The Official Movie Companion Book Review
I have to start out by saying a big thank you to Preciousjewl for sending in the spy report that she had seen Prince Caspian: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion at her local bookstore so I knew to look for it.
With that in mind I called the Family Christian Bookstore where I had discovered the other Narnia tie-in books last week. The manager kindly informed me that no, they did not have it in but to check back on Tuesday. But while out running errands, I happened to drive by another local Christian bookstore and figured ‘hey, why not?’ so I stopped in, and there it was.
I will try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible so everyone can read it, but I promise to post in more spoilerish detail on the forum.
It starts out with a Forward from Andrew Adamson, Douglas Gresham, and Mark Johnson, all reflecting on making the movie Prince Caspian.
The Journey — Back to Narnia
The intro to this book talks about shooting the first scene of Prince Caspian, the scene at the train station, while reminiscing about making The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and then comparing the two films.
The Story — The Second Chapter
Ernie Malik describes the decision-making process after the enormous success of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Apparently the two studios and the film production team sat down and tried to figure out what direction they wanted to take the rest of the series. There was some discussion of once again merging Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader into one movie, but that idea didn’t go through (thankfully). After Prince Caspian was given the green light, the scriptwriters Steve McFeely and Chris Markus were brought in and from there the production team figured out what themes they wanted to incorporate into the movie and how to make the plot work.
One of the cool things about this book is that Ernie Malik includes a few pages that contain what I would call “side notes.” In this chapter there is an excellent article on the debate over what order the Chronicles should be read in and the famous letter in which Lewis said that chronological order is better. There is also a second page dedicated to the code name ‘Toastie,’ and a great sketch of Reepicheep toasting a piece of bread over a campfire.
From Page to Screen — A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures
If you read the production blogs on Narnia.com, you’ve already read part of this book as several of the blogs are excerpts from this chapter. Markus and McFeely start by describing the process they went through to write the script for this movie. They had to decide how they wanted to build on the Pevensies’ character development considering how the children would have reacted going back to the real world after reigning in Narnia for years. They also describe the decision-making process of laying out the screenplay because in the book the Pevensies don’t even meet up with Caspian until the very end (and Susan and Lucy for only a couple pages). From there it moves on to the storyboarding of the movie. Again, the Storyboard blogs on Narnia.com are excerpts from this section (but with different pictures). Mark Vosburg, the senior storyboard artist, talks about how he and his team designed the first visuals for the film. And then we move from there into Previsualization with Rpin Suwannath. I’d just like to note that there’s a cool picture of the white pre-viz Reepicheep in here that started the ‘Reep is white’ rumor. Rpin spends most of the section describing in detail his pre-viz work on the Night Raid sequence. Once previsualization is done, we move from there on to the pre-viz editing with Sim Evan-Jones. He and Rpin sat down and described the process of editing the pre-viz work into the Prince Caspian film-to-be.
The side note in this chapter talks about scheduling the shoot. I found this one particularly interesting because I had always wondered how it was done. It shows copies of the Daily Call Sheets of who is supposed to be on set, what day, for what scene, and any other important notes they might need. It was on this page I found the names of four more actors that will be appearing in this film. David Bowles will be playing Lord Gregoire, Jan Filipensky will be playing Wimbleweather, and Yemi Akinyemi and Carlos Da Silva will be playing two of Glenstorm’s sons who are named Ironhoof and Suncloud, respectively.
The Locations — Where on Earth is Narnia This Time?
This was another very cool chapter in the book because it talks a great deal about scouting for the locations of the movie. The scout, James Crowley, talks through the whole chapter about all the countries he visited around the world for close to eight months to find the perfect locations for Prince Caspian to be filmed — which for this film happen to be New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia. I have to say that the side note in this particular chapter was just hysterical as Ernie Malik described the varmints that followed them around from set location to set location. At the Glasswater set in New Zealand, they were attacked by swarming sand flies. In the Czech Republic they had to face ticks. And then upon arrival in Poland, the first sign they spotted read “BEWARE — Viper Snake.”
The Cast — Family Reunion
And now we come to the part that I think the vast majority of people will like the most — the individual sections on all of the main characters. Each of the sections is certainly shorter than the individual whole chapters in the LWW Movie Companion, but they’re still very, very good and fun to read.
William Moseley is up first. He talks a good deal about the stunts he did for the movie, mainly jumping onto his horse in the night raid scene. He also talks about his duel with Miraz.
Anna Popplewell describes her part in Narnia as her own personal fairy tale, but one that she has to move on from as she won’t be back after this. (Though I’m sure all the fans will keep their fingers crossed for The Horse and His Boy.)
Skandar Keynes spends most of his time talking about all of the daredevilish things he did during the shoot (like bungee-jumping off of the world’s third-highest bridge) and also his newly developed love of playing the guitar and music in general.
