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Eustace and Jill on a First Name Basis  

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Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

One thing that I wonder about in a Silver Chair adaptation is should Jill and Eustace refer to each other by their last names, as they do in the book, or should they call each other by their first names?

The problem with Jill being called Pole is that viewers might get confused and think that's her first name. It's not as bad with Eustace because everyone will remember his name from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though it could be confusing if newcomers don't remember his surname from there (since he'll presumably be called Eustace mainly) and think Scrubb is some sort of nickname. Pole and Scrubb are also sort of odd sounding names taken out of context. We don't want, say, Jill to dramatically scream Eustace's name when he falls off a cliff and have it come across like she's desperately urging him to wash behind his ears. ;))

But on the other hand, if Jill and Eustace don't address each other by their last names initially, we lost that great moment towards the end when they finally call each other by their first ones. :(

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

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Posted : April 6, 2020 2:43 pm
Wanderer Between Worlds
(@wanderer)
NarniaWeb Nut

Their names do sound odd on by themselves, come to think of it ;))

I think I personally prefer the latter option, where them finally going on a first-name basis has more weight and impact. There is also the added bonus of showing character growth without spoonfeeding the audience.

The issue of the unfamiliar nicknames might be able to be resolved in the opening scenes at Experiment House. The adaptation would spend a few minutes establishing just how dull and horrible the school is (maybe even, as others have suggested, focus on further developing the reason why Jill was crying when Eustace found her). Perhaps then we could see a shot of the Head or another teacher calling roll, saying their full names while the camera focuses on the two of them. Then maybe cut to a later shot of them at recess addressing each other by their last names to create a contrast and show the audience what to expect.

--Wanderer

"I am,” said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

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Posted : April 6, 2020 3:53 pm
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

Another possibility is using the surname and first initial, such as J.Pole, or E Scrubb. Traditionally boarding schools called the boys by surnames, and the Latin name for where they came in their family (although Lewis and his brother were Lewis Major and Lewis Minor, as there were only two of them).

But we know Eustace is an only child, and I tend to think Jill is too, so I think calling each other by surname will have to do. Somewhere earlier there will need to be both names used.

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Posted : April 6, 2020 8:37 pm
JFG II
(@jfg-ii)
NarniaWeb Regular

Saying someone’s first name implies a more intimate friendship. Something British school kids would be uncomfortable doing with those they weren’t close with.

To deal with Jill & Eustace’s surnames, I think a Silver Chair adaptation ought to begin on a more personal note than the book did: Getting to know Jill. Implying she didn’t just materialize in the Chronicles, but that she has always been there - in the background. We, the audience, just never knew it. I wish the Walden filmmakers had tried to put Jill in LWW or PC in an organic way. Even if they changed Jill’s actress for her SC debut.

One Narnia movie moment that I really want to happen (but never will) is an opening scene where Jill Pole sits on a train platform waiting for the train to take her back to school, and Lucy Pevensie sits down next to her, trying to strike up a friendly conversation. Jill doesn’t know who this girl is, but the audience does. Lucy doesn’t know who Jill is, other than her E House school logo, the same as Eustace. It would establish Jill being a bit standoffish. It’s clear the two girls like eachother’s company, but Jill doesn’t have the guts to make friends with someone she’ll (apparently) never meet again. So she doesn’t give her last name, but gives her first. That’s the last time we hear her first name spoken out loud for over an hour.

Scene cuts to a time-jump. 2 Weeks later. Outside. Eustace is walking and whistling, and comes across Jill crying behind the gym. She calls him Scrubb, he calls her Pole, and that’s how it stays until halfway through the story, when someone slips (in Narnia) and says the other’s first name. By the end of the film, they just call each other by their first.

(The movie would end with a brief flash-forward to a Christmas party where Eustace introduces Jill to the Friends of Narnia. Jill realizes it’s Lucy, and vice-versa, and the two become close friends after that.) :) That’s my two cents. I hope it furthers the conversation!

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Posted : April 7, 2020 3:13 am
Cleander
(@the-mad-poet)
NarniaWeb Junkie

@JFG II: The "getting to know Jill" approach is definitely something I'd want to see if the Netflix production was a TV series. It ties in well with the " friends of Narnia" storyline idea.
As for the first name basis, I think just plain old Eustace and Jill works for me. This is pretty much how the audio drama handled it, and it does avoid confusion, so... just maybe the filmmakers could overlook boarding-school customs for this one?? I think the American audience would have an easier time understanding it that way at least...
I know that would mean sacrificing a good bit of drama at the end, as Col Klink mentioned, but it may have to be the price to pay in order to avoid confusion.

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Posted : April 7, 2020 9:07 am
Rogin
(@rogin)
NarniaWeb Regular

I'm actually hoping they go ahead and cut out their nicknames all-together. They're both quite awkward to say alone and it's one of the aspects of The Silver Chair which always bugged me.

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Posted : April 24, 2020 7:37 am
JFG II
(@jfg-ii)
NarniaWeb Regular

I'm actually hoping they go ahead and cut out their nicknames all-together. They're both quite awkward to say alone and it's one of the aspects of The Silver Chair which always bugged me.

