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The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader

1/10/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader in the USA - or Buy The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader in the UK

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region 2 DVD: pub: 20th Century Fox 494511001. 2 DVDs 107 minute film with extras. Price: about GBP 6.50 (UK) if you know where to look)). stars: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes and Will Poulter.

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Unlike the previous two Narnia films, the amount of extras is actually very minimal in comparison. The extra DVD is only a digital copy for use in computers and other ‘i’ hardware that you might own. A shame really because with the amount of work involved in this film, it would have been nice to have been able to see behind the scenes and here cast and production crew comments beyond an audio commentary. If anything, the amount of publicity ‘The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader’ got on film release and then DVD seems at odds with the amount of work that went into it.

I did know that at production level that there were concerns to make the film a bit more cohesive compared to CS Lewis’ original book which was essentially a series of tales as King Caspian (actor Ben Barnes) sought out the Seven Lords that his uncle, Miraz, had sent off on a fruitless voyage of discovery. Adding the green mist what would whisk off people sent on boats as sacrifice seems an odd solution. The wispiness of this green mist frequently reminded me of those green snakes that appeared in the old 1975 ‘Doc Savage’ film and I would have thought something better could have been thought of. Keeping Eustace Scrubb (actor Will Poulter) as a dragon for a longer period of time as he developed his humility was actually a good step but only because Lewis tied things up rather too quickly in the book so he could move on to the next adventure in the Long Islands.

For those who don’t know, Lucy (actress Georgie Henley), Edmund (actor Skandar Keynes) and their obnoxious cousin Eustace return to Narnia via a painting that fills their room with water. Actually, they aren’t actually in Narnia but on the open seas and join Caspian on his mission. I suspect had they not joined him, Caspian would just as likely have fallen into the pool of gold water or argued with his captain to the death on the third hurdle. The Dawn Treader’s crew is mostly human with only Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg), a couple man-bull (contrary to the audio commentary who referred to them as minotaurs which are supposed to be half-man/half-bull rather than biped bulls) and the occasional fawn or goat-man showing their faces. It’s a shame that there wasn’t a bigger menagerie on-board but the same also appears to have proven true to the original book. As with ‘The Horse And His Boy’, the lands outside of Narnia don’t appear to have much in the way of talking wildlife. They do, as the inhabitants of one island shows, have some rather odd beings and many of the more magical places seem to be rather more isolated and away from human habitation. The main objective of the tale is for them to acquire the swords these missing lords had to prevent the rise of evil once more, hinted at by the occasional presence of Jadis, the White Witch herself, cameoed by actress Tilda Swinton.

Despite the occasional misgivings as noted above, the film is actually a rather compelling viewing. The Dawn Treader itself is a magnificent ship and there is some greater scenery photographed around New Zealand. It’s only when you listen in to the audio commentary by producer Mark Johnson and director Michael Apted that you realise the Treader never left dry dock and some digital tinkering with a boat with a similar mass to get the right displacement. Even more remarkably, it was made on a lower budget than the previous two films and an 80-90 day shoot and a year of digital work afterwards. I do agree with them that knowing how some things were done doesn’t dissipate the magic. If anything, it shows how much effort was done to make it work and you’re paying attention to the film than wondering how they did some things. I suspect when you realise you were fooled by the Treader at sea, which would be the one thing you would think they’d done for real, then you’ll accept everything and yes, it is a magical film.

The deleted scenes run up to four minutes and feature the bits that were in the original novel covering things like Eustace getting over his seasickness and such. It’s a shame they weren’t re-incorporated for the DVD release as it seems unlikely that it would have messed with the film’s pace. If anything, I was wondering where these scenes were in the original film, especially when watching them and noting that they close to the original book.

I rather enjoyed this film and it’s a real tour de force performance. I can understand why some changes were made even if I don’t entirely agree with them and hope they get the go ahead for ‘The Silver Chair’ before Will Poulter gets too much older.

GF Willmetts

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