My thoughts on Dawn Treader

I understand why some filmmakers make changes when they make a movie out of a novel.  The two art forms are different.  The movie version of Voyage of the Dawn Treader added some plot elements–the green mist, the seven swords–but, as my wife said, they sort of served the larger story, tying together an episodic plot that works better in print than on the screen.  The movie nailed the characters, though, especially Lucy, along with a Reepicheep wonderfully voiced by Simon Pegg.

The Christian elements were there, with lots of talk and examples about not giving in to temptation, something you don’t hear about in most movies.  In the book, Aslan scratched out Eustace’s dragon-nature, supplemented with some great baptismal imagery.  In the movie, once Eustace turns into a dragon, he does all kinds of heroic deeds, and then Aslan changes him back (without touching him, though).  One could construe that as implying that a person does good works, which then merit God’s grace.  Whereas the book has the grace coming first, and then the good works.  But I think the theology was unintentional.  In a movie, if you go to the trouble of devising a good special effects dragon, you need to have it do as much as possible.  The movie did include one of the Narnia series’ most important lines from Aslan, where he tells the children that when they go back to our world they will have to know him by a different name, and that the reason he brought them into Narnia was so that they could know him better in their world.

So I thought the movie was good.  I enjoyed it.  I recommend it.

And yet why do I feel so lukewarm about it?  I realize that a novel has characters, setting, plot, and theme.  The movie did an OK job of approximating those.  But a novel also has language.  It also conveys a feeling. I guess it was the feeling of the Narnia books that I was missing.

Because the story in a novel is happening in your mind, as  you picture the events in your imagination, the effect is deeper and, by definition, more imaginative, than just watching images on a screen.  Reading entails an inner experience.  In movies, we are more detached from the images we are watching.

There is another problem, though.  Movies today have a hard time rendering fantasy.  Yes, they can now create the most fantastical special effects.  But because they are so realistic, so hard-edged, the elements that make fantasy–namely, mystery and wonder–are dispelled.  Fantasy needs to have softer edges to work.  I had the same problem with Inception, an interesting movie about the relationship between dreams and reality, but there was nothing dreamlike about any of the dreams!   Movies and special effects today are just too literal! (Come to think of it, I recall Lewis making this same point, about how fantasy doesn’t work well on the stage or in film.  Does anybody have that reference?)

I do think a movie maker will one day figure out how to use special effects to create truly special effects in the imagination of the viewers.

I can think of one example, though, of a fantasy movie based on a novel that worked in its own terms and in capturing the feel and the imaginative rush of the original.  That would be the Lord of the Rings.

Why do you think the movie version of Tolkien’s trilogy worked so much better than any of the movies of the Narnia series?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://insidepastorkevinshead.blogspot.com/ Kevin Sorensen

    I was invited to see a sneak preview of this film three weeks before it came out. I enjoyed it very much, but my one regret reflects something of your thoughts in your review. I wonder if the producers would have allowed this movie to run for 2 1/2 hours, if they could have “softened the fantasy” and captured the book better. If I remember, the preview ran one hour and 50 minutes. In today’s movie world, that seems a bit on the short side. You mentioned Lord of the rings being able to capture Tolkien’s ideas from the book on film. Each of those three movies was at the least two hours long. If one were to purchase the extended DVD, that gets cranked up to at least two hours and 45 minutes or more. Marvelous, wonderful, and delightful. I wonder how much the directors of Dawn Treader left on the cutting room floor. Might this have filled in gaps, softened the edges of the fantasy, and left the viewer, who is familiar with the story, more satisfied.

