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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion review

by on Apr.28, 2008, under Books

I don’t generally review or carry reviews for tie-in books to feature films, but in this case I made an exception for a couple of reasons. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion is not some cheap “here’s some photos of us making a movie” book, but it also involves the second installment movie installment of a beloved fantasy series, and I have an in-house Narnia expert. So Read More for her take on this quite extensive tie-in…The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian comes out in theaters on May 16th. Update: An excerpt and an image from the book are now included.


The book begins with a foreword from Andrew Adamson, director; Douglas Gresham, co-producer (and stepson of CS Lewis); and Mark Johnson, producer.

These films are a childhood dream of Douglas Gresham, having read the books as a young boy and then knowing the author personally.

The joy these three men have had in making these films is evident to the reader.

The Journey: Back to Narnia

The filming of the second film began on February 12, 2007 on a set in New Zealand. Two and a half years earlier filming had begun here for the first in this series. Andrew’s goal is to make this film better than the first. The chapter contains photos from the first few days of shooting with the Pevensie children in a train station. The joy of being back together is evident in the shots.

The Story: The Second Chapter

Douglas Gresham has worked very hard to make this dream of his a reality. He is creative and artistic director of the CS Lewis estate and the stepson of author CS Lewis. This chapter talks about the decision to turn Prince Caspian into the second film. There was a brief thought of combining Caspian with the next book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Due to the children’s involvement in this second story, it needed to be soon after the first movie rather than later – otherwise they would have had to hire different actors to play the children. The films are being made in the “most logically consistent order”, according to Gresham. The plan is to film Dawn Treader next, in which only two of the children appear, Lucy and Edmund.

This film will have a lot more action than the first film did.

An interesting section of this chapter is about the Headquarters of the production in Prague. The sign outside the building is a flag with a mouse toasting bread over a campfire, thus the name “Toastie Productions.” The section talks about the development of the name and how other productions have used secret names to hide the filming and even the screenplay’s true identity. Do you know what “Blue Harvest” was really called?

From Page to Screen: A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures

This chapter talks about the preproduction of the film including the creation of the script and the storyboards associated with the film. There are numerous storyboard drawings included in this chapter. Under the story boards are the actual shots of the characters living out the drawings. It’s amazing how close these drawings are to the actual shots that are filmed. The next step is the pre-visualization where they take the photomovie and choreograph the camera shots and visual effects. The last step is the editing of all these pieces before filing actually begins.

An add-on to this chapter is a section on the filming schedule for Prince Caspian. It took the assistant director and his 2nd assistant 3 weeks to set up the 136 day shooting schedule. At the end of each day of shooting the cast receives the call sheet for the next day’s shoot. The work that goes into this is mind boggling!

The Locations: Where on Earth is Narnia This Time?

Here’s a job for someone who likes to travel, a location scout! Spend a year traveling finding locations for the film’s shoots. This chapter covers the different locations used in the filming. Filming took place in New Zealand in several locations with their breathtaking views. Another location was the Czech Republic, where scenes that were set in London took place at a train station and at Barrandov Studios. Poland was thoroughly scoped out for 6 days of shooting at one of Poland’s 33 national parks. The fourth country used was Slovenia for a 9 day shoot.

The Cast: Family Reunion

I think this was my favorite chapter of the book. I enjoyed getting reacquainted with the actors portraying the Pevensie children. Each of them get their own section talking about the changes they have gone through since the first film. It also talks about what they’ve been up to since the first film. There are a lot of candid and shots from the filming about each of the young actors included in this section. Anna Popplewell (Susan) needed time off during the shoot to take her end of school exams. It was quite a challenge to rearrange the shooting schedule to accommodate this. William Moseley had to undergo a lot of training on horses and with swords for his return role as Peter. Skandar Keynes is both a daredevil and a musician. His character has changed quite a bit in this film just as he has changed outside of Narnia. Georgie Henley has grown up quite a bit since the first film, but is very down to earth. She enjoys writing her own stories and just likes to be Georgie. Prince Caspian is her third film having played the young Jane Eyre for the BBC.

The New Cast: Heroes and Villains

It is pointed out at the beginning of this chapter how CS Lewis changed characters frequently in the course of the books. There are both good and evil characters, and as you go through the chronicles you “meet more and more fascinating new characters.”

