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Environmentalism in PC Movie

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Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Zattara08 » 04 Jan 2009, 21:20

I do not know if any of you have had the chance to watch the Prince Caspian commentary but Andrew had an interesting take on the scene where the trees attack the Telmarines. He stated how Lewis, like Tolkien, believed in protecting nature and in the books a respect for that is seen throughout. He looked at the Telmarines as destroyers of earth and by giving the land back to the Narnians, there would be a return to a type of earthy existence.

I was wondering if anyone could find somewhere where Lewis had talked about this? I am not so much interested in the modern "global warming discussion" but more of what Lewis' views were on man's interaction with nature as a whole. I cannot recall him being a avid environmentalist (perhaps like Tolkien is sometimes labeled) but I also know he wasn't a "it's going to burn anyway" type of guy. Was this a modern insertion or would anyone be able to point to a specific place where Andrew could have been talking about!
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Sven » 04 Jan 2009, 22:32

I think Adamson was reading what he wanted to read there. Lewis did love nature, and discussed it in The Four Loves and Miracles. He saw the beauty of nature as one of the things that points towards God. However, he also stressed that nature was, like us, a part of creation, not a part of God. He discouraged anyone from looking just at nature and not beyond nature.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Solomons Song » 04 Jan 2009, 23:03

It is probably no accident that there were synergistic bonds between their stories' heroes and the natural landscape. I believe that between the two of them, Tolkien was much more the environmentalist. They both detested the fact that industry displaced nature, but Tolkien was more up front about in his writings. They both loved nature, as Sven already stated, and incorporated nature into their stories as well.
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Coyote Goodfellow » 05 Jan 2009, 16:35

The other thing to remember is that the presence of both dryads and River gods makes the moral issues in the Narnian world different. Early in TLB Tirian is confronted by a Dryad who tells him of the forests being felled by the Carlomenes. In the Narnian world these are fellow creatures with sentience and language.

In the Silver Chair with the giants of Harfang, Puddleglum and the children are confronted with the knowledge that the stag they have just eaten was a talking beast. This presents them with a moral dilemna which could not exist in our world, because stags are not part of the same moral dialog as human beings. We know from the end of LWW that Lewis didn't view hunting dumb stags the same way as hunting talking stags. And it seems that you might treat trees and rivers differently in our world than in a world where they could talk to you and say "loose my chains." But while I don't think Narnia is intended to tell people they should oppose all bridges and dams, it does encourage you to look at things slightly more carefully. I think the modern view tends to view Nature either as something to be protected, so hikers can enjoy its pristine beauty, or something to be ruthlessly exploited. But the image of a stag hunt, or dancing with the trees is something different, something which doesn't fit into either half of the modern oppositional view. I haven't heard the commentary, but I can't imagine Lewis talking about "Protecting" Nature, any more than keeping the Pevensies "Safe." But I can imagine him talking about fighting alongside both of them.

Also remember that the Ape who brings about the End of Narnia in TLB does so in service of a vision which seems strikingly similar to the Industrial Revolution in England "We can make this a country worth living in...with Prisons and Workhouses, oh everything." And in TMN Frank the Cabbie, before looking Aslan in the face and becoming King tells Strawberry "you were a country horse, and I was a country man." I don't think its right to see Lewis as a modern environmentalist, abut I do think there are lots of places where Lewis opposes ruthless exploitation of Nature while celebrating a more pre-Industrial way of interacting Her--the way things might have been if Frank had been a yeoman and Strawberry a field horse who pulled a plough through his fields instead of a carriage over cobblestones. [edited for grammar and clarity]
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Zattara08 » 06 Jan 2009, 01:33

I completely agree with you guys.

Interesting in the PC movie they kept the part where the bear goes after Lucy and there is a taste (no pun intended) of the difference between talking bear/non-talking bear but it is never really developed in the movie like it is throughout the books. I think that is what Lewis would have definitely differentiated.

In some ways it makes you wonder if in our modern context with many Europeans declaring apes as people and so on, wither or not we are losing that distinction today and if Lewis' work will be hijacked to fit that template. I don't think Adamson was doing that but one has to wonder.
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Coyote Goodfellow » 08 Jan 2009, 05:36

Zattara08 wrote
In some ways it makes you wonder if in our modern context with many Europeans declaring apes as people and so on, wither or not we are losing that distinction today and if Lewis' work will be hijacked to fit that template. I don't think Adamson was doing that but one has to wonder.


I don't have the book with me, but I seem to remember Lewis wrote
"You people think I'm an ape, but I'm not, I'm a man," said Shift

I suspect there are very few errors in reasoning which were not already committed many times in the Middle Ages, and that as a Medieval scholar Lewis was probably more familiar with where society goes wrong than people who only study the past 50 years. It's not as if this is the first time in history people have tried overthrowing their Kings. Lewis' ideas in the Narnian books could be hijacked, the way the Ape hijacks the reverence for Aslan, but its nice that thanks to Lewis, we have some preview of where that would end up, and what Jill and Eustace need to do.
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Zattara08 » 08 Jan 2009, 14:43

Great point Coyote,

It also reminded me towards the end of the commentary when Adamson was talking about keeping the mask on the Telmarines so that it did not seem overly violent. He made the point that with digital animals, having them slain in battle was not as traumatic for kids but in PC there were not as many so they had to keep masks to make them seem "otherly" to get a PG rating. Seems inherent within us, even if we don't acknowledge it, that there is a sense of value that triggers an emotional reactions when we see that violated.

