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

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

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 27, 2016 8:15 pm

@Rose-Tree Dryad: :) I didn't really realise I was showing my age. :ymblushing: Spruiking is an old term for advertising. My very Australian grandmother used it frequently, with a certain connotation of contempt for those who do it, and the products/services extolled. Those were the days when people used to put on their letterboxes, "No hawkers or canvassers, thank you". And when "spruiking" had a lot in common with fairground "barkers". These days since the advent of television (1956 and onwards in Australia), we use the politer term of advertising, and advertising agent. Unless it is the spam we get stuck with on internet. /:)

By the way, I've actually stayed in a wonderfully comfortable Hilton hotel, in Berlin, actually, and also in Prague, I think it was. So I've no quarrel with that particular hotel chain. But when the Bangkok Hilton is mentioned here in Australia, it is a derisive term for a South-East Asian gaol which has since been moved to a different location, or a POW camp like Changi in Singapore once was, not sure which. In Australia, the title "Bangkok Hilton" is the title of a TV mini-series, dealing with misadventures with the powers that be overseas, whether they were Japanese conquerors in WW2 or whether the Australian inmates portrayed were allegedly genuine offenders against the law, I'm not sure which.

The real Bangkok Hilton, if there is one in Bangkok, is probably at least 4 star accommodation, and good enough for even picky overseas travellers, such as Eustace who grizzled about his accommodation on the Dawn Treader in VDT. However, I couldn't resist the Harfang Hilton comparison. ;) I included a couple of other hotel chains to make my point about LOTGK's claims that Harfang was a really good place to stay. I really would enjoy all your responses. ;)) Including Phelan Velvet's just above yours.

Personally I think trust, faith and obedience are separate though linked issues, but all of them are important to SC, but maybe not in the way they have been depicted so far on this thread. Not everyone who demands obedience is to be trusted, not bullies and not even if they are a head of state or a top religious leader. They, too, are all too human, you see. And Jill, or even Eustace, have yet to have more faith in Aslan's goodness, something they need to learn so that they can truly trust those four signs and Aslan's guidance. Above all, putting one's trust in a passerby's recommendation is probably a bad idea. Even if it is the only passerby our trio were to meet.

While obedience and trust are huge themes for SC, there are elements in the story which strongly suggest when neither obedience or trust were really good ideas for our travellers. As is suggested in Phelan Velvet's post above. But then did they get the options of checking out the menu, the alternatives on the buffet, or by asking the waiter? It is just as well for them that they had been alerted to the dodginess of this establishment.

And there is the matter of the word "obey" as in obeying a husband, that the wife is supposed to swear in a traditional Marriage Ceremony. LOTGK planned to marry Rilian as his Queen. Would she treat him with the deference a Queen Consort is normally expected to treat her King? Or would the Queen of the Underworld expect that whatever she says as Queen Regnant in Underworld, would also hold force as the wife of an actual King?

Sometimes the word "obey" has nothing much to do with either trust or faith as we would like them to be. And whether or not you choose to obey or disobey is all too likely to be purely a matter of what you think the consequences are likely to be, and whether or not one has wriggle room to get out of it. I agree that in Rose's example, she is trusting a competent guide when she travels the Amazon, so she does as the guide tells her. But I'd say that common sense also tells her to not touch those cute leopards, because she thus avoids her own liability for stupidly thinking that a wild leopard would be as tame as a domestic cat. At least then she is fully justified in retaining a certain faith in her own good judgement for heeding the reminder. But what would Rose-Tree Dryad think of herself, if she, not her allegedly experienced guide, seriously believed a passerby's unproven and somewhat fishy suggestion that there would be any sort of hotel-like establishment stuck in the middle of nowhere? And found that by overruling the guide, she put not only herself but the guide at risk, when the wayside cafe turned out to be a den of criminals? Aslan, and, especially Puddleglum, can't be blamed for Jill's and Eustace's determination to be sidetracked.

Jill, in particular, and also Eustace, who obviously both found camping somewhat tedious, are a bit too quick to trust LOTGK's advertising of Harfang. And considering that Eustace's journey in VDT was somewhat less arduous than the one he is undertaking with Jill in SC, and how much he grizzled in VDT about the sort of food and drink he had on board then, you would think even he would have been pickier about his Harfang lunch. After all, LOTGK never said a word about what sort of meat was being roasted, and what sort of food was spicy, sweet etc, did she? When they got into the kitchen, and saw the cookbook...oh my!

