NarniaWeb Reviews The Official Movie Companion
I’d heard rumblings that The Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Perry Moore was pretty incredible. Then this week one of the NarniaWeb moderators said to me, “Wow! That was a really good book.” So having heard enough, I trooped down to Barnes & Noble to see for myself. It took only sixty seconds of thumbing through the book to realize that I had to buy this book. I settled down this evening with a cup of tea to see what all the fuss was about and never quit reading. Now it’s 2:00 AM and I’ve just finished this amazing story and the only thing I can say is, “Wow! That was a really good book.”
At 225 pages, the book has over twenty chapters and a number of full-page illustrations, movie frames, concept art, and candid on-set photography. Producer Perry Moore begins the book by telling how as a Walden Media employee he helped negotiate with the C.S. Lewis Company for the rights to the create the film. He then takes us through pre-production describing the production team, pre-visualization for the film, and the various iterations of the script.
Children’s casting director Pippa Hall has written a chapter on what it was like to cast the kids in the film. (She looked at over 4,000 kids in the casting process.) William, Anna, Skandar and Lucy each have their own chapter. Moore describes how each actor got the part and how they interact to the other three as true-to-life siblings. He goes into depth on each actor’s personality, providing us with a unique and special view of each child and what they bring to the film.
Tilda Swinton also gets her own chapter. Moore met with Swinton at the very beginning of the moviemaking process and throughout the entire casting process everyone kept clamoring for Swinton to be the one to play the White Witch. After reading about how she approached the role it seems clear that she brought a passion to the character which shines through in the finished product.
There’s a lot of information on the special effects, costumes and prosthetics which bring the magic to the screen. Howard Berger, Dean Wright, and the folks from Weta all have their own chapters in which they tell about the filmmaking process from their own special perspectives. Interviews with Andrew Adamson and Douglas Gresham (C.S. Lewis’ stepson) illustrate the depth of commitment that the filmmakers had to the source material. At times, however, it seems that the flow of the story is a little broken up as different production teams wrote their own chapters and some information is repeated.
Prepare to be spoiled. The book gives some big clues into the changes that were made from book to screen. We find out more about Tumnus’ added screen time in the White Witch’s dungeon and the expanded role of the fox. There are also descriptions of extra scenes and dialogue that were added by the filmmakers and not found in the original text.
This book also shares some intimate details about the filming process. We’re treated to delightful diary entries from Anna Popplewell (Susan) and a few cast and crew interviews by Georgie Henley (Lucy). You’ll see a touching photo of William comforting Georgie and read about the touching bond between James McAvoy (Mr. Tumnus) and Georgie Henley. You’ll read the inspiring story of Susan’s mischievous arrow that is still in a New Zealand forest waiting for a zealous fan to find.
The book ends with Douglas Gresham’s heartfelt words that this film has been a life-long dream for him. He says “I have dreamed and schemed about making this film almost all of my adult life and indeed even back in my teen years, and now I have watched this lifelong dream come true before my eyes – a privilege afforded to very few.”
For fans that really want to know the story of what happened behind the scenes of this movie, this book is a must-have. Just as making this movie right was a consuming passion for the filmmakers, the book itself is truly a labor of love. After reading all the way through The Official Illustrated Movie Companion (you won’t be able to put it down), I’m confident that your reaction, like mine, will be: “Wow! That was a really good book.”