Having sort of run out of movies to see here, I agreed to go see Prince Caspian, the second adaptation from the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis. A quick check of the reviews showed it to be very well received, so I thought how bad could it be?
Pretty awful, actually. It was bad on so many levels. From the best to the worst: Special effects and art direction were decent, not great. Acting ranged from pretty good (Susan) to downright cringeworthy (Caspian). But the real standout for me in terms of awfulness was the moral of the story and plot (which of course are direct from C.S. Lewis).
Let’s take a look at all the ugliness:
- Super simplification of good vs evil. I happen to think this is a terrible lesson for children, that the world can be divided into black and white, good and evil, etc. I think it a great scourge in our society that we tend to vilify those we disagree with and forego civility.
- Cheap faith and a vengeful God. The moral of the story is that if you have faith in Jesus (the Lion), he will save you by destroying your enemies (in a quite violent way). It really doesn’t matter what the faith in question, if there is a central father figure who smites those who don’t believe in him, I find it problematic and a bad lesson for children (or anyone). I don’t think it serves human kind very well to think of God as a vengeful, anthropomorphic superhero, but I suppose this is part of the Western Tradition (make that the human tradition, I can think of a few Eastern examples as well).
- The Crusades (or Jihad). Along with the overly simplistic good vs evil is the religious crusade behind it. There is an orgy of violence in this film that is disturbing. Interestingly, in the couple of scenes of one on one combat among the major characters, they (the good guys, of course) are shown to be merciful, passing on killing when they have the chance. These same characters think nothing of slashing and killing everything in their path throughout the rest of the film, however where they happen to be killing nameless, faceless soldiers or other less elite creatures.
I’ve never exactly been a fan of Terminator style movies, but at least those leave out the religious overtones and moralizing. The disturbing thing when watching the Narnia movies is that you can totally see that this is how some on the religious right view the world. No room for nuance or differing world views. The rest of you are going to burn in hell, period. What a sweet message for the children.