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Film / The Chronicles of Narnia

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This is an awfully big wardrobe.

The Chronicles of Narnia film series adapts the plot of the books by C. S. Lewis into theatrical films. Three of them have been released:

Its central cast includes William Moseley as Peter Pevensie, Anna Popplewell as Susan, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, Georgie Henley as Lucy, and Liam Neeson as Aslan.

Production was handled by Walden Media. Financing and distribution for the films were originally done by Disney, but after the second film the rights were given to 20th Century Fox, which was expected to produce the remaining films, which didn't go further than a third due to Walden Media's contract with the C. S. Lewis estate expiring.

In 2018, it was announced that Netflix had been signed to develop series and films based on the franchise.

This film series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Skimpiness: A non-fanservice example with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who wear at least some clothes in the book but not in the movie.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the book, Peter has dark hair, while Edmund and Caspian are blondish; however, in the movie, the roles are reversed, Peter being fair-haired, while Edmund and Caspian have dark, almost black hair. Lucy is also stated several times to have blonde hair in the books; Georgie Henley has light brown, somewhat auburn hair. The only one who kept her original hair color is Susan.
    • This change could be due to the characters arcs - Caspian and Edmund are both tempted by darkness and this have dark brown, almost black hair, but avoid complete darkness at the last minute; Lucy, who briefly doubts herself over her looks, has somewhat auburn hair, meaning she's not entirely dark but not entirely good. Susan, who's hair is pure-black, is the only one to ultimately forget Narnia in the end, becoming "dark" in thoughts of adulthood.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Many scenes that take only a paragraph or two in the books are greatly elaborated. Quite nicely, actually, especially for the first film. A good example is the final battle, which is barely covered in the book. There, the narration follows Susan, Lucy, and Aslan, who don't arrive until the very end of the battle. Also, the scenes of the Blitz are shown, which were probably necessary because children today often don't learn about World War II in school until they're too old (or think they're too old) for films like this.
    • There is expansion in the second one as well. Susan's inability to let go of Narnia, Peter's problems with becoming a kid again, Edmund's quiet strength and heroism and Caspian's belief in his own inability to be a good king are shown. Also, they showed how the Pevensies were not normal children, but rather people with an adult's experience and wisdom. The character development from the first movie is especially shown with Susan and Edmund.
    • The expansion for the third one was also very well done as well, with little threads added showing Caspian and Edmund's brotherly friendship, Eustace and Reepicheep's bond, the inner struggles that Caspian, Edmund, and Lucy were all going through and a tiny, humorous one of Edmund being a bit of a thorn in Drinian's side. Also, seeing how Caspian was devastated to lose the Pevensies a second time as they had become family to him was a wonderful expansion from the book.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • In the books, after the kids became kings and queens of Narnia, the narration tells how they ruled successfully for years and years and were given nicknames: King Peter The Magnificent, Queen Susan the Gentle, King Edmund the Just, Queen Lucy the Valiant. In The Film of the Book, they're crowned with these names while still kids just after winning their victory, which makes them seem slightly ridiculous and over-the-top — especially in the case of Edmund, whose main contribution to the plot was betraying his siblings to the White Witch before he got better. Although it was Aslan who gave them the titles, so one could argue that he'd already know stuff like that.
    • It's also explained in the book that the White Witch's magical food - at Edmund's request Turkish Delight - has some mind control powers over whoever eats it, and shown that Edmund only really let her use him out of fear, making Edmund's betrayal over a supply of candy seem far less petty.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Not that Aslan was an out-and-out jerk in the book, but his movie counterpart is more soft-spoken, compassionate and fatherly to the protagonists than his book counterpart.
  • Action Girl: Susan and Lucy. The Narnian forces also show women fighting in their ranks.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted twice. In the first film, the fox is initially a shady character and the protagonists don't know if they can trust him, but he ultimately turns out to be good in the end. Likewise, minotaurs in the first film are all allied with the White Witch, but in the second film have joined the Narnians, one even performing a Heroic Sacrifice so his companions can escape.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Lucy. The entire fleeing Telmarine army stops dead in their tracks when they see a tiny girl, standing alone on their only escape route across the bridge, smiling sweetly at them. And this is before Aslan joins her.
    • Reepicheep. Only Lucy is actually allowed to hug him if she asks really nicely.
  • Battle Trophy: In the final battle of the first film, Jadis wears a headdress made of Aslan's mane.
  • Big Damn Heroes: There are a lot.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending of Prince Caspian. As well as the ending of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It's implied that Caspian was never really able to let go of the Pevensies. His cabin on the ship, as seen at the beginning, was basically a shrine to all of them. He had even saved Edmund's torch (flashlight for American readers).
