Directed by: Michael Apted
Writers: Christoper Markus, Stephen McFeely et al based on the writings of C.S. Lewis
Georgie Henley - LUCY PEVENSIE
Skandar Keynes - EDMUND PEVENSIE
Ben Barnes - CASPIAN
Will Poulter - EUSTACE SCRUBB
Storyline: Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarfs, monsters, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.
PREFACEI must first say that I have a great fondness for the Narnia tales and C.S. Lewis in particular. We read the Chronicles to our children several times as the grew up. I have read much of Lewis' theological material and have always recommended it. Although he is at times deep and hard to understand in a single sitting. My favorite of his tales is his Space Triology, which may someday find its way to the screen.
Before I get to the heart of the problem with the VDT story, here's a sidebar about the difference between allegory and myth, and why didactic presentations rarely work. (See also: Why Story's Work, Part 1.)
ALLEGORY NOT MYTH
The Narnia movies have left me underwhelmed. And only when I saw the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (VDT) did it occur to me perhaps why. I had originally thought it was the presence of Aslan, showing up at the end almost like Billy Graham at the end of his association's movies, giving an invitation to become a Christian, in so many other words. At the end of VDT Aslan says to the kids on the beach who are lamenting having to return to the real world (Earth, I guess) and never seeing Aslan again. (quoting from the book, which is in the movie):
ASLAN: But you shall meet me, dear one.This ruined the movie for me. It was Billy Graham. It was like plastering the "moral premise statement" on the screen in type: "Attention audience, this is what the movie is about... pay attention and go to church." BTW: Bible devotees notice the Old Testament reference to Yahweh with Aslan's utterance, "I AM."
EDMUND: Are--you there too, Sir?
ASLAN: 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.
What occurred immediately in my mind is how J.R.R. Tolkien disliked Jack's stories because they were like poster allegories for Christianity and not myths (like Lord of the Rings) that could exist on their own merit. (see second comment below)
So, it is perhaps upon that foundation that I became aware of the real story structure problem that at least exists in VDT, and which explains why the movie is not doing what it could be doing had they fixed the structural issues. This all has to do with the audience connecting with the characters. Or, to utter it in other words: identifying with and becoming a part of the story symptomatically - imbued - being "in the scene" emotionally.
NARNIA VS. HOLLY & IVY
|Stan Williams, Rumer Godden, Trudy Williams (1985, NY)|
|Trudy with Kermit Love (d. 2008)|
|Trudy with the SNUGGLES.|
BACK TO VDT
Kermit's concern over the the SOHI are similar to what I see is the problem with VDT, AT LEAST IN THE MOVIE VERSION. But my prediction is that word of mouth promotion will be moderate. The reasons are here: (forgive me for not elaborating)
|Edmund wants the power, but Caspian the better swordman.|
|Reepicheep and Eustace working together at last.|
|Is this a book we should be reading?|
|On the beach before the effects crew arrives.|
BTW: the acting, photography, and effects are terrific.
THE MORAL PREMISEI am at a loss on this. It seems everything is in play. Edmund wants power, but quickly understands his place under King Caspian. Lucy wants to be beautiful like Susan, but quickly burns the spell that allows it. Eustace is greedy, and at a MOG becomes a dragon, which changes his attitude. (This had the most potential, also because the story is told by Eustace. But the movie's goal and Eustace's goal are not aligned until way too late. Caspian and Reepicheep seemingly have no vice (although in the book Caspian struggles with pride and selfishness -- and adventures of his own with little thought of his kingdom). There is a moral story going on between Eustace and Reepicheep -- as Reepicheep helps Eustace understand friendship, loyalty, and what it means to be valiant. But their tag team match has little to do with the major spine of the movie -- to find the lost Lords and swords -- although their teamwork at the end helps the Treader accomplish the goal -- and it is Eustace that finds the last sword and places it on the table.
The net result is a lack of focus. As I illustrate many times in my book, THE MORAL PREMISE, unless the movie is about one true thing at a psychological or moral level, and unless that one thing is consistently portrayed in every one of the main character arcs, the movie will never do well at the box office. Narnia VDT fits that bill, unfortunately. It fails to connect. The business it does do will be spending the capital purchased by the popularity of the books. But as a movie, it falls flat. See any number of other posts herein, on other movies, where this isn't true.