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Peter T Chattaway

Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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I have to say, I've watched this clip a few times now, and I laugh (or chuckle) Every. Single. Time. when the first officer catches the orange. (And I remember laughing at that moment in the theatre, too.) Details like that help to keep things playful.

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Reepicheep and Eustace are both delightful throughout the film. Whatever we end up saying about the rest of the movie come review time, I'll be surprised if anybody ends up disliking Will Poulter.

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I'm watching the American Country Awards on FOX right now, and just saw my first Dawn Treader ad, centered on Carrie Underwood's soundtrack song that plays over the final credits. The ad works like a charm. I went from thinking this film might be a hit, to wondering if it's going to be a huge hit.

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From Mark Moring's interview with Will "Son of Rambow" Poulter, who places Eustace:

Why can't Eustace tear off his own skin? Why does he need Aslan to do that?

I think it's because he can't be the one responsible for redeeming himself. It needs to be done by a superior being. When we look to be redeemed and forgiven for what we've done, we can't do that to ourselves. That's really we do have to look to others, and I think that's what happens with Eustace and Aslan.

Nice to see one of the young actors understanding the story better than the filmmakers.

Edited by Overstreet

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Andrew O'Hehir:

Once upon a time, the Narnia books constituted a beloved children's fantasy with strong spiritual overtones for those who sought them; Lewis insisted he began writing the series with no Christian symbology in mind, and "that element pushed itself in of its own accord." Now, unhappily enough, this half-successful film series -- ditched by Disney, and since picked up by Fox -- has become both a casualty and an instrument in America's culture wars, and Narnia is widely understood as mainly or exclusively a Christian realm (although it remains too heterodox for some believers).

As my friend and colleague Laura Miller (author of the "The Magician's Book," an affectionate, skeptical rereading of Lewis) observes,
the Adamson-Apted Narnia movies have been significantly Christianized
, in the sense that 21st-century American Christianity is a much different animal from the high-Anglican, early-20th-century version Lewis was preaching. This retelling of "Dawn Treader" is relentlessly goal-oriented -- our heroes must collect seven swords, and free a bunch of people imprisoned in mysterious green mist -- in a way Lewis' book simply isn't. It's also prodigiously sentimental about the sanctity of the nuclear family, an article of American faith that would have seemed totally mysterious to Lewis and his age, when middle-class or upper-class English children grew up barely acquainted with their own parents. While appearing to argue the unchanging verities of faith, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" illustrates how much our ideas about God are shaped by culture.

I'm not quite sure what O'Hehir is saying here. Are goal-oriented stories more "Christian" than not-so-goal-oriented stories? And where, exactly, is the "nuclear family" in Dawn Treader? Oh, wait, he's probably referring to those brand-new characters who come along for the ride (i.e. the woman who is sacrificed to the "green mist" and the husband and daughter who join the Dawn Treader to get her back).

Incidentally, one of the clips that have been posted online for use in sermons etc. features Lucy telling Gael that "you just have to have faith about these things" and assuring Gael that "Aslan will help us" to get Gael's mother back. But this, it seems to me, is a very, very dangerous message to be sending to the film's intended young audience. If mommy gets cancer, or walks out on Daddy? Don't worry, kids, Aslan will help. And if she DOES die, or DOESN'T come back home, well, I guess Aslan DIDN'T help, then. And who knows, maybe the REASON he didn't help is that you, poor child, didn't have enough faith about these things!

Hmmm, you know what might be cool? If someone gave a sermon using one of these video clips in order to argue AGAINST the ideas presented there.

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Incidentally, one of the clips that have been posted online for use in sermons etc. features Lucy telling Gael that "you just have to have faith about these things" and assuring Gael that "Aslan will help us" to get Gael's mother back. But this, it seems to me, is a very, very dangerous message to be sending to the film's intended young audience. If mommy gets cancer, or walks out on Daddy? Don't worry, kids, Aslan will help. And if she DOES die, or DOESN'T come back home, well, I guess Aslan DIDN'T help, then. And who knows, maybe the REASON he didn't help is that you, poor child, didn't have enough faith about these things!

