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What if Netflix made a Narnia adaptation that could be viewed in both chronological and publication order?  

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Wanderer Between Worlds
(@wanderer)
NarniaWeb Nut

     In the old forum, JFG II said this in response to theLukeskywalker2’s suggestion for ordering the books for Netflix (LWW, MN, PC, VDT, SC, HHB, LB):

“I like this idea a lot. Putting Magician's Nephew after Wardrobe would keep it a prequel while leaving open where the series could go. Leaving Horse and His Boy second to last would, in theory, give the opportunity for the kid Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy to return 7-8 years older than in Wardrobe. Of course, that would change the Lewis-Narnia timeline so that instead of occuring at the end of the Golden Age, 14 years after Wardrobe, Horse would take place half-way through their reign as kings and queens.“

     Conceivably, the actors could go straight from HHB to LB, since the Pevensies are around the same age in both books, give or take a few years.

     This got me thinking.  Would it be possible for the series to be acted and scripted so tightly that even if Netflix releases the series in publication order, it could still be watched in chronological order with a relatively seamless transition?  Would it be possible to have a series that could be “rearranged” in different fan-preferred combinations (such as LWW, HHB, MN…)?  Could Narnia fans “have our cake and eat it, too”?

      Suppose that Netflix films/releases the Chronicles in publication order (taking the above reasons into consideration).  Even if Netflix decided to film in chronological order, I think this could still work.  The two major hang-ups for either scenario would be HHB and MN, as they are the only ones that actually break the chronological order of events.  I might do something like this: 

 

LWW - I’d begin with the Pevensies arriving at the Professor’s house (maybe showing a bit of WW2 like the Walden film?).  No real changes until the Pevensies’ coronation.  Then maybe have a montage of them ruling the kingdom and growing into their roles as monarchs.  Show Susan receiving the letter from Tashbaan, Peter leaving to go to fight the Northern giants, and Lucy waving goodbye as Susan and Edmund go to Calormen (these can all be fleshed out later on in HHB, but just little hints here in LWW).  Have the final scene in Narnia be the hunting of the White Stag.  End with the Pevensies’ conversation with the Professor (either avoid naming him at all here, or if he goes by Professor Kirke, avoid giving his surname in MN).  Personally, I envision the Pevensies leaving his study, with one of them saying something like “You don’t think he’s been there, has he?”  Then cut to Professor Kirke overhearing them and giving a small smile.  This would be a nice call back/lead-in to MN, depending on which order is chosen.

PC - Essentially the same, with perhaps a flashback to the fall/deterioration of Old Narnia and Telmarine invasion when Trumpkin begins his story.  This way, the Telmarines are a bit more fleshed out but it still preserves the mystery of what happened to Old Narnia.

VDT, SC - No real changes to these, except maybe establishing a tighter link between VDT and SC (showing Caspian and Ramandu’s Daughter’s wedding and perhaps some snippets of Rillian’s childhood building up to the events of SC.  Personally, I would opt not to show the LOTGK capturing Rillian and killing the Queen, as it would ruin some of the later mystery, but I’d be ok with showing it in a flashback when he explains what happens to Jill and Eustace).

HHB - I’d begin with Shasta’s story in Calormen and make no mention of Narnia until he “falls in with the Narnians” and is switched with Corin.  This would preserve the disconnection from the familiar that is felt when HHB begins.  When Shasta overhears Susan talking about Rabadash and how she should have never accepted his invitation, there could be a flashback to the events hinted at in LWW, perhaps fleshing those out a bit (they could even use footage from LWW, as it was filmed first).  I would continue following the book from there, maybe including a scene that hints the Pevensies have vanished hunting the White Stag.  Because of the flashback to LWW, HHB could be placed almost anywhere after LWW while still maintaining that link. 

Edit: Narnia should definitely be mentioned when Bree tells Shasta about the North, which is the whole reason the events of HHB happen.  Have mentions and discussions about Narnia following the dialogue of the book, but I would personally refrain from doing any flashbacks to LWW/references to the Pevensies or the Golden Age until Shasta falls in with the Narnians.  Credit to @courtenay for noticing this huge hole in this hypothetical adaptation.

MN - I’d also begin this one with no mention of any other books/series.  No real changes until the end, where I might show Digory growing older, acquiring the house, the tree blowing down, and him making it into the wardrobe.  End with a clip/tease of the Pevensies arriving and Lucy discovering/stepping into the wardrobe.  This way, MN would hint at the next series/movie if watched before LWW and would give a sense of “coming full circle” if watched after LWW.