All the same, I'd still agree with you, Rose that C.S.Lewis quote probably is central to the story of SC, especially in light of the post-war time in which he wrote the book.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Glumpuddle » May 15, 2017 7:19 am

Twigs and I discussed Jill's arc in the latest podcast episode..

I think for me personally it still all comes back to trust, but I'm not necessarily saying that is exactly what was intended by Lewis. There are certainly other valid views. :)
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby coracle » May 15, 2017 1:15 pm

I have skimmed through these posts but not seen the word that I always associate with this book: Deception.

Perhaps more fully, Deception and Truth, and the responses of Trust. (Trust and obey?)

Someone speaks above of Appearances - too many of those appearances are wrong, sometimes innocently. Others are deliberately deceptive, and most significantly the LOTGK spins her magic to continue to deceive and mislead.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » May 16, 2017 2:04 pm

fantasia_kitty wrote:So, to me, the opposite of trust is doubt. Did Jill mess up the signs on her journey because of her doubt?
The first sign is missed due to Eustace being (understandably) angry with her, so they argue and he ignores her.
The second sign starts off well heading to the ruined city of giants, but Jill and Eustace are completely distracted by the Green Lady with the promises of comfort at Harfang.
The third sign they sort of follow, but I'll call it by the will of Aslan instead of their own, ;)) as they're running for their lives from the giants.
The fourth sign is the only one they obey, even though I think they forget exactly what the sign said. This is the sign I fully admit that they have to show trust in Aslan because they DO doubt here for a moment. Following the sign could cost them their lives.
So Jill definitely has problems following Aslan's signs, even remembering to repeat them to herself so she forgets them. Coupled with the constant bickering and fighting with Eustace and Puddleglum, distractions, desires for comfort, and yes, doubt as well ;) are all parts of Jill's issues on this quest.
So there's another reason I lean towards obedience being the bigger issue as opposed to trust. :)

That is a great way to put it FK! They didn't miss any of the first 3 signs do to a lack of Jill's trust. If trust is involved in the muffing of the first sign, it would be a lack of trust on Eustace's part. He didn't believe what Jill was telling him or that the first person he saw could be an old friend. I think that it is a little bit of a stretch but it could be seen that way. I think you are right about them forgetting exactly what it says - it says, "You will know the lost prince (if you find him) by this, that he will be the first person you have met in your travels who will ask you to do something in my name, in the name of Aslan." Not once do they say something about the knight being Rilian. They assume the sign means that they should free the person (although it doesn't exactly say that). Ultimately, that is the right choice because the quest is about restoring Rilian to his father.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby AJAiken » May 21, 2017 1:27 am

This was a fascinating thread to read - I've really enjoyed everyone's thoughts and arguments. What's interesting is that I feel everyone's pretty much on the same page, but that each person has experienced it slightly differently as they've read the book.

My gut reaction is to say that faith is the book's central theme - faith in all circumstances, no matter what. I think trust is a part of that but I wouldn't say it's the core idea.

I was really pleased when in Joe Johnston's Q&A video he mentioned reading Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. I've only read these in the last six years or so (post-VDT) and it's been interesting to compare this series to the Chronicles. Michael Ward's Planet Narnia I find very convincing (particularly now, having read the Space Trilogy) and having skimmed it again it seems to tie in with what's been mentioned.

Ward suggests that Luna (the moon) is the book's symbol, which has connotations of doubt and uncertainty. It also suggests spatial and mental instability, and confusion. And there's also melancholy. Luna is split - half good, half bad.

Jill not only faces individuals who appear to be one thing and turn out to be another, but has to face her own uncertainty and double-mindedness.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » May 21, 2017 5:43 am

Ooh, great point about Ward's theory in Planet Narnia, AJAiken! :ymapplause:

While my initial response to Joe Johnston's Q&A is probably 80-90% positive, I was kind of underwhelmed and confused by his answer about SC's theme. He said hope, some other stuff that could probably be summed up as teamwork, standing up to tyranny, and being true to yourself and recognizing who you are. Asking the question of "Who is that person you call yourself?"

"Hope" I think I can get on board with—Puddleglum's argument is partly about choosing to live as one who has hope hope rather than consumed by despair. Standing up to tyrnany, yes. Teamwork... okay, I guess you could say finally deciding to follow the signs and making a joint decision to free Rilian is teamwork, after a long mission of bickering and disagreements. Feels kind of weak and generic compared to some of the themes we've discussed here. Being true to yourself, though? I was puzzled that he said it's a theme that's almost taboo in our culture—it seems splashed all over the place to me. It also calls to mind a C.S. Lewis quote about "self" in Mere Christianity:

C.S. Lewis wrote:“Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”


So at first I was thinking about Joe's comment and wondering—how is someone like Jill supposed to stay true to herself? She doesn't really seem to have an identity at the beginning of The Silver Chair, aside from fear, pride and emotional instability. Her arc in The Silver Chair is one of growth. It's the irrigation of a desert, and it begins with drinking at the stream in Aslan's Country.

