Analysis: Netflix to “Break the Whole Arc” of Narnia Series? | Talking Beasts

It has been an interesting couple weeks for the NarniaWeb community! One glance at the homepage might tell you that we are finally getting lots of information about what Writer/Director Greta Gerwig and Netflix have planned for their Chronicles of Narnia adaptations. But it is actually mostly vague hints with room for fans to interpret.

What did Gerwig mean when she said she is currently in the Wood between the worlds? What did Netflix Film Chief Scott Stuber mean by wanting to “break the whole arc” of the series? Listen to the discussion and post a comment!

Glumpuddle, Gymfan

Watch the post-show chatter.

22 Responses

  1. jasmine_tarkheena says:

    All really interesting. Another though I had was what if they did The Lion The Witch, And The Wardrobe first (a well known story), followed by The Horse And His Boy or even those two as a pair (given that The Horse And His Boy takes place during The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe). Then that’s followed The Magician’s Nephew, a prequel. Since Hollywood has been known to make prequels, this would be an idea. It would be different than publication and chronological order.

  2. Col Klink says:

    It was nice to have Gymfan back for this episode when she couldn’t be there for the last one. (Of course, the flipside of that is Rilian wasn’t there for this. But, hey, what can you do?)

    I’m not really sure how the series can be said to have an arc at all but if it does, it’s probably in chronological order since it begins with the creation of Narnia and ends with the destruction of Narnia. (Stubbs is speaking of a story arc, not a character arc.) But Glumpuddle has a good point that if Greta Gerwig were trying to keep things hush-hush about her Narnia adaptations, it’s weird she would specifically allude to the one she’s going to adapt first. And a while back in the forum, Fantasia had a good point about it being more practical for her to direct The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian rather than The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe since there’ll be a greater overlap of actors with those two.

    I confess I’d kind of like to see her do The Magician’s Nephew now because people praise Gerwig’s movies for feeling “personal” and now I can kind of understand her having a personal connection to that book with her seeing part of it as a metaphor for the creative process. Of course, she’s also saying she has a personal connection to the other books and possibly to other things C. S. Lewis wrote but I don’t understand that yet. Hopefully, I will before long.

  3. Fireberry says:

    The arc is the essence! Douglas Gresham, where are you?

  4. Col Klink says:

    To be honest, I’m not that comforted by Gerwig talking about being a fan and stuff because…well, because of our cultural context.

    Recently, there was a movie being made about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the main actress went on the record as saying she disliked the 1937 movie and that she thought her new one would have much better messages for girls. As a result, a big chunk of the internet ranted against her with the fury usually reserved for Hitler and probably ruined her fledgling career. So now moviemakers have even more motivation than normal for lying about their real opinions to keep the fans happy. (Of course, I like to imagine the Narnia fanbase is nicer and more mature than the Disney one. ;))

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Gerwig really is a fan though. I believe her when she talks about being a fan of Little Women, so it makes sense that she’d want to adapt more books that meant a lot to her growing up. But I can’t really imagine what it is she likes about the books. It seems like with Little Women and The Barbie Movie, she’s interested in exploring stories where most of the characters are girls and women whereas the average story is more about boys and men. That’s where her head seems to have been lately anyway. Narnia doesn’t really fit into that. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as male driven but none of the books really pass the Bechdel test. (Well, come to think of it, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does, thanks to Marjorie Preston and Anne Featherstone’s conversation about Lucy.) She describes C. S. Lewis as having a lot of profound ideas, but I can’t think of any particular philosophical overlap between her movies and his books. Perhaps she’ll mention them in later interviews.

  5. Fireberry says:

    The huge red flag warning to me is the implication that these seven books are a problem that needs to be fixed. Greta is a talented artist but she should be doing her own original work. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she revealed a plan that completely removed the character of Aslan!

  6. jasmine_tarkheena says:

    @fireberry Oh no! We can’t have that! That would sure cause some outrage if Aslan got totally removed!
    Greta Gerwig will have a creative vision, that’s for sure. But removing Aslan, a lot of fans would not be happy with that!

