Because sulkiness is so much more magnificent than nobility
And a hero without angst is like romance without kissing in the rain.
Don’t mistake me: I think William Moseley is an excellent actor. And I thoroughly enjoyed his performance in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. And taking Prince Caspian as a movie on its own merits, apart from the book, he played his role well.
But he just wasn’t – couldn’t possibly be – High King Peter the Magnificent. King Peter, who tells the unsure and humble Prince Caspian (I also quite like Ben Barnes, but oh! his Caspian was almost as poor a representation of the book’s character as Peter) first thing “We haven’t come to take your throne, you know, but to put you in it.” Who never questioned Aslan’s choice in sending them back to England, then bringing them to Narnia only for a short time. Who loved deeply, and was not ashamed of it; who mourned deeply and was equally unashamed. Who was noble, and just, and courageous, pretty much everything a traditional hero of medieval literature was supposed to be – just look at Malory’s King Arthur, and the knights of the Round Table, sometime.
And yes, I understand that all of those traits don’t translate well to a modern-day movie-going audience. Remember my old post on Hero and Everyman? It’s the Everyman most movies promote, not the Hero. Not anymore. People’s tastes have shifted. And that’s okay, for the most part, because Everyman is important, too – especially when, as Rockinlibrarian pointed out on that post, the Everyman does the heroic (SAM!).
But still. We could have done with less angst – or with angst over a different matter. Instead of the selfish “me me me why did Aslan send me back I was king I want to be king again why doesn’t anyone take me seriously wahhhh,” it could have been more along the lines of “what happened to Narnia why are these interlopers here what do you mean the beavers are extinct they were my friends Narnia is in my blood and it is hurting which makes me hurt and England is cold and unfriendly and I can’t find my footing.” And then, of course, he could have learned while in Narnia how to search beneath the surface to find the warmth and joy that still existed, and to decide to seek out the same in England, which is why he was suddenly fit to return to England for good, because Narnia had taught him what he needed to know.
You could even have worked in the tension between him and Caspian, if necessary – in that Peter has a hard time entrusting his land, his people (and trees, and Animals, and Others), to a descendent of those who silenced the land’s song to begin with, but in time sees that Caspian is different, and puts aside his prejudices to give the young prince a chance.
Instead, we got stereotypes. Oh, we got stereotypes. And a very, very 2000s outlook from a character who lived in the 1940s. Which, I think, is what my frustration boils down to – it’s all very well and good to have a relatable character, but when you start acting like those characters live in this era, but still set them in a former, you’ve started to skew history, and project your own way of thinking backward, and nothing infuriates me more than that.
(Well, okay, a few things do, but it’s on my top ten list.)
So frustrating. Because Peter, as written, is a marvelous Hero, one to look up to, one to strive toward. After all, that was the point of the chivalric tales in medieval days, wasn’t it? To give people an Ideal? And I think it’s a shame that they tore that away from Peter in the movie and turned him into a sullen, resentful, bitter, stupid teenage boy.
Oh well. At least we still got this out of the whole thing:
I know it’s a few years old now, but what did you think of the Prince Caspian movie? Does it bother you when movies change the inherent character of people in books? Do you think it is a mistake to impose today’s values and mindsets onto characters from past eras, to make them more relatable, or is that just a natural side effect of historical fiction (movie or book)? Do you mourn the lack of Ideal in today’s fiction?