The NarniaWeb Interviews: Douglas Gresham

Posted December 13, 2010 9:30 pm by Tirian

While in London last week for the premiere, I had the opportunity to interview several cast members. I’ll be posting those interviews this week and I hope you’ll enjoy them. To start off, I had the opportunity to speak with Douglas Gresham, the stepson of  C.S. Lewis. We talked about changes from book to film as well as his time on set and what Jack would have thought about this movie.

73 Comments For This Story

  • SilverChair says:

    Love the beer comment!

  • Ionic Bonding Rocks says:

    Wow, what I wouldn’t give to meet Douglas Gresham! He is such a great guy! And imagine meeting someone who had a book by C.S. Lewis himself dedicated to them!
    Yes, Douglas Gresham is a LEGEND.

  • Non-Negotiable Comment says:

    I would have loved to have asked him how any adaptation of this book could have included Lucy (of all people!) openly questioning the existence of Aslan’s Country. Definitely the saddest moment to date for me for these films.

    Oh, well. At least he likes beer. That’s something.

    • Gem says:

      It is un-Lucy like. But I think what they were tying to mean was that she was wondering if Aslan’s country was really so physical that you could just sail to it, if it was really reachable in that way. It just didn’t come across as that.

      • tuonela says:

        Non-Negotiable, and Gem…

        It’s so interesting how differently people see things 🙂 Because it the book, she says something like "Do you think Aslan’s country is the kind of country you can sail to?" (Not an exact quote — I don’t have the book in hand right now). So, when I saw the movie, I thought that scene was SO cool, because they kept that conversation. I thought Lucy meant Aslan’s country wasn’t a physical place in this world. But she DID believe in it, of course — that’s what I saw, anyway.
        But I’m going to see the movie again this coming weekend, and I’ll watch that scene carefully.
        Right now I have to stop typing, and watching the snow come down. It’s getting late!
        Good night, Narniawebbers!

      • Non-Negotiable Comment says:

        Watch it again:

        http://www.aslanscountry.com/2010/11/five-new-dawn-treader-clips/ (it’s the second from the bottom)

        I do not object, at all, to the line: "Do you really believe you can sail there?". I completely understand the context of that. It’s actually, as you’re stating, a kind of skepticism that any place that beautiful could be accessed physically. But, it’s the line: "Do you really believe there is such a place?" that precedes it, and the almost derisive smirk that accompanies it, that is just so completely, awfully wrong in every sense. Did it "come across wrong"? I don’t know. I think it comes across like the writer didn’t understand the character he was providing dialogue for. Regardless, I found it pretty offensive, but mostly because it comes, specifically, from Lucy. There are so many things wrong with the film that I can overlook, but, to me, although it’s a small thing, it’s so completely contrary to her nature that it just made me feel: "That’s not Lucy.", and it made the film seem even more hollow and sad, and I could not connect with it after that.

      • Samuel the Magnificent says:

        First off even if I did see it that way, I don’t think it would have ruined the entire movie for me.

        But second, I didn’t see it that way. Reepicheep was singing it in a song, so that made it sound like a silly song about an old legend. And when she does say, "Do you think you can actually sail there" Georgie did a splendid job in her facial expression. You could honestly see a sense of belief and awe in her facial expression. You have to remember, Lucy doesn’t see Aslan’s country as heaven yet. That’s why Aslan brought them to Narnia so they can meet and know him personally so that they will recognize him in our world. It’s in Silver Chair that we find out it’s heaven and it’s in the Last Battle when Lucy actually learns it’s heaven. So I thought it was a wonderful scene.

  • Gem says:

    I agree with him that some pratical changes are needed to make the transition from page to screen more believable, but I don’t feel like he dug his heel in, like he said, enough on certain changes. But he’s right, the duel between Eustace and Reepicheep is brillant. So is the ending scene at the gateway of Aslan’s country.

    • glumPuddle says:

      In the book, Reep is genuinely offended and angry about Eustace touching his tail. He wants to duel Eustace because he feels it needs to be done. It is all about honor.

      In the film, I got the sense that Reep was having loads of fun fighting Eustace. It was hard for me to take Reep seriously with lines like "No one touches the tail. Period. Exclamation mark."

      • Gem says:

        Oh no, you could see Reep was completely serious when Eustace grabbed his tail. He was intimidating, I didn’t think it looked like he was joking around at all. I did think the duel was good, because you can see Reep is enjoying toying with Eustace.

