Prince Caspian

In just over a week, the film Prince Caspian hits theaters. This 4th book in C.S. Lewis' Narnia series is part great adventure story and part allusion to the Christian life. Caspian is a story about belief, and about restoring things to the way they're meant to be. Two more biblical themes could hardly be imagined.

Belief: In Prince Caspian Narnia is a different world than when we last saw it. No longer do fawns dance in the forests, or beavers and horses talk. Instead Narnia has been overrun and inhabited by a race of humans who have no time for such foolishness. These Telmarines (as they're known) are far too "sophisticated" to believe in Centaurs, in Lion kings, or in any of the magic that made Narnia. The parallel with modern secular life is hard to miss. I bet if Richard Dawkins had lived in Narnia at this time he'd have written a book called The Aslan Delusion.

It is within this world of brute, lifeless skepticism that the adventure takes place, as young Prince Caspian (the rightful heir to the throne of Narnia) seeks to dicover if there's any truth to the stories of old Narnia. And he discovers, as seekers do, that there is when he finds the few remaining "Old Narnians" hiding out in the forests. Yet the quest for truth extracts a price: Caspian has chosen sides, and now opposes the dominant force of his world. Ah, the parallels!

And it is this world to which the 4 Pevensie children return - a very different Narnia than the one they left. They have some new lessons to learn about serving truth in this later world. While Aslan was right by their side in the first film, he is much more aloof and difficult to find in this one. It's only as the children, beginning with the ever-faithful Lucy, put their trust in him that they finally find him. Thus belief becomes the key step in the quest for truth.

Not the way it's supposed to be: Caspian is ultimately about defeating the evil Telmarines and restoring Prince Caspian to his rightful place on the throne. But more than a story about a single ruler, it's a story about restoring Narnia to its original, intended glory. The allusion to God's plan of redeeming this world, buying it back from it's fallen state and creating a New Heavens and New Earth is potent.

And finally, Caspian is just a great adventure story! Yet aside from the raw entertainment value of a good adventure, which is considerable IMO (I'm a sucker for a good swashbuckling swordfight any day!) there is a lesson here too. Aslan may be there and truth may be found, but nothing is certain unless the characters each take their place in the battle, risk danger, and sacrifice. To follow Aslan in the service of restoring the true Narnia is to spend oneself in a worthy cause. It's all reminiscent of the Apostle Paul's comparing the Christian life to an endurance race - only one who competes can get the prize.

I can scarcely imagine a more entertaining way to visualize Biblical truths.


Ken said...

I've read there have been some changes from the book to make it more Hollywood-esqe, such as a small rivalry between Peter and Caspian, but I can't wait! Maybe I should Lion first...I read the books years ago.

Anonymous said...

We are reading the story to the boys now so that we can see the movie next week! It will be so much fun! It is exciting that they are understanding the truths.

Dan Franklin said...

Pathetic! That is all I have to say about this post. I think you have compromised your integrity and all your values!
Am I being too dramatic? I don't think do.
The 4TH book in the series! It is the not 4TH book in the series! It is the 2ND book in the series. Since when did we buy into the ridiculous reordering of these books! Come on, Matt!
Anyway, you're a great guy, and I think you still have plenty of integrity. It just pains my heart that you would be so blind on this issue.
Seriously, though, can't wait to see the movie. But it comes out on my graduation day. I think I will have to wait a little while.



Matt Guerino said...

Dan, Dan, Dan,

*Sigh* I see I must enlighten you as regards history here. Hopefully then you'll see that my values are actually quite solid in this case!

Since Lewis had no official order in mind when he wrote the series (indeed, he didn't even know that there would BE a series when he wrote LW&W), nor did he insist on an offical order at any time after the series was complete, we're left with only 2 alternatives: original order of publication (Caspian 2nd) OR internal chronological order (Caspian 4th). Publishers have made the decision in either case, not Lewis, so I feel quite satisfied with my integrity in preferring the latter! :)

Congrats on finally finishing school!

Matt Guerino said...

Ken: I'm hopeful that the changes you refer to wioll be changes within the spirit of the story, as most of the changes in Jackon's LOTR trilogy were. The Pevensie children did have to prove themselves to some of the Old Narnians, so maybe Peter's struggle to find his proper place won't be too far fetched. We'll find out in less than a week!

Shallee: You're definitely doing the right thing reading it now. I read it most recently a couple years ago and if I wasn't buried in the LOTR series with Elizabeth we'd do the same! You'll have to tell me what seems the biggest departure from the book after you see the film.

Sarah Martin said...

Thanks for this post, I am still sharpening my skills at finding the symbolism in movies! Can't wait to see this flick!

sarah martin
centurion C4

DidiLyn said...

I.Can't. Wait.
Thanks for your insights. It just builds the incredible anticipation.

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