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What If Netflix Did Try to Keep Within the Walden Media Continuity?  

Col Klink
NarniaWeb Nut

I'm aware that there are fans of the Walden Media Narnia movies out there who wish or hope that Netflix would make their new franchise be a continuation of the old one. I thought I'd start a topic to talk about what that would look like practically speaking.

I rewatched the movie, Return to Oz recently on DisneyPlus and I realized that movie gives you a good idea of what a Netflix continuation of the old Narnia movies would be like. You see that movie, which was based on the books, The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, wasn't officially a sequel to the famous MGM movie, The Wizard of Oz but it included a number of ideas from it (like the magical shoes being made of rubies and the citizens and things in Oz corresponding to people and things from Dorothy's regular life.) Simultaneously, it included ideas from the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, that weren't in the movie (like the deadly desert separating Oz from the rest of the world and the Tin Woodman's origin.)

I wouldn't say the result was a bad movie per se. It's technically very well done but it's also very confusing to watch. It clearly wants us to be thinking of the MGM movie but everything's so different, the actors, the visuals, the style, that it never feels like a real sequel to it. And you can't really forget about the movie and view it as a standalone adaptation of the books either. It's like a sequel to an imaginary movie that doesn't exist and while you watch it, you have to keep imagining what that hypothetical movie was like. You kind of feel like the filmmakers should have just been bold enough to make their own adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz even knowing it wasn't going to be as popular as the old one.

I love the world that the Narnia movies created (well, the first two at least) and I'd love to see what Charn and Underland and Tashbaan look like in that world. But a Netflix recreation of that world would inevitably feel like just that: a recreation of that world, not the real thing. It wouldn't satisfy a desire to explore the world of the movies further. That doesn't mean it'd be bad, just that it'd make more to sense to start a new continuity.

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 : June 7, 2020 1:25 pm
Courtenay liked
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @col-klink

I wouldn't say the result was a bad movie per se. It's technically very well done but it's also very confusing to watch. It clearly wants us to be thinking of the MGM movie but everything's so different, the actors, the visuals, the style, that it never feels like a real sequel to it.


I had a very similar reaction when watching the recent TV adaptation of "Watchmen" from last year. It is notionally a sequel to the 1987 Graphic Novel, yet it owes so much of its visual aesthetic to the 2009 Zack Snyder movie adaptation, and makes no effort to avoid comparision, yet at the same time wants to tell its own story.

As a result you have the visual component of the show asking you to remember the 2009 movie, and the storytelling element of the show asking you to remember the 1987 Graphic Novel, all of which I found to be very discordant (whilst the movie and graphic novel are very similar in terms of story, they differ on one very huge plot point which is a primary focus of the TV show).

It also doesn't help that the TV show is supposed to be a sequel, but then feels compelled to re-create certain classic scenes, or reference certain classic lines of dialogue, which all serve to make it feel more like a remake (or at least a "Force Awakens" style greatest hits compilation). Once you finally add in to the mix all the elements of real history and all the elements of fictional history, it all just became a very jarring experience for me.

Posted : June 9, 2020 2:25 pm
NarniaWeb Regular
Posted by: @col-klink

I rewatched the movie, Return to Oz recently on DisneyPlus and I realized that movie gives you a good idea of what a Netflix continuation of the old Narnia movies would be like.

I know what you mean!  Return to Oz wasn't bad, just... different.  Another example: Star Wars.  The original trilogy was awesome!  The Phantom Menace was good, but it didn't feel like the same story.  I'm a fan of Star Wars, but not a mega-fan; when I saw that movie I hadn't heard of the Sith, or Midiclorians (sorry for any misspellings lol).  But I knew Storm Troopers, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and lightsabers.  It's like, it's Star Wars, but it's not, sort of, I guess.

Returning to Narnia, I agree that continuing the Walden series would feel like just a recreation, and not the "real thing".  I didn't dislike their version of VDT, but I dread to think where they would have taken a Silver Chair rewrite; because that's what it was looking like - a total rewrite.  The green mist would have had some connection to LotGK, who would probably have ended up also being the White Witch (again).  It would have suffered from severe political correction, making Jill a butt-kicking hero because she's a girl, and would make Walden's VDT look faithful to the book!

But even if it were done right - and I mean impossibly right - it wouldn't feel like the same series.  They would need a different actor for Eustace, and Caspian, and probably Trumpkin too.  They might need a different voice for Aslan.  They probably wouldn't have access to whatever props or CG were used to make Cair Paravel.  They might be able to find the original filming site in New Zealand, but then they would have to make it snow again when Jill climbs out of the hole at the end.

