Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Andrew Adamson
Starring: Ben Barnes, Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Peter Dinklage
(PG, 140 min.)
"A snake lurks in the grass." Virgil
We have as much menace as magic in the revisited Narnia, with the Pevensie clan once again whisked away to the fantasy kingdom to save it from itself. Treachery this time out is more homegrown, as the handsome Prince Caspian flees from his treacherous uncle, who wants the throne for his newborn son.
When the desperate prince blows his magic horn, he summons the “kings of old” back to Narnia, which makes for a nice bit of cinema magic as the four Pevensies erupt from a London underground tube station onto the high cliffs of Narnia via a wormhole that looks suspiciously like a bomb crater. Well, anything to end their mundane existence as British school children, a bit of a drag in and of itself, what with the uniforms, bookish lessons and such, but certain to be exquisitely painful for this crew that had grown to a charmed adulthood as the ruling royalty in Narnia.
Of course, as Thomas Wolf has told us, you can’t go home again, even if it is to your favorite fantasyland. One year has passed for the Pevensies, thirteen hundred for Narnia, and the years have not been kind to the latter. Yes, the evil ice queen is still frozen, but most of those cuddly Narnians are no more – no Mr. and Mrs. Beaver to provide homey comfort, no more tea times with Mr. Tumnus, our favorite faun. The grubby survivors are mostly a scruffy lot – a couple of grumpy dwarves, some testy minotaurs, and assorted centaurs eking out a measly existence in the dark forest while their conquerors, the Telmarines, rule the land.
It’s also a bit of a downer when the “kings of old” arrive in full blown pubescence instead of their adult splendor, and what with the four young Pevensie royals, the untested young Prince Caspian, and the usurping uncle, we’ve got enough would be monarchs to satisfy even the British tabloids. In fact, the surfeit of royalty gets a bit much, especially when it comes to battle plans, what with High King Peter and young Caspian battling each other as much as their foes.
And to make matters worse, our lion king, Aslan appears nowhere to be found, except in little Lucy’s dreams and visions, which are easily dismissed by her elders. The fact that her instincts run true puts C.S. Lewis in with Wordsworth, Mark Twain and Steven Spielberg, who always put more faith in innocence than experience, intuition over logic.
The battle scenes are medieval – Susan Pevensie is one heck of an archer, the young men deft in their swordsmanship – but a pall of World War II memories charges them. The Telmarine army marches in lock step, their relentless staccato a reminder of Hitler’s march across Europe, the ancient ruins of Narnia not unlike bombed out London.
Patriot that he was, the novel’s author, C.S. Lewis, also pays tribute to British resolve, courage, and fair mindedness. To buy time for Lucy to find and bring Aslan to the rescue, Peter challenges the battle-hardened usurper King Miraz to one on one combat. Peter answers Miraz’s ruthless ploys with hard won valor and a show of final mercy.
We have some more mighty swordsmanship from the lone being in Narnia’s cuteness category, the mouse Reepicheep, with some bows to Ratatouille, as well as Shrek’s Puss’n Boots. Of course, since this is a Disney production one shouldn’t be too surprised to find a real life Mouseketeer. At least this one doesn’t have those ridiculous oversized ears.
Aslan seems to be watching from a distance for the most part, almost like one of Hitchcock’s cameos. What has kept him so for the thirteen hundred year lapse is never completely explained, nor is his choice to re enter in the form of deus ex machina. Perhaps Lucy’s explanation, “Maybe we’re the ones who have to prove ourselves to him,” is the best one the film can offer, since it edits out much of the greater spiritual significance of Aslan as well as Lewis’s ”triumph of mythic imagination over Enlightenment rationalism and skepticism,” as critic Steven D. Greydanus laments. (Let’s not upset the PC crowd any more than we already did in our first endeavor seems the byword here,)
Prince Caspian is probably best enjoyed as an entity of its own rather than a film version of Lewis’s much more substantive work. As such, it is a solid summer adventure, an escape to a world that ends up not that very different from our own flawed one, where the battle between good and evil requires eternal vigilance.
What with all those sentient beings, Narnia is not the best friend of the committed carnivore. How can you eat a little beastie that talks back to you? Let’s settle for very sensible British fare, then, our Coronation Crumpets to accompany Prince Caspian’s ascent to his rightful throne?
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And let’s wash down them with The Perfect Cup of Tea
Crumpets are delicious when spread with butter and marmalade. The butter soaks into the crumpet and drips down your chin as you bite them!
- 8oz Plain Flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried instant yeast
- 1/2 pint warm milk
- oil to grease
- Crumpet rings: 3-5" in diametre
- Mix flour, sugar, salt and dried yeast in a bowl. Add the warmed milk, and stir the batter until smooth.
- Cover the bowl, and put in a warm place and leave it until the mixture rises and the surface is full of bubbles (about 40-60 minutes). If the batter is very thick, loosen with the milk.
- Break it down by beating with a spoon.
- Grease some crumpet rings (about 3" in diametre) and put them on the frying pan (or bakestone) to heat.
- Pour 1/2 inch deep of batter into each ring. Cook gently until small holes appear and the top has started to dry.
- Lift off the ring, flip it over and cook until the other side is just coloured slightly.
- Spread with lots of good butter, marmalade, and enjoy!
Recipe Source: British Teatime Recipes