The Telmarines in the Netflix Series
So, I've been wondering about the Telmarines in the new Netlfix adaptatios and have wondered how they will work with characters that have been adapted in different ways that have both been true to the series yet still added something that really fleshes out the characters.
I wonder how other people think the Telmarines may be handled? or in fact, how you would handle the Telmarines yourself? Would you stay true to the source material or add a new flavour to the mix that be a bold but fitting choice?
Looking forward to hearing your ideas.
I definitely hope they stick to the source material, there are some things I do want to see. Firstly, a great way to introduce them to the audience would be to show the scene of them finding the cave and thus entering into Narnia. When Aslan told that story in PC it has always fascinated me. Secondly, I would hope that there won’t be any kind of metal mask with a mustache on it. I always thought that edition to the armor in the movie was too distracting.
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Well, the Telmarines are supposed to be really boring and generic looking. The trick is how are they going to do that and make it look like an artistic decision instead of a failure of creativity? I wish I could come up with a good idea.
Firstly, a great way to introduce them to the audience would be to show the scene of them finding the cave and thus entering into Narnia.
But wouldn't that be giving away a plot twist? Of course, a lot of people will have seen the 2008 movie and we'll have read the book. But if that's the attitude they're going to take, why do an adaptation at all?
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I'm not a huge fan of the Pauline Baynes illustrations, but I think her conception of Miraz in his German-crusader-like armor was kind of interesting. Why not make the Telmarines more like 12th century knights rather than Spanish pirates/conquistadors? After all, Miraz is described as wearing a hauberk, and Peter wounds him through an opening in the chain mail, which makes it a little less likely that he would be wearing plate armor, as in the 2008 film. The crusader imagery works well when we think of the fact that the crusaders came to the East to take control and set up their own kingdom at Jersusalem. This would make it easier to think of the Telmarines as conquerors. (Ok, ok, I know... the crusaders came in retaliation to Islamic expansion in the East, but that's another discussion for another time. And they also burned and sacked the cities of Eastern Christians who had called for their help in the first place, so... yeah. Hope this little tangent doesn't start an argument among fellow history buffs. )
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I actually really liked Walden’s interpretation of the Telmarines. My only complaint was the inconsistency of accents/ethnic appearance. A little variety is fine, but when you got a guy that looks straight up Scottish among Spaniards and Italians? The illusion is gone.
That said, I don’t mind Netflix changing their look from the book. I think they should have some hint of a culture from our world, but they’ve also been a nation in Narnia’s world for hundreds of years it seems, even before their invasion of Narnia itself. So I would enjoy more originality in their approach. Perhaps even a rougher style when it comes to their royalty, not clean cut like the Narnians or sharp and intricate like the Walden version.
Personally, I think that the new Narnia Netflix series should interpret the Telmarines as being very Europian in look and feel so as to make a stark difference with the Calormens. But for Caspian himself, I think he could be mixed-race in background: A spiritual son of Shasta & Aravis. What I mean is this: In the books, those two get married at the end of HHB and have a son who is half-Calormen, half-Archenland in background, and since Netflix may be doing the adaptations in chronological order, PC would function as a spiritual sequel to the former. Caspian’s father is a full-blooded Telmarine, as is Mira’s and most other Telmar characters. But what about Caspian’s mother? Maybe she’s was a respected noblewomen from Calormen! Or Archenland...
I actually liked the Spanish-influenced, conquistador look for the Telmarines. I also appreciated the way that they portrayed the Telmarines as having advanced in technology over the past several hundred years, like using crossbows rather than bows favored by the Narnians. Since I am a movie purist at this point, I would keep the Spanish influences, as it looks intimidating and rather cool.
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Hey all! Personally, I would like to see more world building of the Telmarines! I liked the Spanish influence in the movie. However, I'm neither here nor there on what ethnic flavors they give them. Rather, I would like to see more of the world that they built in Narnia. Because, they were all about building towns everywhere, cutting down trees except around the coast, and perhaps and bunch of agriculture. They essentially turned Narnia into a commercial enterprise with the least amount of natural influence. I always imagined there cities as being highly urban with very little rural influences, a complete departure from the Narnia that was!
