What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

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What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby fantasia_kitty » Aug 29, 2016 11:13 am

I thought this could be an interesting topic as I've seen Glumpuddle repeated mention SC is about Jill having trust issues. I'm not saying GP is wrong at all, but I definitely have a different opinion.
For me, there are two major themes that go hand in hand. First, from a religious perspective, it's about Aslan causing things to work the way he intended In spite of Jill failing to remember the signs (though things probably would have gone a lot more smoothly for her if she had followed them as instructed ).
The second from a human perspective is overcoming fear and obeying Aslan's signs no matter the cost. I can certainly see a trust element here, but it's not limited to Jill. When confronting the stranger tied to the Silver Chair, it's not Jill that chooses to save him. Nor is it Jill that confronts the Green Lady.
Anyways, I was just curious what other people thought. It's always so interesting to see the things people get out of a story that I may have missed.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby narnia fan 7 » Aug 29, 2016 2:43 pm

I currently think that trust is a central theme of the story and essential to Jill's growth and development as a character and since she is the main character and I think it's essential for the film, also I think there is a great contrast between Jill's struggle in trusting Aslan's signs and Puddleglum's absolute and unwavering trust in them and I think his example play a large part in her arc of learning to trust.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Aug 29, 2016 4:15 pm

Excellent idea for a thread! :ymapplause:

I do think that trust is a fundamental theme in SC, especially since learning to trust in Aslan is Jill's primary arc and she's the main character, as narnia fan 7 mentioned. That being said, there are already many stories out there about children learning to trust, and C.S. Lewis's novels are nothing if not thematically complex. It's something much bigger than just your average "learning to trust" story. And while I think it's preferable to tackle just a handful of themes and do them very well as opposed to trying to capture several and fail, I still hope that the filmmakers are attuned to the many layers found in C.S. Lewis's work.

Ditto to fantasia about the importance of the theme of Aslan still being able to work all things to his purposes even when they've muffed nearly all of the signs. The theme that God can still redeem us and use us even when we have failed Him repeatedly is a strong one in SC.

Anhun had an excellent post over in Talk About Narnia about how the effects of the Green Lady's magic are a metaphor for depression. (I notice this especially when Golg is talking about the gnomes' awakening from their enchantment.) So that's something of a subtheme in the story as well.

As I was rereading SC recently, I was struck by how the choice to free Rilian echoes Jesus's anguish in the garden of Gethsemane. In both cases, it's a situation where they are being asked to do something they do not want to do—something that they believe will be the death of them—but they put aside their own fears and desires and choose to obey God instead, whatever the cost. "Not as I will, but as You will." And what is the ultimate result of risking their own destruction, either in loosing the madman or perishing on the Cross? Freeing those who are chained and enslaved by evil. So yes, obeying the will of God, whatever it may cost us, is a very important theme here.

(This is why I never tire of rereading this series... there's always some new depth of meaning that I discover every time I pick up one of the books again. As the reader grows, these books grow as well. :ymdaydream:)
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Reepicheep775 » Aug 29, 2016 7:27 pm

For me SC is all about duty. Jill and Eustace come from an environment that discourages notions of personal responsibility and duty (i.e. Experiment House) and, while Eustace has changed from his first visit to Narnia, Jill is still very much a product of her upbringing. Over the course of the story, largely through the example of Puddleglum, Jill grows to the point where she sees that one must one's duty even if it kills you. The climax of the story is the three travelers deciding to free Rilian simply because it's the right thing to do.

I would say a secondary theme is about overcoming hopelessness. This is bookended in the story with the hopelessness of Experiment House and then the hopelessness of Underland.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Aug 30, 2016 9:47 pm

Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:I do think that trust is a fundamental theme in SC, especially since learning to trust in Aslan is Jill's primary arc and she's the main character, as narnia fan 7 mentioned.