I think the movie deserves more credit than that, if only for Gael's provocative rejoinder to Lucy's assurance: "But Aslan didn't [couldn't?] stop Mommy from being taken in the first place." And Lucy doesn't really have an answer for that. It's an interesting venture into theodicy, and at least suggests that we should think critically about such things.

In this case, though, I think a case could be made for special confidence in this circumstance. The fact that Lucy and Edmund are there at all is evidence of Aslan's special concern and involvement regarding the present crisis. Narnia faces an existential threat, and it seems likely that in the grace and providence of Aslan this threat will be overcome. This may not directly guarantee that Gael's mother will be recovered alive, but then other people being offered in sacrifice to evil is the sort of thing Aslan has actively thwarted in the past; if he's directly involved now, there is reason for confidence that he will do so again.

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First to register an opinion! It was OK.

Won't please the purists but a reasonably decent, if loose-ish, adaptation. I thought the kids were fine (in contrast to that Guardian reviewer). It was nice to see Aslan's message to Lucy and Edmund remain in tact, almost word for word. Reep probably comes off worse and it's a bit too Lord of the Rings in places, but, lots of the visualisation were good. I'm still not a fan of 3D.

Matt

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Man, the 3D in this movie spoils the colors so badly. I couldn't believe it: I'd take off my glasses and the image would go blurry, of course, but they would also come wildly alive with colors. Put the glasses back on, and now things are in focus, but they're dull and even ugly. Blecch.

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Man, the 3D in this movie spoils the colors so badly. I couldn't believe it: I'd take off my glasses and the image would go blurry, of course, but they would also come wildly alive with colors. Put the glasses back on, and now things are in focus, but they're dull and even ugly. Blecch.

Huh. I saw it both ways and didn't notice.

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First to register an opinion! It was OK.

Won't please the purists but a reasonably decent, if loose-ish, adaptation. I thought the kids were fine (in contrast to that Guardian reviewer). It was nice to see Aslan's message to Lucy and Edmund remain in tact, almost word for word. Reep probably comes off worse and it's a bit too Lord of the Rings in places, but, lots of the visualisation were good. I'm still not a fan of 3D.

Matt

That sort of sums up my thought, but then I was less disappointed in previous films than most (probably because of lowered expectations to start with.) My review notes it's a little heavy-handed in places with its Christian themes, but then so was the book. It does have various scenes that seem to be tailored for use in sermons.

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Quick question: can anyone remember what Caspian says their voyage is about at the start of the film? I think he says they are going to the Lone Islands because that's where the Lords were sent, but it's a bit fuzzy.

Oh and FWIW I like the way that Eustace's conversion is more gradual in the film. This is actually true to the book in a way as Lewis mentions it, but doesn't really demonstrate.

Matt

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PS Hadn't realised that Caspian had dropped the accent till Apted mentioned it in that interview. If nothing else that made the film better than PC.

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Thanks for the comments on 3D vs. 2D. This will be very helpful if I get a chance to see the movie between finals and internship. I'm also VERY happy to hear Caspian dropped the accent. I didn't think it was a bad idea to have it, but I'm thinking it will be less distracting if he doesn't have it.

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Sarah (16), reading my Dawn Treader review (coming momentarily): "I think Dawn Treader is the second film in a franchise this year that improved over its predecessors by replacing Andrew Adamson."

That's my girl.

Edited by SDG

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Sarah (16), reading my Dawn Treader review (coming momentarily): "I think Dawn Treader is the second film in a franchise this year that improved over its predecessors by replacing Andrew Adamson."

That's my girl.

Corrupting her with auteurism, I see.

Paging New Jersey Family Services ... Paging New Jersey Family Services ... Paging New Jersey Family Services ...

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My review.

Is it possible that the makers of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader have made the best film in the series to date while charting a course even further from the book? I think it is. Perhaps it’s even because the film diverges from the book to the extent that it does that I’m able to regard the film more for what it is than for what it isn’t ...

