Report: Narnia Sneak Peek Event in Florida
Hello, NarniaWebbers! I had the privilege of attending a Narnia Sneak Peek Event in Palm Beach Gardens, FL on October 20! I saw Douglas Gresham, President Michael Flaherty, and an exclusive 10-minute montage of scenes from the film! Sorry, it’s taken me so long to get this report up. There was more to report than I could type! I also got plenty of pictures.
Here is my report:
On stage, there was a wardrobe, an Aslan banner, a lamppost, and a statue of a lioness and a fox. The event began with the Teaser Trailer, which was met with thunderous applause. It was great to see it on the big screen again.
Paul Lauer from Motive Entertainment MC’d the event. Mr. Lauer was behind and led all the marketing for The Passion of the Christ. A pre-screening of The Passion was held at that same church. He was also a part of the GrassRoots promotion of The Polar Express. For the past year, he has been working to promote The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe to the faith community.
He said: “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a major motion picture that you could take the whole family too and that you could go home and and talk to your kids about and support what you’re trying to teach? Well I think we’re about to get that very film: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. This is a story that many of us grew up with. I actually read it in public school. And, I had no idea that there was any kind of faith allegory to the book. And, that’s great. Because many millions of people have embraced this book on just a great story level and a great fantasy level and they’ve been able to partake of the values in the book.”
Mr. Lauer said that when he first heard that they were making a Narnia film, he was excited and then his second thought was: “Oh man, I hope they get it right! Can Hollywood take such a sacred trust, such an incredible story, and get it right? For the last year, I’ve been working with Disney, Walden Media, and the CS Lewis Estate. And I can tell you, they are getting this movie right.”
He continued, “We have, in our campaign, focused on all those who have come to love the book. And, that includes teachers and librarians, parents, all the sci-fi people out there, all those Lord of the Rings fans. And, we’ve also done a special outreach to the faith community.”
Pastor Jarvis Ward
Mr. Lauer introduced Pastor Jarvis Ward, the National Facillitor for City Ministries at Mission America. Mr. Ward talked about the reasons they are using evangelism in connection with cinema, even though that is not their history. The reason, he said, was The Passion of the Christ. “That represented an opportunity for the church to engage the culture’s discussion about the life of Jesus Christ.”
He continued, “We believe that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe offers us perhaps an even better opportunity for bridging over into the claims of Christ. It will have a captivating story, a spectacular production, it’s going to reach deep into the culture. It’s crafted by a master theologian and storyteller. Throughout the movie, there are gospel parrarels that are there for us to be able to bridge over to the claims of Christ.”
He also said that the Mission America ministry motive is to encourage people to invite every person in their community to experience the movie and/or to read the book by CS Lewis. “But it doesn’t end there,” he continued. “The follow-up objective is that we might be able to present every person with an opportunity to know, trust, and follow Jesus Christ. That is our ministry focus.”
Next, Mr. Lauer introduced Scott Seifer, Director of Communications at Walt Disney. “Because [this film] comes from Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media,” he said, “the message will be loud and clear, that this is a movie for audiences of all ages.”
He then gave some background on The Chronicles of Narnia, including a brief overview of the seven books, and a not-so-brief overview of the story of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. He said, “The series continues to sell nearly 6 million books each year and is always in the top-100 list of favorites in polls taken amongst parents and children.” He talked about Director Andrew Adamson and his plan is to recreate what was in his 8-year-old imagination back when he first read the book: “It is very important to him to stay completely faithful to Lewis’ story. And directing this film is the culmination of a lifelong desire for Andrew.”
There were some interesting story points that Mr. Seifer mentioned. For example, he described Professor Digory Kirke as a “family friend” of the Pevensies. He also said: “When Lucy comments that she thought fauns only existed in books, Mr. Tumnus says he thought humans only existed in books.”