  7. Eliseo says:

    These comments are all so vague. Maybe the “breaking of story arc” could be something as simple as filming the books out of original publishing order, which isn’t a huge deal. Magician’s Nephew could be first. The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe could be filmed in succession with Horse and His Boy, followed by Prince Caspian, then Dawn Treader, then Silver Chair and finally Last Battle.
    But I’m not very optimistic that Netflix will see through the books until the very end, unless the books draw the viewership numbers that rival Stranger Things, or The Witcher etc. We saw what happened to their expensive fantasy epic Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. It was a visual marvel, but was cut off after one season due to viewership not meeting expectations.

  8. The Magician’s Nephew is the backstory . . . Prince Caspian is a notoriously small book with a lot of overlap with LWW, the place franchises go to die. How about . . . Start PC out with a significant flashback which is Magician’s Nephew, much like the backstory of Sméagol becomes the beginning of The Return of the King. Either that or the start of the Last Battle . . . Which still leaves you with the PC problem to solve.

    Of course the Netflix world lends itself to serialization . . . Maybe I am too focused on films. 12 episodes . . . Take the pressure off of selling each film and focus on a series to binge watch.

    Do agree that the “Wood Between the Worlds” is her way of saying she is wandering around a bit lost, not yet able to commit to a firm direction. Each pool is an approach . . . Narrated, common thread, Introduce new more complex back elements (from some of Lewis’s other tales), children’s tale vs. adult edgy . . .

  9. Fiorella says:

    Hi! I would like to say that Narnia have a LOT of untold stories, like the whole reign of the first king and queen of narnia, THE DARK AGE , the conquest of Narnia by Telmarines, the reign of Caspian X. I LOVE what Andrew Adamson and Michael Apted had done with the first tree movies and in my humble opinion there are others options to pick for a new movie because is not only for the old fandom and knewers of the magic Kingdom of Narnia and its surroundings lands it is also for new views and new generations of people than maybe not have read the books, opens the oportunity to make them fall in love with the series and go deeper into it.

  10. Impending Doom says:

    @ Fireberry

    I totally get where you’re coming from with your concerns about the Narnia adaptations. Change can be unsettling, especially when it comes to something we hold dear. While it’s natural to worry about alterations, let’s try to stay open-minded and level-headed.

    While speculation can sometimes lead to apprehension, it’s worth considering that Gerwig and Netflix are likely very aware of the profound impact Narnia has – which makes sense given her terrified state.

    Stuber’s comments don’t necessarily imply a desire to “fix” something that isn’t broken or that they’re seeking to break the essence of Narnia. But when comments are so vague, we often fill in the gaps ourselves and project how we feel onto a situation.

    I think it’s more likely that he’s acknowledging that the books have a unique structure and require some forethought as to which book to adapt when and in what format. Remember, Stuber is an executive, not a creative. At least he called it “very interesting”, which is a step up from what some previous Narnia filmmakers have shared about the series…

    Rather than anticipating the worst outcome, why not approach these adaptations with some hope? Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts throughout production. Hopefully we’ll have some concrete news soon 🙂

  11. Impending Doom says:

    Great episode!

    If Gerwig isn’t doing MN first (which I believe she is), then her comments are even more encouraging. If Gerwig is familiar enough with MN to accurately draw reference to a personal example in the spur of the moment, doesn’t that make you excited as a Narnia fan?

    I feel like we’re not appreciating how rare that is for Narnia filmmaking up to this point. Obviously, that doesn’t mean it will translate to a good adaptation but it’s a positive sign.

  12. Eustace et Peccator says:

    Um, this is the first time I’ve actually heard her “Wood Between the Worlds” quote. It has nothing to do with what she’s working on. It was all a huge metaphor for how overwhelmed she is right now. lol

  13. Nicole says:

    I have zero trust in Netflix and I don’t like the implications of the breaking the arc comment. But… I think at this point, we just have to have a little faith that she’s not going to ruin it. We can always bring out the torches and pitchforks later lol.

