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Tenth Anniversary of Walden’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By Always Narnian

Today marks ten years since the release of the Walden Media/Disney film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the United Kingdom. For Narnia fans, it may seem hard to believe that a decade has already passed for the beginning of this franchise. Unfortunately, I was not active on the big Narnia sites at the time of the first film. However, if you were, you may recall some of the facts and rumors that were floating about online concerning this film. In honor of this anniversary, I thought it would be enjoyable to share some of these memories.

  • For a little while it was rumored that Nicole Kidman, an Australian actress, was chosen to play the role of the White Witch. This was not in the slightest bit true, as she was never offered the role. [1]
  • Aslan was originally to be voiced by Scottish actor Brian Cox. Though this itself was not a rumor, a story was started that Cox’s voice had altered due to some weight loss, most likely making his voice unacceptable for the part of Aslan. This, of course, was the false part of the story – Brian had to cancel the role due to his scheduling. [2]
  • The first actor to be revealed for the project was Tilda Swinton, starring as the lead villain, the White Witch.
  • The first trailer for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was released on May 7th, 2005, nearly 7 months before its theater debut. These days we expect new trailers to be uploaded to YouTube, but this was a brand new site at the time, and still in beta testing, so it was on another website (moviefone.com) that the trailer was first made available on the web. [3]
  • Liam Neeson was not announced for the role of Aslan until July of 2005, though they had already recorded his lines. [4]
  • It was said that various actors including Gerard Butler, Ian McKellen, Timothy Dalton, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, and Sean Bean had auditioned for the role of Aslan. According to IMDb, Gerard Butler had said during his audition, “ This isn’t going to be like the BBC puppet Aslan, right? Because, if so, I’m leaving right now.” [5]
  • While in the theater, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe fought especially with King Kong (directed by the Lord of the Rings directer, Peter Jackson) for the top place in the box office. [6]
  • In June of 2004, it was already being said that work was starting on the next Narnia script. Prince Caspian was officially confirmed in February of 2006. [7]
  • Grant Major, the Production Designer of The Lord of the Rings films, was at first to be involved in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe[8]
  • John Howe, the artist well known for his Tolkien illustrations and work on The Lord of the Rings films, was also originally involved in the art-work for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. At the time he was forced to keep this secret and even denied his involvement. He eventually wrote a confession on his own website after having left the project:

“From February through May I didn’t do much else except work my fingers to the bone drawing lions, witches and wardrobes pretty much full time. And last but far from least, apologies to all those who asked if I had indeed stepped through the wardrobe, and to whom I either lied or artfully dodged the question. Sorry about that, I hope you’ll forgive me. It won’t happen again (until next time). Now that the production has moved to New Zealand I’ve wandered out of the wardrobe and shut the door carefully behind me. I can at last mention the project, but of course five months of hard sketching will have to wait for an eventual ‘Art of’ book…” [9]

  • In March of 2005, Narniaweb confirmed that there was a scene that had not yet been shot—the scene at the end of the film in which the Pevensies are no longer children. Mark Wells, the actor for the grown-up Edmund, was the first of the four to be announced for the Pevensie’s adult roles. [10]

What are your own memories of this film? Do you remember your reaction to this classic tale being adapted into a film? Do you remember what your thoughts were on the first trailer? Or do you remember any speculations you had concerning this film? I’d love to hear your own memories of the film’s release in the comments below!

Thanks to Narniaweb’s News Archives for much of the information above.

(Caution is advised in following any of the outgoing links in this article. TLC is not affiliated with IMDb or Narniaweb.)

 

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!

Tweet Regarding Completion of Silver Chair Script Confirmed to be Fake

In Ajnos’ most recent article, Latest on the Silver Chair film (what we know and what we don’t), she addressed a rumor about the Silver Chair script being completed. The rumor originated from a post on a Twitter account supposedly belonging to David Magee, the script writer.

This afternoon, the official Chronicles of Narnia page on FaceBook posted this on their wall: “The bogus report of David Magee’s ‪#‎SilverChair‬ finished script is a scam. Always follow The Chronicles of Narnia @officialnarnia & Narnia.com for all official movie news ‪#‎NarniaMovieNews‬.”