Michael Flaherty, president of Walden Media, talked for a while about how the company got started and what films they had coming up. “We know that we’re having a success,” he said, “because when we make a film out of a book, the last two books have gone to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. So, we know we’re delivering on that.” He also said that The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe was a movie that people were always recommending them to make. He talked a little about their first meeting with Douglas Gresham 4 years ago. “This was before we had done Holes, Because of Wynne-Dixie, and other movies that we’ve done in the past. So, Douglas took a really big gamble going with us.” Mr. Flaherty called Walden Media “the weirdest company on the planet: a movie company that wants to get people to read books.”
At last, Mr. Lauer introduced Douglas Gresham (Lewis’ stepson, co-producer of film). Gresham began by saying, “First let me tell you that any wisdom that you hear from my lips comes to you from the Holy Spirit of God. The folly is entirely my own and may He grant you the discernment to tell the one from the other.” He talked about the life of CS Lewis (Jack). “[His parents] valued things like commitment, duty, honor, chivalry, honesty, courage, and responsibility. And in the 20th century, western society threw all of those things away. Let me tell you, we need to get them back.” Gresham told the story about Jack and JRR Tolkien (aka Tollors) coming to the conclusion that if nobody was writing childrens books the way they should be written, they would have to do it themselves.
Gresham also joked that he was determined to get Andrew Adamson cast as Puddleglum.
He talked about how, although Jack loved The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien hated the Narnia stories. “The reason for this,” Gresham said, “was that Tollors was a mythic purist. He liked his myths kept separate: Greek over here, roman here, Scandinavian here, and so forth. Jack mixed them all together and produced a mythological soup called Narnia.”
Most of what Douglas Gresham said about CS Lewis, you can read in his new book, “Jack’s Life.” I just finished the book last week and I think it’s fantastic. There were a lot of things in the book that I had never known about “Jack.” I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested not only in where some of Jack’s ideas came from, but also in Jack himself. It’s an incredible story.
“Well,” Gresham continued, “my ambition has always been to make a movie of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe faithful to the book. And one of the first things that most impressed me about Walden Media was they said they were not interested in making anything other than a faithful interpretation of the book. When we were looking for a director, Andrew Adamson said ‘well what are you going to do? Because I don’t want to make anything except a faithful interpretation.'”
Gresham also said: “I’ve tried to make [this movie] before. Every step along the way was inhibited. When we started on this project, every step along the way was assisted from outside. And, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit of God held us off until the technology was in place, the social environment was in place, and the needs of people were in place to make this the right time for us to make this movie.”
He also told us a little bit about the new magazine, “Sacred History.” And everyone at the event received a free sample of the December issue featuring CS Lewis.
10-Minute Montage Description
Then, we got to see the 10-minute montage of scenes from the movie. Paul Lauer reminded us that it was a work-in-progress: “If the Beaver is walking on the snow, it will be walking in the snow by the time the movie comes into theaters.” The clip was very much as ‘Nennare’ described it (report). Here is my description:
The clip opens with a beautiful and creepy shot of blue clouds flying past the camera. Then, we start to hear the roar of the engines. And, German bombers come into view. We see inside the cockpit of one plane as the bombs are dropped. Then, we see Edmund looking out of the window, amazed. In fact, from the look on his face, he almost seems to think it’s cool. His mom grabs him…
Mrs. Pevensie: “Edmund, get away from there! Peter, quickly, the shelter now!”
Peter: “Get out!”
They run across their back yard into the shelter. As they are running, the camera pans up to reveal the sky covered with planes. Peter runs in and slams the door shut, and everything goes black. The next thing we see is the train station.
Announcer: “Attention: will all parents ensure that their children have the proper identification papers.”
Mrs. Pevensie (to Lucy): “Are you warm enough?”
Mrs. Pevensie kisses all the children goodbye (Edmund recoils). Then she hugs Peter…
Mrs. Pevensie: “Promise me you’ll look after the others.”
Peter: “I will, mum.”
The train pulls out of the station. The children look out the window with tears in their eyes. Mrs. Pevensie waves as she smiles. Then, after the train is out of sight, her smile fades.
