Humanism in VDT

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

Moderators: coracle, Lady Arwen

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby Conina » Feb 06, 2011 6:06 pm

I can agree that Golden Compass was humanistic. So because there are other fantasy books turned films with humanistic content I should turn a blind eye to the humanism I see in VDT? I'm not understanding what the content of all those other movies has to do with whether or not the film VDT had humanistic content. I saw that there were some Christian themes VDT, I just think they were muted and sometimes undermined by humanistic undertones.

For example, the dragon sequence:

In the book Eustace gets turned into a dragon.

-Communication. C.S. Lewis Dragons are particularly poor communicators. He can't write. He tries to in a rather humorous bit write on the sand but keeps erasing his own writing. He can nod and shake his head and cry but that's about it.

-Travel. Dragon Eustace overhears the ship crew wondering how they are going to take Eustace when they have to leave. Eustace worries that he will be stuck on the island alone.

-Food. Eustace eats the dead flesh of another dragon and raw meat that he catches. The human side of him is embarrassed and eats his catches away from the people.

-Armband. His arm aches and swells from the armband he put on and he can't take it off on his own power.

-Undragonning. Its redemption. Eustace's encounter with Aslan is so awe-inspiring that he goes off alone with Edmund to talk about it as he is so blown away by how incredible Aslan is. His transformation is both inside and out.

Film

-Communication. This dragon grabs hold of Edmund and shows him in fiery flames, "I AM EUSTACE" what a way to declare yourself. That image reads to me like a visual of all that is wrong with the film.

-Travel. Eustace goes along with them, pulling the ship along when the sea dies out and tries to abandon ship with Reepicheep before going into Dark Island. Reepicheep states, "I am a mouse. You are a dragon." And urges him to go back and fight. On his own strength because through his enchantment he has become a powerful fighter. This is important.

-Food. The dragon Eustace lives on...blue star dust?.... I couldn't tell but its not an issue.

-Armband the armband is snatched off by Lucy almost immediately and is another non-issue.


In Dark Island Eustace fights the serpent after Reepicheep reminds him of his stronger status as a dragon. He then gets wounded and flies off somewhere. Aslan heals him and turns him back into a boy. However, it wasn't the scene it was in the movie as he seemed to be dying from the sword wound before he is undragonned.

He seemed stronger and more empowered as a dragon and I wonder how they could have gotten into dark Island (or defeated it for that matter) if it hadn't been for Eustace being a dragon. He pulls the entire ship into the island when the wind dies. He flies away to Aslan when he's been stabbed by the sword. Gets healed and undragonned by Aslan and then makes it to the table where he is then adds the final sword and defeats the mist. Aslan is reduced to more of a side-kick role here. Eustace almost had to become a dragon (give in to greed) in order to defeat the green mist and free the people trapped in Dark Island.

So in that case was it a good thing for Eustace to be enchanted? These changes are either humanistic or perhaps even gnostic.
"Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning." -C.S. Lewis
User avatar
Conina
NarniaWeb Junkie
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Aug 15, 2009
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby stateofgreen » Feb 06, 2011 10:04 pm

Conina wrote:.....I saw that there were some Christian themes VDT, I just think they were muted and sometimes undermined by humanistic undertones.


I agree with this. All the examples you provided show how watered down the Christian themes were. Eustace is definitely more "self" powered as a dragon than God-powered, there wasn't enough development showing how weak he was in his greedy state....and how he was already struggling in that state before his meet-up with Aslan (which as you say....sort of had that 'sidekick' tone about it).

In the movie Eustace does come off a lot more self-reliant than Aslan (God)-reliant. Though I have to slightly disagree with your interpretation of the end where he places the last sword down on the table (I pretty much thought Aslan enabled him to do that and that it was Aslan-power that returned the kidnapped and defeated the green mist...he was just placing Eustace where he had to be at the right time). Short shrift was given to his redeemed/new life. Not overtly showing Christian things is really typical of a Hollywood movie because they again are trying to appeal to the broad audience and are trying to walk the fine line between pleasing the faith audience and the non-faith audience and humanism really can't help creeping itself into these stories.

Which goes back to the argument that Fox/Walden aren't the type of producers of a movie like Fireproof (with obviously different goals in mind than box office) and I can't ever expect them to bravely depict Christian themes mainly out of the old Hollywood fear of losing the non-faith audience that loves just the fantasy aspects of the films/books (without reading into them and seeing the deep symbolism) and out of fear that possibly they wouldn't think a movie would do as well financially /:) 8-| if they honestly depicted those themes because they have a 'prejudice' that it would turn off that part of the audience that would be resistant to those messages (which might be true in some cases). Hope I made some sort of recycled sense.... :ymblushing:
Image

Signature by Ithilwen/Avatar by Djaq

Member of the Will Poulter is Eustace club

User avatar
stateofgreen
NarniaWeb Guru
 
Posts: 1023
Joined: Nov 24, 2010
Location: California
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Feb 07, 2011 2:26 am

