The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This was my favorite of the Narnia books as a girl, which is a large part of the reason I went to the effort to see this movie even though I can no longer get to any cinema on foot.  So I can’t say I was entirely pleased with how much they changed things!

Okay, technically, they got all the adventures in, albeit smushed into each other, but the whole mood of the story was utterly changed, and furthermore, I question the motives as to why.  Partly for a cohesive whole of a movie, arguably, but also I think this a product of modern evangelicalism.  No doubt they thought that true to Lewis’ wishes, because modern evangelicals assume all true Christians are exactly like them, but I wouldn’t make any such assumption.  He wanted to make Christianity appeal to children, not frighten them into it.

Still, the metaphorical descent into hell makes for a good story, and I did like that all the temptations were woven into the characters; the movies continue to be an improvement for Lewis there, as in it exchanges figures used to make statements for people with history and scars(I continue to approve of the use of the White Witch), and I especially like that, unlike in the book, for the most part they past the tests without Aslan intervening(he does have a discussion with Lucy but she is the one closest to him).  It helps also that Edmund and especially Lucy age more than they did in the books, and when it’s declared in the end they can’t come back, you actually feel it as the final step in their story(when I read as a girl it struck me as ridiculous).  Though I’m not sure if it works with the chronology, since the war’s supposed to still be going on but it feels like far more than four years have passed.

No doubt there was a good deal of discussion, meanwhile, of how they were going to handle Eustace, because half the traits Lewis thought of as unsavory are considered less so to the modern audience and the other half make for a character very hard to sympathize with.  They started out by emphasizing his unpleasantness, went on playing him for laughs, but I couldn’t help but notice they started to make him more sympathetic before he turned into a dragon, and they must have known most viewers would laugh at his snark.  I will be very interested to see if said snark continues into the next movie; it will be an indication he converts without changing utterly, which I don’t think Lewis would approve of, but we can ignore that.  Much more attention was paid to his character development overall, and I suspect he too will show more scars in the future.  And I loved his use as a dragon and changing back just in time to save the day.

For other notes, I approved thoroughly of non-human crew members, and even in 2D some of the visuals were pretty good, though some of them were less so, and perhaps the most cinematic moment was the use of nothing more than a simple albatross.


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