Dawn Treader Footage Screened at Taylor University

We received a spy report from ‘John’ who attended the C. S. Lewis & Friends conference at Taylor University this past weekend. The conference was hosted by Dr. Devin Brown, and to the surprise of the attendees, some footage from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was shown. Be warned, there are a few new plot spoilers in this report!

I just wanted to send everyone at NarniaWeb a heads-up. This past weekend (Jun. 3-6), I was privileged to attend the Seventh Frances White Ewbank Colloquium on C.S. Lewis & Friends, held at Taylor University in Upland, IN.

One of the keynote speakers at the colloquium was Dr. Devin Brown of Asbury College, author of Inside Narnia and its two sequels. As faithful followers of NarniaWeb will know, Dr. Brown was one of those who, along with NarniaWeb’s own Tirian, were present at the unveiling of the VDT super trailer.


As a gracious and oh-so-welcome treat to attendees of the colloquium at Taylor, Walden sent a DVD with the super trailer to the house of one of the professors on the planning committee. The disc was then handed over to the care of Dr. Brown, who hosted a viewing of the super trailer on Saturday, Jun. 5.

The trailer was about five minutes long. Although the footage from VDT was the same as has been detailed elsewhere (http://www.narniaweb.com/2010/05/narnia-super-trailer-at-the-biola-media-conference/), I thought it would be worth sharing some additional insights that I had (a good many of them suggested by Dr. Brown in an almost shot-by-shot discussion of the footage; we were allowed to watch the trailer SEVERAL times).

*. Dr. Brown claimed that the spires in the opening shot of the super trailer are the spires of Cambridge near the home of Eustace and his parents. There are indeed lion gargoyles, just as there was a lion statue near the railway station in PC. Deliberate, surely!

*. Before the three kids are “washed” into Narnia, Lucy is seen staring at herself in a mirror. Dr. Brown believes this is a deliberate foreshadowing of Lucy’s temptation at the magician’s house, when she is sucked in by the beauty spell.

*. When the painting begins spewing water, Dr. Brown pointed out that in his fear, Eustace screams “Mother!” instead of calling her by her first name, as he is wont to do according to the book.

*. When Lucy opens the magician’s book and snow begins to fall, the expression on her face is almost identical to the one she had when she first entered Narnia in LWW. A very nice touch!

*. Dr. Brown also suggested that the “blue star” the Dawn Treader is told to follow may actually be Ramandu’s daughter. If I remember correctly, in her bodily appearance to the crew later on in the trailer, Ramandu’s daughter is seen with a glowing sphere of blue light inside her body, so this connection seems very likely to me.

*. At one point, I think it’s the magician who says “To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness in yourself.” This certainly happens with Lucy, doesn’t it?

*. Dr. Brown pointed out that Reepicheep is paunchier and slightly gray. Since Reep is so concerned with personal appearance in PC, one might argue that this is a foreshadowing of his willingness to toss away his honor and dignity (in the form of his sword) at the end of the story. After all, how could a mouse concerned with dignity let himself go to seed like that? Only one who has learned a bit of humility, perhaps?

*. As reported at the earlier super trailer screening, Aslan utters his famous allusion to Christ that takes place near the end of the book. I tried very hard to write this down word-for-word, and I’m 90% sure I got it right.

Lucy: “Will you visit us in our world?”
Aslan: “In your world, I have another name. You must learn to know me by it.”

Just to compare, here is the line from the book.

Aslan: “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name.”

As you can see, very much alike! Nearly brought a tear to my eye, it did.

Aside from what I’ve added here, I’m happy to confirm the rundown given by “subjectofthehighking.”


Much of this will already be known from other recent updates, but Dr. Brown confirmed that Toy Story 3 will feature the theatrical premiere of the VDT trailer. He also talked a bit about the plot additions. For instance, the filmmakers have added, in addition to the quest to find the sleepers, a quest to find seven swords (I’m pretty sure this was reported before).

Early in their voyage, the crew will arrive at an island that is nearly deserted, because people have been disappearing from it. Gael’s parents were among those who disappeared. Apparently, finding the seven lords and seven swords will help recover the missing individuals.

This is pretty much everything I learned from the screening and the discussion afterwards. It was very enlightening, very thrilling (needless to say), and as I said earlier, very gracious on Walden’s part to send the disc to the good folks at Taylor University!

There was of course a watermark on the trailer with Dr. Brown’s name on it, and no cameras were allowed, so unfortunately I don’t have the visual evidence to back up what I’ve said here. However, here is a link to the colloquium’s website, which confirms Dr. Brown was a keynote speaker.


You will not find the VDT preview on the colloquium schedule, because it was meant as a last-minute surprise by the planning committee.

I should mention that apart from the sneak preview, which alone made the weekend worthwhile, this was an excellent conference, which I also had the chance to attend in 2008. Other keynote speakers included Inklings scholars Peter Schakel and Joseph Pearce.

