King Edmund, the Just|
The following analysis is ® Mark Feezell, and may not be reproduced or redistributed without permission
Why is Edmund crowned, "Kind Edmund, the Just" at the end of the movie? How does Edmund Pevensie become Kind Edmund over the course of the film? This analysis will attempt to systematically approach the question of Edmundís character development. To simplify and focus the discussion, I am addressing his character specifically in the movie, not the book. His development in the book is certainly of interest, but would merit a separate discussion.
Comments are orginized by the movie scene order, and you can jump to any particular part of the character analysis by clicking on one of the links below.
1: London Blitz
2: Station Goodbye - Train Ride
3: Arrival at Professor Kirke's
4: Hide and Seek
5: Lucy's first visit to Narnia
6: Edmund follows Lucy into Narnia
7: Lucy and Edmund in Narnia
8: From Lucy and Edmund's exit to third visit
9: Pevensies explore Narnia
10: Meeting the Beavers
11: Edmund sneaks off to the White Witch
12: Kids/Beavers Chased
13: Father Christmas
14: Escape across River
15: Pevensies at Aslan's Camp
16: Edmund's return - Parlay
17: Stone Table - Battle Preparations
18: The Battle Commences
19: Aslan lives! - The battle rages
20: The battle ends - Edmund is saved
21: Coronation! Celebration!
22: Adult Pevensies
23: Back in England
24: Bonus Scene: Lucy and Professor Kirke
1. London Blitz
In the first shots of the movie, we see Edmund wanting to experience the full action of the war. He stands transfixed at the window, unaware of his personal peril. When they run for the bomb shelter, Edmund stops, crying "Dad" as he runs back into the house after his Dadís photo. Unsure of his role, Edmund seems to be the one most affected by the absence of Mr. Pevensie. Peter has some harsh words for him in the shelter, and we see Edmundís resentment growing.
2. Station Goodbye - Train Ride
Edmund cringes at his mothers gentle kiss, pulling away. His emotional distance is clear. We see Peter trying to load Edmundís luggage on the train, and Edmund gives him a dirty look. We see Edmund sitting away from the others, not looking out the window, engrossed in his own feelings. I believe that Adamson wants to show us that there were forces (Peter, his missing father, etc.) that pushed Edmund in the direction of treachery. Nonetheless, it is important to note that Edmundís treachery still must be paid for, and Adamson is faithful to the book in this regard.
3. Arrival at Professor Kirke's
Edmund laughs at Susan when she gets into trouble over touching the historical artifacts, because he is usually the one in that position. Edmund is insensitive to Lucyís emotions when she complains about the "sheets being scratchy" (she is really feeling scared about the war).
4. Hide and Seek
Edmund doesnít want to play hide and seek. Edmund steals a good hiding place from Lucy, forcing her to run into the Spare Room. Basically, we donít see a lot of positives in Edmund yet. On the surface, he seems to be the one most in need of reform and change. I contend that ALL FOUR children are equally in need of growth; Edmundís just happens to be the most visible need.
5. Lucy's first visit to Narnia
Edmund is not in the Narnia scene. He is cruel to Lucy afterward when she tells her story. After a rebuke from Peter, he shouts to Peter, "You think youíre Dad, but youíre NOT!" One of Edmundís issues is growing to respect authority.
6. Edmund follows Lucy into Narnia
When Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe, it is with the intention of being cruel to her again. Once he finds himself in Narnia, he says, "I think I believe you now." This is a key line for understanding Edmundís development: seeing is believing for him. Edmund has to experience something to believe it, and that experience eventually becomes a platform for an understanding of evil, and the ability to balance mercy and justice.
7. Lucy and Edmund in Narnia
Edmund meets the Witch, and falls under her spell. He is offered a future kingship in her kingdom. Although he doesnít realize it, this is a clever counterfeit of the true kingship Aslan has awaiting Edmund. Always the one to experience, he tastes the witches Turkish Delight, and is hooked. When he sees Lucy again, he feels guilty about having revealed the faunís identity, and asks how they can get out of Narnia.
8. From Lucy and Edmund's exit to third visit
To cover up what he was really doing in Narnia (an indication that in his heart even now Edmund know the Witch is evil), Edmund denies the truth that he was in Narnia with Lucy. This crushes Lucy, but Edmund is unfazed. He even urges them to play hide-and-seek again, an oblique jab at Lucyís emotions. It is Edmund that breaks the window, and he is the one that insists they all hide in the wardrobe from "the Macready."
9. Pevensies explore Narnia
Peter is harsh to Edmund when he asks him to ask for Lucyís forgiveness. Then he offers Edmund a girlís coat to wear. Naturally, none of this sits well with Edmund, and his bitterness grows. Edmund is the one that sees Mr. Tumnusís father's portrait broken in the cave, and he begins to understand (that is, to experience) the consequences of his actions. Nonetheless, he still tries to justify himself, claiming that Tumnus is "a criminal."
10. Meeting the Beavers
When we meet the beavers, Edmund is the last one to follow Mr. Beaver. His mind is now consumed with his prior experience with the Witchís illicit Turkish Delight, and her promise of power. Mr. Beaver notices when he pauses to stare longingly at the "two hills" that surround the Witchís castle.
