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Greta Gerwig to direct Narnia movies?

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Karisa
(@karisa)
NarniaWeb Newbie

With the new rumor about Greta Gerwig being tapped to direct, does anyone have thoughts on this? I’m not exactly familiar with her work but not particularly encouraged by some of the credits I’m seeing either, in regards to the kind of tone Narnia should have vs the modern tone of many recent movies, but I’d be very happy to be wrong. Do any of you who are familiar with her work think this could be a good thing if true? 🤔

(If nothing else, it’s good to finally have something new to even be able to talk about! 😛 )

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Topic starter Posted : November 14, 2022 5:12 pm
hiraeth
(@hiraeth)
NarniaWeb Regular

I’ve seen Lady Bird and Little Women, and was pretty impressed by her unique directorial style and abilities! Her films aren’t always my cup of tea, but I still really admire how she tells stories and her instincts as an artist. I think Narnia adaptations by her would be similar - a very unique take on Lewis’ world. 

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Posted : November 14, 2022 8:26 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I have a hard time believing that Netflix is actually doing anything with Narnia at this point Giggle , but if they are courting Greta Gerwig, I fully expect her to answer, "No. Why would I want to do that?" LOL Like never mind looking at it from a Narnia fan's perspective, from Gerwig's own perspective, it doesn't sound at all like the kind of movie she would be interested in doing. Seriously, does Narnia have anything in common with her most popular work? 

I haven't seen Lady Bird despite how beloved it is because.... ugh, I'm going to have to get into politics and possibly religion with this. Well, someone's going to go there eventually, and I think it can do it with tact if I try. While I'm basically conservative, I can enjoy stories and art by liberals. (Ted Lasso could be described as liberal and there's tons I admire about that show. I mean it'd probably be better if it were conservative Wink but I digress.) But it sounds like the protagonist of Lady Bird is the kind of young liberal who drives me up the wall, the kind who's always complaining about how repressive and boring her conservative community is. Not that conservative communities aren't those things, but liberalism is just as conformist and just as censorious in its own way. When people say they want a community where there's freedom of thought, what they really want in my experience is a community where everyone thinks just like them. I get so disgusted by both liberals and conservatives who talk about how bad the other side while doing the same thing themselves. Eyeroll  

(If anyone feels like I'm being unfair to the character, movie or director, I'd be interested in reading a rebuttal, but it might be better if you send it via private message. Smile

In spite of that, I checked out Gerwig's Little Women when it came out because it was based on a favorite book of my grandmother's. I actually wrote quite a bit about it both in the Movies topic on this site's Spare Oom and on my blog, so I don't really feel like giving a big, long analysis now (though I'd love it if you clicked on the link to my blog in my signature and searched for Little Women on there.) Suffice to say, I consider the screenplay for that movie brilliant, both as an adaptation and as a piece of writing in its own right. However, I'm less enamored with the movie on the whole. The casting, the music, the art direction, etc., are fine at best but not as nearly as inspired as the script. (You can read the screenplay online for free and the movie that it conjures up in my imagination is awesome.) And it sounds like Netflix wants her to be a director for their Narnia movies, not a writer. Nail biting  

Actually, even if she were being tapped as a writer for Narnia, that still wouldn't be a good idea since it's not the kind of story she's interested in telling. There's a scene in her Little Women where a character argues that the world needs more stories about ordinary people leading their ordinary lives. I see every reason to believe that character is stating Gerwig's manifesto about the kind of movies she wants to make, and Narnia doesn't fit into that picture. The only one of the books that I can kind of see benefiting from her style is The Horse and his Boy since, like Little Women, it has several main characters of, more or less, equal prominence, each with their own virtues and vices, but that wouldn't be one of the ones Netflix would adapt first and even it's a huge stretch. 

I can actually kind of see her being attracted to doing an adaptation of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces. It's a character study, it has the theme of a woman struggling to make her way in a "man's world," and it has a number of important female characters (though probably not as many as Lady Bird or Little Women) whose personalities and interactions drive the story. Unfortunately, I know she would hate the book's ultimate message, so even that would probably disappoint. Still a more promising idea than her doing a Narnia adaptation though. Giggle  

This post was modified 2 weeks ago 3 times by Col Klink

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 : November 14, 2022 8:52 pm
Cleander liked
Karisa
(@karisa)
NarniaWeb Newbie

@hiraeth I hope your optimism pans out! I think I’ll have to check out Little Women, I was already interested but now I’m curious to see what her work is like to get a feel for what kind of Narnia she might make if the rumors are true.

