The Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian
A Family Film Guide
1,300 years have passed in Narnia, though only one year has passed for the Pevensie children in Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures latest production The Chronicle of Narnia: Prince Caspian. This interpretation of the fourth chronological volume of C. S. Lewis classic series (written 1950-1956) is literally roaring into theaters this week.
The film opens with the birth of a child. This event causes Prince Caspian’s tutor, Professor Cornelius (Vincent Grass) to urge the teenaged Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes; Stardust), a Tamarine and heir to the throne, to flee the kingdom’s castle. His uncle, the usurper King Miraz (Sergio Castellito; Mostly Martha), wants to kill Caspian so his new-born son will one day reign. Cornelius gives Caspian the horn that had once belonged to Susan Pevensie (Anna Popplewell) and warns him to use it only in extreme necessity.
Caspian is injured and taken in by a kindly badger, Trufflehunter (Ken Scott; Charlie Wilson’s War) and the dark-spirited dwarf Nikabrik (Warwick David; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). With Miraz’s soldiers bearing down, Caspian blows the horn. It summons the Pevensie children from war-time London (1941) and lands them on a lush island in Narnia. They discover that since the children were last in Narnia, human Tamarines had invaded and exterminated most of the citizens. With the help of the good but grumpy dwarf Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage; The Station Agent) they journey to Aslan’s How where the Narnians have built a garrison at the broken Stone Table. Caspian meets them there. To help the oppressed Narnians and Caspian, the High King Peter (William Moseley) drafts a challenge to Miraz. The young people make decisions about war with dire consequences. Lucy (Georgie Henley) who thinks she has seen Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson; Batman Begins), seeks his help, only to discover that he has been there all the while.
Director and co-writer Andrew Anderson has interpreted Prince Caspian through sweeping cinematography that is warm and beautiful. He has restructured the storyline while keeping the essence and key events of C.S. Lewis’ story in tact. By taking the time to develop the new characters in varying levels of complexity, this adaptation is non- linear, interesting and compelling. To their credit the writers have not reduced the moral dilemmas the characters face into simple black and white categories. Instead they show how difficult it is to know and choose what is right and good. The special effects are bold and magical. All the actors give solid, credible performances. The humor derives from the book and is well-placed, timed, and delivered.
Key differences between the film and the book are that the handsome Caspian becomes more of a central figure in the and there are too many prolonged chases and/or battle scenes. This has resulted in the film’s clocking in at almost 2 ½ hours – an hour too long for me.
Yet Anderson has, in fact, turned Prince Caspian into a rather awesome, magical epic that is well worth experiencing. Aslan continues to be strong and gentle; Lucy’s relationship with him is genuinely affectionate, trusting, and confident. Lewis’ themes are subtly woven into the narrative and offer families and religious educators (and English teachers) much to talk about.
I think Prince Caspian is appropriate for children aged about nine and up because of the intensity of the fighting and violence (though completely bloodless).
c. Disney Enterprises Inc. and Walden Media LLC.
Photo Credit: Murray Close
Key Themes for Conversation
Faith, Hope & Love – The children discover a garden filled with apples. Lucy eats one of them. As the children and Trumpkin journey toward Aslan’s How, Lucy thinks she sees Aslan signaling them to take another route. The others don’t really believe her, and she doubts herself. Instead of following Aslan, she keeps going with the group. (What test of faith in the Bible do the fruit and the garden remind you of? See Genesis 2, 3). Talk about Lucy’s test and journey of faith, as well as that of the other characters. How did you feel when Lucy talks to Aslan about believing in what we cannot see? How did you feel about Aslan’s response to her? How did you feel when Nikabrik called upon the White Witch? What saved Peter from the temptation to trust her instead of Aslan’s promise?
What does hope mean to you? How did the Narnians, in particular, show hope in the film? Did they ever sound discouraged in having to wait so long for deliverance? What changed their sadness to hope? When Lucy asks Aslan why things cannot be as they were, what does Aslan tell her? What does he mean? How is Aslan the fulfillment of Lucy’s hope?