LB - Essentially the same, aside from following up on some possible foreshadowing in SC with Puddleglum’s statement that the “bright mornings brought on wet afternoons and that you couldn't expect good times to last.”  Credit to @col-klink for his observation here.

 

     This way, you could watch them in chronological, publication, or another preferred order.  This arrangement also allows for the Caspian trilogy (PC, VDT, SC), the Pevensie trilogy (LWW, HHB, PC), or the Jill and Eustace duology (SC, LB) to be relatively stand-alone for people who prefer the Chronicles being less of an interconnected story.

     I just thought about this today and quickly outlined my ideas.  It’s far from perfect, but I’m curious to know what you think.  Is this a viable option?

— 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 : June 9, 2020 1:34 pm
Courtenay liked
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I'm not sure how feasible it would be to ensure that the narrative component of the series would work regardless of viewing order - for me, the publication order is the only order worth considering, since The Magician's Nephew is only interesting as a story if you understand the pay-off for who the witch is, who digory is, why the lamppost is significant and why the wardrobe is significant. Without the context of prior knowledge about what all these things mean, that would be a very unsatsifying ending to a story.

One interesting thing that is perhaps worth noting however - when Netflix released the animated anthology series "Love, Death and Robots" in 2019, they did so with 4 completely different orderings of the episodes. All users were randomly allocated to one of the 4 different episode orders. I think it was part of Netflix's ongoing efforts to try and understand viewer behaviour, by trying to test out how users viewing habits are impacted by something such as the episode order (they also do a lot of experimentation with different thumbnail images which can produce some very odd results).

 

 

 

 

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Posted : June 9, 2020 2:36 pm
Eustace
(@eustace)
NarniaWeb Junkie

 

 

     This way, you could watch them in chronological, publication, or another preferred order.  This arrangement also allows for the Caspian trilogy (PC, VDT, SC), the Pevensie trilogy (LWW, HHB, PC), or the Jill and Eustace duology (SC, LB) to be relatively stand-alone for people who prefer the Chronicles being less of an interconnected story.

 

     I just thought about this today and quickly outlined my ideas.  It’s far from perfect, but I’m curious to know what you think.  Is this a viable option?

 — Wanderer

 

I kind of like this idea it's really quite intriguing. I almost want them to make the series so they can stand alone on their own just like the books do in their own way, so that you can watch any of the series without having to watch the ones before or after for them to make sense. Maybe they could treat them like different trilogies or sets so you could view some together. Like how there are sets of Star Wars films. Although, I am not saying get different directors for the different trilogies, but maybe that could be an idea since certain books have different atomspheres than other books. SC and LB are definitely on the dark side. Although, you would want to make sure that each one of these movies and or series felt connected in the same world. 


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Posted : June 9, 2020 4:53 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Junkie

That's a really interesting idea, Wanderer! It would be good if Netflix's adaptation makes a point of the links between the different stories, perhaps in some of the ways you've suggested. I've been hoping all along (and am still hoping) that since they've got the rights to all seven books, the screenwriters / directors / whoever else is involved will have read all seven of the books BEFORE they start writing the scripts and screenplays, let alone start filming whichever one they decide to do first. It would be lovely if there are no awkward continuity problems between any of the "instalments" — mind you, as has been discussed in other threads, that's something Lewis himself didn't manage to achieve across the seven Chronicles! Wink But it would be excellent if they can create such a well-written and integrated screen version of Narnia that all the seven stories clearly link together as well as standing on their own, to the point where they can be watched in more than one order.

The only idea here that I'm really not sure about is this:

 
 
Posted by: @wanderer-between-worlds

     HHB - I’d begin with Shasta’s story in Calormen and make no mention of Narnia until he “falls in with the Narnians” and is switched with Corin.  This would preserve the disconnection from the familiar that is felt when HHB begins. 

 

That's a really interesting thought, but I don't quite see how the making no mention of Narnia (up till that point) could work, in the context of the story. The first thing Shasta exclaims when he hears Bree speak, in the first chapter, is "How ever did you learn to talk?" — and the horse explains at once that he comes from a land where nearly all the animals talk, so of course Shasta asks "Wherever is that?" and Bree names and describes Narnia. And it's Bree's longing to return there, and his confirmation that Shasta has just been sold to a terribly cruel master, that drive the story forward from there on — and that's what immediately sets up the contrast between the tyranny of Calormen and the freedom and peace of Narnia. I just don't see how an adaptation could explain Bree's ability to talk and give both him and Shasta (and later Hwin and Aravis) a motivation for their journey, unless Narnia is mentioned and described right near the beginning, as it is in the book.

