Monday, 14 April 2008
There once were four children...
Time to kill today, so to the Natural History Museum to see the stunning Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition. To be recommended, to say the least, but get your skates on, because it finishes on the 28th April. That thurr is the winner, by Mr Ben Osborne. Lovely, I think you'd say.
But what I REALLY wanted to talk about, REALLY REALLY, because I seem to be mildly obsessed with it, is the upcoming Prince Caspian film. And I'm going to bloody well talk about it, although I'm well aware that this may be the death of any credibility I may have (a) as a serious blogger and (b) as a serious literary type.
Because OMFG and cor blimey, this looks like FUN. Oooh yes. Swords? Battles? Pretty, pretty boys? A slightly controversial author leading to much frothing in the newspapers? BRING. IT. ON.
There are those who love C.S. Lewis, and there are those who hate him. I'm firmly and unapologetically in the first camp. As a child, I had The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn-Treader on tape, Caspian the BBC dramatised version (with all sorts of famous people I didn't recognise then like Richard Griffiths) and the other two read beautifully by Michael Hordern. And I listened to them almost every single night (when I wasn't listening to Just William or Alice in Wonderland or The House at Pooh Corner). I loved them then, I love them now. I just need to hear the opening bars of the music, let alone the first lines (one of which appeared in my First Lines Quiz) to send shivers down my spine. I thought the books magnificent, and still do - magical, awe-inspiring, beautifully written, and resonant as only a book you know from childhood can be.
People don't like it because it's misogynistic, or because it's Christian, or because the plots aren't exactly ground-breaking. But because I came to it so young, I missed the misogyny and the religion, and even now I know, I wouldn't change it. I am not one to censor a work of art, when the bigotry is symptomatic of the era in which the work was created - and anyway, it isn't unbearable. And ditto the religious symbolism which has so many people hot under the collar. It seemed an appropriate analogy, nothing more. And it still doesn't bother me. I see nothing wrong with Christian allegories, or allegories of any sort. What does it matter that an essentially admirable sentiment (that of sacrifice and selflessness) is reinforced? Zoe Williams says it all a lot better than I do (quelle surprise), so read her article here. Anyway, I was always a lot more bothered by the fact that they spend twenty years or so in Narnia, growing up, going through puberty, and then they stumble back through the door and are children again. Imagine having to go through puberty twice! And would they die twenty years younger, because of those twenty extra years they lived? That to me is a hundred times harder to reconcile than the Jesus-lion.
But all of that is totally irrelevant, really. After all, my reaction to the first film was mixed. Faithful to the book, but somehow lacking any emotional punch - possibly because the best bit of the book, the narration, was necessarily absent - and a sort of rubbish, poor man's Lord of the Rings, made bearable by the strong performances of the children. It improved on the second viewing, but not by much - more a fun, rainy afternoon film than an Oscar winner.
Fact is, I'm stupidly excited by this film for no other reason than because it looks really cool. There you go. It doesn't matter much what the book is, it just looks like the film will be fun. It appears that a miracle has happened, and I've achieved the literary type's nirvana - separating an adaptation from its original and enjoying it regardless. S'pose it's doesn't hurt that I never liked Prince Caspian as much as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, so although it's a good 'un, there's less to be disappointed by. And because this kind of film is always fun, with lots of dashing about and battles and sword-fights, and a stonking plot about a disinherited prince and an evil uncle (did I hear anyone say Hamlet?). And it DEFINITELY doesn't hurt that Prince Caspian is gorgeous. See? Credibility GONE.
He is though.
Don't you agree? Not to mention the delish Peter Pevensie, who, along with Odysseus, was my first literary crush (the first of many - but that's a story for another day...) and who proved most delightful looking in the films, leading to much teasing from my friends and even more (very defensive) cries of "but it's FINE, he's EIGHTEEN" from yours truly.
Anyway, now if you don't mind, I'm off to watch the trailer again, and definitely NOT think about how in Dawn-Treader Caspian dives into the sea...
And maybe sometime soon you'll have a post that isn't just a thinly vieled excuse to post pictures of pretty men.