This week-end I watched the movie The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which is adapted from the third book in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicle of Narnia series. I was disappointed, even though I think the producers and screenwriters were faithful to the story. Since Lewis’ story is episodic, a string of small encounters, the movie tries to tie the episodes all together by introducing an “evil mist” that must be destroyed.
I struggled with the “evil mist” because for C. S. Lewis, evil was not some nameless vague mist, but actual angelic powers and individuals. Satan and his minions are accountable to God. There was no central person/being/intelligence in the movie’s mist to be held responsible. It was some vague power invading Narnian space, like an environmental contagion.
My real disappointment was the transformation of Eustace Scrubb. In the book this is a pivotal moment when Aslan the Lion encountered Eustace as the dragon. First Eustace tried to cut away the dragon skin and failed after several attempts. Only after the failure did Aslan release him out with one lash of his claw. Finally the restored Eustace is cleansed in the pool of water. The whole scene is a powerful description of baptism. The movie’s version did not fulfill my expectations for the scene and my baptismal perspective. Plus it came so late in the movie, we are unable to witness any transformation in the Eustace’s human character.
Still I enjoyed how the movie captured much of the joy, wonder and strangeness of Narnia. The character development in Edmund, Lucy, Caspian and Eustice was worth seeing as were the majestic sea scenes. It made me want to get my father’s tiny sail boat out and brave the waves of the Puget Sound. But that is a different post.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4
How has a movie or story helped you understand a Christian concept or doctrine?
Lord Jesus, thank you for being my savior and rescuing me from sin and death.
The movie that leaped to my mind is a little known movie called “This is my Father” starring James Caan and Aidan Quinn. It is a bittersweet story that deals much with judging people and the consequences. Maybe it was the time in my life when I watched it, but I have rarely cried so hard at a movie.
I try very hard not to judge people – judge not, lest you be judged, as you never know their whole story. The only persons story I know is my own, and sometimes, I may even fool myself with my memories.
Thats one movie I will need to check out. Thanks for the recommendation and reflection.
I was also dissapointed in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We seem to have this desire for the word to become flesh and by that I mean for books to be made into movies. My experience is that very rarely does the movie version do justice to the book. The visual media can do some things but cannot take the place of a book. For me the printed word requires more labor, imagination, and thought but the end result is a deeper meaning. We are, after all, people of The Book and being able to read well should be one of our priorities. Reading the Bible was one of the reasons that New England became one of the first areas in the world to reach close to 100% literacy. Hopefully this movie can be a segway into people reading more Lewis but I am doubful. After Lord of the Rings was made into a movie version it was thought that more people would read Tolkien’s books. More of his books were sold, but a survey was done and most people did not end up finishing the book, and many did not even start the book! I’ll get off my soapbox now as I have to go to work. Thanks for the work you do on the blog John.
Jim, I am trying to think of a movie that actually enhance the story a book was trying to tell and I am not able. Now original movies have inspired books: “Star Wars” comes to mind. Perhaps others have thoughts about a movie that was better than the book.