Yes I agree with trust as a theme for Silver Chair. Lack of trust and poor self-esteem are often outcomes of being bullied. But it is not only her initial inability to trust Eustace fully, even after the episode on the mountain, let alone when she meets Aslan, that might be a theme. But also Jill displayed misplaced trust such as trusting the Giants of Harfang until they find themselves locked in Jill's bedroom. Or, worse still, trusting LOTGK when she first meets the Black Knight and his lady companion. Puddleglum with his bland reserve should have been enough to warn her against saying too much, however nice LOTGK looked or however delightful her accent.

Jill has been bullied as had Eustace. When she is first found, she is crying her eyes out because of how she has been treated. But unlike Eustace, who at least has had his adventure in VDT to fall back on, Jill also has self-esteem problems as a consequence. Thus right from the start she is in a bad position to warn Eustace about meeting an old friend, since Eustace is still annoyed with her for not taking responsibility for her previous behaviour. She is also too easily distracted by physical discomfort, such as the cold weather, hunger and tiredness, so that she nearly forgets the three other signs.

Reepicheep775 wrote:Jill and Eustace come from an environment that discourages notions of personal responsibility and duty


Yes, duty might be a theme of SC, along with your remarks on personal responsibility. Maybe, lack of a concept of "personal responsibility" is something that might be true of both bullies and bullied, perhaps? But neither Eustace nor even Puddleglum, who agrees to come with them, seem to feel obliged to remember the signs, themselves, even if he accepts that Jill has been given that mission by Aslan. Most of the time both Puddleglum and Eustace prod Jill to remember the signs, herself. It isn't until they are underground that our trio start really behaving like a team and taking each other's safety seriously.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Glumpuddle » Sep 01, 2016 12:13 pm

I don't feel like there is as much going on, thematically, in SC as other books. I see Jill as the clear main character of the story, so therefore her struggle to trust seems like the central thread to me.

When we find her crying behind the gym at the beginning of the story, she doesn't seem to have anyone to trust. The people in authority at school are only making things worse, and she's the only human character whose parents are never mentioned at all. Then along comes a really scary lion in a strange world telling her to seek a lost prince or die in the attempt, and gives her four obscure signs. It's not at all surprising that she is reluctant to trust Aslan when everything is really on the line. Sure, he's really intimidating so she wants to follow the signs... but her resolve is not strong enough to resist the promise of hot baths.

My hope is that, through Puddleglum's example and Aslan (an authority figure) showing her hope even in death, and even caring enough to set things right at Experiment House... Jill will dare to start trusting again.

But this could be because I have often struggled with being afraid of people letting me down, so I immediately gravitate towards Jill.

Dear filmmakers: Don't turn SC into a giant epic about saving the universe. Make it a small movie about a damaged girl who finds healing.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Sep 02, 2016 8:17 pm

I've had a few more thoughts relating to this topic...

I think that liberation is a strong theme in SC. Between Eustace and Jill being freed from the bullies' tyranny at Experiment House, unchaining Rilian from the silver chair, freeing the gnomes, breaking free of the LotGK's enchantment and escaping the dark prison of Underland, we see many different kinds of shackles being cast off throughout the duration of the book.

Another is transformation and to some extent duality. The Lady of the Green Kirtle is an obvious example of this, but you also have the stark contrast between the two gloomy children we meet at the beginning of the story and the same two children who come charging away from the crumbling school wall in their glittering Narnian clothes, flanked by Caspian and their good lord Aslan, to serve justice to the bullies. There's also the change in Rilian and the change in the gnomes, post-enchantment. Further, I think all of these changing and evolving characters highlight Puddleglum's steadfastness.

Amid these many themes, though, I still think that the central theme is trust and that the central character is Jill, because none of these other themes would be possible without Jill first learning to trust Aslan and to trust and follow the signs. Everything in the book hinges on her and her learning to trust the people around her.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Wilhelm Spark » Sep 02, 2016 9:43 pm

For me the theme is "Appearances." It runs throughout the book from beginning to end.

