Netflix Film Chief on “Interesting Narrative Form” of Narnia Series

Yesterday, Netflix Film Chief Scott Stuber was asked about the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia adaptations that will be written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Read the full story here.

… We don’t have IP, so when we had the opportunity [to license] those books… we’ve jumped at it, to have stories that people recognize and the ability to tell those stories. So it was just a great opportunity and I’m so thrilled that [Gerwig is] working on it with us and I’m just thrilled to be in business with her. […] Obviously, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ is kind of the preeminent one, but there’s such an interesting narrative form [to the Narnia series] if you read all of them. And so that’s what she’s working on now with [producer] Amy Pascal and trying to figure out how they can break the whole arc of all of it.

Gerwig is set to write and direct two Narnia movies for Netflix. The titles have not been announced.

What do you think Stuber meant by “break the whole arc”? Post a comment below!

11 Responses

  1. Aslan#1Fan says:

    At least they’re approaching the series holistically instead of film to film. I’m still nervous that Greta Gerwig will push her worldview into the film/tv adaptations. But still, that’s a good sign. So we’ll see.

  2. Glumpuddle says:

    I think the “interesting” thing Stuber is referring to is that there isn’t really a cohesive storyline that runs through all the books. Each of the 7 books (except perhaps for PC and LB) stand alone pretty well; they don’t form a cohesive overarching plot, unlike LotR and HP. (I personally really like this)

    There is a natural flow with LWW-PC-VDT-SC-LB, but there isn’t much continuity of characters there. And then there’s HHB and MN, outliers right in the middle.

    So when he then talks about wanting to “break the whole arc,” I think he is referring to figuring what that big picture looks like.

  3. Impending Doom says:

    It sounds like they’re at least excited about the series and up for the challenge of adapting them. I remember VDT director Michael Apted actually complaining about how uncinematic the series was… so this is a nice change of pace for now!

  4. Fauns says:

    “Breaking the whole arc” probably means they’re trying to find a way to connect the different Narnia stories seamlessly, wanting to produce the whole series. Great to plan ahead! Can’t wait to see how Gerwig tackles this challenge!

  5. Yavar says:

    @Glumpuddle — SPOT ON; that’s exactly how I read the statement.

  6. jasmine_tarkheena says:

    Here’s I see the publication order of the series-
    LWW, PC, VDT, and SC as original stories. The first two has all four of the Pevensies, while the second features a new character, Caspian. The third has two of the Pevensies as well as Eustace, a new character. The fourth features Eustace and a new character, Jill.
    HHB as a midquel. It takes place during LWW, when the Pevensies are reigning in Narnia at Cair Paravel. There, it takes on their relationships with other countries, notably Archenland and Calormen.
    MN as a prequel. It explores on all the origins of Narnia itself, the lamppost, and the wardrobe without giving too much away.
    LB as a sequel. It is not only the conclusion to the series, but a sequel as well.

  7. Irish Narnian says:

    I’m a bit skeptical about the decision to break the whole arc of the Narnia series. Each book has its own magic, and I fear that trying to weave them together into a single narrative might result in a loss of the individuality that makes each story special. I hope they handle it with care and stay true to the essence of C.S. Lewis’ creation.

    Hopefully this is more of a discussion of which book should be made first and which should be a series etc.

  8. Well one way to unify the books would be to go a 2010 Dawn Treader and go the Villain Route. So, since you’ve got Jadis in MN and LWW, just make her the same person as TLOTGK in SC (and put her on an island in VDT), and make Miraz like a minion of Jadis too. Maybe Jadis has also bewitched Rabadash and comes back in The Last Battle as a giant, her ‘true form’ and then Aslan, although he too weak to kill her at the Battle of Beruna, now believes in himself and is now able to use the power within to kill her, with an explosion of light that comes out like a force field, revealing the New Narnia at the same time.

    Well that’s my cynical take on it. Haha. I had a lot of fun with that.

    But a better approach is probably a framing device of some kind. Like, maybe in 1957, a mother is reading the Narnia books to her children, who always keep asking if Narnia is a real place. And somehow, in a tasteful way, they encounter Lewis who encourages them that they should write their own Narnia story.

  9. jasmine_tarkheena says:

    @Jonathan Paravel Oh no! I don’t think I would be in favor of that! Then what, Rishda calls on the White Witch instead of Tash!? No way!

    The Estate actually confirmed that the White Witch and the Green Lady are not one and the same. So they probably wouldn’t allow that.

  10. Eustace et Peccator says:

    “Break” in the sense of “decode,” definitely. They want to understand what Lewis was doing all the way through—where his head was at. Because modem franchise storytelling demands that.

    The question is whether they *can* decode Lewis, but the way Gerwig talks about him makes me pretty optimistic. Assuming she’s being honest, but what reasonable choice do we have but to assume that?

    I’m not very worried about her world view. If she’s studying this as deeply as she implies, and respects him as much as she says, then she’ll be forced to wrestle with the conflict between her views and his, and that’s likely to improve the outcome. It’s probably *better* than having someone who thinks they agree with Lewis on everything and fails to dig deeper as a result.

  11. Yavar Moradi says:

    Great post, Eustace! I agree with you on all of that, and though I haven’t been 100% in love with any of Gerwig’s films thusfar, they are all thoughtful and intelligent films with unexpected elements I really enjoy. And I think her Narnia adaptation has potential to perhaps be her best film(s) yet. Just as happened with Peter Jackson on Lord of the Rings. His earlier films were interesting/good in their own right, and pointed towards what he might be able to do with LotR. But I don’t think anyone expected it would turn out as good as it did.