Tag Archives: C.S. Lewis

The Question of the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle: The Northern Witches

by always narnian

It seems like often times the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle have been connected in some way. In the BBC adaptations, the same actress, Barbara Kellerman, portrays both the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as well as the Lady of the Green Kirtle in The Silver Chair. However, this could be a coincidence, as Barbara Kellerman also played the Hag in Prince Caspian. When a newer Silver Chair film was being discussed, it seemed that often times people wondered if Tilda Swinton would return, starring as the Green Lady of Underland. But why? How has this become a popular idea? Could the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle be one and the same enchantress? Why do these two villains seem so often associated with one another?

Our first and most obvious argument against this idea may be that Aslan killed the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

“The battle was all over a few minutes after their arrival. Most of the enemy had been killed in the first charge of Aslan and his companions; and when those who were still living saw that the Witch was dead they either gave themselves up or took to flight.”

She was dead, no doubt, for even her armies saw her as dead. The only possible explanation around this would be that she only appeared dead, but then Aslan would have made a huge mistake.


Pauline Baynes’ illustration of the Lady of the Green Kirtle


Pauline Baynes’ illustration of the White Witch

In Prince Caspian there is thought toward calling the White Witch back from the dead, but this is hastily stopped by Caspian and a few of his friends in the chapter Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance. But let us theorize that, later on, someone did call the White Witch back and she resurfaces as the Lady of the Green Kirtle. She certainly has changed. Pauline Baynes’ illustrations of the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle are distinctly different. In the illustrations of Jadis (in both The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) she is portrayed as a dark-haired and stern woman, whereas in the illustrations of the Queen of Underland, she appears more fair and almost gentle. Wouldn’t Lewis point out to Baynes that the two Witches were drawn so differently, if, in fact, they were the same person? Lewis was in contact with Pauline Baynes about certain illustrations in the series and it seems Lewis would most likely note this. [1]

These two arguments are valid, but let’s find the passage where this whole theory very possibly originated. Toward the end of The Silver Chair book, we see these two characters mentioned together.

“And while they [Eustace and Jill] slept Prince Rilian was talking over the whole adventure with the older and wiser Beasts and Dwarfs. And now they all saw what it meant; how a wicked Witch (doubtless the same kind as that White Witch who had brought the Great Winter on Narnia long ago) had contrived the whole thing, first killing Rilian’s mother and enchanting Rilian himself. And they saw how she had dug right under Narnia and was going to break out and rule it through Rilian: and how he had never dreamed that the country of which she would make him king (king in name, but really her slave) was his own country.”

This passage is soon followed by a statement from one of the dwarfs:

“‘And the lesson of it all is, your Highness,’ said the oldest Dwarf, ‘that those Northern Witches always mean the same thing, but in every age they have a different plan for getting it.’”

Having debunked the theory of these two ladies being the same enchantress, what does this quote from The Silver Chair actually mean? We know that the Queen of Underland and Jadis were of the same kind. As far as we know, Jadis didn’t have any descendants. We know that nearly all the people in the Witch’s original country, Charn, were killed. What might the old Dwarf in The Silver Chair mean by the Northern Witches? Of course, this could mean that the Lady of the Green Kirtle was a Jinn, as Jadis was. But how did the Green Lady of Underland get into Narnia? We are not told her story and unfortunately I do not have an answer for you.

This statement about the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle is one of several instances where C.S. Lewis seemed to leave much to the reader’s imagination. It makes you wonder if he himself had any idea who these Northern Witches were and how Jadis and the Lady of the Green Kirtle both fell under this category. What are your thoughts? Has this mystery in Narnia ever stuck out to you?
[1] Examples of Lewis and Baynes’ correspondence can be seen in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963

Narnia in Oxford

By Ajnos Gamgee

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being at three high-profile CS Lewis related events in Oxford. On Tue 20 October, I attended a book launch at the Oxford CS Lewis Society of Lewis and his Circle, a work which has been more than eight years in the making. It contains lectures and memoirs based on talks given at the Society (started in 1982). The three editors, Judith Wolfe, Brendan Wolfe and Roger White shared with us the process during which they selected the 19 talks which are published in the book. They are all derived from tape recordings of lectures given to the society; sometimes of rather poor audio quality. The process of both transcription and contacting literary executors for permission to publish the works was quite laborious on the part of the editors, and they deserve much credit for their hard work in bringing us this volume. Only previously unpublished pieces were included in the book. Some of the talks were by high-profile people including a piece by one of the Inklings, John Wayne, on Lewis’ brother Warnie’s writings and memoirs, Elizabeth Anscombe’s final word on the debate she had with CS Lewis on his work on Miracles, personal memories from Joan Murphy, a Lewis family cousin, and a talk by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on That Hideous Strength.

