Is The Silver Chair Movie Going the Right Direction? | Talking Beasts

Posted July 10, 2017 5:00 am by Glumpuddle

It seems we have our first controversial issue for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair. Tristar President Hannah Minghella said:

“Thematically, the story of a young girl who is being bullied but who has to find the courage to stand up not just for herself but ultimately all Narnians has such strong positive messaging.”

Listen to Glumpuddle, Twigs, and Dot’s reaction in this episode of Talking Beasts.

The C.S. Lewis Minute is brought to you by William O’Flaherty, author of C.S. Lewis Goes to Hell and creator of EssentialCSLewis.com.

Listen:

68 Comments For This Story

  • Jon Hooper says:

    No, it is not consistent with the book. The replacement of AUTHORITY (and obedience to AUTHORITY) with the authority of the empowered self, whether feminist or otherwise, is absolutely not what this book is about. Not interested in the film and will stick with the book. Perhaps they should try adapting His Dark Materials once again. Fits well with the spirit of the age…

    • Matt says:

      Oh dear. I do so hope this isn’t the path they take. I realise that obedience in the face of temptation to do otherwise is a desperately unpopular message, but that’s a theme at the heart of the book. Follow the signs. Repeat them after me. But surely he didn’t mean… not me… not now…
      There is no other stream…

    • waggawerewolf27 says:

      I’m not all that concerned. Yet. I agree that a connection with bullying is a good marketing strategy for the President of a company which is there to market films. And yes, incidents of bullies and standing up to them both start and finish SC. However, Jill’s and Eustace’s mission to remember the signs Aslan ordered them to follow was to find Rilian, who had been kept prisoner for ten years by LOTGK, who insists that she is the only authority, and who denies Aslan’s authority. Keeping someone prisoner for so long is a form of tyrannical bullying, don’t you think?

    • Bardu says:

      Honestly, they’re not making these movies for the book purists – they’re making the movies to make money. Of course they’re going to dilute the message to make it more acceptable for a greater audience.

      • Zee says:

        "Honestly, they’re not making these movies for the book purists – they’re making the movies to make money. Of course they’re going to dilute the message to make it more acceptable for a greater audience." I thought this sort of thing was a big reason the CS Lewis estate wanted to break ties with Walden Media and go with another company to make the other films. May as well have stuck with Walden Media and the films could have been made much sooner and kept the same cast because they would not have aged out of the roles.

    • Joe says:

      This comment reeks of legalism. I’ve read the books multiple times, and "obedience to authority" did not at all stick out to me as a central theme. Faith, courage, and belief stood out to me. And yes, bullying also stood out to me. Maybe you have to have been bullied hardcore as a kid–in a religious institution no less–to really pick up on those subtleties. C.S. Lewis had a profound way of writing to different audiences. By all means, follow your heart and stick to the book.

  • Melanie Millette says:

    If this is what they are going to do to it they can count me out. I am tired of them messing with the story lines.

    The book is about consequences. She screws up and it makes the journey much harder.

    I wish they would stop rearranging these stories to ‘fit modern times’. They are classics because they are timeless. You don’t see Frodo struggling to be popular. They massacred the Prince Caspian story and since then it has been hard to get excited about any movie they talk about making.

    How about for once they listen to the fans. We are the ones that are going to be supporting this – or not supporting this.

    • waggawerewolf27 says:

      Yes you are right. The story is about consequences of not doing what one should. But the story isn’t just about Jill. It is also how the signs she has to learn and obey finally enable her to succeed in what she has to do. Which is to find and identify the very much bullied Rilian and then restore him to his father.

  • Fireberry says:

    A very unfashionable idea in youth-targeted stories these days is to have a very flawed, unfocused, fallible young protagonist. But that’s who Jill Pole is! And because so many of us are much more like Jill than Lucy, this is a story that needs telling.

  • Roger says:

    I am not worried about what the TriStar President writes now. She is just trying to put buns in the seats. This statement is like a teaser trailer. She wants to excite the fans. She does control the money to make the film. What she says does count, but what she says now does not indicate where the film is going. It will be many months before we see which way the winds blow.