I think there would still be enough "disconnection from the familiar" in the way the story begins — in a land that is obviously very different, geographically and culturally, from Narnia. That could be easily shown with visuals, making the landscape look very unlike anything we've seen in the earlier stories, along with the clothing and customs of the people we see. Perhaps it could show a little of Shasta's life in the first half of the first episode, how bored he is with the dullness of life in the fisherman's cottage and the local village, how his "father" cuts him off from any questions about the world beyond their horizon, and then next we see the figure of the Tarkaan, even more different from any of the characters we've seen in Narnia in the earlier stories. That hopefully would create enough of an atmosphere of the unfamiliar that gets viewers (at least ones who haven't read the books) wondering where we are now and what this has to do with Narnia. And then towards the end of the first episode, as Shasta starts wondering out loud to himself what kind of man his new master is, we get a sudden jolt of familiarity as the Tarkaan's horse speaks... Smile  

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

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Posted : June 10, 2020 7:50 am
Wanderer Between Worlds
(@wanderer)
NarniaWeb Nut
Posted by: @icarus

 I'm not sure how feasible it would be to ensure that the narrative component of the series would work regardless of viewing order - for me, the publication order is the only order worth considering...One interesting thing that is perhaps worth noting however - when Netflix released the animated anthology series "Love, Death and Robots" in 2019, they did so with 4 completely different orderings of the episodes. All users were randomly allocated to one of the 4 different episode orders.

     That’s very intriguing, although I think the random episode order would definitely work better for an anthology more than a series.  Alternatively, Netflix could have different options (chronological and publication, with publication be its “recommended” or most-advertised order) and alter the editing slightly depending on which on people preferred.  I’m big on publication order, too, especially when reading the books first time through.  However, when reading through subsequent times, there are some who like to switch it up and read through in different orders, and I think it would interesting for Netflix to try to take that approach. Smile  

Posted by: @courtenay

I've been hoping all along (and am still hoping) that since they've got the rights to all seven books, the screenwriters / directors / whoever else is involved will have read all seven of the books BEFORE they start writing the scripts and screenplays, let alone start filming whichever one they decide to do first.

     This is my hope, too.  It’s incredible to see how much actually understanding the source material and background contributes to the overall quality of an adaptation.  

Posted by: @courtenay

That's a really interesting thought, but I don't quite see how the making no mention of Narnia (up till that point) could work, in the context of the story. The first thing Shasta exclaims when he hears Bree speak...

     Oops, that’s a huge oversight! Giggle   Thank you for pointing it out.  I can’t believe I forgot it, especially since “Narnia and the North!” is the impetus behind Shasta and Bree’s whole journey to begin with.   Because of the disorientation at the beginning of HBB, the first mention of Narnia is like a lifeline to something familiar for the reader/viewer and therefore all the more powerful.  What I was trying to say with the “make no mention of Narnia until he ‘falls in with the Narnians’” was in terms of flashbacks to LWW (making mention of the Pevensies and the Golden Age).  I agree that the separation from the familiar can still be emphasized visually and with fleshing out Shasta’s life before he meets Bree. 

"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 : June 10, 2020 11:17 am
Courtenay liked
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @wanderer-between-worlds
 

Because of the disorientation at the beginning of HBB, and the first mention of Narnia is like a lifeline to something familiar for the reader/viewer and therefore all the more powerful.  What I was trying to say with the “make no mention of Narnia until he ‘falls in with the Narnians’” was in terms of flashbacks to LWW (making mention of the Pevensies and the Golden Age).

Oh yes, that does make sense. I've just been revisiting the first chapter of the book (and enjoying doing all the voices Grin ) and the first paragraph does tell us "This is the story of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and his two sisters were King and Queens under him." I suppose Lewis felt he had to give an explanatory blurb for his readers' sake, although it's not the most fetching way of beginning a book. But for a screen adaptation it would be far more effective to start in Calormen with absolutely no mention of Narnia until (I imagine probably halfway through the first episode) Bree first speaks. And even then, no mention of the four Kings and Queens until we are in the "falls in with the Narnians" episode and then we get the sudden jolt of recognition as the beautiful lady and her noble brother turn out to be Queen Susan and King Edmund. That makes sense to me, at least, in terms of the pacing and build-up of atmosphere.

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

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Posted : June 10, 2020 12:07 pm
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