High King Peter the Magnificent: A Character Comparison Between Film and Book

By Always Narnian

“Peter Pevensie, formerly of Finchley. Beaver also mentioned that you planned on turning him into a hat.” These humorous words are spoken by Aslan in the 2005 film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The 1950 book classic of the same name was written by C.S. Lewis and continues to be a masterpiece read by millions of fans around the world. Along with C.S. Lewis’ brilliant and captivating storylines, he incorporates a great cast of memorable characters into the Narnia series. One of these, Peter Pevensie, is a sort of model character and holds a special place in Narnia’s history, as he is always remembered as the High King. This character was portrayed in both the 2005 film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the 2008 film Prince Caspian by William Moseley. Moseley also returned for a brief appearance in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I thought it would be fun to take a quick look at the literary character of Peter versus the cinematic adaptation of Peter.

Peter is the first-born of the Pevensies and is much like a fatherly figure to his three siblings, especially to Lucy, his youngest sister. Peter is very much a humble character, as well as responsible and wise. He is quick to admit he is wrong, as seen by his apology to Lucy when they all enter through the wardrobe into Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the book as well as the movie, Peter realizes some mistakes he has made in regard to his younger brother, Edmund, and is moved to take some blame on behalf of Edmund’s betrayal. “That was partly my fault, Aslan. I was angry with him and I think that helped him to go wrong.” This is said by Peter in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe book; this line is only slightly altered in the movie, “It’s my fault, really. I was too hard on him.” Peter has both a responsible and protective nature regarding his younger siblings. In the film he considers sending them home to England, telling them, “I promised Mum I’d keep you three safe.” Peter’s character in this particular film is mostly consistent with the Peter of the book. Both have prevalent attributes of heroism, honor, and humility.

In the book Prince Caspian, one of the focuses seems to be a testing of the characters’ faith. Peter, though knowing Aslan is very real, has his doubts about whether or not to believe Lucy when she makes the claim that she saw Aslan. His realistic nature wants to choose the direction he thinks reasonable, whereas his belief in Aslan pricks him, knowing that he could be making a mistake: “I know Lucy may be right after all, but I can’t help it. We must do one or the other.” However, Peter’s ability to admit he is capable of making mistakes is shown when they finally meet Aslan face to face, “Oh, Aslan,…I’m so glad. And I’m so sorry. I’ve been leading them wrong ever since we started and especially yesterday morning.” The film shows no conversation between Peter and Aslan of this type – in fact, Peter does not truly see Aslan until near the close of the film. Perhaps the somewhat faithless attitude of Peter was meant to be brought out in the film with the conversation Peter has with Lucy concerning Aslan: “You’re lucky, you know…To have seen him. I wish he’d just given me some sort of proof.” This is not entirely far off from Peter’s confusion in the book when he did not see Aslan and Lucy was insistent that she could see him: “…why should Aslan be invisible to us? He never used to be. It’s not like him.”

In the beginning of Prince Caspian (the film), Peter seems discontent with his life in England and wonders how long Aslan will take in bringing them back to Narnia. Peter, having grown up once in Narnia as the High King, is now frustrated with being young again. He becomes very irritable throughout the movie, even being angry with Caspian, the rightful heir to the Narnian throne. In the novel, Prince Caspian, Peter speaks to Caspian about his right to kingship when they first arrive at Aslan’s How: “I haven’t come to take your place, you know, but to put you into it.” In the movie, Peter thinks of Caspian more as a rival, instead of the petercaspianhow2rightful king of Narnia. “Your first mistake was thinking you could lead these people.” This is said during one of the scenes in the film where Peter and Caspian have a heated argument. Peter also tells Caspian that he has no right to be in Narnia (considering the fact that he is a Telmarine, a people who seized Narnia years prior to the setting of the story).

Peter’s confidence seems to be awry in the film: during a night raid on Caspian’s Uncle’s castle, Peter makes a rash decision to continue with the attack instead of retreating from the castle: “No, I can still do this!” he says to his sister, Susan. His decision results in the deaths of many Narnians. A line in the book reveals that Peter’s confidence lay in the fact that Aslan would ultimately save them – it was not in their own power that they would win, “Aslan and the girls… are somewhere close. We don’t know when he will act. In his time, no doubt, not ours. In the meantime he would like us to do what we can on our own.” Peter’s prevalent attitude of pride is a stark contrast to his humble and honorable one in the book.

I suppose there are many other things I could say about this character, however, after this short analysis, what are your opinions? Do the movies have faithful adaptations of the characters and were you pleased with Peter in both films? Leave your comments below!

(image source: spareoom.net)

10 thoughts on “High King Peter the Magnificent: A Character Comparison Between Film and Book

    1. Tenethia BrandybuckTenethia

      Not really, Ann. I really liked how you pointed out that some of those lines could’ve been abstractly connected to Peter’s character in the book. It makes me think a little less poorly of Peter.

  1. hobbit_of_narnia

    Maybe it’s just me, but Caspian’s sword always looked green to me in that picture because it’s reflecting the grass.

  2. Ariel.of.NarniaAriel.of.Narnia

    Excellently done, always! I feel very strongly about the changes the movie made to Peter (I’m always protective of my favourite characters). I see the pros and cons to the changes, though I’m still not happy with them. My own conflict with the change resulted in my fic “By Grace Restored”, which allowed me to hate on the changes while accepting them at the exact same time. 🙂
    One thing about the change that I can say wholeheartedly that I absolutely love, though, is the moment in which Peter sees the carving of Aslan on the wall beyond the two iced-over pillars. Watching it, especially the first time in the theater, it hit me hard in the chest and got a kind of “O-h-h-h-h-h…, that’s flawless, untainted, and perfect” sort of response. That exact shot is, in my opinion, the greatest shot in movie history, especially considering Jadis’ line of “You know you can’t do this alone.”

  3. always narnianalways narnian Post author

    Tenny told me that I sounded like I was almost a movie fan in this article. I am actually not. I really am disappointed in the changes they made to most of the characters in the film. Feel free to keep ranting 😉

    Thanks for sharing, Ariel!

  4. always narnianalways narnian Post author

    Hahaha, Okay Tenny! 😉 Thanks!

    But you can find some interesting things when comparing the film and book. Some things I never even noticed before!

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