  • http://insidepastorkevinshead.blogspot.com/ Kevin Sorensen

    I was invited to see a sneak preview of this film three weeks before it came out. I enjoyed it very much, but my one regret reflects something of your thoughts in your review. I wonder if the producers would have allowed this movie to run for 2 1/2 hours, if they could have “softened the fantasy” and captured the book better. If I remember, the preview ran one hour and 50 minutes. In today’s movie world, that seems a bit on the short side. You mentioned Lord of the rings being able to capture Tolkien’s ideas from the book on film. Each of those three movies was at the least two hours long. If one were to purchase the extended DVD, that gets cranked up to at least two hours and 45 minutes or more. Marvelous, wonderful, and delightful. I wonder how much the directors of Dawn Treader left on the cutting room floor. Might this have filled in gaps, softened the edges of the fantasy, and left the viewer, who is familiar with the story, more satisfied.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I like Kevin’s explanation for why the LOR series is so much better than Narnia.

    I think there was, with the LOR series, a near fanatical devotion to capturing as much of the novel’s details, or should I say, “more fanatical” devotion to capturing the details and getting the tone, the mood, the story “just right.”

    I hate to admit that I’ve never been a fan of the Narnia series. I’ve tried to read them several times, but put them down and never finish them.

    I have devoured Tolkien’s LOR several times and each time I find something amazingly new and fresh about them.

    Frankly, I think one reason the LOR series works better than Narnia is simply that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is superior to the Narnia series.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I like Kevin’s explanation for why the LOR series is so much better than Narnia.

    I think there was, with the LOR series, a near fanatical devotion to capturing as much of the novel’s details, or should I say, “more fanatical” devotion to capturing the details and getting the tone, the mood, the story “just right.”

    I hate to admit that I’ve never been a fan of the Narnia series. I’ve tried to read them several times, but put them down and never finish them.

    I have devoured Tolkien’s LOR several times and each time I find something amazingly new and fresh about them.

    Frankly, I think one reason the LOR series works better than Narnia is simply that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is superior to the Narnia series.

  • SKPeterson

    There is also a greater cohesive structure to the LOTR movies than that in the Narnia films. The same actors (yes a few are in the Narnia series) but also, the same director, cinematographers, storywriters, crew, etc. Everything worked well together as all 3 were shot together and edited together by the same team.

  • SKPeterson

    There is also a greater cohesive structure to the LOTR movies than that in the Narnia films. The same actors (yes a few are in the Narnia series) but also, the same director, cinematographers, storywriters, crew, etc. Everything worked well together as all 3 were shot together and edited together by the same team.

  • Tom Hering

    They filmed the wrong Lewis books. The Space Trilogy is superior source material, and “hard edge” special effects would be perfect for depicting the worlds of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

  • Tom Hering

    They filmed the wrong Lewis books. The Space Trilogy is superior source material, and “hard edge” special effects would be perfect for depicting the worlds of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

  • Tom Hering

    “Why do you think the movie version of Tolkien’s trilogy worked so much better than any of the movies of the Narnia series?”

    Because it’s the work of Peter Jackson – a man who loves Tolkien’s trilogy, knows it inside out, and was fanatical about depicting it perfectly onscreen. Whereas as the Narnia films are corporate projects that sought to cash in on the success of Jackson’s films.

  • Tom Hering

    “Why do you think the movie version of Tolkien’s trilogy worked so much better than any of the movies of the Narnia series?”

    Because it’s the work of Peter Jackson – a man who loves Tolkien’s trilogy, knows it inside out, and was fanatical about depicting it perfectly onscreen. Whereas as the Narnia films are corporate projects that sought to cash in on the success of Jackson’s films.

  • Jeff Bolzman

    I found myself fighting the “Dawn Treader” with every change of the original Lewis story. I imagined it so much better. My favorite scene in the book was when Aslan scratched the scales off Eustace because Eustace could not scratch them off himself. His sin nature was more than skin deep. Aslan had to wound him deeply and drown him in water. Eustace had to die to be reborn a new creature. Water was essential. Luther said I need to remember my baptism and be drowned daily (my Old Adam) so the new man can come forth and arise. That new man may look like the old, and even revert back to his “Annoying Eustace” at times, but he is still a new creation in Christ. Maybe we need movie makers who have a deeper understanding of the Reformation. I have two sons who are on the road to doing just that. It will take time for them to mature to the point where they can influence a film of this size.