On Wed 21 October, the three editors of the volume were joined by a fourth Lewis expert based in Oxford for a panel discussion celebrating 65 Years since the publication of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, held at The Story Museum at Oxford. Attendees were invited to visit the small Narnia exhibit at the museum, which took you through a wardrobe door into a snowy wood with an empty sleigh, a lamp post and an image of the White Witch. The panel discussion was driven by quotes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and included discussions on Lewis’ idea of subcreation and invented worlds, and how he used them to investigate spiritual themes. The speakers also discussed Lewis’ use of various mythological elements, his portrayal of Aslan as a Christ-figure and his use of talking animals among other topics.

Finally, on Tuesday 27 October, the CS Lewis Society hosted a Q&A session talk with Douglas Gresham, CS Lewis’ stepson. Gresham shared that he was not legally permitted to reveal much about ongoing work on The Silver Chair film except that the screenplay was close to completion and the search for a director would begin shortly. He also shared various memories of life as a young boy living with Lewis, his mother, Warnie Lewis and Fred Paxford (the gardener at the Kilns, on whom Puddleglum is said to have been based). He shared some of the pain of his own life during the move to England and during his mother’s fight with cancer. He shared how Lewis lived an inspirational Christian life with an emphasis on charity and doing simple small acts of kindness over “being religious”. As an example of this, Gresham mentioned that he once met a young Egyptian man while giving a talk in America, who revealed that Lewis had paid to enable him to complete his Oxford education when a change in leadership in Egypt had led to the withdrawal of expected funds. Apparently he was one of many young students who benefited from financial aid of this kind.

There has been a growing interest in CS Lewis and his legacy in recent years both in Oxford, where he spent much of his academic career, and around the world. These three events give just a sample of the continued interest that the man and his works attract over half a century after his death.

65th Anniversary of the publication of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

IMG_3486By Lil

“At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself, ‘Let’s try to make a story about it.'” (CS Lewis, on how Narnia began) [1]

The 16th of October 2015 marks the 65th anniversary of the publication of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Below are some of our favourite quotes from this book which first introduced the world to Narnia:

“Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”  The Professor, “Back on this Side of the Door”

At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.  ~ “A Day with the Beavers”

“Safe? Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”  ~ Mr Beaver, “A Day with the Beavers”

“I don’t think it will be  any good trying to go back through the wardrobe door to get the coats. You won’t get into  Narnia again by that  route.”  ~ The Professor, “The Hunting of the White Stag”

“Once a King in Narnia, always a King in  Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route twice.  Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when  you’re not looking for it.”   ~ The Professor, “The Hunting of the White Stag”

“Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?”    ~ The Professor, “The Hunting of the White Stag”

And that is the very end of the adventure of the wardrobe. But if the Professor was right it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia.  ~ “The Hunting of the White Stag”

What are your favourite quotes from this book? Share them in the comments below.

[1] Brown, Devin, Inside Narnia: A Guide to Exploring The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Baker Books, 2005

Very Brief Update on The Silver Chair Script Douglas Gresham

On September 30th, The Chronicles of Narnia official Facebook page released a video of Douglas Gresham answering a question concerning The Silver Chair Script. As many of you remember, back in June a false Tweet was released claiming that the script for The Silver Chair had been completed. This tweet was refuted by The Chronicles of Narnia official Facebook page, who now brings us this recent video of Douglas Gresham. Finally we have some clarity on where things stand with regards to the film.

In this video, Gresham gives us the real news: the script is getting near completion, or in his own words “we are getting pretty close.” Production itself has not started, since the script is not yet ready, but this news is heartening in the fact that things are still moving forward for The Silver Chair. Gresham, who is one of the producers of the upcomng film and CS Lewis’ stepson, is optimistic about what we can expect from the final result.

We will continue to keep you updated as more news comes in.

Watch the brief video here.

Source: The Chronicles of Narnia official Facebook page


A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Prince Caspian

by Always Narnian

You may recall that several articles back I discussed certain facts behind the making of Walden’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In this one, I will do much the same thing with the second film of the series, Prince Caspian. I hope you will enjoy the facts listed below and that they will continue to build your curiosity about what goes into making films and what happens behind-the-scenes.

Locations and Sets

  • This film was shot mainly on location. While 40% of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was shot on location, Prince Caspian surpassed it with 60-65% of the film being shot on location.
  • The few shots of the street scenes in the beginning of Prince Caspian of Lucy and Susan were actually filmed in Prague, though it was meant to resemble London in the movie. The lion statue that is shown was already there on the street and fit perfectly into the film.
  • Trufflehunter’s home is a tight squeeze, especially for actor Ben Barnes. When they went to rehearse the scene, Ben was almost too tall for the badger’s cave which required the film crew to shave off 3-4 inches from the ceiling. After that, he was able to stand more easily inside the set.
  • There was a forest in Poland covered with ferns that Andrew Adamson wanted to film in. However, due to the price of traveling to that location, they brought around 5,000 potted ferns into a forest near Prague to make it resemble the one in Poland instead. This was a cheaper option for them.
  • So many different techniques can be used in filming, even a change of location for the same setting in a movie. For example, the gorge the Pevensies are standing by at the scene where Lucy sees Aslan was a gorge in Poland— when they finally believe Lucy and go down the gorge and cross the water at its bottom, the gorge they are traveling through was in New Zealand.

