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Peter T Chattaway

Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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From the latest interview with Douglas Gresham:

Ian Kath:
These movies, how well are they sticking to the originals, the books?

Douglas Gresham:
Well,
The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe
was very close to the original book because the book was written in such a way that lent itself to being transcribed into the film medium.
Prince Caspian
we had to make some fairly major changes because the book isn’t written that way. In this movie there are a lot of differences in it also to, as Hollywood says, “derive the plot”. I’m ambivalent as to whether they’re necessary or not, I don’t really think so. But thats the way they wanted to do it, and it was either that or not make a movie, so I said “well go ahead and do it”. It will be very interesting to see the audiences reactions.

…..

Ian Kath:
It’s an amazing amount of work that we’ve put into this, and I just love what we’ve done, and if the story is as good as the work and the passion that we’ve put into it..

Douglas Gresham:
I think the story in the book is
better
but it’s still a great story.

Ian Kath:
I don’t know the story.

Douglas Gresham:
You should read it, you should read all of the Narnian chronicles, but yeah I think it’s going to be a great movie. It’s a fabulous movie.

FWIW, I haven't listened to the actual recording, but I'm guessing that the person who transcribed the bits above mis-heard "drive the plot".

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I think this is an opinion piece, but the way it's presented is like a news story. And I doubt it has anything REALLY surprising about how the script might be veering away from Lewis' intentions.

FWIW:

In a recent interview posted on NarniaWeb.com, Douglas Gresham, stepson to C.S. Lewis and the man who's supposed to be holding the line on what his stepfather would have wanted, said he was "ambivalent" on changes made in "Voyage." But, he was presented with a choice of either accepting those changes or not having a film.And "Voyage" director Michael Apted, who has admitted to excising a lot of the religious connotations out of his 2007 film "Amazing Grace," sounds double-minded.

The Narnia films, he told Rhema FM, a New Zealand Christian radio station, "present a challenge, for me to put the material out there in an evenhanded and interesting way; and not to be, in a sense, narrow-minded about it, either narrow-minded in a faith way or narrow-minded in an agnostic way. I have to open my heart to what the stories are about."

and

As for "Voyage," Mr. Baehr is in touch with a script adviser who left the project a year ago. "He said it was drifting from its Christian vision," Mr. Baehr said.

"It was not expressing the intent of C.S. Lewis nor the true story of the Dawn Treader."

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Certainly the filmmakers have already watered down the Christian content in the existing films, and I have heard that at least one of them has explicitly said that he does not want certain religiously-significant elements to appear in the new film. So none of this news surprises me. (And say what we will about Baehr, but I'd love to hear him go on the record with specifics about how the film is drifting from its Christian vision, and to see just how accurate his predictions are when the film comes out. In fact, given how supportive he has been of the existing films, despite his off-the-record comments about the last one in particular, it is intriguing to see him essentially take a position opposing the new film before it is even finished. What if it turns out okay in the end? Will he change his public stance? How "okay" would it have to be in order for him to change his tune publicly?)

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Director Michael Apted speaking to Empire magazine, via NarniaWeb.com:

“This is a lot more psychological; it’s not a big action movie. There are a lot of different locations and adventures but, apart from a huge battle at the end with a sea serpent and a dragon, this is a character story. The quality of the book, and the appeal of the book, is that it’s more of an emotional than a swashbuckling adventure.”

So... will the dragon be Eustace, or someone else?

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The first official photos, courtesy of the film's Facebook page; e.g.:

16731_219559650897_6946345897_4182245_5364604_n.jpg

Meh. Are we at Disneyland?

no, no , no. that's west edmonton mall, isn't it?

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That is an interesting change. I wonder what is behind this...

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The First Dawn Treader Footage

Walden Media and Twentieth Century Fox hosted a Narnia event for Christian leaders this weekend in Los Angeles. . . .

Next, Michael Apted and Mark Johnson were interviewed. He shared that this is a very character-driven film and that it is not going to be a film that has special effects without any real content. He said this movie is about temptation and learning how to overcome it, wrapped in an adventure story. Michael then took us through a 20-minute presentation with concept art and a few still frames to give us the basic outline of the movie. He described the five islands, where we’ll see them, and what will happen on each one. He also pointed out how each island will have a different and unique look to it. . . .

