The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The thing about blogging is somehow I can’t keep out what I’ve been thinking in my mind unless I have put it into written form. Anyway, after writing a few posts on Narnia, I’ve been thinking again about the latest film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (VDT), and here’s some notes on it:

1. VDT is supposed to be irradiated by Sol, the solar deity. The Sun is its presiding god. Although film adaptation would unavoidably alter some aspects of the novel, since they operated in different milieu, I guess we could still see the sunny character of VDT in the film.

2. In the first case this atmospheric quality was shown in the title itself, as the story was about a journey of Caspian to find the seven lords of Narnia, who had been banished by his uncle Miraz, using a ship called The Dawn Treader.

3. Quite appropriately, they journeyed to the East, as that’s where the lost lords were supposed to be, i.e., in the Lone Islands in the Eastern Sea.

4. Narnia is a flat world in a Narnia-centric universe, and the East is where the Sun rises. Of course, the Sun will revolve around Narnia once daily, but notice as well that as the Dawn Treader is getting nearer and nearer to the East, the setting becomes brighter and brighter as well; particularly at the very end of the film, where they reached the very end of Narnia. That is, they were getting closer to the Sun as they sailed eastward. Naturally, C. S. Lewis has baptized the Sun, so that in the East the characters meet not the Sun an sich, but Aslan, the Sun-God, or, as he is called elsewhere, the Son of the Great Emperor beyond the Sea (in the novel, they meet Aslan in the form of a Lamb). This is nothing new, as some have argued that similar move was perhaps made in determining the date of Christmas (not everyone agreed with this identification, though).

5. Thus Aslan, in VDT, functions as Light. This is a well-known biblical metaphor for God, e.g., “that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 Joh 1.5) Light is to be contrasted with darkness, and in various cases Aslan rebukes and enlightens the characters for the wrong things that they have done (e.g., Lucy who wants to become like Susan).

6. Aslan also helped to transform Eustace. He was cursed to become a dragon after trying to take golden jewelries for his own. And Aslan turns him back into human. The way Aslan changed Eustace in the film is different from the novel. In the film Aslan roared at Eustace, while in the novel Aslan slam-dunked him into a pool (and I guess I don’t need to tell what these two symbolized).

7. It is really shiny in the dragon’s island with all those golden jewelries — and that in the island there is a pool which can turn anything into gold.

8. Finally, the last battle at the Dark (!) Island, where they rescued the last lord and defeated the sea serpent, the manifestation of Edmund’s fear. After defeating the sea serpent, out of the dark a beam of light fell upon the ship. Lucy looked along the beam (notice the echo to the Meditation in a Toolshed by Lewis)  and saw something that “at first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross.” The albatross (alba = white) then guided them out of darkness into light. The albatross, of course, is Aslan. Post tenebras lux.

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