The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Extended Edition (Early Review)
Review by Glumpuddle
Today is the one-year anniversary of the release of the The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. During the past year, the film has been dissected and picked apart by thousands of NarniaWebbers. This Tuesday, the 4-Disc Extended Edition will offer us even more of the film to discuss. I am pleased to give you the most detailed breakdown you will find on the web.
The extended edition is about 8 minutes longer than the original theatrical cut.
A brief introduction from Director Andrew Adamson is included:
“Hi, I’m Andrew Adamson and I want to welcome you to the extended cut of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This version of the film will take you back to Narnia to see more of the places, the characters, and the action than you’ve seen before. Whether this is your first time to Narnia or you’re revisiting a favorite place, I hope you enjoy The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as you’ve never seen it before.“
– Disc 1 –
New Disney Logo (31 seconds, 0:03)
There is a new Walt Disney Pictures logo at the beginning that shows Cinderella’s castle with the music from “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Train Station (39 seconds, 3:37)
The opening wide shot of this scene is a bit longer. After asking Lucy if she is warm enough, Mrs. Pevensie hugs Lucy and then hands a slip of paper to Susan. After Edmund looks at the Help the Children poster, he says “The country is boring.” Susan’s reply is “Boring is safe, Edmund.” As the Pevensie children depart, there are ten brief new shots, including a man blowing a whistle, a kid examining a label, an old woman talking to a little boy, a Mrs. Pevensie POV shot of kids boarding the train, kids and adults waving, and a shot of Mrs. Pevensie waving and clearly holding back tears. All together, these 10 brief shots total 25 seconds.
It was nice to see Mrs. Pevensie hug Lucy in this cut. And the moment where she hands Susan the slip of paper shows that Susan, not just Peter, has a big responsibility.
Lucy’s Toy Dog (30 seconds, 7:10)
During the opening credits, there is a new scene on the train beginning with Lucy looking at a map. She shows a toy dog to Edmund and makes it squeak. Edmund reluctantly takes it and then hands it to another boy on the train. He smiles at Lucy and she smiles back.
Wardrobe Foreshadowing (11 seconds, 39:38)
After Professor Kirke tells Peter and Susan “you might just try acting like one,” we cut to a new shot of the wardrobe. The camera pans to the window where we see the Pevensies playing cricket outside.
This edit doesn’t flow as well as the original cut, but I liked how this new shot suggested that the wardrobe was somehow waiting for the children. It felt like fate was about to call, which leads into the next scene…
Chased into Narnia (41 seconds, 40:38)
This extended scene emphasizes the feeling of being “chased” into Narnia. At first, the Pevensies find it funny that they can’t seem to get away from Macready, but grow more alarmed as the scene progresses.
Exploring Narnia (30 seconds, 44:06)
The Pevensies’ journey from the lamp-post to Tumnus’ cave has been extended. There are more close-ups of them walking through the snow and a moment where Susan trips and then starts making a snow angel.
Most of these shots are great. There is a Czech Republic shot at the end that I especially like. And, it’s nice to see them reacting to this new world a little more. The only downside is the new shots disrupt one of my favorite musical moments. Rather than record new music, it is clear that existing music from the film was re-used for these new scenes.
Following Mr. Beaver (30 seconds, 49:24)
There are more shots of the Pevensies following Mr. Beaver, including a moment where Lucy gives Peter a nervous look, perhaps wondering where Mr. Beaver is leading them.
The brief moment between Lucy and Peter serves as a reminder that they are following a strange creature into a strange world and emphasized that they are slowly getting further from home.
Frozen Fish (27 seconds, 50:10)
When they reach the house, Peter says, “Hey look out, it’s icy there.” Then Mr. Beaver says. “And here we are then. We best be inside before dark.” And of course, we see the frozen fish moment mentioned on the kids audio commentary. Lucy notices something, and bends down to wipe away some snow, revealing a fish frozen in the ice.
