Today I went to the cinema, with the lovely Kate, to watch The Voyage of Dawn Treader.
I love the Narnia series. I loved the books, I love the films, I even loved the quite rubbish BBC series.
And I quite loved this film too.
That is the end of the short review.
The longer version follows:
It was really great, it was beautiful, it was funny and it was full of action and if they were trying to make an awesome film, then they really did.
However, if they were trying to actually make something really resembling the book, then they kind of failed. Again.
They did change quite a lot, and made the whole thing a lot darker in feel. There was a slightly unpleasant, though thankfully brief, moment where Lucy tried to flirt with Caspian; they missed a lot of the islands out of the story, which was a shame; and once again, they had to portray the kings as stuck in a constant battle for power, something which they forced into the last film, and something which just doesn’t appear in the books.
In the film version of Prince Caspian, they portrayed Edmund well, while Peter and Caspian were locked into a fight for control through most of the film. This time, with Peter absent, Edmund takes his place and looks jealously on, while Caspian flaunts his position.
I’ve been reading through this article, by Steven D. Boyer, on the subject, from Theology Network, and interested by the way that he compared the Hollywood portrayal with the way that Lewis wrote the characters.
According to Hollywood:
“To be a king at all is to hunger for power forevermore, like a tiger that has tasted human blood and ever afterwards is a “man-eater.” To lose imperial power by being transported back to England is to become a bitter, sullen, acrimonious brat.”
Whereas, for Lewis:
“the children’s experiences as kings and queens in Narnia consistently transform them into nobler, more virtuous people in their own world. They are not spoiled children wanting to be kings again; they are noble kings who carry that very nobility back into their non-royal roles as schoolchildren.”
Do click on the link and read the rest of the article for yourself – it’s really not very long! – because I do think it’s a helpful understanding of the difference between the two versions, and has definitely pin-pointed the frustrations I found with the films.
And yet, whilst I did agree with that explanation of what’s been changed, I definitely wouldn’t take quite such a pessimistic view of the series as Professor Boyer does.
There are difficulties. But there are also wonderful things. Especially in the newest film, and especially at the end.
- Lucy asks how Eustace felt when Aslan turned him back from a dragon to a boy, and he responds with something along the lines of: ‘I only knew I couldn’t do it by myself’.
- The struggle for Caspian wanting to go through to Aslan’s country and see his father, but also needing to stay and lead his people, was so very Paul and Philippians 1:21: “For me, to live is Christ & to die is gain.”
- And finally, this particular exchange made it into the film, and I was so pleased that I cried.
Lucy: Aslan, will we ever meet with you in our world?
Aslan: You shall.
Aslan: Because there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.
And basically, that makes everything grand again.
In summary: frustrated by the differences, but considering the film to be awesome enough that I don’t really mind.