New “Dawn Treader” a Big Step Up from “Caspian”

If you haven’t gone to see the new Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in theaters yet, I hope you’ll make a point to do so. Not everyone is praising the film; this Wall Street Journal reviewer, for example, is ambivalent about several things in it, but is mostly wrong. As she points out, the script contains some cheesy and unnecessary lines such as, “We have nothing if not belief,” that Lewis may have gagged on, but her premise of the supposed tension in the film between Lewis’s writings and what American Christians “wish he had written” is way overblown.

The movie’s plot does have some substantial deviations from the book’s, but to a great extent they were necessary because of the latter’s episodic content. The “dark island’s” green mist that is threatening everything is there to give some unity to the plot, and even if it does seem a bit strange to those of us who know the book inside and out, it still holds together fairly well. Without the mist or some similar device, the movie’s plot would have seemed completely disjointed.

All in all, this film is far better than the Prince Caspian turkey of a couple of years ago. For Caspian, Disney completely butchered the book’s plot in an attempt to create a non-stop action flick. Much of the symbolic content, including the interesting commentary on the relationship between Christianity and classical paganism, vanished, although the dream scene between Aslan and Lucy was done pretty well. Dawn Treader, which was produced sans Disney, retains the Christian themes of the original and even includes the most explicitly Christian line of the whole Narnia series, where Aslan tells Edmund and Lucy that they must learn to know him “by another name” in their world.

The C.S. Lewis Society of California is praising the film, and with good reason. Treat your family to some 3-D Narnia before it leaves theaters!

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About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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