The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

For: severe moral confusion

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian stages an epic battle between its two opposing armies, but fails to take into account one important but little-known fact: that just because two parties are at war, doesn’t mean that one of them has to be a good guy. With both sides engaging in treason, senseless killing and blatant injustice, Caspian’s fight for the throne becomes not a just war but a feud, of epic proportions. Not only is Prince Caspian, the movie, devoid of any spiritual value, there’s no civic, practical or legitimate entertainment value in it, either.

Note: This review contains content from and comments on the film version, not the book series by C.S. Lewis. Lewis’ own purposes for the story and its themes were not necessarily consulted by the writers of the movie, and it would therefore be unwise to review the film as if it were Lewis’ creation.

Severe Moral Confusion

Knowing that some Telmarine soldiers have made attempts on Caspian’s life, but not knowing either 1) who, if anybody, put them up to it;1 or 2) how many other soldiers were or were not in on the plot; Caspian, Peter, Susan, Edmund and the other protagonists secretly attack a Telmarine castle, stab, shoot or slit the throats of any soldiers they find, and threaten to kill the nation’s provisional leader. This is high treason against Caspian’s own nation, and murder,2 and while the attack is not ultimately successful, its criminal, immoral intent is very positively portrayed.

Later, however, Peter and the villain (a confessed murderer) fight in pre-arranged combat “to the death”, but when Peter wins, he refuses to take the villain’s life on moral grounds. Caspian, in turn, also refuses to kill the villain.3

Caspian, the Pevensies and Aslan also let a second murderer go free without comment. He is portrayed as a basically good person, despite having been shown attempting to murder an innocent man, and implied to have murdered three others offscreen.

Susan shoots a human being who is about to kill a stranger, but later refuses, for emotional reasons, to shoot an animal that is about to kill her sister.

Susan interferes with an execution by military men, and even shoots the executioner, without knowing anything about the situation. There is nothing in the situation itself that would guarantee, and very little that would even imply, that the person about to be executed was not a murderer being brought to justice, or that the executioners were not themselves the good guys.

A character’s deliberate involvement in betrayal and witchcraft is reasoned away with “he lost hope”. An animal’s murderous attack on a human being is reasoned away with, “You get treated like a dumb animal long enough, that’s what you become.” Characters’ participation in sorcery and temptation to join the evil side is portrayed as the result of a form of hypnosis, and is treated casually.

Peter responds to mild taunting by hitting the boy, and starts a fight. It is implied that this is characteristic of his behavior. He is asked, “Is it that hard to just walk away?” and replies, “I shouldn’t have to!” Biblically, the only legitimate position in such a conflict is to be the one who is struck, not the one who strikes first, and the biblical response is to turn the other cheek, not to strike back.4  Peter’s completely anti-biblical attitude and actions are never resolved.

1 Note that while the film shows the villain scheming and giving orders, Caspian and his friends are not present for any of this, and are acting only on suspicion.
2 Note that Caspian was unaware of evil goings on until the attempts on his life were made, and that even the villain’s wife was unaware of them until well after Caspian and his friends attacked the castle, making it not only possible but probable that some or even all of the soldiers they killed were innocent people.
3 By taking this pacifistic attitude toward an admittedly guilty man who had volunteered for combat “to the death”, Peter and Caspian logically condemn themselves for taking presumably innocent lives by stealth in the castle attack.
4 Matthew 5:38-39

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