Biggest Twists and Turns in The Chronicles of Narnia | Talking Beasts
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Podcast: Play in new window | Embed
In this episode, the podcasters discuss some of the most surprising moments in The Chronicles of Narnia and discuss what defines a “plot twist.”
In Part 2 of this discussion, the podcasters talk about more shocks that did not quite make their list.
There’s so many plot twists out there. It’s like in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the author wants you to think that they’re two different people. Then it makes you go like, “What? They’re the same person?” You do not expect that to happen.
I would also say that another plot twist is that in The Last Battle, Shift has been manipulating Puzzle for a while. Then it turns out he’s going to be manipulated by Ginger and Rishda. I was like, “Oh, Shift used Puzzle like a puppet. Now Shift is going to be the puppet? What now?” I didn’t expect that to happen.
Maybe it belongs more with the Big Reveals, but my first thought was Shasta’s identity. The Tashbaan Pevensie scene completely changes while rereading it.
Please keep making podcast episodes. I really enjoy them. I have been going through the backlog of episodes recently and there seems to be (unless I’ve missed them) a lack of episodes devoted to The Last Battle. Would love to have an episode for ideas on how to adapt that book to screen.
I think The Last Battle would probably take the most risk into adapting it to screen. While it is a children’s book, it has more of a mature theme, compare to the other six. It deals with a lot of heavy things like last days, life and death, manipulation. It’s really deep for a children’s book. I’m sure there could be discussion about what we don’t want, what we’re afraid of what might happened, and what we hope to see done right.
I feel bad because most of this comment is going to be expressing incredulity at Movie Aristotle. If you’re reading this, MA, I love you. Well, I don’t really love you. After all, I don’t really know you. But I love listening to you on the podcast and reading your thoughts in the forum. I don’t think you’re stupid or anything but….
I was really surprised that Movie Aristotle was surprised by the reveal that the giants of Harfang were planning to eat Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum. I mean there are plenty of stories about giants eating people, like Jack and the Beanstalk (that’s probably the first story about giants people in my culture hear) or Jack the Giant Killer. Maybe, unlike Eustace, I just read the right books. And you have the Lady of the Green Kirtle saying she’s sending the characters for a feast, the king licking his lips and the women crying over Jill. I thought everyone could see that reveal coming a mile away.
While Eustace turning into a dragon is more of a surprise, I also feel like the scene where wakes up makes it pretty obvious. I mean what are the odds of their being a dragon’s arms right where Eustace’s arms would be and of them moving simultaneously with him? If anything, I feel like the scene is a bit klunky in its predictability though I hesitate to say that knowing how popular The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is on this podcast. Plus, it had been established in the series by that point that people can magically transform into other things in Narnia.
Of course, I’m one to talk about not picking up on obvious plot developments since it didn’t occur to me that the mysterious knight in The Silver Chair was Rilian and it did to apparently every other reader.
I agree with Glumpuddle that the end of Chapter 9 of The Last Battle is a great plot twist, but I think he exaggerates how hopeful the reader has gotten by then. I mean at that point Cair Paravel has been taken and Tash is abroad. It’s not like a lot of hope was taken away. It’s more like the last little bit of it was. I’d say the dwarfs’ reaction to Puzzle is a bigger example of hopeful expectations being overturned.
If we’re going to somewhat pedantically define a plot twist as an unexpected development that changes the direction of the story, I would list the introduction of Aslan and the prophecies in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Rabadash’s plot in The Horse and his Boy and Digory getting the idea of searching for a cure for his mother in other worlds in The Magician’s Nephew as examples.
I relate to what Glumpuddle said about how some stories that are twist driven only work once and don’t hold up to rereads. To be fair however, there have been books where I thought that was how they were going to be, but I ended up still enjoying them a second or even a third time. (Though it probably helps if there’s a good space in between reads.)
I guess when it comes to on how to do a movie adaption of The Last Battle, I think there could even be a discussion that the difficulty would be is that it deals with multiple endings, like Return of the King did. It’s a common problem in movies.
The 3 biggest plot twists for me as a first time reader were as follows:
3. Edmund has just been rescued from the Witch’s camp and the next day suddenly the Witch is at Aslan’s camp. She says she has a right to Edmund’s life because he is a traitor, Aslan doesn’t tell her she’s wrong, and Edmund’s going to die?!?