Facing the Giants is hardly a good example of correct theology!
Currently watching:
Doctor Who - Season 11
User avatar
Warrior 4 Jesus
NarniaWeb Master
 
Posts: 10045
Joined: Mar 06, 2005
Location: Australia
Gender: Male

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby stateofgreen » Feb 07, 2011 10:31 am

You're right, :ymblushing: I removed it.
Image

Signature by Ithilwen/Avatar by Djaq

Member of the Will Poulter is Eustace club

User avatar
stateofgreen
NarniaWeb Guru
 
Posts: 1023
Joined: Nov 24, 2010
Location: California
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby Conina » Feb 07, 2011 12:25 pm

I think the franchise would do better (financially) if they owned up to something. I would prefer that they let story be the story. I feel they did this the most in LWW and guess which one has done the best financially. VDT to me was the most blatantly watered down of the movies so far and it didn't help them much financially imo. They are trying too hard to please everyone and pleasing very few. Secular critics accuse it of being too christian and christian youth group leaders won't take their groups to see it. There is a problem.


http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/chronic ... n_treader/

http://www.worldmag.com/articles/17406

If they let the story be the story it was written to be then people could either watch it and enjoy for the escapism aspect only or analyze it deeper and get a religious meaning or do a different reading on it if they like. Art when it is really art can mean different things to different people. I believe the books and LWW movie do this. VDT threw itself at the viewer (in both its religious catch-phrases and the humanistic undertones) rather aggressively.
"Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning." -C.S. Lewis
User avatar
Conina
NarniaWeb Junkie
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Aug 15, 2009
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 07, 2011 3:21 pm

Conina wrote:For example, the dragon sequence:

In the book Eustace gets turned into a dragon.

-Communication. C.S. Lewis Dragons are particularly poor communicators. He can't write. He tries to in a rather humorous bit write on the sand but keeps erasing his own writing. He can nod and shake his head and cry but that's about it.

-Travel. Dragon Eustace overhears the ship crew wondering how they are going to take Eustace when they have to leave. Eustace worries that he will be stuck on the island alone.

-Food. Eustace eats the dead flesh of another dragon and raw meat that he catches. The human side of him is embarrassed and eats his catches away from the people.

-Armband. His arm aches and swells from the armband he put on and he can't take it off on his own power.

-Undragonning. Its redemption. Eustace's encounter with Aslan is so awe-inspiring that he goes off alone with Edmund to talk about it as he is so blown away by how incredible Aslan is. His transformation is both inside and out.

Film

-Communication. This dragon grabs hold of Edmund and shows him in fiery flames, "I AM EUSTACE" what a way to declare yourself.

-Travel. Eustace goes along with them, pulling the ship along when the sea dies out and tries to abandon ship with Reepicheep before going into Dark Island. Reepicheep states, "I am a mouse. You are a dragon." And urges him to go back and fight.

-Food. The dragon Eustace lives on...blue star dust?.... I couldn't tell but its not an issue.

-Armband the armband is snatched off by Lucy almost immediately and is another non-issue.


In Dark Island Eustace fights the serpent after Reepicheep reminds him of his stronger status as a dragon. He then gets wounded and flies off somewhere. Aslan heals him and turns him back into a boy. However, it wasn't the scene it was in the movie as he seemed to be dying from the sword wound before he is undragonned.


Okay we'll discuss the dragonning and undragonning of Eustace. I agree the film does it differently, for cinematic reasons, and that there is at least one point even I feel could have been emphasized more. I disagree any changes were done to water down the religious themes of VDT.

1. In the book Eustace gets enchanted into being a dragon when he stuffs his pockets with gold and puts on the arm ring. In the film Eustace gets enchanted into being a dragon when he stuffs his pockets with gold and puts on the arm ring. Same, don't you agree?

2. Communication: In the book Eustace can't talk. He can only cry, and use body language. He tries to write in the sand using his claw, but the water washes it away and he has to try again several other times.

In the film Eustace can't talk. He can only cry and use body language. He uses his fiery breath on the rock where the water doesn't wash it away, and force him to try again. The audience needs to realise that the dragon is Eustace without any ambiguity. Otherwise the same, don't you agree?

3. Travel: (a) In the book Eustace can hear others talk about how they can cope with Eustace the dragon, eg by keeping up, but Aslan undragons him before leaving the island. In the film, Eustace not only hears others talk about how they are going to cope with Eustace the dragon. One of these options is actually used, ie, he has to keep up with the Dawn Treader.

(b) In the book, Eustace takes people on rides around the island to check out the place. In the film, Eustace only picks up Edmund to let him know that he, Eustace, is the dragon.