    • This fits in quite well with the books where Caspian is fascinated with the world the Pevensies come from and always had a secret desire to go there the same way they visit Narnia.
    • There's also the Eustace factor. Yeah, he's learned to be a brave fighter, but he also has to say goodbye to Reepicheep, the one who taught him to overcome his fears and who was kind to him when he was a dragon.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Sort of. The battles themselves depict no blood, but when an important character is wounded and given special focus, blood can be expected to be in the scene.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: In the first movie, Edmund breaks a window and the children's attempt to hide is what sends them into Narnia.
  • Canon Foreigner: Oreius and Otmin from the first film, Asterius from the second, and Tavros and Gael from the third, just to name a few.
  • Character Development: All of the main characters get some. Susan, Edmund and Caspian have the most. Lucy gets a little between the 2nd and 3rd movies. Peter's flaws are examined more closely in Prince Caspian, and Eustace gets a lot in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
  • Crossdresser: Believe it or not, Anna Popplewell. According to the official movie companion, she volunteered as a last-minute double for Skandar Keynes (who had already called it a day) in one shot (which happened to be of Edmund's legs as he goes through the wardrobe).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Susan gets a couple in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Edmund and Eustace are both this in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
    • And Reepicheep.
    Pattertwig: We could collect nuts.
    Reepicheep: Yes, and throw them at the Telmarines. Shut up!
    • Again:
    Trumpkin: You're one to talk.
    Reepicheep: Is that supposed to be irony?
    Miraz: This used to be a private room.
    • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace gets his turn.
    Eustace: What are these things?
    Magician: Those are Dufflepods.
    Eustace: Oh yes, Dufflepods. Of course, how silly of me.
    • He does it a lot as he gets nicer and less petulant.
    Susan: Besides, we could all use the fresh air.
    Edmund: It's not like there isn't air inside.
    • Or, in the second movie:
    Susan: Pretend you're talking to me.
    Edmund: We are talking to you.
    • In the third part:
    Soldier: Are you sure you're eighteen?
    Edmund: Why, do I look older?
    • Also:
    Edmund: I have the right to tell your father it was you who stole aunt Alberta's sweets.
    Eustace: Liar!
    Edmund: Oh, really? I found them under your bed. And you know what? I licked every one of them.
    • And there are a lot more.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: That one Minotaur in the first movie that fell dead with two swords in his back. Olé!
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Edmund destroying the Witch's petrifying wand to give Peter a shot at defending himself.
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss: Lucy discovering the wardrobe.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Subverted in the first movie- the characters think their memory of a familiar place is from a dream within a dream, but it turns out to be from where they originally came from in the real world. Played straight in the third movie, where Lucy is having a dream, wakes up from it to have Aslan talk to her, then wakes up from this one again into the real world.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Sergio Castellitto obviously enjoys his role as Miraz. Tilda Swinton has her moments, too, which doesn't make her acting less awesome.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: Mr. Tumnus. He starts out trying to kidnap Lucy, but later becomes her friend.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: When Oreius goes after the White Witch in the big battle scene, he has a rhino come and run interference for him, which let's face it is hard to improve on if you're only allowed one ally.
  • Foreshadowing: "May your wisdom grace us until the stars fall from the heavens."
    • That's brilliant! Because Aslan said that to the four original Pevensies and then in Dawn Treader there is actually a star that comes down from the heavens (she goes back up again, but still) and that's the last time Edmund and Lucy come to Narnia. Alive, anyway. (An additional point of note is that in the books, all the stars do fall from the heavens in The Last Battle during the end of the world.)
    • Another example from the first movie is the lamp-post having tree roots as its base. There is also the wardrobe, which features, among other things, a ruined city, a forest with many pools, and two women sitting on opposing sides of the wardrobe.
    • Susan's slightly melancholy agreement in Prince Caspian that she's happy to be in Narnia "while it lasts" foreshadows her being told at the end of the film that she can't return. Arguably also her absence in The Last Battle.
  • Good Animals, Evil Animals: The armies of Aslan and the Witch are pretty much divided among these lines. In the second movie, however, nearly all of the non-humans of Narnia (minus a Hag, Werewolf, and Black Dwarf) fight together, and a minotaur sacrifices himself to save the monarchs.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Pretty much all the minotaurs from Prince Caspian onward, to the point where there are at least two as crewmen on the Dawn Treader in the third movie.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Your army is outnumbered and less well-armed than the approaching enemy. Why not place them in open ground at the bottom of a set of really steep hills with broken ground approaches, that would provide a really good defensive position? And when the enemy army appears, why not charge them head-on with a loose formation of mixed cavalry, and then hold position in the middle of an open plain? Instead of maybe having the charge rake across the front of the enemy advance before withdrawing to the base of the hills to prepare for another charge? And why not post all the archers at the top of the hill so that they can not bother to provide a withering fire against the enemy before they come into contact with your own troops?
