Reviewed by C.J. Darlington
Prince Caspian Official Illustrated Movie Companion by
"Think of this book as a 4 disc DVD collector's edition only on paper."
How many times have you watched a movie and then asked yourself, “How did they do it?” Filmmaking can seem like a mystical task to the average movie viewer. What flies by in two hours on the screen could have taken two years to produce. While we were raving about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005, Director Andrew Adamson, Producer Mark Johnson and their vast team were already hard at work on its sequel, Prince Caspian. And author Ernie Malik had probably already started writing this book, a look at the making of Prince Caspian.
If you read the official movie companion for the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe you have an idea of the visual and textual delight awaiting you in the companion book for the latest Narnia movie. Think of it as a 4 disc DVD collector’s edition, only on paper. Which is better in many ways. You can take your time reading and feasting your eyes on the behind-the-scenes and on-the-set photos. Between the leaves are the nuts and bolts of making installment #2 of perhaps the largest movie franchise ever.
Kicking things off is a Foreword written by Andrew Adamson, Douglas Gresham (step-son of C.S. Lewis), and Mark Johnson that whets your appetite for the meat to come. And then we’re off! Chapter One, titled “The Journey”, sets the scene and explains Adamson’s approach. “This time out,” Adamson says, “I wanted to do it better.”
For those unfamiliar with C.S. Lewis’ book Prince Caspian (first published in 1951), Malik summarizes the story and includes numerous movie stills. The “Chronicles of the Chronicles” sidebar takes on the question, “Is Prince Caspian Book Two or Book Four?” of the series, a sticky wicket for some. So far the movies have followed the “by publication” route thus far to take advantage of the natural aging of the actors playing the Pevensie children.
Next we’re shown what exactly goes into a screenplay, storyboarding, and previsualization. We also tackle the schedule, editing, and much more. Then we embark on an exhaustive trip through the beautiful locations of the film. From New Zealand to Poland to the Czech Republic, we learn of the difficulties filming outdoors and of the nasty critters who haunted the crew (snakes, ticks, sand flies, etc.).
All of the sections are fascinating, but I’ll bet most of us will find “The Cast” chapter the most entertaining. How have the actors who played the Pevensies grown up? What have they been doing between films? Here many of our questions are answered. William Mosley (Peter) talks about his chance to do some of his own stunts and how he particularly relates to his character in Prince Caspian. Anna Popplewell (Susan) is now a freshman at Oxford’s Magdalen College, the same college at which C.S. Lewis spent much of his career. “When I picked that college, I didn’t know that,” Anna says.
Skandar Keynes (Edmund), now 16, has grown probably the most notably of the cast physically, though he apparently hasn’t lost his youthful, daredevil ways. And twelve-year-old Georgie Henley (Lucy) comes across as inquisitive as ever, but she hasn’t let fame taint her sweet spirit.
We’re given an inside look into the selection of Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian, as well as the film’s two dwarf stars Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage) and Nikabrik (Warwick Davis). Ironically, Davis already had ties to Narnia. He played Reepicheep and Glimfeather the Owl in the BBC productions of Prince Caspian and The Silver Chair.
Really, I could go on and on here about the cast, but it’s important to note that much time is given to the building of the sets, the armor, and how the musical score was created. Not to mention the vast special effects which exceed those of the first movie. Narnia afficionados will probably wonder the most about the gallant mouse, Reepicheep. Apparently much care was taken with his character. Because he’s over a foot tall, they didn’t want him to look like a rat. They also had serious difficulties finding the proper person to “voice” the creature. The final product is something all seem happy with. We’ll see when opening day comes around May 16th.
Profusely illustrated, this movie companion can be read either before or after watching the movie. If you read it before, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat in anticipation. If you read it after, you’ll know exactly what they’re referring to when they reference scenes. I read this one before, but I read its predecessor after. Both ways have their merits.
As Ben Barnes says in the Afterword, “Every day on set uncovered fresh challenges working with our one-thousand-strong crew guided by Andrew Adamson. The talent, focus, enthusiasm, and kindness of everyone I met was truly overwhelming.” After reading this companion you’ll feel the same way. Further up and further in, Narnia fans! This book is a keeper.
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.