PG-13 Narnia Movies? | Talking Beasts

Posted October 2, 2017 5:00 am by Glumpuddle

“Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end the book. Nothing will persuade me that this causes an ordinary child any kind or degree of fear beyond what it wants, and needs, to feel.”
– C.S. Lewis, On Three Ways of Writing for Children

So far, the Chronicles of Narnia movies have tried to remain “family-friendly,” though a few scenes have toed the line between PG and PG-13. What will happen in future films? Listen to the discussion and then post a comment!

Speakers: Glumpuddle, Rilian (father of 1), Fantasia Kitty (mother of 3)

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

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34 Comments For This Story

  • Lord Argoz says:

    I know many kids who have been able to enjoy the Narnia films and yet can’t watch things like The Lord for the Rings merely because of the film rating. I think that it’s great to have at least one great fantasy series that isn’t aimed for older children and adults.
    You can still make a film incredibly moving and sad, that affects both children and adults without making it gorily violent. In fact, I find that the scenes that affect me most in films are not the most violent ones, but the ones that are treated with the greatest respect. If you’d seen the Narnians that were left behind in Miraz’s castle all getting killed, it wouldn’t have been nearly so moving as just seeing them standing at the gates before leaving them.
    There are already so many films that take a violent approach that I think Narnia should be different. Basically, I think that the films should do what Lewis did; create a series that can be enjoyed by all generations. However, I would still prefer a well-made PG-13 Narnia film to a badly made PG one:)

    Happy Birthday Evan!

    • Glumpuddle says:

      "I would still prefer a well-made PG-13 Narnia film to a badly made PG one."

      Well said. Ideally, they would just tell the best story they can and not worry about the rating. This will only happen if they keep the budget pretty low.

      • Roger says:

        I agree that the size of the budget is the key. Directors and studios get wild and not develop the characters when they have a large budget. SC is very much character based.

    • Just Queen, not High Queen says:

      I definitely agree that Narnia should be different as a way to stand out from the crowd. After all, it is a children’s book series, and The Silver Chair is definitely going to need all the marketing help they can get since it’s going to be difficult enough to market a reboot in the middle of the franchise. Of course, I would prefer a film with at least some continuity to the previous films than a complete reboot, whether it’s PG-13 or PG.

  • shastastwin says:

    Great discussion, everyone!

    As a new dad myself, I’m still getting a grasp on the questions of what and how much is too much. I’ve had opinions for years (many of which line up with what fantasia and Rilian mentioned), but now I have to adapt those to a real-life situation.

    I don’t think I would mind some elements of the books being adapted more literally (like Aslan wounding Aravis or the Queen of Underland’s death) but I come back to the question of whether it serves the story. I don’t want something like the birth scene from Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein showing up at the end of Silver Chair. That being said, one of my few gripes with the BBC adaptation is the fact that there’s nothing real about the Queen’s transformation OR her death. After so much build-up of tension in the scenes previous, I think audiences will need to know she is dead.

    And to touch on a similar issue in another fantasy franchise, this was a problem in the last Harry Potter film. In the book, Rowling mentions Voldemort’s body lying dead on the floor. There’s no chance of him coming back. That tangible closure–much needed since he didn’t leave a body behind 16 years previously–got erased in the film for the sake of a cool special effect. That’s the sort of change I don’t want to see here. Don’t do the story a disservice because you think you can make it look better.

  • narnia fan 7 says:

    For me the most important thing is for them to make the best film and adaptation they can and not to worry about the rating. I do agree that the Narnia films should be for all ages just as the books are. And apart from Last Battle I don’t think any of them absolutely require a PG-13 to them justice. But I don’t want anything scary or violent in them to be dumbed down either.

    I do think it’s important for kids to be able to see the films. I Was 9 years old when LWW came out. It was my first real introduction to Narnia and what got me to read the books for the first time. Had it be rated PG-13 my parents wouldn’t have taken me to see it. Though nowadays thats probably not much of an issue since most movies aimed at all ages like Star Wars and Superhero films being rated PG -13.

  • Col. Klink says:

    I don’t have kids so I can’t comment on things like age appropriateness. But I would like them not to show things from the books like beheadings in detail for a simple reason. They’re gross to look at, and it would be stupid for me to want to see something that I know would disgust me. It would be like eating something I know would taste bad. I don’t understand why anyone would want to watch that.

    However, I’m going to watch the Narnia movies no matter what they’re rated, if only out of curiosity.

    It was fun having Evan on the podcast. It’d be cool if you could get more relatives to cameo, but I suppose it isn’t convenient.

    • Glumpuddle says:

      "I don’t understand why anyone would want to watch that."