2. The Witch who in the future will punish Narnia with a hundred year winter, and who in the past annihilated every living thing on her planet and who still probably knows the deplorable word, is suddenly in our world in England?!?!?
3. Narnia is no more?!?!?!?
They’re incredibly fun for me. Recently, I’ve been watching the backlog of episodes, and I’ve noticed that there don’t seem to be many episodes featuring The Last Battle. Make more podcast episodes, please. Would adore an episode to use as inspiration for how to adapt that novel for the cinema.
As I’ve mentioned before, The Last Battle would very likely take the most risk. I mean, to make a movie that deals with life and death, last days, manipulation, blood shed. It’s a dark and twisted book in comparison to the six others. Not only that, but it kind of has bit more of a mature theme.
I’ve really enjoyed these past two episodes of this season! Movie Aristotle has been a welcomed addition to the Talking Beasts podcaster roster 🙂
Keep it up!
Hooray, someone else feels the way I do!!! I enjoy the Talking Beasts podcasts and I certainly don’t mean to be rude to the hosts — you do a great job, guys, and of course a topic like “biggest plot twists (and what is a plot twist, anyway?!)” is always going to be hugely subjective. But the revelation that our heroes in SC are going to be on the menu for the giants’ feast…?!?!?! Excuse me? That is telegraphed SO CLEARLY throughout the preceding pages (as Col Klink has described) that I don’t see how any alert reader could possibly be surprised by it. It’s an exciting turn in the plot, sure, but I remember clearly I saw it coming the first time I read that book — as a 7-year-old!!
Ditto Edmund sneaking away and the revelation that he’s gone to the White Witch. Well, duhhhhh. That’s another plot twist that anyone could see coming. (I can’t remember my own reaction to it quite as clearly, as I was only 4 1/2 on my first reading of LWW, but I’m almost certain I wasn’t really surprised.) We already know the White Witch is evil; we already know Edmund is not a nice character and the Witch has been deliberately playing on his pride and greed and ambition, getting him addicted to magic Turkish Delight and promising to make him a prince; we’ve been told he had a reaction of “mysterious horror” at the name of Aslan where the other children felt a sense of wonder; we’ve been told as they went into the Beavers’ house that Edmund can see the two hills where the Witch told him her house was and now they’re only a mile off or less… How can we NOT expect that Edmund will slip off on his own and go to the Witch??? The exact moment when it happens may be a surprise, sure — and it does neatly turn a happy, relaxed, hopeful scene into a suddenly urgent situation — but again, there’s surely no way we could miss that it’s coming.
I would say the much greater plot twist in LWW is, in fact, the death and resurrection of Aslan. We’ve been told enough times that Aslan is the only one who can truly save Narnia, that now he’s here he’ll put all to rights, and we already have a great sense of how wondrously “good and terrible at the same time” he is. And yet… he can’t just send the Witch packing? She claims that if she isn’t allowed her right to kill Edmund, Narnia will be destroyed, and Aslan admits this is true, and he makes some sort of private agreement with her, and then… I know even as a very young reader (my mum was reading it with me), I was right there with the two girls as they wake up with the feeling that something dreadful is going to happen to Aslan, as they walk beside him with their hands on his mane, as they watch in horror as he gives himself over to the Witch and… no, she can’t REALLY be going to kill him, surely… surely…?? And then I remember understanding the girls’ utter despair and grief as they cry over his body all night, and THEN — the most wonderful thing of all happens…
Now THAT to me is a plot twist — something that completely subverts our expectations of how this story is going to go. It’s not signalled at all beforehand what Aslan is going to do in order to defeat the Witch, and for someone coming to this story completely unaware, it’s quite monumental. Or it was for me, at least. It probably helped that I had a totally non-religious upbringing and, at that point in my life (prior to starting school), I only had the vaguest knowledge of Jesus and had no idea that he died and came to life again, and I certainly didn’t have parents (or anyone else) interrupting the story with “Now who and what in the Bible does *this* remind us of?” That allowed the story to work on me at a far deeper level, I’ve always felt, precisely because I had no preconceptions of where it was going at this point. I realise that’s a plot twist that’s probably spoiled for most people long before they read the book, which maybe is why they don’t take so much notice of it, but in my experience, for someone coming to it “cold” (so to speak), it’s a REALLY big one!!