“The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” are two fantasy franchises that have been rather closely linked over the last 60 or so years. They started out as books and have been made into feature films, but although I enjoyed both as books, I enjoyed “The Lord of the Rings” films much more than “The Chronicles of Narnia,” especially when comparing “The Fellowship of the Ring” to “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”
Both films are about friends that set out on a quest and have adventures on the way. In “Fellowship,” the friends set out together to help Frodo take the evil Ring of Power to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. In “Dawn Treader,” the purpose of the adventure isn’t always clear and strays from the intent of the book, written by C.S. Lewis.
In the book version, the “Dawn Treader” is the name of the ship that takes the adventurers on an eastern voyage of exploration. King Caspian of Narnia is searching for seven lords that were friendly to his father and were banished by his Uncle Miraz, who killed Caspian’s father to become king. The adventurers also share a desire to reach the eastern end of the world, if it is possible.
Too Many Plot Changes in ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’
Apparently, finding the seven lords was not enough motivation for the movie writers, who added a weird mist that was causing Narnians to disappear. The seven lords became almost a secondary theme to the film until the end when the writers added the seven swords from the seven lords that were somehow magical and eliminate the evil mist.
While both movies had wonderful magical characters and a lot of action throughout, “Fellowship” did a much better job of staying true to the author’s intentions even when making changes to the plot. For example, the Tom Bombadil character is completely left out, probably because he does little to advance the plot.
Edmund’s Portrayal on Film Not Consistent with His Backstory
Not only did the movie “Dawn Treader” drastically change the plot, it also changed the characters and how they reacted to the adventures, especially Edmund, who is jealous of Caspian and tries to assert his authority because of it. However, in the book, Edmund remains true to his nickname Edmund the Just and only asserts his authority when the inexperienced Caspian, who is quite young and has been king for only three years, strays too far in his kingly duties.
I believe the filmmakers wanted to create complicated characters for both films that viewers could relate to. In the book, Frodo already was a meek and simple character that was being forced into a monumental task. However, Edmund had already gone through his great transformation from a simple boy to a legendary king and hero in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” so to have him go through petty jealousy of a young king who Edmund had helped put on the throne in “Prince Caspian” was just insulting to my intelligence.
While it is understandable that changes need to be made when adapting a book to film, it still needs to ring true with the intent of the authors. “Fellowship” succeeded brilliantly at this, while “Dawn Treader” failed miserably.
Darin McGilvra has been a professional writer since 1997 and has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and multiple websites.
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