      Hard-to-watch violence is necessary to tell some stories. Sometimes, directors want the viewer to see the consequences of the violence. For example, the heart-breaking scene in Blade Runner where a private detective heartlessly shoots a woman in the back as if he’s simply doing his job… and then suddenly feels sympathy once he settles down and processes what he has done. That scene would not work properly if it was PG-13.

      Imo, the opposite approach often does more harm: Watering down the consequences of violence and making it easier to watch.

      • Col. Klink says:

        Well, I don’t want to watch Blade Runner so your example doesn’t convince me. I actually hardly ever go to the movies unless they’re an adaptation of a book I like. (If anyone is wondering why I would comment on a podcast about movies if I’m not particularly interested in movies…let’s just call it scientific curiosity. I think it’s interesting to see how people with different perspectives will respond to my comments. I sometimes feel like I see the world differently from most people.)

    • Anfinwen says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Col. Klink. Violence does not appeal to me. I enjoy action, but have zero desire to see gore. I don’t care how much meaning it adds; I don’t want those images in my mind or a child’s. A book allows each person to invision a level they are comfortable with. However, a movie doesn’t have that option, it has to show something, and images are powerful. A movie can with great care show very little, but that won’t satisfy veteran movie goers who are desensitized to such things. I would skip a movie all together rather than mess with my conscience.

  • dufflehunter01 :) says:

    I suppose that letting kids watch violent movies depends on the kid rather than the movie rating (except R and language). For example, I’m a softhearted guy, so my parents first allowed me to watch lord of the rings at age 11. It was too disturbing to me (It didn’t help that they started where smeagol kills deagol). Two years later I watched it and really enjoyed it (not the smeagol scene, but from the fist movie). On the other hand my best friend’s (my best friend is the pastor’s son) little brother watched lord of the rings at 5 or 6 and was fine with it (he still had nightmares from watching a Winnie the pooh movie though!).

  • HPofNARNIA says:

    I’ve seen Scary movies when I was younger like "The Neverending Story’ and ‘Watership Down’ but I don’t remember having nightmares about them.
    The Last Battle is definitely gonna give kids Nightmares, I remember being scared of it when I listened it on the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. And even if it does get made into a movie I’m probably have nightmares about it.

  • Caspian_Xth says:

    I don’t want to bother parents about this but, something to take into account is: the escapes from both Ettinsmoor and the Underworld are both intense even as the book reads. Put this on the screen and (depending on how much they do with it) it could potentially be scary enough to push PG rating to the max already. Any blood from the scenes of the Green Lady’s head getting walloped off and/or Puddleglum’s foot getting burned (or possibly a scene right at the end… no spoilers intended) would then automatically push the rating to PG-13 (assuming PG had been pushed to the max).

  • Eustace says:

    I would personally be fine with PG-13 Narnia movies. I think that violence in Narnia is not a problem, as long as we are not creating violence to boost up the rating.

    Personally, my sister watched her first R rated movie at age 5, it was the Gladiator movie.(My first R rated movie was at 13, same movie same time).

    I think it depends on the child when you can show them certain movies. The rating do not matter as much as why the rating is such. For instance, I would never want a Narnia movie rated PG-13 for language.

    So, as long it is not too much gorge I should be able to hand it, and I would not mind it as long as it did not stray from the story just have violence. I can see The Last Battle needing a PG-13 rating, and I think Magician’s Nephew and Horse and His Boy might end up getting one as well. I could easily see them getting a higher rating.

    • Col. Klink says:

      I’m interested to know why you think "The Magician’s Nephew" would be a candidate for a PG-13. I think "The Horse and his Boy" would be a candidate because of Aravis being attacked by a lion, and "The Last Battle" would be a candidate for….a lot of reasons. But the only super violent thing I can remember from "The Magician’s Nephew" is Jadis hitting someone with the iron bar. While that certainly would be a gruesome thing to watch in real life, I see no reason why a movie would feel the need to focus on the bloody aftermath.

      Keep in mind that "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was only rated PG, and in that movie Aslan is strangled and stabbed to death. And, unlike in the book, the girls don’t avert their eyes so we actually see the moment of the killing. It’s true that Aslan isn’t human so his suffering isn’t as disturbing as it would be if he were, but I really don’t think any of the violence in "The Magician’s Nephew" will be that grim.

      • Eustace says:

        Well, I thought that the battle with the Jadis and her sister may be shown and it could make it PG-13. I am not sure, I just thought there was potential because of the back story of Jadis and they want to show that she is evil.

  • Skilletdude says:

    The U.S. ratings system has become a bit of a joke. The MPAA now rates a film PG if it depicts smoking or drinking (even briefly or in the background of a scene). They are strict for things like that, but I feel they’ve lowered their standards for language and sexual content.