Take the ship’s name, the Dawn Treader: an allusion to its ultimate destination — the utter East, the source of the rising sun, which looms ever larger in the sky until it become blinding. Sun, dawn, east: none of this figures in the film, which depicts the journey to the world’s edge without one shot of the ship sailing toward the dawn, or with the setting sun at its bow. Frequent shots show the sun well to one side, often off the starboard bow. ...

How does the film stand on its own? Well enough. It’s not the radical departure from the earlier films that fans may have hoped for, but it’s a decent fantasy family film with colorful effects and action, moral themes mixed with Hollywood self-esteem, and sometimes-vague faith with a touch of Providence and grace. ...

The characters are more enjoyable this time around, with the bickering and angst of earlier films largely left behind. Well, there’s still bickering with Eustace, but there’s supposed to be. Will Poulter, who played the bullying schoolboy in Son of Rambow, is entertainingly rotten as the bullying Eustace, who clearly has personality problems. Many child actors play jerks like they know they’re supposed to be jerks, but Poulter plays the role with gusto, and convinces you that he believes he’s in the right. Reepicheep, voiced by Star Trek’s Simon Pegg (replacing Eddie Izzard) is a major improvement over his Prince Caspian incarnation; though still not quite Lewis’ gallant, he’s credibly Errol Flynn-like, and less, well, Eddie Izzard-like. I like what the movie does with the scene in which Reep challenges Eustace to a duel: It’s not what Lewis wrote, but it’s good characterization; it’s cinematic; it’s funny — and it ends on a gratifyingly humane note. ...

Despite riding rather roughshod on Lewis’ tale, the movie Dawn Treader is a pleasant outing that I think I might be quicker to watch again than either of the previous entries. My Prince Caspian DVD sits on my shelf unwatched since we got it. That can’t be good. There are scenes from Prince Caspian I’d like to see again, such as the aerial assault on Miraz’s castle, but the prospect of slogging through Peter and Caspian’s bickering makes me tired just thinking about it. The movie Dawn Treader doesn’t make me tired. It just makes me want to read the book aloud to my kids yet again.

Edited by SDG

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My review.

...Will Poulter, who played the bullied religious boy in Son of Rambow, ....

Thanks for this encouraging review, SDG. I feel bound to point out, however, that Will Poulter played the bullying, unreligious Lee Carter in Son of Rambow. Somebody we may hear more of eventually named Bill Milner played the religious, enthusiastic amateur stunt-boy "Will Proudfoot."

I plan to see the movie this weekend. Haven't decided yet between 2D and 3D...

Edited by BethR

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Beautifully written, Steven. And I agree with every single point.

I was rough-drafting my review for Image (which won't be published until next week) when yours went live. Now, to avoid anybody thinking I'm just copying you, I'll have to re-write a few sections of it to distinguish it sufficiently from yours.

Or else I'll just give up and say, "Read Greydanus."

I enjoyed the movie very much, and was quite surprised to find that to be the case. I'll happily watch it again, something I can't say for either of the preceding films. (My initial positive review of the first film soured eventually from an A- to something more like a C+. I disliked Caspian at first and greatly dislike it now.)

I hadn't read the book in many years, so I skimmed through it in the 30 minutes before the film. I was surprised that Walden's people were able to salvage a few of the book's best moments on this confoundingly misguided (re-routed?) journey. But for the most part, this movie has its own story, and it doesn't take place in any Narnia I've ever read about.

I emailed back and forth with Steven later, and his familiarity with the book enabled him to expose all kinds of specific infidelities that I hadn't noticed. (The novel is pretty blurry in my memory. I've never been much of a Narnia fan. Too heavy-handed, too allegorical, even when I was a kid. I probably got sick of teachers telling me what it all meant.)

Thus, Steven was the one to point out to me the biggest whopper of the film - the inability of Apted to aim this ship at the sun.

But when he told me that, I realized that it's a perfect metaphor for the problem with the whole series so far. When you put filmmakers at the helm who don't care to show faithfulness to Lewis's Christian themes... who don't (brace yourself, here it comes) lean toward the Son... you've basically set sail without a good compass, chosen the wrong destination, and you're bound to end up lost.

