Sunday, December 12, 2010

Notes on Voyage of the Dawn Treader

(Actually, not so much notes on the movie itself, but notes on Mike Potemra's review at National Review Online.  Read the review before this blog entry!)

The editor of NRO should have sent Mr. Potemra back to his study to read the danged book instead of relying on his faulty memory.  The "human character" who turns into a "monster" is Eustace Scrubb, who turns into a dragon. In order to turn back into a boy, Aslan leads him to a well, into which he must jump and swim but only after he has taken off his "suit", i.e. dragon skin.

He scrapes off his scales, which come off easily, but there's another layer beneath. After frustrated attempts to scratch off the last layer himself, he allows Aslan to do it. When Alan scrapes off the last scales with his claws, it is incredibly painful. Scrubb then jumps into the well and swims.  This is Scrubb's conversion, which is really the point of the whole book. (Furthermore, Lewis can't move on and write The Silver Chair with an unsaved Scrubb, can he?)

As to Liam Neeson, I suppose that it doesn't matter what cockamamie nonsense the actor believes, as long as he or she does a good job with the role. (Ayn Rand dissociated herself from The Fountainhead movie because she didn't think Gary Cooper understood what Roark was about.)

Furthermore, whatever "heresies" Neeson promulgates pale beside those of Tilda Swinton, who plays the White Witch. Swinton is a self-declared atheist and communist. When the Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe movie came out, she declared in an interview that she played the character as a white supremacist. Crazy, for sure, but who else could play this character? (I've had a crush on Swinton since seeing Orlando in 1992; and 2001's The Deep End, made in 2001, was a taut psychological thriller which she carried masterfully.)

But Potemra and Neeson are wrong about the notion of "adumbrations" of Christ in other religions. Nor is that what Lewis, citing Chesterton, suggests. Rather, there is an "adumbration" of Christ apparent to every man, even if he has not heard the Gospel. If he moves towards this adumbration, he can be saved, despite the false gods that his society has foisted upon him.

Lewis describes this clearly in The Last Battle. Towards the climax, there is a game of "chicken" where the Calormene commander cajoles the onlookers to enter the stable to meet "Tashlan". Ginger the cat goes in, and bolts right back out, having lost the power of speech.

Surprisingly, the next volunteer is Emeth, a young Calormene officer, who has sought to see the face of Tash all his life. He jumps into the stable and disappears from the action until the denouement. Subsequently, King Tirian grabs the Calormene commander and jumps into the stable, where both Aslan and Tash are waiting. Tash drags the terrified commander away to devour him.

The dwarves enter the stable. They have known about Aslan all their lives, but refuse to see him and are lost.

Near the end, the Narnians find the young Calormene officer sitting dispirited by a tree: He has not found Tash in the stable. Aslan comes to him, explaining that Emeth has actually served Aslan all his life, although he had thought he was serving Tash. Emeth, of course, is saved.

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