      • glumPuddle says:

        I didn’t like how he toyed with Eustace. Reep should not be enjoying Eustace’ correction. He should simply view it as something that has to be done.

      • waggawerewolf27 says:

        Reepicheep was also teaching Eustace. Probably a lesson Eustace needed to have. Same as in the book.

      • Scrubbers says:

        GlumPuddle –

        If you believed that Reepicheep was "toying" with Eustace, then you missed one of the most important aspects of the film. Do not misunderstand me. I was thoroughly disappointed with the film as a whole. However, one of the aspects I did enjoy was the relationship between Eustace and Reepicheep. If "Dawn Treader" is about circumstances in our lives shaping us into better people, then Reepicheep is one of these most prominent circumstances. He wanted to duel Eustace because he saw that Eustace was a very immature young man. He took it upon himself as his duty to mentor him and instruct him properly, which no one had ever done to Eustace before.

      • High Queene Shelly Belly says:

        yes, it felt too "modern" of a saying for reeep.it felt kind of smart alecky and was jarring to me.

      • High Queene Shelly Belly says:

        maybe its just to keep the film more fun feeling

      • The Inscrutable Rutabaga says:

        I agree with you, Scrubbers. I didn’t think Reep was "toying" with Eustace at all, rather, he seemed the one creature on the ship who really cared about Eustace, and he therefore took it upon himself to be Eustace’s mentor and even his friend.

      • Samuel the Magnificent says:

        I agree. You’re taking this way to seriously. It’s not modern to toy with someone. People have been doing that sense the beginning of time. I like the way they portrayed it. They didn’t portray him as a hot-head who gets ticked off about something small and then fights them. He was touchy about the tail, but instead of just fighting Eustace out of anger, he was noble and taught Eustace how to fight.

  • glumPuddle says:

    I’m thankful Gresham is so involved with this production. And I think it’s good that he understands there is a point where you need to let the director be an artist and put his interpretation on the screen.

    As for the mist…I understand the need to tell the story visually, but there is also such a thing as subtlety. The green mist, in my opinion, is too heavy-handed. Far more heavy-handed than anything in the book. It just doesn’t seem consistent with Lewis’ style.

    • columba says:

      But the green mist is amazing foreshadowing of the Green Lady and her deception (think of how she toys with minds in the silver chair). Scene with Reepicheep from your earlier comment is unfair. They combined two Reepicheep scenes from book into one. It also reflected a more "christian" view on Reep. His honor is important, but remember Aslan’s words to him in the last book? It preserves honor, but advances Reepscharacter. I liked the movie far better after seeing it twice.

      • Nathan says:

        They prepared the story in so many ways for the Silver Chair, but never realized that they would never recieve the funds to make the Silver Chair.

    • Rilian says:

      I appreciate what Gresham is trying to do, and I think he has made a difference in the three films. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s able to do much with a crew that does not respect and certainly does not understand the books.

    • Samuel the Magnificent says:

      Columba is right. No one would have liked the movie if they hadn’t added a "villain" and made an intriguing plot. My friend said he was bored until he learned more of the plot and that there was an evil stirring. I’m sorry, but seven lost dudes is not interesting on the silver screen. The way they bulked up the plot was genius. Not only did it make it suspenseful, but it kept to the book in saying that all of Narnia is at peace, and they didn’t have to add an actual villain. Once again it was genius. The narnia series would be over now if they hadn’t done that. At school today, people were saying they went and saw it and they all loved it. Others who hadn’t seen it said they heard it was really good. The writers did the right thing.

    • Lewis Tolkien says:

      I agree about the green mist being heavy-handed. I also think that it was the most ridiculous thing in the movie–well, beyond the deliberately and comically ridiculous like the Dufflepuds. I understand the film makers’ desire to have a more interesting, unified plot to tie all the islands/events together better. But really, is an unexplained, zig-zagging bright green mist really the best they could come up with?

      Not only did it look silly, but there was no explanation of what it was, what it’s origins were, or why the 7 swords destroyed it. Of course, if they make The Silver Chair, a lot of people will go, "Oh! I see!" but you shouldn’t have to see a movie’s sequel first before you understand a major plot element of movie itself. Plus, I’ve seen several people compare it to the Smoke Monster in Lost. So this strange, added "character" in the movie doesn’t even seem that original to a lot of people.

      I really wish they would have stuck more closely to Lewis. Yes, it would have been a little less "exciting," but it would have had much greater depth and still a lot of adventure. This was a good, entertaining film in my opinion and I’ll see it again and buy the Blu-ray I’m sure, but it still seemed a little shallow, vague, and really rushed to me. It didn’t fully live up to the potential of the book. The first movie followed the book pretty closely, but they’ve really gone off and done their own thing with these last two. Oh well, at least we know that one person is pushing for these stories to be filmed as written.