4. Useless Eustace: In the book Eustace feels he is a bother and tries to make himself useful, eg by taking people for rides, keeping people warm at night, finding food for the others and brings back a new mast for the demasted Dawn Treader. In the film Eustace also feels a bother and tries to make himself useful, eg by keeping people warm at night, and by towing the Dawn Treader when it is becalmed.

5. Food: I agree Eustace's dietary requirements weren't discussed in the movie, unlike the book. On the other hand I am rather glad that cannibalism wasn't mentioned, or that the film was so PG that we weren't treated to watching him eat. (where is that 'ugh' emoticon when I want it?) I fail to see how not viewing Eustace's embarrassingly messy eating habits would make the film more humanistic or water down the religious themes of the book.

6. The arm ring: Yes in the book the arm ring stayed on Eustace whilst he was a dragon, causing him pain. The fact that he was a dragon also ate into him causing even more pain. Lucy's cordial reduces the swelling but can't dissolve the arm ring, which is necessary to identify the lord.

In the film the arm ring is broken off by the heat of Eustace's body, just like his leather shoes and clothes were, as you would expect in reality. The arm ring was a literary device meant to underline to the reader the pain he was in, symbolic of only one of his misdeeds, and not really needed in the film, beyond confirming that Octesian was the missing lord. Any bolt cutter or metal snipper should have been able to cut it away, more effectively than Lucy's cordial. All the arm ring would do in the movie is make Eustace more useless, make the CGI more unworkable, and detract from any of the good things Eustace did manage to do, in faithfulness to the book.

7. Reepicheep: In the book it is mentioned that Reepicheep on many occasions makes a point of being Eustace's companion. In the film Reepicheep not only sits up with miserable Eustace, he mentors Eustace the dragon for as long as he remains one.

8. Sea Serpent: In the book undragonned Eustace uselessly tries to fight the sea serpent until Reepicheep urges the crew to push instead. In the film Eustace, still a dragon, tries to fight the sea serpent at Reepicheep's urging. That particular contrast doesn't prove anything one way or another.

Now about the undragonning: Yes I agree that in the film a few words might have strengthened the undragonning scene. I think the film Aslan could have told Eustace dragon to undress, verbally, and also 'no, let me undress you' in so many words, rather than leaving it to unimaginative audiences. But maybe it wasn't only the claws, the scratching etc, not to mention a load of blood that might have compromised the PG rating. It might have taken audience's ideas of undressing to new levels, in places where undressing is not considered er nice. /:)

In the book, we don't actually see the undressing, we only hear Eustace telling Edmund later. Eustace wonders if it had been a dream, and Edmund points out that it wasn't a dream since Eustace had new clothes and was undragonned. In the film we actually see the undragonning, and, as in the book, Eustace tells Edmund, he couldn't have undragonned himself without Aslan's help. The difference is, that Eustace tells Lucy, Caspian and Reepicheep, as well as us, the audience.

Conina wrote:He seemed stronger and more empowered as a dragon and I wonder how they could have gotten into dark Island (or defeated it for that matter) if it hadn't been for Eustace being a dragon. He pulls the entire ship into the island when the wind dies. He flies away to Aslan when he's been stabbed by the sword. Gets healed and undragonned by Aslan and then makes it to the table where he is then adds the final sword and defeats the mist. Aslan is reduced to more of a side-kick role here. Eustace almost had to become a dragon (give in to greed) in order to defeat the green mist and free the people trapped in Dark Island.

So in that case was it a good thing for Eustace to be enchanted? These changes are either humanistic or perhaps even gnostic.


I quite fail to see how towing the ship, instead of finding a mast for the ship makes Eustace 'empowered'. Why do you want Eustace to be so useless anyway? It was just as clear as in the book that film Eustace was selfish and useless from day one, when he couldn't keep lookout, when he went to sleep on the job on the Magician's Island, when he thought he could help himself to the ship's rations, and when without any hesitation at all he helped himself to the treasure.

Eustace starts with a 'humanistic' outlook on life, in both book and film, I'd agree. He believes in gratifying himself above everyone else, and he rejects both religion and the supernatural. As C.S.Lewis pointed out, he was only interested in facts etc. He did not read the right sort of books. Although he had a legalistic mind, he would not have known about the consequences of helping himself to enchanted treasure. And Eustace did demonstrate the basic selfishness, self-interest and blindness to right and wrong that can go with humanism.

All this was clearly demonstrated in the film, especially when Eustace objects to the more Narnian members of the crew and makes fun of the Dawn Treader's mission to return the seven 'steak knives to Aslan's dinner table', makes fun of Coriakin and nicks off when there is work for everyone to do. In short, Eustace was dragonned in the first place because of the humanistic outlook C.S.Lewis portrays.