That I'm going to put in my review (with credit to Steven, of course).

That doesn't mean the ride isn't a whole lot of fun. It just means that the journey doesn't end up meaning very much... save in those moments of "grace" when Lewis's intentions shine through.

Edited by Overstreet

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Before I say anything else here, I do want to say that I love this film's take on Eustace and Reepicheep, and I like quite a few other things as well. But especially Eustace and Reepicheep, and especially near the end of the film.

SDG wrote:

: I think the movie deserves more credit than that, if only for Gael's provocative rejoinder to Lucy's assurance: "But Aslan didn't [couldn't?] stop Mommy from being taken in the first place."

True, that rejoinder is there in the sermon clip, too.

: And Lucy doesn't really have an answer for that.

Apart from repeating her reassurance, no.

: It's an interesting venture into theodicy, and at least suggests that we should think critically about such things.

Perhaps. I'd call it more of a flirtation than a venture, though.

: In this case, though, I think a case could be made for special confidence in this circumstance. The fact that Lucy and Edmund are there at all is evidence of Aslan's special concern and involvement regarding the present crisis. . . .

Heh. Yes, if we tie the line into the context of the film as a whole, sure, perhaps. But the whole point of these sermon clips is to yank such lines OUT of context.

: Is it possible that the makers of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader have made the best film in the series to date while doing the least justice to the book? I think it is.

It's fascinating to see how most of the secular critics so far seem to be saying that this is the worst of the lot (New York Times, Globe and Mail, etc.), whereas I get the impression the Christian critics are tilting in the other direction.

See also this bit from Glenn Kenny (who, like the other critics I linked to, thinks the films "are growing more generic and threadbare as entertainments" as the series progresses):

(Incidentally, the kid who plays lil' Eustace, Will Poulter, may be doing a Dame Judi Dench impersonation on purpose. It's impossible to be sure.) The dialogue is ... well, it's like this: "I do wish you were here with us. It's been such an adventure!" Or, "You've grown stronger, my friend." "Seems I have. " Or, "We have nothing if not belief." Viewers and critics who complain the "magic" is "gone" from the "Harry Potter" films need to check this out just to see how gone magic can get.

Okay, I'm quoting that mainly for the Judi Dench line, which I found amusing.

Juliette Harrison also makes some interesting points:

The film has tried to represent Lewis' central theme of faith, mostly with fairly obvious conversations about believing in things, but it rather misses the point several times. Lewis' more subtle use of Corakin's Island to represent facing your fear and Ramandu's Island to represent the choice between whether to believe or not, highlighted by Edmund's questioning of Ramandu's daughter, are swept under and replaced by somewhat more banal insistences that belief is somehow important (and instead of being wary of Ramandu's daughter as a possible witch, Edmund pants after her as badly as Caspian does, which loses the point entirely). The film also tries to get across Lewis' motifs of temptation from the novel by talking a lot about being tempted and tested, but again tends to miss the point - Edmund and Caspian's fight at Goldwater Island is transformed from an example of the dangerous power of monetary greed to part of an ongoing rivalry between the two over who's king (which is rather sexist anyway, since no one suggests Lucy should be part of this argument even though technically she outranks Caspian as well). . . .

And let us not forget that the Edmund-Caspian rivalry, however brief it may be, is in some ways a pale retread of the Peter-Caspian rivalry in the second film.

Harrison also writes:

I went to see this by myself, due to time constraints, and one of the advantages of seeing a film by yourself is that you are free to cry as much as you like at a boy and a computer-generated mouse saying goodbye to each other. On the other hand, part of me was feeling frustrated that, due to the story changes, Reepicheep no longer has to go to Aslan's country, but just goes because he wants to, with no particular good coming out of it. Which means, essentially, that he commits suicide. Which is rather depressing and, I suspect, not what Lewis was going for (but then, I have similar issues with Frodo and the Grey Havens, so maybe it's just me that sees it that way).

