C.S. Lewis' amazing series of novels, The Chronicles of Narnia, have fired up the imaginations of children and adults around the world generation after generation. In 2005, a cinematic Narnia franchise started with the adaptation of the second book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Two sequels followed shortly after in the form of Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
More sequels were expected; unfortunately, they never came to fruition. This, adding to the fact that the quartet of young actors portraying Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy Pevensie had grown up, left the cinematic future of the novels in limbo... until now. Narnia fans, get excited, because The Chronicles of Narnia are going back into theaters.
It had been rumored a few months ago, but now it's official. The Mark Gordon Company, TriStar Company, The C.S. Lewis Company and Entertainment One have officially announced that an adaptation of the fourth book in the series, The Silver Chair, is in the works. With a script by David Magee (The Life of Pi) the movie will be distributed by Sony and eOne and produced by Vincent Sieber, Melvin Adams, Mark Gordon and C.S. Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham.
Of the project, Mark Gordon said this:
“Developing this project with The C.S. Lewis Company has been immensely exciting and a real joy. We are so pleased to team up with our good friends at TriStar and our partners at eOne to introduce this new, magical chapter of the Narnia franchise to fans around the world, both old and new.”
Douglas Gresham added:
“It’s been both fun and exciting to work with Mark Gordon and David Magee to develop the next Narnia movie, and now it’s a thrill to welcome Tristar to our Narnia family. I greatly look forward to plunging again into the joys and challenges of once more bringing Narnia to the screen, this time with the wonderful story of The Silver Chair.”
With seven books in the series, each one taking place in a different time period and three novels already having a movie adaptation, it can be confusing for audiences as to where The Silver Chair takes place or whether or not it will follow the continuity presented in the films. In order to make sense of all of this, we first need to make sense of the books.
The Continuity Of The Books
C.S. Lewis was a very peculiar man when it came to Narnia: The author hadn't planned where the series would go when he wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, therefore he had no idea he was going to write a prequel later on. After his disjointed continuity confused many readers and stirred its fair share of criticism, Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham, quoted a letter his stepfather sent to a fan who was having discussions with his mother regarding the order:
"I think I agree with your order for reading the books more than with your mother's. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn't think there would be any more, and when I had done The Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last, but I found I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them. I’m not even sure that all the others were written in the same order in which they were published."
Despite this quote however, publishing company Harper Collins, after acquiring the rights in 1994, gave an appropriate order in which to read the books. And while many people still argue on the order of The Horse and his Boy and The Magician's Nephew, being a fan myself and having read all seven novels, I agree with the following order:
- 1. The Magician's Nephew
- 2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- 3. The Horse and His Boy
- 4. Prince Caspian
- 5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- 6. The Silver Chair
- 7. The Last Battle
As we can see from the list, the film series skipped the first and third book, adapting only The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, skipping to Prince Caspian and then following the order with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Curiously, this revival of the franchise will begin with The Silver Chair, so is the new film a sequel to the previous films or a complete restart?
Is The Silver Chair A Reboot Or A Continuation?
The events of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader occurred decades before The Silver Chair, making the book in question its direct sequel. So, the question is, which route are the filmmakers taking for the story of the film? Will they take into consideration the previous Narnia installments and take advantage of the real-life time gap? Or will they start from scratch and mark this new film as the beginning of a new franchise?
It's no coincidence that the filmmakers are going for The Silver Chair as the restart of the Narnia saga, and there are two main reasons for that: One, it would be the oddest of places to start a franchise from, considering the advanced stages of the world in which its story takes place. Second, as novels, The Silver Chair is a direct sequel to Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
So, is it a reimagining or a continuation? With all the evidence in front of us, paired with the statements from the people in charge of the project, particularly Douglas Gresham's "next Narnia movie" remark, it's clear that this new film will be a continuation of the franchise.
What Are The Benefits Of Going For A Continuation?
As stated above, Silver Chair takes place many years after Dawn Treader. Caspian, protagonist of the last two books, is now an old man whose son is missing. Aslan the Lion sends two children named Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole to find him. Eustace was a character in Prince Caspian as well, when Caspian was a young man.
The drastic age difference exists because one year on Earth equals two decades in Narnia. In The Silver Chair, Eustace Scrubb - portrayed as a rude, ungrateful and untrustworthy individual in the previous book - is shown as having matured to become a charming person and loyal friend.
Having two films that already explored Caspian and Eustace, who are pivotal parts of the storyline, frees The Silver Chair to simply expand the characters and explore different facets of them and not wasting time in reintroducing us to who they are. A big example of that is Eustace's changed state of mind and personality, product of his previous adventures.
This, adding to the fact that the main protagonists are children, gives the studio an opportunity to not start completely from scratch, having already some groundwork built but also give new audiences an easy entrance into the fantastical world of Narnia.
How Can The Silver Chair Be Connected To Previous Films?
Something that can seem challenging for the film to pull off, being a continuation of a film that was released almost ten years ago and didn't make a Harry Potter-sized impact on audiences around the world, is making clear its connection to said films.
Fortunately, this can be easily achieved. One way is to show flashbacks of events from Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader during the film, making audiences aware of the context of what they're watching. But the film shouldn't focus too much on this, and instead, simply give enough hints for viewers to catch up.
Another way is for the studio to take advantage of the marketing aspect by promoting The Silver Chair as being a sequel to those films, making the connection between the movies for audiences from the very beginning. And, if The Silver Chair is successful, it would give itself and the previous entries in the franchise a much-deserved recognition.
Being a fan of the books, I was very disappointed with the Narnia cinematic franchise disappearing. Now, after so many years, we finally know it's continuing and the way they're planning to move forward with it, is one that couldn't make me happier.
I am glad the filmmakers are taking advantage of the previous films instead of simply going the common route and redoing everything we've seen before. We don't need to have a story that's already been told to us, told again. Narnia has an incredibly vast and rich world that, if explored correctly, could open the doors to the next mega-hit-franchise that remains in our hearts for years.
Are you excited for The Silver Chair?