I don't agree that Eustace in the film was a more 'empowered' dragon than dragon Eustace in the book. Remember, the film Eustace also had an undissolvable arm ring whilst he did all his good deeds. Apart from towing the ship, which was handy, I'll admit, film Dragon Eustace never replaced the damaged Dawn Treader mast, in fact once or twice, he nearly damaged it instead. He only gave Edmund the one sightseeing tour, and not any of the others, and he failed to provide the travellers with any tucker as far as I can see. Reepicheep as 'dragon rider' was part of his mentoring this unfortunate being.

All that 'empowered' stuff you say upset you, both in the book and in the film was to show that Eustace had repented of his uselessness, and his humanism, no more and no less. Book Eustace told Edmund that it wasn't until his lowest ebb that Aslan undragonned him, and yes, when film Eustace was stabbed with Rhoop's sword, and was lying on the beach, Eustace must really have felt at his lowest ebb. The first thing that undragonned film Eustace does is to put Rhoop's sword where it belongs on the table, just as the first thing undragonned book Eustace does is to rid himself of Octesian's arm ring.

Far from the script of VDT the film being too simplified, I think it must have been not simplified enough when people can't have worked all this for themselves from reading the book carefully and from watching the movie just as attentively for themselves.
User avatar
waggawerewolf27
NarniaWeb Zealot
 
Posts: 8123
Joined: Sep 25, 2009
Location: Oz
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby Conina » Feb 07, 2011 4:56 pm

waggawerewolf27, I'm at a loss for if you are truly misunderstanding me or purposely twisting my words into something I didn't mean in order to create an argument.
"Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning." -C.S. Lewis
User avatar
Conina
NarniaWeb Junkie
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Aug 15, 2009
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 07, 2011 5:41 pm

Conina wrote:waggawerewolf27, I'm at a loss for if you are truly misunderstanding me or purposely twisting my words into something I didn't mean in order to create an argument.


No I'm not doing either. You have been saying that the religious messages in VDT have been watered down to what you understand as humanism. I defined humanism as the self-realisation you complain of which rejects religion and the supernatural, and on the way realised that it was Eustace before his dragoning who most epitomised humanism according to that definition.

I am not twisting anyone's words to point this out. Try reading p.80 of VDT which states 'It was clear to everyone that Eustace's character had been improved by becoming a dragon.' In fact it would be a good idea to re-read the book from p.78 to page 84 inclusive to find out just how Eustace's character did improve.
User avatar
waggawerewolf27
NarniaWeb Zealot
 
Posts: 8123
Joined: Sep 25, 2009
Location: Oz
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby Conina » Feb 07, 2011 6:34 pm

I always think its a good idea for anybody to read any portion of the Lewis books :p I'm not trying to insult you by any of the things I have said or will say. I do believe in pointing things out as they are. One of the things that you said that hurt my feelings was this bit:
waggawerewolf27 wrote: Far from the script of VDT the film being too simplified, I think it must have been not simplified enough when people can't have worked all this for themselves from reading the book carefully and from watching the movie just as attentively for themselves.


I started this thread not to be about who understands the movie or humanism (As I understand it its a complex social movement spanning from the renaissance until now and meaning different things at different times. And (to my surprise) different things to every poster on this thread so far!)). Your knowledge, research, understanding and opinions about humanism are welcome here, but so are everyone else's. I feel that telling people that they "don't understand humanism" is not helpful to furthering the discussion.

I'm not "upset" by humanism in VDT. I noticed it and felt like putting my observations out there for others to agree or disagree with. You have disagreed with myself and Ithilwen. But you have done so in a manner that was insulting and at times not true to the content of what I myself or what Ithilwen was saying. This is not fighting fairly. I want to in the most respectful way possible ask that on this thread you not read so much into anyone's statements. Asking for clarification on a point you don't understand is okay. But implying things were said that weren't said is offensive and leads the person to respond more harshly than otherwise. For example, implying that what I said about Eustace not having issues with food in the film to mean that I wanted to watch dragons eating dead dragons was offensive and not true to the context of what I was saying.

Some of the things about my post I'm going to try to clarify a little.

In the book Eustace's greed leading to his dragonning = a bad thing for himself and for the crew.

In the film Eustace's greed leading to his dragonning= while on the surface of the film appears to be a bad thing, this was not as emphasized and one could even look at his dragonned state as a good thing in terms of getting into and defeating Dark Island.

His character improving in the books, I always saw it more as a result of how kind the crew were to him upon his unfortunate dragonning and also implicitly Aslan working on his heart, not as a direct result of the dragonning.

A few other things:

Yes, in the book Eustace gives people rides for fun and (helps) repair the mast. He can not do it all himself, I believe he carries the logs and the crew repair it. Coriakin also repairs a mast at a different point in the book. These acts in the book show a change in Eustace's character but are either side issues or ship maintenance issues. It is not the climax of the story.

-No my comparison of their diet does not mean that I am disappointed at not watching a dragon eat another dragon. I was simply showing how much less of a bother it is to Eustace to be dragon in the movie as compared to the book.

