The Magician’s Nephew Coming from Walden Media

At the end of March, Walden Media announced they would go back to Narnia’s beginnings and film The Magician’s Nephew, rather than tackle The Silver Chair, as expected. Since they’re still in the discussion stage, most likely it will be several years before the film makes it to the screen, but the online chatter has already begun.

Walden Media is operating under the premise that The Magician’s Nephew holds the title of the most popular Narnia book after The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (I’m not sure how they arrived at that conclusion), therefore, the film will do as well as the first one–and certainly better than the last two. But I think they’re missing the point. From my perspective, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader performed poorly because they missed the emotional core of the books from which they were derived, not because they were based on less popular tales. Comments from the director of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader showed a profound lack of understanding regarding the book, and the film reflected that.

If they take a different approach to The Magician’s Nephew and manage to capture the elements that make it so compelling, I expect it will do well. There’s so much to love about this story, and so much material to draw from–an intriguing storyline, characters thrown into circumstances far beyond their means to handle, and the full range of emotion from joy to terror.

Others may have a different desires, but in a film version, I want to feel the wonder of exploring new realms and the first glimpse of Aslan, and witness the stark contrast between a world dying in despair and a world freshly breathed to life by the song of its Creator. I want the film to display what it means when one choice introduces sin into a sinless world, the suffering and redemption that spring from that choice, and hints of the ultimate glory to come.

I know differences are inevitable, but if they capture the wonder of the story, I’ll be satisfied.

What do you think is essential to the story? Are there scenes and story elements that you hope the film captures?

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10 Responses to The Magician’s Nephew Coming from Walden Media

  1. Mary says:

    Personally, I really liked The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I know they strayed from the book’s plot in certain areas, but after the disaster they made of Prince Caspian I was thrilled to see them come back to the bright, beautiful, colorful spirit of the Narnia I know and love.
    In regards to the upcoming Magician’s Nephew, I’m a little antsy. (Of course, I’m a bit disappointed that The Silver Chair has been pushed back, as it’s one of my favorites.) Like you, Sarah, I just hope they stick to the spirit and awesome wonder of the story. Hopefully they’ll learn their lesson: botch Narnia and the movie doesn’t do well. We can hope, anyway.

    • Sarah Sawyer says:

      I think you summed it up well, Mary. People want to see the stories they are passionate about make it to the screen, not some reinvented version that strays far from the spirit of the original tales. If they do a poor job on The Magician’s Nephew , I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch any more of their films. At this point, I have a wait and see mentality. Hopefully, we won’t be disappointed!

  2. Richard Hislop says:

    Could not agree more!! The movies that they made were all very popular tales in the fantasy genre, and in the Narnia books. The issue was that the script writers for the movies really dropped the ball on Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader especially. They changed some of the plot line where it did not need to be changed in both movies, and it actually took away from the experience rather then adding to it. They failed to capture the emotion and the true message that Lewis was trying to convey through the story. We all know that if Lewis was alive today those movies would not be in theater, he would not have allowed it. The script writers did that pour of a job taking it from book to motion picture. The bigger issue to me is that it seems that Walden Media doesn’t even recognize this. They seem to think that they did a good job with the movies, and that they just were not popular titles, which is not true at all. Those two stories are some favorites among Narnia lovers and fans. They really dropped the ball I believe for C.S. Lewis, and all Narnia fans. I can literally say that sitting through Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was literally painful, for me and others I know. The movie was so butchered from the book that they were not even enjoyable for me to watch. I understand that the movies cannot possibly be the exact same as the book. I’m not saying they should be. I’m saying that when you write the script from book to motion picture and direct them you really have to do the best job you can to capture what the writer (Lewis) intended them to be. And make them as close to the books as you can. No one can ever say that it can’t be done better then Walden Media because Peter Jackson has already proven how well fantasy books can be made in to movies accurately and perfectly. Peter had to make some changes, yes, but he did it right without taking away from what Tolkien was trying to convey and the message of the story. I am an avid fan of C.S. Lewis and his Narnia works. I have read all the books about 6 times each, and I love them as well as the The Hobbit and all the Lord of The Rings books! I was SO excited about these movies coming out. However, if Walden Media is going to continue to change them so much and really mess them up like they have been, have Peter Jackson make them or don’t let Walden Media mess them up anymore.

    • Sarah Sawyer says:

      Richard, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts! I agree that the Narnia stories have been popular for years–ever since they were written. It seems to me that the filmmakers are just looking for somewhere to cast the blame, and rather than considering their own actions and the substantial changes they made to the emotional core of the stories, they’re trying to find fault with the tales themselves. That doesn’t give me much hope for the next film.

      Like you, I cringed sitting through the theater for the last two movies. Actually, for Voyage of the Dawn Treader I found myself entirely disinterested in what was happening, even though I love the book. From my perspective, the stories scarcely resembled each other. As a writer, I’d be quite upset if someone butchered my works to that extent!

      With Lord of the Rings, they did do some trimming (Tom Bombadil, the scouring of the Shire, etc), but they chose to do it because of time constraints, not because they were trying to come up with a new storyline (thank goodness). The substantial changes they made to some characters alarmed me, but at least Jackson stuck with the main plot rather than trying to invent his own!

      I’ve had similar thoughts about wishing another studio would take on the Narnia adaptations, but I’m not sure how that would work with all the legal rights and so forth. We’ll see, I suppose.

      • Richard Hislop says:

        Well said! We are on the same page, I completely agree with everything you said. I really do hope for a pleasant surprise with the next movie, if nothing else for sake of C.S. Lewis!

  3. Emily says:

    I agree with Richard. Basically, if they can manage to capture the true meaning and power from the books, and pretty much just repeat everything from the stories almost exactly, with all the incredible effects that have been in the other Narnia movies, I’ll be happy. I suppose you could call me picky. 🙂

    • Sarah Sawyer says:

      Emily, I’m pretty picky too! I know there have to be changes when going from one medium to another, but I’m not satisfied unless the core elements that make the story vibrant and full of wonder–the spirit of the story– make it to the film. I also want to see characterization remain accurate, because in my opinion, there’s nothing in the switch from book to film that necessitates changing that. 🙂

  4. Becca says:

    I was definitely disappointed when I saw the movies straying from the intended message. The message that C.S Lewis created was so beautiful, and I think that as much as we try, it will be impossible for it to be fully portrayed in all its wondrous glory. I do feel that no matter what I will not stop watching the Narnia movies because of the Narnian hope in me. I believe that there is definitely potential for this coming movie to excel, but it will take a lot of interpretation of straight up facts. Everything that has been written down in these stories has a deeper, beautiful meaning just waiting to be discovered by you and me. Nevertheless, I am definitely a Narnia freak in the good way, and forever I will be. <3

    • Sarah Sawyer says:

      Thanks for jumping in and sharing your perspective, Becca!

      Despite the number of people expressing disappointment in the direction taken by Walden Media, they haven’t seemed to take it to heart. Yet like you, I still hope they will change tactics in the coming movie.

      There is tremendous depth and beauty to Lewis’s stories, enough that I never tire of reading them. That probably makes me a Narnia freak too. 🙂

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