In 2012, Taylor’s colloquium will be merging with another C.S. Lewis conference (the name of which escapes me at the moment), so it should be bigger and better than ever (maybe by that time we’ll be watching a preview of The Silver Chair). I highly recommend the experience to all fans of C.S. Lewis and his fellow Inklings.

Thanks to Taylor and Walden for a memorable weekend!

John, thank you so much for your report!

96 Responses

  1. HighQueenofNarnia says:

    Well, I'm no screenwriter, but what I'm thinking is that the filmmakers deviated from the book's original purpose. VotDT book makes it very clear that Miraz sent these seven lords out to sea because he wanted to get rid of them so that they wouldn't challenge him as he retained the title "Lord Protector" after he killed his brother and ultimately ascended to the throne. (Btw, there were no special swords.) The lords were simply in the way of Miraz's ambitions. And Caspian vowed on his coronation day that he would find these lords should he get the chance (i.e., peace is in Narnia). So, that's the whole reason for this quest, in a nutshell. And Caspian even says as much in the book. So, that would be the book purist adaptation.

    Unfortunately, the filmmakers are nowhere near book purists. 😉

    And, Melanie, I agree that if that element (of Miraz sending the seven lords on some bizarre quest and Caspian vowing to find them) wasn't in the book, if Caspian was just "questing for the sake of questing" then the filmmakers would add another element to give a reason for the quest, such as the swords. But, as you see, the book already has a reason for the quest and doesn't need another element.

    I'm not sure how to respond to the point about how "the average moviegoer doesn't understand honor and quests and all that." It's somewhat true, that those aren't part of our society today, but it will still resonate with audiences as "the noble and brave deed"- with the diabolical Miraz, the courageous lords, the concept of Caspian vowing to find them, and the idea of a quest itself- I like to think that honor and chivalry are NOT dead in our culture. 🙂

    Concerning the 'ticking time bomb': Well, there is no ticking time bomb in VotDT. Caspian doesn't have to be home by a certain time; in fact, I think that Lewis deliberately structured the book to almost have a leisurely pace, with action bits strung in between. I mean, there is an object to this quest (finding the seven lords), but it can take as long as Caspian pleases. I think that Fox, et al., is making VotDT into a more fast-paced film than the book. So, my view of VotDT book is that there's no "we-have-to-do-this-by-this-time-otherwise-we-won't-make-it-and-everyone-will-die" theme like there is in some of the other books, notably LB. It's an adventure- full of challenges and unknowns. Let it stay that way, please!

    Also, the major plot change that I'm worried about in VotDT is the "final battle" theme that's present in every other book except MN, which, as any Narnia fan knows, is more of an explanatory book. But consider: LWW, PC, HHB, SC, and LB all culminate into a climax. VotDT has no such scene (or even the hint of such a scene). So, I hope that the "final battle" theme isn't in the movie and that VotDT stays an adventure.

    I won't go into what I hope the filmmakers won't change in the book, as that would be a book commentary! 🙂 I am such a purist.

    Basically, in summary, there's no time constraints on VotDT and it doesn't need pitched battles; in fact, my opinion is that VotDT is the overall general population favorite CoN book because it doesn't have that culminating battle; it's different from any other book because of its unique structure and content.

  2. Narniamiss says:

    Reep paunchier?….I never would have thought Reep would let himself go like that!
    The only thing I am really disliking here is RD as a blue sphere…it's kind of weird. Not to mention she wasn't a major character in the book for a good reason..she just wans't really necessary. Oh well. I'll save my big nitpicking for the trailer. Muahaha!

  3. Narniano says:

    Ya quiero ver la película

  4. Brock Hammon says:

    Wow! Great comments everyone!

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned it, but my greatest disappointment is the sudden conversion of the Telmarine accent from Mediterranean to British. Though this was announced a few weeks ago.

    Funny you should mention the theater-hopping in the cinema for Star Wars: Episode I. I've read that marked the first time a significant percent of people paid for a movie just to see the trailer (I believe it was attached with "Meet Joe Black" and maybe others).

    Anyway, back to the changes in DT. As always, I won't know how I feel about all of them until I see the movie. I'm sure there will be some I love and some I don't.

  5. NarniaKnight says:

    When the trailor for VDT comes out right before Toy Story 3 as a comercial in the theatre, will it be on the internet?

  6. Hope in the Lord says:

    Much as I like Lucy, I can't help but feel like she's a little too perfect. I mean I know she represents a child like faith for her Lord and Master Aslan/in our world Jesus, but she tends to sound more or less like a goody two shoes. That's what's always bothered me about the Narnia series. I find it easier to relate to Edmund, Peter, Susan, and yes even Eustace and Jill then to Lucy be cause they seem to have more human flaws yet are likable in their own right. That being said, I can't wait for VoDT and the trailer of course. 🙂

  7. Hope in the Lord says:

    Never mind you can always see the trailer on YouTube. But I understand I'm 22 and I still love Toy Story it's on my most must watch list for this year.

