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Peter T Chattaway

Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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I dunno. There are things in Dawn Treader that I care deeply about and am concerned about for a film adaptation in which Adamson retains any creative control:
  • The depiction of Eustace's dragoning and undragoning
  • Lucy's temptation and Aslan's rebuke
  • the island of dreams (please use the word "dreams," not nightmares as in the synopsis!)
  • the nature of the situation on the island of sleepers
  • the otherworldly quality of the seas of the Utter East
  • Aslan as a Lamb roasting fish for breakfast (like the resurrected Christ in John 21), declaring that he is known by another name in our world

In rereading the book, I can't see a film at all. It is very episodic, and each episode contains a lot of visual and narrative detail - along with plot points that riff on character backstory. There is something very gospel-like in the way Lewis wrote this one. Filmwise, I see a mouse, a bunch of kids, and dwarves on a boat swinging swords around. That is about it. And I shudder to think about what would happen with the John 21 reference.

I did not follow the reception of the last one at all, as I was so put off by the first one. How has that one held up since its release?

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In rereading the book, I can't see a film at all. It is very episodic, and each episode contains a lot of visual and narrative detail - along with plot points that riff on character backstory. There is something very gospel-like in the way Lewis wrote this one. Filmwise, I see a mouse, a bunch of kids, and dwarves on a boat swinging swords around. That is about it. And I shudder to think about what would happen with the John 21 reference.

I just finished reading the book last night, and I completely agree. You could make probably make a movie for almost every chapter in the book, as each chapter deals with very specific adventures and whatnot. It's one of the books great strengths, actually, painting all of these incredibly detailed and imaginative -- and relatively standalone -- scenes. (It's also one of its weaknesses, IMHO, as it lacks what I'd consider a particularly strong central narrative.)

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In rereading the book, I can't see a film at all. It is very episodic, and each episode contains a lot of visual and narrative detail - along with plot points that riff on character backstory. There is something very gospel-like in the way Lewis wrote this one. Filmwise, I see a mouse, a bunch of kids, and dwarves on a boat swinging swords around. That is about it. And I shudder to think about what would happen with the John 21 reference.
I just finished reading the book last night, and I completely agree. You could make probably make a movie for almost every chapter in the book, as each chapter deals with very specific adventures and whatnot. It's one of the books great strengths, actually, painting all of these incredibly detailed and imaginative -- and relatively standalone -- scenes. (It's also one of its weaknesses, IMHO, as it lacks what I'd consider a particularly strong central narrative.)

I also recently finished rereading Dawn Treader to a subset of my kids, and I agree about the difficulties -- with the caveat that I think there is more cinematic potential here than Prince Caspian. It is probably a moot point, since Caspian the movie is a better movie than LWW the movie (though the latter adapts a more cinema-ready source), but also departs much more radically from its source and from Lewis's themes. I expect Dawn Treader the movie would do the same.

FWIW, the old BBC adaptations become increasingly tolerable in sequence, so that LW&W is the least successful, Caspian somewhat better, Dawn Treader quite tolerable and The Silver Chair not bad at all. Of course, the Beeb versions are extremely faithful to the text, so it's an entirely different animal.

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with the caveat that I think there is more cinematic potential here than Prince Caspian.

It seems that the effect of Dawn Treader is cumulative. All the images these different islands leave us stack up on each other to make a thoughtful story, and these images often have fine theological points. This may mean that there are even more ways to script it incorrectly than the previous two. It has even greater potential to be a mess.

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It seems that the effect of Dawn Treader is cumulative. All the images these different islands leave us stack up on each other to make a thoughtful story, and these images often have fine theological points. This may mean that there are even more ways to script it incorrectly than the previous two. It has even greater potential to be a mess.

Well said. Therefore, even if it has the potential, if the right approach were found, to be more effective than Caspian done right, the chances of the present project in fact finding the right approach seems remote at best - and the pitfalls of the wrong approach more damning. Put the other way around, Caspian done wrong is probably more tolerable than Dawn Treader done wrong.

