Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

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Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby Bree » Jan 24, 2017 7:50 am

When they do finally get around to making a movie version of 'The Last Battle', should they exclude Susan?. I for one would welcome this change to the story line - Lewis's explanation of his exclusion of Susan from Aslan's country is not only incomplete but preachy and highly and unfairly moralistic - particularly for today's audiences.

Also it would be a nightmare for the movie makers in explaining her absence!
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby narnia fan 7 » Jan 24, 2017 10:26 am

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean they should leave out any mention of Susan? If so I don't see any reason why that would be done it would just be confusing to anyone who's familiar with the series.

As for Susan's exclusion from Aslan's country in the book. I think it's a bit unfair to call it "preachy" and "moralistic" because remember the main reason Susan isn't in Aslan's county at the book isn't because she turned her back on Narnia, but because she is still alive. Lewis wasn't saying that she was condemned or anything like that. Her story isn't over, there is still hope that she could find her was into Aslan's county.
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jan 24, 2017 1:31 pm

I actually think Susan's character development would be easier to illustrate in the movie than in book form.

We're likely to see much more of the Friends of Narnia in a film version of The Last Battle, possibly beginning the film in Narnia (as in the Prince Caspian movie) before shifting to England to see what the Pevensies, Eustace, Jill, Digory and Polly are doing before the seven see the ghostly image of Tirian appear at their meeting. It would be easy to show the audience how Susan has changed... I can imagine Lucy getting ready to go to the Friends of Narnia meeting and asking if Susan is coming, and Susan says something like, "Are you kidding, Lu? I've got a party to go to tonight! When are you going to stop wasting so much time on childish games?"

I also think that film audiences would probably be more accepting of Susan's personality change than you think. Sure, it's definitely sad and even shocking to see a beloved character become consumed by worldly and materialistic things, but I think most people know what it feels like to have a good friend who, in the process of "growing up", eventually comes to think that they're "too cool" to hang out with you anymore. (When, of course, the reality is that they're too fixated on being cool themselves and lose sight of what's really important.)

And like narnia fan 7 said, we don't know that Susan is excluded from Aslan's Country forever, just that she was not a friend of Narnia at that time and that she wasn't killed in the train accident. There is hope for her yet! I personally have a very hard time believing that the girl who comforted Aslan on the way to his execution and wept over his body would be separated from him forever. However, since (at that particular time in her life) she is described as being completely obsessed with lipsticks and nylons and invitations to the exclusion of everything else, Susan going to Aslan's Country seems like trying to serve a wholesome meal to someone who wants to eat nothing but Turkish Delight.

If you want to read more discussion about Susan and her fate, Bree, you might want to check out the Susan and Narnia thread over in The Man Behind the Wardrobe. :)
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby fantasia_kitty » Jan 24, 2017 2:03 pm

I don't see any possible way that Susan could be left out without any mention. The non-book fans would be going "huh? Where is she?"
If what you want is to avoid controversy, then she needs to be included in the end with the rest of the Friends of Narnia. (Of which I'm not in agreement with personally... ;) )
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby coracle » Jan 25, 2017 2:59 am

When the scene is reached where the friends explain why Susan isn't there with them, the best way will be simply to use the book's lines. The only addition I might suggest is for Lucy to say she hopes Susan will change her mind one day, and care about Narnia and Aslan again. This could be echoed at the end in the garden 'further in and further up', maybe with Lucy saying she longs for Susan to join them there one day.
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jan 25, 2017 4:11 am

It depends on whether or not the film would show the rail accident which killed the friends of Narnia. If that accident is shown, then maybe a cameo of Susan standing alone at the entrance to a railway station, with an announcement over the tannoy that there has been an accident with the train. Perhaps with a policeman or the station master coming to ask her if she was waiting for anyone on that train?
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby bardiafox7 » Jan 25, 2017 11:59 am