@col-klink I don’t usually like to bring it up but since you said it first, I’m inclined to agree with you regarding political feelings and the kind of things I don’t care to see in stories Whistling That’s my main concern about any new Narnia material regardless of who it is making it. The messages that much of modern media puts out there feel too much in contrast to the spirit of Narnia to me so at this point in time I’m naturally wary of almost anybody who could direct it.

My general rule is to hope for the best but expect the worst lol. I try to keep my expectations low but I really want this to go well, so if Greta really is attached to the project then I hope it works and she can be a good enough fit. Time will tell, I guess. No idea  (Though that’s assuming that we actually get anything more from here on out and we’re not left waiting for another couple of years to get any further updates lol. My expectations are low on that front as well.  Tongue  )

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Topic starter Posted : November 14, 2022 9:54 pm
Impending Doom
(@impending-doom)
Adventurous Stranger Knight of NarniaWeb

I haven't seen any of her films yet so I can't speak personally speak to the quality of the work, but it's clear she has an excellent reputation given her two Oscar nominations.

Outside of NarniaWeb, this has been received quite positively and has increased the level of credibility/intrigue for a project & franchise that has had the reputation of “they’re still trying to make those into movies?”. Obviously that doesn't mean she's the right choice to direct Narnia or that this will be a good adaptation either. It just makes her hiring very interesting.

I'm looking forward to checking out her past films soon!

"Tollers, there is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves." - C.S. Lewis

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Posted : November 15, 2022 8:49 am
Cleander and Karisa liked
Cleander
(@the-mad-poet)
NarniaWeb Guru

At this point I'm mainly just glad we got an update on this. 

Like Impending Doom, I haven't seen Greta's work. There's always a chance, however, that the production might be advertised as being "woke" in an attempt to get support from those who approve of that, but then go on to underserve on that promise while perhaps giving us a half-decent adaptation. I'm not all that TV-literate, nor am I all that confident that this will be the case, but I imagine there's some good examples of this happening out there. 

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Posted : November 15, 2022 11:32 am
Karisa and coracle liked
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I would definitely recommend Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Little Women to anyone at all interested in Cinema.

As well as the way it skilfully adapts a long linear narrative into a tight cinematic story using two inter-weaving timelines, it also manages to be a faithful adaptation of the source material, yet also being a radical reinterpretation of the source material at the same time.

Not only that, but it's arguably a thematic reinterpretation of the source material that is much more in-line with the original author's intent, and the movie uses a meta-textual framing device, whereby the lead character is a proxy for the author, to express the implicit sub-text of the book in an overt manner, yet still being faithful to the actual text... in particular when it comes to the ending.

I know that all sounds a bit "film schooly" but i genuinely believe it's one of the most skillful modern adaptations of a literary classic that I've seen. That alone should give Narnia fans at least some cause for optimism.

That said, I can understand that there is always a risk when hiring a director with a strong independent directorial voice for any adaptation, since there is always risk that their own voice over-powers the voice of the source material.

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Posted : November 15, 2022 12:39 pm
Karisa and Son of Eve liked
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @the-mad-poet

Like Impending Doom, I haven't seen Greta's work. There's always a chance, however, that the production might be advertised as being "woke" in an attempt to get support from those who approve of that, but then go on to underserve on that promise

I doubt that. I believe people say she's a very sincere artist. FWIW, though, I thought the parts of the Little Women script which could be described as "virtue signaling" were well written and worked into the material artfully. It's odd to me that people feel the 1994 Little Women was more "traditional" than the 2019 one. I thought in that one it was annoying how they kept having the characters complain about women not voting or about slavery when no election ever plays a part in the plot and no one in the cast is black. It came across like they were ashamed of having positive characters who would realistically been sexist and racist, given the time period, so they were desperate to convince audiences they weren't. It felt very forced and obligatory. In the 2019 Little Women, all the feminist/liberal lines fit in with the story or the characters. For example, one of the main characters is an author and she complains that female protagonists have to either have or be love interests. I got the impression that Gerwig picked the book in part because it gave her opportunity to write about her beliefs, not that she was forcing it to include them. (OK, I'll admit the bit about Americans needing to be punished for slavery isn't very organic since all but one of the characters are American and we're supposed to like nearly all of them. But I promise it still serves a dramatic purpose.) 