This is all the more the case because Dawn Treader is more crucial to the series than Prince Caspian. A disappointing Caspian likely wouldn't kill the franchise; a disappointing Dawn Treader likely would. As I wrote in my review, Caspian the book is a sort of awkward middle child between LWW and Dawn Treader; the stakes are higher here, as well as more remote.

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FWIW, my own gut feeling is that Dawn Treader is arguably the most mystical of the Narnia books, and that the Walden/Disney movies just don't have a clue how to do mysticism. They repeatedly undermine the higher elements in Lewis's books by resorting to base, deconstructionist scholasticism and materialism -- whether it's Susan responding to the Beavers' poem with "you know, that doesn't rhyme", or Reepicheep following his "a mouse without a tail has no glory" spiel with his "well, the tail is also good for balance" spiel, etc. Granted, the first two films were co-written and directed by Andrew Adamson, whose only previous directorial credits were the Shrek films, which were all ABOUT bringing fairy tales' higher elements crashing back down to earth -- whereas the next film will be written and directed by other people. But, oh, that's right, the writer and director on the next film are the same two guys who made a point of making Amazing Grace less religious and more political.

So, yeah, I agree that a movie version of Dawn Treader could be fantastic, but it could also go more horribly wrong than either of the first two films.

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: I also recently finished rereading Dawn Treader to a subset of my kids

I'm now thinking about you reading stories in Venn diagram form, where B & C are exclusive subsets of A (Steve's children) and the universal set is people SDG reads stories to...or something. If I was a total total geek I'd probably find a venn diagram tool and post it below, but thankfully I'm not that bad...yet.

Matt

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Disney jumps ship on next 'Narnia'

"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" will have to sail without Disney.

While declining to elaborate, Disney and Walden Media confirmed Tuesday that for budgetary and logistical reasons the Burbank-based studio is not exercising its option to co-produce and co-finance the next "Narnia" movie with Walden.

Hollywood Reporter, December 23

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Oh, dear oh, dear.

I guess this likely means no Dawn Treader. Is there any way this could mean a better Dawn Treader?

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I'm not really sure how much input Disney had into the films, really. Walden Media officially owns the rights, and Doug Gresham is said to have incredible veto power, and director Andrew Adamson is staying on as a producer of the third film, so... I don't think it makes much difference WHICH studio co-finances and distributes the film.

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So what is Baehr trying to imply here? That Disney wanted to water down the "faith elements"? Cuz from what I hear -- and I certainly believe it based on the interviews he has given -- one of the watering-down forces has been Andrew Adamson, and so long as HE remains involved in this production, I see no reason to believe this movie will suddenly get all that pro-faith.

Side note: It occurred to me recently that, watching the filmmakers discuss their films on the DVDs, Andrew Adamson constantly talks about how he had to make the Narnia stories accessible to HIMSELF before he could make the films (and so he wreaked havoc with the moral dynamic of the original film, etc.), whereas Peter Jackson tends to talk about Tolkien's stories and characters without particularly drawing any attention to himself in the process. (Yes, it's clear that e.g. Jackson LOVES his monsters, when e.g. he talks about how he wanted the troll to be so sympathetic that you might wonder if its mother was waiting for it somewhere, but whenever Jackson makes a change to the story, I don't think he ever justifies it by saying, "I wanted to make it MY story, and I wanted to make it BETTER and DEEPER than the story that Tolkien told.")

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Monday Mouse Watch : Numbers did in Disney's version of "Dawn Treader"

Mind you, there have been signs for months now that the Mouse was getting cold feet when it came to this co-production. Dick Cook failing to mention the third "Narnia" movie at all during Disney Studios' big promo event at the Kodak Theater earlier this year was considered by many in the industry to be a huge red flag. As was Disney's sudden backing away from its 2006 promise to produce film versions of all seven of these C.S. Lewis fantasy novels. . . .