However, after thinking about Joe's comments a bit further, I think what he's saying is perhaps a more secular way of describing the "live like a Narnian" concept. I don't really like it, though. Puddleglum's choosing to be true to something, but I don't think it's his self. "I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it." Staying true to the things that really matter to him in his heart of hearts is definitely part of his speech, but it's also about being true to something much, much bigger than self.

To be fair to Johnson, though: he describes "being true to yourself" as taboo in our culture and I don't think that theme is taboo in media, so maybe what he's actually describing is something that's different from the sort of arc that comes to one's mind. (E.g. kid likes drawing, bullies make fun of their art, kid learns to keep drawing anyway.) If this concept isn't about Jill "staying true to herself" but rather finding her identity, her real true self, by staying true to Aslan and his signs... that would be awesome, and much more in line with the Lewis quote above. So we'll see. :-?
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby fantasia_kitty » May 21, 2017 11:28 am

I absolutely found Joe Johnston's comment about bullying to be very telling for how the movie will begin and end. I'm certain we'll see that classic "person is bullied and can't stand up for his/herself" going to "Goes on a magic journey and becomes brave" going to "returns to his/her world and stands up for him/herself". I don't think this would annoy me except that it's been done before and isn't terribly original. :P But I will always remember the changes to VDT and if this is the biggest change to the story, it won't be terribly major. :P

AJAiken, hi again! :D I can totally see what you're saying about faith. And I can very much get on board with that idea as the theme to the book. It's more encompassing than JUST trust or JUST obedience.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby narnia fan 7 » May 21, 2017 12:01 pm

For me the central themes in Silver Chair are overcoming hopelessness, deception, as well as Jill learning to trust in Aslan and to do the right thing no matter what. So it defiantly encouraging to me to hear Joe say hope is an important theme.

I sort of agree with what he said about standing up to tyranny and shareing responsibility with others, yes I'd say those are in Silver Chair to some extent. Jill does share the responsibility of finding Rilian with Eustace and Puddleglum but I personally wouldn't say it a main theme or a big part of the story.
fantasia_kitty wrote:I absolutely found Joe Johnston's comment about bullying to be very telling for how the movie will begin and end. I'm certain we'll see that classic "person is bullied and can't stand up for his/herself" going to "Goes on a magic journey and becomes brave" going to "returns to his/her world and stands up for him/herself"

To be fair that is more or less what happens in the book, though Lewis handled it with more subtlety and depth then you usually see and it not the main point of the story. But yeah I think I see your point, it is a bit of a cliche. Hopefully like in the book they can handle it in a way so it doesn't seem so unoriginal.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby fantasia_kitty » May 21, 2017 1:54 pm

I was not clear up above. You're absolutely right that the way I wrote my above post is, in fact, what happens in the book. The difference is that Joe Johnston talked about "finding yourself" (whatever that actually means...) vs. in the book Jill doesn't find herself, she finds Aslan.
As I said, it isn't such a huge difference that I'm going to freak out over it, but it's not a central theme I saw in the book. ;)
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby AJAiken » May 22, 2017 12:27 am

The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:Teamwork... okay, I guess you could say finally deciding to follow the signs and making a joint decision to free Rilian is teamwork, after a long mission of bickering and disagreements. Feels kind of weak and generic compared to some of the themes we've discussed here. Being true to yourself, though? I was puzzled that he said it's a theme that's almost taboo in our culture—it seems splashed all over the place to me.


I wonder if he meant something else for both being true to yourself and teamwork. SC certainly develops the fellowship between Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum. There is a lot of bickering (more than in the other Chronicles?) and perhaps Joe's focus will be on them developing healthier relationships.

I was also surprised by the "it's taboo" comment ... and I think you're very right about Jill, whose true identity at the beginning is entirely self-focused. I guess you could argue that Jill's following her true self in going to Harfang.

FK, hello! :D I can see the bullying opening/ending too. It will miss out on a lot if it focuses solely on Jill becoming brave - especially if that eradicates the faith, trust, and obedience themes discussed.

narnia fan 7 wrote:To be fair that is more or less what happens in the book, though Lewis handled it with more subtlety and depth then you usually see and it not the main point of the story.


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

Postby waggawerewolf27 » May 22, 2017 2:55 am

Rose-tree Dryad wrote:Being true to yourself, though? I was puzzled that he said it's a theme that's almost taboo in our culture—it seems splashed all over the place to me. It also calls to mind a C.S. Lewis quote about "self" in Mere Christianity:


I think in this world that "being true to oneself" and how it is perceived by an audience, depends mostly how it is perceived by firstly what is meant by being true to oneself, whether it means just the sort of thing the person described would do, or to what values that person holds, and respects. Which might be two different things.

Secondly, it depends, very often by how the reader, listener or witness perceives that person, and whether "political correctness" is involved or not. And thirdly, much depends on how that person would be perceived in the media or on social media. And so, being true to oneself can mean someone being true to his/her values even if those values are taboo in current society. Or not, if it is standing up for a socially acceptable cause, even if the "socially acceptable cause" has dodgy bookkeeping and someone or other is making a motza (Aussie for whole heap of money) with someone else's money.

AJAitken wrote:I wonder if he meant something else for both being true to yourself and teamwork. SC certainly develops the fellowship between Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum. There is a lot of bickering (more than in the other Chronicles?) and perhaps Joe's focus will be on them developing healthier relationships.

I was also surprised by the "it's taboo" comment ... and I think you're very right about Jill, whose true identity at the beginning is entirely self-focused. I guess you could argue that Jill's following her true self in going to Harfang.


Yes, I am sure that to make a worthwhile film the producer would have to mean something else for "being true to yourself". Yes, Jill, but also Eustace are both following their true (only too human) selves in going to Harfang. Wasn't there someone very famous indeed who said "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak"? And for all that is expected of them, both are still children and only too human.

However, both Eustace and Jill do stand up for values that have nothing to do with what the public vision of "being true to oneself" might mean. Even at the outset, Jill, however self-focused she appears, still rejects tale-bearing, and "sucking up" to bullies. And the story would not have happened at all had Eustace not changed dramatically in VDT, learning new values and upholding them too, sufficiently to impress Jill into believing him enough to follow his lead.

But Jill, in particular, still has much to learn. Against Jill's willingness to go to Harfang must be set her reaction to an enchanted Prince Rilian, and what she perceives about tyranny and whatever LOTGK is up to. Aslan knew what he was doing by calling her to do the job. It seems that Jill being brave seems to be a possible focus. But bravery isn't really the point of SC. All those champions who had gone to look for Prince Rilian were doubtlessly brave to go. But it seems to me that it was Puddleglum's speech and Jill's making the right decision at the right time, plus Eustace backing her decision up which made the difference in the long run.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Anfinwen » May 22, 2017 6:48 am

I really like the teamwork/cooperation theme. We all seem to agree that the story is more from Jill's perspective and will likely reflect her struggles. However, she isn't the only main character. There is definitely room for an overarching theme that includes all three of the travelers.
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Re: What should the theme of the Silver Chair be in the movie?

Postby Reepicheep775 » May 22, 2017 8:51 am

I've been saying for a while that I think the idea doing one's duty, even unto death, is what I think the primary theme of SC, so I was a little disheartened to not hear that theme mentioned. That said, I think the idea of overcoming despair is also central to SC, and so I'm glad that the theme of hope was the first theme mentioned.

Working together... I wouldn't call it central to SC, but I can see it. Obviously Jill, Eustace, and Puddlglum don't make the best team at the beginning of the story. Jill and Eustace bicker all the time and both lose their patience with Puddleglum sometimes. By the end of the story, they are friends. I could see that being a secondary theme.

Standing up to tyranny is similar. I certainly wouldn't call this one of the central themes of SC, but it's mixed in with it. I wouldn't call the LotGK a bully per se, but I think tyranny is a perfect word to describe her control over Rilian and her attempts to control Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum by getting them to believe in her bleak and bloodless false vision of reality.

And finding out who you are... I'm not a huge fan of this one. There are ways that this could play a role in SC. You could see SC as being a story of Jill becoming the kind of person who will "live like a Narnian even if there isn't any Narnia". As many have said, though, that is the result of her experiences with Aslan and Puddleglum. It's about Jill fundamentally changing her ways because of outside examples rather than a story about Jill finding the strength within.

Overall, I think these themes are too vague to change my feelings about the film to drastically. It really depends on how they are handled. We shall see.
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