-I would disagree about the armband's significance. It was relegated to not mean much in the movie, but its very meaningful. Maybe wire cutters "should" have been able to remove it or the heat of his body (?), but in the book those things don't. My whole point was that the armband encumbered him. It was showing how his greed had gotten out of his own control and was making it hard for him to do other things he wanted to do. Its a symbolic object. the fact that it didn't retain its properties of staying fast to his arm from book to movie is something worth looking at imo, that's why I mentioned it, thank you.

-In literature, who names who is important as it shows who is in power. In the book Eustace the dragon is named as Eustace by the others. It shows how he has disenfranchised himself through his behavior. In the film, being able to name himself in burning letters to whomever he chooses to grab, shows that he is in power. I can't think of a more powerful way to declare yourself than in burning flames to your terrified cousin held in your grasp high in the air.

In the book Lewis shows over and over again how sin hurts the sinner and others around him and how acts of love benefit everyone. Example, Reepicheep getting to fullfill his heart's desire and go to Aslan's country also breaks the curse for the remaining lords.
"Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning." -C.S. Lewis
User avatar
Conina
NarniaWeb Junkie
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Aug 15, 2009
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 08, 2011 4:52 am

Conina wrote:I'm not "upset" by humanism in VDT. I noticed it and felt like putting my observations out there for others to agree or disagree with. You have disagreed with myself and Ithilwen. But you have done so in a manner that was insulting and at times not true to the content of what I myself or what Ithilwen was saying.


Do you know, in all honesty I can't believe I missed that Eustace came from a family of humanists, and that is why C.S.Lewis portrayed him as the sort of person he was at the beginning of the book. At least I, myself, should be old enough to know better. The Buddhist reference you make in your first post also underlines where Eustace might be coming from, when his family are described as vegetarians, among other things. And yes, like yourself, I do tend to state things as I see they are.

Conina wrote:Neo-humanism can be described as Budhism lite. It is about universal love with an emphasis on loving self and empowerment of self and sort of abstractly loving all living things above your own family or religion.


Actually, on the surface, this definition is not all that different from the one I made a post or two previously, when you say that humanism is 'loving self and empowerment of self and sort of abstracting loving all living things above your own family or religion'. But I strongly doubt that Humanists 'love all living things above their own families'. Eustace's parents, whatever their religious, or, more likely, anti religious beliefs, did take in Lucy and Edmund whilst the rest of the Pevensie family was elsewhere. Some people might think of the Scrubbs as being uncommonly charitable to do so, especially if they had no regard for family members, and thought that everything else was more important than looking after nieces and nephews. Why not just shove Lucy and Edmund into an orphanage? After all, I was.

However, the real problem with your definition of Humanism is twofold. First of all, I have every reason to know that Buddhists are relatively inoffensive, studious types who believe in Nirvana, the Buddhist heaven, and tend to be good neighbours. Buddhists don't believe in cruelty to animals, including eating meat, because they think that animals are humans in another incarnation. Not unlike dragonned Eustace, in a way. In sharp contrast to humanists, who by and large, don't believe in any sort of heaven, even if they are vegetarians, and therefore do not believe in reincarnation, either.

After all, Humanists reject religion and the supernatural. Not merely Christianity, either. They equally reject other faiths as well. And Buddhists are scarcely the only ones to have embraced vegetarianism. Even Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the Judean captives in the Old Testament Babylon knew vegetarianism was cool,and probably much healthier for them than partaking of whatever Babylonian diets were served up to them.

Conina wrote:In the film Eustace's greed leading to his dragonning= while on the surface of the film appears to be a bad thing, this was not as emphasized and one could even look at his dragonned state as a good thing in terms of getting into and defeating Dark Island.


Sorry, no. Eustace becoming a dragon was an unmitigated nuisance in both book and film, especially the latter, when they had that debate so insensitively in front of him about his dragonish predicament. In the book the debate was conducted a little more tactfully, despite Eustace's big ears. Quite frankly Eustace was a useless nuisance from day one. He wasn't up to the job even of lookout, and even the crew were aware of this.

Rhince remarked in the book that Eustace would have poisoned anyone, and I am awfully sorry this rude remark did not make it into the film, as it would have explained much. Reepicheep chastised Eustace in the film for telling lies and stealing, both far more grievous faults in society's view even than the book Eustace's disgusting and definitely un-Buddhist cruelty. And when Reepicheep mentioned in the film that people have died for less than stealing oranges, he wasn't joking. This was a definite Australian reference.

At the point of his dragonning, though, and for the rest of the film - and book - Eustace had to show that he was able to contribute something to the voyage. As do we all in Society, regardless of religious beliefs. I can't understand why there seems to be a religious problem with this notion. It seems that Eustace trying to be useful for a change makes him unBiblical or something, which annoys me, considerably. We all have a duty to contribute to our upkeep regardless of religious or anti religious beliefs, as far as I am concerned. Including even sinful Eustace. He didn't earn his salvation at all. He just rightly and properly learned the hard way that even the spoiled host of 'orphan' cousins has to earn his keep. And that transgressions of any sort have consequences that impact on everyone else in the vicinity, not just his own inconvenience at being made a dragon.