For example, Eustace does not recognize Caspian, and Rilian does not appear to be the Prince at first.
Even Puddleglum seems like a nuisance and a bit of a 'wet blanket' at first, but by the end of the story he has shown his true nature, that he is a brave, courageous and caring friend.
Then there's the giants that appear friendly but are actually cruel, and the gnomes who seem mean but are actually good.

Most obviously there is of course the LOTGK, whose magic depends on the deceptive nature of appearances.
She appears beautiful and refined but is really a monstrous serpent.
And at the climax she tries to trick the protagonists into believing there is nothing more to the world than what they can see in Underland (Indeed, a recurrent theme is believing that there is more to life than this visible world, that there is something beyond that you can't see - hence the inclusion of Aslan's Country and Bism).

All of this links back to the related theme of "Trust/Faith" (mentioned by fantasia_kitty, narnia fan 7, Rose Tree Dryad and others), because the only way to overcome these trials is to trust Aslan.
They need to trust in something they cannot see, and stay faithful even when what they see seems to contradict what Aslan has told them.
They have to see with the eyes of faith.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Sep 03, 2016 9:49 am

^Ohh! That's an excellent observation, Wilhelm Spark! :ymapplause:

Other elements that contribute to this overarching theme are the fact that the questers didn't recognize the ruined city of giants for what it was at first, and then there's also the moment near the end when Eustace, Puddleglum and Rilian think that Jill has been captured by forces of some other underground civilization, when in reality she's been met by the cheery welcome of the Narnians at the Great Snow Dance. This theme really does run all through the book! It reminds me of Aslan's warning to Jill before she departs for Narnia from the Mountain, which absolutely must be included in the film:

C.S. Lewis wrote:And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances.


(It looks like you joined the forum last year, but since this is your second post... welcome to NarniaWeb! :-h)
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Anfinwen » Sep 03, 2016 1:52 pm

The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:Another is transformation and to some extent duality. The Lady of the Green Kirtle is an obvious example of this, but you also have the stark contrast between the two gloomy children we meet at the beginning of the story and the same two children who come charging away from the crumbling school wall in their glittering Narnian clothes, flanked by Caspian and their good lord Aslan, to serve justice to the bullies.

I agree. I feel a major theme is the journey. They spend a lot of the movie traveling, and that reflects an inward journey. The children are growing up and attaining maturity, wisdom and experience. At the end it is mentioned that Eustace looks, not like a child or boy crying, but like a grown-up crying. We see it in every child that goes to Narnia. When Eustace and Jill return in LB they quickly again gain the same capabilities and strength that they had gained at the end of SC.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Wilhelm Spark » Sep 03, 2016 5:55 pm

Good points Rose-Tree Dryad and thanks for the welcome. :) Narniaweb is a lovely little community and there are not many like it. I used to lurk here back in ye olden days of PC and VODT, but I never joined because I didn't think they were going to be any more Narnia movies! But now that SC is coming I thought I'd join the party. Better late than never!
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 03, 2016 7:13 pm

Wilhelm Spark wrote:For me the theme is "Appearances." It runs throughout the book from beginning to end.

For example, Eustace does not recognize Caspian, and Rilian does not appear to be the Prince at first.....
They have to see with the eyes of faith.


Now that is a most excellent point. But "Appearances" as well trust as themes occur through the whole series, not only SC, now I come to think about it. Children can be trusting and when Lucy first was invited to Tumnus' cave, it was quite a dangerous thing for a young girl to do. Except that Tumnus had an attack of conscience, which stopped him handing her over to the White Witch and encouraged him to send her home safely. Edmund, full of resentment, meets the White Witch, but did he trust her? Or was he deluded into believing what she had to tell him? Then there is Eustace's transformation in VDT, not to mention other characters in the other books, even Susan's changing perspective of Rabadash in HHB.

Are there any themes in SC which really stand out as unique to that particular book? Or even more prominent than in the other books?

