[Narnia Content Note: Genocide, Religious Abuse, Chivalry, Racism, Slavery, Sexual Abuse]
Narnia Recap: In the last movie installment, our heroes zipped through the Island of Dufflepuds as quickly as humanly possible.
Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 45:00 - 1:08:00
There are some blubs today and also some screamy-no bits, so let's continue to see how my fellow Americans made everything somehow both better and worse than the source material.
When we last left the movie, Coriakin was passing out plot tickets for everyone to get punched and this was noteworthy because now he was the one who sent the Lost Lords on to put their swords on the table, and so now it's not just "travel to the Lone Islands to get these guys" but now the quest has upgraded to "travel to Aslan's table to save the world". Which I think we can all agree Narnia has a stake in, so it's probably okay for the Narnian king to be off doing this thing.
Anyway! There is a storm! Eustace writes snarky things about Coriakin in his diary! (I <3 Eustace.) There is an open candle in Caspian's study-room despite the ship being tossed like a marshmallow in an extremely frothy cup of hot chocolate, and yet somehow the ship doesn't set on fire nor is there hot wax on all the nice papers. Caspian is like "no, we must go on!" when Drinian suggests turning around because has Drinian not gotten the memo that Rhince's wife is missing? Which, I mean, seems relevant, yes, but also: EVIL MIST. Just sayin.
Lucy is bunking with Gael and pulls out the beauty spell, and we get actual words: "Make me she, whom I'd agree, holds more beauty over me." And then Lucy has a trippy dream sequence where now she is Susan and there is no Lucy only this means they never found Narnia or Aslan because Lucy was the one who first entered the wardrobe. Aslan shows up and tells Lucy that she doubts her value and that she shouldn't run from who she is, and... eh? I mean, this is no doubt a vast improvement over the source material. No doubt. Hands down.
But. Gonna be all feminist for a moment and point out that this is still missing the point that I would like made with a beauty spell which is that we live in a patriarchal society that judges women by their beauty. The answer to that problem isn't that women should Try Harder to be more Christiany or more self-confident or more whatever, the answer is for everyone to sit down and acknowledge that this is a thing and that it sucks. And until we do that, no amount of "just be yourself!" saccharine aesops are gonna make all the Lucys out there think that beauty spells are a raw deal because until we dismantle beauty-bias in our society, beauty spells aren't a raw deal.
Anyhow. It was all a dream and Lucy burns the spell in the fireplace that ships apparently have (yay, ships!). Then the temptations continue apace with 16-year-old Edmund in bed, dreaming about Jadis, who is... kinda nakedy, albeit in an off-the-shoulder PG-13 way. And she's all, like, "Come with me. Join me." And we kinda saw this a bit in Prince Caspian but it's getting more overt here that Edmund has pantsfeels for Jadis that he needs to work through. And... oof.
[CN: Here are some extra trigger warnings for sexual abuse, abuse of children, abuse in general.]
I actually find it totally believable that Edmund might have sexual feelings about Jadis, given how she's been portrayed in these movies and given the intense terror-abuse-horror time that they spent together over a couple of days during a formative period in his childhood. I just also want it acknowledged that these feelings would almost certainly not be healthy or pleasant for Edmund, which means that Aslan has sent him back to England twice without making sure that he's gotten proper counseling over those traumatizing experiences, either in Narnia (and remember he spent several years here the first time) or back home. I completely get that the movie is all "ooh, but he's working through those feels now!" but no, that is not a thing I'm okay with because it still means that Aslan is an irresponsible asshole.
And on a Doylist level, no longer talking about whether it is Watsonianly believable or not, it means that the filmmakers made a choice to re-insert Jadis here as a sexual figure and not just as The Bringer Of The EVIL MIST or whatever. Which, (a) while Lewis would probably be on board with Jadis being sexual and tempting, is kinda tired misogyny hat because guys, ya'll do realize women can be villains without their villainy being tied to their sex or gender, right? It would be refreshing to just have a lady-villain who is a villain and a lady, but not a villain because of her villainous lady-bits, just for once. And (b), while it may be believable that Edmund could be sexually traumatized by Jadis, I'm not sure that makes it desirable to explore in a movie, especially when the exploration isn't handled in a way that I consider valuable to actual victims of abuse. It comes across as trite to me.
[/End extra content note.]
Moving on, we get to an island that neatly combines Dragon Isle with Goldwater Isle which is another piece of storytelling competence. In continued improvements, Eustace wants to help and only goes off alone because everyone is being all "pfft, you are a useless child". Then we cut to the gold pond, and there's a magic sword in the pool, and apparently the Lords left it behind? But still went on to Aslan's table? Were they on separate ships and got separated? Because it seems kinda silly to keep going to the MacGuffin delivery spot when you know you're short on MacGuffins. Anyway, they fish the magic sword out with the other magic sword, and Edmund gets all OOH SHINY over the pool, but it's sweet because he outright says "No one could tell us what to do, or who to live with!" You see? He's not just greedy for greed's sake, he just doesn't like being a permanent houseguest with his aunt and uncle. I sympathize with this. +20 points for improving over the source material. Again.
Then Eustace is missing and everyone goes back to the boat except Edmund and Caspian because pssh only the privileged boys can search for people, you know that. (Whatever.) We get a nice line here of Edmund noting that he shouldn't have left Eustace alone and feeling bad about that. Then QUEEN LUCY OF NARNIA doesn't know what a dragon sounds like and instead that information has to come from Lord Drinian the not-fresh-from-the-mists-of-legends (UGH) and then QUEEN LUCY THE VALIANT is screaming in terror when a dragon semi-attacks their boat.
Fuck. You. Movie.
Whatever. OK? FINE. You coulda had literally anyone else screaming but you picked Queen Lucy the Valiant and I'm just going to head-canon that out of existence because that choice was bad and you should feel bad. Then Eustace scoops up Edmund and flies him over a patch of dragon-fire that spells out I AM EUSTACE and this is awesome because cleverness and agency. +40 points, but it would have been more if you hadn't pulled that stupid shit with Lucy, just to be clear. And then they pull off the bracelet-o-torture because that was a stupid theologies anyway. And now get ready for Eustace to be a dragon for much of the rest of the movie because if you give an American filmmaker an ACTUAL DRAGON as a character, zie is going to use it for more than a quick theologies.
(As well zie should.)
Campfire scene. Gael and Lucy talk and we finally pass Bechdel. This scene amuses me because Lucy is all Stepford Wives Smiling about how "Aslan will help us [find Gael's nameless mom]" and Gael is all the not-convinced and points out "Aslan couldn't stop her from being taken" and here is where Lucy has to be thinking, "oh, no, honey, it's not that he couldn't stop her from being taken, it's that he didn't, because he's an ass like that", but Lucy knows better than to say so and just keeps doing that Stepford Smile while Gael gives her ALL THE FROWNS. Haha, I <3 Gael forever, I'm just sayin.
Then Reepicheep has the sweetest bonding scene with Eustace ever and we fade to black.