To me the most tragic thing about Susan is not that she is no longer a friend of Narnia but what she has become. This pretty girl with such a degree of tenderness, compassion and sensitivity has become vain and shallow. I've known plenty of people like that and they are no good to anyone. Buying into the materialistic mindset makes you turn your back on others in favor of yourself, and the relationships you only consider are those that you can see will benefit you. Susan does this with her friends and family, and that's why she isnt at the train station because she isnt there for them anymore. In many ways she is the inversion of Puddleglum's choice--she's allowed the world to tell her there is no Narnia and she no longer lives like one. One of the things I like about Susan's exclusion is that it gives it a note of sober reality and it makes the characters seem more humans less like ideals .Some of us know a few good kids gone astary. But the best thing is there is hope for redemption. That's what the film needs to emphasize is that there is hope for her and she isnt eternally lost. That would make her exclusion easier to take. I think CS Lewis made a misstep not at least intimating that. But then again if someone like Emeth can find his way, so can Queen Susan.
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby fantasia_kitty » Jan 25, 2017 12:36 pm

bardiafox7 wrote:I think CS Lewis made a misstep not at least intimating that.

I'm going to politely disagree. :) As was pointed out to me years ago by a former member of this site, all of the earthly Pevensie possessions would have likely gone to Susan, which would include those magic rings that Edmund (or Peter?) had in his pocket at the time of his death. That is a tactile object that would force Susan to remember Narnia beyond her own memories, and (no pun intended) another doorway for her to go looking for Aslan again. It's subtle, but it's there, and I sure hope the LB movie takes advantage of that.
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jan 25, 2017 1:40 pm

Something that keeps coming into my head as I think about this, curiously enough, is what happens to Rabadash at the end of The Horse and His Boy. He is given multiple times to turn away from his foolishness, but he refuses, and finally that refusal results in grave consequences. I think about Susan, again and again ignoring Aslan, Narnia, her family and her friends in favor of materialism and popularity, until one day it all comes to a head and it is too late: she has missed the train and Aslan's Country with it. (At least for the time being.)

bardiafox7 wrote:In many ways she is the inversion of Puddleglum's choice--she's allowed the world to tell her there is no Narnia and she no longer lives like one.


That's a very interesting comparison! I hadn't thought of that before.

bardiafox7 wrote:One of the things I like about Susan's exclusion is that it gives it a note of sober reality and it makes the characters seem more humans less like ideals .Some of us know a few good kids gone astary. But the best thing is there is hope for redemption.


I agree. I feel like "everyone goes to Heaven at the end" would have been a little difficult to believe. Even though it is hard to think of her turning her back on Narnia, Susan's absence adds some realism to the situation.

fantasia_kitty wrote:As was pointed out to me years ago by a former member of this site, all of the earthly Pevensie possessions would have likely gone to Susan, which would include those magic rings that Edmund (or Peter?) had in his pocket at the time of his death. That is a tactile object that would force Susan to remember Narnia beyond her own memories, and (no pun intended) another doorway for her to go looking for Aslan again. It's subtle, but it's there, and I sure hope the LB movie takes advantage of that.


I would love to see them do something understated-yet-profound like this!
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby bardiafox7 » Jan 25, 2017 1:46 pm

I agree with your point. But the problem is that the idea of Susan's eternal banishment still persists, despite the fact the book doesnt support it. Now that I think of it the book offers a lot of hope. Tirian sees one of the dwarves, who helped to shoot the horses, walk through the door into Aslan's country. So if a murderer can be redeemed and be brought back.... Also as I mentioned Emeth, one who has been trained all his life to hate Narnia and Aslan finds his way into Aslan's country. There is even hope for the dwarves stuck in the stable. Aslan never says that they are consigned to that fate. Is it probable that they'll be freed?No. But that's because of their stubborn pride as their obstruction. If they let go of their pride, they can be taken out. Hope is all over the book. But it's different when you're dealing with a major character, you want some assurance regarding their fate. Though I'm fine with not having a clear answer--because that's exactly how life is--I can understand and commiserate with those who need it.
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby bardiafox7 » Jan 25, 2017 2:35 pm

Also, Susan doesnt need the rings to serve as a reminder. She never really needs to believe in the existence of Narnia. She can live out the rest of her life believing that Narnia was pure fiction and a game they played as children. But if she gets to know Aslan by his other name here and find the Way from our world, she'll be reunited with both Him and her family. Isnt that a beautiful thought?
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jan 25, 2017 3:23 pm

bardiafox7 wrote:I agree with your point. But the problem is that the idea of Susan's eternal banishment still persists, despite the fact the book doesnt support it.... Hope is all over the book. But it's different when you're dealing with a major character, you want some assurance regarding their fate. Though I'm fine with not having a clear answer--because that's exactly how life is--I can understand and commiserate with those who need it.


