King Edmund the Just: A Character Comparison Between Film and Book

By Always Narnian

Edmund is the third child of the Pevensie family and perhaps the one we get to see change the most throughout the Narnia series. Edmund is the traitor of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, later in the book to be redeemed by Aslan. Skandar Keynes stars as Edmund in all three Narnia Films: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In the books, Edmund appears to be somewhat of a skeptical and practical deep thinker. One of his weaknesses is impatience, as seen in how he interacts with Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

In the film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edmund is pretty much all he needs to be: a selfish and rebellious child who does not show enough concern for the welfare of his siblings. He is out for himself and especially has a grudge against Peter, his older brother. Edmund’s feelings toward Peter in the book are quite similar to those he has in the movies, as evinced in statements such as: “He did want Turkish Delight and to be a Prince (and later a King) and to pay Peter out for calling him a beast.” “And every time this happened he thought more and more how he hated Peter — just as if all this had been Peter’s fault.” The filmmakers succeeded in making a shaky relationship between the two brothers, even seen in Peter’s aggression toward Edmund during the air raid at the opening of the film.

In the movie Prince Caspian, Edmund is nearly lost in the background as we have new major characters such as Caspian, Trumpkin and Miraz as well as Peter, Susan, and Lucy playing more prominent roles than him. However, what we do see of Edmund is that his practical side is kept. He was the first to remember in the novel that Narnia has a different time than their world, explaining why things have greatly changed in Narnia when it has only been a year in England’s time. In the film, Edmund observes a large stone that had obviously been hurled by a catapult and he believes that their old castle, Cair Paravel, had most likely been subject to war.

I have touched on these last two films briefly because I want to focus the most on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as we see a somewhat surprising shift in Edmund’s character. This time he is tired of being treated as a child, as opposed to him reminding Peter in the Prince Caspian film, “Um, we are kids,” in reply to Peter’s question “I mean, don’t you ever get tired of being treated like a kid?” It is now Edmund’s turn to complain about no longer being a ruler of Narnia, just as Peter did. Edmund, after trying to join the army, fumes about being mocked by a stranger in line behind him: “Squirt! He barely had two years on me. I’m a king! I’ve fought wars and — and I’ve led armies.”

One major problem we see in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader  film is contention between Edmund and Caspian. Though most likely enchanted by the magic around Deathwater, Edmund tells Caspian, “I’m not your subject.” Caspian replies with, “You’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you? To challenge me? You doubt my leadership?” — his words signifying the tension that had been arising between them. The fight continues, one of Edmund’s lines being: “I’m tired of playing second fiddle. First it was Peter and now it’s you!” It is odd that Edmund would say this about Peter. At this particular scene in the book, it is Caspian who is more on the offensive, threatening the others to silence about the pool on Deathwater, while Edmund stands up against him saying, “Who are you talking to?…I’m no subject of yours. If anything it’s the other way round. I am one of the four ancient sovereigns of Narnia and you are under allegiance to the High King my brother.” Edmund, even showing respect to Peter’s title, knew that he was not Caspian’s subject — however, he never held this against Caspian as in a way to take over Caspian’s position or in a way that showed he was jealous. The filmmakers possibly took this in a way so as to make Edmund have an inferiority complex while aboard the Dawn Treader.

One must also mention the certain green mist that acts as a worst fear or temptation to the characters throughout the film. Edmund keeps seeing the White Witch over and over again in the mist, haunting him and asking him to be on her side once again. This is not the only time the White Witch has reappeared in a Narnia film. There is a scene in Prince Caspian where Nikabrik, along with a Hag and Were-Wolf, nearly bring the White Witch back from the dead. Edmund is not fooled by the Witch’s words, although Caspian and Peter are nearly caught under her spell. “I know. You had it sorted.” Edmund tells Peter after he stabs through the ice enclosing the White Witch, ending the enchantment. The way the Witch continues to be a type of fear for Edmund is not in keeping with the second film of the series nor with his character in the books. A quote from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe book sums up Edmund’s feelings after Aslan saves him from the Witch: “But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.” It is not, however, as if Edmund is in denial for the rest of the series. We see a scene in The Horse and His Boy where Edmund considers who he had once been: “‘But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.’ And he looked very thoughtful.”

Edmund is a hard character to nail down, as we see many changes in him throughout the series. What do you think are some major differences or commonalities between the Edmund of the book and the character of the films?

2 thoughts on “King Edmund the Just: A Character Comparison Between Film and Book

  1. Ariel.of.NarniaAriel.of.Narnia

    Wow, I’d never realized how backward and contradictory the VDT movie made him, even in relation to PC. I definitely agree with your points about the inferiority complex and the green-mist-White-Witch.

  2. always narnianalways narnian Post author

    Thanks! Yeah, the White Witch coming back again and again was odd. But yeah, Edmund’s inconsistency even from the film PC really bothers me =P 😀

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