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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal: Hanging with Bob: Chess and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 
11th-Dec-2005 03:24 am
I See You!
Well, I'm dropping off after a brutal chess game with Bob. He came in from the library at midnight to find me still sitting on the same spot on the couch, grading the same stack of papers that he left me with this afternoon. I thought it was only about 10pm, so I was amazed when he mentioned the time. We just simply caught up for awhile before starting to play, and chatted intermittently as we sat before the window, listening to sounds of freshman running around doing their thing outside of McCormick Hall, and laughing at the bizarre irony when I commented at how much the drunken bellowing of someone stepping out of Caffrey's Pub sounded like a Muslim call to prayer. Our chess match looked rather drunken, too, with both of us being pretty evenly matched. Meaning we're both pretty bad. I gave away about half my pieces before the sheer Darwinian weight of the process made me focus and start fighting back. We called a break--if not quite a draw--as things got even and it became clear that we were well past Bob's bedtime. He may head home to Michigan tomorrow, or it's possible he may stick around for a bit more work.

We caught The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe last night, with his fellow Biblical student Jim Carlson, who also pastors a Baptist church in the western suburbs. I never see Jim anymore so that was a cool chance to catch up for me. The film itself was fine, most of the effects pretty good. I wasn't sold on Liam Neeson for Aslan's voice, although I concede that that would be an awfully difficult casting job. Certainly I was pleased to see such details as cavalry using lances. (These were inexplicably absent for most of the Riders of Rohan in Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, who then, along with such absurdities as Faramir's cavalry charge of the walls of Osgiliath, allowed a book to be published on the "strategy and tactics" of the movie. I would rule that world.) I thought the woman who played the White Witch--Tilda Swinton, of whom I'd never heard, although now that I look her up on imdb I now remember her from Constantine as Gabriel, where she looked disconcertingly like my college girlfriend Angie Brunner--did a very satisfying job, being both coldly regal and outright feral at appropriate moments. Mostly though, Bob and I ended up talking about just the limitations inherent to adapting a children's book to the screen. It was a good adaptation, as faithful as I could hope, I think, although I confess I didn't re-read the book before seeing the film, as I'd hoped. But being a faithful adaptation of what it was, it's at a much more basic level in terms of character than I'd normally hope for. More than anything else, with literature the art is in the language, and so much of the language is lost in a film. To adapt the story is not the same as to adapt the text. That, I am sure, is impossible, and maybe something as simple as a children's story is more likely to lose in being adapted to the screen.
11th-Dec-2005 01:11 pm (UTC)
i was much impressed by tilda swinton in Orlando and am sure she can play the heck out of the witch. (the BBC version, with that screeching brunette, set the standard for how not to play the witch.) you're right about losing the words in a film. i hadn't thought of it quite like that, but that's so true. even in something like American Psycho, they had to have Patrick do voice-overs to convey the meaning of what was going on. not everything can be shown!
12th-Dec-2005 12:34 am (UTC)
I still haven't seen Orlando, although I think I remember hearing some interesting things about it. But that was a good decade ago, wasn't it? I was surprised to see that she had been around for awhile and that she hadn't registered on me. I spent most of the movie thinking that she was Alice Krige, so that I was seeing Qui-Gon versus the Borg Queen. When I mentioned that to him, Bob said that that revealed my utter geekiness.
11th-Dec-2005 07:16 pm (UTC)
Unless my kids want to see LW&W, then I probably wont go see it. I think because I dont want the visuals of the movie to come to my mind next time I read the book (I havent read it in twenty years). And also because if the movie isnt approaching 95% exactitude in sticking with the book, then that is another reason I wouldnt want see it. I would rather have the faded (or recessed) memory of me reading the book twenty years ago then the almost over-powering imagery certainly to come from viewing the film, to be the ones that stick with me. Heh...I guess the simplest thing would be to read the book again. Currently I have started Lewis's space trilogy again.

For someone reason I didnt have the same issue seeing the LOTR movies: somehow the text and Tolkien's descriptions and the own visuals I formulate about it cannot be supplanted by Peter Jackson's movies. But not sure about LW&W: Lewis's text and imagery, perhaps, is less powerful than Tolkien's. I dunno.
12th-Dec-2005 12:37 am (UTC)
Hmm. I don't know that I'm not recommending it. And oddly enough, while I agree--given the nature of the books--that Lewis imagery in the Chronicles is less powerful than Tolkien's, I suspect that it's really the Tolkien adaptations that are going to mess with my memory/mental images more than this one will. Still, I never want to read a set of the Chronicles that lacks the original Pauline Baynes' illustrations. Even after seeing the movie--and by all means take the kids if they want to see it--Baynes' drawing for children remain more fundamental to me.

Or at least that's what I currently imagine!
12th-Dec-2005 01:58 pm (UTC)
Who would you have suggested for Aslan?
12th-Dec-2005 07:52 pm (UTC)
That's just it. Who voices Narnia's Incarnation of the Son of God? You want it to be a great voice, a compelling voice. Probably a deep, rich, liony voice, whatever it is that I mean by that. All I can probably say is that perhaps it ought to have been a great, but unknown voice. That way it wouldn't be mixed with any other associations: "Ahhh... that's Qui-Gon/Ras al'Ghul!" "That's Worf!" "That's Bond!" and so on.... That's my initial reaction to your tough question, and probably an evasive, cowardly-lion of an answer....
12th-Dec-2005 08:01 pm (UTC)
Couldn't have James Earl Jones. The last thing you want is people thinking, "Mufasa?!"

Personally, I'm amazed at how versatile Liam Neeson is with his voice. While he's obviously Liam Neeson, every accent he tries on fits flawlessly. I've read articles criticizing Lewis' choice of a Lion (despite that Christ's representation by a lion is straight from Revelations) and say Christ is more aptly represented by something as humble as a donkey (I think they meant something more along the lines of a lamb). Since reading that point of view, I'm very content with Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan.
12th-Dec-2005 11:22 pm (UTC)
Well, James Earl Jones wouldn't make me--or most people, I imagine--think, "Mufasa?!" as much as "Vader??!!" No, that wouldn't do at all, and so he definitely was out of the running.

When does Liam Neeson do different accents? I thought he always just spoke in his normal tone of voice. Does he do something different in Schindler's List or Darkman? Those are the only two I can't think of for sure....
13th-Dec-2005 12:04 am (UTC)
Well, Mufasa was a lion.

Liam Neeson... well, he's Irish. In Schindler's List, he spoke with a German accent. In Les Miserables, he had a French accent. In Rob Roy, it was a Scottish accent. In Episode I, it was a British accent. In Leap of Faith, it was an American Southern accent. I don't remember what accent he used in Nell. I think the only time he's spoken normally was in Michael Collins.
13th-Dec-2005 12:07 am (UTC)
Yarg! You're right! Them's a lot of accents!
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