Now that is a good point. While there is life there is hope, as the old adage says. And we simply don't know enough about where Susan is, and what she was doing. My guess is that she decided she would prefer to remain in America, in some capacity, making her attendance at Friends of Narnia meetings somewhat problematical anyway.

Or else, as is spelled out in the book, Susan has already gotten some traditional "adult" preoccupations at that stage that were far more absorbing to her than her siblings' adherence to Narnia, as the Seven Friends of Narnia do acknowledge, regretfully. Such as (finally) getting engaged to be married, though it isn't the only possibility. In an interview at the end of 2013, Douglas Gresham did hint at that possibility when he suggested that for all anyone knew she could be an elderly grandmother living not far from Asbury College.

The main point of Susan not being there when Tirian asks about her, is that she was not only not in any way involved with the Friends of Narnia, but that she was also not on the Bristol-bound train when it crashed, killing not only the Friends of Narnia, but also Mr and Mrs Pevensie. For all we know, Susan might have been at Bristol, already.

Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:I think about Susan, again and again ignoring Aslan, Narnia, her family and her friends in favor of materialism and popularity, until one day it all comes to a head and it is too late: she has missed the train and Aslan's Country with it. (At least for the time being.)


Yes, I've seen comments elsewhere, on Internet, which suggests that Susan and LOTGK do have a lot in common in their denials that Narnia ever existed, that their preoccupations with Narnia were "childish" and that the physical world around them is the only reality. I expect that is why SC is the second-last book in the Narnia series, timewise, and that is what C.S.Lewis was aiming at when Tirian asks about Susan, and in the replies Eustace, Jill and Aunt Polly give to Tirian.

But then there is C.S.Lewis, himself, who wrote to one of his fans, who enquired about Susan's eventual fate. C.S.Lewis said in conclusion, that Susan might mend, and that she would get "there" in her own time and in her own way. If I live long enough to see a film based on "The last battle" then I hope this particular last bit of that reply does make it into the film, to clear up that particular misconception.
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby coracle » Jan 26, 2017 10:05 pm

waggawerewolf27 wrote:It depends on whether or not the film would show the rail accident which killed the friends of Narnia. If that accident is shown, then maybe a cameo of Susan standing alone at the entrance to a railway station, with an announcement over the tannoy that there has been an accident with the train. Perhaps with a policeman or the station master coming to ask her if she was waiting for anyone on that train?


Perhaps there is no need to show the train crash. Instead there could be a smaller scene with Polly, Professor, Jill, Eustace and Lucy arriving in a train carriage (interior shots), with Peter and Edmund on the platform waiting. It could be cut back and forth from the carriage to the platform, finally showing their surprised reactions as they are jolted and removed to Narnia.
There could then be a followup shot with Susan receiving the news of her family's deaths, with perhaps a police woman arriving to tell her the bad news. I imagine it done with unheard dialogue, and instead we hear some of the comments about Susan no longer believing in Narnia. If this is done very late in the movie, there is time for Lucy to repeat her wish that Susan will change her mind and seek out Aslan again.
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby Anfinwen » Jan 27, 2017 9:13 am

I like those ideas coracle! The way I imagine it is that Susan will be notified and arrive at the scene of the crash, no dialogue, just sad music and a police man shaking his head mouthing that he's sorry. Someone takes her inside to where the belongings are collected, She picks up a small bag and opens it. Inside are the rings. We see understanding and recognition on her face. I think she should be tempted to put one on, but she hears or remembers Aslan saying that the rings should be buried and not used again. I think the last shot should be of Susan burying the rings, as a symbol of obedience and acceptance that she has to continue in this world. It would bring a nice close to the series, being the rings that started it all buried again.

I don't thank Susan's story arc can be changed or removed in LB. Others have touched on this already, but to do so would make the ending less powerful. It would become an empty, one-dimensional cameo fest. Take a look at some of your favorite stories, and you'll see that there is rarely a happy ending without any casualties of one kind or another. This reflects life, and makes the joy all the more poignant because it is mixed with sadness.
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jan 27, 2017 3:37 pm

Anfinwen wrote:Take a look at some of your favorite stories, and you'll see that there is rarely a happy ending without any casualties of one kind or another. This reflects life, and makes the joy all the more poignant because it is mixed with sadness.