Facts from Behind-the-Scenes of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Always Narnian

How many times have you watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Since I’m talking to fans, I’m sure you’ve watched the movie several times—but how often have you taken the time to go Behind-the-Scenes and get a glimpse at what happened while filming this great movie? Maybe you have done this often, or perhaps it’s been a long time since you have seen it, or you haven’t seen it at all. In any case, it’s always fun to read about facts that happened to the actors while creating Walden’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Hope you enjoy the facts below!

Beginning

  • The first filmed scene for the Pevensie actors was actually the scene where the four of them are in the train on their way to Professor Kirke’s house in the country.

Real Reactions!

  • There are times when performances can be doubly convincing to the viewer when the scene is actually a surprise to the actor as well. Georgie Henley, the actress for Lucy Pevensie, had a very interesting experience when she entered the set for the wintry land of Narnia. Georgie had never seen this set on her first take, thus her entrance was her actual reaction to the world created by the film crew. She was also not permitted to see her co-actor, James McAvoy, in his Mr. Tumnus costume until the moment she was to meet him on camera.

Fun Props

  • At the beginning scene of the air raid you may remember a window shattering behind Edmund and Peter. It was sugar glass and William Moseley (Peter) convinced Skandar Keynes (Edmund) to eat some of it.
  • There is a certain scene where Anna Popplewell, who portrays Susan Pevensie on screen, had a little fun of her own accord. When Aslan storms onto the battlefield with the Narnians he rescued from the Witch’s castle, Susan runs up to the edge of a cliff. At that point Anna shot one of her arrows over the cliff even though she had not been instructed to do so. Anna commented that the arrow was perhaps still there in New Zealand.
  • Skandar was consuming a lot of sugar during the scene where the Witch gives him Turkish Delight. Due to this, one time he was given Turkish Delight made of plexiglass and Skandar said to the director, “Andrew, I can’t eat it.” The total number of actual Turkish Delight pieces Skandar said he ate was thirty-five.
  • William Moseley was amazed at how intricate and detailed the sets were. One example of this was that, at Aslan’s camp, there was something inside each tent. The extra things on set were often times not even seen on camera.
  • Some things can be easily achieved in film and still look great. You remember the unicorn Peter rode during the battle near the end of the film? The horse’s horn was simply glued on.

Training to be a Narnian

  • A lot of dedication goes into making these films. Acting goes beyond simply memorizing lines. Actors often have to be taught special skills. William Moseley was trained in horse riding and he became quite accomplished that when they filmed the battle scene Andrew Adamson chose mostly scenes of William on the horse to include in the movie. Though they had stunt doubles do some of the shots, Andrew thought William had better posture than the doubles.
  • We know that Susan was an excellent archer in the Narnia series. In order to portray the character of Susan, Anna Popplewell had the experience of being instructed by an Olympic Archery expert.

Accidents!

  • In the scene where Mr. Tumnus takes Lucy back to the lamp-post, James McAvoy had a cold and his prosthetic nose ended up coming off his face.
  • During the children’s trek over to Mr. Tumnus’ house there is a scene of Peter running and tumbling into the snow. At that moment William hit his leg on a piece of wood, which he said was quite painful.
  • During the bombing scene at the beginning of the film, Peter rushes after Edmund to stop him as he is retrieving their Father’s picture from the house. In one of the takes, William yelled out Skandar’s name instead of Edmund’s.