  8. Aunt Letty says:

    There is another quest underlying the adventure in VDT, aside from Caspian's quest to purge the honor of his throne from his uncle's treachery. This other quest is the real story and it's what gives VoDT it's powerful grip on readers' hearts, whether they recognize it consciously or not ( I'm sure I didn't when I read it the first time, though I definitely felt it). It's also what gives the story it's sense of urgency, that element that all screenplays ought to have if they possibly can. Both quests are stated right out in the beginning of the book, but then through most of the rest of the story, the real quest of the voyage is played out in subtle allusions and in metaphors, for the most part.

    I was going to spell it out, but I'm curious what others might have to say about the real quest of VDT.

    Edmund is the only main character that does not serve to illustrate the quest for Aslan's country, except perhaps in the sense that he has already been there both spiritually and physically (having had near-death experiences on both fronts and been saved by Aslan's gifts both times). Even the ship itself takes a symbolic role, and not just as a vehicle.

    The real quest in VoDT is one that is grand enough, engaging and utterly human enough to fill the screen, but it would take a person of uncommon intuition and skill to bring it there in it's full potency. I think it could be done, but probably won't. Which is fine. I don't go to the Narnia movies expecting anything other than good, clean entertainment with a whiff of the higher altitude winds here and there, and that's better than what is usually served up in theaters, so I'm happy.

  9. Luis Daniel says:

    U 2 r over exagerating this movie is base on the book not copy paste. Ok so atleast the film is made. Is better something that nothing. I hate ppl like u too always saying " im nearvous" o plis just stop!!!!!!!!!

  10. Luis Daniel says:

    Yo tambien estoy super emocionado!!!!!!!!!! Narnia es la mejor pelicula epica del mundo!!!!!!!!

  11. Melody says:

    That would be my greatest hope – that the filmmakers put a lot of emphasis on Reepicheep's desire for Aslan's country. In my opinion, that could definitely drive the story. (it drove half of the plot of the book)

  12. Emy says:

    Well, mice like Reepiceep do age VERY quickly compared to other animals, their life doesn't last very long maybe this is a sign of Reep's aging, the grey fur, the new voice but i think bill will do a gr8 job voicing Reep


  13. Starlily says:

    I'm a little nervous too, but I'm still optimistic. 😀 We should wait for the trailer before we get too worried. Like Puddleglum said, I like to know the worse and then put a good face on it.

    At least, I think he said something like that, but I don't feel like going downstairs to scan through the book. 😉

  14. Starlily says:

    I'm 19 and I've loved Toy Story since I first saw it when I was little. (Well, it did scare me a bit, what with the mean kid and the mutant toys. And it made a deep impression on me. I still won't get rid of my toys because I don't want to hurt their feelings. 😉 )

    And Melody, I think Pixar films are the best too! They're so clever.

  15. Starlily says:

    I think what you mean is the journey or quest or longing for Aslan and his country (or God and Heaven). Seeking Aslan is the theme behind most of the story, and Edmund and Lucy bring that out at the end when they ask Aslan if he'll be in their world too.

    But I'm sure you could say it much more eloquently, Aunt Letty. 🙂

    And unfortunately I suspect you're right. There's not much chance the filmmakers will get that theme correct. 🙁 But perhaps, if they've put Aslan's line at the end in, it won't be lost either.

  16. Melody says:

    Starlily, there are legends in my family about me seeing Toy Story and being frightened of the same things…but apparently I was 4 or something, and have no memory of it. 😉 LOL

  17. Melody says:


    Just so you know, I was only theorizing on why the filmmakers made the choices that they did. I don't agree with their choices – I can see other ways they could have accomplished the same thing without adding another plotline – but it sounds much better than Prince Caspian.

    I question how they're going to make VDT match PC – movie!Caspian doesn't seem to be the type who would quest like that, and they didn't say anything about the seven lords in the film, unlike in the book, where it specifically says that they went to sea and never came back.

    I didn't say I agreed with what I assume is the filmmakers' assessment of average filmgoers…I'd like to see a lot more films that talk about honor and adventure and stuff, actually! I think it's a dying theme in adventure movies these days, and ought to be brought back. But analysts will be analysts…and they don't know everything. 😉

    Anyway, we haven't seen a real synopsis yet. I don't think we'll see a real 40-beat structure here. (at least, I will be annoyed if we do…) Sea voyages and quests don't need structured so firmly.

    Structure is pounded into the heads of all good screenwriters. Unfortunately, that can spell trouble for book purists. There are ways, however, to break the rules of screenplay structure if you know how.

