My mind is spinning… where to start?
To begin with, my overall impressions on the second trip to Narnia are simply those of delight, satisfaction, and dare I say joy! Obviously I’m biased on many levels, but in all seriousness I thought the filmmakers did a brilliant job in particular with the script. I intentionally avoided re-visiting the book before seeing the movie, as I often do, because I wanted to go in without any pre-conceived thoughts regarding the adaptation.
Afterwards I reviewed the book and saw two very different angles on essentially the same themes, and fully appreciated the creativity that went into making the adaptation work. An obvious note was the fact that the book tells the back story of Caspian as a campfire tale told by Trumpkin the Dwarf to the Pevensie children over several chapters. All the while, the Pevensies are out of the story completely for quite a long time until we finally return to them. This wouldn’t work in a movie so well, so instead the film starts with Caspian and weaves back and forth to the arrival of the children, until at last they meet.
However, given that this story structure happens, later in the film Lucy disappears for quite a long time after leaving in pursuit of Aslan. The film focuses on the ensuing battle in real time, leaving the brave warriors and the audience wondering, what about Lucy? Why aren’t we cutting back to her? Why is Aslan taking so long to show up? Isn’t the movie almost over? Most of the film is centered around action and decisions made by key characters without searching or waiting for Aslan, and I believe this is the whole point.
The four Pevensie children are a year older and wiser, moving into different stages of their life. Much can be said about each one of them, in terms of where they are at in relation to each other and compared to how they were in the first story. Susan is trying to find her identity as the female authority figure of the family. She often submits to Peter because of her age and gender, yet feels like more of a parental figure to young Lucy. This film centers around her inner struggle with her feminine qualities (in her awkward attempts to relate to other boys, i.e. the nerdy classmate at the bus station and the dashing Prince Caspian) and her more masculine qualities (in her warrior princess role with the bow-and-arrow). She is certainly a deeper character here than in the first film.
Edmund also shows change and maturity compared to the first journey into Narnia. Scenes like his sword fight with Trumpkin on the beach and vengeful act of ice-smashing defiance to the return of the White Witch, show that Edmund can be “mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore” when he wants to be. He still has little moments truer to his more sheepish character from the first film, such as his awkward fumblings with the torch at the castle, but overall we see an older, more confident Edmund who is really coming into his own maturity.
These character traits in Edmund and Susan are evident and interesting to muse over, but the heart of the film, and who I really felt spoke to us most about its spiritual fabric, lie with Peter and Lucy. The oldest and youngest, they represent opposite and conflicting ends of the spectrum in matters of faith. Logic would seem to dictate that the older and wiser we are, the more mature and indestructible our faith may be. We grow in knowledge and experience, so naturally we would grow closer to God, wouldn’t we? Or are we closer to God when we are either younger or a new believer at any age, with less experience, and more of the naivety of a child?
Peter’s big mistake lies in having more faith in himself and his status as High King than in the One who gave him that status to begin with. He cannot understand, since he thinks so much of himself, why Aslan doesn’t appear to him instead of Lucy. He succumbs to pride, even to the point of almost falling into the White Witch’s temptation. His faith lies not in the power and command of Aslan, but in the sword, and an aggressive shortcut to winning, fueled by his anger over what’s become of his blessed kingdom. Our world’s myth of masculinity is that status and power come from physical strength and domination (the characters from Fight Club, for instance, fall victim to that myth), but the spiritual realm suggests that the measure of a man comes more from a spirit of compassion and patience. Peter’s folly in jumping the gun and storming the castle result in many lives lost, but a lesson in humility.
In comparison we have Lucy, who has a wonderful little humorous moment near the battle’s climax. At the pivotal moment of the Telmarines attempting to draw the Narnians to the river for a final defeat, Lucy slyly draws her tiny dagger. Such an action seems silly against the thousands of clashing swords about to attack her, but she knows that Aslan is her real weapon, and with his help, the meek shall inherit!
Despite her display of childlike faith, earlier in the story Lucy also makes the mistake of not being bold enough to lead the others to Aslan when she has the chance. Lucy has faith but fails in allowing it to lead to action, whereas Peter has action but fails in allowing faith to lead it. The two extremes come to a resolution as they discuss the matter, and Peter says, “I wish Aslan would prove himself to us.” Lucy responds, “Perhaps we need to prove ourselves to him.” Thus we find the key to what Aslan (that is, Christ) desires in us… a relationship. Faith in His power to inspire us to act, whether we are the youngest or oldest, or somewhere in-between, to marry a childlike faith with grown-up actions.
Aslan tells Lucy, “I am not (bigger). But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” How true is this for us?
Every year we grow, do we find Him bigger….or smaller? If I am to be honest, I too often find Him smaller, and I have to ask that He move the trees out of the way so I may get closer.