Ben Barnes (Stardust) plays the handsome Prince Caspian. Ben began as a stage actor and has now completed three motion pictures and this is his first starring role. The search for Caspian originally focused on those from Spanish or Hispanic backgrounds and then spread to France, Italy and Germany to name a few. But they could not find the right fit until they found London native Ben.

The next new character is Caspian’s evil uncle Miraz, played by Sergio Castellito. He is a well-known European actor with 40 years in the business. His children were very excited for him to be in this film after watching The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Peter Dinklage (Underdog) plays Trumpkin the Red Dwarf and Warwick Davis plays Nikabrik the Black Dwarf. Davis is a veteran on Narnia having played Reepicheep in the 1989 BBC version of Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. You may also know him from Return of the Jedi and the Phantom Menace, as well as, Willow and the Harry Potter films. The supporting cast is compiled of international actors. Some of the characters became more evolved in the movie than Lewis had described in the book.

An interesting tidbit was where Adamson got his inspiration for the Telmarine culture. He based them on Mediterranean pirates. Spanish painters helped in the inspiration for both the costumes and the sets for the characters.

The Visualists: Creating the Look of Narnia

This chapter is divided into several very descriptive sections with a focus on main location and setting points from the film. It starts off with information about the Production Designer, Roger Ford. There are descriptions and many photos showing the different locations for the shooting starting with the opening scene in the London Subway Stations (actually Henderson Studios in Auckland, New Zealand). The ruins of Cair Paravel were recreated from the original set from the first film. The recreation took two months for two days of filming. Roger Ford used passages from the story to help him create the ruins of Cair Paravel, the Treasure Chamber, Doctor Cornelius’s Study, the Dancing Lawn, Aslan’s How, Beruna Bridge, and Miraz’s Castle. Drawings and photographs helped in making the visions a reality.

Isis Mussenden is the costume designer who is interviewed for the book. Drawings and photographs show the details of the costumes for each of the 5 main characters from the film.

Richard Taylor, known for his Oscar nominated work from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is the co-founder of the Weta Workshop and Weta Digital in Wellington. His workshop is filled with models, weapons and other movie props. There are several photos and artwork showing the designs for the film and the creation of individual pieces. The photos of the castle miniatures are impressive.

The Auralists: The Sound…and the Music

Harry Gregson Williams created the score for this film as he did with the first installment. Music is a very important part to any film these days. Williams had enjoyed the books as a child which he felt helped him create the music. He is known to write from the original source like a book or from watching the film over and over again. He read the screenplay and reread the book to his children to prepare him for his meeting with Andrew Adamson about the score for the film.

I’m truly looking forward to this soundtrack. I still frequently play the first one in the car or just while working around the house. It pulls you in to the story. I could tell from each song where it could be found in the film.

Tony Johnson also returns again as the sound mixer for the film. His work from the first film was nominated for an Oscar. One challenge described is when there are 5 or more wireless microphones on at the same time and trying to blend it all together smoothly. Some scenes are more challenging than others when other sounds come into play such as the hissing and crackling of a fire or the noise of a large waterfall.

The Illusionists: The Special Effects of Narnia

This group of artist’s work is found in almost every frame of the film. Dean Wright returns again along with Wendy Rogers as the VFX Supervisors worked with 100s of technicians and craftspeople to create the special effects for the film. Photos of creatures with special clothing that would later be translated into centaurs and Minotaurs are found throughout this section. It will be amazing after seeing these photos to watch the film and see all the work that has gone into this film.

The last section shows the development of Reepicheep and the ways his character is incorporated into scenes as well as other characters such as Trufflehunter and Aslan. The special effects shown on these pages are just a small portion of what can be expected from the film.

The afterword for this book is written by Prince Caspian himself, Ben Barnes, nearing the end of filming. He expresses his pride at being part of the film and his time spent working with all the talented people. He has high praise for Andrew Adamson and shares some little tidbits of interesting happenings that occurred during filming. He ends with a quote from CS Lewis.

