Youth Feature Film Review – Voyage of the Dawn Treader
C. S. Lewis is probably most well known for his allegorical tales of Narnia. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the 5th book in the series and was recently adapted into a screenplay.
The story sees the two youngest Penvensie children, Edmund and Lucy, return to the magical land of Narnia, accompanied by their ‘record stinker’ of a cousin, Eustace Clarence Scrubb.
Having arrived in Narnia, the children embark on a mission with their old friend King Caspian, to search for seven lords who were friends of Caspian’s deceased father. Along the way they pick up a man and his daughter, Gail, whose mother was given as a sacrifice to the evil powers that they must face throughout the way.
Their journey is just as much spiritual as it is physical, as the evil powers conjure up temptations that each person must face. Lucy is tempted with envy and beauty as she sees herself as someone of little worth next to the girl she wishes she were more like, namely, her older sister, Susan.
However, under the ever watchful eye of the lion King Aslan (who represents God) Lucy learns that she is of great value as herself.
Similarly, Aslan helps Edmund and Caspian face their temptations, just as in real life, when God helps us overcome our temptations.
As well as temptation, faith is a key theme in the film. Gail is at the centre of this theme because she lacks it. In one scene, young Gail asks how Aslan could have let her mother be taken in the first place – a variation of a common question in today’s society, ‘How could God have let this happen?’
Lucy replies, ‘You’ve just got to have faith that he’ll help’. Gail’s character was created for the film and does not appear in the book, so it’s interesting that such a powerful Christian message should have been created for the film.
It’s important to remember that only God can bring salvation. In the film, Eustace turns into a dragon; as a dragon he learns what a horrible, selfish person he is. After learning this, he attempts to shed his scales and become human again, but he can’t manage it by himself.
Then Aslan comes and breathes on him. Eustace’s scales disappear and he becomes human again. This is an important metaphor for salvation and God’s central role in it.
I feel that the portrayal of Christian ideas was done well. It was clear how the film separated the physical world from the spiritual, showing that you must face battles in the spiritual realm before you can fight them in the physical.
For me, it is powerful that a blockbuster film should so openly display Christian themes, and even add to the Christian metaphors. It is a great encouragement and a step forward in reaching out to the global community.
James Michael Fraser