And yes, I would agree that the epilogue, including Reepicheep's journey to Aslan's Country, now comes across as rather tacked-on, thanks to the fact that all the OTHER episodes from the book have been stitched together by this "green mist" subplot. It arguably SHOULD be the climax of Caspian's journey (and everyone else's), but because of the way the movie is structured, the climax now takes place earlier, during the battle with the sea serpent, and everything that comes afterwards is essentially (and almost by definition) ANTI-climactic.

Oh, and she also mentions this:

Other less good things: the bromance between Caspian and Edmund, which somehow manages to be even worse than the Caspian/Susan thing in Prince Caspian; the incredibly annoying and utterly pointless extra little girl, whom I just wanted to throw overboard (as if there aren't enough children in this story!); the painfully desperate set-up for The Silver Chair in the mention of Jill Pole at the end (who should still hate Eustace at this point); the mermaids are suddenly translucent for no reason; the whole business with the swords.

Wait a minute, there was a mention of Jill Pole at the end of this film? I completely missed that. Did anyone else here catch it? What sort of reference WAS it?

I could say more but I still have to finish that e-mail I was going to send you. :)

: My Prince Caspian DVD sits on my shelf unwatched since we got it. That can’t be good.

When I registered my review copy of that DVD with Disney's website, I discovered that I can now watch that movie anywhere on my laptop, streaming it from Disney's servers. And so I pressed "play" and watched the first few minutes, and... had no interest in watching any further.

MattPage wrote:

: It was nice to see Aslan's message to Lucy and Edmund remain in tact, almost word for word.

You're the second person I've come across this week who has used the words "in tact", rather than "intact", when discussing this film. :)

: I'm still not a fan of 3D.

I love movies that are SHOT in 3D. But this movie, like so many others, was shot in 2D and was then "converted" to 3D, and you can see how fake it is in all sorts of scenes -- the way facial features seem abnormally distant from one another, etc., etc. The problem is nowhere near as bad here as it was in that rush-job Clash of the Titans, but it's still there.

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I caught the Pole reference. His mum tells him that she has/d called round. And to Harrison I would say that the rivalry between Edmund and Caspian comes because of the golden pool, and it plays out in the film fairly similarly as it does in the book IMO. There's a nice nod to the BBC version of this story here as well, dipping a shell into the water to test it rather than some heather.

Matt

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Nice review SDG, though personally I think you make too much of the sailing towards the sun thing. It never struck me as major theme in the book, the pursuit of bravery and honour seemed far more the motivation (which is not to say that it's not there: it is.)

Also, I was kinds glad the lamb fish breakfast wasn't there. Whilst I like it as a meditation on John within a familiar, pre-established context, it feels a bit forced to me in the context of the story. (As in if you're thinking about the John passage and want to come at it from another angle it's good, but if you're thinking about a ship based journey it doesn't feel like it belongs). Likewise I liked seeing the sea people earlier in the film (and greatly truncated) rather than at the end. The BBC cut this bit as I recall and I can see why. The end of the book kind of drags a bit in my opinion.

[Prepares for a cyber-stoning]

Matt

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Thanks for this encouraging review, SDG. I feel bound to point out, however, that Will Poulter played the bullying, unreligious Lee Carter in Son of Rambow. Somebody we may hear more of eventually named Bill Milner played the religious, enthusiastic amateur stunt-boy "Will Proudfoot."

Argh, I can't believe I made that mistake! Thanks Beth, I'll get it fixed ASAP.

Nice review SDG, though personally I think you make too much of the sailing towards the sun thing. It never struck me as major theme in the book, the pursuit of bravery and honour seemed far more the motivation (which is not to say that it's not there: it is.)

It's not a theme so much as the mythic hook on which Lewis hangs the theological theme of sailing toward Aslan's country / Heaven / God. To quote the longer passage that I originally wrote for my review and then deferred to a companion piece I'm writing for next week. Note especially the last paragraph:

So many trees. What of the forest? Here is a simple question: Why is the ship, and the film, called the Dawn Treader? What does dawn have to do with the story? I doubt one viewer in fifty will glean the answer from the film, yet it wouldn’t be going too far to say that this is what the book, in a certain sense, is about. The ship’s destination is not simply the world’s end, but the Eastern edge of the world, the sunrise. The sun is practically a character in the book: As they sail eastward it grows larger and brighter, until it hurts their eyes to look at it—until drinking from the sweet (non-salt) water of the last ocean strengthens their eyes until they can gaze steadily at the giant sun without blinking.

