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Would C.S. Lewis Like the Narnia Movies? | Talking Beasts New

Posted July 24, 2017 5:00 am by Glumpuddle 14 Comments

In a recent opinion piece, Fantasia Kitty (NarniaWeb Forum Administrator) said she felt the essence of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, joy, was largely absent from the first three film adaptations. Glumpuddle and Rilian give their two cents and go into reasons the movies turned out the way they did.

This episode’s Stump question: Which Narnia book is the shortest? Listen to see if Rilian gets it right. If you think you can stump a NarniaWebber, submit questions to stump[at]narniaweb.com with “Stump” as the subject (please do not include the answer).

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.

Look for our next episode on Monday, August 7.

NarniaWeb Reviews “The Most Reluctant Convert”

Posted July 18, 2017 1:27 pm by daughter of the king 1 Comment

In C.S. Lewis on Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert, Max McLean (writer, performer, co-director) takes the audience on a journey through C.S. Lewis’ early life and his dramatic conversion story. While at times the play can feel a bit heavy, it never turns into a lecture but remains an intense drama about one man’s inner conflict. View the trailer and purchase tickets here.

The play opens with a commentary on pain and “when I was an atheist,” and ends with wonder and the absolute certainty “now I believe,” In between, fans of Lewis’ work will probably recognize many passages as McLean drew on various letters, books, and essays to create an almost seamless tale.

The set is simple, mostly static, and relies on McLean’s admirable performance to fill the stage. The focal points are photographs projected onto the back wall and a comfortable armchair. The photographs showcase various people and authors who influenced Lewis as well as important locations, such as the trenches in WWI, the exterior of Magdalen College, and Addison’s Walk, a place where he had a life-changing conversation with J.R.R. Tolkien. The armchair is where Lewis sometimes relaxes like he is having a companionable chat with the audience, and the lighting is warm and fills the stage. Other times he seems trapped in one place as he describes the absolute presence of a supreme being and the fear that his mind is not alone, and the lighting is cold and focused in a way that feels almost claustrophobic.

Although there is no intermission, the play is neatly divided into chapters with brief pauses in between. Most of these sections are spent describing the various teachers and authority figures in Lewis’ life and how they influenced his experience with faith and religion. Some parts are quite humorous, such as the description of his tutor, and when he became friends with Hugo Dyson and Tolkien and frustratingly realized he was surrounding himself with Christians. Other parts are sadder, such as his mother dying of cancer, and the horrors of WWI and realizing his own mortality.

The parts that seemed to resonate most with the audience were the ones where he talks about a deep longing and a search for joy. There are books all over the stage that Lewis interacts with as he talks about how various works influenced him, but one of the most gripping descriptions is the first time he read Phantastes by George MacDonald. The experience “baptized” his imagination, and was “the essential story of my life, the search for an unsatisfied desire, a desire more desirable than any other satisfaction.” Later, he talks about how joy is more than just happiness, and how he found in himself “a desire which no experience in this world could satisfy.”

Even with such moments of intense emotion, the audience is given room to breathe. Some moments are intentionally comedic, like when he says many people think he is a Puritan and then immediately takes a drink from his liquor cabinet. At other moments the audience laughs not because the subject matter is particularly funny, but because the story is sometimes delivered with an almost embarrassed demeanor that holds true to the concept of Lewis being “the most dejected, reluctant convert in all England.”

At first glance, the subject matter seems like it would appeal to only a specific audience, but the play manages to avoid preaching. McLean said in a discussion with the audience afterward that he was “interested in how this piece lands with those of a different worldview.”

Convert ends before Lewis begins writing the Narnia books or meets Joy Davidman, but the Fellowship for Performing Arts will be performing a version of Shadowlands, the love story of Lewis and Davidman, this fall in New York City.

Opinion: The Narnia Movies Are Missing Something

Posted July 15, 2017 2:40 pm by fantasia_kitty 43 Comments

All three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs.

The Essence of Narnia
By Fantasia Kitty

“The only thing that I find a little bit daunting is that I want this film to remain true to the essence of C. S. Lewis’s work.”
– Joe Johnston, The Silver Chair Director

What is it about The Chronicles of Narnia that drives children to go digging through their closets and wardrobes looking for Narnia? I know when I was little and my mom read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to us, my dad pointed out in the back of one of our closets that there was a small door looking thing. Of course we were all excited thinking that if we could just get it open, it might lead into Narnia, but come to find out at a much older age, I learned it was nothing more than the access panel to our bathroom plumbing.

But this question popped into my head when Joe Johnston talked about keeping the “essence” of The Silver Chair in the movie. What does that really even mean? Or perhaps, as I thought to myself, what is it that sets Narnia apart from other popular fantasy novels? Why do readers check the backs of their closets and wardrobes, just in case….?

