Yep. Saw 20th Century Fox’s film version of C. S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And, for this long-time friend of Narnia, it’s both thumbs up.
Director Michael Apted does take liberties with the text. One must when adapting a novel for the big screen, but the changes work. The most obvious is melding the episodic nature of Lewis’s adventures in this third book of the Chronicles to a single quest: finding the lost lords of Narnia and placing their seven swords on Ramandu’s table, thus breaking the spell of the evil mist and liberating the Narnians it had enslaved.
Apted has to add both characters and plot to pull this off.
But what the film does best is its portrayal of Eustace Clarence Scrubb—bookish, spoiled Penvensie cousin, turned dragon, turned hero—and his unlikely friendship with Reepicheep, the bravest mouse in Narnia. Together they steal the show.
Of course, Edmund the Just is on board, as is Prince Caspian, 10th King of Narnia and leader of the Dawn Treader. And there is Lucy, the first child who entered this magical land and first in the hearts of every lover of Lewis’s tales.
If there’s a weakness, I wish Apted had spent more time on the de-dragoning of Eustace. He leaves out the scene where Eustace keeps pealing off layers of dragon skin but can’t cut deep enough to get to the boy inside. Only Aslan can, and, of course, only Christ can bring that kind of change in us.
And the film leaves out that moving scene on the beach of Dragon Island where Edmund, the former traitor, extends grace to Eustace, the former beast. It’s my 2nd favorite passage in all the books. The first? I’ll tell you when The Last Battle comes out.
For now, if you want an uplifting story of courage, faith and the transformation they bring to the unlikeliest of heroes, book passage tonight on The Dawn Treader.