Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

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Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby fantasia » Dec 19, 2018 3:07 pm

I'm hijacking the podcast's latest discussion for the forum because eventually the news post will be off the front page and nobody will want to discuss it anymore... but I think it's an exceptional topic, so I have stolen it for the forum. Bwahahaha!
If you haven't listened yet, click below and do so. ;)

https://www.narniaweb.com/2018/12/why-a ... ng-beasts/

Right, so I'm basically going to start with my own thoughts on the discussion.(Also should note I'm not familiar with David Suchet, and I don't remember Stephen Thorne from the animated version very well at all.)
When it come to technical, nothing comes even close to the animation of Aslan in Walden LWW (I feel it degrades a bit with each movie, but even so, it's far and away better than the others). In fact, I have such high praise for Walden Aslan that I recently watched the movie trailer again, and I feel that current CGI has gone backwards from the days of Andrew Adamson and all the amazing computer animators who worked on that film. (Side note: As of right now, that's my biggest concern with the Netflix adaptation. The new trailer for Watership Down was like... :-o x_x and the trailer for Mowgli, while a lot better, still wasn't great. Gp touched on this in the podcast, more on that later.) In this day and age, appearance, while not everything, is very important because bad CGI jars you out of the moment.
When it comes to adaptation, BBC, hands down. I'm sorry! I'm not a story purist, but I am a character purist, and I HATE when lines are changed, especially favorite lines.
And lastly, when it comes to acting, I don't have one person that I can get fully behind. Different actors nailed different lines, so I mix and match.
My favorite Aslan probably has to go to BBC, solely based on adaptation, and honestly, there's probably an element there that he was the first Aslan I saw on screen, and I do think that makes a difference.

Part two of the discussion, what about Netflix? I appreciated Gp's point about the fact the budget probably won't be as high and the animation likely won't be as good, but that's going to force them to focus on the character instead. (Or ignore it... don't say that Rilian!)
One thing I think they could really focus on is the "not safe but good" bit. In the book the kids AND BEAVERS are really quite scared to approach Aslan and stand there arguing about it for a while.
People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan's face, they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn't look at him and went all trembly.

The Lion shook his mane and clapped his paws together ("Terrible paws," thought Lucy, "if he didn't know how to velvet them!")

Could you imagine walking up to a lion just sitting there in a zoo, not in a cage? There's no way I would. But I think that's how it needs to be presented in the movie. And that's just LWW... think of HHB with the lion chases.
And of course his goodness needs to be shown too. Obviously there's the stone table scene, but nobody has done any of the shots of Aslan playing with other characters, and many of the scenes of Aslan rescuing Narnians are cut short.
I think that's why the BBC and Walden Aslans felt... boring? Get those juxtapositions going with the character and I think he'll be really solid! :)
As far as voice, that should be mostly discussed in the casting thread for Aslan, but I can't get Gp's idea out of my head of having a younger sounding voice. I really like that idea as Aslan is ageless. So nobody "old" sounding. And I like a deep rumbling voice. I actually like the way they did it in BBC where they had those lion rumbles mixed in with the speaking.

So, long post, sorry ;)) but lets get on with the discussion.
Who is your favorite Aslan so far and why?
And what should Netflix do with Aslan? (Besides make him awesome!)
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby hiraeth » Dec 19, 2018 7:52 pm

I have to admit I haven’t watched or heard any other iterations of Aslan besides Liam Neeson’s portrayal, which I loved as a kid. I think I hear his voice when I read the books, but I can’t be entirely sure.

I absolutely agree with the ‘good not safe’ aspect. It’s one of the most unique qualities of Aslan, and if Netflix gets that right... :)

What do people think about a motion capture Aslan? My personal opinion is that this is a better route to take than a CG lion-the Walden animation was fantastic, but a motion capture performance could allow a more personal performance, and could better portray that good but not safe characteristic. Just check out Christian Bale as Bagheera in Mowgli-it’s actually Christian Bale’s face, emoting, not just his voice. It may not look as realistic as a CG lion could be, perhaps, but that’s something I wouldn’t mind if the motion capture allowed a great performance.

Side note:Netflix didn’t actually make Mowgli, they ended up distributing it after Warner Bros sold it to them, I think.
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby Cleander » Dec 19, 2018 9:21 pm

I just want to take a minute to compare the roars of each Aslan that I've heard.
BBC- Pathetic. It sounds like he's violently burping.
Walden- Like Glumpuddle said on the podcast, not impressive.
It just wasn't very loud at all.
FOTF (David Suchet) THE BEST ROAR EVER. It has an earth shaking quality to it that I find totally awesome. It has the power of an artillery volley. Suchet may not have always known how to act as Aslan, but he sure knew how to roar! =))
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby Col Klink » Jan 24, 2019 10:36 am

You know it's a shame this topic doesn't have more posts when it's so important. Unfortunately, I don't have much to say that other people haven't already said. ;))

But the question of how to do Aslan with a limited budget has got me thinking and I have an idea....but it's a bad one. :)) But I'll share it to get this topic back in the spotlight for a few minutes. They could avoid depicting Aslan's entire body. Instead the camera would focus on the characters and their reactions to him during the Aslan scenes. When they did show Aslan, we would only see small parts of body like his mouth, his eyes or his paws. Practically speaking, that would get annoying fast but I can't think of another way how they could turn a lower budget into a way to make the character more interesting.