A “Thoroughly” Delightful Book

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Official Illustrated Movie Companion book is a book for any Narnia fan. The book contains pretty much anything you wanted to know about the making of the next in the Narnia movies. Full of candid photos of the cast and crew, photos and sketches from the artists involved in the making of the film, it shows what an amazing job everyone involved did for this movie. The behind the scenes tidbits make this a fascinating read.

Can you tell that I can’t wait to see the film?! You really get a feel for how much work is put into a film of this magnitude. Ernie Malik has given this Narnia film fan a great insight into all aspects of this film and made me really impatient to see this film. There is so much in this book that I could never do it justice. Give it a read and be prepared to be amazed.

If you love the stories of Narnia, I strongly recommend the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre production of the Chronicles of Narnia. There are 19 CDs, covering all 7 books, which are great to listen to in the car on the way to work or school! Douglas Gresham introduces each story with his personal insight into the writings of CS Lewis. Enjoy!

Excerpt:

Family Reunion

Making a full-scale motion picture like Prince Caspian is a journey unto itself — not only a physical one that took hundreds of filmmakers thousands of miles across two hemispheres, but also a spiritual and emotional voyage for the film’s family members.

With mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, and husbands and wives away from home for close to a full year, the film company’s 600-plus members bonded closely, sharing in both work and play, to create not only a friendly on-set environment over the lengthy seven-month shoot, but hopefully something greater than the sum of its parts — something all can hail proudly when the lights go down, the projector flickers, the film unspools, and their collective movie magic enchants audiences the world over.

As production began over a year ago on that mid-February morning in Auckland, there stood Andrew, the lanky director, alongside his Pevensie clan like a proud father with his children, home for the holidays. Even though it had been barely two years since the completion of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, his film family had, indeed, matured, both physically and emotionally. Their patriarch grinned with pride at the progress.

There they were, anticipating their forthcoming experience and joyously reliving the last one — Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, in the guises of actors William Moseley (now a dashing 20-year-old), Anna Popplewell (a newly minted Oxford freshman), Skandar Keynes (with vocal octaves much deeper at age 15), and Georgie Henley (approaching teenhood, a good six inches taller than we last saw her).

“They’ve all grown up really well,” Andrew beams about his young English cast. “It was nice to see them go back to a really normal life. They were excited about doing this again, and treated it like another adventure. There’s change in very positive ways about growing up, but I’d like to say the movie hadn’t changed who they are, which I’m really happy about. A lot of that’s attributed to their parents. They’ve all got great parents.”

“We’re a really tight unit . . . a formidable four, you could say,” quips Will, the eldest of the quartet. Adds Anna, “The dynamic among the four of us has pretty much remained constant, which is great. I know we’ll all still be friends after the movie finishes.”

“Do I feel like the leader of the group?” the handsome, fair-haired Moseley wonders when asked about the professional and personal dynamics of the four Pevensie actors. He responds proudly and without hesitation: “I definitely do!”

“Like I said before, I’m the oldest in my family,” he continues, “Anna is the oldest in hers, so she is also kind of the leader. Skandar is the youngest, but wants to be the elder as well. Georgie is the youngest as well. We form a very tight unit. The parallels to our characters are simple — we’re all playing ourselves, drawing on our own lives, to show how similar we are to these characters.”

While reflecting back to the beginning of the lengthy shoot, Anna was not surprised at the changes the cast experienced since they last worked together, over two years ago. Except, maybe about herself.

“What’s nice is everyone has grown up a little bit and changed a little bit,” she observes. “But, I’ve probably grown up the least, I’d say. Maybe that’s just because I haven’t noticed the change in myself.” To which Andrew smiles and replies, “Anna’s right. When I first met her, she was 13 going on 40. Now she’s 18 going on 40.”

Perry Moore’s wonderfully evocative book took us behind the scenes of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where we first met these four relative unknowns, memorably though Perry’s vivid and poetic portraits in each actor’s chapter. Let’s take a further peek at the lives of the four Pevensies, now older and (one hopes) wiser, as they venture from their own private worlds in England back to a magical landscape that has changed drastically since the first movie — much like the actors themselves!

Copyright ? 2008 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian
by Ernie Malik
Published by Harper One; April 2008;$19.95US/$21.50CAN; 978-0-06-143560-7
Copyright ? 2008 Disney Enterprises, Inc.



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