stature and his big vocabulary.

Looking back on what I've written, I'd say that main thing that's been missing from portrayals of Reepicheep has been courtliness. What do you guys think?

This topic was modified 1 month ago by Col Klink

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

Posted : December 1, 2018 12:43 pm
NarniaWeb Guru

I don't agree that the nice things Reepicheep does are done out of a sense of duty rather than charity. Look at the way he comforts Eustace when the latter had been turned into a dragon. Reep had no "duty" to help him; instead he went out of his way to offer him kindness and encouragement. He took a risk given that he and Eustace had been at loggerheads ever since the children had appeared on the Dawn Treader, and now Eustace was a dragon he could have swallowed Reepicheep in one gulp.

Posted : December 2, 2018 8:50 pm
NarniaWeb Junkie

What a great topic! :D

I agree that Reepicheep comforting Eustace was an act of charity, but I think I get where Col Klink is coming from. Eustace is almost at the point of despair after he becomes a dragon and I think Reepicheep recognizes that and changes his attitude towards him. Does that make him a "kind" character? I guess it depends what you mean by "kind". If your definition of "kindness" includes "patience" or "indulgence", then I don't think that's a good description for him. He holds himself and others to a high standard and isn't afraid to let people know if he thinks they are behaving dishonourably. Before Eustace reaches his low point and is acting disrespectfully or like a bully, Reepicheep has nothing but harsh words for him.

It brings to mind King Lune's words to Cor in HHB: "Never taunt a man save when he is stronger than you: then, as you please." Reepicheep will resist an enemy that is stronger than him (and, in his case, that's almost everyone :P), but he recognizes that it is shameful to kick a man when he is down.

This is in contrast to Lucy, who I would definitely think of as a kind character. She tries to be nice to Eustace pretty much throughout the book regardless of how nasty he is being to everyone around him.

I think the VDT movie made Reepicheep too mellow. I think that, in the book, once Eustace is turned into a dragon and his behaviour is improved, Reepicheep genuinely cares about him. But, he was also genuinely upset and offended by Eusatce's lack of respect earlier in the book. The antagonism was real. The movie made it more playful, so it didn't really feel like the real Reepicheep to me.

As for Reepicheep saying "shut up" to Pattertwig... I can definitely see Reepicheep getting frustrated with such a silly statement as "we could collect nuts" during a council of war (again, going back to the idea that Reepicheep holds high standards for others), but I agree he wouldn't use the words "shut up". Maybe something more like, "Spare us your frivolities, Pattertwig!" :p

Posted : December 5, 2018 4:33 am
NarniaWeb Regular

The Walden Prince Caspian started out on the right note, having Reepicheep chivalrously state that he will not fight an unarmed man. Overall in Caspian and Dawn Treader he was used for comic relief which is understandable to give kids who haven’t read the books something to laugh about but doesn’t capture the extent to which he is a martial mouse.

As for the BBC version, Warwick Davis played Reepicheep and he is an actor with the skills to pull off both the violent and harsh tendencies and the noble chivalric ideals of the character. I agree that the short tempered angry side was played up to a greater extent which may have been how he was directed to play it. Similar to how the White Witch’s complexities were downplayed in favor of a lot of overacting and yelling in the first one.

"Narnia, Narnia, Narnia,

Love. Think. Speak.

Be Walking Trees

Be Talking Beasts

Be Divine Waters"
-The Magician's Nephew

Posted : January 12, 2020 3:31 pm
NarniaWeb Regular

Wow, this is my kind of topic (obviously)! 😀

I agree with what everyone has said, to varying degrees:

  • I do think the "shut up" was a bit out of character; maybe "hold you tongue, Pattertwig!" or something like that.  But as others have said, comic relief.  The Walden PC didn't have much, so I get why they did that.
  • I agree that Reepicheep is chivalrous, fierce, and at times, even bloodthirsty.  He doesn't mess around.  Honor and dignity are very important to him, and the fact that he's a mouse is definitely a sore point for him.  He's a knight of Narnia, and expects to be treated as such.
  • Having said that though, I didn't mind the mouse jokes.  As someone pointed out in the book (I think it was King Peter), some people are afraid of mice; so to not lighten that up a bit might make him scarier than he was meant to be.  He's a swashbuckling butt-kicking hero, not a villain.  And I think his responses to "you are a mouse" capture his frustration with that fact without making him a joker himself.  I've often found that some people (myself included, according to my close friends and family 😀 ) tend to say things that are very funny (after the fact) when they're angry or annoyed.
  • But he definitely has a softer side too (though he would probably challenge me to a duel if he heard me say that 😀 ).  He does eventually befriend Eustace, and he finally does let Lucy give him a hug.  He has a deep longing to see Aslan's Country, and I love in the end when he throws his sword in the water.  Oh he's a ferocious fighter, and no one in their right mind would cross him, but Reep's more than just a one-dimensional warrior.

I guess for me the bottom line is, yes, he's a tough character to recreate in a movie.  I thought Walden did well, but I agree there's definitely room for improvement.

Yes, I'm a mouse... I mean, a geek!

Posted : June 27, 2020 11:20 am
Courtenay liked
The Rose-Tree Dryad
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

On the topic of the "shut up" comment to Pattertwig... I really do think a Look would have been more in character:

"That is why I have been at some pains to make it known that no-one who does not wish to feel this sword as near his heart as I can reach shall talk in my presence about Traps or Toasted Cheese or Candles: no, Sir—not the tallest fool in Narnia!" Here he glared very fiercely up at Wimbleweather, but the Giant, who was always a stage behind everyone else, had not yet discovered what was being talked about down at his feet, and so missed the point.

"Am I to understand," said Reepicheep to Lucy after a long stare at Eustace, "that this singularly discourteous person is under your Majesty's protection? Because, if not——"

"To the convenience of a lady," said Reepicheep, "even a question of honour must give way—at least for the moment——" and here he looked very hard at Eustace.

"Loyal as a badger, Ma'am, and valiant as—as a Mouse," said Drinian. He had been going to say "as a lion" but had noticed Reepicheep's eyes fixed on him.

He's not a sassy or snappy or flippant character; he is fierce and self-possessed and often stern, and if he is actually going to insult you, it's going to memorable. Giggle The filmmakers seemed to want to turn him into more of a swashbuckling Errol Flynn-type character, but I'm doubtful that Reepicheep ever cracked a joke in either book he appears in. He seems a bit like the Platonic form of the joy and wonder that makes you serious, the happiness that's too good to waste on jokes, that Lewis talks about in The Last Battle. I think it's easy to forget this because there are several times that he makes the reader chuckle, just by virtue of saying and doing the things he does while also being a Mouse.

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

Posted : June 27, 2020 1:40 pm
Col Klink
NarniaWeb Nut

Interestingly, I've read some people on the Chronicles of Narnia Facebook group say they thought giving the cinematic Reepicheep more of a sense of humor was an improvement on the book character. I guess they felt giving him more of an emotional range made him a more rounded character. I really don't relate to that at all. I actually find him funnier without a sense of humor. 😆 

Movie Reepicheep saying "you people have no imagination" to the Telmarine soldier who expresses shock at being killed by a mouse actually could have been salvaged for me. It would have been better if in earlier scenes where the same thing happened he would just glare fiercely. And the climactic line would be the result of frustration building up throughout the movie. It'd still be a change from the literary character but a smaller one. And I feel it would actually be funnier that way. 😆 

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

Posted : July 8, 2020 1:01 pm