Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third in the Chronicles of Narnia which commenced with the most famous book of all The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. There have been few works of fiction which managed to sustain interest during individual works while part of some grand design. Harry Potter is the best example. Some authors have successfully created characters who can undertake a series of individual adventures at the same as the original. Enid Blyton achieved this with her Famous Five and Seven Stories in times past.

I marked the Voyage of the Dawn Treader as OK and as film which would satisfy those who enjoyed the seven series of books by C S Lewis. Lucy and Edmund Pevensie, the two youngsters of the original children who enter Narnia via the back of a wardrobe are staying with their sceptical rationalist cousin Eustace and are drawn to an oil painting of a traditional sailing ship on high seas. Then the sea flows from the picture filling their room so that the trio find themselves in the high seas and picked up by the sailing ship.

This is commanded by Caspian now the King of Narnia who is on an expedition to find out what has happened to the seven Lords of Narnia which his uncle had banished. It was Lucy who first discovered the world within the world and as she grows up she wishes she was as beautiful and successful as her older sister. She represents the challenges faced by preteens in the contemporary society of the 1950’s. Her brother is responsible and protective for his age but saw the Prince, now King as a rival, taking account that Lucy is regarded as a Queen of Narnia for her previous efforts.

In the early part of the voyage Eustace spends all his time in disbelief especially over the talking and swashbuckling mouse, Reepicheep, who attempts to help him adjust to the fantasy world.

On the first island visited Caspian and Edmund are captured and imprisoned while Lucy and Eustace are to be sold as slaves to traders who control the island. Those who are not sold, mainly the indigenous island people, are periodically taken out in boats and disappear to a mysterious Green Mist, They learn this from one of the missing Lords who provides one of a number of swords given by Aslan the Lion in the Golden Age. The rest of the crew free those captured and chase off the slavers freeing the remaining inhabitants not already in the hands of the Mist. A young girl who has seen her parents taken by the Mist becomes a stowaway pleading with Caspian to find out what has happened to her parents.

On the next Island it is Lucy who is abducted by invisibles who leave giant footprints. They turn out to be small creatures standing on top of each other. Lucy discovers a book of spells and which she uses at one point to become her elder sister only find she is living a life where Narnia or her true self do not exist. Aslan interjects to explain that Narnia only exists in the knowledge of the family through her as she really is. They also learn that that it is only by laying together all seven swords of Aslan can the Green Mist be defeated.

They recover another sword on the next island where everything that enters a pool turns to gold. Edmund see this as creating great power as well as wealth for him. This is also where Eustace is turned into a fire breathing dragon by an enchanted treasure. This has positive as well as negative consequences and with the help of the Mouse enables Eustace to prove his worth which in turn coverts him to active participation in the adventure and a crucial member of the expedition. It is the dragon that is able to create the wind to break the ship out from the doldrums where they are being held during which time the crew have grown restless.

They come to Aslan’s Table and three more of the lost Lords and their swords are there frozen in time and reach the point when only one sword is missing believed to be on the Dark Island. A beautiful creature arrives and says she can guide them to the Island which is the lair of the Mist. They find the last missing Lord on the Island who warns of its power to make reality their fears. Edmund’s fear of a sea serpent nearly costs everyone their lives but it is Eustace as the dragon who saves the day after being wounded by the last sword and flying away. He is rescued by the White Witch who changes him back to the boy with the last sword which he takes to the others. It is Eustace with the sword that defeats the Mist and places the sword on the table enabling Edmund to defeat the Sea Serpent of his fears and this in turn releases all the people who have been held by the Mist.

The ship then encounters a sea of lilies which takes them to a shore and Aslan. There is a giant wave out to sea which if they traverse will take them to Aslan’s world but if they travel they can never return. Caspian declines saying his duties are with the people of Narnia. Aslan opens a portal to send the three children home while it is the Mouse Reepicheep who elects to make the one way journey. The trio return bonded through their now secret adventure. In terms of objects and characters moving out of the screen I thought the film was limited but one does get the sense of three dimensional effects within the space of the TV. In this respect I thought the make had got the balance right not allowing the effects to dominate the established and well known story.

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