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Smug? Moi?
A long time ago, I prophesied that The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was going to be a pig to adapt to the screen, because of the episodic nature of the plot and the lack of a strong narrative.

I have yet to see the movie, but listening to Mark Kermode reviewing it yesterday I felt a creeping smugness. Mark's description suggested that they have had to add a 'collect the tokens' plot to give the structure a spine. Also, he complained about the movie's episodic nature and lack of narrative drive.

I shall be interested to see how they've tackled the problems, and how well they've actually succeeded.

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It was a 'road trip' book with a bit of growing up thrown in. Go somewhere do something, grow up a bit, move on.

There have been a lot of sucessful films that have followed that format, but its a long way from the 'quest' fantasy films that have become the norm.

Which is to say that satisfying audience expectations are probably more of a problem than making a good film.

Dramas have to be dramatic. Road movies are only ultimately successful when the incident is liked together by a narrative that moves plot and characterisation forward.

Heh... just read your earlier post about PC and TLTWATW...

I'll beg to differ, with all respect, as I adore TVOTDT and find TSC my least favourite of the seven books. Each to their own, hey? For me, the sense of wonder and numinousness in Dawn Treader remains utterly lovely.

I can't actually read Lewis any longer, because the didactic purpose irritates me no end. (Particularly the 'forget reason, just have faith' message

I admire The Silver Chair primarily because it doesn't meander. Every scene is to the main purpose.

Wow, I had no idea they were still making these films.

Three years and a switch of studios since the last one.

I always liked this book but as you say, it is a bit meandering. My favourites were The Silver Chair and The Horse and His Boy - I suspect the pretty and romantic young men in danger may have added to my early adolescent affection for them. They are also, to my mind, the least didactic. I also suspect that Lewis's "faith above reason" backfired dramatically with me as I recall spending Quite A Lot of Time ruminating about this at about the age of twelve or thirteen and struggling with the concept. As I formally decided I was an atheist at about fourteen I think I rejected most of his arguments as Just Plain Dumb and recognised many of those arguments in christain apologetics and from peddlars of various forms of woo so, if anything, I think it added to and strengthened what called my "bullshit detector".

I do remember vividly the point (at about twelve) when I figured out Lewis's heavy handed Christ metaphor in TLTWATW. I remember being fairly annoyed about it...

That should have read "what Sagan called my "bullshit detector". Blame the traditional retail Xmas cold...

I also think I liked the fact Rillian was tied to a chair. Partly because he was rescued by a girl (OK, a girl, a marshwiggle and a boy...) but also - handsome young man tied to a chair? What's not to like? Although I doubt I could have articulated that at the time. There's some kinky subtext to TSC!

Now you've got my wondering about my liking for TSC too! I loved the underground land, and, of course, Puddleglum. I'm also fond of the practicality of Eustace and Jill as opposed to Lucy's mysticism.

"I'm also fond of the practicality of Eustace and Jill as opposed to Lucy's mysticism."

Word! I was never fond of Lucy. Too much an idealistic idea of what a nice little girl should be. A bit like Anne in Famous Five! (I was a George fan all the way). I was never very keen on the representations of worthy young manhood either (Peter and Julian in these two cases). Talk about dull. Edmund may have been an idiot but at least he had a psychology and it was easy to sympathise with his disaffection.

Come to think of it, that scene with the White Witch and the Turkish Delight has some uncomfortable sexual undertones, doesn't it? If Edmund was a few years older there would be no doubt at all what he was symbolically bribed with!

TSC is, for my money, easily the most atmospheric of the books. The underground land is delightfully shivery.

I quite like TMN, especially the bits that don't include the birth of Narnia, TLTWATW is my least favourite. I *really* don't like TLB for the same reasons that TLTWATW annoys me. TLB doesn't even have a decent story. It's also quite cruel in places which as a child I really disliked.

I like bits of The Last Battle - the relationship between the king and the unicorn, and their unfailing courtesy. I also quite enjoy the Armageddon bit at the end. All the stuff about the donkey and the ape is awful, and the I have philosophical objections to the idea that the Christian God takes every good thing unto himself and every bad deed is taken on board by Tash (who I see as Allah rather than Satan.

I never got on well with the Narnia books, possibly because Alan Garner got to me first? But if I recall, The Horse and His Boy was my favourite.


The Silver Chair and The Horse and His Boy were my favourites. steamshovelmama has now got me wondering if having Rillian tied to a chair wasn't one of my own reasons for liking SC too.

Ah, subtext, subtext.

I couldn't have explained at the time but I certainly remember loving the bits where Rillian is tied up (and Caspian's desperate flight for his life in PC).

But no good folk story or fairy tale is complete without a little bondage! And these are Lewis's sources... It's very nice to see the guy tied up rather than the girl even without having nascent kink buttons activated at a young age!