If anyone reading this is a big fan of the 1994 Little Women, for the record, I think its casting, soundtrack and art direction were all better than Gerwig's. Fortune distributes her gifts very unevenly. No idea LOL  

P.S.

Posted by: @icarus

the movie uses a meta-textual framing device, whereby the lead character is a proxy for the author, to express the implicit sub-text of the book in an overt manner, yet still being faithful to the actual text... in particular when it comes to the ending.

The ending is actually one of the only things about the script I really don't think works. LOL I mean, I think it's brilliant on paper but it's irritating in practice. When writing about the movie's pros and cons on my blog, I actually decided to list it as both. Since no one's actually going to read my blog, Wink I guess I'll share those parts here. 

Spoiler
Little Women (2019) spoilers
What the movie does with the ending is kind of brilliant. When she wrote the first half of Little Women, Alcott apparently imagined Jo growing up to be “a literary spinster” like herself. When the public demanded she wrote the second half, literary convention also demanded she give Jo a romance. Right before this movie’s version of the romantic finale between her and Prof. Bhaer, it cuts to a future discussion between Jo and her editor. (Remember that tradition I mentioned in the last post of these movies ending with Jo writing Little Women and getting it published?) She argues that it would be out of character for her heroine to ever marry, but he convinces her it’s the only way the book will sell. Only then do we see the Under the Umbrella scene, implying it’s fictional. This allows the movie to pay tribute to Alcott’s original conception of Jo while still (theoretically) pleasing fans of the story as it is and to get in a rant about writers being forced to include romance in their stories to make them marketable. As an aspiring author myself, I relate to that.

While the ending is kind of brilliant, it’s also very frustrating. Alcott may not have originally wanted Jo to have a love interest, but when she resigned herself to it, she clearly prepared for it with Jo feeling lonely and depressed at being the only woman in her family who’s not, in this movie’s words, married or dead. And the movie doesn’t cut any of this setup. In fact, it depicts Jo’s desperation more dramatically than any other adaptation. Arguably more dramatically than the book does. So if Jo isn’t really married to Bhaer at the end, we’re left wondering just how happy she is. (It’s hard not to read the apparently fictional romantic scene as, not only a concession to the market, but wish fulfillment on her part.) It’s perfectly possible for someone to feel desperate to be married at one point and sometime later to decide that they’re really better off single. But since we don’t see any of this implied character arc for Jo, it’s not very satisfying. If that’s even supposed to be the implication. Maybe we’re meant to assume in retrospect that the scenes of Jo being lonely and in love with Prof. Bhaer were just part of her book. If so, it’s annoying that we spent so much time on them. (On some level, the film’s ending is a critique of the book’s conclusion. It’s an oddly harsh one for such an affectionate adaptation. Prof. Bhaer in the book was less of a conventional romantic hero than he is here and the scene of him and Jo confessing their feelings to each other was less of a romantic cliché.) And this isn’t the only thing that this ending throws into question. Since the final scene at the school Jo opens features Bhaer, we aren’t sure if Jo was able to accomplish that either. Since it’s also our final glimpse of Meg, Amy, Marmee and their husbands, we don’t know if their happy endings are real either. This even undoes some of the goodwill this adaptation has earned by giving equal weight to the protagonists besides Jo, as the only triumph we can ultimately be sure of in the movie is hers. Not even all of hers actually. Just the one specific triumph of writing Little Women and getting it published. I don’t have a problem with ambiguous endings in theory. But as there’s pretty much nothing ambiguous about this movie until the end, it feels like a betrayal.

This post was modified 2 weeks ago by Col Klink

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 : November 15, 2022 7:01 pm
Cleander liked
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

*puts on mod hat*

I see that politics has been mentioned in a few posts here. As a general rule, we avoid discussion about politics on NarniaWeb Forum because it often results in bad arguments, so we ask that NarniaWebbers be careful when talking about these topics in reference to future Narnia adaptations. Our first rule on the forum is to speak respectfully, so please keep that in mind! Thank you.

