Friday, May 30, 2008

Prince Caspian

A number of friends (notably those in Canada in Europe) have asked what I thought of Prince Caspian.

It was very good, and very well done, for the most part. Not the best movie I've ever seen, but then, Prince Caspian isn't the best book I've ever read, either. (Oh, quit booing. I'm not saying I could have written it any better.) The book drags in places, and so does the movie.

There were some bits added (Susan flirting and being flirted with; an extra battle or two) and a few things interpreted rather differently than what I would have done (the Telmarines all have Spanish accents?), but for the most part, it stayed very true to the book, and made startlingly clear some of the points the book left subtle.

Many of the added comic bits, while funny, struck me as being out of character. In the books, Reepicheep is pompous and loquacious; having him say, "Yeah, everyone says that. No imagination!" sounds more like something out of The Italian Job than Narnia.

On the whole though, a worthwhile and entertaining flick, and a reasonable adaptation of the book. Four stars out of five. (Not that I have a really developed rating system, or anything.)

One of the things that got me thinking, afterwards, was Lewis's use of mythology, and it's representations in the movie. Lewis obviously had no problem with their presence; why did they bother me, then? Why were the flittering petals of wood nymphs simple beauty, while the representation of the water spirit troublesome? Theologically, I hold both nyads and dryads to be nonsense; analogies at best, animism at worst. The river spirits in Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away are a beautiful analogy; the water spirit in this movie seems totally out of place. Perhaps, I think, it is because of the human face. Or, more precisely, it's an enormous, white-haired, white bearded face wreaking vengeance on infidel armies. It's more or less the image many moviegoers have of God. And, while most Christians would agree on "King of kings and Lord of lords," there's a little nervousness about "God of gods." Where we expect God to work (aye, there's some tension brought out well in the movie) we tend to expect him to work directly, rather than sending forth the small-g gods and spirits that others worship in His place.

It's something I intend to keep pondering. What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

Jim E. said...

I think there's fairly substantial evidence in the Bible itself that the God of gods (a term that the biblical writers would not consider foreign at all) does use lesser "deities" to do God's work. See, for example, the wonderful, dramatic story of 1 Kings 22, where the key verses say:

And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go forth and do so.’
Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has spoken evil concerning you.”

Who are the "host of heaven" if not "minor deities" (which, by Christian times, were downgraded to "angels"). Check out Deut 32:8–9, which say this:

When the Most High [El Elyon] gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God [Hebrew: = gods, or even "little gods"]. For the LORD’s [Yahweh's' portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.

I take this to say that El Elyon (the Most High God) appointed Yahweh as god of Israel. The text is pretty clear. But what's it mean? And are we comfortable with it?