    I do not see Eustace as being the same level of importance as Jill. He had his movie. This is Jill’s movie. Eustace is the side-kick. I am sure that Lewis had Eustace falling off the cliff was to get him out of the way so that Jill could talk to Aslan alone. I see Eustace as being a more secondary but important character. This book is about Jill. Jill is told the signs. Jill is told to return Rilian to Narnia or die trying. Eustace is there to help, but it is Jill’s responsibility.

    We see in The Last Battle where this is going. I hope that the studio does not blow that. This book starts the trilogy that leads to The Last Battle.

    • waggawerewolf27 says:

      But although Eustace has had his story, Jill’s mission is also his as well. It is also how Jill changes how she sees him in SC and how they eventually learn to co-operate together which allows them both to succeed in their mission.

    • Anhun says:

      What trilogy? Which book comes in the middle?

      • Roger says:

        I was referring to the trilogy as used by Joe Johnston; SC, HHB and MN. These are necessary to understand LB.

  • Bruce F. says:

    C.S. Lewis wrote a story about learning to make right choices. It’s a timeless theme males and females can both identify with. If it is too hard for a studio to stick the story the author wrote, then maybe they should pass on the project and let someone who can do so.

  • narnia fan 7 says:

    I guess I’m in the camp that isn’t concerned about this, yet. Although Jill learning to stand up for her self and other isn’t really what I’d say her arc is in the book. (personally I see her arc as her learning to trust in Aslan, and to do the right thing no matter what.) And I understand why a lot of fans are vary concerned about this.

    But I could see it working if it’s handled wall, and not unbearably peachy and heavy handed like the "Dawn Treader" film did with it’s theme of temptation. So this isn’t really a red flag for me, as much as it’s a potential red flag,right now anyway.

    As for what superhero movie Twigs should see next: I’d say ether the first San Rami Spider-Man, or what in my opinion is the best superhero movie made to date, Captian America: The Winter Soldier.

    • Glumpuddle says:

      I have been suggesting Spider-Man, Ryadian has been suggesting Avengers or Winter Soldier.

    • Anhun says:

      I’m with you . . . Well, I’m not with you on Winter Soldier. That was awful. Chris Evans and Scarlet Johansson are the most wooden, boring actors who ever breathed (are they breathing?). I do, however, agree with you that Minghella’s statements are not something to be concerned about. Bullying is actually a theme in the book (unlike "finding out who you are"). Furthermore, this was a brief statement in the context of a very broad conversation that did not center on the Silver Chair, a book that has many themes. She picked a theme that she liked, and she’s entitled to do that.

      • Zee says:

        Winter Soldier is one of the best, if not the best, movies in the Avengers series. One of the most well done films I have ever seen.

    • Movie Aristotle says:

      I think Twig’s should watch the MCU movies in release order. None of this chronological order nonsense.

  • Brink Lester says:

    Let’s just be honest here. Nobody wants to watch a movie about bullying. It’s not going to sell the movie.

    I actually like ‘follow the signs’ better. It hints at the whole psychological aspect of the film. It’s the mission – to follow Aslan’s directions.

    • Impending Doom says:

      Let’s just be honest here. Nobody wants to watch a movie about something I don’t want to watch. It just isn’t possible…

    • waggawerewolf27 says:

      The best way to get over being bullied oneself is to help others one perceives as being bullied. The last of those four signs is to identify Rilian when he asks Jill to do something in Aslan’s name, which they must do. That something was to set Rilian free. How is SC not about being bullied? And how is his captor, LOTGK not a bully?

  • Aslan#1Fan says:

    Honestly, I’m not too worried.