  • Thyservant says:

    If SC is greenlit, is it possible for it to be released in 2011?

    • NarnianHarper says:

      Not a chance – they haven’t even started writing the script yet. Pre-production on films like these usually take 1 year, and filming and post-production at least another year. At this point in the game it would be at least two years before it could be released.

    • Tribunal says:

      You’ll be lucky if it releases in late 2012. No chance of it releasing in 2011.

      Doubt the film will even be made with its current box-office gross.

      • Gem says:

        Oh no, they’ll make it. It’s just a matter of when.

      • stateofgreen says:

        Hope it is December 2012.

      • Thyservant says:

        To Gem, why are you so sure that it’ll be made? I’m sorry, I just feel a bit pessimistic as long as SC is not on schedule…

      • Starlily says:

        I’m pretty pessimistic as well. I have one last thread of hope, but for the most part I’m just trying to prepare myself for heartbreak. I don’t want to be too disappointed if the series is ended. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll still be in despair. Even with the movies’ flaws, I still want to see them all made. And if by some miracle the series goes on, I’ll be just ecstatic and probably jump for joy. That’s what I want for Christmas this year. SC greenlit, and hopes for the other movies.

      • Gem says:

        Thyservant- I’m not very optimistic myself, but I think we can say that SC will be made at some point, even though they haven’t started production. I really doubt that they would leave the series at three, I think it makes more sense to finish Eustace’s story and then stop, if they don’t do the entire series. But I don’t know, with the way VDT is doing in theaters…

      • Samuel the Magnificent says:

        That’s just it though. Eustace’s story doesn’t end after silver chair. He and Jill are the main characters in the LB. I also have confidence SC will be made. The box office numbers were actually really good. Worldwide, VoDT did better than PC. Just shows Narnia is a lot more popular outside of America. VoDT made $105,000,000 worldwide. PC made $77,000,000 worldwide. They are definitely making SC.

      • Gem says:

        Of course they will, even if the last three don’t get made, they won’t stop with VDT. Well,it’s just like the Pevensies’ story doesn’t end at VDT, they are in LB and HHB. What I meant is that Eustace’s story of him being a part of two worlds is over after SC because in LB he’s in Narnia cause he’s dead.

      • Reepicheep says:

        Then again, its international numbers are very impressive. I think SC ought to come in November 2012 because if it comes in December, it’ll get thrashed by the Hobbit.

      • Manuel says:

        As Reepicheep would say: «We Have Nothing If Not Belief» 🙂

    • Braden Woodburn says:

      Most likely not because that would seem way too soon. I mean think, LWW was in 2005, then 3 years later, PC in 2008, then 2 years later, VDT in 2010. So depending how things go, it may take roughly another 2 or 3 years for SC so perhaps late 2012 or early 2013. But you got to think of how cool this is, within 5 years 3 films of the series has been made, that’s really outstanding.

      • Thyservant says:

        ‘But you got to think of how cool this is, within 5 years 3 films of the series has been made, that’s really outstanding.’ That’s quite comforting and encouraging. Maybe I should keep the hope that even if Fox drop it, someone will pick it up someday…

  • Hidai says:

    Does anyone ever notice that he is always wearing the same white turtleneck with the words on it? Does anyone know why he wears it all the time and the meaning behind the words on it?

  • coracle says:

    I know that this has been his style for at least ten years, but not why.

  • MinotaurforAslan says:

    It’s great to hear that Gresham is a purist.

    I feel like he sidestepped the question of whether Jack would like the movies, though. Of course C. S. Lewis would be blown away by the CGI and technology we have available nowadays. I was hoping that he would address whether or not Lewis would be happy with the adaption.

    • Teknon says:

      I’m not sure CSL would be impressed with the technology for it’s own sake. To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13:1, "If I have the most awesome CG creatures in history, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."

      • columba says:

        But I think that is just it… They didn’t make Aslan some cartoony clashy symbol. He perfectly reflects what Lewis was trying to convey. Liam does an incredible job of carrying that tone that is faithful to the books. I think he would have loved seeing a five hour version of each book. He would have felt like he could see the Narnia he created.