    It’s unfortunate for children whose parents lean so much on the inconsistent MPAA. If I had children, I’d let them watch the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy before I’d let them watch anything in the X-Men franchise. Both are PG-13, but my decision is based on my knowledge of the content, and what tone they have. If kids are set on wanting to see something, I think it’s considerate of parents to, at the very least, read content reviews before saying, "Oh, that’s PG-13. You know the rules."

    I want The Silver Chair to be confident enough to show the world that Lewis describes in the book. If they accomplish that tone, I’ll be happy regardless of the rating.

    • waggawerewolf27 says:

      That is rather a pity about the ratings being so concerned with drinking and smoking. Because in Silver Chair, Puddleglum does smoke, though from the text of the book, Jill and Eustace aren’t exactly enamoured of the habit. Back some decades ago it was usual for working men to smoke, and to drink as well. I don’t know how the movie would deal with this, especially when Puddleglum gets drunk at Harfang.

    • dufflehunter01 :) says:

      That’s true, I’ve only seen lighter pg-13 movies like star wars, some marvel, men in black, The princess bride (3rd favorite behind Cars {my favorite too, Evan}, and Lotr). Well, middle earth movies might be kinda dark but no bad content. But anyways, I totally understand because some PG movies I’ve seen part of (to lousy to watch more than 10 min.) were loaded with cuss words. Your comment had a good point.

    • Tiriana says:

      When I was younger, my parents ALWAYS watched first any movie they were thinking of showing to me. Always. I was a very sensitive child and easily traumatized (still am to a certain extent), and they knew that you really can’t trust ratings. I hate when people take their kids to movies and then complain about them being traumatized. Uh, people, it’s kinda your own fault. Only you know your kid and what they are afraid of, so see the movie first and then make the decision of whether or not to take him. Duh. It’s not rocket science. I mean, I (as a sixteen-year-old) have been scared by G-rated movies and not scared at all of certain PG-13 movies. Stupid ratings. I wouldn’t mind a PG-13 rated Silver Chair, at long as it wasn’t TOO gory, which they couldn’t get very gory without going into R territory I don’t think. I honestly don’t think they could make a good, emotionally impacting Last Battle and rate it PG. I think it would have to be PG-13. Because, let’s face it, who was actually emotionally impacted by the perfectly clean battles in the LWW (until we got to the Witch fighting our boys) and PC. I wasn’t really. At least show some blood on the swords!

  • Anfinwen says:

    The question was asked why shouldn’t kids see violence, and here is my answer to that. I once heard knowledge likened to weight. There are some things, some sights, some information about life that is too heavy for children to carry. Not that you may not find a child here and there that can bear it, but they shouldn’t have to. I understand that in a movie like Narnia there will be what are often called "frightening images and action sequences and fantasy violence." I’m not saying tone down Narnia, but don’t gore it up either. I think LWW hit the mark with it’s battle and death scenes: enough, but not too much. I would like for Narnia to remain accessible. In an industry full of violence and filth celebrated as artistic expression, I would like Narnia to be different, tasteful, and respectful of a wide variety of viewers.

  • waggawerewolf27 says:

    I’m not too concerned with violence in SC. Yes the Queen of the Underland gets killed, but by that time she has turned into a snake and killing a monstrous fictitious snake which is trying to kill everyone else isn’t quite the same as killing a human figure. I never liked animals being killed, and I doubt that Last Battle could ever be a children’s movie for that reason. As a child there were two movies I saw that scared me in particular. One was the old black and white movie called "The Crusades" and another depicted the tumbrils and guillotine in the French Revolution. These aren’t fantasy movies at all, especially A tale of two cities. They come close to what children may see from time to time on the news. How do parents deal with that sort of thing? Fantasy has the reassurance that the violence isn’t real. But nobody can pretend that the French revolution didn’t happen.

    • waggawerewolf27 says:

      I should have added I agree with Fantasia_Kitty that it is often easier to read books than it is to watch film productions. Reading allows the author to give reasons for violence, and to limit bad language to what the author thinks is age appropriate. To a lesser extent, the same is true of audio productions. The difficulty with visual productions is the temptation to put in actual offensive language to portray an inconsiderately offensively spoken type of person. Unimaginative, I call it.

  • Aslan#1Fan says:

    A PG-13 rating doesn’t stop kids from watching movies, i.e. Marvel films, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, The DC films, etc. etc.

    The PG rating largely held VDT back from portraying the book more faithfully. Aslan didn’t de-skin Eustace in the VDT film because it was too "violent". That destroyed the symbolic significance of the original material.

    Good luck portraying The Last Battle with any semblance of faithfulness without a PG-13 rating.