Conina wrote:His character improving in the books, I always saw it more as a result of how kind the crew were to him upon his unfortunate dragonning and also implicitly Aslan working on his heart, not as a direct result of the dragonning.


Yes despite rudely saying that Eustace would poison anything, the crew were kind to Eustace. They saw him as a comrade and would never have abandoned him, regardless of what Eustace thought or believed. This was the case even in the film. One of the bits I liked was the way Edmund was so remorseful over the way he had treated Eustace. And yes, Aslan would have approved of Eustace being treated well.

Conina wrote:-I would disagree about the armband's significance. It was relegated to not mean much in the movie, but its very meaningful. Maybe wire cutters "should" have been able to remove it or the heat of his body (?), but in the book those things don't. My whole point was that the armband encumbered him. It was showing how his greed had gotten out of his own control and was making it hard for him to do other things he wanted to do. Its a symbolic object. the fact that it didn't retain its properties of staying fast to his arm from book to movie is something worth looking at imo, that's why I mentioned it, thank you.


I'm afraid you and I will have to agree to disagree. Yes the armband was important, as it helped identify the missing Lord Octesian. And yes, once Eustace was undragonned, he surrendered this relic of Lord Octesian just as he surrendered the sword of Lord Rhoop which had injured him. But apart from identifying Lord Octesian, how was the armband more important than all that money Eustace crammed into his pockets in both book and film? What happened to that money? Did it melt? Or was it burned away like Eustace's clothes?

There is religious significance in Eustace's old clothes being burned away, and his getting new clothes. Check out Colossians 3, verses 9 and 10. Eustace when he got new clothes, after his undragonning, became a 'new man', and properly so. But why when Eustace gets dragonned, does the money vanish so easily and not the arm-band? Both were gold, I take it. And gold tends to melt in heat.

I had no problems with Eustace not having the armband any longer than was strictly necessary.
User avatar
waggawerewolf27
NarniaWeb Zealot
 
Posts: 8123
Joined: Sep 25, 2009
Location: Oz
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby stateofgreen » Feb 08, 2011 12:53 pm

Conina wrote:......His character improving in the books, I always saw it more as a result of how kind the crew were to him upon his unfortunate dragonning and also implicitly Aslan working on his heart, not as a direct result of the dragonning.

A few other things:

Yes, in the book Eustace gives people rides for fun and (helps) repair the mast. He can not do it all himself, I believe he carries the logs and the crew repair it. Coriakin also repairs a mast at a different point in the book. These acts in the book show a change in Eustace's character but are either side issues or ship maintenance issues. It is not the climax of the story......

-I would disagree about the armband's significance. It was relegated to not mean much in the movie, but its very meaningful. Maybe wire cutters "should" have been able to remove it or the heat of his body (?), but in the book those things don't. My whole point was that the armband encumbered him. It was showing how his greed had gotten out of his own control and was making it hard for him to do other things he wanted to do. Its a symbolic object. the fact that it didn't retain its properties of staying fast to his arm from book to movie is something worth looking at imo, that's why I mentioned it, thank you.

I'm not interested in debating the humanism any further myself, but I think the book basically had a much sweeter subtlety (in addition to being humorous) in depicting Eustace's character change than the film with the blunt fiery "I AM EUSTACE" declaration and immediate popping off of the armband.

I saw the armband as symbolic of Eustace's spiritual bondage because of his selfishness and greed. Because Lewis made it so hard for Eustace to free himself of the armband he had to be meaning to convey the enslavement of the sin nature on a person. Layers and layers of sin nature and bad behavior that Eustace could not free himself of until Aslan came and freed him. The depiction of Eustace in the book was showing him (as I previously mentioned and posted about before) more weak and unable to get out of the bondage of sin all by himself.
Image

Signature by Ithilwen/Avatar by Djaq

Member of the Will Poulter is Eustace club

User avatar
stateofgreen
NarniaWeb Guru
 
Posts: 1023
Joined: Nov 24, 2010
Location: California
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby Conina » Feb 08, 2011 3:01 pm

stateofgreen, sorry I got side-tracked and didn't respond to you sooner. I've read back over everything you had to say and liked it all. I liked your definition of humanism. Its been my favorite. It makes sense. I'm also glad that you got something more from the film about Aslan placing Eustace in the right place at the right time to get the final sword on the table. It helps me like that scene a little better.

Yes, I think you and I discussed the armband in another thread somewhere else. I always enjoy reading your posts. I especially liked this bit.
stateofgreen wrote:I saw the armband as symbolic of Eustace's spiritual bondage because of his selfishness and greed. Because Lewis made it so hard for Eustace to free himself of the armband he had to be meaning to convey the enslavement of the sin nature on a person. Layers and layers of sin nature and bad behavior that Eustace could not free himself of until Aslan came and freed him.