While others may disagree with my opinion (and that’s fine if you do), none of Walden Media’s three Narnia movies refueled that desire in me to go visit Narnia. Even The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which is arguably the best of the three, didn’t quite capture that feeling for me. Movie Narnia wasn’t a place that I was inclined to visit. Why was that? The movies weren’t any more dark or dangerous than the books. Bad things happened to the characters in the books, bad things happened to the characters in the movies. And there was Aslan! Perhaps there wasn’t as much Aslan as I would have liked, but he was there and I loved the majority of the scenes he was in.

Joy

The movies emphasized battle scenes

After thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion what the movies majorly missed out on was the counter to darkness: joy! C.S. Lewis wrote many, many scenes that were so joyful and happy and fun.

Even The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie, which was the closest in terms of adaptation, cut almost everything wondrous that was in the book, with the exception of when Lucy first walks in through the wardrobe. Lewis spends several pages describing the melting snow, but the movie did it in a single cut. Aslan and the girls playing tag and joyfully celebrating his resurrection is not in the movie. And my favorite scene where Aslan brings all of the statues to life, which takes an entire chapter in the book, was cut down to a brief tear-jerking moment to make room for extended battle scenes. I found it so frustrating as I know they filmed scenes like Susan making snow angels and the coronation dance only to leave them out of the final release.

Laughing, though she didn’t know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him. Aslan leaped again. A mad chase began. Round and round the hilltop he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs.
– The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Ch. 15

The trend continued in the Prince Caspian movie. The wonder Caspian and the Old Narnians feel when meeting the Pevensies? Gone. The romp with the Greek Gods? Gone. Aslan and the girls freeing the Telmarine villagers? Gone.

At every farm, animals came out to join them. Sad old donkeys who had never known joy grew suddenly young again, chained dogs broke their chains, horses kicked their carts to pieces and came trotting along with them—clop-clop—kicking up the mud and whinnying.
– Prince Caspian, Ch. 14

The movie added tension between Prince Caspian and High King Peter

I understand the concern of the filmmakers that adding a party while other characters are in a battle or not having a solid single storyline was perhaps not something that would work on screen, but the tradeoff of more battles cost the movies their Narnian feel and reduced them to standard Hollywood fantasy fare.

Hope for The Silver Chair

Moving onto my point, I feel like after Aslan and the wonder and joy of Narnia is its essence. Admittedly, The Silver Chair doesn’t have a lot of it, maybe that’s why people consider it one of the darkest books. But there is a scene at the end, do you remember it?

This is called the Great Snow Dance and is done every year in Narnia on the first moonlit night when there is snow on the ground. Of course it is a kind of game as well as a dance, because every now and then some dancer will be the least little bit wrong and get a snowball in the face, and then everyone laughs. But a good team of dancers, Dwarfs, and musicians will keep it up for hours without a single hit. On fine nights when the cold and the drum-taps, and the hooting of the owls, and the moonlight, have got into their wild, woodland blood and made it even wilder, they will dance till daybreak. I wish you could see it for yourselves.
The Silver Chair, Ch. 15

I start grinning just thinking about the possibilities of that scene. No other fantasy movie has a great snow dance, no other fantasy movie will have a great snow dance. The stereotypical Hollywood scenario is to make this a battle scene between the Underworlders and the Narnians as opposed to a happy, joyful, dance with fauns and dryads and dwarfs in the snow.

I’m praying the filmmakers take the risk and keep this scene in the movie! That would feel like a true moment of Narnian essence.


Fantasia Kitty is the Discussion Forum Administrator. She has been with NarniaWeb since 2004.
Thoughts? Please post a comment below.

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

Posted July 10, 2017 5:00 am by Glumpuddle 62 Comments

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:

Vote For Your Favorite Chronicle of Narnia

Posted July 8, 2017 8:31 am by Glumpuddle 22 Comments

Every so often, we like to poll NarniaWebbers about the most basic question: Which of the seven Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is your favorite?

To vote, go to the homepage. The “Opinion Poll” is in the upper-right corner.

If you are like many readers, the answer to this question can change over time (even day to day). But at this moment, which book would you give the top spot?

Post a comment below to explain your vote.

Fake News: The Silver Chair Shooting in November?

Posted July 5, 2017 9:16 am by Glumpuddle 8 Comments

What looked like a leaked press release for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair was posted yesterday afternoon with the headline “CREW HIRED FOR THE FOURTH NARNIA FILM: THE SILVER CHAIR.” It claimed the movie would start filming in November and named some crew members. Unfortunately, some sites ran with the story and fans started getting their hopes up.

NarniaWeb has been investigating since the post first appeared. Sources close to the production tell us the document is a forgery. Sony is not the author. Fans should disregard it.

