Sunday, December 19, 2010
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
It's hard to even know how to begin this post. I've read so many reviews and so many things have already been said... and it hasn't even been an hour since I finished the film so I wonder if any feelings will change...
...yet at the same time I want to share with you all what it feels to walk out of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Because it really is more than a movie -- it's an experience.
I've always been in love with Dawn Treader. For a long long time it was my favorite of the Narnia books. "Horse and His Boy" took over first place eventually, and now I'm not sure I actually have a favorite, but Dawn Treader remains very, very close to my heart.
So these last few years have been rather traumatic. I knew after LWW and PC that it was nearly impossible that we'd see a faithful adaptation on the big screen. Reports that came in over the filming period varied between exciting and distressing.
Same with the trailers, reviews, and fan reports. I kept going back and forth between extremes, wondering and second guessing and fearing...
When I went into the theatre today, I had low expectations. I knew this was the best way to enjoy a film -- don't expect anything so that whatever is good will truly thrill you.
I knew they were going to condense the Islands and change the orders. I knew they were going to have silly green mist and swords. I know there would be no Ramandu, and no wedding of Caspian and Liliandil. I knew Gael was going to be an annoying and pointless addition in pursuit of cutsyness.
And I'm really glad I knew all this. Because I was able to process them ahead of time and move past them to truly enjoy the film. Do I think they were all wise decisions? No. I still don't really see why they couldn't put Ramandu in and cut Gael out. Condensing the Islands probably was necessary, but it did make for a bit of an over-packed middle. The green mist and the swords were actually done better than I expected, and while not the route I would have chosen, I found myself forgiving that change. The absence of the wedding was probably unavoidable as there isn't a good way to portray that without a narrator and of course Eustace couldn't have done that. All I can really hope for is that they'll include that romance and wedding in flashbacks in SC.
Everything else was brilliant. The Islands were gorgeous and each perfectly unique. All five of the main characters (Lu, Ed, Caspian, Eustace and Reep) got what I felt was fair screen time. The acting was better than the previous films, and the character arcs were far better picked and handled.
The costumes were gorgeous -- I only wish we could have seen Lucy in girl clothing because her dresses would have been breathtaking. However Caspian's amazing jerkins and vests and coats nearly made up for this. I love the way they dressed him!
The sets were wonderful. I wish I could actually step into the cabin on the Dawn Treader -- at the very least I wish they'd release prints of the paintings on the walls. The little glimpse we got of them was absolutely wonderful!
The cameos of Susan and Peter were done very well. I felt it added a nice connecting touch, but did not at all distract from the main story.
The relationship between Reep and Eustace was slightly restructured from the book, but completely for the better.
Reep himself was very well done, given much better characterization than in PC.
I loved how they expanded on Lucy's insecurity over her looks. It was something that was definitely in the book and a perfect theme to elaborate on.
It's a little sad that the mention of Susaspian gets about as much time as the little hint at romance between Liliandil and Caspian. However it provides nice continuity between movies and the way they wrote it made it pretty clear that Caspian does not just jump from one girl to another as some of the fans feared would appear after the Susan flirtation.
The battle with the sea serpent was quite epic, though the serpent itself was nothing like I imagined. And the whole "splitting open" thing was weird... but it was great to see the characters get to fight so heroically -- especially Ed!
Also, I loved how after Caspian gave his little speech before Dark Island, he started to step down, but was caught off guard by the cheers of the sailors... he's not used to being a King, even now, but his self-depreciation and humility makes him all the better.
Oooh, little things... I loved that the Magicians book contained the spells mentioned in the novel... and that they mentioned the changing constellations, and the water growing sweet...
And Reep's coracle! The entire ending is absolutely wonderful and that nod to the coracle was just so sweet...
The ending. The beautiful ending. When Aslan spoke it sent chills down my spine. When the children went back to England I started getting misty-eyed.
"Am I going to cry? No... I can't..."
and then the door closed and the Pauline Baynes Illustrations came up in the credits. The tears started then. You see, I've always adored the Baynes illustrations, and wished that the movies would follow her styles closer... so to see those drawings so unexpectedly like that just filled me with nostalgia and gratitude for the beautiful homage.
I didn't bawl. I actually had two identical tears run down on either side of my face -- the sort of perfect tears that never happen in real life. My sister happened to glance over and said afterwards "you really had those perfect movie tears!"
So Dawn Treader... probably my favorite Narnia movie so far. And I sincerely hope you all will go out and see it again and again, because I now think they could actually pull off a pretty spectacular "Silver Chair" and I'd really love to see it.