Sunday, August 24, 2008
Narnia: Deus Ex Machina...well Duh!
I saw the latest Chronicles of Narnia movie, “Prince Caspian” the other day. First off, it fulfills the requirement of a wizards and warriors fantasy movie quite capable. There are magical creatures, court intrigue, lots of armor and action, noble heroes, dastardly villains, and courage, resourcefulness, and faith wins out in the end. The four children from the first movie travel back to Narnia a year later their time, 1300 years later, Narnia time. They find the ruins of their old castle, and that the country is overrun by humans who have taken over the land from the magical creatures, much the way the White Man took over America from the Native Americans. The human prince who is supposed to fulfill a prophecy by becoming king escapes a murderous rival and resolves the differences between his people and their enemies.
Yes, the story very satisfactorily plays out the formula. The good people live, the bad people die, but only because they are killed by other bad people or by good people in a fair fight.
One thing that did seem remarkable, was that after many more centuries than the US has beenin existance, the conquerors of Narnia had not neither subjugated, assimilated, nor exterminated the original inhabitants. In a similar ammount of timejust about every people that Rome conquered had fallen into one of these categories. Further, in the resolution of the film, rather than the two people reconciling and learning to live together (a very modern, American idea), the had-been conquerers are sent packing. You'd think after several hundred years, and at least 9 kings (Prince Caspian was to be the 10th of that name), they would have started to identify the land as their home.
But the ending, oh the ending. The denouement is so “perfect.” It has Aslan, the magical creature and savior, meting out justice to one and all and making sure that every dilemma is resolved by his use of magic and wisdom. This is the very definition of Deus Ex Machina. After all, the whole Chronicle of Narnia is a Christian parable, and Aslan represents Jesus Christ. So there it is.