None of this is in the film. Other than a line of dialogue from Reepicheep and possibly a map or two, there’s no indication what direction the Dawn Treader is sailing. In the entire film I believe there’s not one shot of the ship sailing toward the dawn, or with the sun setting at its bow. In fact, numerous shots suggest that the ship is not sailing east. For much of the film the sun tends to be off the starboard bow, i.e., in what would be the south, if they were sailing east. I'm pretty sure as they approach the Lone Islands at dusk we see them sailing into the sunset, i.e., due west. On another island the sun sets over the water as they make camp—but then it rises the next morning in the same direction!

I can imagine a Lewis non-fan mistaking this for the nit-picking of a purist fan who would object to any departure at all. Not so. I have no problem with revisionism and reimagining. I’m just pointing out that leaving the sun out of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader isn’t entirely unlike leaving Beatrice out of The Divine Comedy. The ultimate destination may be the same, but without that guiding light it’s not remotely the same journey.

More pointedly, it’s a little like the movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe giving such scant attention to winter yielding to spring, a major element in the book. These are the mythic hooks on which Lewis hung his deeper meanings: Winter yielding to spring symbolizes redemption and resurrection, and journeying toward the sun symbolizes journeying toward Heaven, toward God. The movies go through the motions of Lewis’s plots, but overlook the mythic imagery that embodies his meaning.

Edited by SDG

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It's fascinating to see how most of the secular critics so far seem to be saying that this is the worst of the lot (New York Times, Globe and Mail, etc.), whereas I get the impression the Christian critics are tilting in the other direction.

I think secular critics were insufficiently attentive to (or aren't remembering) how flawed the previous films were.

See also this bit from Glenn Kenny (who, like the other critics I linked to, thinks the films "are growing more generic and threadbare as entertainments" as the series progresses):

(Incidentally, the kid who plays lil' Eustace, Will Poulter, may be doing a Dame Judi Dench impersonation on purpose. It's impossible to be sure.) The dialogue is ... well, it's like this: "I do wish you were here with us. It's been such an adventure!" Or, "You've grown stronger, my friend." "Seems I have. " Or, "We have nothing if not belief." Viewers and critics who complain the "magic" is "gone" from the "Harry Potter" films need to check this out just to see how gone magic can get.

Whereas in previous installments we got lines like "Nice of you to drop in" and "Put that sword down, boy, someone could get hurt." And Reepicheep saying "Is that supposed to be irony?" and "I was hoping for something more original." Yuck.

And let us not forget that the Edmund-Caspian rivalry, however brief it may be, is in some ways a pale retread of the Peter-Caspian rivalry in the second film.

...in other words, one of the most annoying elements in Prince Caspian isn't nearly as much of a problem here. (Actually, it doesn't annoy me at all here.)

On the other hand, part of me was feeling frustrated that, due to the story changes, Reepicheep no longer has to go to Aslan's country, but just goes because he wants to, with no particular good coming out of it. Which means, essentially, that he commits suicide. Which is rather depressing and, I suspect, not what Lewis was going for (but then, I have similar issues with Frodo and the Grey Havens, so maybe it's just me that sees it that way).

The conclusion here is all wrong. If it's suicide this way, it would be suicide anyway, just suicide for a cause. Reepicheep wanted to go to Aslan's Country anyway. What bugs me is that Caspian contemplates going and Aslan doesn't say anything to stop him, leaving him to conclude for himself that as a king his duty is to his country. In the book it's (IIRC) Drinian and/or Ed who tells him that, backed up by Aslan.