Yet, there isn't the natural jump that maybe animals/environment are only valuable because we put value on them. Why do we do that? Because we are given a sense of respect because we did not make it but it was given as a gift to us. Maybe proper environmentalism leads back to biblical humanism? I know that has baggage but it is an interesting idea!
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Coyote Goodfellow » 08 Jan 2009, 17:02

I didn't realize the mask were because of the ratings. I actually liked the effect--that when you are in Battle your enemy becomes a mass, and it is only the battle is over and they stack their weapons that they again become individuals. It was interesting because it made me realize that the dehumanizing nature of war has traditionally been a temporary thing--people put on their masks but then take them off when the war is over. It was an interesting contrast to when the Hollywood Peter starts cursing Caspian for being a Telmarine even when they are supposedly on the same side.

Zattara08
Yet, there isn't the natural jump that maybe animals/environment are only valuable because we put value on them. Why do we do that? Because we are given a sense of respect because we did not make it but it was given as a gift to us. Maybe proper environmentalism leads back to biblical humanism? I know that has baggage but it is an interesting idea!

Well I think one thing Narnia can do is take the mask off the animals--that we can see them as fellow creatures. Not that we never kill them, but that we think more about it. I think understanding the natural world as a Creation and as a gift can lead us in all sorts of directions--Francis of Assisi managed to care deeply about animals without losing any of his beliefs about salvation. Some people have pointed out that our current attitudes toward nature are only possible when it is something neutered, like a pet. In previous times people had respect for Nature because there were all kinds of ways: snowstorms, wolves, plagues in which she could kill them. Someplace I remember Lewis pointing out that contrary to what people say about natural gentleness and balance you have all kinds of things: wasps which parasitize caterpillars, predation, the amount of energy plants spend producing flowers and seeds, in which nature is violent and wasteful in the short term. Nature is big and mysterious, which is why I think it is appropriate that the Lord uses it in His reply to Job about His purposes, or Ecclesiastes as an example of the incomprehensible. And of course Jesus' parables often draw on natural processes: sowing wheat, leavening bread, watching trees. There is certainly a relationship between Biblical views and Awe of Nature which many people in our machine civilization lack. Lewis called 1984 the ultimate humanist book, and I think that bleakness is all you can get if you live in a world made up solely of other humans. Whereas seeing human beings as one aspect of a larger Creation, as often happens in the Bible, seems much more hopeful. I don't know if that's what you mean by Biblical humanism.

There is an argument you occasionally see "Well, Christians believe they are entitled to dominion over the earth because of Genesis, and so Christianity is at the root of environmental problems." Of course if you read Jared Diamond's _Collapse, you see that environmental exploitation, like so many things people blame on Christianity has been a problem in almost all civilizations. If people end up hanging out with the type of environmentalists who are hostile to Christianity it won't lead to Biblical humanism. But the richest environmental visions like Lewis and Tolkien or Francis of Assissi are Christian--and among contemporary authors most of the leading lights in organic farming are also explicitly Christian. It's just that those visions aren't what most people think of when they hear the phrase "Environmentalism."
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Mavramorn » 11 Jan 2009, 14:39

Both Tolkien and Lewis were what I would call 'conservationists', but not 'environmentalists'. Why is it that conservative-minded people, in today's culture, are always thought of as being pro-industry, pro-wrecking nature, and pro-pollution? Whereas if we take the word literally (i.e. 'to conserve'), we find that they should be the most environmentally concerned individuals.
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Zattara08 » 11 Jan 2009, 18:19

Mavramorn wrote:Both Tolkien and Lewis were what I would call 'conservationists', but not 'environmentalists'. Why is it that conservative-minded people, in today's culture, are always thought of as being pro-industry, pro-wrecking nature, and pro-pollution? Whereas if we take the word literally (i.e. 'to conserve'), we find that they should be the most environmentally concerned individuals.


Amen! I think in many ways there are extremes on both sides for sure but it would be rather defeating to be completely anti-environment. I think in many ways this is a fresh battle in peoples minds and for the most past, anyone or anything is potential ammo to lob at the other side. Where there is something to attack, they do it. Great question though!
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby Coyote Goodfellow » 17 Jan 2009, 05:17

Zattara08 wrote
Amen! I think in many ways there are extremes on both sides for sure but it would be rather defeating to be completely anti-environment. I think in many ways this is a fresh battle in peoples minds and for the most past, anyone or anything is potential ammo to lob at the other side. Where there is something to attack, they do it. Great question though!


I read a book about the Old Forests of New England--and how over time Environmentalists and hunters, who started out as enemies--but after a few battles--were able to find common ground. The forest gave them a place to see--that they both cared about ducks and their eggs--to see real people instead of bogeymen menacing something which meant a lot to both of them.

It's interesting too, I was talking to a girl doing environmental education, who talked about working with homeschoolers and learning to be sensitive to how you talk about animal origins because she worked with a lot of Creationists--people she never would have been exposed to otherwise. It was interesting overhearing similar conversations: creationists, hippies, and migrant laborers, when I worked on an organic farm. When people are actually dealing with something concrete--they often find that Christians and conservatives make reliable allies. It stands in contrast to the realm of numbers--people preserving acres of land as much as those trying to sell board-feet of lumber.
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Re: Environmentalism in PC Movie

Postby moordarjeeling » 01 Nov 2009, 20:35

The lines were drawn differently 70 years ago. It was 'Tories', the crusty old County Nobility, who wanted to protect forests and animals and old buildings, etc (yes, partly because they wanted to hunt them, the animals not the buildings). It was the 'Left', villains in THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, who wanted things like NICE, government control to get rid of the messy green vegetation all over the world and make everything a nice sanitary laboratory.

It was Tolkien and Lewis who broke out of those categories, showing preservation of 'nature' as something by and for the humble masses, the Sam Gamgees and Frank.

The WORD 'environmentalist' wasn't known in their time -- but they practically invented the fact as a modern movement.

For a quick answer -- remember it was King Peter in LWW who make "regulations" protecting animals and trees, iirc. ;-)
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