In the rip-roaring movie adaptation of Prince Caspian, a daring night-time raid is made on the castle of the
Calormen Telarmarines. It was only in re-reading Narnia over the summer that I remembered the stand out feature of that novel that gets no coverage in the book. It’s interesting.
When the lion, Aslan, returns to Narnia he goes on a journey throughout the land with Susan and Lucy and a load of the fauns and Bacchus. Bacchus! As I sit here drinking my beer I raise a toast to CS Lewis for his sense.
With the battle barely even won, Aslan and his merry troupe dances around the land the Calormen think they own and before their astonished eyes it is transformed, renewed, made whole. It is a magnificent section in the whole series, totally weird because you’d think that conservative Christian fundamentalists would hate that Lewis writes these scenes where the pagan god of hedonism lets the wine flow and his women dance and from their fertile joy, restoration comes. Yet Narnia remains beloved by even the hardest of evangelicals.
All brutality ceases at this wild bunch. A man flogging a boy finds his rod turn into a flower, an ailing woman’s youth is restored, a bridge used by the dictator Miraz to move troops is engulfed and destroyed by abundant foilage and the river is left free to run in its restored environment. It even redeems lies. A bored child, suffering through a propaganda lesson doubling as history class is invited, like everyone, to join the fun.
“You’ll stay with us, sweetheart?” said Aslan.
“Oh, may I? Thank you, thank you,” said Gwendolen. Instantly she joined hands with two of the maenads who whirled her round in a merry dance and helped her take off some of the unnecessary and uncomfortable clothes that she as wearing.
Wherever they went in the little town of Beruna it was the same…
In the movie, none of these scenes are featured. Why? What is so offensive about these scenes that fundie Christians can dig them but mainstream audiences would be scared off?
The answer is hope. Christian hope. It’s offensive to modern ears. Or at best, incomprehensible. I can imagine executives at Disney scribbling these sections out, just like the even more misunderstood and ignored section of the Two Towers with Tom Bombadil.
The reason these sections were written out is that unlike the muscular Christianity that takes up a lot of Narnia, this eschatology cannot be consumed as “common sense”. This hope for the end cannot be tamed by Oprah. For Lewis to say that everything is to be fixed and made new, the world and Disney would have to admit that something had gone wrong.
And so this central seam of the book is torn out. The movie is still great and a brilliant example of the kind of film that will make kids fall in love with the cinema, but it is a shame that these scenes don’t make it on screen.
Your Correspondent, Even a traitor may mend; he knows one who did.