  • Instant Expert: Played with. Though her bow is stated to have supernatural aim, Susan decides it would be a good idea to practice with it before the battle. She starts shooting straighter than one would expect from a beginner, and quickly becomes an expert.
  • Lady of War: Queen Susan with her long skirts, flowing hair and bow and arrows is the very definition of this.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    "Why can't you just do as you're told?"
    • In the film of Prince Caspian, Edmund gets to throw a line back at Peter (with a little Deadpan Snark for good measure):
      "I had it sorted."
  • Mexican Standoff: Prince Caspian holds Miraz helpless with a sword to his throat, while Miraz's wife points a crossbow at Caspian, and Susan points a bow and arrow at her.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    White Witch: Tell me, your sisters, are they deaf?
    Edmund: ...No.
    White Witch: And your brother... unintelligent?
    Edmund: Well, I think so, but Mum says-
    • Lucy's meeting with Tumnus the faun. A happy meeting with a friendly faun who serves her tea and plays her a soothing lullaby. And then he reveals that he's kidnapping for the White Witch and everything is suddenly very dark.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The main three male actors in the first two films — William Moseley (Peter), Skandar Keynes (Edmund) and Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian). Keynes in particular grows up nicely.
  • Onrushing Army: This is apparently how military advances are done in Narnia. Except in Prince Caspian the titular prince and the Pevensies use stealth and surprise to try and defeat Miraz with the Raid on the Castle.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: The movies have classical griffins as part of Aslan's army — which for some reason have beards on their lower jaws and feathers at the end of their lions' tails.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Particularly Dawn Treader, which takes an almost completely episodic story and gives it a strong ongoing plot thread in the green mist that has to be stopped. And it even becomes somewhat of a Sequel Hook since Word of God says the green mist was created by the Lady of the Green Kirtle as her first attempt on the Caspian family.invoked
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Pevensie siblings can be differenced by this, with Peter and Lucy represented by Red, due to the fact that they are more intuitive, vibrant, determined and, to an extent, more sensitive than Edmund and Susan, who are more logical, cold and down to earth, inclined towards the Blue part. Even their hair show it, due to the fact that Peter and Lucy have lighter hair, while Edmund and Susan are dark haired.
    • And even the book's religious subtext organizes them as this, since Peter and Lucy are meant to represent the better Apostles, Peter being named High King, representing the Apostle Peter, who in reality is the first Leader of the Christian church after Christ ascended, and Lucy, who represents Saint John, who had the most faith in Jesus, just like Lucy has in Aslan. On the other side, Edmund represents Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for silver, just like Edmund betrays Aslan for Turkish Delight, and Susan, who represents "Doubting Thomas", because she loses her faith completely in Aslan and Narnia, never reaching Aslan's Country (Heaven).
  • Shout-Out: In Prince Caspian, Susan fights by both shooting enemies and also slashing at them with her arrows, which brings to mind a certain Elvish prince from a certain murky forest...
    • Which in itself is quite a nice thing, since Tolkien and Lewis were good friends in real life, and it was in fact the former that helped convert the latter back to Christianity.
      • Sort of. While Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, Lewis (re)converted to Anglicanism. Tolkien was reportedly disappointed.
    • The Witch's army in the first film looks like it's composed of the Hordes of Chaos (and Orcs) of Warhammer fame. Right up to the icons on their banners.
  • Slash Fic: Apart from the Susan/Caspian ship, there really are no other usual pairings that do not involve partners of the same sex, blood connections, and sometimes both at the same time.
  • Strange Secret Entrance: The eponymous wardrobe in the first book which acts as an entrance to Narnia.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the first movie, Susan is seen doing some target practice with her bow and arrow. She hits the ring just around the bull’s-eye. Then Lucy throws her knife at the target and hits dead centre.
  • Too Important to Walk: After the thaw renders her sleigh moot, Jadis resorts to having it carried by a cadre of dwarfs.
  • Urban Legends: Somehow, the idea that Evanescence had written material for the soundtrack of the first film, but had been declined as being "too epic," spread far and wide until Amy Lee herself finally declared it was all bogus.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: It's justified for Mr. Tumnus because he's a faun.
  • Well, This Is Not That Trope: Tumnus asks Lucy Pevensie if she's familiar with any Narnian lullabies.
    Lucy: Sorry, no.
    Tumnus: Well, that's good. Because this... probably won't sound anything like one.
  • White Stallion: Peter rides one— a unicorn at that— at the battle of Beruna. It's the only white equine seen on the battlefield.


Video Example(s):


Won't Sound Anything Like One

In "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Mr. Tumnus asks Lucy if she's ever heard a Narnian lullaby before playing her some music. She replies that she hasn't. He admits that this is good as "This probably won't sound anything like one."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / WellThisIsNotThatTrope

Media sources: