The Chronicles of Narnia: The
Voyage of the Dawn Treader
A film based on the wondrous writings of C.S. Lewis is bound to be
very satisfying for the believer, because Lewis himself was a Christian
apologist, in the classic rhetorical sense, and he very much intended the
heavy symbolism of his “Narnia” series to be understood as Christian.
Of course, Professor Lewis wrote for a different age and
circumstance. What was
considered “children’s” books at the time would be a challenge to many
adolescents today, most of whom would also not readily understand the urgent
context of the bombing of
by the Luftwaffe in the early years of World War II.
This was a time of great suffering and anxiety on the part of the
entire British population, but most of all, the children, who would suddenly
find themselves crowded into airless air raid shelters with frightened
strangers, and afterwards, emerge to see their neighborhood in rubble, and
their own house, perhaps, in ruins. Nothing
was easy, nothing was certain. Most
of their fathers were off at war, many of whom would never return.
Their mothers were overwhelmed, distracted, and anxious themselves.
Little wonder that Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” were so
popular: its heroes were brave
children, and though they would encounter many strange and wondrous things,
if they kept their wits about them and held their courage, despite all that
seemed menacing and evil, they would prevail.
And they would be more mature, more confident, and more self-assured,
for the harrowing experience.
In this 3rd installment of Lewis’ unparalleled 7-part
trilogy, the two older children, Susan and Peter, are already grown and
gone, and the two younger ones, Edmund and Lucy, are living with their
younger cousin, Eustace, who is a complainer and a skeptic.
He doesn’t believe any of their tall tales about Narnia, its lion
king, Aslan, its magical properties, and most of all, the royal lineage of
his two bothersome cousins, whom he considers merely a nuisance and a
burden. When the Narnia
painting of the cobalt sea on the wall starts to move, and then gush water,
Eustace disbelieves even what he is seeing, until they are thrown into that
sea, in front of a large royal ship, “The Dawn Treader,” captained by
none other than Caspian, their comrade from previous adventures, who
promptly pulls them from the ocean and welcomes their highnesses aboard,
much to the astonishment of the bedraggled Eustace.
Narnia is once again in turmoil, and there are some missing allies
who need to be found, and when they are, the insidious evil is discovered,
as well-----that creeps into sight like an ugly green mist, confusing the
senses and enveloping the consciousness and constricting line of sight.
Of course, this is also what real evil does: it confuses loyalties
and creates chaos and division, it stirs up mistrust and greed, and is
fueled by pride. The children
all have to wrestle with their own demons before they are prepared to do
battle with the darkness that threatens to envelop them all (and here,
Lewis’ wartime historical context colorfully informs his fanciful
Just as all seems lost and hopeless, the herculean travails
themselves become opportunities to grow and learn, and the munificent and
beatific Aslan makes his elusive presence felt at just the critical moment.
There are those who complain that this kind of obvious religious
overtone is heavy-handed, but for the believer, it is a welcome sight to
watch a “once upon a time” depend on the context of “in the
Yes, as a bonus, we have fire-breathing dragons, silver mermaids,
hidden treasure, magic swords, lost warriors, astounding wizardry, and even
some old-fashioned swashbuckling. It’s
a fun ride. But more to the
point, there is a point.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace