Mar. 26th, 2006

bonny_kate: (spring again)
There are, to my way of thinking, quite a few problems with the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I shall, however, gloss over the use of modern slang, the departures from the plot, the problems with the characterization of Aslan, and in short, all but one of the problems with the movie. That would only be a rant. However, I should like to address one issue that this adaptation of Narnia showed me, which I do not think is unique to the movie. Modern culture does not understand the nobel warrior.

Look with me, for a moment, at the four children. Lucy is much the same as in the book, her beautiful valiant self. Edmund is portrayed surprisingly well, both his betrayal and redemption are shown. Susan is, perhaps, more of a mother figure than she is supposed to be, but it is still a decent interpretation. The movie fails, though, when it comes to Peter (I must say here, in order that you fully understand my feelings, that I have always wanted to be Peter. Lucy is absolutely magnificent, and I look to her as my guiding light (Lucia means light, and is one of the guiding saints in Dante), but she is better than I. Edmund is like a brother to me, and I especially love him after his redemption. Susan is beautiful, and good, although I have never liked her as much as the others. But I have longed to be magnificent Peter). In the books, Peter is the noble and true knight, fighting for justice. Occasionally he may lead the others in the wrong direction, as in Prince Caspian, but he never backs down from the battle.

What the movies have done is to take Peter and water him down. They make him caught in a terrible dilemma of whether or not to fight at all. I don't see this in the book at all, which I re-read the other day specifically looking for instances where he was unsure whether he should fight. It doesn't happen. The closest thing that I found is that Peter feels rather sick after killing the wolf. Why then, this need to add this conflict to Peter's character?

If this was the only instance taking a noble warrior and giving them internal conflict over whether they should fight, I should not think too much of it. But, it seems to be a mindset. In the Lord of the Rings movies, Faramir is given the same sort of conflict. These people do not understand how these noble warriors can simply accept the necessity of fighting evil, with little or no conflict.

Peter is magnificent, though, without the need for conflict to show that he is human. Is it not a good human tendency to fight for the truth, against evil? It would seem a failing on our part if we must debate with ourselves and convince ourselves of the necessity to fight against the White Witch. The White Witch wants to kill the four children, destroy Narnia, and is quite obviously evil. Read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and you will see that it is not only Lucy, but Peter and Susan who understand that they must fight the White Witch. It is a great moral question, of what to do when your friend, Mr. Tumnus, is in trouble because he helped you. But for the children, it is not an issue. What appears, then, to be an attempt on the part of the movie to make Peter more approachable, more understandable, has made him less praiseworthy. Gone is the knight who fights for good, not irrationally, but instinctually, because he is virtuous in this way. Instead we are presented with someone who must overcome his own instincts in order to persuade himself to be good. It is not an improvement of his character, and if this is the only way that we can understand Peter, we are in pretty sorry shape. This, then, is the error, of making Peter less good, and therefore, less human.

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Kate Saunders Britton

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