One of the things I had been looking forward to was seeing the river frozen as if it had been moving when it froze (as Lewis describes). Sadly, this image was not in theaters or this extended cut. But they at least acknowledge it here when Lucy sees a frozen fish. I’m glad to see this scene in the film, even though the new shot of Lucy was clearly shot against a green-screen.
Crossing the Courtyard (39 seconds, 56:15)
It takes Edmund a longer to cross the Witch’s courtyard of statues. There are new shots of a rhino, dwarfs, and a centaur that startles Edmund. This appears to be the same stone centaur that we see later in the movie just after Oreius is turned into stone.
It is nice to see more variety of creatures turned into stone, and the moment where the stone centaur startles Edmund makes the scene a little creepier.
Searching the Beavers’ House (17 seconds, 1:01:27)
There is one very brief new shot of the wolves running towards the Beavers’ home (just before Susan asks if they’ll need jam). Then, we really get to see the wolves tearing apart the interior of the Beavers’ home. We see wolves running up steps, tearing apart a rug, and searching cupboards.
The Arrival of Spring (33 seconds, 1:21:37)
There are four beautiful new shots showing the arrival of spring. One of these shots also shows the Stone Table in the background. (I was confused about this until I remembered that, in the movie, Aslan’s camp is not at the Stone Table)
For many fans, the rushed transition from winter to spring was one of the biggest disappointments about the theatrical cut of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It is one of the defining scenes in the book, but was done with a single cut in the movie. This new edit still does not attempt to capture C.S. Lewis’ evocative descriptions, but taking a moment to acknowledge Spring before moving on with the story is a big improvement.
Target Practice (25 seconds, 1:36:08)
This scene begins with two new wide shots. When Susan is getting in some practice with her bow, she shoots two arrows instead of one. Her second shot is closer to the bull’s-eye than the first. Also, there is one new shot of Peter and Edmund riding in, and their “fight” is a few shots longer.
This addition shows that Susan is improving, easing the audience into the idea of the children participating in the battle. But, the adjusted music is a bit awkward.
Battle Above Beruna (33 seconds, 1:56:11)
As the battle begins, the Witch nods to some bat-like creatures (incubi?) and they leap into the sky and begin attacking the Gryphons.
The computer-generated bat creatures look a little rough. But the new shots of the Gryphons being attacked in the air are very impressive.
The Armies Meet (3 seconds, 1:58:28)
Shortly after the two armies meet on the battlefield, there is a brand new shot of a minotaur taking out a centaur and a rhino running into a minoboar.
Phoenix (31 seconds, 2:01:23)
The Phoenix gets a little more screen time. The Witch’s dwarfs shoot arrows at the phoenix and it dodges them. Then, one of the bat creatures leaps into the air and flies towards the Phoenix. Seeing this, Peter grabs a spear out of the ground and throws it at the bat creature, killing it. After throwing the spear, Peter kills a boggle archer and two minotaurs.
The effects are a bit rough during most of this scene.
Burning Creatures (7 seconds, 2:02:04)
After the Phoenix sets the ground on fire, there are two new shots of the Witch’s army burning and one wide shot showing that the fire has blocked their way.
These shots were reportedly removed from the theatrical cut to avoid a PG-13 rating.
Oreius vs. Otmin (13 seconds, 2:04:04)
The moment where the ankle-slicers take out the Rhino has been slightly altered. It appears that they zoomed in on the ankle-slicers so we could get a better look at them. It appears to be just a zoomed-in view of an old shot. Oreius has more trouble killing Otmin. The minotaur general slams Oreius into a rock, almost making him stumble. Oreius tries to knock Otmin off by slamming him into another rock. Oreius takes a few more swings. Then one of his swords flies up into the air. He catches it and stabs Otmin.
Gryphon Feet (3 seconds, 2:06:31)
As the two gryphons fly towards the Witch, there is a brief aerial shot of the Witch with a gryphon’s feet in the foreground.