Without giving away too much, I will mention a few things about the footage we saw. There were shots of the transition into Narnia and some shots onboard the Dawn Treader with Eustace (quite funny). We saw some interaction between Lucy and Gael and quite a lot of shots of Lucy in the magician’s house. There were a few finished shots of Reepicheep, several “beauty shots” of the Dawn Treader sailing, and some incredible shots of the entrance to Aslan’s Country from the end of the film. Liam Neeson’s lines have been recorded so we heard Aslan several times throughout the footage. . . .

NarniaWeb.com, February 20

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...We saw some interaction between Lucy and Gael and quite a lot of shots of Lucy in the magician’s house. . . .

NarniaWeb.com, February 20

Who is this "Gael"?

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...We saw some interaction between Lucy and Gael and quite a lot of shots of Lucy in the magician’s house. . . .

NarniaWeb.com, February 20

Who is this "Gael"?

No idea, but Arabella Morton is playing her:

arabella-morton.jpg

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We saw some interaction between Lucy and Gael and quite a lot of shots of Lucy in the magician’s house. . . .

NarniaWeb.com, February 20

Who is this "Gael"?

No idea, but Arabella Morton is playing her:

If she's in the Magician's house, she's probably a Dufflepud?

Or, if she's not, maybe she's the Mer-girl Lucy sees?

Edited by SDG

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We saw some interaction between Lucy and Gael and quite a lot of shots of Lucy in the magician’s house. . . .

NarniaWeb.com, February 20

Who is this "Gael"?

No idea, but Arabella Morton is playing her:

If she's in the Magician's house, she's probably a Dufflepud?

Or, if she's not, maybe she's the Mer-girl Lucy sees?

She'd better be Ramandu's daughter. Otherwise, she doesn't belong in the movie.

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She'd better be Ramandu's daughter. Otherwise, she doesn't belong in the movie.

Um. If she's Ramandu's daughter, I'm thinking they need to recast Caspian as someone younger than Ben Barnes. :)

arabella-morton.jpg

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We saw some interaction between Lucy and Gael and quite a lot of shots of Lucy in the magician’s house. . . .

NarniaWeb.com, February 20

Who is this "Gael"?

No idea, but Arabella Morton is playing her:

If she's in the Magician's house, she's probably a Dufflepud?

Or, if she's not, maybe she's the Mer-girl Lucy sees?

Actually, looking at the sentence structure, I don't see any indication that she is in the magician's house, they seem to be seperate items.

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Actually, looking at the sentence structure, I don't see any indication that she is in the magician's house, they seem to be seperate items.

Yeah, probably so. Either way, it's awkwardly constructed, and it seemed possible that it was all one strand of thought.

Since she's so young, she seems like someone Lucy might be friends with, which made me think of Lucy's connection with the Mer-girl.

Or she could be someone Lucy meets while in captivity on the oxymoronically named Lone Islands.

Or she could be someone added to the story from whole cloth.

Edited by SDG

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She'd better be Ramandu's daughter. Otherwise, she doesn't belong in the movie.

Um. If she's Ramandu's daughter, I'm thinking they need to recast Caspian as someone younger than Ben Barnes. :)

arabella-morton.jpg

I was just being grumpy about the addition of characters. Some Hollywood smart-alec probably said, "Hey, there aren't enough girls in this movie! We need more girls! Lucy should actually have a friendship with [otherwise unremarkable or unnamed character]. Et voila!--"Gael," an extremely un-Narnian name.

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I was just being grumpy about the addition of characters. Some Hollywood smart-alec probably said, "Hey, there aren't enough girls in this movie! We need more girls! Lucy should actually have a friendship with [otherwise unremarkable or unnamed character]. Et voila!--"Gael," an extremely un-Narnian name.

Oh. Sorry for my literal-minded obtusity. Even worse than having to explain a joke is making someone else do it.

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After giving the makers of this film the benefit of the doubt for a good two pages and then some (along with some fretting over the fact that the director isn't a Christian, which is neither here nor there as far as I'm concerned), CT Movies finally drops this little nugget:

Keller had another concern about the scripting of Dawn Treader.

"I was less than enthusiastic about the imposition of an invented quest to recover the seven swords of the seven lords to undo some evil magic of a new witch," she said. "It is a fairly innocuous addition, but as a purist I would have been happier without it."

THIS is a "fairly innocuous" addition to the story!? Um, uh, wow. Surely this re-shapes the entire story as a whole. And surely imposing an extra witch on a franchise that already has its share of them (remember Jadis's cameo in Prince Caspian?) is just as egregious as imposing extra battle scenes on a franchise that already has its share of them.