Other less good things: the bromance between Caspian and Edmund, which somehow manages to be even worse than the Caspian/Susan thing in Prince Caspian; the incredibly annoying and utterly pointless extra little girl, whom I just wanted to throw overboard (as if there aren't enough children in this story!); the painfully desperate set-up for The Silver Chair in the mention of Jill Pole at the end (who should still hate Eustace at this point); the mermaids are suddenly translucent for no reason; the whole business with the swords.

The proper comparison is not Caspian/Edmund < Caspian/Susan, it's Caspian/Edmund > Caspian/Peter. Obviously Gael is tacked on, but she does have a dramatic or emotional role in the film, to personalize the green mist subplot so that we get the reunion scene at the end.

Wait a minute, there was a mention of Jill Pole at the end of this film? I completely missed that. Did anyone else here catch it? What sort of reference WAS it?

Eustace's mother calls up to them that Jill Pole has come by to visit Eustace. Which it's hard to imagine her doing in the book, but.

Edited by SDG

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SDG wrote:

: Here is a simple question: Why is the ship, and the film, called the Dawn Treader? What does dawn have to do with the story? I doubt one viewer in fifty will glean the answer from the film . . .

I doubt one viewer in fifty will even think it's a question that needs to be asked. Did anyone ever ask if there was any special "meaning" to the words Millennium Falcon? (Well, okay, the Christians who thought there were all sorts of parallels between the original Star Wars and Christian eschatology certainly had fun with the name, but even THEY didn't think George Lucas had put that meaning there intentionally, at least as far as I can recall.)

Your point about the significance of the sun in Lewis's book is well taken; but, speaking as one who has the read the book a couple times in his life, and as one who never once thought the name of the boat had any significance while I was watching the film, I'm just not sure that the average viewer (or reader) will be hooked by an argument that begins by saying, in effect, "Did you wonder why they never explained the meaning of the boat's name?"

: I think secular critics were insufficiently attentive to (or aren't remembering) how flawed the previous films were.

FWIW, I just noticed that Drew McWeeny (aka the former Moriarty) calls the film "the most successful trip to Narnia yet". (Except, heh, as you pointed out in your e-mail, the movie never actually GOES to Narnia, unless perhaps we count the outlying colonies as "Narnian" in some sense.) (Oh, and McWeeny also calls Prince Caspian an "improvement" on Lion, Witch, Wardrobe. So, there's that.)

McWeeny adds:

One of my biggest problems with the first film was the uneasy way it dealt with one of the central ideas in the work of Lewis, Christian theology. There's no way to avoid the crucifixion metaphor in "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," and why should you avoid it? The reason Lewis wrote these books was to offer up a new context to a theology that was important to him, and to offer young readers a new way to understand the story of Christ. In that first film, I felt like they tried to play it both ways, including enough of the material to make it overt, but never making it feel like an organic part of the film. It was like they were afraid of it, but knew they couldn't leave it out. In the second film, they dropped all of that, and they focused on making a more blatant adventure movie. This time, they've swung back in the other direction, and I would say this is the most overtly Christian film of the series so far, and yet, it feels so well-incorporated into the material, and faith is so clearly one of the main themes of the film that I can't imagine the movie without it. Aslan makes a direct reference to his identity in our world near the end of the film that surprised me, but again… the film earns it, and while the hesitancy made it almost unbearable in the first film, I find the overt nature of the religious subtext here to be somewhat touching.

: Whereas in previous installments we got lines like "Nice of you to drop in" and "Put that sword down, boy, someone could get hurt." And Reepicheep saying "Is that supposed to be irony?" and "I was hoping for something more original." Yuck.

Heh. I'd thankfully forgotten those last two lines.

: What bugs me is that Caspian contemplates going and Aslan doesn't say anything to stop him, leaving him to conclude for himself that as a king his duty is to his country. In the book it's (IIRC) Drinian and/or Ed who tells him that, backed up by Aslan.

Well, unless we're open theists, we can always say that Aslan knew what Caspian would choose. :)

: Eustace's mother calls up to them that Jill Pole has come by to visit Eustace. Which it's hard to imagine her doing in the book, but.

'Tis indeed.

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