Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Why books are still better

Finally saw the Narnia movie tonight on pay-per-view, which was nice because we were able to pause it during the part where my daughter threw up on me. While it didn't make me as flat-out angry as the last two installments of Lord of the Rings (let's just say if I were a screen adapter I wouldn't make a story "more accessible to women" by making up a whole lot of crap about two of them fighting over the hero), it left me pretty disappointed. I don't have the problems some folks do with the Narnia series; yes, it glorifies religious violence and it's essentially a lesson in imperial wish-fulfillment, but so is the Odyssey. Welcome to literature folks--it's all fulla stuff like violence and wacky gods and people who think they've figured everything out.

So while there are parts of the series that always make me roll my eyes a bit, I usually just overlook them, because I don't demand perfect books, thus I am able to read lots of them, which I hope helps me avoid fundamentalist attitudes and general ignorance and other bad things.

I expected to not like the glorified battle scenes, but they didn't really affect me one way or the other (maybe on the big screen it would have been different). No, what got me in the end was a feeling I summed up like this to my husband: "This is fantasy produced by people who really don't have much imagination." For one thing, I don't know how explicitly it was focus-grouped toward the Christian right and how much it was just dumbed down for Hollywood, but for a bunch of mythical characters in a fantasy world, they sure as hell were white. The faun was white, the centaurs were white, the dwarves were white. Why? I'm not saying you have to have evil black dwarves like Lewis did, but come on , this is 2006, you can't have a black centaur?

And the horses. If you've read the series you know one of the biggest faux pas you can make in Narnia is to ride a talking horse. It only happens during battles and other extreme circumstances. But you can see the wheels turning in the screenplay adapters' heads: Hey, talking horses, now that's fantasy! We'll have one say "My name is Phillip!" It'll be just like Mr. Ed, people always laughed at him, it was great.

Also, I thought the centaurs were animated for shit. But you know, I got thrown up on during all this, I'm probably pissier than usual.

Hah! Looking into the animation on the film I found this quote from a Lewis scholar at William and Mary: "He believed there was death in the camera. Meaning, when you translate word to image, the imagination dies."


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