How is SC different for example? Wilhelm Spark, I think you are on to something really important when you mention "They have to see with the eyes of faith". Thus before he was told where he was and who the king was, Eustace wouldn't have known of his own accord, he was to recognise an unnamed old friend if that friend had changed so dramatically due to his sorrow at losing his son. Or would he? I've met people I haven't recognised at first, and others have been mentioned without my being able to remember their faces until I've thought about who they were. But on meeting an old school friend last May, he told our local club for which he was a guest speaker, that I hadn't changed in all those years. /:)

Jill is told by Aslan to believe only the signs and to follow them. By the time she acually reaches the Ruined City, Jill, who had given up repeating the signs, is too cold, wet and tired to recognise that she and her friends had reached their goal as stated in the second sign. But until the following morning when, having become more refreshed in Harfang, she can't have read the message on the stones, even though the previous evening she had been standing in one of the letters. Sometimes it is necessary to stand back or from a height to see the whole picture, get the message not to mention the right perspective.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Wilhelm Spark » Sep 04, 2016 2:16 am

I'm not sure waggawerewolf, as I haven't read the books in a while, but my answer is that in SC the idea of the deceptive nature of appearances is present in almost every episode in that book and thus sort of ties it all together (for me).

Whereas in the other Narnia books this theme is not consistently at the forefront throughout the whole story. It is present yes, but only to the extent that it is probably present in every fantasy book and movie ever made. :D

For example in VODT when Eustace turns into a dragon, yes he changes his appearance, but the main purpose (I think) of that episode is to reveal his greed, selfishness and immaturity; his altered appearance serves merely to illustrate that. Here the theme of appearances is points to a greater theme.

I have to refrain from commenting on the other examples because I can't remember them too well. :|

But yeah, I think you are right about Trust and Faith being in every Narnia book. On a side-note I think the filmmakers handled that theme pretty well, especially regarding Lucy's faith and even Peter's lack of faith (in PC).
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Sep 04, 2016 10:13 am

You're welcome, Wilhelm Spark! As someone who lurked for quite a long time before joining, I can say from experience that I think you made a great decision to sign up. Better late than never indeed! :D

While trust and appearances are not uncommon themes in many scenes throughout the Chronicles, Wagga, they seem to me to be much more pervasive throughout The Silver Chair. The more I think about it, the theme of nothing being as it seems is incredibly strong in SC, in both minor and major ways. More that come to mind:

1. Eustace seems like an ordinary schoolboy, when in reality he has actually been to another world and has had all sorts of fantastic adventures.
2. Jill initially believes that Aslan is a but a wild lion that wants to eat her, thinking that he will gobble her up as soon as she takes her drink of water.
3. The beautiful day in the woods spent maying unexpectedly turns to disaster when the serpent slinks out of the woods and bites Caspian's queen.
4. Eustace is suspicious that the Parliament of Owls are some kind of plot against the king, when they are actually plotting on behalf of the king.
5. Jill doesn't at first realize that the giantish-looking rocks on the edge of the gorge at Ettinsmoor are actually flesh-and-blood giants.
6. The questers are enjoying a fine lunch of cold venison before they realize with horror that it's Talking Stag.
7. And then, all along throughout the story, you have Puddleglum right there, suggesting all of the things that could go wrong or be suspicious, such as saying that the giant bridge—which was what it appeared to be—might melt away and vanish as soon as they were upon it, or that the Black Knight was just an empty suit of armor or a skeleton.

Goodness, I never realized just how much this book messes with your mind. ;))
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 04, 2016 5:07 pm

WilhelmSpark wrote:...my answer is that in SC the idea of the deceptive nature of appearances is present in almost every episode in that book and thus sort of ties it all together (for me).


