I have been getting some pretty scathing e-mails lately from folks that have told me for one reason or another that, in no uncertain terms, they would not be seeing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This is the direct result of some comments that were made that don’t even have an effect on the film’s actual content. Walden Media’s Micheal Flaherty explains, very thoroughly, the situation as well as the film.
Let me start by asking if these comments reflect what we can expect from “Dawn Treader.” Have the allegorical aspects of the film been watered down to make the film less Christian?
MICHAEL FLAHERTY: Not one iota. While Lewis would argue that Narnia is not an allegory, rather a “supposal”, there are strong Christian themes in the book that were influenced by Lewis’ worldview. Further, Lewis’ main focus in writing “Dawn Treader” was “the spiritual life.” While every book encounters some changes from the page to the screen, we wanted to make sure that the themes that were important to Lewis – redemption, temptation, grace, and our yearning for our true home – were not only preserved, but amplified through the changes that we made with the script. There were a number of lines from the book that were important to preserve verbatim as well. Most important are Aslan’s lines at the end when he tells Lucy “In your world I have a different name. You must learn to know me by it. That is the whole reason you came to Narnia. By knowing me better here you would know me better there.”
We felt a sacred trust with this scene not only to be faithful to the book, but to be faithful to all of Lewis’ writing. The topic of longing was a theme in so much of what Lewis wrote. My favorite passage in all of Lewis’ writing comes from “Mere Christianity,” where he delivers the famous insight that “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” In the Problem of Pain Lewis writes about desiring “something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside.”
Reepicheep is the very embodiment of this longing. At the beginning of the film, we hear Reep reciting his lullaby. He then talks to Lucy about his hope and desire to make it to Aslan’s country. When he finally arrives there at the end, the scenery is breathtaking. Reep delivers an incredibly moving speech to Aslan about his longing and desire for his country. I won’t ruin it for you, but it draws heavily upon the passage in “The Problem of Pain” where Lewis writes about something we “were born desiring,” and that even our greatest moments have been but “tantalizing glimpses” of it. When Reep abandons his sword and bravely sets sail in his little coracle, it will send shivers down the spines of all friends of Narnia.
For us, the emphasis was always on getting the story right and making sure that the characters on the screen delivered the lines that were delivered in the book and that all of the crew was on board to make a faithful adaptation. When it comes to lines being delivered in an interview by the cast and crew, that is something that we don’t control.
Lewis’ books have appealed to a broad cross section of readers for over half a century from all different backgrounds and traditions. Lewis often commented that he was more than fine with people enjoying the stories simply as stories, and that if they didn’t understand the subtext that was fine with him.
We hired Mark [Johnson]because he is one of the best producers in the business and he has produced some of my favorite movies – “The Rookie,” “The Natural,” “My Dog Skip.” The best way to be faithful to Lewis was to hire the best possible producer, and that was Mark. He has done a great job with the series and he has given the better part of a decade to making them happen.
The same goes for Liam. We searched for months to find the right actor who could be authoritative and forgiving and comforting. He has hit it out of the park for us and I can’t imagine a different actor playing Aslan. These guys are at the top of their game in film making. But I don’t think that they are about to get an M Div from Dallas Theological Seminary any time soon.
Read the full interview at Big Hollywood – It is fascinating, and I highly recommend checking it out.