Return to Narnia

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Great news for all fans of Narnia—after a three year delay, it’s just been announced that they will be making a film based on The Silver Chair!

Voyage of the Dawn Treader was released in 2010, although it seems to many of us even more time has passed. And, due to the vagaries of film making, the fourth title in the series may not see the screen until 2018. However, there is additional good news too.

Most fans will be happy to learn that the new partner in the production is Mark Gordon. Among the films and shows Gordon has produced are Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, Speed, The Day After Tomorrow and Grey’s Anatomy. Gordon is quoted as saying:

Like many readers, both young and old, I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis’ beautiful and allegorical world of Narnia. These fantasy stories inspire real-world passion among millions of devoted fans around the world. As we prepare to bring the next book to life, we are humbled and excited to contribute to the outstanding legacy of Narnia.

Lewis’ son, Doug Gresham, will continue to work on the project, and strive to maintain fidelity to the author’s vision.

The Silver Chair offers a fascinating tale, much of which takes place in a subterranean realm. I’m certain the cinematography will be spectacular.

The story marks the return of Eustace Scrubb and the addition of a classmate, Jill Pole. The other major character—aside from Aslan, of course—is Puddleglum, a taciturn Marsh-wiggle. (We named the pond on our property in his honor, enjoying the alliteration.)

As the script is written, I’m most concerned about how Puddleglum will be portrayed. He’s not a cartoon character, although much that he says in utter seriousness comes across as slightly silly.

Much of the “humor” comes from the fact that Puddleglum is the archetypal pessimist, as I’ll illustrate in a moment. I just hope they don’t pursue the all too common path of setting him up as comic relief (à la Jar Jar Binks).

Puddleglum, in fact, is the hero of the story. He leads the young children on their dangerous mission to locate the son and heir of King Caspian (who we met in the two previous films). Here are a few quotations from the courageous Marsh-wiggle.

Good morning Guests . . . Though when I say good I don’t mean it won’t probably turn to rain or it might be snow, or fog, or thunder. You didn’t get any sleep, I daresay.

. . . but I’d better not tell you that story. It might lower your spirits, and that’s a thing I never do.

The bright side of it is . . . that if we break our necks getting down the cliff, then we’re safe from being drowned in the river.

Life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie.

In the climatic confrontation with the Queen of the Underland, Puddleglum champions the truth in this amazing scene.

One word, Ma’am . . . All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.

And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world.

I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.

Simply rereading these words has whet my hunger for the new addition to the Narnian cinematic canon. May it arrive soon.

During the next few years, as a script is written, the cast is chosen and the various scenes are filmed and edited, join me in offering an occasional prayer that the movie’s producers will both remain true to Lewis’ message, and produce a film worthy of the novel upon which it is based.

39 thoughts on “Return to Narnia

  1. CalebAnderson

    Very good, though I think with the last movie,Voyage of the Dawn Treader they went a bit to far in some places, and strayed from the book just a bit to much. Eustace and the dragon were portrayed beautifully.

  2. I hope they do get this right, that bit you quote of Puddleglum talking to the queen about Narnia even when he can’t see it is priceless.
    The whole story is about faith and it’s great the climax of the theme gets put in the most unexpected character.
    This probably means Eustace has to be played by a new actor. I liked the kid they had in the other one and thought it was rotten to have his redeemed character get so little screen time since they expanded the dragon section.
    At least they’re doing it. I can’t wait to tell my family.
    ….Oh, my oldest two will be teens before it comes out. What a thought!

  3. Thanks for sharing the good news. I’ll be waiting with interest and hope for something MUCH better than the Dawn Treader movie. We bought the first two, but I HATED “Dawn Treader!” Why on earth did they have to invent the green mist and create a quest for the swords that didn’t exist? The book was great without all of that! The movie ended up looking like a cross between “Exodus” and a video game.

