In Canada, the end of August and beginning of September is a time when the heat of the summer recedes into light jacket weather and young people everywhere get out new school supplies, perhaps dusting off the backpack not used since school let out for the summer. Each successive year of “back to school” is like the year that came before, yet different. New challenges arise, academically and personally. We may no longer stand on familiar ground, or in the same light.
The four Pevensie children – Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy – live a “back to school” experience in the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”. Having previously visited the magical realm of Narnia and helped to make it safe from an evil presence (the White Witch) who sought to control the land for her own gain, they were crowned kings and queens and grew to adulthood in their kingdom – before one day finding themselves suddenly back to Earth, back to childhood, as though no time had passed.
A year later (for them), they are brought back to Narnia, but barely recognize their surroundings. Slowly they piece together that hundreds of years have passed in Narnia since they lived there, and that the world they knew has changed: Narnia was conquered by Telmarines and the voices of speaking animals, trees and magical creatures are now only heard in secret. The friends they knew are long dead. Their beloved land has become more harsh and frightening, and they are still children, not the adults they had been when last they saw Narnia. Worst of all, their beloved Aslan, the great Lion who helped them before, has not been seen in hundreds of years.
When the four children meet the young Prince Caspian, the rightful king of Telmar who is in hiding from his usurper uncle, they must choose whether to follow their own ideas of how to help Caspian, or to accept that they don’t have all the answers, to have faith in Aslan and do their best to live up to what he taught them before.
The Narnia movies are not always entirely faithful to the original texts by C. S. Lewis. “Prince Caspian” takes liberties with the character of Trumpkin, making him much more sardonic; it creates a love interest between Caspian and Susan that has no basis in the books whatsoever; it also takes pains to give the women a chance to act as powerful as men, even to the point of an entirely unrealistic battle sequence where Susan wields a bow and arrow at the very front of a charge. However, the movies capture the wonder and the magnificence of Lewis’s books that kept me re-reading them as I grew up. The majesty of Narnia, in which the air is sweeter and hearts are braver and Nature’s intelligence is honoured, can be like an oasis in the desert of this industrialized world. There’s something in it that refreshes the spirit and reminds us that there is more to life than what we may see. So don’t hesitate to go back to the stories you may have read in your school days, and enjoy Narnia again.
Pranada Devi is a communications professional living in Toronto, Canada. She is the Managing Editor of Parvati Magazine, and a lifelong fan of the Chronicles of Narnia (even though she doesn’t agree with some of the ways C. S. Lewis put things). She serves as an advisor on marketing communications for Parvati’s various projects.