Saturday, May 17, 2008

Identifying & Reacting To Spiritual Themes in Prince Caspian

(reader's beware: this post and the links within will undoubtedly contain spoilers about the film Prince Caspian)
After watching Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian with a good-sized group of friends tonight, my wife and I strolled down to Starbucks. After having a Venti Iced Double Shot at Starbucks I couldn't quite fall quickly to sleep and I found myself responding in prayer to some of the spiritual messages in the film. Particularly I prayed: "God, I want to come to your first in all situations, not second after I consult others, not last when all things fall to pieces, but first." And from there found myself communing with God about various things in my life as a response to certain themes in the film.

It's hard watching the film, knowing that C.S. Lewis' Christian faith and allegory intentions in his popular series with out either being brought in to his Christian message, turned off or distracted by his religiosity, or watching the film like a private investigator trying to soak up the message.

Buzzing from my coffee, I decided to read how people (not professional reviewers) were reacting to the Christian themes/messages/scenes that are present in the film and how they saw these messages fitting together. Below are a handful of links pointing to post written this weekend that I read.

I think you will enjoy the diversity of ideas, scenes, messages and reactions that these 15 film viewers and bloggers had to the Spiritual themes in Prince Caspian...

Kevin at Wright off The Bat, a Duke divinity student while critical of the Lord of the Rings style adaptation, greatly describes the most spiritual scenes in the film with great detail, and then compares the poor leadership of Prince Caspian and Peter to that of President George Bush in his dealings with terrorism.

Illinois Church Planter Mark Doebler (aka Coach Mark) is much more positive about the movie, although he does note that it's somewhat slow. Yet he compares it's power in telling a spiritual story much like Jesus telling parables. He keys in on three main spiritual truths: Not seeing Jesus because we weren't looking, the importance of waiting on God, and the duel nature of God's power and gentlesness.

Caleb Click at Having Been With Jesus is a C.S. Lewis purist and is frustrated at not just the inclusions director/writer Adamson added to the story (minor love story), but certain exclusions and messages, such as Trumpkin's materialism, the attempt of the Pevensie children to be rational. Caleb is not impressed with the battle scenes and the lack of focus on Aslan in the story.

Christian Blogger William Petruzzo praises the movie, but criticizes the difference by Walden Media and Disney's motives (money) with C.S. Lewis' motives in writing the books (Jesus and making disciples). While methodically going through the various scenes and production values (which are all praised above The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe), he also praises the faithfulness to the theme that it is not about our own praise and honor but Jesus'.

Film lover Movie Dearest who writes for "gay and gay-friendly movie fans" post a review by Rev. Chris Carpenter who rants first about the PG rating, and how it really should be PG-13, especially with children initiated violence. For Rev. Carpenter, the message and allegory of Prince Caspian is about the crusades and the conquest of the holy land (the dark skinned vs. the light skinned). Rev. Carpenter is also unsatisfied with the entrance of Aslan as his actions are hollow, when he should encourage them to put down their swords and condemn violence.

46 year old night shift nurse Theresa saw the movie with her husband and enjoyed it, and sees a lot of spiritual references, although thinks they take more effort to identify then in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. But she sees a variety of things including: "good verses evil but there is also, a deal with the devil (actually several of these), David verses Goliath, Moses and the Red Sea and a lot references to needing to be true to your faith even when others have doubt."

Sven at Christianity & Culture in the 21st Century argues that while there is Jesus-Aslan parallelism, that saying Prince Caspian is a Christian movie is an inaccurate statement. He also is mostly intrigued with the messages that arise with the scene with the reprise of White Witch in which Sven sees a message of having a positive influence on your neighbor and keeping them away from sin.

Alan G at his Big Al's Blog talks about the value of child-like faith as you see in Lucy and expressed in Matthew 8:13. Through the 12 step program and working through his relationship with his "higher power" Alan responds to Prince Caspian by trying to work through being open to new things and free from feeling locked down by the rules of his Church and negative things.

Jonathan in Mckinney, Texas is trying to spend 21 days to spending a small portion of his day worshiping and contemplating God. On the 13th day he saw Prince Caspian and the part that him was when Aslan confronts Lucy about why she didn't follow him in the first place, and her response was the she was Alone. And Jonathan responds by asking: "Why do we let our circumstance dictate our pursuit?"

Woman on the Edge who challenges women to live life to fullest loved the Christian symbolism, especially as it related to Lucy and Aslan's rebuke of not coming after him, even if it meant coming after him alone. Woman on the Edge gets very excited at the imagery of Lucy standing alone on the bridge with her tiny dagger waiting for the roar. Woman on the Edge feels like she is like Lucy in this regard.

Melissa writers on her Daring blog, not about a scene so much in Prince Caspian, but about the interaction she sees in the way that Lucy and the other children interact with Aslan. She loves how Lucy loves Aslan even more than her siblings, and that when Melissa feels like she has never seen Christ, she realizes that she has seen these images of Aslan.