    The one thing that redeemed the movie was that they kept the quote at the end that I used in our Narnia,

    “I am in your world. But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. That was the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

      1. True, Reepicheep was good. I hope they do as well with Puddleglum. We’ve always loved Puddleglum in our family. My husband would read the stories aloud and do all the animal voices, and he was really good at doing Puddleglum. :)

  4. I was honestly disappointed with “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” so much that I didn’t bother seeing the others. Now I feel torn, because “The Silver Chair” is my favorite of the Narnia books, and I would love to see a film version but I’m very, very wary of it.

    1. I guess it ultimately depends on one’s expectations. The higher the importance one places on fidelity to the text, the greater the likelihood of disappointment. I suppose that one reason I’ve really enjoy the Narnia and Lord of the Rings renditions is that I have a pretty low expectation of what comes out of Hollywood. Thus, instead of being upset with what I didn’t find in the movie version, I can allow myself to be pleasantly surprised by the gems that I do discover!

    2. “The Silver Chair” has always been my favorite Narnia book, too, so I’m 50% excited and 50% worried—especially after Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” (which I’d been eagerly awaiting for years) murdered that story. A part of me strongly advocates skipping any future film adaptations of books I really enjoy.

      1. I agree, if it ends up being “painful,” it’s probably best to be avoided. As I commented elsewhere on this page, I hold low expectations when I view these adaptations, and I usually end up satisfied… or even pleased.

  5. I did not see “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” It seemed like the movie got hardly any advertising and a markedly short run in theaters. The movie might as well been called, “Voyage Straight to Video.”

    Puddleglum’s answer to the queen strikes me as very much like what a roleplaying gamer might say.

    1. You’re right about weak promotion. However, it did perform as well as Prince Caspian (internationally, at least), over $400,000,000. Admittedly, that was just over half of the money earned by the first film, but it still seems a rather respectable sum to me…

      As to your second point… I suspect numerous role-players have a fond spot in their hearts for Narnia and/or Middle Earth.

  6. I’m so happy to heart that they will make at least one more Narnia films. The first three were pretty good but I always felt that the later volumes of the series, starting with The Silver Chair, are much better books and would make much better movies.

  7. Yahoo! I love The Silver Chair. I love Puddleglum…. I love the “Green Lady”… and Eustace…what can I say, but that he is the bomb!/// his original awfulness and the amazing boy he becomes…. Thank you for this delightful post and the joy the news has brought into my day!

    1. Hmmm… did you have a crush on Eustace when you were a girl? As I noted above, the way they handle casting his role will be one of the challenges, since the initial actor will have aged a tad more than the books’ timeline allows for.

      1. Oh no!, not a girlhood crush on Eustace! (eeww!) Just that his transformation is so dramatic, not just within the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but again in The Silver Chair. He kind of mentors Jill Pole who hasn’t yet experienced Aslan. My 19-yr old read your post, too, and has many fond memories of Puddleglum. Thanks for the quotes – so enjoyable.

  8. I grew up watching the old BBC productions that were done in the 80’s of the Narnia books. I would love to see all of the books eventually on screen and, hopefully, done well!

  9. I didn’t like the way this group did Caspian or Voyage. :-( I’d just finished reading the series to my kids and it was so disappointing the way they added stuff or moved it around. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to this one.

    1. I’m sure that having the real story fresh in your mind didn’t help with your tolerance quotient for the liberties they took. But you’re definitely not alone in being disappointed.

  10. Loved “Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe” – it was one of the novels studied in our elementary schools also.
    So excited a fan of the series is on board for the new one.
    Puddleglum sounds like a possible role model for society – there’s often so much truth cloaked in humor. Fingers crossed.
    (BBC versions? – must look for those -thanks)

    1. As for the producer being a fan… I hope his comment was sincere, and not promotional.

      As for the BBC version… well, it can still work with quite young (unsophisticated) audiences, but it’s very low budget, and now quite dated. That said, with realistic expectations you may enjoy some elements of the presentation there.

  11. Brian Smith

    This is Mark Gordon’s chance to join the likes of Peter Jackson. Maintaining the constant awareness of the supernatural lesson these stories teach is an amazing challenge that can certainly be improved upon from the Walden attempts. Good luck Mark and may the Holy Spirit inform and inspire all the work on this project.

  12. Pingback: One of Narnia’s Oddest Heroes « Mere Inkling

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