How many different kinds of love are shown in the film? Even though the Pevensie children don’t always agree with one another, do you think they love one another? How do you know? What kind of love does Caspian show for the professor? And the professor for him? What kind of love does Trufflehunter show? Who does King Miraz love? How do you know this? How did you feel when the heroic Narnians die at the castle? Why did they follow King Peter and Prince Caspian into battle? Why did the contents of Lucy’s bottle have the power to heal? Why is healing or helping others a sign of love?
What do you think is the difference between “seeing” and “looking”? Why do you think the characters talk about having “an imagination”? Why didn’t they all see Aslan when Lucy could? Aslan is often interpreted as a God-figure (as well as a Christ-figure) in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. How do you imagine God to be? What does God look like to you? How do you talk to God in your heart? Is it like the way that Lucy talks to Aslan? (Would you like to try it? Close your eyes for a moment and pretend …)
Choosing Peace – In the film Lucy offers a challenge to Peter and the others as they try to decide whether to pitch the battle at the castle or at Aslan’s How. She says that they are only considering two options: if they will die at the castle or at the How. What is the third option Lucy suggests to them? Do you think Lucy’s option would work in the world today? Why or why not? How does your imagination tell you the story would change if the children had taken Lucy’s suggestion?
Character or moral fiber – To have a good character means that a person makes right choices when alone or with others. Some of the funniest and most memorable moments in the film are when the characters make remarks about the personalities of the others. What qualities or virtues (habits of doing good), or negative traits did you notice in the film? (Courage, courtesy, chivalry, kindness, hospitality. love; lying, complaining, stubbornness, misuse of power.) What did Reepicheep mean when he talked about his “huge humility”? Why do you think some people would think this was a funny thing to say? What did Aslan say about this? Do you think Prince Caspian was humble? What about Lucy and the other children and characters? Why? (Make a list of your favorite and another of your least favorite characters. Write one word beside each name that describes their character, that is, their virtues or character weaknesses.) What was the difference between Lord Sopespian and General Glozelle? Who said that no one can hate like humans can? Why did he say this? What is power? Why do some of the characters in the film want to be powerful over others and get rid of them? Is it ever right to want to bein power over others? Why or why not?
Decision making – Good character often is shown when people (or characters ina story) have to make choices between one, two or more things that may seem to have thesame importance. Upon reflection, however, a person will hopefully make the best choice for the common good of family, school, community, church and society based on what he or she knows to be right or wrong. If the person doesn’t know, he/she can ask for advice. Talk about when this happens in the film especially as it relates to resolving conflicts or arguments. Then, what decision(s) proves that Prince Caspian has a good, even great, character? What traits will make him a good leader? What would you have done in Caspian’s place when he has a chance to take revenge on King Miraz for his father’s death? What did Miraz do that was wrong? Why did he do that? Why is vengeance never a Christ-like option? (Do you think Azlan would have ever taken vengeance when he was slain in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Why? What about the Pevensie siblings reacted when they find out who will be returning to Narnia and who will not? What character strengths did they show?
The Environment – Why are the trees dead in the film? What brings them back to life? What parts of nature are shown to be healthy in the film? What parts seem unhealthy? Do you think there is a message in the film about taking care of the earth? If you do, talk about what you noticed. (Why is it a good thing to care for the earth?)
Other themes in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: Myth; the hero’s journey; moral issues such as murder and the existential/spiritual and physical effects of such unnatural acts; gender roles; multiculturalism; growing up; spiritual maturity; racism and genocide; freedom from oppression; key themes of Catholic social teaching as reflected in the film (http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/projects/socialteaching/excerpt.shtml); symbolism: light, water, etc.; sacramental signs and their meaning.
Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP, is a Daughter of St. Paul and the Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City. She is the film/TV columnist for St. Anthony Messenger and a contributor to The Tidings. Sr. Rose is also a media literacy education specialist. www.PaulineCMS.org
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