Fair point, and that is the same point that Tolkien would have also made in his own works. But is Susan, herself, really a casualty, as so many people have suggested over the years? After all, as far as we know, she was alive and not, herself, damaged physically, if she was neither in the train, nor on the platform at that particular location. If her parents were also on that train, visiting Susan is one of the most likely reasons for going to Bristol, especially as they told Peter, at any rate, that they were intending to go there.

If portrayed in a film LB, I would agree that it would be horrible for her to be "left out" of the Seven Friends of Narnia arriving in time for the end of Narnia, if she had a clear reason, in LB, to be on that Bristol-bound train, alongside any of her family. There would not have been any problem with portraying Susan as not being a friend of Narnia, if she had been merely accompanying her parents, who also went to an English version of Aslan's Country, as mentioned on LB's last page. And if she had survived as a casualty of that particular train crash, instead, she might very well have lost her looks, no matter how much makeup she would certainly need to use subsequent to the accident, and not for vanity either. Or maybe she might have been severely disabled, which, although it provides a similarly horrible life-changing challenge, is also hardly helpful in anyone's rehabilitation from alleged sins of vanity.

In Gaiman's version of the Problem of Susan (2004), he has his elderly Professor Susan Hastings tell a college journalist that she realised that someone had to be left behind to bear witness to the existence of her brothers and sister, to identify them and help clear up after the train wreck that killed them. The journalist thinks Gaiman's Susan is "our" Susan Pevensie, you see.

Losing their entire families in an all too real man-made disaster does not of necessity make either Susan Pevensie, or Gaiman's Professor Susan Hastings a physical victim, or train-wreck casualties, themselves, let alone someone who is being picked on, simply because of her "sinfully worldly ways", as Gaiman's journalist rather rudely suggests, and which the Professor cogently queries.

But it does suggest that Susan Pevensie, in LB, could also be someone, like Samwise, who is left to clean up after Frodo finally boarded the ship to leave Middle Earth. Or like Horatio, in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, who arrives in Elsinor to clean up after Denmark's Royal family wipe themselves out. The really sad part of LB, above and over the destruction of Narnia, itself, in literary terms, is that the Earth-bound Susan Pevensie is spiritually handicapped to deal with her family's loss, at that stage, being in no position to realise her role in the story yet, having denied her Narnia adventures as childish, and having given up being involved in any way with her siblings' activities.

Yes, it is tragic to lose one's entire family, and it is also human instinct to try to rebuild after a disaster in the best way Susan could manage. Life must go on, after all. Us people in reality know this all too well. But C.S.Lewis in LB has left this rebuilding and Susan's story and eventual fate to the readers' imagination. And therefore to a filmmaker's interpretation.

@ coracle: I do like your ideas also, but these are minor points: were there many police women in the 1940's? If any women were involved in rescue wouldn't it be more likely as nurses or volunteers at that time? And while I find Susan's recovery of the rings an intriguing idea, which would definitely work well, I wonder if she understands what the rings were for? After all, she doesn't seem to be very involved with the Professor or Aunt Polly at all, except as friends of her family.

How would you conclude Susan's story, if anyone here was filming LB? Or should anyone, even a film maker, really try to do so?
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Re: Should Susan be excluded from 'The Last Battle'?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jan 27, 2017 5:10 pm

One other idea that has a hold on my imagination is to somehow mirror the epilogue at the end of LWW.

I could imagine that Digory might have willed some of his possessions to the other Pevensie siblings, but since they're dead, they all go to Susan, the next-of-kin. Among them is the wardrobe, and we see Susan, wearing black, going up to it and sadly touching the wooden surface. Instead of being interrupted by the Professor, though, perhaps she has been accompanied by a boyfriend. (I'm imagining the guy who annoyed her at the beginning of PC. :P) He might say something like, "That wardrobe looks as though it has an interesting history, Su! I think you ought to keep it. But we had better get a move on, or else we'll be late getting to the church." And he takes her hand and they walk away together, mirroring the Professor and Lucy walking away hand-in-hand.

But I do so love the idea with the rings, so... I'm torn. ;))
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