Prince Caspian

Because so many people bashed the newish Narnia flick, I didn’t see it in the big, expensive, first-run theatres.  The movie made its way to our local cheapy mom-and-pop run theatre.  I saw it for like five bucks yesterday.

Perhaps it was because my expectations were low, but I have to say I thought it was incredible and I thought that many of the criticisms of the film were one-sided.

One of the incredible things was the paralells it drew between scripture and World War II, yet it was set in neither of these times/places.

(Spoilers follow)

Prince Caspian was a Moses figure.  Early in the film I began to wonder about this.  I noted that Caspian is a member of the royal family in a land where the power and wealth of the rulers has been built by opressing another group.  He eventually flees the only home he has ever known and takes up leadership of the opressed group.  The opressed group, meanwhile, are just barely hanging on to prophecies that a warrior figure will someday come and rescue them from bondage.  When the emissary of that warrior figure arrives, the people have been so down trodden that they hardly recognize of believe that the person is coming to their rescue.

Despite those paralells, I wasn’t quite sure if I was reading into the movie.  And then… the climax. 

It all comes down to a confrontation between the evil empire’s army and the rabble who have been lead out.  The God-figure shows up as the two armies find themselves on the bank.  While I’ll grant that the sea wasn’t parted, a connection that seems undeniable is that when the evil army enters the waters, a tremendous wave comes up and sweeps much of the invading force away, just as it does in the Exodus account.

The fact that the Lewis was writing around the time of World War II, and that in the beginning of the movie they are being sent out of the city with thousands of other kids draws the obvious paralells between Exodus and the Holocaust.  

World War I, however, also clearly left it’s mark on Lewis.  I wonder if he was influenced by his good friend Tolkien or simply responding to the same events.  Either way, there are more echoes of Lord of the Rings in this film than there were in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

At least in the film versions, there is an interest in the concept of Total Warfare: a survey of how wars can take on a life of their own, and co-opt every aspect of a culture.  Both Rings and Caspian also make much of the alliances and failures of conscience that lead to evil empires.  Finally, both explore the ways that war punishes the Earth itself and both represent the Earth fighting back through the use of anthropomorphic trees.

I’d heard lots of criticism that much of Caspian was de-Christianized.  Perhaps there is more directly out of Christianity in the book.  But I think all this misses the point.

If the first Narnia movie explored what it means for God to be present, the second was an exploration of what it means when God appears to be absent.  I actually think it would have been irresponsible to try to explore The Holocaust or The Exodus and make everyone appear to feel all warm and fuzzy inside.   These are horrible events.  It’s hard to find God in them.  I was a little disapointed at how vaguely the answers were sketched out to the question “Where is God in these hard times?” But I would have been more disapointed if every single character rambled on endlessly about how much they love Aslan and how easy it is to make it through.

I also heard a few complaints about the female characters taking such an active roll in the fighting, particularly Lucy who is quite young.  It seems to me that this once again misses the point.

A theme is developed: in the beginning of the movie the kids lived in a city that was being bombed and were fleeing the bombing.  (I thought it strange that this was only alluded, to, though, and not directly mentioned.)  They end up being sucked into an entirely different kind of fighting.

Closer to the end, Lucy stand next to Aslan on the bridge.  She’s facing off with the entire evil army.  The scene was a bit disturbing.  But again, this is the whole point.  Folks like Lewis seem to be saying that we’re all involved in an incredibly dramatic conflict with the very forces of evil.  There is no getting on a train to escape it.   Somebody might not agree with that theological idea.  But it’s the theme that ought to be critiqued, not the specific scene.

What did you think about Prince Caspian?

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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