Excited. Elated. Adventurous. These are words that describe how I felt when it was announced today that The Silver Chair will finally be a movie.
That may surprise some of my readers. It certainly is no secret that I’m a great C.S. Lewis fan, as my reviews of his books reveal, but the Narnia films have had something of a tortured history. Both Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader were poorly received by fans, and there has been some tension between film studios and the Lewis estate on the creative direction of the films.
So why am I excited? Because despite past disappointments, there are three very good reasons to be hopeful for this venture.
1. The Story
All of the Chronicles of Narnia stories have theological depth wound in adventurous children’s stories, and The Silver Chair is no exception. However, in some ways, it goes a step farther even than the others. Eustace is the most meaningful example of character development Lewis has ever created, and this story goes beyond Voyage of the Dawn Treader to show him profoundly changed, but still struggling with aspects of his previous vices. There’s a lot packed into Eustace’s character alone about redemption, the new man, and how that’s all a process, not a one-time event.
The plot in and of itself also details a lot about forgiveness, highlights the foolishness of the human race and how easily we lose track even when given every chance to succeed. Few stories can balance both our shortcomings as people and the hope of forgiveness, but The Silver Chair does it masterfully.
The villain of the story also offers a connection to one of the few things the preceding films nailed – the White Witch. While the villain of this story is not the White Witch of the first book, there is a connection between them. Tilda Swinton was beyond excellent as the witch, so that’s a foundation they can build off of and get another truly chilling villain, or maybe even a cameo by Swinton herself.
2. The Studio
Yes, I know, the studio has been the problem, but what you may not know is that this isn’t actually the same studio. Walden Media produced the first three films, but their film rights to the franchise expired in 2014. This new film is being produced as a cooperation with TriStar Pictures, the C.S. Lewis Production Company, and the Mark Gordon Company. Gordon himself is serving as producer, assisted in the development of the script, and has a long list is great titles to his credit. A fresh set of eyes on this property, with the cooperation of the C.S. Lewis Production Company, is exactly what this title needs in order to be successful.
3. The Casting
While no casting announcements have been made yet, we can be sure that they will be recasting, rather than bringing in old actors. The actor for Eustance in particular is far too old for the part now, and even had a part as an (adult) trapper in The Revenant.
Why is this good news? Since there’s no expectation of returning actors, this frees the creative minds behind the adaptation to do what was meant to do from the beginning: make it a children’s story. With a bearded Caspian and a contrived romance with Susan, Prince Caspian made it clear that the Narnia property was being morphed into a more YA-friendly title. Thankfully, it didn’t work. Being forced to go through recasting means there’s a fresh opportunity here to steer away from that, cast actors who are actually their characters’ age, and maybe such a travesty will never happen again.
Are you excited for the Silver Chair movie? Let us know in the comments below.