Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My thoughts exactly!

After much pressure from my children, who are "the only ones" of their friends who have yet to see the new Narnia movies, I rented Prince Caspian to preview it.  I came away greatly disappointed, and very torn about allowing my kids to watch these movies.  Why?  First, why mess with a good story?  The Chronicles of Narnia are fantastic stories, with no need for embellishment or adjusting.  I understand that translating a book to cinema requires a bit of adjusting, but that does not justify complete character changes - such as Peter and Caspian and the overarching tension between them, and the "subtle" sexual tension added between Susan and Caspian.  Beyond that, the removal of key elements is even more frustrating.  The story is missing deep meaning when you leave out the entire conflict between Lucy and her siblings over following Aslan.  Eliminating Aslan's appearance to Lucy and her realization that she must follow him regardless of what anyone else does is a pivotal point. That is the kind of message I want my kids to take away from these stories.   And how can you forget the moment when Edmond stands up for Lucy, acknowledging that in the past when he didn't believe Lucy, it was to great detriment?  If that is not bad enough, after removing these beautiful and significant moments, I guess the writers needed to fill time.  They chose to do so by dreaming up a long battle scene at Miraz' castle which does nothing but portray Peter as an arrogant boy who thinks he knows better than Aslan - again completely distorting his heroic and worthy character.   I admit, it is hard to say no.  What kid doesn't want to see these movies?  Am I being unreasonable?  Am I just being a controlling parent?  Am I reading too much in to the distortions of the story?   I was beginning to feel guilty, until I saw this article, and it echoed everything I have been feeling.  So, while many may think I am being unreasonable, I think not, and I stand firm in my decision, when a movie destroys truth found within great literature, this family will pass.


elizabeth said...

I have not seen any of these movies; am rather glad I think. Good to make decisions that are best for your family and not just because 'everyone else does it.'

Wishing you every good thing this December, including a fruitful nativity fast and celebration!

Erin said...

I will say that you chose the wrong one to start with. Prince Caspian was botched in my opinion. We haven't let our kids see it, both because of the intense war scenes and the silly love interest. However, I think the first one was quite well done. We actually bought it and we have all enjoyed it. I'm holding out hope for the Dawn Treader, but I'm not too hopeful having seen the way Caspian was ruined. After all, Dawn Treader is my favorite of the books, so I imagine my expectations and demands will be very high.

Matushka Anna said...

In 99.9% of cases, the book is better than the movie.

In 95% of cases, the movie is so much worse than the book that I won't watch it.

Don't feel bad about "editing" your children's viewing material. Images are powerful things and stick with you - as do the messages they were trying to impart.

magda said...

Thank you for saving me the time. I'll wait another 20 years or so in hopes that someone will come and redo the movies properly.

I like picking books and movies to read and watch several times over when I notice their effect on me as a person is beneficial. I like the "Little Colonel" series, the Alcott books, the "Little Britches" series, and Temple Bailey's The Blue Window because their characters inspire me to be a better person. I notice that when I watch movies, their effect can be even greater because of the visual vividness.

After reading this and the linked article, I don't want to see my lovely Peter distorted like that. I knew a Peter in high school who was just as good and noble, and I'm married to another Peter now who also lives up to the name.

Perhaps your children would like to listen to the books on tape, or act out some of the stories? I recently reread the whole series, and wept for joy to see some of the beautiful Story retold in a way which was recognizable but still hidden. Compare the stars falling in of The Last Battle with Matthew 24:29. It's like meeting an old friend.

Lindsay said...

Good for you for following what you think is right! It's our job as parents to make these decisions for our kids. Kuddos!

Anna said...

Erin - I did see the first one, and have not let them see it because I knew a few of mine would have nightmares from the wolf scenes. I was thinking my oldest could watch LWW, but wanted to see Caspian first. There were a few elements about it that bothered me (a few favorite lines left out for political correctness etc) but you are right, it was MUCH better than Caspian. Dawn Treader was my favorite as a child as well, so I cannot imagine they could possibly do it justice :) and I am sure they will never pull off The Last Battle, a book that still causes me to sob through the last chapter, much to the annoyance of my kids!