Here is something....what is the Telmarines faces were obscured? It would send the signal of Telmarines being generic but also be an interesting artistic choice. I don't know, I'm just thinking off the top of my head here.
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The books just tell us that the Telmarines were Pirates, so, I would like to see something other than the Spanish. Here is where I think Netflix should do some research and create something that looks different than the Golden Age. I was looking up different Pirates through the ages, and I kind of like the idea of Russian Pirates (Ushkuyniks) instead. Pictures of these pirates: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/354306695678924908/
Not to be a downer, but I can't help feeling that, in terms of armour and weapons, it's all downhill from here. Weta did such a masterful job of creating props that not only looked amazingly real in terms of technical craftsmanship, but also had the sense that they belonged to a real culture with a real history. There are many ways that the Netflix films/shows can improve on the Walden films, but I have a hard time believing this aspect will be topped.
I just saw an interesting fan theory about the origin of the Telmarines on /r/Narnia over on Reddit and I wanted to share it here.
Given that the age of piracy was over in 1900 (the year MN takes place in England) and assuming that time on Earth and in Narnia runs parallel (no criss-crossing back and forth in time), the Reddit poster suggests that the most likely historical explanation for the Telmarines' pirate heritage was German "commerce raiders" that were active in the Pacific during WW1. Even suggests specific ships it might have been; it's a very meticulous headcanon and I quite like it.
It also fits nicely with the correlations (imo) between the boring/militant/harsh Telmarine culture and Prussianism. I think that being descended from soldiers sent to sea (rather than your typical colorful rapscallion pirates) works much better, too. I wouldn't mind at all if Netflix chose to implement this theory in their series in some way (perhaps flashback scenes when Aslan is telling the story about where the Telmarines came from).
The Telmarines were Germans??? (Don't mention the war... )
That IS a very interesting idea, but seriously, I'm hoping Netflix (if they ever do get anywhere) will avoid going for any blatantly obvious "ethnic stereotype" looks for the Telmarines, or indeed the Calormenes. Now the latter are going to be even more controversial, since Lewis gives them an "Oriental" flavour that was a pretty standard trope in children's literature in his time and earlier, but these days I'm not sure any film-makers could get away with doing that without getting accused of racism, understandably. I'm surprised there weren't eyebrows raised at the Telmarines in the Walden version looking and sounding Hispanic! (Although I do remember cracking up laughing at one reviewer's comment that he or she kept expecting Caspian to come out with "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." )
I'm wondering if there's some way both the Telmarines and the Calormenes can be made clearly "exotic" and "different" without looking too much like they're a stereotype of any specific culture in our world? Possibly not — and I'm afraid there are always going to be critics who'll take offence even when none is meant (there are enough accusations already of the Calormenes being caricatures of Muslims, when, if you read the books carefully, they really aren't) — but I think it's interesting to wonder about and will be even more interesting to see what Netflix does with them!
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I heard Doug Gresham comment on the Calormene casting about 14 years ago; at that time I believe he favoured Northern Indian people for the Calormenes, certainly not Arabic, but more Persian.
As for Telmarines, the BBC and Focus On the Family serials both used similar white, English-sounding European actors. That can work perfectly fine, as long as there is something that distinguishes them from the Pevensies.
That's a fun theory, but i've always felt that the description in the book is fits too perfectly with The Mutiny on the Bounty (1789) for it to have been inspired by anything else. I guess though you would have to assume some sort of temporal worm-hole type situation to account for the time delay, but its hardly beyond the realms of fantasy logic.
On the one hand i agree that including the Pirate Origin scene ahead of time might then ruin any later reveal about the Telmarine's origins, however i also feel that in the Walden movie the scene where Aslan explains the Pirate Origin story just comes across as a dull exposition dump, right at the end of the movie. It kind of feels a bit like "and? why are we being told this information now?".
There is definitely a better and more interesting way to incorporate this; such as featuring the flashback scene as the cold-open of an episode, without any further explanation, and then paying off the reference later on with a call back. Or having Edmund in the real world reading a book about piracy, or being taught about a famous historical incident (such as the Mutiny on the Bounty) at school.
At least that way, if the seed of an idea is planted earlier, it feels like a reveal which actually means something.