    • Lewis Tolkien says:

      I would like to hear more about what he thinks Lewis would have thought of the films too. I guess he really just doesn’t know and doesn’t want to second-guess his step-father. Since Lewis talked about his fear that film makers would screw up Aslan (with the technology of his day, of course), perhaps Douglas feels that he’s on safe ground discussing this.

      At any rate, I doubt that Jack Lewis would be nearly as picky and bothered about adaptations of his stories as someone like his perfectionist friend J.R.R. Tolkien would have been.

  • Braden Woodburn says:

    In all honesty, he seems like a real interesting cool man. I duno why but I felt very relaxed listening to him talk about the film. I am glad they added a twist to Narnia in adding that green mist. Whenever I first saw it I was like "now, this wasn’t in the book. ahhh yes they made changes" haha but those changes didn’t bother me becuase I still noticed most of the scenes from the book so it all came out well. I’d say my most thrilling part of the movie was definetly Dark Island whenever everyone is getting tempted, expecially Edmund and the White Witch… ahh that was AWESOME. Can’t say I have a big favorite part of the movie cause it was SOOOO good…. ah actually, it was when Eustace fainted whenever he asked where he was an the minotaur was like "your on the Dawn Treader".. *faints* LOL. But yes, the scene with the wave before Aslan’s Country when they say goodbye just, ugh.. made me cry.

    • NarnianHarper says:

      I feel the same way about him as well. Can you imagine what an amazing counselor he must be in his Rathvinden ministries?

  • Queen C The Gentle says:

    Hey does anyone know if there’s any way to watch any part of the movie on the computer(at least when they meet up with Caspian!) without downloading it?

  • Pepper Darcy says:

    Wow, wonderful view. I liked his points on his biggest book purest– makes me blush about the changes I disliked in PC…

    Wonderful interview Tirian! I bet you were thrilled to be able to interview him as well as some of the others! I can’t wait to see the other interviews. I hope you got one for Will Poulter! =)

    • Pepper Darcy says:

      i heard his voice and almost blurted out: hey! that sounds like Doug Gresham’s voice! Then it hit me, it really was him :)So used to hearing those Focus on the Family Audios =) Just hard to put a face with the voice now! 🙂

      • Mayor Wilkins says:

        Mr. Gresham is a book purist. But he is also a very reasonable book purist who understands the difference between a book and a film. So I respect his opinions always. I love hearing him talk about Narnia. Such a soothing voice. I’m glad he was fine with The Green Mist because that was one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Also love the duel with Reep and Eustace. Agreed. And of course the goodbyes on the beach. Totally agree with his favorites. 😉

        Although, personally, my favorite part was the final appearance of The White Witch. 😉

      • Pepper Darcy says:

        Yeah, Gresham is awesome. We’re fortunate to have the guy around for the movies! 🙂 He’s just nearly as good as Lewis himself, so… if Gresham likes it… maybe it’s okay to like… *winces* maybe 🙂

      • Manuel says:

        By the way, did anyone catch Mr. Gresham´s cameo?

      • Mayor Wilkins says:

        I THINK I did. I believe he is one of the slave traders in the scene when they are captured. But I’ve only seen it once so far, so I could be wrong.

  • Not Of This World says:

    This is off base, but this is a question for everyone. Who thinks the "needs to make a certain amount of money to make more Narnia movies" is real, and who thinks it’s a stunt to make more money? (I personaly think it’s real, but i’d like to hear other peoples oppinions) Thanks!

    • Lewis Tolkien says:

      Why in the world would you even consider that this is not real? The folks at Walden have already said that they lost money on Prince Caspian. They are not making these films as a charitable contribution. They are film makers trying to make a living. They can’t do that if they keep making movies that lose money. So, of course, they need to have a reasonably decent box office for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to keep on making these films. We should just feel lucky that they didn’t give up after the disappointment of Prince Caspian.

      I hope that they will continue the series so long as Dawn Treader at least more or less breaks even (even if another big budget cut is required), but I don’t see how or why they would make The Silver Chair if this one truly bombs.

      • Not Of This World says:

        As I said I belive it is real. My mom & grandpa said that might be happening (I think that happens sometimes in Hollywood, and they are used to that), and I wanted to hear others opinions. But I have no doubt that this is real. Sorry if it came across wrong!

      • Lewis Tolkien says:

        Oh, OK. No problem. Your family probably just didn’t realize that Prince Caspian didn’t do so well at the box office (relative to its really excessive budget at any rate). If Caspian had been a big hit like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, then Walden and Fox would have more leeway to continue the series even if this one isn’t a hit. But two failures in a row would almost certainly mean an end to the series. I know it’s hard to trust Hollywood types all the time, but at least in this case, what they’re saying is true.

