Sunday, February 12, 2006

I once dated a girl named Narnia

A couple of months ago I reviewed Syriana, and in the process, slammed Narnia. UVA student Brian Pishko had something to say about this. So he wrote his own review and sent it to me. Me being the lazy person I am put off posting it until now. But what better time than Oscar season to post it (yeah, Achievement in Sound Editing is an important nomination). So, sorry for the delay, now here's what Brian had to say:

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was released this December among much fanfare and with high expectations from many people. But not from Patrick. He pre-criticized it as an “easy to digest” movie with “little or no redeeming social commentary.” But who says a work must have a blatant connection to current events to contain redeeming social commentary?

I had the privilege to take a class with Professor Michael Levenson, and it has been by far the best experience of my life. His take on fiction’s social commentary is “fiction is not separated from the world that it inhabits—it is implicated in everything in our social world. In revealing itself, how it is made, it exposes our condition, our emergency. We read fiction not only to uncover a vision of the past, but also to project a vision of the future.” Sometimes the story and act of storytelling can be more important for us than a thinly veiled documentary (Syriana).The Chronicles of Narnia were indeed written as children’s books. They may be read as having an overt Christian agenda, but they surely can be enjoyed without seeing this agenda. I surely missed it the first time I read the novels. But young or old, Christian or not, such stories truly implicate themselves in our social world. These stories transport us to exiting worlds, modes of existence much different from the one which envelops us. If we do not allow ourselves to be transported outside our usual habitations, if we refuse to let our imaginations play, we will end up simply hiding under the quilt of the familiar.

In transporting us, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe takes us back to our roots and shows us, inescapably, that no one is innocent. Even though there are victims and tyrants, everyone is open to the temptation of power. Big Brothers, Younger Brothers. Fawns. If children can be sadists, (if brothers can sell out their family for Turkish Delight), what hope is there for the rest of us? The hope is in our faith in the humanity of our imagination. Lucy shows us this in her readiness to accept her imagination as reality and fully embrace the excitement of the unfamiliar. I personally strongly disagree with Lewis’ suggestions that only preadolescent children have the innocence to receive the gift of Narnia. He treats sexuality and women poorly perhaps. But he does create a vivid story. Story isn’t just an ornament for our slow days; it’s how we exist in an often ugly world. In writing stories, authors animate possibilities that we thought were lost.

By putting these visions between the covers of a book, or in a theater, wherever, the author (the artist) provides all of us with a glimpse of what we are really capable of.Unfortunetely, the movie Narnia doesn’t provide this to us. This capitalistic DUMP is what worrys me about our world. I worry. Whoever produced this movie was given an opportunity to recreate and reintroduce a story to new generations. To make THE difference. Instead, they rushed out a movie to follow quickly on the heels of Harry Potter and bank on the holiday surge. So they made something with great visual effects coupled with a horrible script. I’ve read the books understand that they were written as children books and so have some lack of dialogue. But there is no reason for the producers of the movie to simply take dialogue from the book without any adaptation. No text is holy. By regarding it as such, the creators of the movie limit themselves to mediocrity at best. Dialogue and especially interior dialogue is much different in a book as compared with a movie.

In the book version of the Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe, almost all the characters experience intense emotional revelations. Spending the time writing a good adaptation of the movie would have allowed much of this internal dialogue to be translated into expressed dialogue between characters instead of simple quietness and expressions of wonder on the screen. Instead of inexplicably showing the children’s attraction to Aslan, the writers of the movie could have easily spent a few moments allowing the children’s relationship with Aslan to develop and allow the children to verbally express this development. Unfortunately, the movie takes the book and works hard to include every single scene and it seems like every line. So rather than a flowing, developing movie, scenes are choppy and underconnected.

So…yeah. I suppose that Patrick may have been right. The movie Narnia may be a waste of money, but hopefully its publicity will increase interest in the books. We don’t want cheap thrills, in simple synopses, we want, we need, the Great Stories. Books that refuse boundaries. That remind us what the imagination is for – to destroy, shatter, obliterate boundaries. So that was why I wasted my money on the movie.But there is hope! Check out Philip Pullman’s first film installation of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy which hits theaters December 2007. Pullman has been called “The most dangerous author in Britain” and the writer “the atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed.” I’m praying. Check out the Article in the New York Times Dec. 26 issue for more on him and some really exiting reading. (He has some great criticism of Lewis, Tolkien, and many other books.) See it here.
-Brian Pishko


Anonymous Katie said...

I can't believe the title you chose for this entry. You know how much I hate hearing about your relationship with that whore. Who names their kid Narnia anyway?

4:56 PM, February 12, 2006

Blogger the great waldo pepper said...

chill out... you know she was a lying bitch who stole my clothes.

5:20 PM, February 12, 2006

Blogger OkraMary said...

intersting post from mr. pishko. its length also makes me feel guilty for neglecting this great blog.

if you really dated a girl named narnia, that's lame. names like that are so pretentious - like naming a girl brooklyn or wednesday. i hate names like that.

12:48 PM, February 19, 2006


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