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Prince Caspian: Violence and Magic, and the Turning of the Tide

“Violence and magic” – that sounds like the recent American approach to foreign policy. There’s been a lot a violence, considerable fantasy, and hope for, but precious little experience of, magic.

The new movie version of Prince Caspian (we saw it Saturday with grandkids) is fairly well done as cinema, I guess. It’s pretty in places, often intense and scary (or pretending to be), and funny or clever in places, and it is reminiscent of Narnia. But a lot of the over-two-hours is spent trying to capture on film the chaos, violence, and suspense of battle. It really gets boring. I mean, how many hours of this are already available in movies?

There are frequent incursions of magic (more, it seems to me, than in the ‘real’ Narnia) to either save the day, or fend off the impending unhappy end in hopes of the day being saved a little later, which of course it was.

So, sadly, I walked away from the movie feeling like I got very little edification, very little of Narnia, and a heavy dose of our old bad human habits of relying on violence and hoping for a bit of magic at the right time. Do we need more encouragement to rely on violence and magic?

There were some interesting ideas – there would have to be when your ultlimate source is C. S. Lewis. At the end, Aslan re-awakens the trees who then get fully involved in the battle and rout the enemy. Even the river (river god) gets involved and finishes off the enemy army – a real “turning of the tide” – while the Narnians stand and watch.

Of course this demi-god involvement can be seen as utterly ridiculous – simple deus ex machina. But it does stir some wonder – think what it must be like for either side in a battle for a race’s or a nation’s future to get to the place where EVERYthing is fighting for one side and against the other.

I think that happens, or can seem to be happening, in real history.

It felt that way, I suspect, for many of the followers of Jesus right up to the last three days – like Jesus had all the qualifications and all the resources of power and the future was his for the taking. Can you imagine how you might have been thinking had you been there? It’s hard to imagine, because we know the rest of the story.

It didn’t go as they expected. That victory apparently has been running underground since the crucifixion, like a subterranean river. We hope it will surface again. I expect it to.

Sometimes reading a history of WWII makes me think the dice were loaded. Most of the treachery and planning were on one side, and victory went to the other.

It may feel like that (“everything is fighting for one side”) to some who are watching the Obama campaign. It’s beginning to look that way to me – like a “perfect storm” is coming into place against all the violence, deceit, fear, thievery and corruption of our recent history, and in support of reason, integrity, justice, courage, hard work, and constitutional government. Wow. That’s obviously overstated. But it seems there may be a huge turning of the tide coming. We don’t know yet how that will all go. But I’d hate to be a Republican running for any high office this year – nothing is looking good for them or their recent strategies and agendas right now.

But as to the movie – I can’t recommend it for much beyond cinematography and Trumpkin. My apologies to those who loved it, but that’s my opinion. And this is from a long-time major Narnia fan. I even wrote a term paper in college on the philosophy of history represented in the Narnia series.

Unfortunately, the philosophy in the movie is one of winning by exercising more effective violence. C. S. Lewis had a little of that in him, from his love of Norse mythology, etc., I suppose, but his works showed a lot more of Christian world-view and of rationality than show up in Prince Caspian the movie.

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