    Bullying is a small part of story but it is a very important part. Aslan teaches Jill humility and obedience which helps her to face her fears. Ms. Minghella is just paraphrasing what she interprets the basic theme to be (and she isn’t the one writing the script either). The thing is, Narnia is so full of multiple themes and it’s hard to give a nod to all of them at a short press conference. The bottom line: Mr. Gresham picked Tri-Star for financing because they would be very hands-off with the story so that he and the other producers could make a great adaption. I trust Mr. Gresham. And honestly, this SUCH a small thing to get worried about just yet. If it keeps being repeated, than we’ll talk about adaption problems, but one statement from ONE person who just holds the money NOT the story won’t make me freak out just yet.

    • Grant says:

      I really couldn’t agree more. I feel like people are forgetting all the very important characters, each must play they’re own parts equally. The actress who plays Jill will be trying her best to preform her exact role, as part of a team with Eustace! This movie is not about wish fulfillment,its about telling a story. For example, The prince. He is not just a goal, he has a name; Rilian. He has a father; Caspian. He had a mother… until she was taken from him by an evil witch. He sought revenge but was ensorcelled by the woman he tried to kill.
      Years later, After all other efforts have failed, Jill and Eustace are sent to help. This is not a story about Jill and bullying, this is about murder and revenge and the cost of being ill prepared for the challenge. As Aslan said: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWTv71n2ZPk

      • Pattertwig's Pal says:

        I like your point about the other characters in the story. I think drawing the attention to Jill as the main character cheapens the other characters. Yes, a lot of the book gets into Jill’s head. But there is a narrator. The narrator is omniscient and knows things Jill could not know. When Puddleglum is contemplating putting his foot in the fire, we know what he is thinking. The narrator steps aside from the story to tell us about Jill’s school. We hear details about what happens to the head after she leaves Experiment House. We know what Eustace is thinking after Jill disappears through the hole.

      • Pattertwig's Pal says:

        I forgot to say that Jill, Eustace, and Rilian all face the choice between what they want to do (Harfang for the children and Bism for the Prince) and what Aslan wants them to do.

  • Aslan#1Fan says:

    Honestly, I’m not too worried.

    Bullying is a small part of the story but it is a very important part as well.
    Aslan teaches Jill humility and obedience which helps her to face her fears.

    Ms. Minghella is just paraphrasing what she interprets the basic theme to be (and she isn’t the one writing the script either). The thing is, Narnia is so full of multiple themes and it’s hard to give a nod to all of them at a short press conference.

    The bottom line: Mr. Gresham picked Tri-Star for the financing because they pledged to be very hands-off with the story. As far as we’ve heard, Gresham and his fellow producers have a TON of freedom to make a great adaption.

    I trust Mr. Gresham.

    And honestly, its WAY too early to be worried about a small statement.

    If it keeps being repeated by multiple people, than we’ll talk about possible adaption problems.

    But one statement from ONE person who isn’t even in charge of the writing won’t make me freak-out just yet.

    • Glumpuddle says:

      Director Joe Johnston said, "It’s about standing up to tyranny; whether you call it a bully, or however you like to phrase it. But it’s about standing up and not running from tyranny."

      • Aslan#1Fan says:

        Sure, he did. But Jill learning how to deal with her inner demons and pride and face the challenges that she’s is confronted with, is a very big element of the story and is, at least in part, what the story is about. The main villain, after all, enslaves and "bullies" the gnomes and the Prince. Sure, it all depends on how they present it and how faithful they are to the actual events of book, however. I for one, will be very disappointed if Aslan is downplayed and the basic plot points aren’t followed.

        Narnia is a wonderful series and each book has many many meanings, themes, and ways to interpret the themes. It’s a huge reason why the books have thrived over so many years. If they stick close to the events of the book, plot point to plot point, than I won’t be too worried.

        I just think, shooting down the bird before it has even left the nest (which some of the comments so far have done) might be a little presumptuous.

        But I’m so so so with everyone about demanding a faithful adaption. =)

      • Anhun says:

        You’re willfully ignoring the fact that Joe Johnston said that SC has a number of themes (I agree with that). Bullying was just one of the themes that he listed. And it is, without a doubt, a theme that is present in the book. The only area for potential disagreement is whether or not it is the main theme of the book. Joe did NOT claim that it was.