Good way of putting it.
"Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning." -C.S. Lewis
User avatar
Conina
NarniaWeb Junkie
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Aug 15, 2009
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby Conina » Feb 08, 2011 4:20 pm

I found a better explanation of neo-humanism than what I posted at the beginning:
Basically, Neo-humanism is potent because it throws full responsibility for change onto us. Put simply, we have to change in order to promote change. As human beings we are bound to explore our own potentiality, to expand our understanding of who and why we are. This is the primary drive - it might be called the 'prime directive' - for us all as we chart our way through life. At the moment this prime directive is distorted as we are taught to compete with others for limited resources.... From this perspective our relationships include both animate and inanimate existence and we are never alone, wedded as we are to all things.

http://nhe.gurukul.edu/openresources/neohuman.htm

This philosophy is in many children's movies today and in children's education. I actually found this definition on a school website. I saw it in the Lucy spell arch and also in the Eustace dragon arch in the film. I know not everyone did and I respect that. But I still think its worth paying attention to at any rate since it is so common and may be a theme in future Narnia movies. It may be especially interesting to watch for in SC as I have been convinced by Clive Staples Sibelius that LotGK is a humanist of sorts. A humanist carried out to certain extremes. Just think about the definition above and the Green Lady.

Also WaggaWaggaWerewolf, there could be something to Eustace being a secular humanist before his reformation. That's an interesting concept. Don't feel bad about not seeing it before. I always get something new everytime I read one of Lewis's books. I hadn't noticed it either.
"Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning." -C.S. Lewis
User avatar
Conina
NarniaWeb Junkie
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Aug 15, 2009
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 09, 2011 4:10 am

Thanks for the kind words. But I really had to see the movie and then find a good definition of humanism before I really noticed Eustace's initial humanism, myself. As a child I merely thought of Alberta and Harold as odd-balls, then later on as avante-garde, then maybe premature hippies. Eustace, who in the film, had his insect collection on the wall, along with his personal hygiene award, I merely saw as obnoxious, in an almost similar way to Uncle Andrew. There is one line film Eustace makes about the legalities of impaling relatives which certainly was relevant to both the book, the film and to our arguments here.

The Neo-Humanism definition you linked to seems to be from an educational kit, according to the author, Marcus Bussey. It doesn't straight out deny religion, so long as it is only a few practices associated with Eastern religion such as Yoga. That would never do if he is luring people to agree with him. But look what it says about anything Western. :-s It doesn't mention Christianity directly, of course, which would have been a big giveaway as to its anti western religious intentions. It merely attacks anything else which is perceived as Western. And yes, it puts a lot of emphasis on people changing themselves without any divine help.

As an ethical approach to life it has as it leading exponent the Indian philosopher, political activist and mystic, Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar. As such it is philosophical in form, revolutionary in spirit and spiritual in orientation. I would venture to say that such a brew could not have come from the west where the philosophical, the revolutionary and the spiritual operate or function, more or less, as discrete activities.

Neo-Humanism offers a strong critique of nationalism, sexism, specism, capitalism and racism. As an ethical system its emphasis is on an integrated world view that urges us to embrace all experience of the phenomenal world reverentially. As a way of knowing it breaks the bounds of humanism, to include the rights and liberties of the entire phenomenal world. As such it is part of the current reaction to the divisive and alienating effects of western rationalism.


I quoted the second paragraph because I see it as a lot of mumbo-jumbo to be honest. What is this bloke actually trying to say about humanism or society? He seems to be promoting a bigger, better, all-inclusive humanism that is almost like a religion in itself. And for the life of me, and as much as I agree with your concerns about this particular new age 'philosophy', I still cannot link this concept of Neo-Humanism with the film VDT.

I agree that Lucy's beauty spell episode did have an eerie resemblance to the latest Shrek movie, when she seemed to be denying her own existence. But there are significant differences. Shrek isn't beautiful.

Furthermore, there is a lot of resonance in this section of the movie with the original book, and with the WW2 mentality of many teenaged girls, my own mother included. And no, Lucy's WW2 generation were not immune to teenage angst. In fact, believe me, however admirably they coped with WW2, the previous generation were no better than us Baby Boomers, who in some cases were so inspired by such WW2 experiences that we rebelled against social pressures to be beautiful enough to attract a suitable husband and live happily ever after. Oddly enough, some of us found suitable husbands anyway.

I see Lucy as a sort of everygirl. She is noticing boys just like Hermione and Ginny did in the Harry Potter series. Lucy wants to be popular and beautiful, like most girls her age. But in doing so she does come up against temptation as well as some age-old Biblical dilemmas about womanhood, beauty, what the world wants of women, and what God wants from women. Which is more important to Lucy? Being Susan's Mini me? Or remaining Lucy of Narnia, whose relationship with Aslan has sustained and defined her so far in the series. Did you know that there was also a Lucy of Narnia, who was a very real historical character?

