Adaptation

One of the main concerns people have when one of their favorite books gets turned into a movie is, “Will it still be essentially the same?” There’s a general trend of thought that in order to adapt a book to screen, you have to make certain changes or certain compromises to make the movie version flow better.

I’ve rarely been one of those people who’d read the book years ago and then went to see its adaptation. For me it’s mostly been the other way around: the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, the Legends of Earthsea miniseries–I watched them before I picked up the original books. This could probably explain why I never felt strongly against the Lothlorien Elves coming to Helm’s Deep or red-skinned Ged being played by fair-skinned actor Shawn Ashmore.

I’d read the Chronicles of Narnia books back in my rosy youth, however (AKA when I was seven years old). I wondered how I’d react upon watching the 2005 film adaptation of the Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Would I be a purist, arguing that this or that wasn’t in the book, that this or that was contrary to the spirit of the book? I didn’t want to be disappointed.

Thankfully, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was an enjoyable experience. Its portrayal of Aslan was particularly powerful; I absolutely had goosebumps when Aslan was revealed for the first time halfway through the film and almost cried when he gave himself up as Edmund’s ransom. The child actors did well as the Pevensies; Edmund’s treachery and bewitching didn’t seem contrived, Peter grew from harsh older brother to noble king, Susan developed from unbeliever to faithful supporter.

The weak link in this film’s performance was the acting of the actress who played Lucy; her facial expression for wonderment was equally her expression for sorrow, or surprise, or happiness… The character of Lucy being a pivotal part in how readers experienced the wonder of Narnia, this was the only thing that nagged at me throughout the film.

Overall, though, it did bring the world of Narnia to life, though I’m not sure how people who had never read the book could have kept up with the story. (I think this is the reason why the bookstores say “Read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe before watching the movie!”)

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