  • Vanessa says:

    I fully agree it is NOT a part of the thoughts of C.S. Lewis. After reading the book to my children I asked if they thought she was bullied. Not one of them did. They thought she was growing and maturing but never "bullied". If it goes this direction it will be a PC movie and nothing better than they have already produced. What a sad climactic event! I hope they rethink before it goes any further. Sounds like a directors personal feelings rather than Lewis’s brilliance again.

    • Impending Doom says:

      "It was a dull autumn day and Jill Pole was crying behind the gym. She was crying because they had been bullying her." (SC, Ch. 1)

    • waggawerewolf27 says:

      No Jill, herself, wasn’t being bullied during her mission to rescue Rilian, though she was led astray at Harfang and lied to by LOTGK. But Rilian was being bullied by being kept as LOTGK’s prisoner. Aslan was a much better guide to believe than was LOTGK.

  • ChristianMan17 says:

    The people of Wikipedia needs to fix their page about the Narnia film series, because they said they have a music Composer, Editor and Cinematography. But you guys didn’t say anything about them.

  • farsightings says:

    Silver Chair isn’t about bullying any more than LWW is about how people took care of kids during the Blitz, PC is about going back to school, VDT is about annoying cousins, HHB is about slavery, MN is about London, or LB is about train crashes. It simply gives context and perspective. As much as I would hope anybody in leadership to read the book, from the comments, it appears that wouldn’t be the case. However, do not fear narnians…. we got Sir David, Lord of Gresham, and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Lion on our side.

    • Aslan#1Fan says:

      Agreed!

    • Fireberry says:

      Quite right! Just noticing: there is a pattern in the 7 books of a "burning issue" in each book’s setup/conclusion, but we realize the story is about MUCH MUCH MORE than that. I would only ammend that TMN’s framing theme is one of illness & bereavement (& in fact weaves this into the full story more essentially than the other books), but again, the story is about MUCH MUCH MORE than that.

    • coracle says:

      Er, the Gresham we have is Douglas, not David (who is not involved in the movies or any Estate things).

  • DareToBelieve says:

    I do hope they don’t mess up the storyline in this film. C.S Lewis’ is too brilliant to be messes with. Oh quick question, do you guys think there’s room for them to cast non white actors? With everything that’s going on in the industry right now, it will be a shame if we don’t see some diversity in the cast.

    • waggawerewolf27 says:

      Of course there is. All the earthmen are different from each other, so are the giants. And who knows what colour Puddleglum might be? A muddy colour?

  • HPofNARNIA says:

    The one thing I don’t wanna see in this movie is the part where they cut off the snake’s head because that I’m sure kids don’t want to see that.

    • High king Peter says:

      Just not too much of a cgi snake, it should be a bit fierce since it should be a major villian in the book.. but in the book, they hack of the snakes head and the blood splattered all over the floor… that freaked me out about how will it appear on the screen

  • Emilyn Wood says:

    The superhero movies that I watched growing up were Superman Returns and the Spiderman movies with Tobey Maguire. Those give me nostalgia. Recommended to Twigs.

  • Sheepinarowboat says:

    If they plan on making major changes from the book then I won’t go to see it. I don’t care if they’re there to make money I’m not going to pay$13 Plus for some Hatchet job on my favorite book series. People wouldn’t tolerate this if it was some other genre.

  • Roger says:

    I have a proposal: When this movie is released we should all go see the movie the first day. If they do a VDT quality adaptation (bad) I will write a scathing review beginning with: "If you loved the book, you will hate this movie …". No pressure TriStar. I love the book. Will I love the movie?

  • Rogin says:

    Yes, the film is going in the right direction. That could change but as of right now, it’s looking good!

  • Just Queen, not High Queen says:

    I honestly don’t really care at this point. If the film is going to be a total reboot, with nothing about the franchise that I know and love in it, I can’t help but feel betrayed, and all the years of keeping hope alive have been for nothing. I feel that this isn’t the Narnia 4 we’ve been waiting for. It’s just an adaptation.

