This weekend I finally got around to seeing Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
It was a good movie. Reepicheep was absolute perfection. The ship looked like a fantasy ship, not a real one (I was very much afraid they would base it off of a modern tall ship). The dragoning of Eustace was fantastic.
What kept it from being a great movie, though, is what I've been pondering on since.
C.S. Lewis was a Cambridge literature professor and possibly the most influential Christian writer of the 20th century. Furthermore, his works speak beyond Christianity. Most of the neo-pagans I know still love Narnia. Hands up who has *not* tried to find Narnia in the back of a wardrobe or searched for it in a painting of the sea.
Narnia has developed a reality to it that may even be stronger and more powerful than the call of Middle Earth.
The Dawn Treader is one of the best. The movie...did not live up to it. Yes. I understand and accept that some cutting was necessary, but they did it, in my mind, wrong.
The point and message of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is that Caspian and the others leave Narnia in search of God. What they find, however, is themselves. Only Reepicheep, in the end, goes into the Utter East...because he is the only one who already knows who he is and isn't still working it out.
The movie...was about the search for the seven Lords and the battle of good versus evil. It was a good movie and it didn't entirely miss the point, but it missed most of it.
And the truth is, I have a suspicion as to why.
How many people, reading this blog, have read the Odyssey? Because Dawn Treader is a riff of that great classic. Odysseus searches for home and the arms of his wife. Caspian searches for God, but there's a side note that, yes, he too needs a wife and a mother for his future heirs. Although, in truth, it's really the story of Eustace Scrubb.
My sad suspicion is that the director and producers of the movie also have not read the Odyssey. That they failed to understand that the point is the journey, not the destination. Which is a cliche, but true.
And it led me to think that we don't teach the classics. We teach Shakespeare. Maybe Chaucer, but often as an optional extra. But we don't teach Homer. We don't teach Mallory. We rarely teach Dumas and I have to admit that I myself have not read Dante. (I should fix that).
So, here's my call out to the writers out there. Get thee to the library and read some of the literature that lies at the root of western consciousness. Homer. Mallory. Chaucer. Dante. It's all out there, it's all ready available. And these tales weave into the tales we tell, or should. They are a touchstone that we have drifted away from.
Now...what happened to my copy of the Odyssey...