Brought to the screen by Fox 2000 Pictures and Walden Media, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, beautifully showcases many of the themes poignantly written by C.S. Lewis in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. With stunning details and imagery that captivates the senses, you can’t help but appreciate the legacy of Lewis as you step aboard the majestic ship, The Dawn Treader.
Published in 1952, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is the third of seven Narnia books, set about three Narnian years after “Prince Caspian”. The film version takes Lucy and Edmund Pevensie (Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes), the younger of the four siblings we have come to know, from a bedroom in wartime England to the magical world of Narnia. Lucy and Edmund are joined on this phase of their journey by a character we meet for the first time, Eustace Clarence Scrubb (Will Poulter), their self-absorbed, non-believing, cynical cousin, with whom they are staying in England. This high seas adventure begins when the three are transported to the world of Narnia and into what may be the most prolific of the films yet.
After a seemingly still painting becomes a lively ocean scene, Lucy, Edmund and Eustace find themselves in Narnia’s Eastern Sea where they are rescued by a ship filled with some familiar faces like King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and the small but valiant warrior, Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg). Caspian tells the traveling trio they’re on a voyage east to find the seven lost Lords of Telmar, the closest allies of his father. The lost Lords each have a sword that was gifted to them by Aslan himself (voiced by Liam Neeson), in order to protect Narnia. If the swords are not retrieved and laid upon Aslan’s banquet table, then Narnia will be destroyed.
From the white walls of the bedroom in England to the bold and unpredictable Narnian Sea, the cast of humans and CGI creatures join arms on this epic journey to locate the swords. Testing, temptations and changes ensue through a series of human and supernatural battles representative of those faced in the life of the believer. And for those in critic land already bashing the film and all who see its undeniable Christian allegories, C.S. Lewis’ stepson, (also the film’s Executive Producer), Douglas Gresham, told me “if you’re looking for the truth you do find it, and you find it in Jesus Christ…I believe the Holy Spirit of God has held these films up and the world needs the Narnian films now more than ever.”
The once cynical, non-believing Eustace, undergoes what can only be described a prolific transformation when he discovers he’s part of something much greater than himself and finally sees the truth because he has personally experienced it. Restoration for Eustace only comes through the intercession of Aslan, the Christ figure in the Narnia stories. And if you’re wondering about the recent comments made by Liam Neeson, Gresham said that “while he’s a great actor and really nice guy, people shouldn’t take religious or spiritual instructions from Neeson.”
As for the other issues faced, Lucy struggles with self-doubt and longs to be beautiful like her older sister, Susan. When the evil of jealousy rears its ugly head, Aslan shows Lucy how unique and important she is, reminding her that it is because of her that others came to believe in him. This all too important truth leads Lucy to a place of joy and confidence as she embraces that she’s exactly who she’s meant to be and should not long to be anyone else. And as for Edmund, an encounter with the White Witch leads to prodding, toying and tempting him with visions of great power and authority if he will simply trust her and abandon Aslan. Convicted by what is taking place, Edmund resists the forces of evil and pursues fighting for the good of Narnia.
The importance of belief and the fact that everyone is serving something cannot be overlooked. As individuals, each must courageously confront and overcome temptations because “you can’t learn how strong temptation can be until you’ve been there”, says Gresham. It’s through fighting temptations, pursuing righteousness and truth that we see the trio mature, their passion for Aslan continue and their resilience deepen.
With wonderfully depicted battle scenes (scary for young or sensitive children), brilliant effects and the overarching premise of living and fighting for Aslan’s world, this Narnia film hits high marks. Keep your ears open and your hearts prepared as you listen and watch Aslan and the principal characters in a setting that stirs the soul with reminders of the Red Sea, what it means to lay down your life for Christ (in this case, Aslan), serve him boldly, and the great reward that awaits those who love him. For those who don’t know the Bible, then much of the Christian perspective of the film may be lost, but you certainly will appreciate the treasure and legacy that is “The Chronicles of Narnia”.