Funyon Junior writes about how the plots really simple, and that Aslan's entrance is anti-climatic and the film steals major plot elements from Tolkiens The Lord of The Rings. Funyon thinks the correlations to C.S. Lewis' Christian messages about faith are unmissable, and maybe even the inevitability of Aslan's role in the conflict is a statement to how basic faith is in the first place.

Bleek at Common Grace Kingdom criticizes the film, especially it's predictability but then admits to be moved to tears and crying...specifically for the rescue and return of Christ. "come Lord Jesus. we don’t need a son of Adam, we need the second Adam. Caspian pales in comparison to our Christ."

Moniker at Rock, Paper, _____ sees something a little different. Moniker identifies Aslan as God but considers the 4 children that return to Narnia to be more like the Messiah who come to save everyone. Moniker also thinks that a variety of faith traditions could "get a tingly feeling" in certain scenes of the movie.

Pastor and Grandfather Brian Atwood, isn't too much into allegory but tackles Narnia's Prince Caspian and sees the story mostly about hope, and the hope that God will be able to tackle life's perplexities. He also sees it having a message in the importance of waiting, specifically waiting on God's timing. He also mentions the importance of Childlike faith, born out of knowing God's track record and character.

(my thanks to each of the above bloggers linked above for sharing there thoughts)


Anonymous said...

Dear RC, read your blog and the comment. I really don't have much idea so as how it connects to the book series (as the such movies typically is a disappointment comp. to the book). If you have read the book, where does it go from here... Is faith the next step in there journey next time around for Lucy is all for faith and Life, while the younger bro is more impulsive than anything else...

As for your point, for God coming first and then others, go to sleep with him being the only thought in your mind. Hence you will wake up with him being the only thought and for the rest of the day, he will make sure he comes first, and then everybody else.

Brian Atwood said...

RC, Woke up to get a drink of water and thought about editing my blog. Saw your comment and enjoyed reading how others were impacted by the movie. Very interesting. Thanks for making contact.

Artowawa said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog.

I really enjoyed C.S.Lewis's books. In layman's terms, its good vs evil and I'm glad that its always good that wins.

It gives all of us a message. I truly believe that we just need some faith. Especially true in this trying time when there are so many calamities around us.

Dad of Divas said...

It is interesting to see what people think of Hollywood's rendition of CS Lewis' vision for his tied into his beliefs in religion. I find these comments also interesting after the recent outcry at the movie and books surrounding the Golden Compass series of books and movie that came out around Christmas.

Thanks for the thoughts and look forward to reading more!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I think you're the first fellow to technically refer to my as a "blogger"! It's strangely honoring. :)

Great post; thanks for doing the legwork and making the observations. It's interesting to see everyone's different perspectives.

Theresa said...

Thanks for including my ramblings in your post. I didn't want to include spoilers on my blog because most of my friends/family hasn't seen the movie yet. If they had I would have added that the basis of the movie is Peter's battle with himself. He wants to be a Man, he believes that by being named King Peter, that made him a Man. It, of course, didn't. As a Man, he doesn't think he needs help from anyone else, including Aslan. What he finds is that when Man makes his own decisions others can get hurt (so many died when they were trapped in the castle after believing Peter could save them instead of listening to Lucy saying that Aslan could help). There are many more examples if you look.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog and for including my thoughts in your list. I really appreciate the effort you made in providing some different perspectives of the movie. It reminds me of the movie "Vantage Point". Perception often comes down to your viewpoint and your own set of filters.

As for me, I'm very aware of the books, but have never read them. I take the movies at face value and enjoy the spiritual component. They help me put aspects of my own faith in perspective. That's the real value for me.

Dad said...

Dang man! You read 15 reviews? You might need counseling. Or a hobby. Oh, I guess it is your hobby.

My problem with the whole- Peter wanting to be a man so people got hurt theme- is, one, it is not in the book as I read it. And, two, C.S. Lewis would be the first to say that people can get hurt and things can go wrong even when we depend fully on God. Even if Aslan had asked Peter to lead the stupid night raid on the castle that would not be a guarantee of victory.

So anyway, I think the spiritual themes in PC were vague and weak especially compared to the book.

A couple of other discussions come to my mind. As a youth minister I was heavily marketed (through a non-profit ministry network) to take my group to see the movie. Are corporations trying to cash in on Evangelicals because of our ability to mobilize and follow blindly?
Also, I'm really glad I didn't bring a group of children. I would hate to have to explain to parents that I had taken their children to see a PG movie where one child cuts a man's head off. Is the introduction of adult themes into children's movies a result (or cause) of the loss of childhood in America?

pharmacy said...

it is one of the best movies, I would like to have the original dvd