Archive for June, 2008

I hated Prince Caspian

June 17, 2008

Wasted 3 hours on Monday going to, sitting through, and returning home from “Prince Caspian.” I reread the book a week ago. The movie is not at all faithful to the characterizations in the book, and takes large liberties with the plot. The allegory of the book is that the characters need to learn to humble themselves before they are allowed to see Aslan—before they are permitted the “beatific vision” of God. Aslan helps those who abase themselves and rely on his strength instead of their own. The movie keeps this idea, marginally; it seems to suggest that it is a high virtue to kick as much ass as possible before seeking out Aslan.

The parts I liked best were when the Telmarines were building the wooden bridge at Beruna. (In the book, a stone bridge is already there, but the moviemakers needed to add the gradual completion of some public works project to add suspense and act as a countdown to the final confrontation.) I liked these parts because they reminded me of “Bridge on the River Kwai.”

I’m thoroughly convinced that it’s a terrible idea to mix live human actors with animated talking creatures. It aims at moving us to an enchanted world, but instead merely breeds disgust at myself when I realize that I’ve just paid $6.25 to watch armored teddy bears play out questions concerning the fate of the universe.

Kinda funny how the bad guys in the movie all have Spanish accents. In English terms, and from Lewis’s Renaissance background, this means that they are Catholics. And to Renaissance Englishmen, if you were Spanish or Catholic, you were ipso facto a spy and a traitor to England. It’s like the villains in Rocky IV and the 2nd and 3rd Rambo films: of course they are all Russians! What else could they be? (I guess they could have been French, but come on, Rambo against French opponents?)

Enough! Save your money and time and don’t bother with this movie.

Takai needs a history lesson

June 17, 2008

George Takai, “Sulu” from “Star Trek,” is “getting married.” (If only he went by a nickname, I could have put everything in that sentence in quotes.)

Takai was jubilant, saying “it’s going to be the only day like this in our lives and it is the only day like this in the history of America.”

Yeah, not at all like the day in Massachusetts in 2004, when the state started issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals.

Obama favors infanticide

June 13, 2008

This editorial at the Wall Street Journal, “The Audacity of Death,” makes it as clear as can be that Barack Obama supports the “right” of women to kill their own babies even if they have been born alive and are completely outside the womb.

Do I need to say anything else?

Weekend reading: Lewis and Valla

June 8, 2008

This weekend I read Lorenzo Valla’s Treatise on the Donation of Constantine and C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian. Valla was for work; Lewis for pleasure, and so that I would be better able to compare the movie to the book when I eventually go and see the movie.

Valla is great. He totally rips the popes apart by showing that the “Donation of Constantine” is a forgery. This was the document that medieval pope after medieval pope claimed that Constantine gave to Pope Sylvester, essentially giving him dominion over Italy and the whole Roman Empire. Valla’s treatise is considered the founding document in textual criticism—criticism of a text based on a historical awareness of style and meaning. When a document claims to be by Constantine but uses phrases that did not gain currency until 400 years later, you know the document is a forgery. His scorn for Latin barbarisms warms the student-paper-marking portion of my heart.

I had to laugh at Lewis . . . the kids in Prince Caspian are “cool” because they use such current slang. The best example of this is Edmund’s saying “Great Scott!” about three different times. But Edmund also claims that he can’t see Aslan because the light is “rum.” If you look up “rum” in the OED, the first entry says “Good, fine, excellent; great.” The second entry says “Odd, strange, queer. Also, bad, spurious.” If you ask me, that’s quite a rum definition.

Another word Lewis loves—nay, overuses—is “bivouac.” People in this book never camp, they bivouac. And the place where they sleep at night is not a camp but a bivouac. I’m guessing he just means they slept outdoors without tents? The OED gives a great extra word that I’m going to use from now on: “bivvy-bag”. No more sleeping bags for me!

bivouac bag n. Mountaineering a waterproof sleeping bag used outdoors instead of a tent; cf. bivvy bag

Lewis, while throwing in dated phrases like “Great Scott,” also throws in some seriously dated terms, in order to lend Narnia an antique feel. King Miraz has the best one of these: he refers to his “jackanapes nephew” (i.e., Caspian). The only other place I’ve heard this heavily 16th-century word (aside from my first reading of Prince Caspian, which I had forgotten entirely) is in the movie Cromwell. There the line is something like, “who is this jackanapes, who would mouth such treasons in your presence?”

Jackanapes: “as common noun: One who is like an ape in tricks, airs, or behaviour; a ridiculous upstart; a pert, impertinent fellow, who assumes ridiculous airs; a coxcomb. (The current use.)”

Leave it to the OED to claim that a word like “jackanapes” has a “current use.”