Monday, December 27, 2010

Recommended Movie: "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"

On Christmas Day, my family went to the movies. Instead of the latest dark Harry Potter instalment, we opted for a chirpier and wholesome family movie, based on CS Lewis' chronicles of Narnia. I gave it a thumbs up for entertainment, and sheer family values.

About the Movie
There are amazing special effects throughout the movie. The producers have done it so well, that I suspect that they could have used the skills from the making of other movies as well, including the Harry Potter Series. For example, the waters that flow out of the portrait of a ship in an ocean is spectacular. CS Lewis would have been amazed at how the modern filmmakers are able to crystallize his story into crisp real life images. The story revolves mainly around the two younger Pevensie, Edmund and Lucy, with a new addition: their cousin Eustace.

After one of their usual tiffs and quarrels with Eustace, even as Edmund and Lucy were reminiscing about their adventures in Narnia, all three of them were suddenly swept into Narnia land into the portrait. In the fantasy land of Narnia, viewers familiar with the earlier two moves will be glad to see Caspian, and especially the talking animals. I like in particular the talking mouse: Reepicheep.

The entire journey is all about defeating the evil darkness on Dark Island, by locating the seven swords.

Christian Themes
There are several moments that brought biblical themes powerfully across. Here is a few I remember:

1) Beware of Temptations
The team was warned about not falling into temptations. Despite this early warning, Lucy gave in to the temptation of covetousness, wanting to be as beautiful as her sister Susan, at the expense of losing her identity. Edmund gave in to the temptation of fear, which resulted in the realization of a giant hideous sea serpent. Eustace gave in to the temptation of greed and lusting after the gold, which turned him into a flying dragon with ugly scales.

Theme: Beware of the temptations lurking around us.
"but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Mark 4:19)

"but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." (James 1:14)

2) Courage and Encouragement
Eustace started off on a bad foot with constant quibbling with the valiant mouse, Reepicheep. The small little talking rodent became his biggest irritant in super quick time. Yet, in his most tender moment of despair, Eustace found in Reepicheep a huge source of encouragement. One touching scene was when Eustace (as a dragon), could not sleep. Reepicheep chose to stay up with Eustace, and in the process turn young Eustace from selfishness to selflessness; from fearfulness to fearlessness; and from a rascal to a hero. The power of encouragement began during one's most tender moment that requires understanding not reprimand, forgiveness and not punishment.

Thought: How many times have we missed out the opportunity to encourage a person, discarded and disregarded by people around them?

3) We cannot do it ourselves
When Eustace was given a dragon skin, he hated it to the core. Despite the power of fire and flight, despite the huge dragon outside, there is a crying regretful boy inside. Try as he might, he could not get rid of the ugly scales. Only when Aslan appeared, and at Aslan's command, the scales are torn out of Eustace. Even Eustace admitted:

"I cannot do it on my own."

Theme: We need God to cleanse us from our sins. We cannot do it on our own.

4) Theme of Seven
As the voyagers seek out the seven swords from the lords, it reminds us of the recurrent use of 'seven' in the book of Revelation, that once all the seven has appeared, judgment will come. Victory has never been in doubt. It is only the fear and the discouragement within us that tries to defeat the people of God.

5) Friendship
I find the character of Eustace very reflective of man in general. It takes encouragement and boldness (through the friendship of Reepicheep). It takes the courage and dedication of Caspian, Edmund and Lucy to win over their irritating cousin. Yet, those are not enough. It takes Aslan the Lion to transform Eustace through the influence of friendship. This is where the last scenes are most touching. As they say their final goodbyes, they realized that the journey through life is made so much more meaningful with true friends.

6) Magical Qualities come with a Cost
Beware of what we ask for. The book of incantation shows us how we are often tempted to get things not really meant for us. The invisible people tried to become visible, even though their invisibility were meant to protect them in the first place. All kinds of special spells were found in the book, but it tells us again that everything comes with a price.

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3)

7) We need to Choose
Aslan gives all the choice to make. Should they return to their lands, or to go to the faraway place. Aslan lets the characters choose. This is how the calling of God plays out in our lives. We do not simply follow God's will as if it is one kind of a God's plan, cast in concrete. We live out our calling dynamically, letting God encourage and to help us be the best people we can be. God is more pleased with our obedience to live out our calling. We should not be stuck in a rut about our stubborn ideas of a perfect blueprint in our lives. Returning back to one's world does not mean one chooses to do a personal will. It means to return with a renewed purpose, and a calling to be the people we are called to be. This is what Gods plans is all about.

Final Comments
This is one of the most wholesome family entertainment this year. No vulgarity. No R-rated scenes. Even the fighting itself is not as bloody as the more popular ones out there in the market. Most of all, the values depicted within not only stems from a very biblical mindset, it reveals to us the need of all men that they cannot do it themselves, with regards to sin. They need to choose. They need to live out their own calling. They need friends.

This is an excellent movie to bring your family and to watch with friends.


No comments:

Latest Posts