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The 7 Deadly Sins of Converting Narnia to Film  

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Silly Girl
(@fallen-embers)
NarniaWeb Regular

Some changes have to be made to make it more interesting on the screen. I don't mind these changes as long as they don't take away from the story/characters or make them less than. 

 

What I'm actually worried about, both, with regards to LoTR and Narnia series on Prime and Netflix, respectively, is that they would be driven by an underlying agenda, and we would end up not even recognising the characters on the screen. 

This post was modified 6 days ago by Silly Girl

For tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the Sun.

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Posted : April 27, 2021 1:44 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb
Posted by: @the-mad-poet

I'm not against them having a diverse cast- so long as the actors are cast sensibly and in their realistic settings. So of course, the kids should be white British kids- outside of that, however, I think a varied cast would be fine. (I've suggested in the past that an Asian actress could be good for Jadis.)  

Yes, and then the complaints come flooding in about making the villain look Asian!! Eyeroll I'm afraid no matter who gets cast as what, there'll almost always be someone offended somewhere...

Apart from obvious cases like white British actors for the children, as you say, I'd also be fine with seeing a good range of diversity in the cast. Tumnus, for example, has "rather reddish" skin according to Lewis, but no screen or stage version, as far as I've seen, has got that right! (Except the animated film, which gave him red skin, but, bizarrely enough, green hair.) And my personal "head canon" for Centaurs is that the skin colour of their human half should pretty much match the colour of their horse half, so that would allow for actors from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. And Dryads, too, probably ought to have skin colours that match the bark or the wood of the trees they come from. There is actually HUGE scope for diversity in Narnia if you count in all the sentient characters, not just the humans from 1940s Britain! Grin  

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : April 27, 2021 6:58 am
KingEdTheJust
(@kingedthejust)
NarniaWeb Regular

@sonofstone 

Ok, so maybe I used the term "teenager" too openly.  I know that now that word has a stereo-type that people associate with it.  What I was trying to say was that I think that the Pevensies should actually grow up as well as grow up mentally. I know what you meant when you said that they didn't have to grow up literally to grow up mentally. But I feel that they should grow up physically as well. I think it would help the reader to grow up with the characters while reading through the books. I also think that it would help people to look to new perspectives. If the Pevensies can grow up as teenagers and still keep their child-like qualities, it would help people to let go of the stereotypes that are on teenagers and would be a role-model to children to teach them that it is okay to grow up as long as you don't  'grow out' of the good qualities that made you a good child. 

 

@courtenay  

Thank you for sharing the timeline! I looked over it and it was mostly accurate. Though I do think that a new adaptation should stick to the timeline, as it is an excellent resource I also think that they should be free to choose how old the Pevensies would be. The timeline does keep the Pevensies at a very young age and does not keep them until they turn into teenagers. (except for Peter and Susan, sort of) I also think that the Pevensies should be a little older than they are on the timeline because it would further and better express the themes of growing up. They don't have to go by the stereo-type on teenagers but they can simply have the Pevensies to grow up just because years are passing by and they are getting older. Now don't get me wrong, 'growing older' doesn't mean they have to change their personality or their mood or who they are, it just means they are getting too old for Narnia.  The Pevensies also don't need to have romances, (like they did in the film version) they can just be themselves. 

 

"But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did." - (King Edmund the Just, Horse and his Boy)

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Posted : April 27, 2021 7:58 pm
SonofStone
(@sonofstone)
NarniaWeb Regular
Posted by: @courtenay

And my personal "head canon" for Centaurs is that the skin colour of their human half should pretty much match the colour of their horse half, so that would allow for actors from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. And Dryads, too, probably ought to have skin colours that match the bark or the wood of the trees they come from.

      Thought I never though about it this way, you bring up some great points, and I would be completely fine if they did that, yet I think it crucial they make all the kids and really everyone from England (except people like the butcher's boy in chapter 7 of the MN) white. Weather it was racist or not, that is besides the point, in 1940's London, the kinds of people these books are about are not going to be anything other ethnicity.

Posted by: @fallen-embers

Some changes have to made to make it more interesting on the screen. I don't mind these changes as long as they don't take away from them or make them less than. 

     This is called making a movie people (and yes, I am using a good bit of sarcasm here), but seriously, I totally agree, you must make certain changes to a story before it can be turned to a movie that is enjoyable and well thought out. But this can be taken way to far, such as the addition of Tauriel in the Hobbit films and the little girl that was added to the VoftheDT movie (I can't remember her name off the top of my head) these additions were completely over the top.

 

Child of the King: SonofStone

 

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

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Posted : April 29, 2021 10:02 am
Courtenay liked
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb
Posted by: @sonofstone

Thought I never though about it this way, you bring up some great points, and I would be completely fine if they did that, yet I think it crucial they make all the kids and really everyone from England (except people like the butcher's boy in chapter 7 of the MN) white. Weather it was racist or not, that is besides the point, in 1940's London, the kinds of people these books are about are not going to be anything other ethnicity.

Totally agree. I wouldn't have any expectation that the children from England are portrayed as anything other than white British, unless they decide to set the story in a completely different era. Which they might decide to do, but I hope they won't... 

I did comment here a while ago about a stage version of LWW that I saw in London, just before Christmas 2019, in which all four Pevensies, plus Aslan / the Professor (same actor for both), were played by black British actors. On the face of it, there's no problem with that if the story isn't set in WW2 Britain — it could quite easily be set in an indefinite time and place without any huge impact on the plot. (The 1979 animated version of LWW does this — there's no mention at all of the war, just that the children are "staying at the Professor's house". Lewis himself brings the war up briefly in the second sentence of the book and then there is never any reference to it again.) And there's no reason why only white children should be able to visit Narnia, after all! Tongue  

What I did find problematic in this stage production was the fact that it actually put a HUGE emphasis on the WW2 setting, far more than the book does (one sentence, as I said) and more than even the 2005 film does (air raid scene at the start). We as the audience were given reproduction tickets of the sort that evacuee children would have had, and the opening was framed as if we, too, were evacuees joining the Pevensies and others on their railway journey. The period costumes and the wartime atmosphere were very prominent. And in Narnia itself, we had repeated cameos from a number of added characters — a badger, a fox, a squirrel and one or two others — who were the "Narnian Resistance" against the White Witch and would pop up regularly from hidden trapdoors to report to each other about the progress of the children through Narnia and to co-ordinate the Beavers' expedition to find them. So they pretty much laid on the WW2 theme with a trowel.

On one hand, the British history enthusiast in me quite enjoyed all that, even if it wasn't part of the original book. On the other hand, the university-trained historian in me was absolutely screaming (silently): "Excuse me, but... while there certainly were black and other ethnic minority people in Britain in 1940, there were not very many of them in proportion to the white population — and a black family in 1940s London would NOT have been accepted as a "normal" part of mainstream society, let alone have the kind of upper middle class status that the Pevensies obviously have!!!" At wits end  

Anyway, with that off my chest... there could be worse attempts at playing around with Narnia adaptations. Far, far worse. I'm just remembering this news item that was published on NarniaWeb last year:

Enchanted Cheeseburgers: The Modern-Day Narnia Movie that Almost Happened

(And most of the ideas there, I think, go beyond "deadly sins" to downright unforgivable ones. Shocked )

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : April 29, 2021 12:58 pm
Silly Girl
(@fallen-embers)
NarniaWeb Regular

@SonofStone:

The little girl's name was Gail. I really don't understand why she was even there. At least Rince had a purpose. How can a little girl even help a crew in the search of her mother! She didn't have a character arc, nor a purpose, except for Lucy to spout cheesy lines I guess. 😒 

Gosh! The atrocity that was Tauriel, and her stupid love story, is the worst thing they probably did to Tolkien. Not only did it take away from the Legolas-Gimli friendship, which was one of its kind, it was also a punch in the face of those two great love stories between the elven-kind and the mankind. I mean, if elves can fall in love with dwarves, what's the big deal about Beren-Luthien and Aragorn-Arwen anyway!

N that's what I'm worried about with LoTR on Prime and the alleged Narnia on Netflix. We might not even end up recognising the story/characters on screen, as it was with The Hobbit "trilogy" *cough cough*

This post was modified 6 days ago 3 times by Silly Girl

For tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the Sun.

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Posted : April 29, 2021 1:59 pm
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie

@courtenay

I think this is a problem that story tellers are going to increasingly be confronted with in the coming years.

People fundamentally enjoy hearing stories being told and then re-told. It's why societies have latched onto the same sort of hero narratives in literature ever since the days of Ancient Greece...

And yet people also like hearing stories about people who are like them. Particularly children. For me, books like Narnia and the Famous Five were always appealing as a child because they were about children who were just like me...

But as societies develop and become more diverse, it's going to become harder and harder for storytellers to meet both these criteria - how do you re-tell old stories whilst also reflecting the changing background of your audience?

Comic Books have generally found good ways around this by introducing parallel versions of different characters, but it becomes a lot harder with worlds and stories as singular as Narnia.

And as you mention, things become even more problematic when you have stories which retain their historical setting. For me this is when the positive virtues of increased ethnic diversity start to give way to the more problematic problems of re-writing history.

If children grow up thinking that deep systemic racism didn't exist in the past because they saw an adaptation of Shakespeare in which half the court of Henry V was non-white, then that could have a deeply negative impact on the goal of stamping out racism in the modern day. It means a move on the part of the storyteller which was entirely well meaning suddenly becomes highly dangerous.

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Posted : April 29, 2021 2:31 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb
Posted by: @icarus

If children grow up thinking that deep systemic racism didn't exist in the past because they saw an adaptation of Shakespeare in which half the court of Henry V was non-white, then that could have a deeply negative impact on the goal of stamping out racism in the modern day. It means a move on the part of the storyteller which was entirely well meaning suddenly becomes highly dangerous.

That's exactly how I feel about shows like Bridgerton, but don't get me started!!! Tongue  

That said, I reckon film-makers (and book-writers) can overestimate the need for the audience to always have stories about people who are "like them". When I was a 7-year-old girl reading The Hobbit for the first time, I barely noticed that there isn't one single female character in the entire book — I just loved the story! Now if most of the stories I'd read had few or no female characters, I would have noticed and probably felt annoyed and let down, but for that particular book, which was such a good story, I didn't mind. And still don't!

(Glad to meet another fan of the Famous Five, by the way. Wink But even they don't appeal solely to white British and Commonwealth readers. I'm a member of the Enid Blyton Society discussion forums and it turns out her books are hugely popular in India, of all places, even today!!)

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : April 29, 2021 2:53 pm
SonofStone and icarus liked
KingEdTheJust
(@kingedthejust)
NarniaWeb Regular

Yes, I understand that you need to make few changes to turn a book into a movie. But I think that more than ' just a few' changes are necessary. Otherwise that's not really an adaptation at all. You change the movie based on how you perceived the book and the emotions/feelings you got when you read the book. Making an adaptation means to change it based on what you think other people would want to feel when reading the book and seeing it on screen. Also many of the changes made to a book when it is turned into a movie is meant to show morals not very much expressed in the book. With a book, you can just write in the morals, with a movie you have to show it on screen, which is harder.  

@sonofstone, @fallen-embers When they added the little girl into VDT, it was to show how Lucy is growing to be more like Susan, as in taking on the motherly role by taking care of a child.  It could be showing how Lucy's desire to be like Susan by wanting to have someone to take care of and to be gentle and motherly like her. It could also be showing how she is growing up, taking care of younger children, like Peter and Susan. This was a major change, but what I'm trying to say here is that is was to teach a moral. 

"But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did." - (King Edmund the Just, Horse and his Boy)

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Posted : April 29, 2021 5:25 pm
Lost in Narnia
(@lost-in-narnia)
NarniaWeb Newbie

@kingedthejust

It makes sense what you are saying about Gail but I still didn't like it. The girl wasn't an interesting character per se and yeah, she might've been included just to elaborate and deepen another character but it didn't work anyway.

Lucy was perfect in the first movie. The second film was not focused on her so much but she was still a lovable character. The VDT Lucy was just bland. Yes, she had her arc but it felt forced. As if the screenwriters desperately tried to give her a struggle which was supposed to be interesting and dramatic. I didn't feel it. True, Lucy showed some vanity in the book, but it was just a brief moment and there was never anything about her wanting to be like Susan.

It's not really a problem that something wasn't in the books (I liked changes they made to Susan) but there was also no hints in the previous movies. They did it too abruptly and too forcefully with no subtlety. They didn't convince me that those were feelings coming from the character's inside. I felt those problems were plastered onto the character by the imperative.

Still, Gail at least had SOME purpose. Tauriel was just to appeal to female audience (failed) and make the film(s) longer.

So, not to be completely off topic here, this "Tauriel mistake" is a serious danger for Narnia adaptation. Narnia books seem a bot short for those announced multiple films and TV shows. And while I'm not entirely against adding new characters, they must feel like they are part of this world, the kind of characters the author himself might have come up with. Which is very hard if not impossible to achieve, of course, especially if the author lived in a different era.

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Posted : May 2, 2021 8:35 pm
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Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut
Posted by: @icarus

If children grow up thinking that deep systemic racism didn't exist in the past because they saw an adaptation of Shakespeare in which half the court of Henry V was non-white, then that could have a deeply negative impact on the goal of stamping out racism in the modern day

I don't think that's necessarily true. Most kids are forced to go to school and learn about history. The concept of something being historically inaccurate is not that hard to explain and colorblind casting often isn't really trying to communicate what characters actually look like. It's more of a theatrical convention.

Posted by: @courtenay

I reckon film-makers (and book-writers) can overestimate the need for the audience to always have stories about people who are "like them". When I was a 7-year-old girl reading The Hobbit for the first time, I barely noticed that there isn't one single female character in the entire book — I just loved the story! Now if most of the stories I'd read had few or no female characters, I would have noticed and probably felt annoyed and let down, but for that particular book, which was such a good story, I didn't mind.

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels 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 check out my new blog!

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Posted : May 3, 2021 7:50 am
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