It's always bugged me too, but more in the way Lewis intended: It's cold and impersonal, and true to school kids in real-life, at least in the 1940's; Personally, I was at an all-boy school once, and I was called on by my last name. Whenever I was called on by my first name, it was never by my life-long nickname, because the teachers only prefered my legal first name. Ugh. 8-} .

Scrubb and Pole: I don't like it, but it feels nessecary for the Silver Chair story. I just think people find it awkward because Eustace and Jill don't have very memorable last names (ex. Potter & Granger; Nishikata & Takagi-san ;).)

It also highlights the pointless formality of last names in Narnia vs. E-House. In Narnia, people treat eachother as equals with worth. While at E-House, it's just a part of school life: Students treat other students as fellow competitors, not as fellow humans with emotional dimension. At least - Not unless they're really close.

In Narnia, however, Eustace and Jill start using eachother's first names, not because they're getting closer (at that point, they're not). They just start calling eachother Jill and Eustace because they have a new-found care - and even affection - for eachother, which is more respectful of eachother's dignity, than at the book's start, when these two kids were little better than squabbling strangers. ;)

Then they started using their last names again at the start of Last Battle. 8-}

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Posted : May 7, 2020 12:55 pm
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

The word 'nickname' usually means a name that is not part of a legal name - like the mechanic called Inky in one place I lived.
A personal name that is not the first one in the legal name, is often called 'calling name' or 'preferred name'.

It was totally normal in all English schools, even up to my generation, to use surnames for boys. At Experiment House, Lewis has not changed this, in fact he has made it normal for girls as well. It seems wrong to change it. In a school where most of the children are bullied by the gang; would they not keep a defensive formality?

In the book, Jill and Eustace's first conversation refers to 'Carter' and 'Spivvins', but when Jill speaks of two of 'Them' she uses their full names.
When they return from Narnia, Lewis lists the bullies who are meeting them: two girls' by full names, one boy as 'Cholmondely Major', another boy by surname plus nickname ('Spotty'), another boy as 'big Bannister', and twins by surname only. The pattern seems to be surnames only, unless the person is a friend or Important Person.

I like that distinction, and however it is shown, it is worth keeping in the movies/series.

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Posted : May 7, 2020 2:47 pm
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I have no strong opinions on this either way, but I just thought it was worth pointing out a couple of things...

    1. It's still incredibly common for people to refer to each other by their last names here in England. I have numerous friends who I would generally feel weird about calling them by their first name - and that's not just the people who I have known since school age, but people who I have met from all walks of life. (I would say that 50% of my friends only ever call me by my last name.

    2. It's not just a British thing. I can think of countless US TV Shows which feature prominent lead characters who are nearly exclusively referred to by their last names - Mulder in the X Files, Cartman in South Park, Schmidt in New Girl, Turk in Scrubs, Hitchcock & Scully in Brooklyn 99, Smithers, Wiggum and Flanders in The Simpsons.... i could probably go on for a while with that list, so ubiquitous is the convention.
    [/list:u:184xzfgb]

    As such, it feels neither a necessary modernisation to change it, nor something that is ever likely to confuse audience members on either side of the Atlantic.

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Posted : May 8, 2020 4:25 am
JFG II
(@jfg-ii)
NarniaWeb Regular

If there is one thing a movie or televison adaptation of 'The Silver Chair' could add that no others before it had, is a narrator's precense - if not a narrator's actual voice. This would work so the audience heres the name 'Jill' when describing her, though characters call her 'Pole'. (Calling Eustace 'Scrubb' if they ever refer to him sounds like something Jill would narrate.) Alot of Narnia fans dislike the idea of a voice-over/narrator, yet there are creative ways to have one without it being annoying or boring. Multiple great films have had narrations, even so much as having the main character talk to God in his/her head. Hearing the voice of Jill's parents/gaurdians calling her by her first name (while she's traveling on the moor, and in the depths of fighting unhappiness) could be any interesting way of doing several things at once: Letting the audience know her full name while also implying she has parents while never actually metioning them (faithful to the book).

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Posted : May 9, 2020 9:32 am
Carley
(@carley)
NarniaWeb Nut

I remember being bothered by Jill and Eustace using each other's surnames for most of the SC when I first read the Chronicles. Now when I think about it, I'd rather have it kept that way because of its meaning to the book.

But it definitely poses some problems. I've been thinking about this, and, as someone who saw the Narnia movies before reading the books, I think some explanation would be helpful for people who haven't read the books. I really like your idea, JFG II, to have a narrator. I think it could be done in such a way that doesn't feel boring. I can just imagine certain moments where a narrator could be worked in.

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Posted : May 9, 2020 10:40 am
starkat
(@starkat)
Member Moderator

I think for modern audiences, they'll have to set it up through the introduction of the Experiment House. Maybe a scene where Jill starts at the school and has her first run in with the Head or the bullies and some comment is made about using last names being used. Maybe that could be the setup for why the bullies started off after Jill in the first place. I know it's not her first year there. Or maybe they could do it with a random kid just starting with Jill in the background cringing as they get the same introduction she did.

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Posted : May 13, 2020 6:18 am
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