The next thing they showed was Edmund walking up to the wardrobe. It was filmed very much the same way as Lucy’s entrance in the teaser trailer. It is very dark (creepy). Edmund opens the door and looks inside.
They showed shots of the children getting into Narnia and Susan saying “Impossible!” They showed Lucy meeting Tumnus at the lamppost. She holds out her hand. Tumnus grabs her hand between finger and thumb and gives it a hearty shake.
Then we saw the scene where the children meet Mr. Beaver.
Lucy: “It’s…it’s a Beaver.”
Mr. Beaver is crawling on all fours out in the open (not through the forest like in the book). Peter puts his hand down and starts saying “Here, boy.” Mr. Beaver crawls over and looks at Peter’s hand for a few seconds. Then…
Mr. Beaver: “Well, I ain’t gonna smell it if that’s what you want.”
Edmund: “It’s a talking Beaver!”
Mr. Beaver: “Lucy Pevensie…”
Lucy: … “Yes?”
Lucy walks up as Mr. Beaver holds out the white handkerchief.
Lucy: “Hey, that’s the hanky I gave to Mr.–”
Mr. Beaver: “–Tumnus. I got it from him just before they took him.”
Lucy: “Is he alright?”
Mr. Beaver: “Follow me.”
They start to follow the Beaver. Susan grabs Peter…
Susan: “What are you doing?”
Edmund: “She’s right. How do we know we can trust him?”
Peter: “He said he knows the faun.”
Susan: “He’s a Beaver! He shouldn’t be saying anything!”
Then, they showed them eating dinner at the Beavers house. They showed some other scenes of the White Witch and Narnia as Mr. Beaver’s voiceover continued…
Mr. Beaver: “There’s a prophecy that two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve will appear to defeat the White Witch and put an end to this hundred-year winter.
Edmund: “The White Witch?”
Then they showed some close-ups of Maugrim.
Maugrim: “Your majesty, we’ve spotted humans in Narnia.”
White Witch: “Where?”
Then, they showed Edmund walking along a sort of road in the middle of a thick forest. He looks and sees white reindeer coming toward him. As the sleigh comes past, Edmund falls down. The Witch looks at him like a strange insect. Edmund runs for it. But, the dwarf chases him and whips his ankles.
Then it cut to a shot of Maugrim looking at the Beaver’s house.
Maugrim: “Take them.”
The wolves run from all directions and attack the house. They showed some shots of the children running away. And, Edmund crossing the courtyard and entering the White Witch’s throne room. They showed a great shot of Edmund realizing the Witch is evil: the camera looked over the shoulder of the White Witch as she rises to her full height. Edmund’s smile fades to a look of terror.
Then, one of the highlights of the clip: the introduction of Aslan. Peter, Susan, and Lucy stand in front of a tent. Suddenly, they hear something and look behind them. All the creatures behind them have suddenly bowed down. They look back in front of them. CLOSE-UP: One paw sticks out of the tent. As the lion walks toward the children, the camera slowly zooms out until we finally see him.
Peter: “Aslan, we need your help.”
Aslan: “I know. But, it maybe harder than you think.” (that line is straight from the book)
Then I saw Aslan walking up to the stone table with evil creatures holding torches on either side of him. One of the creatures steps out of the crowd toward Aslan. But, Aslan growls and the creature backs off. It looks like Aslan walks most of the way to the Stone Table, instead of the creatures carrying him.
White Witch: “Tomorrow…we will take Narnia…forever!!”
The bad guys cheer. Then, I saw some scenes from Beruna. There is one Minotaur standing on a hill. He raises his fist, and the camera pulls up and shows (gasp!) that he is not alone. A huge army stands behind him. Then it shows Peter on a unicorn looking at the army. A gryphon lands beside Peter…
Gryphon: “They come, your highness, in numbers and weapons far greater than our own.”