But in the end, it was the numbers that did the "Narnia" film franchise in. At least as far as The Walt Disney Company is concerned. The fact that "Prince Caspian" earned less than half of what "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" did during its initial domestic release back in 2005. No to mention that the DVD version of this Andrew Adamson film didn't exactly fly off store shelves this holiday season (Back in 2006, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" sold 4 million units during its first day in release. It took the DVD version of "Prince Caspian" more than 10 days to sell a similar number of units). . . .

So after doing the math, Mouse House officials decided to pull the plug on this co-production. Opting instead to fund films that it felt had a far better chance of making a strong financial return. Projects like "Pirates of the Caribbean 4" and "Tr2n."

Still -- understanding that an announcement like this would cause considerable PR problems for its "Narnia" co-production partner, Walden Media (Not to mention angering billionaire Phil Anschutz. Who -- in addition to be the co-founder of Walden Media -- is also the owner of the Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie theater chain in the world) -- Disney did what it could to mitigate the damage. Deliberately holding back this information until just before the holidays. With the hope that -- by the time everyone gets back into town after the Christmas break -- that Disney-dumps-"Dawn-Treader" story would be old news and long since forgotten. . . .

Jim Hill Media, December 29

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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The involvement of Richard LaGravenese has actually struck a spark for me. I'd been losing hope, but he's actually a decent screenwriter... and as he wrote The Fisher King, he's capable of great things.

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Yay! We're back on for the Dawn Treader. I know many of you aren't looking forward to this with hope, but I am. So I'm happy at this news.

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Will Poulter as Eustace? I guess we'll see. I'm trying not to be too tied to Pauline Baynes' illustrations, but I'm afraid I'll always see Eustace as dark and weedy rather than blond and feisty, which is the Will Poulter of Son of Rambow. He'll be older now, so that will make a difference as well.

The involvement of Richard LaGravenese has actually struck a spark for me. I'd been losing hope, but he's actually a decent screenwriter... and as he wrote The Fisher King, he's capable of great things.

His imdb.com writer/director credits are somewhat uneven, IMO. Here's hoping.

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Will Poulter as Eustace? I guess we'll see. I'm trying not to be too tied to Pauline Baynes' illustrations, but I'm afraid I'll always see Eustace as dark and weedy rather than blond and feisty, which is the Will Poulter of Son of Rambow. He'll be older now, so that will make a difference as well.

I agree. Poulter's co-star Bill Milner owuld have been better.

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Will Poulter as Eustace? I guess we'll see. I'm trying not to be too tied to Pauline Baynes' illustrations, but I'm afraid I'll always see Eustace as dark and weedy rather than blond and feisty, which is the Will Poulter of Son of Rambow. He'll be older now, so that will make a difference as well.
I agree. Poulter's co-star Bill Milner owuld have been better.

OTOH, Poulter is closer to the Eustace of the BBC miniseries (David Thwaites), which FWIW colors my perception of the character more than Baynes's illustrations.

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OTOH, Poulter is closer to the Eustace of the BBC miniseries (David Thwaites), which FWIW colors my perception of the character more than Baynes's illustrations.

I don't remember him, having not watched the BBC version of Voyage of the Dawn Treader since it was first broadcast.

By the way, I don't really object to Poulter - I think he was great in Son of Rambow.

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What SDG said

Oh, and Tony, all I can say is that you will.

(recognise Thwaites that is, not object to Poulter)

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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"The third film faces creative as well as budgetary challenges. Although the C.S. Lewis book has quests, dragons and sea monsters galore, the story also has been criticized for lacking a clear antagonist."

These are the sort of quotes that send chills up and down your spine. Obviously it is a "problem" that can only be "solved" by radical alterations to the story. Given that Dawn Treader is my favorite book of the series

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bowen wrote:

: These are the sort of quotes that send chills up and down your spine.

I agree.

Someone else at HogwartsProfessor.com also raised the question of what sort of new "motivation" the film might invent for Eustace, similar to the revised back-story they created for Edmund in the first film. All in the name of making the movies "better" and "more realistic" than Lewis's stories, of course.

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Were he yet a bit younger, I'd have thought Matthew Lewis would make an excellent Eustace. The book does indeed have a clear antagonist; it's just that the antagonist is a worldview, not a person.

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