Some of the information in the forged document was already public knowledge while the rest is speculation. Director Joe Johnston previously said New Zealand was a likely location for filming. Shelly Johnson has not been announced as Director of Photography but has worked with Johnston four times, making him a likely candidate for The Silver Chair.

What we do know: In April, Producer Douglas Gresham told NarniaWeb he hoped to begin filming this autumn and then release the film in late 2018, but nothing was official. That report is a few months old now, so it is not clear if that plan is panning out. A production schedule and release date for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair has not yet been announced, but rest assured that Director Joe Johnston is hard at work.

Thanks to Rogin for alerting us.

UPDATE: Joe Johnston Sketchbook has tweeted about the fake news.

The Silver Chair is About a Bullied Girl, Says TriStar President

Posted June 26, 2017 6:28 pm by The Rose-Tree Dryad 52 Comments

The Hollywood Reporter recently published a wide-ranging interview with Hannah Minghella, the President of TriStar Pictures. Minghella shared thoughts on reviving the Narnia franchise with the fourth book in the series, the theme of The Silver Chair, and the character of Jill.

Why did you acquire the Narnia franchise given that it’s been seven years since the last one? And why begin with Silver Chair, the fourth book in the series, rather than just start over?

Disney made the first one, which was a wonderful movie. I don’t think the world is necessarily ready for or asking for a remake of that film. Silver Chair is a perfect moment to rejoin the franchise because it introduces a new character, a young girl named Jill, going into Narnia for the first time. 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.

She also offered these comments about the concept of filmmaker-driven films behind TriStar Pictures:

Has the mandate at TriStar changed in the two years since you took over?

I’ve slightly expanded the mandate. We’re genre agnostic and budget agnostic at TriStar. The common denominators for all TriStar films are they are original or elevated or filmmaker-driven in some way.

With Tom Rothman charged with turning around big Sony, is he more hands off with TriStar?

TriStar has always been a division where everybody’s going to be a little bit more hands off, right? Because this whole idea of TriStar is to bring in filmmakers and advocate for them and create a space for them to really be the creative leaders of their movies. So, yes, Tom is a little hands off with TriStar. And I take that both as a sign of his commitment to making filmmaker-driven movies and also his confidence in me and the team we have.

Share your comments on the interview below! Are you excited about TriStar Pictures making this movie? What do you think is the message of The Silver Chair?

Thanks to narnia fan 7 for the alert.

Amid False Han Solo Rumors, Joe Johnston Working Hard on The Silver Chair

Posted June 26, 2017 9:13 am by The Rose-Tree Dryad 7 Comments

Last week, the upcoming “Han Solo” film lost its two directors and rumors about Joe Johnston replacing them surfaced on the internet. Many people speculated that Johnston would be a likely choice given his background with the Star Wars franchise. Ron Howard has since been brought on board to finish directing the untitled Han Solo film.

NarniaWeb received a statement from Joe’s team and is able to say that rumors of Joe’s involvement were always false and that he is still hard at work on making The Silver Chair. Here’s what they have to say:

As of now, Joe is still focused on directing The Silver Chair and has already put in a great deal of time on bringing the story to life. He has no plans to go in a different direction unless he is forced to do so.

And he, of course, appreciates all of his Star Wars fans support. They are what has catapulted his career time and time again so he is very grateful that so many have asked he take over Han. He is very grateful for all the nods from his fans.

Aslanzilla? We Don’t Think So | Talking Beasts

Posted June 26, 2017 5:00 am by The Rose-Tree Dryad 7 Comments

As the The Silver Chair Reading Group continues, Mel and Twigs dig into the discussion inspired by chapter two and tackle some big questions. Does Aslan eat girls or swallow up cities and realms? What does Aslan REALLY think of Jill Pole? How should Aslan be different in The Silver Chair film compared to the previous three movies?

Many thanks to all of the contributors to the reading group for their insights and ideas! For those who are new, please feel free to check it out and join the fun as Narnia fans read through The Silver Chair together.

Thanks to AJAiken for editing this episode of Talking Beasts. Check out her YouTube and Vimeo channels here and here.

eOne Hypes The Silver Chair at CineEurope

Posted June 25, 2017 3:46 pm by The Rose-Tree Dryad 4 Comments

On the fourth day of the CineEurope trade show in Barcelona, distributor EntertainmentOne took the opportunity to showcase its upcoming slate of films, one of which being The Silver Chair. While no footage was available to share at the event, Narnia fans will be glad to know that eOne made a point to stir up interest in its revival of The Chronicles of Narnia franchise as it seems to be a strong indicator that pre-production of The Silver Chair is moving ahead smoothly at this stage.

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