The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Rated: PG, 115 minutes, Director: Michael Apted
The latest film in the Chronicles of Narnia series Voyage of the Dawn Treader appeared in cinemas in December 2010 and will no doubt soon be available on DVD. Based on the third published book in the original series by C. S. Lewis from the 1950s, the film is inevitably different from the book in many respects. However, it maintains the spirit and accurately represents the thrust of the original.
Many who see the film will not have read the book and may never get round to reading it, and so it deserves consideration on its own merit. As a family film this scores well in all respects. Inevitably there are moments of what I believe is known as ‘mild peril’, but there are no questionable scenes or language, as one would expect with C. S. Lewis.
The whole thing is well done, with special effects at an optimum level and acting of a high standard. The presentation as a whole is excellent.
We start off in wartime Oxford and spend just long enough there to establish how normal these children are before heading into Narnia by means of an amazing water scene. Once in Narnia, the story unfolds rapidly, rarely losing pace. The actor playing Eustace (Will Poulter) is brilliant. I would guess Lewis is describing himself as he once was, before his conversion.
I was slightly disappointed with the dragon turning back into the boy scene, as I remembered more about layers coming off (‘when he began pulling the skin off it hurt worse than anything … Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off … and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been … I’d turned into a boy again’). However, as a starting point for discussing conversion it is still excellent.
Temptation and death are among the other vital subjects opened up in this dramatic treatment; the temptations faced by Edmund and Lucy; and the passing of Reepicheep (a fascinating character – perhaps Lewis’ ideal of a true Christian – a mouse of great modesty, but great courage!).
Towards the end of the film, we get what someone has called the John 3:16 of the Lewis books, ‘arguably the most succinct and precise evidence of a possible parallel between Narnia and the Bible’. When asked by Edmund whether or not Aslan exists in their world, Aslan replies, ‘I am … but 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 by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there’.
Hopefully, this film will also help some in finding the true Aslan and the true Narnia. It certainly will not hinder them at all.
Childs Hill, London