11. Edmund sneaks off to the White Witch
If you watch carefully, you will see that Edmund leaves the beaversí house BEFORE he gets to hear the prophecy about the four thrones! So in his rush to follow the deceitful offer of the Witch, he is missing out on his true destiny. In the Witchís courtyard, Edmund childishly draws a face on a lion. Once he sees the wolves leave for the beaversí dam, he begins to realize the full import of what he has done.
12. Kids/Beavers Chased
Edmund is not in the chase scene. When we see him in the Witchís dungeon, the full ramifications of his treachery come to light. There is no longer any pretense that what he has done was justified...Edmund knows truly now that he has done a wicked thing. In his first noble act, Edmund refuses to tell the Witch where Aslan is. He has nothing to say when the Witch, that great Accuser, points her wand at him and tells Mr. Tumnus that Edmund was the one that gave him up.
13. Father Christmas
Edmund is not in this scene, although it is interesting to note that his chair in the Cair Paravel scene has the same sword on the back of it that Peterís does, an indication that Edmund is extended some grace despite his absence. Obviously, the idea here is also that bad actions prevent us from achieving our full potential.
14. Escape across River
Edmund is not in the Ice River scene.
In the scene with the Witch, Edmund, and the Fox, Edmund is rightfully shocked when the Fox calls him "Your Highness," since he left the beaversí house before he could hear the prophecy. Edmund tries once more to get out of a bad situation by making a concession to the Witch and telling him where Aslanís camp is. Although his heart is in the right place (trying to save the Fox), Edmund learns that the only way to deal with the Witch is unrelenting opposition. When the Witch slaps him and asks him whose side he is on, Edmund decides in his heart, "I am on ASLANíS SIDE!"
15. Pevensies at Aslan's Camp
Edmund is not in this scene.
16. Edmund's return - Parlay
After his rescue, we see Edmund speaking with Aslan. What is spoken is not revealed; nor should it be, for as Aslan says, "Whatís done is done. There is no need to speak to Edmund about the past." Edmund is (rightfully) afraid during the parlay between the Witch and Aslan, but he seems oblivious to the real implications when the White Witch "renounces her claim" on him.
When Peter insists on sending the younger three back to England, it is Edmund who says, "I know what the White Witch can do, and Iíve helped her do it. Thatís why we have to stay and help." This moment is the crucial turning point for Edmund, when he really begins his progression toward becoming King Edmund, the Just. It is his voice of experience, combined with Lucyís purehearted compassion, that convinces the children to stay and fight.
17. Stone Table - Battle Preparations
Edmund is not in the Stone Table scene. It is significant that he is not required to EXPERIENCE the full consequences of his actions (although he may have heard about it later) - an obvious picture of grace.
At the map of the battle by Aslanís tent, Edmund is the one who urges Peter to lead the troops into battle, despite how dark the situation seems to be.
18. The Battle Commences
As the battle commences, Edmund is leading the archers and the aerial assault. Interestingly, it is Edmund (the one who always must experience things, the "voice of Experience") who leads the secret battle strategy that Peter brings into play based on their EXPERIENCE of the London bombings: to drop boulders on the enemy from the air.
19. Aslan lives! - The battle rages
Peter tells Edmund and the Beaver to leave the battle, but Edmund hesitates. When he sees the Witch in action, his EXPERIENCE tells him the way to defeat her: break her wand. No one but Edmund, with his experience, is able to see this. Even Oreius, with his courage, attacked the Witch herself, not her wand. With this knowledge, Edmund Pevensie fully assumes the mantle of King Edmund the Just, rushes down and shatters her wand. (The look that Tilda Swinton gives him as she stabs him with the broken remnants of her wand deserves an award by itself.) We see him fall, experiencing the pains and early pangs of death as he breathes heavily on the battlefield.
20. The battle ends - Edmund is saved
Lucy saves Edmund with a drop from her cordial. Having known the results of his treachery, having seen the effects of bravely using his experience, having tasted the first drops of the death that Aslan took in his place, King Edmund is now fully qualified to mete out justice and mercy.
21. Coronation! Celebration!
Edmund is crowned King Edmund, the Just. His royal throne bears the same sword insignia that Peterís does. Although he doesnít have a gift from Father Christmas, he is welcomed into the royal family as a full member under Peterís headship. We see the Fox and the lion from the Witchís courtyard standing together, a symbol of the restoration of all the Edmund caused to be destroyed.
22. Adult Pevensies
Edmund drags behind out of concern for his horse. Notice how tender his heart has become Ė quite a change from the troubled boy of the opening of the movie!
23. Back in England
No significant character development for Edmund in this scene.
24. Bonus Scene: Lucy and Professor Kirke
Edmund is not in this scene.
Although this is not about Skandarís acting, I would be remiss not to say to him: Skandar, if you read this, and I know you will, we all believe you did an amazing job working through a very complex emotional progression in Edmund. You managed to make a very broad spectrum of emotions believable, and helped us understand Edmundís role in the book quite well. I am looking forward to seeing you again as the noble Kind Edmund in Prince Caspian.
Also, my kudos go out to the writers and all who had a hand in the script. You have allowed me to see things in the book and implications of the characters that I never saw before.
- Mark Feezell