Oreius (Centaur): “Numbers do not win a battle.”
Peter: “No…but I bet they help.”
Then it shows the White Witch say “kill them all.”
Peter rides up to the front of the army and draws his sword…
Peter: “For Narnia! And for Aslan!!”
The army cheers as they charge into battle. Then everything started going by quickly. Here is what I remember in no particular order:
-The White Witch’s castle, surrounded by water. Apparently, it was surrounded by ice. But, after it melted, it left the castle in the middle of a lake.
– Some dryads. They showed one wave to Lucy in the middle of a field. Peter and Edmund are sleeping in a tent when a dryad walks in and startles them awake. They both draw their swords. They dryads look like pink flowers floating around in the shape of a human.
– Lucy is sleeping in her tent. The moonlight is shining against the wall of the tent. Then, she sees Aslan’s shadow outside as he walks past the tent. Susan and Lucy look at each other.
– Peter and Mr. Beaver running though a tunnel. Peter is holding a torch. The cave is so small that Peter has to crouch.
– Peter and Lucy walking through the snow with soaking wet coats. Presumably, they have just escaped the frozen lake (an addition to the story).
– Lucy and Susan running up to the stone table. It must have been cracked, but the shot didn’t last long enough for me to see. The camera pulls up to reveal the table. Very cool wide shot (gave me butterflies).
– Lots of battle shots, including a few of Peter fighting the White Witch. At the end, they stop fighting and look to the left. The White Witch says “impossible” under her breath. Then it shows the familiar shot of Aslan roaring atop a mountain.
Narnia logo comes up. December 9.
Visually, the opening scene with the planes is the most impressive thing I have seen of this film. The effects were seamless. What a sequence!
After the clip ended, Mr. Lauer said “There’s another hour and 40 minutes where that came from.” Therefore, the movie is about 1 hour and 50 minutes long.
UPDATE 11/4/05: It now looks like Mr. Lauer was not saying that this was the actual running time. Some reports have come in showing the film to be over 2 hours.
Mr. Lauer talked about the resources available for leaders at NarniaResources.com. He also urged everyone to see the movie on opening weekend. “Please don’t wait until week 2 or 3 because it’s going to be crowded. Make your presence known on opening weekend because that’s the weekend that Hollywood pays attention too the most.” He talked about the preview showing from BarnaFilms for church groups on December 8 (info).
Then Douglas Gresham came up to answer some questions. I asked how much work they had done getting ready for the next movie. He said that weather or not they make another movie depends on how well the first film does. “So we haven’t actually started work on the next movie yet,” he said. “We will know probably the first weekend of this movie’s release if we’re going to make the next one or not. So give us all the sport you can and we’ll gone on and make the next one.”
Someone asked what the movie was rated. Gresham quickly answered, “PG.”
When asked if he had heard the music, Gresham answered: “I have heard snatches of it, but only that. I don’t know if you can understand this, but producing a movie is a fairly busy occupation. And, as co-producer, I’m involved with so many different things that I really haven’t had time to settle down and listen to the music. Though, I do intened to do so as soon as I can. What I have heard sounds very very good indeed. In fact, this whole movie, I think, is spectacularly good. It’s been my lifelong ambition. To see it coming to life in ways that exceed even my expectations is fabulous.”
Gresham told a funny story about Skandar Keynes (who plays Edmund) imitating his voice all the time on the set. He said that he warned Skandar the if he kept doing that, his voice might stay that way. And now, Skandar has a very deep voice.
After the event, Douglas Gresham stayed and signed autographs. I also spoke with Mr. Flahety. He noticed my shirt and I told him I was a News Poster for NarniaWeb. He asked me which one I was and I told him, “glumPuddle.” He actually recognized my screen name! He visits NarniaWeb all the time!
It was an awesome event!
By the way, I stopped at a bookstore on the way back and saw a bunch of Narnia stuff available: storybooks, activity books, and movie tie-in editions. ASLAN IS ON THE MOVE!