*takes off mod hat*

As for what I think of this rumor... I've been attempting to not overanalyze anything until we actually have confirmation, but I'm failing miserably. Giggle  

At this point, I think I'm excited by the idea. I suspect I wouldn't agree with all of her storytelling choices, but I think it's quite likely that I would find some of it inspired. At barest minimum, it would be interesting, and definitely not generic Hollywood blockbuster.

Posted by: @col-klink

I can actually kind of see her being attracted to doing an adaptation of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces. It's a character study, it has the theme of a woman struggling to make her way in a "man's world," and it has a number of important female characters (though probably not as many as Lady Bird or Little Women) whose personalities and interactions drive the story. Unfortunately, I know she would hate the book's ultimate message, so even that would probably disappoint.

Is there a reason why you think she would hate the message of Till We Have Faces?

I've only seen bits and pieces of a couple of her films and I'm just starting to read about her, but she doesn't seem indifferent or opposed to religious belief and feeling at all — quite the opposite, honestly.

"I was raised a Unitarian Universalist, even though I went to Catholic school. I don't have an identity or affiliation with a particular institution. But the ritual of religion is something I really love and I'm really drawn to, whether it's the Catholic traditions or the Protestant traditions. I've gone with my friends to mosque and to synagogues and all of that is something I find very moving and true. There's something about it that I always feel connects us to our deepest need for storytelling." (Source.)

(Some minor spoilers for Lady Bird in these quotes, for those who wish to avoid.)

“In high school, we took four years of theology, and ‘grace’ was explained to me as being ‘completely unexpected, holy, and deserved, but is something that can never be earned,’ ” recalled Gerwig.

“It’s given to you; it has nothing to do with your worthiness, and there’s something deeply beautiful about that to me. I’m always interested in epiphanies that come late; how you’re given gifts in life but don’t recognize them as gifts until later. One of the themes of the movie is that Lady Bird’s fighting so hard to get out of this place, but there’s so many things that people give her along the way that she doesn’t recognize until the end. And those were the moments of grace."

“I have always been moved by the story of the denial of Peter,” explained Gerwig. “At the Last Supper, Peter fervently tells Jesus that he will die before he disowns him, but Jesus replies that Peter will deny him three times before the rooster crows, which, of course, ended up happening exactly as Jesus predicted,” she said.

“However, after the Resurrection, Jesus appears to Peter and asks Peter three times if he loves him. Peter replies that he does each time. He is given the opportunity to repent through love. These stories have always informed my writing and my ideas, finding a larger universal truth behind what are so-called ‘small’ lives. Lady Bird denies where she is from, yes, but in the end, she also declares her love. We are granted the opportunity for grace, and we need love to accept it.” (Source.)

I was really pleasantly surprised by these quotes. If this rumor is confirmed, I'll be very curious to see what she has to say about Lewis and Narnia!

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : November 16, 2022 10:42 am
Karisa
(@karisa)
NarniaWeb Newbie

@rose Thanks for the quotes, those are great! That makes me feel quite a bit better about her as a potential choice. It’s rare I see a filmmaker talk about religion at all, let alone with such a positive outlook and in-depth thoughts that actually inspired their writing. Based on those she really may be a good fit since it sounds like she would understand the importance of Narnia’s Christian elements and give thought to how to things like Edmund’s redemption through Aslan and such should be dealt with. Here’s hoping! 

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Topic starter Posted : November 16, 2022 11:54 am
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @rose

Is there a reason why you think she would hate the message of Till We Have Faces?

Well, it's hard to do so without spoiling the book, but here's my attempt. The thing that people find most offensive about Christianity, modern people anyway, is loving other people being only the second greatest commandment and loving God being the greatest. The heroine of Till We Have Faces is initially hurt and furious at her beloved sister for loving a placeholder for God more than herself and what she ultimately learns is that that's as it should be. It's a message that's hard to sell. Even Christians and other theists don't necessarily like the idea. They just believe it. 

