August 04, 2015
The recent films based on C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books left many fans, including myself, less than pleased, with pointless added subplots and with the central allegory muddled or ignored, among other problems. Fans generally liked the first one but had bigger problems with the next two. Thankfully, SoboFilms is here to try to set things straight.
Sobo has cut out about a half hour from the film, but the cuts are so seamless that I had trouble recalling where the cuts were even made. There are no jarring transitions in terms of sound or video. There is one deleted scene that’s a bit startling to watch, as it has unfinished CGI of Reepicheep and some other characters. But Sobo warns us with a disclaimer at the beginning of the edit that this unfinished scene will be there, so I didn’t have a problem with it. And I can see why he wanted to include it: The scene is one of the few taken from the book with virtually no changes. I note with some frustration that naturally such a scene would be one of the first to hit the cutting room floor for the original filmmakers.
To some degree, Sobo can’t make the film exactly like the book (such as starting with the Pevensie kids rather than in Narnia with Caspian) because the film itself is so heavily structured to work a certain way. (In fairness to the filmmakers, the book was a difficult adaptation anyway. If the movie were exactly like the book, about half of it would involve the Pevensies listening to a flashback from Trumpkin the dwarf while sitting on a beach.) Sobo does the best he can with what he has.
There’s an early scene in the movie where a nerdy kid attempts to flirt with Susan, much to her dismay. The scene comes off as very mean-spirited humor, and it’s nowhere in the original book. The author C.S. Lewis was a nerd himself who had a difficult time with women; he would never have written a scene like that. I was hoping that this scene would be missing from this edit, but it’s still here. Nonetheless, I can see Sobo’s reasoning. The nerdy kid appears again in the very end scene, and there’s no editing around him, so Sobo likely kept him for visual continuity.
(Major spoilers ahead in the next paragraph!)
As with the other reviewers, I do have to say that I kind of wish that Sobo had kept the scene where Trumpkin tries to resurrect the White Witch, but simply cut it shorter. Certainly, the scene in the movie is a disaster. Caspian shouldn’t be so easily tempted, and the White Witch gets way too close to actually coming back to life. However, with this scene missing, Trumpkin disappears inexplicably from the rest of the edit. Plus, Edmund shattering the image of the Witch is one of the few things added for the movie that I actually like. It shows how much he’s really changed. Having said all that, I haven’t tried editing this scene myself, and it may be that with all the other material cut, the scene simply didn’t flow or work anymore.
(End of major spoilers.)
I think that few people watching this edit realize how much work went into the last scene. Sobo opted for a silent, heartwarming return to Earth with just the music (“The Call” by Regina Spektor) and the actors’ expressions carrying the scene. But the scene originally had dialogue along with the Spektor song. So he removed the dialogue, added back in the music, and then painstakingly assembled sound effects for a train station from scratch! The effect is so seamless that you may not even notice it, but it’s extremely well done.
Bravo to SoboFilms for a terrific edit! I can’t wait to see his completed take on the next film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.