It is nice to meet you, Wilhelm Spark. :) And you are right that appearances and how they change is important. Isn't it striking that whenever Jill and Eustace stop thinking about the signs and why they are in Narnia, they mess up, and fail to see what they are supposed to do? Jill has to remind Eustace about recognising an old friend but Eustace seems too unhappy about meeting Jill, a very recent friend, and so they waste seconds that would have been better spent. Much of the time afterwards, they squabble with each other, especially after meeting LOTGK. It is when they stop thinking about themselves and their own immediate discomforts that they get on track.

Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:Goodness, I never realized just how much this book messes with your mind.


It does indeed. Take Eustace, for example. Jill knows him from a previous term when he was one of the bullies' hangers-on, and when she first meets him in SC she hasn't really noticed that this term he has been behaving quite differently. And so her perspective and opinion of him hasn't really changed up to that point. Until they escape from the bullies, after she has heard his holiday story, she still retains some suspicion of him. Up until Eustace falls over the cliff, she thinks only of herself and her own misery, after which she is remorseful and frightened.

3. The beautiful day in the woods spent maying unexpectedly turns to disaster when the serpent slinks out of the woods and bites Caspian's queen.


This particular example does jump out at me, moreso than your other examples. Wasn't the snake's disastrous intervention a case of meeting the proverbial worm in the beautifully joyous apple? However beautiful the day in the woods, shouldn't the Queen have been alongside her husband, helping with the work, maybe?

Also, the reason why the Parliament of Owls had to meet behind Trumpkin's back. Because he was a bit like a crusty old schoolmaster who was a stickler for the rules. Just like Eustace and Jill really could have done with at Experiment house. Doing one's duty and getting the work done must be boring and sometimes painful, but in each and every way in SC duty does come first.

Reepicheep775 wrote:For me SC is all about duty. Jill and Eustace come from an environment that discourages notions of personal responsibility and duty (i.e. Experiment House) and, while Eustace has changed from his first visit to Narnia, Jill is still very much a product of her upbringing... The climax of the story is the three travelers deciding to free Rilian simply because it's the right thing to do.


Yes, Experiment House, in allowing a bullying culture, has abandoned its duty not only to teach but also to provide a safe environment where it is possible to learn. That is what rules are for. Duty of care and the school's responsibility to children's parents whether alive or not. However, Jill and Eustace are no longer children and have to learn to take personal responsibility for what they do, themselves, doing what they know is the right thing, not merely because it is school rules or what someone else thinks or what someone else wants them to do, and not letting oneself be misled by anger, tiredness and hopelessness.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Wilhelm Spark » Sep 04, 2016 5:13 pm

waggawerewolf27 wrote:Sometimes it is necessary to stand back or from a height to see the whole picture, get the message not to mention the right perspective.


Yes, I agree. I think that is one of the great things about fantasy and children's books in general, they allow you to see your own world differently. And yes I know that's not the point you were making. :)

Yes, good points Rose-Tree Dryad! I didn't even remember those.

I think the theme of "Appearances are deceptive" is even bigger than I mentioned. See, Lewis doesn't just reveal Narnian characters' true natures in SC, but the true nature of our world and existence (not sure if any of this makes sense to anyone but me).

For example I always used to wonder why did Lewis start the story off with Aslan's Country? Why did he even include Aslan's Country at all (it seemed like when the warehouse that is glimpsed in Raiders of the Lost Ark appears in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)? But by starting off the story there (i.e. Heaven) the reader gets to see that this world is not all there is.

Lewis sort of uses SC to pull back the curtain on our lives. At the end, Caspian dies, which in any other story would be a sad or bittersweet ending; but then Lewis shows what happens next when Caspian goes to 'Heaven' and it becomes a happy ending. Lewis shows us what we can't see in the real world when a loved one dies.

Back in England all seems hopeless at the school... until they discover there is another world beyond their own, a place full of beauty, hope and joy, somewhere they can escape to! A world beyond their own to give them hope when all seems hopeless.

And a layering of worlds: Bism, Underland, Narnia, England and Aslan's Country. Visible and invisible worlds are a recurrent thread in SC. Of course it' also in MN, but SC seems different to me, though I can't explain why.
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