    Obviously, violence should be done with taste, for example LWW fit very well in a PG rating, but we shouldn’t be afraid to use PG-13 either if the story calls for it, like VDT or LB. =)

    • Col. Klink says:

      I actually think they might have been able to depict it faithfully with a PG rating (though I realize the filmmakers, who know more about such things, disagree.) Eustace describes his skin being peeled as like a snake shedding its skin, and that isn’t a very violent thing to watch. It’s true that it feels horribly painful for Eustace, but it probably wouldn’t actually look that horrific. Just have Dragon Eustace scream loudly, and show his body deflating like a giant balloon (though hopefully less stupid than that sounds.) That’s how I always pictured it in my head.

  • JainaGranger7 says:

    I know that as a kid I was never as afraid of the violence or stabbing as much as the monsters or gohsts in my bedroom. (I also had several E.T. nightmares). But maybe that was because I wasn’t as exposed to the violence. When I was 7 I was scared of the basilisk in the "Chamber of Secrets" and many (generally evil) fantasy creatures, but I could watch "Revenge of the Sith" with almost no problem. Rillian is right to say that a child’s interpretation of violence in a book can be toned down, but for me reading the stories helped to lessen my fear of the creatures to a point where I could watch them without fear. Age probably has some correlation with this, but different children mature at different rates. I don’t think any film should be more violent than it needs to be, because a growing number of the population feeds on violence in movies.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVAN!! My birthday’s this weekend to!

  • High king Peter says:

    The white witch and aslan’s roar used to freak me out when I was 7 or 6. But at the end, it turned out to be one of the best movies in my lifetime. If you ask whether kids may get scared, they will. But they will cope with it later on..

    Imo, I support a PG 13 rating for movies like LB since it had such themes of destruction, sorrow and terror….
    I dont know if Pg 13 is necessary to be applied to SC other than for the bloody mess from the death of LOTGK or darker elements, but its fine as long as it will be a faithful adaptation to the book.

  • Stylteralmaldo says:

    My view is that the rating system should revert back to the four old standards: G (anyone can watch this film), PG (children should be able to watch this film with their parents to guide them), R (for mature audiences only….meaning no one under 18), and X (no one should see this film regardless of age). PG-13 is just a ploy for Hollywood to push the envelope when ‘they feel’ society is ready for it IMHO.

  • Lilly says:

    I second what Fantasia Kitty said. Reading is different then watching and being able to read darker things than you would watch.

    • JFGII says:

      I agree Lilly;
      Violence has a different affect on individuals when read or heard than when it is actually seen, particularly with kids.
      Even though I agree with many of the NarniaWeb Trio’s claims, what I DO disagree with is the proposed ‘choice’ a parent has between exposing their child to mature subject matter through a movie, or letting some stranger teach them. I think a responsible parent should prepare in advance about teaching their kids about the not-so-kid-friendly topics. Hears to being a future responsible parent…me.

  • Tarilan says:

    I have a 6 year old son who loves Narnia. He’s seen the movies many times and I’ve read him the books right through (including Last Battle) twice now. We’re at Prince Caspian on our 3rd run.

    I tend now to ignore the movie ratings and make my own judgement based on knowing him. We’ve seen all recent Star Wars and Marvel movies together on the big screen and the one movie that’s scared him was Trolls (threat of being eaten by giants) which was a U here in the UK, the lowest rating of all.

    That said, he has lately said he finds Tilda Swinton’s version of the WW scary, which I suspect is down to the "disapproving mother" tone she takes.

    But mostly what he’s taken is the sense of wonder in exploring an amazing world, a moral sense of right and wrong and the knowledge that sometimes bad times do come along and you need to be brace.

  • Timmy-the-Ute says:

    I have never been a big fan of seeing movies above a PG even for myself. But I will make an exception to see a PG-13 or an R if it is like "The passion of the Christ" or "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". As far as Narnia books goes, understand I didn’t read the books till I became a Christian after I was 21, so nothing in it shocked me. In the end, I really so no reason to do "The Silver Chair" for instant with a PG-13 rating. As far as "The Last Battle" goes, I am not even sure we will ever see it made into a move. It is just not a kind of book the would ever be made into a movie in today’s world. Just like the "Space Trilogy" or "Till We Have Faces" will never be made. They would never make it with today’s audiences.

    • Lord Argoz says:

      I agree that the Last Battle is not only a book I doubt could be made into a good film, but a book I don’t think I would even want to see as a movie. Especially concerning the last two chapters, too much imagination is involved, and making the final scene see-able would detract from the experience.

  • Neriah Faile says:

    Ok, don’t try pronouncing my name ok – great!
    I never thought about this but this book shall be 10 and up. Know that there is violence, I mean people like my siblings I brought them to one (at a friends home) they screamed so loud its just parenthood, right?

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