Edmund Pushing Ginarrbrik (10 seconds, 2:07:29)
As Edmund is running to save Peter, he takes a moment to take knock over the Witch’s dwarf. Ginarrbrik is about to kill a Narnian dwarf when Edmund runs by and takes a swipe at his feet, throwing him off the cliff. Ginarrbrik hits the ground hard, and we see that his beard has abeen cut off. This explains why Ginarrbrik is later seen limping at he walks towards the injured Edmund.
I felt this additional moment disrupted the emotional energy of the scene. The editing of the music is awkward again, and seeing the dwarf’s beard get chopped off was a bit strange.
– Disc 2 –
There are no new extras on Disc 2. This disc was included with the 2-disc Collectors Edition.
– Disc 3 –
C.S. Lewis – Dreamer of Narnia (1:15:38): One of the things I missed most when I watched the extras on the Collector’s Edition was a long documentary about the creator of Narnia, “Jack” Lewis. So, I was very excited when I heard that there would be an entire disc devoted to Lewis included with the Extended Edition. What I saw surprised me. It’s not just a documentary about Lewis’ life. It is kind of like watching a movie about his life with an Audio Commentary turned on. Much of it is an actor playing C.S. Lewis reciting voiceover (much of it based on Lewis’ actual words) about his experiences. The interviews with scholars and friends were quite interesting. I was also pleased that Douglas Gresham (Lewis’ stepson/film co-producer) pops up several times.
The way the Narnia stories are compared to Lewis’ life throughout the feature was pretty well done. And, they don’t discuss just the obvious similarities like Digory’s dying mother. They go deeper than that and use other Chronicles as examples.
One of the most unique things about this feature is the way Pauline Baynes’ classic illustrations are used. They have actually made them move and come alive. As a huge Baynes fan, I rather enjoyed most of these. They were quite skillfully done.
This documentary is must-have for fans of The Chronicles of Narnia and C.S. Lewis.
– Disc 4 –
Visualizing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
This was the biggest surprise in the whole set. It is like an Audio Commentary mixed with a pop-up feature. Almost the entire feature is 2 or 3 split screens. One of these screens is always showing the movie (the whole movie from beginning to end). Another screen is showing members of the cast and crew being interviewed. The third (and usually the largest) screen shows various behind-the-scenes shots and artwork.
If you like audio commentaries, you will love this feature. As someone interested in both Narnia and filmmaking, I had a blast and I hope other studios try something like this in the future.
Anatomy of a Scene – Behind the Battle
This feature is very similar to the documentaries found on Disc 2. Crew members such as Andrew Adamson, Mark Johnson, and Dean Wright discuss how challenging it was to visualize and shoot the Battle of Beruna. When you see just how complex the shoot was, it makes you marvel that the scene turned out as well as it did. One interesting tidbit is an alternate take where William Moseley (Peter) shouts “They will not take Narnia!” instead of “For Narnia and for Aslan!”
The Art of Narnia
I’ve never seen conceptual art quite like this. It’s more stylized than usual. If you have been visiting NarniaWeb for a couple years, you have probably already seen some of these images.
The Gift Set includes two highly detailed bookends of Lucy and Tumnus. I especially like the detail in the wardrobe carvings (which tell the story of The Magician’s Nephew)
The Extended Edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is for die-hard fans only.
It is not up to the standard we have seen in other special edition DVDs recently. The new scenes are not seamlessly integrated back into the movie; new visual effects shots are also not quite up to the same level as the rest of the film. The extended scenes also forced the editor to change some of my favorite musical moments, which is distracting. But, I personally am happy to own this version because of the extended arrival of spring.
The new extras are what make this set a must-own for the most enthusiastic fans of the books and film. I do not believe this is the definitive version of the movie, but most NarniaWebbers will probably be glad to have it on their shelves.