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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Rated M (For frequent battle violence)

Having read the Narnia books as a young boy, I was reasonably familiar with the story and expected a swash-buckling effects-laden experience. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian did not disappoint.

As director, Adamson takes the stories of battle hinted at by C.S. Lewis and brings them to the foreground. People and creatures die, though without any clear bloodshed. This is a family movie after all.

A whole new sequence is added to the plot – the storming of the Telmarine castle. Battle scenes are provided with elaborate plot twists.

In the book the Pevensies (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy) connect up with the Narnians towards the end. For the sake of dramatic interplay between the characters (including tension between Peter and Caspian) that meeting is introduced much earlier.

Adamson brings the story into the 21st century with an alternative to the C.S. Lewis sheltering of the female gender. Susan is clearly engaged in battle in the movie and enjoys a romantic attraction to Caspian. “It would never have worked out”, she says.

There are subtle flavours added by the casting team. Caspian, Miraz and the other Telmarines speak with Hispanic accents, a reference to their pirate origins. The centaurs appear to have an African origin.  It makes good sense in terms of increasing the ethnic spread of the audience, but runs the risk of perpetuating the English jingoism that formed the backdrop of C.S. Lewis’ world.

The theology of this C.S. Lewis novel is subtle, with hints of questions relating to the absence and invisible nature of Jesus. Why can some see him and others not? Would the plot have been different if Lucy and her siblings had responded to Aslan’s guidance earlier?

Aslan twice reminds Lucy that things don’t happen the same way twice, once in a dream sequence and once in waking mode. Was that a glitch in the script or an example of dramatic irony?

Be prepared for a long movie with brilliant New Zealand scenery, stunning cinematography, simmering effects and a storyline that will keep you guessing.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian will be released in cinemas nationally in Australia on 5 June. The distributors Heritage HM will also be providing a range of resources to churches and schools Australia wide. For details contact 07 5445 6865 or email info@astounded.tv

Reviewed by Duncan Macleod, Queensland Uniting Church Vision for Mission Coordinator.