  14. Moonwood the hare says:

    I’m kind of excited, and surprised by it myself…
    But imagine how much worse everything could look at this point. Instead, I think, news are a lot better than expected.
    Also, merely the fact that Gerwig mentioned the wood between the worlds shows that she is not only aware of the Narnia geeks’ attention (as only readers of the books would understand that reference), but possibly means that she is also willing to bring something we, and not just the masses, enjoy…

  15. Col Klink says:

    @Alfred Corduan, your idea doesn’t make a lot of sense. There’s little or no connection between the events of The Magician’s Nephew and Prince Caspian so having the former be the prologue to the latter would just be random. You could have The Magician’s Nephew be the prologue to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe though I’d say that’s a waste of a great story.

  16. jasmine_tarkheena says:

    I actually just started a discussion in the forum about the order of the new Narnia franchise. A new possible order (other than publication or chronological) I thought of were: LWW, HHB, MN, PC, VDT, SC, and LB.

    LWW would be first, but instead of being followed by PC, it would be followed by HHB (or even paired with it, with LWW ending on a cliffhanger and HHB picking up where it left off) and MN as a prequel. As I’ve mentioned in the forum, it would be like going back in time, only it would be done a bit earlier than publication.

  17. F says:

    They’re gonna do Nephew first; Not Wardrobe. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am, And I’ll say why: Only one of these two Narnia stories is an absolute stand-alone production that can afford to have YEARS up prep before any follow-up arrives. Wardrobe is like Fellowship of the Ring: It MUST be immediately followed up by the next few installments. Only for a different reason: Child actors aging out of their roles. Nephew is like how the Hobbit can be made as a stand-alone production before (or after) The Lord of the Rings movies, but Fellowship MUST be followed up with Two Towers & Return of the King. Starting with Wardrobe puts them in the same inevitable (and unenviable) place as BBC: having to plan 4 stories really quickly. Or Walden: not having enough time to get the scripts right for films 2 & 3, all the while the kid actors quickly age out of their kid roles. With Nephew, you have none of those concerns. There are new concerns: Like it MUST be GOOD. After Nephew, they must release Wardrobe (& it’s followups) within the next few years. (Between 3 and 5 years later. No more.) Having the actors for Jadis & Aslan return for the second one. Stuff like that. It seems like a more risky approach to begin a Narnia reboot, but it’s actually a much more practical business decision: Focus on making 1 good movie. Then prepare for the next 5 stories after its release. You CAN’T do that with Wardrobe, and (at this point in real life) expect to make it to the end.

  18. Cleander says:

    Having a continuous arc would be way more suited to a TV series, i think. Shasta’s story could be inserted between the climax and end of the events of LWW, and series flows fairly naturally from there, provided you started with Nephew.

  19. TimmyOfOz says:

    Greta is saying that she is in an area where none thing is happening. It is not unusual for it to take 2 years to write a screen play. If nothing is not on paper yet then we may have to wait till 2027 to see anything on screen.

  20. Musgrave says:

    I guess breaking the arc could be done in such a way that wouldn’t break our hearts, but it’s a risky risk!!!

  21. Courtenay says:

    Great podcast, guys, even if all this “news” gives us more questions than answers so far! It’s really interesting to hear your takes on it and the different possible interpretations, and, as you say, just good to have some kind of Narnia movie news that doesn’t fill us with dread!! (And thanks for pronouncing my name correctly in the string of NarniaWeb forum name-drops, too. 😉 )

  22. I just wrote a forum comment (On the Netflix Order thread) in response to the concept that the chidren characters age out of their roles, therefore PC and VDT need to follow LWW very quickly.
    I just made the point that Walden actually aged up most of the Pevensies (Peter seems 15 years old in the movie, instead of 12 or 13 in the book.) Therefore if you made the children the same age as in the books- which is younger, then this won’t be as much of a problem.

    I also wrote in the Reply that some movies have been filmed at the same time (Back to the Future 2 +3, and LOTR triology and Matrix 2 + 3).

    So MN and LWW could be filmed back to back, to allow them to be released close in time, and for PC to be made fairly quickly – if they even decide to make PC at all! (Did I just open a can of worms? 🙂 )