    • Mayor Wilkins says:

      (("honestly don’t really care at this point. If the film is going to be a total reboot, with nothing about the franchise that I know and love in it, I can’t help but feel betrayed, and all the years of keeping hope alive have been for nothing. I feel that this isn’t the Narnia 4 we’ve been waiting for. It’s just an adaptation."))

      I tend to agree. I know my interest in this film would be 100 times greater if it were still a part of the original film series that began in 2005. This will feel disjointed, especially because it is a book in the middle of a series of books. I guarantee you people will be hopelessly confused. There’s nothing that comes before or after this. And asking people to "look to the series that was discontinued" in order to find some continuity is just…. not going to work very well.

      • Just Queen, not High Queen says:

        Exactly! I don’t know how they plan to market the film to non-book fans, but I fear that not having any continuity with the other films will mean it does not do well at the box office like the previous films.

  • shastastwin says:

    I absolutely loved dot’s insight into Jill’s saying "Well, there’s Aslan" as her moment of standing up. It really does show how she’s grown in her time in Narnia.

    I’ll refrain from questioning Gp’s taste in films if 2001 is his example of "a great film." 😉

    • glumPuddle says:

      The film spoke to me on such a deeply personal level that it felt like it was made more me specifically. So it makes perfect sense that not everyone can have that same experience. It’s made for a specific audience and it works for a specific audience.

      … That said, obviously it’s considered one of the greatest and most influential science-fiction films of all time.

      • Fireberry says:

        I’m sure you know Lewis & Arthur C. Clarke had a correspondence in the 1940’s and the letters have been published as a book. Huge differences between Narnia & 2001, but both take place in the vastest possible landscape, and they strike similar soul chords for me too.

    • shastastwin says:

      It just bored me to death, with the exception of the middle section where things actually seemed to happen. Even my college prof who loved sci-fi skipped large portions (especially at the beginning) when we had a class viewing and discussion of it.

      I won’t deny it’s often considered a great film by critics, though I would like to say that I often find critics’ declarations of what is "great" or even "good" astounding and not always in line with what everyone else finds good or enjoyable.

  • Sarah Rees says:

    I so enjoyed this podcast, thanks for the discussion and keep them coming! I’ve been a listener since the podcast launch.

    I’m re-reading Lewis’s On Stories essay and it really fit into what you were saying, Glumpuddle, on the topic of why you like the storyline of the film’s you favor. Thought I’d share this quote since it specifically deals with book-to-film adaptation. I think C S Lewis would enjoy this very topic if he were listening in to a podcast today.

    "I was once taken to see a film version of King Solomon’s Mines. Of its many sins–not least the introduction of a totally irrelevant young woman in shorts who accompanied the three adventurers wherever they went–only one here concerns us. At the end of Haggard’s book, as everyone remembers, the heroes are awaiting death entombed in a rock chamber and surrounded by the mummified kings of that land. The maker of the film version, however, apparently thought this tame. He substituted a subterranean volcanic eruption, and then went one better by adding an earthquake. Perhaps we should not blame him. Perhaps the scene in the original was not ‘cinematic’ and the man was right, by the canons of his own art, in altering it. But it would have been better not to have chosen in the first place a story which could be adapted to the screen only by being ruined. Ruined, at least, for me. No doubt if sheer excitement is all you want from a story, and if increase of dangers increases excitement, then a rapidly changing series of two risks (that of being burned alive and that of being crushed to bits) would be better than the single prolonged danger of starving to death in a cave. But that is just the point. There must be a pleasure in such stories distinct from mere excitement or I should not feel that I had been cheated in being given the earthquake instead of Haggard’s actual scene. What I lose is the whole sense of the deathly (quite a different thing from simple danger of death)–the cold, the silence, and the surrounding faces of the ancient, the crowned and sceptred, dead. You may, if you please, say that Rider Haggard’s effect is quite as ‘crude’ or ‘vulgar’ or ‘sensational’ as that which the film substituted for it. I am not at present discussing that. The point is that it is extremely different. The one lays a hushing spell on the imagination; the other excites a rapid flutter of the nerves. In reading that chapter of the book curiosity or suspense about the escape of the heroes from their death-trap makes a very minor part of one’s experience. The trap I remember for ever: how they got out I have long since forgotten."
    C. S. Lewis

    • Glumpuddle says:

      I love that essay and especially that quote! We could probably do a whole discussion just on that.