How Did They Do It?

  • The scene where the Telmarine soldiers attempt to kill Prince Caspian after Miraz’s son is born is a very intense moment. To achieve the visual of Caspian’s curtained bed being fired at by crossbows, there were small explosives set up in the bed to make the feathers of the mattress fly into the air. There were also small threads in the curtains that could be pulled on so that the tears would be in the correct spots.
  • You remember the scene where Caspian is dragged through the woods by his horse? This scene was achieved by Ben laying atop a metal plate, his foot fastened to a cart that would then pull him along the ground.
  • In the scene with the river god, you may remember that when the Telmarines are in the water the river starts to empty. Instead of using the complicated hydraulics they had specifically created for this scene, they asked the actors to crouch down and then stand up again, making it appear as if the river was vanishing just as you see it in the finished film.

Did You Notice?

  • Remember when Edmund stands up for Lucy at the gorge when she sees Aslan? Before the shooting of a close-up for this scene, Skandar Keynes had just banged his lip on a bar while walking around set. You can see him tucking in his lip in an attempt to make it unnoticeable on screen.
  • Prosthetics can be deceiving. Peter Dinklage, the actor for Trumpkin, had a very large prosthetic brow while in costume, which they described as having “the frown built in.” During the first stages of filming, this prosthetic made it seem as if Peter was glaring at Andrew. Andrew would ask Peter if he was okay, to which he would reply, “It’s the makeup!”
  • Did you ever consider minotaurs as being good? There is a scene in Prince Caspian where Peter sees a minotaur walking by and prepares to attack it. As you may remember, there were no good minotaurs in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and this shot in Prince Caspian was supposed to be the first minotaur to be seen in this film. Andrew Adamson believed he muffed the suspense because he had put these creatures in a previous scene with Caspian and the Narnians instead of waiting for this moment to reveal minotaurs could be evil or good.

Cameras and Action!

  • In one scene of the Night Raid on Miraz’s castle, Edmund slides down a roof and onto an archer on the top of the wall. There is a brief shot of Edmund’s feet, with the soldier beyond them. This shot was actually achieved by strapping a camera onto Skandar, who then did the stunt while filming it.
  • Peter’s running mount onto his horse during the night raid scene was actually performed by William Moseley, not a stunt double.
  • Imagine having to film a fight scene on a hill and having to accurately swing your sword at a small plasticine area of tree so you don’t damage the actual tree itself. This is what William Moseley had to do when they were filming the fight between Caspian and Peter when they first meet.
  • Peter and Miraz’s duel near the end of the film was choreographed as a 110-beat fight. William was taught this impressive fight within about three days.

Funny Incidents

  • The scene where the Pevensies are camping around the fire was shot in a huge studio that they said “had its own climate.” Bugs began to be seen on set and during the conversation between Lucy and Susan, Andrew had to digitally remove ants that had gotten onto Georgie’s and Anna’s arms.
  • Pierfrancesco Favino, the actor for Glozelle, has played in a few other movies with actor Sergio Castellitto (Miraz). Prince Caspian was the third film that required Sergio to slap Pierfrancesco.
  • The talented animator of Reepicheep got to have a small part in the film— a soldier that was slain by Reepicheep’s own hand. Andrew joked that “Reepicheep gets to kill his creator.”

Did You Know?

  • The Pevensie’s Treasure Chamber set had lots of small things on the floor, such as rocks. You may remember that the Pevensies are barefoot during this scene, having come from the beach. Anna had to wear moleskin on her feet to go across this set, due to her feet being sensitive.
  • During the night meeting where Caspian gives a speech to the Narnians, a small squirrel moves along the tree branch and asks a question. This squirrel was voiced by Harry Gregson-Williams, the composer of the scores for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian.
  • At the part where the Pevensies first enter Aslan’s How, centaurs on either side of them raise their swords in salute. You get a quick look at a small centaur, who is holding his sword too low. This centaur was played by Gomez Sandoval, the son of Isis Mussenden (the costume designer). They asked him what he wanted his character’s name to be and he chose “Lightning Bolt.” Andrew included the name in the credits of the film.
  • Excluding the actors for the Pevensie children (since they were cast in the previous film), Peter Dinklage was practically the first person to be cast for his role as Trumpkin the dwarf in Prince Caspian. Andrew said they created Trumpkin’s part in the movie specifically for Peter Dinklage.
  • In the very dramatic scene of Prince Caspian escaping from Miraz’s castle, a Telmarine caller is announcing the birth of Miraz and Prunaprismia’s son. His voice was played by Douglas Gresham. It was commented that the Telmarine accent was taught to Douglas in 6-and-a-half minutes by the dialect coach working on the movie.
  • During a brief scene at the end of the film, Caspian and the Pevensies ride through the streets in a type of parade. Many of the film crew’s families were there as extras. Andrew Adamson’s parents can be seen in a window, waving to those going by.

Though there are so many more facts that could be shared, I will leave that to you. What are other facts you may remember from having watched the behind-the-scenes? Share them below!