But I suppose, if the quality of the craftsmanship is irrelevant to someone and all they care about is whether or not the movie can still be used as a witnessing tool, then a change like this might seem fairly innocuous after all. (And I'm not saying that that is Keller's position, but I can easily see how a statement like hers would play to a broader evangelical audience.)

I think now is a good time to quote SDG's nearly two-year-old list of things to look out for in this movie:

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

If there were any way they could get most of that, I wouldn't mind a battle for the Lone Islands. For that matter, I wouldn't mind it much either way. I'm not that crazy about the way Lewis writes the liberation of the Lone Islands, frankly. It's not very good psychology. To be sure, better psychology would be a more interesting revision than a big battle, but let's not get crazy with the wish list. If they need to stick a big battle somewhere, better here than a lot of other places.

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My offer to bring questions to Walden's Michael Flaherty still stands. :)

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Keller had another concern about the scripting of Dawn Treader.

"I was less than enthusiastic about the imposition of an invented quest to recover the seven swords of the seven lords to undo some evil magic of a new witch," she said. "It is a fairly innocuous addition, but as a purist I would have been happier without it."

THIS is a "fairly innocuous" addition to the story!? Um, uh, wow. Surely this re-shapes the entire story as a whole. And surely imposing an extra witch on a franchise that already has its share of them (remember Jadis's cameo in Prince Caspian?) is just as egregious as imposing extra battle scenes on a franchise that already has its share of them.

Peter, there is some debate about the validity or accuracy of the statement above. NarniaWeb is reporting that one of its sources confirms the bit about the seven Lords but has seen no evidence of an additional witch.

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Phill Lytle wrote:

: Peter, there is some debate about the validity or accuracy of the statement above. NarniaWeb is reporting that one of its sources confirms the bit about the seven Lords but has seen no evidence of an additional witch.

Thanks -- do you have a link for that?

The "new witch" and the "invented quest" would certainly fit what we've heard about the movie so far, though. To quote earlier posts in this thread:

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader began principal photography today ... and it sounds like the filmmakers may once again be adding more unnecessary peril and more gratuitous World War II footage to C.S. Lewis's story. The film's press release suggests that King Caspian and the others are embarking on their "entirely uncharted journey to Aslan's Country" in order to "save Narnia, and all the astonishing creatures in it, from an unfathomable fate."

Douglas Gresham: Well, The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe was very close to the original book because the book was written in such a way that lent itself to being transcribed into the film medium. Prince Caspian we had to make some fairly major changes because the book isn’t written that way. In this movie there are a lot of differences in it also to, as Hollywood says, “[drive] the plot”. I’m ambivalent as to whether they’re necessary or not, I don’t really think so. But thats the way they wanted to do it, and it was either that or not make a movie, so I said “well go ahead and do it”. It will be very interesting to see the audiences reactions.

So it would certainly make sense if the filmmakers imposed an "invented quest" on the story in order to "drive the plot", and if the catalyst for this quest was a "new witch" who had threatened Narnia with an "unfathomable fate".

FWIW, it's been a long time since I've read the book, but I also wonder about this notion that the characters are going to Aslan's country itself. I thought Reepicheep was the only character who got to go there, and that he basically did it off-stage, as it were (similar to how Enoch and Elijah went to "heaven" without dying). Wikipedia seems to indicate the same thing. How, I wonder, will THIS story's religio-mythical calculus be skewed if Aslan's Country turns out to be just another one of those places that people can get to on their own steam, and all to resolve a situation that they find themselves in in the temporal world?

In a nutshell, suffice it to say that it looks like the Narnia movies will remain as demystified and conventional as ever, certainly in relation to their source material. But a lot of Christians probably won't care, as long as the dialogue pushes certain buttons.

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NarniaWeb is reporting that a studio source reported the following:

UPDATE: There was a good deal of confusion due to the line about a witch being in the film. And while both Tirian and Specter from NarniaFans denied it, it was thought that perhaps they weren’t present when the information was given.

However, ChristianityToday released this statement today which puts any confusion to rest. “CT has since learned from Walden that the ‘new witch’ is not in the final version of the film, but was scrapped during script discussions.” So there you go, no witch!

Here is the link. The part I highlighted above is at the bottom of the article.

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