I'm beginning to think I need to reread Narnia with the subtext goggles firmly in place.

Tied to a chair and menaced by a giant snake. And then he chops its head off.


Lewis really hated powerful women, didn't he?

Oh, yeah! Uncomfortable with women and female sexuality in particular (was Lewis married? I know very little about him). I've had many arguments with christian apologetics who try out the most convoluted interpretations of the dismissal of Susan in TLB in an attempt to make it about something other than female sexuality.

I love the Narnia series but there's some major flaws there.

Lewis married Joy Gresham late in life. This is the relationship described in Shadowlands. He married her in a Civil ceremony to enable her to remain in the UK, but after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, they were married by an Anglican priest who was a friend, despite her being a divorcee, and she died three years later in 1960. Whether they had a sexual relationship is anyone's guess.

However, when younger he lived with a lady called Jane King Moore, who was the mother of his best friend and, though good looking, was, indeed, old enough to be his own mother. There is a good deal of speculation as to whether they were lovers.

Interesting. It's dangerous to assume anything but that story doesn't strike me as an example of a well adjusted sexuality - even given the standards of the time. Of course, it's quite possible to be sexually active and deeply uncomfortable with female sexuality (and your own, of course).

But this is speculation...

A giant snake that transformed from the likeness of a a beautiful woman... I repeat there's some seriously kinky shit going on in TSC. I'd not really thought it through before (other than noting in passing the giant snake and the bondage chair).

I think I need to reread TSC with proper adult eyes wide open!

I think I need an icon of the Baynes illustration of Rillian in the Chair...

Rather different from the 'woman-into-snake' transformation in the latest Potter film. Oh dear, what are we doing to our kids?

LOL! The Bayes illustrations really added to my visualisation of the world and I clearly remember the one you mean...

I have to say that I'm actually very fond of the episodic nature of the book of Voyage of the Dawn Treader (it's my favourite of all the books, in fact!), so if that is preserved in the film (even if only to a certain extent), I suspect it shan't bother me all that much. In fact, I'd probably be more disappointed if it had entirely disappeared!

However, objectively I can see that kind of structure is hard to get right in a movie, and that it may not be to everybody's taste...

Quite simply, films and books are two very different things, and if you adapt a book, you have to change things, sometimes slightly, more often extensively. It's getting the balance right that's the problem, but you will never please both the fans of the original material and the majority (and it is the majority even in the case of LotR and Harry Potter) who haven't read the books and couldn't care about accuracy.

This relates more to the link post, but this is what I came up with in terms of the ur texts for the books:

The Magician's Nephew: Genesis
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Crucifixion
The Horse and His Boy: poem, Footprints in the Sand
The Dawn Treader: The Search for the Holy Grail
The Silver Chair: Pilgrim's Progress
The Last Battle: Revelations

Many people have made versions of Arthur, but never successful ones of the grail quest for the point is the search, not the finding.

Though to be fair to Lewis, it was a case with him of "write what you know." He didn't sent out to write Christian allegory - at least, he says he didn't and we should give him the benefit of the doubt.

As for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, it is only a Grail quest if you take it from Reepicheep's point of view. Might I suggest Brenden's voyages as another possible source, and also the Odyssey.

Oh, I don't know. Parsifal? Le Morte d'Arthur,/i>?

I may not have been explicit enough. I meant movies.

As it happens I adored vdt as a kid and still like it despite the winceworthy politics, but process fascinates me. Hence joining the Quakers

And I always thought it as reepicheep's story.

I've always thought of it as Eustace's story, particularly in view of the Lewis/Tolkien contention that fantasies are the adventures of a man (meaning human, in this case) in fairyland.

I'm trying to remember which movies, if any, have attempted the Grail.

Monty Python?

I'm with you and others on The Silver Chair being among the better books in the series. IIRC the BBC production of TSC handled Rillian's release/transformation quite superbly, without any fancy SFX whatsoever. It's the only bit I remember of the only episode I ever saw.

Does Monty Python succeed? Possibly...

Ina reminds me of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which is a grail quest, and which I think works.

And a ps,

The Dawn Treader would work fine as a movie if we still shared the values of the movie, but we don't, so its ending lacks emotional punch for us.

I don't agree. Drama has a very different structure to the novel form, particularly allegory. In order to make a good movie, there has to be some sort of linear structure. A series of basically unconnected incidents does not make for good drama. There has to be a theme. In this case, they have gone for "collect the tokens/swords" to link the serial incidents together.

It is why no-one ever makes The Lost World as it was written (a series of incidents.)

And why every single dramatic version of The Man in the Iron Mask has Phillipe take Louis's place, which does not happen in the book. Every single one. This is because Dumas's version (which has other interests) is not as dramatically satisfying. Why bother, the obnoxious Louis is to remain in place.

Edited at 2010-12-11 08:45 pm (UTC)

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