    Now, if the filmmakers would just remember that they're not making the next Star Wars (which is highly structured) and that they're adapting a beloved children's book, then they will do well. You can break tons of rules in a book adaptation… 🙂

    As a side note, VDT is my favorite too, and I don't see a real reason to add all this stuff…I like the idea of a cute little kid character to reunite with her parents, but I speak as a writer who puts cute little kid characters in pretty much all of her stories. 😉 It'll be neat – it just won't be as much of Narnia as we wanted it to be.

  18. Anselem says:

    i love this, keep it coming guys.

  19. always narnian • loyal C.S. Lewis fan says:

    Wow. But I was just thinking, the line that Aslan says is probably the only one that close to something in the book! 🙂 And the whole seven sword thing? that's weird! At least I'll be going into this knowing that it doesn't follow the book! I knew nothing like this before PC.

  20. always narnian • loyal C.S. Lewis fan says:

    Yeah. That's why it's sad that Christians didn't make the movie. 🙁 Because the theme is mostly lost, and that was the greatest thing to the stories!

  21. Starlily says:

    Must have been a bit of a shock for you then. I followed PC from the beginning and it was still a bit of a shock to see all the changes.

  22. Timo says:

    Oh I'm sure they'll make a big deal of reep's death.. 🙂 well.. I hope it.. It was such an emotional part in the book.. I almost cried when I was little at that part..

  23. Waleed Sajjad Khan says:

    didint they cancel th ewhole 7 sword thing? it had 2 do with a new witch so since they decided not 2 do that they probably wont do the swords. anyway, still getting closer… and closer…

  24. Falling in Narnia says:

    Spoilers are like fun size candy bars, they leave you wanting more!!!

  25. Kell says:

    I can't wait to see the trailer wasn't going to see Toy Story 3 but will because of the trailer, and when Dawn Treader comes out I am going to see it without thinking of the book at all and just enjoy a good movie. That's the way I did it with HP and enjoyed the movies very much. That's the way I am going to do with DT. I find when you try to compare the book to much with the movie it not very entertaining at all. Movies are so different than books.

  26. Musgrave says:

    Only 10 more days till the trailer comes out!!!

  27. Meghan says:

    Oh my goodness! Are you kidding me? I live in Upland and my dad works at Taylor and I missed this! How disappointing! I wish I would have known! SoundS really cool! I'm so excited!

  28. Haggith Tarkheena (trying to think of new name) says:

    Awesome. I'm really glad Aslan says that favorite line of ours. 🙂 And I'm also glad that Reep will be a little grey, for in the book, he's supposed to be darker.

  29. Haggith Tarkheena (trying to think of new name) says:

    YAY!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

  30. Duffleglum says:

    Yeah, first glance made me feel uncomfortable about an Island where people disappear, but I now realize that this addition works well with the story.

    Ever read "Planet Narnia"? It unravels the mystery behind Narnia's strange characteristics between each book, really cool. If you read it, you'll see why this new addition does not actually take away from C.S. Lewis' original intent behind VoDT

  31. Aslan's Meadow says:

    Luis Daniel, I think it is fine to be nervous.
    After all, being nervous isn't gonna hurt anything…it is "Just a Movie" 🙂
    Also I'm sure I'm going to fall in love with the movie, but I do wish they would have done something different.

  32. Talking Rat says:

    I see what you're saying, but I think Lucy does have flaws; they just tend to be subtler. I mean, in PC, Aslan rebukes her for not following him even though nobody believed her, and then there's that whole scene in the magicians house where she eavesdrops on what her friends are saying about her and is tempted to try a beauty spell. I think one of her main flaws is wanting to please people and to be liked by them– which can be a good thing, but it's also very dangerous– partially because it is subtle. And it's something I can relate to. 🙂

  33. daughter of the King says:

    I think the reason that people are less concerned about the additions to the plot is because we've known about them for awhile. Even the "follow the blue star" thing has popped up before.

  34. Watziznehm says:

    Yeah, for us Christians, the biggest meaning in VDT is the ultimate longing – to be able to know and see heaven and the journey to such wonders. When Hollywood is concerned we can hardly expect a miracle (or even an illustration of one), but don't lose heart completely. Has everyone forgotten that the guy who directed this movie also directed Amazing Grace? We may get more than just a glimmer, we just may!

  35. Hope in the Lord says:

    Nine days now I think. AAAAAAA!!!! I can't wait. 🙂

  1. June 16, 2010

    […] Dawn Treader Footage Screened at Taylor University We received a spy report from ‘John’ who attended the C. S. Lewis & Friends conference at Taylor University this past weekend. The conference was hosted by Dr. Devin Brown, and to the surprise of the attendees, some footage from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was shown. Be warned, there are a few new plot spoilers in this report! […]