(Actually, the same could be said for The Magician's Nephew where Digory has to put Aslan over his own mother. I've actually been wishing I could post about how I don't know if a secular adapter would feel comfortable with it, but I feared that doing so would alienate secular Narniawebbers and that's not what I want do. Sad

BTW, I'm sorry if that part of my post sounded like I was bashing Gerwig. It's true that I don't think she makes sense as a director for a Narnia adaptation, but I would say the same thing about...well, a lot of directors actually. Giggle And that includes some, like Kenneth Branagh, whose style I love. And what I said about the message of Till We Have Faces, in particular, applies to just about any filmmaker because it's so anti-humanistic. The quotes you mentioned about aspects of religion that resonate with her could described as being humanistic. In her screenplay, for Little Women, she also praises the characters for bringing food and clothing to the poor (something that could be described as Christian which is about loving other humans) rather than attending Church (something that has to do with worshipping God.) For the record, I actually appreciate that about the script as it draws attention to something that was apparently controversial about the original book but doesn't register as controversial in our era. (I suspect there wasn't actually that much historical controversy about it and that some modern people have overblown it as a way of justifying their affection for an old-fashioned book, but there was at least a tiny controversy about it.) It reflects her interest in and affection for the source material.

I don't think a Christian filmmaker could pull off a Till We Have Faces adaptation either since

Spoiler
Very Broad Spoilers
it's thematically important that a character be naked in a scene at the end and Christians are generally against nudity on screen.
Basically, it's a book that's almost impossible to adapt to another medium, which is a shame because it's a masterpiece, and the fact that I even considered a Greta Gerwig adaptation should be taken as a compliment to her. 

This post was modified 2 weeks ago 2 times by Col Klink

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 : November 16, 2022 11:55 am
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

I've sat rewatching her Little Women this afternoon. Very moving. She certainly could convey all the emotions in MN and LWW.

There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
"...when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."

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Posted : November 17, 2022 9:03 pm
Jasmine
(@jasmine_tarkheena)
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @rose

*puts on mod hat*

I see that politics has been mentioned in a few posts here. As a general rule, we avoid discussion about politics on NarniaWeb Forum because it often results in bad arguments, so we ask that NarniaWebbers be careful when talking about these topics in reference to future Narnia adaptations. Our first rule on the forum is to speak respectfully, so please keep that in mind! Thank you.

*takes off mod hat*

Not only that, but politics doesn't necessarily work the same in the different parts of the world. But it is still pretty sensitive topic, much like religion. As a Christian, it would be a concern how Greta Gerwing would approach religious aspects of Narnia.

On a lighter note, I suppose she could impact on the emotions in all seven books. Even The Last Battle could impact on the darkness in the first half and the light in the second half (depending on how you view it).

 

 

"And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me beloved."
(Emeth, The Last Battle)
https://escapetoreality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/aslan-and-emeth2.jpg

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Posted : November 19, 2022 1:40 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Junkie

So, I recently did a comment on the (very enjoyable) podcast episode about this rumor. Actually, I did two comments, but my most salient points were actually in the shorter one LOL , so I'm going to share them here along with one point from the longer one because I haven't heard anyone who has a positive view of Greta Gerwig directing Narnia movies address them. 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Gerwig interested in doing somewhat nuanced characterizations and situations where no one’s totally right or wrong? I wouldn’t say the Narnia books have no nuances, but there aren’t many examples of that in them. (Again, that’s more of a Till We Have Faces thing.)

Also, wouldn’t it be fair to say that a theme in her work is that life can’t be perfect, but it can still be pretty great? In the Narnia books, life can be perfect in Aslan’s Country and the Real Narnia.

Don't both Lady Bird and Little Women prominently feature mother-daughter relationships? There are no mother-daughter relationships in the Narnia books. 

It’s not impossible for her to be a fan of Narnia, but I’d consider it unlikely. And even if she is one, her doing an adaptation would be the equivalent of Jack Skellington filling in for Santa Claus or the director of Les Misérables doing Cats.

This post was modified 1 week ago 2 times by Col Klink

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 : November 23, 2022 8:02 am
Jasmine
(@jasmine_tarkheena)
NarniaWeb Junkie

Perhaps she could impact more on the emotion of character development than on the epic landscape as the Walden movies have done. While it is impressive, it comes to a point where it becomes too distracting.

For instance, The Magician's Nephew shouldn't have a big helicopter shot of London or even Charn. Instead, it should focus on the emotion of the two children. What is it like to be in Digory's situation about having to live with his aunt and mad uncle while his mother is sick and at the point of death? Perhaps that's how she should approach it.

"And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me beloved."
(Emeth, The Last Battle)
https://escapetoreality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/aslan-and-emeth2.jpg

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Posted : November 23, 2022 9:25 am
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