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L.A. Popcorn Adventure #97
May 16, 2008
The Magical Forest
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian + TreePeople Tree Planting
The second installment of the Narnia stories has a fresh face -- British actor Ben Barnes was plucked from obscurity to star in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, alongside the four child actors who played the Pevensie siblings in the first film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Although it is only a year later in London, 1300 years have passed since the children left Narnia, and a lot has happened in their absence, notably all the friendly Narnians have been driven underground by nasty King Miraz. The siblings band together with a quixotic bunch of animals - our kids adored the whiskered mouse leader Reepicheep - and battle to restore order, putting the dreamy Prince Caspian back on the Narnian throne. Although the battle scenes were not for the faint of heart (see Red Flags, below), the story unfolds against sumptuous locations that matched our imagined version of Narnia.
The Narnian forest is a magical place, and thanks to the folks at TreePeople, Angelenos can enjoy their own restorative beauty amidst a major metropolitan city. We often throw on a pair of sneakers and get lost on the windy trails in the comfy cradle of Coldwater Canyon, where TreePeople's main offices are based. The mission of the 30 year-old organization is to "help nature heal our cities," a wonderfully simple and brilliant statement. Besides maintaining the vast hillside trails system in Coldwater Canyon, the group plants trees all over Los Angeles, educates children and adults about the environment, and works with the government on critical water issues. Over 10,000 school kids a year are introduced to the forest thanks to the stewardship of this venerable non-profit, and ours were lucky enough to participate in a TreePeople tree planting at their school. Together with their classmates, they walked out the school gates to a nearby location and helped to dig holes for young saplings. Each child got their hands dirty, manned shovels and patted dirt down around the root of a tree that will bloom for years to come. Our own private Narnia.
Film Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Directed By: Andrew Adamson
2008, Rated PG, 140 minutes
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:
- Why It's Worth It: The C.S Lewis novels are so set in our imaginations that filmed versions of the stories feel like another chapter in the magical saga; this production is gorgeous and the Narnians are portrayed endearingly. That being said, the film is much darker than the first film -- it features loud, clashing battle scenes in which the heroes are responsible for many killings. Parents must know their own child, but we don't feel it is appropriate for kids under 9. Even our 11 year olds covered their ears and eyes in a few scary spots.
- Red Flags: This is an action film, full of swordplay and battles. The few particularly scary parts are these: Prince Caspian is alerted that his uncle is about to assassinate him, and flees quickly on horseback. A tense chase scene ensues in the Narnian forest. Later, the Narnians storm the castle that Prince Caspian's uncle has commandeered. It is a particularly gruesome and gory battle scene where you distinctly see enchanted animals killed at short range. King Peter's duel offers the only spot where a hero chooses to spare life: Peter turns Miraz over to Caspian to take his life (in revenge for Miraz offing Caspian's father), and Prince Caspian chooses to let him walk away.
- Further Viewing: Rent the first Narnia film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, for the full back story on the Pevensie kids and their magical story. If your kids love fantasy, introduce them the the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, or for little fantasy lovers, Dragonheart.
Our Tips for Talking with your kids about this Film:
- Literature Savvy: Reading the Narnia series is one of the great pleasures of childhood. Be sure your kids read these books -- we heard them out loud as kids, and so read them aloud to our children. Start now on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, our favorite of all, which is the next book to be filmed.
- Screenwriting Savvy: If a child adores a book, they are often disappointed with the choices filmmakers make when adapting that book to the screen. Counsel your passionate reader before the movie about the essential differences between film and literature (the condensation of time and need to explain the backstory, visualization of imagined landscapes and characters). It's often helpful for them to think about the real people that had to sit down and make these choices. Your goal isn't so much to lower expectations, as to teach children to become critical thinkers. Instead of "I hate the way they did that", try to get them to say "If I were making the film, I'd have chosen to do it this way instead".
- Location Savvy: Where'd the filmmakers find all that pristine forest? In New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.