      • Fireberry says:

        Essential/great essay. Earlier in the essay Lewis likens A STORY to a glass of wine and "action" as the alcohol. "If a man loves wine and yet hates one of the strongest wines, then surely the sole source of pleasure in wine cannot be the alcohol?"

  • Anfinwen says:

    I think we are being far too technical about this. The movie isn’t about bullying, and it isn’t about trust. You could say it’s about following the signs, but why? Because they have to follow the signs to rescue the prince, so Narnia will have a king. That’s the plot. It’s not going to change if they sneak a little anti-bullying message in there. No, I don’t want them focusing on that anymore than I want them to focus on trust, or obedience, or growth. That was the problem with VDT; they spent more time on message than plot. Will a little of that ruin the movie for me? Nope, as long as the plot is the same and well fleshed out, I can overlook a bullying PSA if it happens. If the message is more subconscious rather than actually stated, I don’t think it will keep me from enjoying the movie.

  • coracle says:

    The idea that the movie is about Jill, that the book is about Jill – these don’t sit well with my understanding of the book. I have always seen the book as equally about Eustace and Jill. Both of them have progress to make in how they relate to other people. The end of VDT tells us that Eustace’s improvement was gradual, and the start of SC tells us that it was only a few months since then.

    I see it as being about truth and deception, and the misuse of power; there are themes of friendship, faithfulness, courage and trust. The idea that the movie is about a girl who is bullied is hardly a new theme in TV or movie.

    The children’s journey in Narnia allows them to help defeat such misuse. (remind you of Adamson talking about wartime children with no power?) And yet when they return to school, it is only with Aslan’s help that they can challenge the bullies.

    • Glumpuddle says:

      I don’t think there’s any question that Jill is the central character in the story. It’s clearly written though her eyes much more so than any other character.

  • booksandfireflies says:

    While it seems clear that Jill is the most centeral character in the story, I worry that Eustace and Puddleglum will be terribly downplayed. To me, though it is told through Jill’s eyes, making her the main character, Eustace and Puddleglum are main secondary characters. I actually don’t even like to call them secondary characters. I haven’t read the book in years, so I admit that upon re-reading it I may have a different veiw, but the way I see it is even if Jill is the main character, Eustace and Puddleglum are still very important. After all, what’s Shasta without Aravis? Or Frodo without Sam? Or Winnie the Pooh without Piglet? Or *insert any other literary character and their sidekick*?

    • Mayor Wilkins says:

      Sherlock without Watson? 🙂

      I really hope they don’t make a commentary on bullying the main focus of this film. I mean, really? That’s a very small part of the story, I think.

  • High king Peter says:

    Bullying should be a minor theme, but the major is FOLLOW THE SIGNS and resist deception.
    Im not totally with the fact that none of the cast from the previous movie will maake appearance here.everyone who’s loving the book may accept but a major audience didnt read it. They dont need to change Ben Barnes, Trumpkin. Will poulter, in my opinion, should be cast as Eustace. I know they ‘older for their roles but he did well as annoying eustace which my brother and cousins like. Re casting is sorta letting down 🙁 If the continue with Last Battle right after the silver chair, it would fit for their ages. Other wise they remain adults if the put HBB and MN in between. Without keeping it all new cast, just modify the beautiful place of narnia. Will could act as a teenager like the maze runner tho in SC.
    Its saddening if Lucy, Susan , Edmund, Peter dont make appearance for future films.

  • DareToBelieve says:

    Do we know who the Casting Directors are for this yet?

    Can’t wait to see them start production this year hopefully! 🙂

  • Janet says:

    Would love to see Tom Baker as Puddleglum!

Leave a Comment

Preview: