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The 7 Deadly Sins of Converting Narnia to Film

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icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @son-of-eve
 
You seem to suggest that were the characters' presumed ethnicity (white British) changed, this would make Narnia movies somehow historically inaccurate. When, in fact, plenty of non-white people lived in pre-WW II Britain. Soldiers who settled after the First World War, doctors, sportsmen... So the Pevensies could be a mixed race family, Polly Plummer could very well be half- or quarter-Indian, and so on. They don't have to, but the point is they could, and it would not make the adaptations any less 'historical.'

Whilst it would be untrue to suggest there were "no" non-whites in the UK prior to WW2, it would be a huge stretch to say there were "plenty".

Most of the major immigrations of Afro-Carribean and Indian-Asian people didn't happen untill after World War 2, and even as late as the 1990s the UK was still 94% white (still even higher in rural areas)

Yes you could technically have the children be of any heritage and it wouldn't necessarily be "technically" historically inaccurate, but the problem is that if you do make them a group of non-white children living in the UK in 1940, then that fact suddenly becomes the single most interesting thing about them.

It's no longer then a story about 4 regular children who are whisked away from their regular boring life to go on a magical adventure... But rather a story about 4 highly interesting children who would have lived highly interesting lives.

Id even argue that being a group of 4 non-white school children in 1940s England would be so significant, that them discovering an interdimensional portal to another world would come a close second ... and at that point I'd have to wonder why you weren't then telling a story about the former rather than the latter.

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Posted : October 12, 2021 3:35 pm
Shawna, Mickey, Courtenay and 1 people liked
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

If I may chip in my two cents... while it may not have been historically likely that any of the Friends of Narnia were non-white, I personally wouldn't consider it a major problem if Netflix decided to go an alternate universe route where the immigration timeline is bumped back a bit and the U.K. is more racially diverse. I'm thinking BBC's Merlin from years ago as an example; if the BBC were to remake Narnia now, I imagine they would probably do it the same way.

I'd be surprised if Netflix cast the Pevensies as non-white, mainly because they're biological siblings and you'd have to pick one other race and I don't know how you'd choose. However, I've seen fans suggest having Eustace be half-Hispanic because his mother's name is Alberta, or maybe that Digory has Indian heritage because of his father being in India... if the actor fits the character, I just can't see myself caring that much about whether or not it's typical for those times in history. (And maybe they could cast Ben Kingsley as Professor Kirke — that would be cool. And related to this discussion, he was born in England in 1943; his mother was English and his father was Indian.)

If anything, my main issue with this is it might make England seem too diverse and interesting and steal some of Narnia's thunder. There's a great opportunity to include all sorts of people in Narnia, either as fauns or dryads or naiads or centaurs or giants. (I really want corporeal dryads this time around... no more leaf confetti. Tongue )

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : October 12, 2021 5:11 pm
Courtenay and Jasmine liked
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut
Posted by: @rose

I've seen fans suggest having Eustace be half-Hispanic because his mother's name is Alberta

Would Alberta have been that unusual a name in 1940s/50s England? To me, it sounds as much English as Hispanic.

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
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Posted : October 12, 2021 6:16 pm
Jasmine
(@jasminetarkheena)
NarniaWeb Nut

Well, you can't always trust everything you see circling online. The internet can't always be trusted.

“I said, Lord, Thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek!"
(Emeth, The Last Battle)

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Posted : October 12, 2021 6:18 pm
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator
Posted by: @col-klink
Posted by: @rose

I've seen fans suggest having Eustace be half-Hispanic because his mother's name is Alberta

Would Alberta have been that unusual a name in 1940s/50s England? To me, it sounds as much English as Hispanic.

It's definitely an English name, but according to Wikipedia, it is also a Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Catalan name. I've also seen it listed as a Portuguese name, too. So while she could easily be English, it would also be etymologically possible for her to have any of those ethnicities. I think that was the point of the fan I saw suggest this: you could have Eustace be half-Hispanic, based on her name.

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : October 12, 2021 6:28 pm
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mm1991
(@mm1991)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I guess this is quite an unpopular opinion, but I genuinely hope we don't get a step-by-step, word-for-word adaptation. That would be boring. There would literally be no point. Part of the fun, for me, in seeing multiple adaptations of the same source material is to see the different perspectives of how people see the story. We don't all see it the same in our minds!

