Young Prince Caspian of Narnia wonders and dreams about the old days of Narnia when animals talked, and there were mythical creatures and four rulers in Caer Paravel. But his uncle and aunt...
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Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.
Young Prince Caspian of Narnia wonders and dreams about the old days of Narnia when animals talked, and there were mythical creatures and four rulers in Caer Paravel. But his uncle and aunt don't like to hear him thinking of such things, and plan to murder him and take his throne. Caspian's tutor, Dr. Cornelius manages to save him, and not only teach him about the old ways, but bring him into the real Narnia and introduce him to the real Narnia. But Caspian's plight is desperate, and he must use the legendary horn to call help from another world: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Written by
Plot similarities between the J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis Narnia stories was no coincidence. Both men were members of a literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Living trees that move and fight but also provide a safe zone, languages created for the legendary cultures within the mythology, rescues from towers by flying creatures are a few examples. See more »
[quoting a rhyme a dryad used to sing over his cradle]
Where sky and water meet,/ Where the waves grow sweet/Doubt not, Reepicheep,/ To find all you seek/ There is the utter East.
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A tale of two tales; "Will no-one silence this mouse!?"
"Prince Caspian" and "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" should be reviewed separately, as they are patently separate installments of the Narnia saga.
A rather expositionary chapter in the series of seven stories, tying in the "Lion, The Witch..." with later chapters, by phasing out Peter and Susan and introducing Caspian. The production, viewed twelve years after I saw it as a child, is rather disappointing, with no sense of spectacle or proportion at all conveyed. Particularly, the locations used for Narnia are distinctly unimpressive, dour and unsuitable; not beautiful enough at all. The budget for this story was clearly kept to minimum to save for the following comparative epic. What we get is a fairly drab English wood in glum weather conditions. The acting is far from compelling here, with the good but misguided dwarf whose name evades me at present particularly unimpressive, and the badger unimposing. The voices are often inappropriately jokey and lightweight - the dwarves and the badger set. Of course, Aslan is well voiced indeed, by Ronald Pickup, but is rendered immobile by the impracticalities of the B.B.C. producing a talking, walking lion... Miraz, is as Caspian effectively says at one point ("The witch is an evil a thousand times worse than Miraz!") composed of small-fry villainy. The duel between Peter and Miraz is laughably free of any suspense and power. One thing that stands out is that Susan has virtually nothing to do or say at all in this two-part story, and seems tangibly redundant. The main memorable scene, though, is a classic of sorts. It involves "a hag and a werewolf" getting up to some devillry trapped in a cave with Caspian and others. The acting by Barbara Kellerman as the witch is completely OTT and simple words are dragged out to accommodate innumerable syllables; "Who-oo-oo e-e-e-ev-err-r her-er-r-eard o-of a-a wi-i-i-tch that re-e-ea-eally di-iiieeed...!" lunacy! Could have done with being underplayed, and it would have been more successfully scary, although as a child I was scared by this scene, although it was the sombre, weird-looking werewolf creature who disturbed most I suspect. Overall, this story is frankly inconsequential, and just useful for that scene and its exposition, setting things up for the next tale. While far from the best book, it could have been done better than it is here; a very mediocre production.
Rating:- ** 1/2/*****
"The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"
Where to start? This four-parter is immensely superior in every way to "Prince Caspian". The then-still-flourishing B.B.C. children's drama department shrewdly and inventively dramatized a marvellous book, the fifth in the Narnia series, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", which ties in the Narnia ethos with a strong impression of Homer's epic narrative poem, "The Odyssey". Each of the islands visited on King Caspian's ambitious voyage is well conveyed, and unique, helped by wise choices of sublime locations, plain good writing and music. The Lone Islands, controlled ineptly by the wonderfully named "Governor Gumpas", and filmed around Sicily I think, are well created; unlike "Prince Caspian" a sense of scale and culture is created, by some use of extras and a wide filming of areas of the island, including vinyards etc. The other islands, including the almost haunting "Goldwater Island", the Dragon one, the Magician one, filmed nicely at a Welsh country house and grounds, and the last one with the dining table, are all well conveyed. Importantly, the actors generally make the most of their parts all the way through this story. Samuel West, as Caspian, portrays him with the right combination of precocious arrogance, gravitas and good humour. Particularly good is John Hallam, playing the role of Capt. Drinian with a wonderful world-weary diction, steady wisdom and charm. He is a completely convincing character, unlike any in "Prince Caspian". Shame that Hallam seems to have had relatively few substantial film roles, as he really is a fine presence in this production. The great C.S. Lewis character, the noble, swashbuckling dreamer, the mouse Reepicheep (wonderfully named!), is wonderfully costumed and acted and voiced by Warwick Davies. His yearnings to see what is past "The end of the world" and Aslan's country, are compellingly conveyed, in verse ("...Where the waves grow sweet/Doubt not, Reepicheep/You'll find all you seek, there, in the utter East"...) and in Davies' likeable portrayal. His temper is short with the obnoxious Eustace constantly moaning on, and their confrontations are often downright hilarious. Eustace's obnoxious, spoiled English schoolboy characterisitics are well played by a child actor also physically perfect for the part. Even his transition towards becoming a well-behaving young chap is well conveyed. Lucy and Edmund aren't as interesting in this story as Eustace, but are reasonably worked into the plot. Lucy, though, is a little wearing in her habit of whining, I would have to say. Other members of the ship's crew are jovially played, as well as Preston Lockwood's magician and the fine Geoffrey Bayldon's star Ramandu, who has a splendid lyrical speech in the last episode when he describes his life. The quality of the incidental music should be noted, especially its hymnal, elegiac quality in the last installment of this four-part tale. The only downsides to this sublime production are the cliffhangers - which are often too similar to each other, usually involving a sea monster, and fail to match a good "Dr Who" surprise cliffhanger - and, the voices of the "Duffers" on the Magician's island are too jokey and distinctly colloquial. Overall, a wonderful sense of adventure and atmospheric mystique is created in this production, which adapts an intoxicating book full of sublime mystery as well as anyone could have expected. The gap in quality between this and "Prince Caspian" is tangible, but the whole series seems worthwhile. "The Voyage of the Dawntreader" is as good a nostalgic, escapist series as the generally well-written and underrated (by the B.B.C. notably) "Dr Who" (any fan of this should check out the Narnia adaptations and vice versa), and a tangible reminder of just how good the B.B.C. once was at making TV drama of all kinds...
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