Apart from the current VDT film, it is interesting that the BBC television VDT and also the BBC radio play chose to stress the beauty episode, at the expense of the eavesdropping spell, which book Lucy was angry enough to try. VDT (film) has an invisible Aslan growling when Lucy is first tempted, which I thought was a brilliant depiction of what actually happened in the book. When Lucy does tear out the spell, it is a tacit recognition that yes, Lucy did try a spell in the book, the eavesdropping spell, because Lucy wondered what her friends thought of her.

Why am I pointing all this out? Because even the 'nightmare' Lucy had of losing her identity was true to the book. She was jealous of Susan, even in the book. It even says at the beginning of VDT(book) that Lucy and Edmund tried not to be jealous when Susan went to America, but found it difficult. The book Eustace as well as the BBC radio play Eustace even comments that Susan was 'the pretty one'. Suggesting that Susan was the only Pevensie worth bothering about since she was the one who got to America. The detailed description of Lucy looking at the spell in the book also says heaps when it shows Susan's reaction at being overshadowed by Lucy's enchanting beauty.

The film VDT which shows Lucy getting a postcard from Susan does a lot to advance reasons why Lucy might reasonably feel the way she obviously did. I thought the spell was cleverly done, to enchant the speaker to resemble someone the reader feels is more beautiful. And when Aslan turns up in time to sort out Lucy's mixed up feelings at finding herself a Susan clone, whose brothers had forgotten Lucy and Narnia, it didn't appear to be 'self-help' to me.

I don't know what other people actually heard when Aslan remonstrates with Lucy in the dream sequence. I heard him say 'You do not value who you are', and then he commented that she was the one who first found Narnia. Without Lucy there would have been no excursions to that country. I was distinctly startled that others who commented about 'just be yourself' seemed to have heard something different to what I heard in my 5 viewings. And no, I wasn't upset about Lucy's later comment to Gael that she would grow up to be...herself. Lucy had by that time fully digested her temptation, and that she was not the sort of admirable role model Gael liked to think she was.

And so, I don't connect Lucy with humanism and self-realisation. There was Aslan for one thing and her role as the first one in Narnia for another. And there was also her obvious contrition. Maybe since participation on this site is one of my few leisure time activities, I don't get as exposed to 'humanism' messages on TV and elsewhere, as much as I should be. /:)

I agree with you, after reading that post, that the other films in the series, should they eventuate, might be a different story. How could SC, MN or HHB be contaminated with humanism, though?
User avatar
waggawerewolf27
NarniaWeb Zealot
 
Posts: 8123
Joined: Sep 25, 2009
Location: Oz
Gender: Female

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby SmileySmackdown » Apr 04, 2011 5:26 pm

I agree with waggawerewolf27. I think Lucy's beauty spell incident was well done and fairly true to the book(aka:non-humanistic). She sins by using the spell(though she had used a different spell in the book, she had similar reasoning:sinful thoughts), Aslan corrects her, and she repents. Also, telling Gael to be herself could just as easily mean to be the person God intended for her to be. When we sin, we go against our own original, sinless nature(pre-fall) and God's original plan for us. To be ourselves in the truest form would therefore mean to turn away from sin and rely on God, as we were created to do.
Image
"When the world around you crumbles, He will be strong."
Georgie Henley+ Long hair= Wonderful! :)
User avatar
SmileySmackdown
NarniaWeb Nut
 
Posts: 135
Joined: Jun 18, 2008
Location: Way up high...

Re: Humanism in VDT

Postby Ithilwen » Apr 04, 2011 7:09 pm

It would have been a very sweet message if it had been made clear that they should be the person Aslan intended them to be. But unfortunately, through most of the story, it came off as more of a message of "Be yourself because YOU are GREAT." Which is fine from a worldly point of view, when it comes to raising self-esteem and all that. But it's untrue from a Christian point of view. The goal of a Christian is not to have "high self-esteem". The goal of Christians is to realize how imperfect they are, that they can do nothing without Christ, and not to try to "be themselves", but to change themselves, coming closer to what God intends them to be.

Unfortunately, the movie seemed more focused on the self-esteem issue, and trying to get the kids to realize that they already ARE GREAT, and that they should realize that. "Extroadinary things happen to extraodinary people"? (Ah, so I guess Christ died for us because we were so extraordinary...) 8-| It even has Reep saying he hopes he can earn the right to go to Aslan's country. And he does! Because that country was made for "noble hearts like his". I can just hear C.S. Lewis turning over in his grave. :(


~Riella =:)
User avatar
Ithilwen
NarniaWeb Zealot
 
Posts: 5885
Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Location: Taking over the world while twirling my evil girlstache.
Gender: Female

Previous

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest