AintitCoolNews Visits the Prince Caspian Set
As we drove up, Ernie explained that the first sets we’d be visiting were some of the biggest builds of the film, the castle of Miraz and the Telmarine Village. I could see the outside of the castle set as we drove up, all scaffolding and wood panels. I love that. I love seeing the bones of a set before seeing the set. There’s that moment where you cross the line into the illusion, and I always love seeing where the line is, how elaborate the illusion can be.
In this case, it was pretty remarkable. We actually walked around the giant castle set first so that my first view was of the Telmarine Village, a pretty elaborate set that was fronted on one side by a large greenscreen, and which overlooked the Prague countryside. There was a large twisted tree that reminded me of the tree in PAN’S LABYRINTH. We were joined by Mark Johnson at this point, my first introduction to him, and right away, I was struck by how relaxed and approachable he seemed. I’ve been hustled through set visits before, and I’ve certainly had situations where I felt like an intruder, even after being invited. There was none of that with Mark. Right before I got on the plane for Prague, we got hit with that one-two punch of Antonioni and Bergman dying, so that was one of our first topics of conversation. And it didn’t feel like someone testing me, either, as so many film conversations do these days. He was obviously a fan of both filmmakers, and he seemed genuinely distraught at the loss of them. I’m not sure how much of CASPIAN takes place in the Telmarine Village, but the attention to detail on every part of the rather sprawling town square was ridiculous.
By this point, Ernie was checking his watch, though, acutely aware of the drive time we still had ahead of us.
He wasn’t kidding. First, we had to drive about an hour in one direction, to a place called Brdo, north of Dobris, where they had created the Fern Forest. Which is strange, considering it was a real forest we were going to.
It’s just that the sequences we were going to watch them shoot required more than just a forest. They required a forest where the entire floor of the forest is made up of lush green ferns. So they actually took potted ferns and buried the pots… hundreds and hundreds of them… so the ferns filed in the forest floor for the action that had to be staged there, most of it involving Reepicheep and the other mouse warriors. On the day I was there, they were shooting a scene involving the camera racing along near the ground on a wire rig, the ferns all rustling as if the mouse warriors were running through them, leading into a fight with some human-sized soldiers. As we arrived, Ben Barnes was there, in full Caspian garb, waiting to shoot his part of the scene. Also there, in full costume and make-up, and also waiting, was the one and only Warwick Davis.
Ernie waited for a break in the action, and then introduced me to Andrew Adamson. I always feel like Andrew should be fronting a prog rock band in the ’70s when I talk to him. There’s a playful intelligence to him, and his long hair and slender build suggests he might well be at home in Rivendell. We talked a bit about his approach to this movie, and since I’d already heard what Howard Berger had to say, it gave me a way in, something I could offer to see how Andrew would respond. As soon as I brought up the idea that this is a more adult Narnia, Andrew dove in, explaining how much he loved the notion of a land gone to seed while it’s only been a few years in our world. The more he talked, the more it seemed like this is also a way for him to really test his own limits as a live-action director. I think on the first film, his primary concern was just getting it all finished. This time, though, it seems like he’s got room to really make the film he wants to make, and despite the size of the sequence he was shooting and the complexity of it, he seemed relaxed when we spoke, rolling with the unpredictable August sun overhead and the language barriers, at ease with his second trip to Narnia. He showed me a pre-viz of a key moment in the final battle (a pretty huge spoiler I won’t reveal, since it gave Ernie the publicist heart failure when he realized what Andrew was playing) and talked to me about how he approached this entire picture with a very different sensibility than the first one. He’s not kidding when he says that there’s more action this time out. CASPIAN seems to race from one big action set-piece to the next, something that should thrill the kids who loved the first film, who are all a few years older now. It may also help with audiences who are hungry for a big action-fantasy this summer, because this plays fairly rough.
Read the rest of the set report here. (The YouTube video of the power risers is worth taking a peek at as well.)
Warning: Strong Language
This story was originally published at AintitCoolNews