Since the announcement that Narnia 4 was coming, and is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair, we’ve been monitoring reaction around the internet. For the most part, it seems there is excitement about it from most Narnia fans. Many simply wanted more Narnia and would have been happy with any of the Narnia books coming to the big screen. Overall, most people seem very happy with this decision. But from some places, it’s with some reservations. For instance, a blog called Picture Me Reading had an article that I loved because it’s very even-handed. It points out the strengths of the adaptations so far, and his reservations. It kind of sums up what most fans were thinking after the announcement was made.
Aidan’s Book Nook writes:
As a long-term fan of the Narnia books I suppose I ought to be excited by last week’s announcement from the C. S. Lewis Company that they will be continuing the Narnia film franchise with The Silver Chair. And perhaps, in a sense, I am. Certainly I am interested and wanting it to succeed. My great fear is that this is destined to be another disappointing failure and in my opinion that will not be a reflection of the quality of the material but the destructive urge to try and turn it into a blockbuster.
In some respects the Narnia books demand that fantasy blockbuster treatment. These are big stories, told with large casts of characters and featuring lots of moments of adventure. The problem is that the themes of the books are really quite intimate but those themes often get lost in the dash to give us lots of big, epic battle sequences.
The third film was, in my opinion, the best of the lot because it focused in on those character moments in the course of the adventure as a whole. And it didn’t hurt that they cast the role of Eustace absolutely perfectly with Will Poulter. Because of the character’s redemption partway through the novel, he can be a tricky role to play but Poulter manages to hit the right balance between being obnoxious and showing potential by the end.
So, given that the next film will feature Eustace in a central role I should, surely, be excited about the choice of The Silver Chair. Well, no. And it’s for several reasons. Unfortunately, Poulter will surely be too old to play the part after so many years have passed. I suppose they could rework the script to make the character older but my suspicion is that they would end up recasting if the film does get produced.
I must confess that I’m also a little disappointed that so far they’ve commissioned the exact same four novels as the BBC adapted with three never-filmed stories still remaining. I still long to see a movie made out of A Horse and His Boy, but I sadly suspect that will never happen.
Those reservations stated, I do still hope that the film will prove a success and lead to the rest of the series being filmed. But do I expect it? Not at all.
I have to agree with him. I want the film to be a success, but I’m not sure that it can. On the one hand, it could prove to be the closest film adaptation to the book since The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which wasn’t without its’ own differences). On the other hand, it might have to go without Will Poulter, and it’ll show up about seven years after the last installment. Somewhat related, How to Train Your Dragon was released in 2010, and the sequel is coming in 2014. Plus there are other films that have gotten sequels many many years later. Narnia is also a different type of series from most of the others in that each book is a self-contained story that is also part of a greater whole.
However, the response continues with this article The Guardian, out of the UK. The author, Ben Child, submits that the next Narnia film should have been The Magician’s Nephew. He believes that the absence of Tilda Swinton as the main villain from each film after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was probably something that hurt the sequels.
With a likely five-year gap between the last movie and the next – it surely will not now be released until at least 2015 – executives had the chance to take everything right back to the start and shoot the rather wonderful The Magician’s Nephew, a genuine prequel which Lewis published in 1955 to explain how the wicked White Witch got to Narnia in the first place. By that time, the author had already written five Narnia books, but these days the novel is often readers’ introduction to the series. [...] The Magician’s Nephew is a lot more fun, and the cheerful, if throwaway, The Horse and His Boy (despite having little connection to any of the other novels) would also have been a better choice for the series’ next movie.
What’s even more irritating is that The Magician’s Nephew was announced two years ago as the next film in the series. The Silver Chair, with its man-eating giants, shape-shifting queens and the amusing Parliament of Owls (a punny nod to Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowles) may just have a little more going for it by way of spectacle, but it feels like a shallow retread written to give the author yet another opportunity to wheel out an increasingly lacklustre Aslan. The only advantage in shooting it next is that the story features Eustace Scrubb, portrayed so superbly by Will Poulter in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Yet Poulter will be well into his 20s by the time the next movie starts shooting – should it get that far – so cannot reasonably be expected to return.
There is something funny going on here: perhaps Swinton simply made it clear she was unavailable. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was a rare blockbuster role for the arthouse heroine, but nevertheless stands as something of a signature role. One cannot help thinking that more than one party may have missed a trick here.
Now, Ben Child clearly knows his Narnia books. However, I can’t help but think he’s a bit off on his assessment. Sure, Tilda Swinton was great as the White Witch. And she did appear in both sequels in small ways. But Miraz was fine as the villain of Prince Caspian (as he was supposed to be), and Dawn Treader had its’ villain in each characters’ own weaknesses being attacked by a mysterious force that we call the green mist, which is kind of the Screwtape of Narnia (the Dark Island come to life).
Interestingly, The Silver Chair has another witch in it. She’s sometimes called “The Lady of the Green Kirtle,” or “The Green Witch,” or even “The Emerald Witch.” In the BBC version of the Chronicles of Narnia, they cast the same actress as both the White Witch and Green Witch. However, there has long been an argument that these two characters are entirely different from each other, so its’ likely that they’ll cast someone new in the role.
That said, it would have been interesting to see Tilda return, and to see the origin of the White Witch in The Magician’s Nephew. That can still happen, but our support for The Silver Chair, when it arrives, has to be substantial.
There was also a very interesting comment on the story there: “We all have views on what we would like for the Silver Chair, & what was good or not good about the previous films, but i don’t think in any way the film should be a check-list catering to what will please the most people, or what is supposed to please the fans,” wrote commenter nic in an interesting take. The best vision will come from people who get enjoyment out of the books & films made so far, & want to do a film that that is inspired by the combination of ideas they have from the two mediums.”
What do you think? Were you excited that they went with the logical choice of The Silver Chair as the fourth novel published in the Chronicles of Narnia? Did you think that they should have done another book instead and circle back around to The Silver Chair? Will you be okay with this choice if Will Poulter cannot return in the role of Eustace? Tell us your thoughts!