On the other hand, I think HHB would be totally doable, and really good.  The kids who played the Pevensies are actually adults now, so they could come back.  We haven't seen any version of Calormen yet, and very little of the story actually takes place in Narnia, so I think it could work.

MN and LB tricky though.  The actress who played the Witch is old enough to be my mom now, and she's not getting younger; so they would need a different person to play her.  Same goes for Eustace, and other characters who come back in the end.

Bottom line: I don't know, what do you think? 🙂

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

Posted : June 24, 2020 10:32 pm
NarniaWeb Junkie

I've only seen one of the Walden movies (LWW), but my thought is that Netflix would be much better off doing a total reboot / refresh. I enjoyed Return to Oz when I was little, but I totally agree there's something a bit strange about it, the way it sort of tries to be a sequel to the 1939 classic and at the same time it isn't.

Even though LWW was great as a film in itself, I've always felt it didn't capture the spirit of the original book very well (starts out very promisingly but loses the plot along the way, in my estimate — and I'm afraid I couldn't stand the Walden version of Aslan), and by all accounts the other two films got further and further away from the originals. On the other hand, the BBC adaptations, which were on TV when I was 7 or so, were very faithful to the books but in a rather plodding and pedestrian way (and the special (???) effects were terribly hokey even by the not-very-high standards of the time, although in a way that was part of the fun Tongue ).

I'd love to see Netflix go totally back to the drawing board and create an all-new version of Narnia that sticks close to the source material but brings it to life in a way that feels really fresh, not sort of oh-yawn-we've-seen-all-this-before, which I think would be a real danger if they try to imitate or re-create the Walden versions. I don't think any previous screen adaptation has ever really done the Chronicles justice. Of course there's no guarantee Netflix will either, but the fact that they've deliberately bought the rights to all seven books suggests they're really serious about this and want to see the whole of it through (and are convinced it'll get an audience), so here's hoping!!

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

Posted : June 25, 2020 2:52 am
NarniaWeb Junkie

I want them to do a total reboot as well. The potential of getting an entire run of the series with the same actors is just too good to not take a chance at. I, also, don't really like big parts of PC and VDT, especially VDT which made really big mistakes, in my opinion. I want them to start over and do like ten episodes for each book. Probably won't happen, but that's the dream.

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

Posted : June 29, 2020 11:34 am
The Rose-Tree Dryad
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

The only way I could imagine them doing this on the practical level was if they deemed the original Pevensies too popular to replace (i.e., the series/movies would be more successful if they were re-cast in their roles) and they made an expanded "original" Golden Age series about the Pevensies' reign during their first time in Narnia.

I would be really, really surprised (and not very happy, even though I do like the original cast) if they did this, but I've also been surprised at the number of people I've seen online who outright said they were hoping for an "original" Golden Age series about the Pevensies when the Netflix news was first announced. (See this Reddit post with twelve upvotes.) No offense meant to anyone, but when we still have four books that have yet to be made into big budget productions with modern computer imaging technology, I can't imagine wanting Golden Age fanfiction instead. Eyebrow (That's not to say I wouldn't like to see an adaptation that elaborates on what Lewis describes about the Golden Age, but it should be limited... I don't want to see multiple episodes filled with fabricated material masquerading under the name of Narnia.)

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

Posted : July 9, 2020 5:18 pm
NarniaWeb Guru
Posted by: @courtenay

I've only seen one of the Walden movies (LWW)

Wow, really? Has that been intentional? Not trying to be off-topic, but I need answers! 😂

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Posted : July 10, 2020 8:18 am
NarniaWeb Junkie

Yes, it has been intentional. I saw the first film when it came out in 2005 and thought it was very well done in and of itself — it started out well, but I felt it ended up failing to capture the lovely, gentle, understated spirit of the book (which I've known since I was 4 or 5 years old and it's always been a big part of my life). Too many added action scenes and I just couldn't warm to that particular portrayal of Aslan. It's not a bad film, but for me it just wasn't Narnia. So when I heard that Prince Caspian went noticeably further from the original story to the point where quite a lot of fans weren't happy (especially with the implied Susan-Caspian romance... ugh), and then Dawn Treader strayed so far from the book that it was almost unrecognisable, I decided that I really wasn't interested in seeing either of them and I'm still not. Grin But that's just my opinion and I wouldn't argue with anyone who loves the films and has got a lot out of them — we've all got different tastes and that's the way it should be.

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

Posted : July 10, 2020 8:43 am