Mat Anna - I agree about the images, I saw the PBS version of Narnia as a kid, and was so upset for years that my lovely images of the characters in my mind were now replaced by actors who did not fit my imagination (could never get over Lucy :)

Magda - we do have the F*cus on the Family audio series, and they are wonderful, the kids love them. I think mostly it is my son feeling the pressure so many other boys around him who talk about things he knows nothing about - he doesn't play video games, hasn't seen Star Wars (which I am getting lots of grief for these days) and so this was one movie I was hoping he could see and enjoy!
Thanks for all the encouragement.

Maria said...

I am almost always disappointed when a book I love is made into a movie, and I won't let my children watch until they have at least read the book. I was upset about the extra wolf scenes in LWW, and I was really upset about the superfluous battle and love interest in Prince Caspian. It's also clear that the filmmakers have no interest in the spiritual heart of the story. When LWW first came out, I previewed it and decided not to let my children watch. Some years later, my 11-year-old saw both movies at an Orthodox friend's house. Though she recognizes the differences from the books, she enjoyed the movies anyway. I think a child's age and maturity are important factors in these decisions.

Maria said...

P.S. Thank you for the link. I'm printing this out to share.

Erin said...

Of course, I completely agree with you about being extra careful about anything that kids watch. But, I'm going to step somewhere that might or not be good. Maybe sometime we could chat about Star Wars. It might be a compromise area for you. My boys watch it a lot and love it. So does their dad. And he gets LOTS father/son parenting mileage out of it. Honestly, I'm not crazy about the movies and they do incite lots of sword fighting in my home. But the truth is, I'm not going to be able to avoid sword fights in a home full of boys. And I've noticed that the movies have been a great starting place for discussing spiritual warfare, relationships, even teenage angst and dealing with puberty. Just last night we got through a difficult pre-adolescent argument by relating what was going on to a scene from Star Wars and relating that to sayings of the fathers. As a father and son, they've been reading St. Theophan and combining his teachings with examples from the life of Anakin Skywalker for great teaching/nurturing conversations. You might be surprised how useful these movies have been for us. I've heard priests and bishops use them as teaching tools in useful ways, too. Remind me and we can discuss more some time. I'm not claiming that they are great movies. Much of it is ridiculous. But even that can prove good for teaching and raising boys. Just my opinion, though.

Anna said...

Erin - no worries - we will eventually let them see Star Wars :) just been waiting until we felt he was old enough. And really, it is more that I am not ready for him to see parts of the 2nd and 3rd movies than it is the first one. With him it is not really about battle scenes, we have plenty of battles and sword fights around here as well!

Matushka Anna said...

Two things:

1. We have Prince Caspian on CD. My son LOVES it. (He's 7)

2. Erin, check on Flowers for the Teacher (It's a Posterous blog) for an article on Star Wars and Orthodoxy. It's great! I think you'd enjoy it. I've got the link embedded in an article I wrote.

Erin said...

Oh, I should also mention that my kids are allowed to see Star Wars 1,2,4, and 6. And the oldest can see 5 also. No one gets to see 3 until they are much older. Too intense. I do get the hesitation with 2 and 3.

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

very good points - and good article you linked to.
unfortunately we got caught up in the excitement and saw the first one, excited (as that other article says) that someone would give Narnia the treatment LOTR got. LWW wasn't too bad, but Caspian was a major disappointment and i regret ever seeing it!
my littlest ones are too young to have been through the whole series and fall in love with them like the rest of us. i don't want their imaginations and love of Lewis' characters to be spoiled by the "Hollywood modernism." so no thanks - for now - on Dawn Treader.
Thanks for posting! Good to be back, too. ;)