Lines & Scenes

  • Lines can cause a bit of trouble. The most-said line, due to Andrew Adamson’s own imagination of it, were Peter’s words “No more ice” during the closing of the Father Christmas scene. They kept shooting the line over and over again for him to try and get it right.
  • “Told you he was real” was another line during the Father Christmas scene, spoken by Lucy. It was meant to be put at the beginning of the scene but Andrew decided to place it near the end, believing it gave the line more of a humorous note.
  • When the Pevensies are preparing to board the train at the beginning of the film, Edmund gets annoyed with Susan grabbing his hand. Skandar Keynes improvised “I know how to get on a train by myself” during this part.
  • Andrew decided to add a humorous line to the discussion between Peter and Aslan (“Beaver also mentioned that you planned on turning him into a hat.”) . The problem with this was that the scene had already been filmed. Andrew searched the clips and found a scene of William smiling, the reason being that a fly had buzzed around William’s head during the shot. Andrew was able to salvage that take and include it in the film.
  • “Well, my mum’s name is Helen” is one of Lucy’s lines to Mr. Tumnus, though it had not always included that specific name. Two others they had used were Miriam and Violet. The line finally included is somewhat funny, for Helen is the actual name of Georgie Henley’s mother.
  • After the Pevensies’ coronation, there was meant to be a dance at Cair Paravel.
  • There was also a scene during the time at Cair Paravel when Lucy gave Tumnus a gift: a little pair of golden horn tips. You can actually see them in the film when Tumnus speaks to Queen Lucy about Aslan.

Sets

  • The set of the Witch’s castle was made of fiber glass, and had many Kino Flo lights to help it look made out of ice.
  • When the four children first arrive at the train stop in the country and meet Mrs. Macready, the train station was not a real one in England as one would suppose it could be, but a set built in New Zealand to resemble an English one.

Interesting Facts

  • The scene where the wolves are released to search for Edmund’s siblings, some of the real wolves that circled the beaver’s dam looked very happy and excited, wagging their tails. Some of the tails had to be replaced with CG tails to make the wolves look more sinister.
  • Though the song Mr. Tumnus plays for Lucy had already been scored and had been played on set for James McAvoy to match the fingering, the man who played the duduk redid the song to match James’ fingers more accurately.

I hope you enjoyed reading these facts and that it whets your appetite to learn more about what goes into making a film and the fun facts you can discover by watching Behind-the-Scenes. Anna Popplewell said of the filming process for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: “…it’s really easy to watch a film just as a story, but I hope that through watching it they can experience some of the enjoyment that we got out of filming it.”

Perelandra: The Opera (by Donald Swann)

By Ajnos Gamgee

Image of Venus: From Wikimedia Commons

While CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy is somewhat less well known than The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis fans around the world recognise the brilliance of these beautiful science fiction tales that show a whole different side of Lewis’ creative genius, especially as he writes for an older audience.

While most of Lewis’ readership will have heard of and are familiar with these tales of interplanetary travels written back when such would have been considered as much a fantasy as travels through a wardrobe to Narnia, it is little known that the second of Lewis’ works, Perelandra (or Voyage to Venus) was made into an opera in the 1960s.

During the years since Lewis first penned the tales of Narnia, these works (and in particular his first, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) have been adapted into numerous stage shows, musicals, audio editions and films. Some may have wondered if and when any of his space tales might undergo the same treatment. It is surprising to learn, therefore, that Perelandra already has.

What is more astounding, is the fact that the Perelandra Opera was the brainchild of  none other than Donald Swann (of “Flanders and Swann” fame). This British composer is better known for his comic pieces and light opera, but wanting to work on something of a more serious nature, he collaborated with David Marsh to produce this adaptation of Lewis’ Venusian tale. The work was created with the approval of and contributions from CS Lewis himself.

The main reason the opera is so little known, is that it has only been performed a handful of times. In 1964, it was performed in Oxford, Cambridge and London, and in 1969 in Haverford and New York City as a student production.

Some time after Lewis’ death, however, the film rights to the Perelandra story had been sold and as a result, an embargo was placed on commercial dramatic adaptations. Following this, the Perelandra Opera vanished into obscurity for another 50 years, until the Oxford CS Lewis Society arranged a limited reproduction of it in 2009. There are no commercially available recordings of the performance, but it was recorded and high-quality archive CD-sets made available at selected research institutions.

The Oxford CS Lewis Society, The Bodleian Library (Oxford) and The Wade Centre (Wheaton, Il.) have copies of the recordings. Recently, selected sound clips were made available on Transpositions.

For more on the opera and its history read here