The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Peter Bradshaw
Thursday June 26, 2008

Andrew Adamson follows up his tremendous movie version of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe with the second in the series, Prince Caspian, and it's entertaining, value-for-money stuff. Families and fans of the CS Lewis books can consider themselves in safe hands, though in my view some of the magic has gone, perhaps simply because the interest of the Narnia series itself declines exponentially as it progresses towards the very uncomfortable, theologically strained finale in the seventh and last volume.

It is also that in introducing a new, more grown-up and plausibly dishy leading male - the eponymous Prince Caspian, boldly played by Ben Barnes - one of the children inevitably gets crowded out of the action. The loser is Edmund, whose flirtations with the dark side gave the first story its thrill and underpinned the Christian-humanist message which fans and foes alike continue to find so explosive.

Prince Caspian begins with a brilliant narrative flourish. Our famous four, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are down in the Strand underground station in wartime London. We know the date from a glimpsed newspaper: 12th July 1941, at the time of the British-Soviet pact, and strategic alliances are of course to be very important, too, in Narnia's parallel universe. Just as the children are chafing at their reduced non-Royal status, they find themselves transported back to Narnia, but they have been catapulted 1300 years in the future, during which time there has been precious little advance in industry and technology: there's crossbows and that's about it.

The children's reign is a distant folk memory, and Narnia with its gentle woodfolk creatures has been overrun by human invaders, the Telmarines, whose evil King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) is preparing to fortify his reign by executing his nephew Caspian, a decent sort who believes in friendship on equal terms with the Narnians and even giving them self-rule. A mighty battle commences, along with a lethal temptation to kowtow to the forces of darkness, triggering a resplendent cameo for Tilda Swinton as the wicked White Witch. Through it all, three questions dominate: where is Aslan now, when will he or rather He make His Second Coming, and why, oh why, has He not made It before now?

Well, there are no easy answers to these questions, and we must instead contemplate the usual fantasy movie staples: there's the gigantic medieval field of battle and also, worryingly, the boring "cabinet" or "convocation" scene in which grey-bearded lords and elders debate their strategic intentions for our benefit. This second episode certainly has much of the first film's ingenuous openness and energy, and this is very largely due to another scene-stealer of a performance from Georgie Henley as Lucy, who in being able to see Aslan before anyone else is in a state of grace exceeding her siblings, and the scene in which she does so is rather daringly executed. It's a long shot of her stunned face, quite different from the untroubled children in the group, a shot which Adamson does not immediately replace with her point-of-view in a way we might expect.

The Narnia saga is still on the rails, but over the next five movies, I fear a continual replaying of the fantasy-theological contest between good and evil, before the arrival of Lewis's Book Of Revelations, The Last Battle, is going to get a little wearing.

cameo – drobna, ale wielka rola; perełka aktorska

chafe -narzekać

commence – rozpoczynać się

crossbows - kusza
decline – spadać, obniżać się

dishy - atrakcyjny

eponymous - tytułowy

exponentially – wykładniczo (o wzroście lub spadku: gwałtownie, znacznie)

flourish - rozmach

glimpse – zerknąć, przelotnie spojrzeć

ingenuous – szczery, prostolinijny

kowtow – chylić czoła przed, podporządkować się

plausibly – prawdopodobnie, przekonywająco

resplendent - olśniewający

staple – podstawowy składnik

strained – napięty, naciągnięty

stunned – oszołomiony, zadziwiony

trigger - wywoływać

underpinned – podparty, oparty, wzmocniony

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