  • Jeff Bolzman

    I found myself fighting the “Dawn Treader” with every change of the original Lewis story. I imagined it so much better. My favorite scene in the book was when Aslan scratched the scales off Eustace because Eustace could not scratch them off himself. His sin nature was more than skin deep. Aslan had to wound him deeply and drown him in water. Eustace had to die to be reborn a new creature. Water was essential. Luther said I need to remember my baptism and be drowned daily (my Old Adam) so the new man can come forth and arise. That new man may look like the old, and even revert back to his “Annoying Eustace” at times, but he is still a new creation in Christ. Maybe we need movie makers who have a deeper understanding of the Reformation. I have two sons who are on the road to doing just that. It will take time for them to mature to the point where they can influence a film of this size.

  • Caleb

    @Tom

    You’re absolutely right. My brother is in the know about movies, and he says that there has been interest in making Perelandra into a movie for years. The problem is that the main characters are nude the whole movie… Either you’re in for an NC-17 rated film (about a C.S. Lewis novel!) or you’re going to have to pull the clever-nudity-blocking-leaf gag of a lifetime…for 2-3 hours…

    That or sacrifice one of the main plot points of the novel, the new creation innocence of the film. Maybe some things are best left novels…

  • Caleb

    @Tom

    You’re absolutely right. My brother is in the know about movies, and he says that there has been interest in making Perelandra into a movie for years. The problem is that the main characters are nude the whole movie… Either you’re in for an NC-17 rated film (about a C.S. Lewis novel!) or you’re going to have to pull the clever-nudity-blocking-leaf gag of a lifetime…for 2-3 hours…

    That or sacrifice one of the main plot points of the novel, the new creation innocence of the film. Maybe some things are best left novels…

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I like what Tom said; a lot of books are ruined as movies simply because they are filmed by producers who simply don’t understand or appreciate the books. If you don’t “get” the imagery and language of Lewis, you won’t do a good film, either.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I like what Tom said; a lot of books are ruined as movies simply because they are filmed by producers who simply don’t understand or appreciate the books. If you don’t “get” the imagery and language of Lewis, you won’t do a good film, either.

  • Michael Z.

    In my opinion, Tolkien’s works manifest better on the screen because they are not as dependent on imagination and magic, they are more adult, and Middle Earth is more like our real world with a few exceptions (wizards and different races).
    The Narnia series is filled with wondrous scenes that are best played out in a child’s mind and thus don’t come across well in a live-action film. (ex. Bacchus’ romp in Prince Caspian, it would never work on film)

  • Michael Z.

    In my opinion, Tolkien’s works manifest better on the screen because they are not as dependent on imagination and magic, they are more adult, and Middle Earth is more like our real world with a few exceptions (wizards and different races).
    The Narnia series is filled with wondrous scenes that are best played out in a child’s mind and thus don’t come across well in a live-action film. (ex. Bacchus’ romp in Prince Caspian, it would never work on film)

  • Tom Hering

    Caleb @ 7, lots of discussion of the Space Trilogy as movies here, including the nudity problem of Perelandra. (There’s also nudity at the beginning of Silent Planet, and at the end of Hideous Strength.)

    Personally, I’d say forget the squeemishness and prurience of American audiences, and go for it. Seek to turn a profit overseas. (The opera version of Perelandra, written in collaboration with Lewis by Donald Swann, was performed at Oxford. Download the concert program and you’ll see “the Lady” performed in a semi-transparent body suit.)

  • Tom Hering

    Caleb @ 7, lots of discussion of the Space Trilogy as movies here, including the nudity problem of Perelandra. (There’s also nudity at the beginning of Silent Planet, and at the end of Hideous Strength.)

    Personally, I’d say forget the squeemishness and prurience of American audiences, and go for it. Seek to turn a profit overseas. (The opera version of Perelandra, written in collaboration with Lewis by Donald Swann, was performed at Oxford. Download the concert program and you’ll see “the Lady” performed in a semi-transparent body suit.)