P.S.
If having the script close to the book is the most important part of character adaptation, FantasiaKitty, have you heard the Radio Theater dramatizations of the Narnia books? They're probably just as close to the books as the BBC versions and IMO they have better writing, better casting, better music, etc. I realize those things can be relative though.
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby Cleander » Jan 24, 2019 1:18 pm

Actually, Col Klink, your idea of limiting footage of Aslan's body might really help making him mysterious and awe inspiring. Obviously you couldn't do this all the time, but I think the idea of keeping Aslan somewhat veiled visually might make his character louder and more significant.
Great thought! Send that one to Netflix! ;)
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby puddleglum32 » Jan 29, 2019 10:13 pm

Personally I hope that Netflix has a big enough budget so that they are able to CGI Aslan just like the film series did as those were my favorite physical depictions. Motion capture like hiraeth talked about would be very cool as it works well with video games. I think The first "voice" of Aslan that I heard was David Suchet in the BBC radio theater drama. Once I actually read the books, I would read it in the actors voices. While David Suchet was very good, no one can top Liam Neeson for me, his voice just holds power and yet a gentleness.
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby Monty Jose » Feb 28, 2019 12:38 pm

The more I see from Netflix in the CGI department, the less I am concerned. Netflix has undertaken some rather big challenges.

If anything, I would emphasize the need to adapt his character properly. I usually have no problem modifying lines to suit film, BUT Aslan’s scenes are so integral I think altering his lines should be done minimally. And when I say minimally, I mean if you need to add a couple for practical reasons, ok go ahead. But don’t alter the wording when pulling directly from the book (every year you grow, so shall I? For real?). Sure, his dialogue sometimes makes you feel a little stupid, because you can’t quite grasp what he is saying... but that’s the point!

So in a nutshell: stay almost-slavishly faithful when it comes to Aslan. The only way to get him right is not to think you know him better than the original author.
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby Ryadian » Mar 06, 2019 4:35 pm

fantasia wrote:Could you imagine walking up to a lion just sitting there in a zoo, not in a cage? There's no way I would. But I think that's how it needs to be presented in the movie. And that's just LWW... think of HHB with the lion chases.


That's a really interesting point, I wonder why that's been so hard to capture? I know that I've gone into basically every visual adaption of Narnia knowing that Aslan is good and won't harm the children, but I suspect even if I did know that, the thought would never cross my mind.

I don't think the solution to this is simply to make Aslan bigger - I think even if he were a dragon or a giant, that in and of itself wouldn't solve the problem. Frankly, I think audiences by now know that size =/= dangerous or even intimidating (not to us with the fourth wall to protect us). I think they'll have to figure out a way to visualize "wildness" on our first impression. I feel like Aslan's first appearance is treated very somberly, which isn't necessarily wrong, but it almost neglects the fact that he is a lion. As impressive as the CGI was in his first appearance in the Walden movie, perhaps his walk was, dare I say it, too regal and too controlled - perhaps he should have stalked out more like a great cat. Perhaps we should see more of his teeth and claws.

I'm not really sure about any of this, to be honest, I was just reading through fantasia's first post and now these ideas won't leave my mind. ;)) I'm trying to think back to how Toothless was portrayed in the first How To Train Your Dragon - obviously that's not an exact example to follow for Aslan, but it is, I think a good example of an ultimately good character who was nonetheless frightening for both the character and the audience at first.
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby Monty Jose » Mar 18, 2019 8:57 am

Ryadian wrote:That's a really interesting point, I wonder why that's been so hard to capture? I know that I've gone into basically every visual adaption of Narnia knowing that Aslan is good and won't harm the children, but I suspect even if I did know that, the thought would never cross my mind.
...I feel like Aslan's first appearance is treated very somberly, which isn't necessarily wrong, but it almost neglects the fact that he is a lion. As impressive as the CGI was in his first appearance in the Walden movie, perhaps his walk was, dare I say it, too regal and too controlled - perhaps he should have stalked out more like a great cat. Perhaps we should see more of his teeth and claws.


Good thoughts; his body language needs to be re-examined.

I also think part of the problem is also how characters respond to Aslan. There was no sense of fright in the children when they first saw him in the movies. Sure, they were clearly in awe, but there wasn’t sense of nervousness or fear. That also goes for the villains. The White Witch can’t be as bold as portrayed by Walden, either. How can we be convinced that this lion is intimidating if nobody around him is intimidated?
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Re: Why Aslan is Hard to Get Right - Talking Beasts Podcast

Postby Cleander » Mar 19, 2019 1:53 pm

Monty Jose wrote:I also think part of the problem is also how characters respond to Aslan. There was no sense of fright in the children when they first saw him in the movies. Sure, they were clearly in awe, but there wasn’t sense of nervousness or fear. That also goes for the villains. The White Witch can’t be as bold as portrayed by Walden, either. How can we be convinced that this lion is intimidating if nobody around him is intimidated?


Agreed! This ties right in with my earlier suggestion (I didn't check to see if I wrote it on this thread or not) that they use a REAL LION and just animate his mouth! Can you imagine the reaction that even an -*ahem*- "tame" lion might get from the human actors?
More real stuff in general could really help make Narnia believable, so why not make the central figure real?
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