  • Rilian says:

    Gresham is completely right that there’s some things that must be changed for a film to work. Unfortunately, these changes were not necessary. They didn’t need to downplay the longing for the end of the world. They didn’t need to change the dialogue so Reep "deserved" Aslan’s country. They didn’t need to change the focus from rescuing the seven Lords for the sake of honour to grabbing their swords to for a "useful" purpose. They didn’t need to change Eustace’s undragoning so that Aslan only redeems him after he’s risked his life.

    • columba says:

      Understand especially frustration with Eustace undragoning. However, I read back through the book and it is implied that Eustace does a ton of good as the dragon ( finds a new mast, gets them food, scouts island, keeps them warm). Aslan has Eustaces dragon state be a part of the process of transformation. Like Joseph in Bible, God worked through his slavery and later imprisonment to set him up for then serving Pharoah. This is just a great theme throughout Bible and life, which was also captured with Eustace

    • The Inscrutable Rutabaga says:

      I had a problem with this, too, but perhaps it could be seen this way. After all the "good" things Eustace does, even risking his life, he still can’t un-dragon himself. Aslan doesn’t un-dragon him because he’s done good things, Aslan undragons him because no matter how many good things he does, he’ll still never be able to un-dragon himself.

  • TheReepicheep1 says:

    Anyone else wish Andrew Adamson did VDT instead?

    • High Queene Shelly Belly says:

      YES I DO! after the prince caspian debacle i hoped he’d give it a rest, but now I take it back. He’d have kept the opening title that sets the tone, the look of the film would have been consistant, he’d have kept HGW for the music, the kids might have been more comfortable and maybe less stiff, maybe the film would have been longer too. And he wouldn’t have magically changed nationalities on Caspian, that was bizarre!

    • Samuel the Magnificent says:

      Heck no. Apted did way better. LWW and especially PC were too long. VoDT was a beautful movie.

  • Nathan says:

    At the end of the movie, when they all said they’re goodbyes, I felt like they had all just gotten there, and they’re saying goodbye already.

    • Samuel the Magnificent says:

      That’s how I kind of felt after I first watched it, but the second time, I cried at the end and the movie seemed much less rushed. Also, the first time I watched it in 3D. The fourth time I watched it in 2D. 2D was soooo much better.

  • _Lilliandil_ says:

    I am so happy this video was posted! I like how Douglas Gresham addressed the changes to the movie and the green mist. I am happy he thinks Jakc would have been thrilled and i think so too! I am the same with Douglas Greasham in that my fave part of the movie, and the book, is the end when they are on the beach. It is one of my fave parts in all of the Narnia series! I’m curious: why does Douglas Gresham always wear a white turtle-neck and a silver cross? Every time i see him he is wearing that…. i think it’s cool 🙂

  • Swordebrithil12 says:

    He’s right. Jack was a sensible, wise man. It took a good mind to create what he did. I think he would’ve appreciated the movies more than us.

  • SkandarFan101 says:

    I loved this video and really respect Gresham discussing these things that have everyone else itching to punch something. (And no – I am not one of these people because I LOVED the movie.) He really makes a lot of sense with his points and it makes me happy to hear him say Jack would have liked the movies! 😀

  • Moviecynic says:

    I am shocked how some people on Narniaweb did not like the film. I know it is because of your love for the books, a love I share, but taken on it’s own this is a fine movie. In fact, how often has Hollywood given us such a swashbuckling adventure and a story that helps us to think about what it takes to be better people? I have seen Dawn Treader twice and will see it again. It is exciting and moving. I wept each time. I wonder if we are too picky and hard to please if we end up more like Eustace Clarence Scrubb before being "de-dragoned" instead of being true Narnians! While driving home from the theater I asked my daughters what they liked best. One said the transformation of Eustace into a good boy and the others said they liked it when Aslan said, “You must know me by another name in your world.” Needless to say I teared up. What a film! What an adventure!

    • Mayor Wilkins says:

      I agree with you. 😉
      It is a great movie. I sobbed at the end. So moving.
      I can’t wait to see it again. 😀

      "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" always will be my favorite, but I think "Dawn Treader" is a wonderful companion to the first film, and it is easily my second favorite of the three.

  • son of adam says:

    Matthew Vaughn, director of Stardust and Kick-ass, should direct the next Narnia movies!

    Stardust budget – 70mil
    Kick-ass budget – 30mil

1 Trackback or Pingback for this entry