  • Bruce Gee

    My wife is an aural person, and not at all visual. She loves listening to music but does not find watching a movie particularly appealing. I am much more visual, and get into movies much more than she does. I wonder if this isn’t an element to consider when one compares literature to visual story telling.

    Having said that, I don’t think there is any doubt that literature, read, is a more complete and deep experience than a movie watched. What a movie can do, as in BLEAK HOUSE or MASTER AND COMMANDER (two that just happen to come to my mind) is flesh out the book. Action scenes in particular are very hard to write about, but can be shot to great effect.

    I agree with Paul McCain; I was told to read the Narnia series to my children when they were young and I did so, but found them strangely uninteresting (compared to their rep anyway. The Silver Chair was really my favorite). And I agree with Tom Hering: the space trilogy would really be an interesting series to watch. However, it is only barely a “trilogy”, and I wonder if non-readers would see the connections between the three books, as movies.

  • Bruce Gee

    My wife is an aural person, and not at all visual. She loves listening to music but does not find watching a movie particularly appealing. I am much more visual, and get into movies much more than she does. I wonder if this isn’t an element to consider when one compares literature to visual story telling.

    Having said that, I don’t think there is any doubt that literature, read, is a more complete and deep experience than a movie watched. What a movie can do, as in BLEAK HOUSE or MASTER AND COMMANDER (two that just happen to come to my mind) is flesh out the book. Action scenes in particular are very hard to write about, but can be shot to great effect.

    I agree with Paul McCain; I was told to read the Narnia series to my children when they were young and I did so, but found them strangely uninteresting (compared to their rep anyway. The Silver Chair was really my favorite). And I agree with Tom Hering: the space trilogy would really be an interesting series to watch. However, it is only barely a “trilogy”, and I wonder if non-readers would see the connections between the three books, as movies.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    This is a great post. And I think I agree with Tom @ 5. I also think that the nudity problem for the Space Trilogy films would be a fun and hilarious one to work through – but definitely possible.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    This is a great post. And I think I agree with Tom @ 5. I also think that the nudity problem for the Space Trilogy films would be a fun and hilarious one to work through – but definitely possible.

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  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Tom @ 5 – another ditto. Jackson is an artist fulfilling his dream, the others were done by comissioned artists bound to create profit.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Tom @ 5 – another ditto. Jackson is an artist fulfilling his dream, the others were done by comissioned artists bound to create profit.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Why do you think the movie version of Tolkien’s trilogy worked so much better than any of the movies of the Narnia series?”

    Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen anybody mention the elephant in the room: the source material. Not that I’m able to offer a lot of insight myself, as I last read the Chronicles of Narnia in elementary school and the Lord of the Rings in junior high. Though that may tell you what you need to know in terms of the books’ relative age levels. No, really, LotR is a better book, at pretty much all levels. Not that I didn’t like Narnia back in the day — I’m sure I’ll read it to my son.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Why do you think the movie version of Tolkien’s trilogy worked so much better than any of the movies of the Narnia series?”

    Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen anybody mention the elephant in the room: the source material. Not that I’m able to offer a lot of insight myself, as I last read the Chronicles of Narnia in elementary school and the Lord of the Rings in junior high. Though that may tell you what you need to know in terms of the books’ relative age levels. No, really, LotR is a better book, at pretty much all levels. Not that I didn’t like Narnia back in the day — I’m sure I’ll read it to my son.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Could it be that a good reason *not* to do, say, Perelandra might be that the theme of nudity gets people to think a certain way in a book, but that just might not work too well in a movie? That even in “enlightened” places, the mind shuts off when the clothes come off?

    (put differently, all those guys that tell you that the nudity at “clothing optional” beaches doesn’t affect them….seem to be awfully tanned!)

    Regarding tODD’s point….well, I’ve re-read the Chronicles of Narnia and “The Hobbit” as an adult, and I cannot say that were they made into movies, they’d be any dumber than the rest of what Hollywood is putting out. Probably not the Bard, Dickens, or even Twain, but it’s not the “Dukes of Hazzard” movie, either.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Could it be that a good reason *not* to do, say, Perelandra might be that the theme of nudity gets people to think a certain way in a book, but that just might not work too well in a movie? That even in “enlightened” places, the mind shuts off when the clothes come off?

    (put differently, all those guys that tell you that the nudity at “clothing optional” beaches doesn’t affect them….seem to be awfully tanned!)

    Regarding tODD’s point….well, I’ve re-read the Chronicles of Narnia and “The Hobbit” as an adult, and I cannot say that were they made into movies, they’d be any dumber than the rest of what Hollywood is putting out. Probably not the Bard, Dickens, or even Twain, but it’s not the “Dukes of Hazzard” movie, either.

  • Tom Hering

    Louis @ 13, I also think there’s a difference between art driven by vision, and commercial product carefully tailored for a market. The former succeeds in being art (maybe good, maybe bad), while the latter succeeds in … not offending Christians.

  • Tom Hering

    Louis @ 13, I also think there’s a difference between art driven by vision, and commercial product carefully tailored for a market. The former succeeds in being art (maybe good, maybe bad), while the latter succeeds in … not offending Christians.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Not “dumber than the rest of what Hollywood is putting out” (@15). Boy, if there were a motto for the Christian entertainment industry, it just might be that.

    I only saw the first Narnia movie, after which I didn’t feel compelled to see the rest. But I do think those films, in particular, face a terribly demanding audience in American Evangelical Christians. Or perhaps I should say, an audience with terrible demands.

    In my experience, the average American Christian expects two things from a movie: (1) that it is “family-friendly” (i.e. no sex, no realistic violence, no drugs — though see the next point) and (2) that it moralizes (i.e. if bad behavior is present, it is punished, and the protagonist learns an important lesson about love and forgiveness).

    This tends to hinder good story-telling or artistry. Not that such items are particularly in demand in the Christian entertainment industry.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Not “dumber than the rest of what Hollywood is putting out” (@15). Boy, if there were a motto for the Christian entertainment industry, it just might be that.

    I only saw the first Narnia movie, after which I didn’t feel compelled to see the rest. But I do think those films, in particular, face a terribly demanding audience in American Evangelical Christians. Or perhaps I should say, an audience with terrible demands.

    In my experience, the average American Christian expects two things from a movie: (1) that it is “family-friendly” (i.e. no sex, no realistic violence, no drugs — though see the next point) and (2) that it moralizes (i.e. if bad behavior is present, it is punished, and the protagonist learns an important lesson about love and forgiveness).

    This tends to hinder good story-telling or artistry. Not that such items are particularly in demand in the Christian entertainment industry.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I agree with tODD @ 17, and think Bike @15 shouldn’t make this particular sci-fi movie. But how immensely fun would it be to figure out how to get all the necessary action with the illusion that the clothes are off, without in fact showing anything – and then both sustaining that and delivering the point. What a fun artistic problem to solve creatively. I bet the right person or team could pull that off.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I agree with tODD @ 17, and think Bike @15 shouldn’t make this particular sci-fi movie. But how immensely fun would it be to figure out how to get all the necessary action with the illusion that the clothes are off, without in fact showing anything – and then both sustaining that and delivering the point. What a fun artistic problem to solve creatively. I bet the right person or team could pull that off.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    And just so you know, agreeing with tODD, and commenting toward Bike in my previous post are in fact totally unrelated.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    And just so you know, agreeing with tODD, and commenting toward Bike in my previous post are in fact totally unrelated.

  • S Bauer

    “Why do you think the movie version of Tolkien’s trilogy worked so much better than any of the movies of the Narnia series?”

    I, too, would give credit to Jackson for doing a masterful job (for the most part) in translating the book to the screen. Bu I think far more important to the film’s success in capturing the fantasy of the LotR is that it is a better book. And by better I mean Tolkien was much more successful in writing mythologically. He had a wider canvas and a richer pallette to work with than Lewis did. And the Christian elements are more “fundamental” and less “obvious” than in the Chronicles of Narnia.