Especially the tiny details. I don't care about "staying true" to hair colors or races or any of that stuff. Even some bigger stuff can change. As long as we still get the core of the story and those aspects are not corrupted, I eagerly await to see the differences from what I imagine the stories to be in my head! 

Kind of like Mozart's The Magic Flute. There so many different adaptations out there, from Wild Wild West to aliens in outer space. But every director tries to respect the source material as much as possible and evoke the same atmosphere and emotions despite adaptations that couldn't be further apart! 

This post was modified 2 weeks ago by mm1991

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!"
- Dr. Seuss

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Posted : October 13, 2021 3:45 pm
decarus
(@decarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie

The biggest problem with introducing Gail was because then it took away time with Lucy interacting with the other characters such as Edmund and Eustace. It is like they thought they needed another female character to allow the female character to interact with and no they did not.

It is the same problem with the Susan and Caspian romance. Instead of just letting Susan spend her screentime with her siblings or Aslan, they added this romance thing to do with the female character. Just no thanks to any of that.

I also do not want the children to act modern or have any modern ideas.

There are no clouds in the sky. There is only the open sun and the Lord watches.

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Posted : October 13, 2021 7:16 pm
Anfinwen
(@anfinwen)
NarniaWeb Nut

Evidently I'm very late to this thread! I'll list mine before reading others and then see how they compare. 

1. Trying to be epic instead of character driven. 

2. Removing or overdoing the moral lessons and character growth. (I know, very picky, but they've got to walk that line.)

3. Non-cannon romance- no Digory/Polly (guess I wouldn't mind if they were married in LB, but nothing in MN. They're kids!), Jill/Eustace, Caspian/Susan etc.

4. Keep current social messages out. I'm for justice, change, etc, but I don't want it forced in unnaturally. Keep what is naturally there. Want to Use HHB to shed light on child marriage and mistreatment of women that still happens in some countries? Go ahead. It's there. Want to address the evils of war and destruction in MN? Sure thing. Just don't force it is all I'm saying.

5. Too gritty/gory, I would love to be able to show it to my kids one day, and excessive violence is just distasteful to me. I don't want to subject myself to that. Narnia is a joyful place; don't lose that. 

6. Too Disney, make Narnia feel real, not like a fairy tale. 

7. Please, please, please, no one take this the wrong way; but Lewis didn't write any LGBTQ characters, so don't change them to be. That's my opinion; if you have a different one, that's yours and you don't have to agree with me. 

Edit: Ok, now I've read the other lists, and I agree with them a lot. 

Aslan- Yup, really important to get him right, but I think it's almost hard to get him too awfully wrong. I'm not super worried. 

Ethnicities- I really want it to feel realistic, so I wouldn't want the main kids changed too much. Digory and Polly sound pretty European. I feel like the four Pevinsies and Eustace were probably Caucasian too, but I could see maybe Jill being a different ethnicity/mixed. It could even tie into her arc. I count Aravis as a pretty major character who should be non-white, perhaps Caspian? As far as the Narnian characters go, there's a lot of cool opportunities. 

This post was modified 2 weeks ago by Anfinwen

Anfinwen

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Posted : October 14, 2021 10:57 am
Jasmine
(@jasminetarkheena)
NarniaWeb Nut

@anfinwen While I am against LGTBQ storyline (which I think now it's the thing), I didn't put it on my list because I know people have various opinions on this.  I'm sure in Narnia, Aslan would love the LGTBQ without judgement, like Jesus would. But a LGTBQ storyline in Narnia is certainly a no. I would be surprised that even Narnia would feature a guy or lesbian couple.

“I said, Lord, Thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek!"
(Emeth, The Last Battle)

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Posted : October 14, 2021 12:58 pm
Mickey liked
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @anfinwen

Please, please, please, no one take this the wrong way; but Lewis didn't write any LGBTQ characters, so don't change them to be. That's my opinion; if you have a different one, that's yours and you don't have to agree with me. 

 

Surely the more pertinent point here is that CS Lewis didn't specify the sexual preferences of any character, straight or otherwise. Sure there are some you could infer from context, but for the most part it's never mentioned because it's completely irrelevant to the story.

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Posted : October 14, 2021 2:42 pm
Glenwit and Courtenay liked
Jasmine
(@jasminetarkheena)
NarniaWeb Nut

@icarus That's true, he didn't. Romance of any kind whether between a guy and a girl or a villainous crush or between two gals or two guys or a guy or girl having attraction to both a guy and a girl is certainly a no.

In Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam being in a gay relation is often the misconception. No.. I think a lot of people often misinterpret their close friendship. Relationships should be about friendship. 

“I said, Lord, Thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek!"
(Emeth, The Last Battle)

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Posted : October 19, 2021 3:58 pm
daughter of the King
(@dot)
Princess Dot Moderator

*pokes thread* Friendly Moderator reminder to please not stray too far from the topic of the thread.

Posted by: @rose

I really want corporeal dryads this time around... no more leaf confetti. Tongue )

I haven't really thought about what my top 7 fears for the Netflix adaptation are, but this is probably one of them actually. Fantasy designs have gotten boring in the last few years. Make it unique, but make it pretty! Make it exciting to see on screen! The centaurs and fauns in the Walden movie looked great, but the landscapes were dull.

Narniaweb sister to Pattertwig's Pal

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Posted : October 20, 2021 3:18 pm
Cobalt Jade
(@cobalt-jade)
NarniaWeb Regular

I agree about the landscapes. I've got nothing against New Zealand but please, let's use something different the next time around.

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Posted : October 20, 2021 7:55 pm
Courtenay and Jasmine liked
Shawna
(@shawna)
NarniaWeb Regular

I'll be honest: I have no hope anymore that anything the American film industry comes out with these days, when it comes to adaptations of beloved work, especially works several decades or more old, will be remotely good or true to their source material. Not to be a downer, but they *will* find ways to ruin it. I mean, even PC issues aside, just look at the sequels/reboots/etc. that they've been doing for the past several years. Star Trek, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, the list goes on. One thing is clear: They make these films to appeal (according to what they believe will appeal) to today's teens, to *new* audiences, NOT to the work's existing fans. They believe that fans/viewers/audiences are sheep who will watch the thing regardless because they liked the original work and are familiar with the name, so they consider existing fans 'in the bag', people they don't have to appeal to. So they change things in order to try to win over people who didn't already love the original story. Again and again, this leads to the original fans hating the new stuff (new stories, new adaptations, etc.) and usually not gaining many of those new fans they're seeking. But they never learn. So they'll just continue doing it.

These days, when I hear that they're making a movie/series of a book series I love or rebooting some franchise I used to love, instead of getting excited, I just sigh and dread how they'll ruin another thing I love.

Sorry, I know that's pessimistic. But, really, I think it's just realistic. Keep those hopes and expectations low, and maybe you'll find something to like in the new movies. Hope for a good adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the work and the intentions of its original creator, and you're just setting yourself up for disappointment.

author webpage: http://shawnacanon.com

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Posted : October 21, 2021 6:09 pm
Courtenay, fantasia, Jasmine and 1 people liked
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie

@shawna 

Whilst I'm not going to say that you are "completely" wrong in your assessment, I would say it's a very misguided sense of cynicism you have towards the US film industry.

Sure, at the executive level in Hollywood, most people are in it to make money (for the most part), but that is equally true of any business that provides goods and services. And to that end I absolutely don't see anything wrong in wanting to make movies that will have broad audience appeal.

But when it comes to the creative level in Hollywood however, I just do not see the level of cynicism you seem to be suggesting is pervasive. I have watched countless behind-the-scenes documentaries from hundreds of movies and TV shows, and the one thing that is almost entirely consistent is seeing people who are passionate about storytelling and passionate about the craft of filmmaking.

It genuinely amazes me the level of effort and ingenuity that these guys put into every aspect of their work - sometimes you will see them go above-and-beyond to do something truly mind blowing, all for the sake of a shot which will be in the movie for a few seconds, or barely noticeable in the background.

And I also don't think you can entirely tar all the Executives in Hollywood either. Even something like the recent Dune movie amazes me that Warner Bros were willing to throw a huge bundle of cash at an auteur filmmaker like Dennis Villeneuve to make another big budget sci-fi movie, knowing full well that like Blade Runner 2049 before it, it would never have a chance of even making its money back. And the simple, answer to why they do it, as far as I have ever heard from anyone with contacts in the film industry, is that many executives are more than willing to throw big money at passion projects such as these simply because it's fun. It's why you get into filmmaking in the first place - to do something enjoyable that you can get excited about. They do it because they are as equally passionate about the magic of cinema as the people they employ.

 

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Posted : October 22, 2021 4:51 pm
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