  • S Bauer

    “Why do you think the movie version of Tolkien’s trilogy worked so much better than any of the movies of the Narnia series?”

    I, too, would give credit to Jackson for doing a masterful job (for the most part) in translating the book to the screen. Bu I think far more important to the film’s success in capturing the fantasy of the LotR is that it is a better book. And by better I mean Tolkien was much more successful in writing mythologically. He had a wider canvas and a richer pallette to work with than Lewis did. And the Christian elements are more “fundamental” and less “obvious” than in the Chronicles of Narnia.

  • TQ

    This discussion couldn’t help but put me in mind of this article in Touchstone recently:
    http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=23-06-030-f

  • TQ

    This discussion couldn’t help but put me in mind of this article in Touchstone recently:
    http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=23-06-030-f

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Not completely unrelated, Bryan, as I tend to agree with tODD in his comment that “not dumber than the rest of what Hollyweird is putting out” would be a great motto for too much of Christian entertainment. I also agree that I would be a poor choice to do a “Perelandra” movie, never having read the book.

    (of course, never having read, let alone understood, the book, seems to be a lot of what distinguishes Hollyweird…..at least I might be able to satisfy tODD’s/my criterion for “success” in “Christian movies”….)

    :^)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Not completely unrelated, Bryan, as I tend to agree with tODD in his comment that “not dumber than the rest of what Hollyweird is putting out” would be a great motto for too much of Christian entertainment. I also agree that I would be a poor choice to do a “Perelandra” movie, never having read the book.

    (of course, never having read, let alone understood, the book, seems to be a lot of what distinguishes Hollyweird…..at least I might be able to satisfy tODD’s/my criterion for “success” in “Christian movies”….)

    :^)

  • Kyralessa

    My wife and I saw the movie this evening, along with our six-year-old son, to whom I read all the books within the past year.

    I think a lot of those accusing the books of having weak, simplistic plots simply haven’t read them in a long time. I’ve read them recently. They’re kids’ books, sure, but they’re very good kids’ books. C.S. Lewis was a good storyteller, and these are good stories. I definitely didn’t find them tedious to read, and I can list a lot of kids’ books I’ve found tedious when reading them to my son.

    We’ve seen all three movies so far, and each one has been worse than the one before. I found myself cringing every time that infernal green mist came on the screen. I did a lot of cringing this evening.

    Dr. Veith, I think your judgment was far too generous. Very little of this movie was what Lewis wrote, and very little of it was all that good.

    There were one or two decent points. I thought the sword fight between Eustace and Reepicheep was well done and in character. It was a reasonable departure from the text. And I didn’t mind the mere fact that Eustace stayed a dragon for a while in the movie. The compression of Deathwater Island and the dragon’s island was understandable, in terms of keeping the movie a reasonable length.

    But most of it was rubbish. It came across as Screenwriting 101: It’s too episodic, so invent the garbage about mist and swords to tie it all together. You need epic battles, so change the Lone Islands tale to a swashbuckling frenzy. You need a big climax, so make a bigger story out of the sea serpent. Pushing the sea serpent off the boat is lame; instead, have them fight it TO THE DEATH!!!

    I guess in the end what baffles me is this: Apparently C. S. Lewis was such a good storyteller that they want to make all his Narnia books into movies; and yet apparently he was such a terrible storyteller that they have to mangle the plot of each one.

  • Kyralessa

    My wife and I saw the movie this evening, along with our six-year-old son, to whom I read all the books within the past year.

    I think a lot of those accusing the books of having weak, simplistic plots simply haven’t read them in a long time. I’ve read them recently. They’re kids’ books, sure, but they’re very good kids’ books. C.S. Lewis was a good storyteller, and these are good stories. I definitely didn’t find them tedious to read, and I can list a lot of kids’ books I’ve found tedious when reading them to my son.

    We’ve seen all three movies so far, and each one has been worse than the one before. I found myself cringing every time that infernal green mist came on the screen. I did a lot of cringing this evening.

    Dr. Veith, I think your judgment was far too generous. Very little of this movie was what Lewis wrote, and very little of it was all that good.

    There were one or two decent points. I thought the sword fight between Eustace and Reepicheep was well done and in character. It was a reasonable departure from the text. And I didn’t mind the mere fact that Eustace stayed a dragon for a while in the movie. The compression of Deathwater Island and the dragon’s island was understandable, in terms of keeping the movie a reasonable length.

    But most of it was rubbish. It came across as Screenwriting 101: It’s too episodic, so invent the garbage about mist and swords to tie it all together. You need epic battles, so change the Lone Islands tale to a swashbuckling frenzy. You need a big climax, so make a bigger story out of the sea serpent. Pushing the sea serpent off the boat is lame; instead, have them fight it TO THE DEATH!!!

    I guess in the end what baffles me is this: Apparently C. S. Lewis was such a good storyteller that they want to make all his Narnia books into movies; and yet apparently he was such a terrible storyteller that they have to mangle the plot of each one.

  • Kelvin

    As a big fan of both LOTR and Narnia, I’ve struggled with the movies of both worlds. While the LOTR movies definitely captured the epic quality of Tolkien’s work, I think the Narnia movies have been much more faithful to the characters, even if not always to the scenes. Aside from the LWW movie making Peter into a much more reluctant leader (just interested in rescuing Edmund, not wanting to be the king he’s called to be), the Narnia movies have presented the characters consistently with the books. (In fact, I thought the Dawn Treader movie fleshed out Edmund better than the book did.)

    By contrast, Peter Jackson seriously skewed a number of the characters in LOTR. Faramir in particular changes from a principled warrior (“Not if I found [the Ring] on the highway would I take it”) to a mere cut-throat captain. Denethor is portrayed as utterly self-absorbed to the point of cynical detachment, rather than ruthlessly protective of his realm and reign (the idea that he wouldn’t have called for aid from Rohan using the beacons is ridiculous). Even Frodo is portrayed as naive and weak-willed (gulled by Gollum, lying to Faramir about Gollum, telling Sam to “go home” at the frontier of Mordor???). None of these are consistent with the characters Tolkien wrote.

    I’m much more accepting of changed scenes than changed characters in movie adaptations. You can’t tell a story the same way in a movie. But if the characters aren’t the same, what’s the point of calling it the same story?

  • Kelvin

    As a big fan of both LOTR and Narnia, I’ve struggled with the movies of both worlds. While the LOTR movies definitely captured the epic quality of Tolkien’s work, I think the Narnia movies have been much more faithful to the characters, even if not always to the scenes. Aside from the LWW movie making Peter into a much more reluctant leader (just interested in rescuing Edmund, not wanting to be the king he’s called to be), the Narnia movies have presented the characters consistently with the books. (In fact, I thought the Dawn Treader movie fleshed out Edmund better than the book did.)

    By contrast, Peter Jackson seriously skewed a number of the characters in LOTR. Faramir in particular changes from a principled warrior (“Not if I found [the Ring] on the highway would I take it”) to a mere cut-throat captain. Denethor is portrayed as utterly self-absorbed to the point of cynical detachment, rather than ruthlessly protective of his realm and reign (the idea that he wouldn’t have called for aid from Rohan using the beacons is ridiculous). Even Frodo is portrayed as naive and weak-willed (gulled by Gollum, lying to Faramir about Gollum, telling Sam to “go home” at the frontier of Mordor???). None of these are consistent with the characters Tolkien wrote.

    I’m much more accepting of changed scenes than changed characters in movie adaptations. You can’t tell a story the same way in a movie. But if the characters aren’t the same, what’s the point of calling it the same story?

  • Pingback: Sony 3D Bundle/Narnia Glasses | New HDTV Store

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