Georgie Henleys talks mainly about how she has grown since the first film and how her character Lucy has changed, and how the two of them seem to be the same person. Georgie also mentions a bit about her love of writing and two stories that she’s written for kids.
The New Cast — Heroes and Villains
And now we come to the new characters introduced to us in Prince Caspian, and first up of course is Ben Barnes. Ben talks a lot about things we’ve all heard already — his audition experience, being flown down to New Zealand and thrown on a horse. But there are a lot of new bits and pieces in here as well. Andrew Adamson and Mark Johnson talk specifically about why they cast Ben, how the filmmakers transformed Ben into Prince Caspian, and how Ben managed to fit in with the four Pevensies.
Sergio Castellitto and Andrew Adamson spent a lot of time together flushing out the character of Miraz as he’s going to have a lot more scenes in the movie than in the book. Sergio talks about his transformation into his character between the makeup and costumes. He also adds that the scene where he duels Peter is the hardest film scene he’s ever done. And one last interesting tidbit, this is the first time Sergio has ever played a bad guy.
Peter Dinklage jokes about how he was pretty much forced into the role of Trumpkin because when he went to meet with Andrew Adamson, the pre-viz material about Trumpkin that was shown to him already looked like him. But thankfully, he agreed to take the role. The section on Peter Dinklage talks mostly about transforming him into the character of Trumpkin through make-up and costume, and then of course what he brought to the role himself.
For those of you who don’t know, Warwick Davis has already been in Narnia once before, as Reepicheep in BBC’s Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and also as Glimfeather in The Silver Chair. And Warwick is thrilled to be back once again playing the role of Nikabrik. Warwick jokes about how it was his job on set to make sure Ben Barnes was properly initiated into the role.
And finally, the last section of this chapter talks about the supporting characters: Pierfrancesco Favino as General Glozelle, Damian Alcazar as Lord Sopespian, Vincent Grass as Doctor Cornelius, Cornell John as Glenstorm, Alicia Borrachero as Queen Prunaprismia, and Shane Rangi who stood in for Asterius, the bear that attacks Lucy, the Bulgy Bear, and the Wer-wolf.
The Visualists — Creating the Look of Narnia
Roger Ford talks in this chapter about how he and his team designed and built the sets for Prince Caspian. One of the coolest parts about this section is he starts off with a quote from the book describing the set, and how he and his team went from there. He covers the London Subway Station, the Ancient Ruins of Cair Paravel, the Treasure Chamber, Trufflehunter’s Den (this was my favorite because they actually stuck a camera down the inside of a badger’s den to see what it looked like), Doctor Cornelius’s Study, the Dancing Lawn, Aslan’s How, the Beruna Bridge, and last but certainly not least, Miraz’s Castle.
There’s a really cool side note in the Roger Ford section that shows how they filmed the duel between Miraz and Peter. It shows the two actors fighting while surrounded by a 360-degree rail with a camera mounted on it.
The book moves on from sets to character design and creation by Howard Berger. And again he describes how many of the creatures were redesigned for the film, how they wanted to approach this film in the first place, the daily process of getting everyone into costume and makeup, and a touching report on their last day of shooting.
In her section, Isis Mussenden describes how she designed and created all the different costumes for the Telmarines, the Pevensies, Prince Caspian, and Miraz, and all of the Telmarine villagers (which was really cool to see).
We then move on to a section on Weta Workshop and Richard Taylor. Richard describes the differences between working on Lord of the Rings and working on Narnia. There are several beautiful pages of weapons and armor they designed and built, but my favorite part of this section was seeing this enormous, beautiful model of Miraz’s castle and the surrounding Telmarine village that they built for the film.
The Auralists — The Sound… and the Music
This is a new section to this movie companion that didn’t appear in the last one. The brief chapter here talks about Tony Johnson, the sound mixer for both Narnia movies, and how he records the sound for the movie and matches up any rerecorded dialogue between the scene and the actor at a later date.
And then we move on to a small section on Harry Gregson-Williams and what choices he made when writing the score for this movie.
The Illusionists — The Special Effects of Narnia
Dean Wright and Wendy Rogers the VFX supervisors have a huge section in here on the effects that they used to create the night raid scene. Between all of the green-legged fauns and centaurs, flying the children in on gryphons, and Susan leaping onto Glenstorm’s back to escape, it’s a really fascinating process. But they did not forget to mention Reepicheep, which I know everyone is looking forward to. There’s a very neat part in here about the design of Reepicheep from beginning to end. And they also talk a bit about the work they did on Trufflehunter, Pattertwig, the Bulgy Bear, the River God, and, of course, Aslan.
Ernie Malik wraps up this book by describing the final day on the set and many teary goodbyes, as well as a heartfelt thanks for having been given the privilege to write this book.
And the final page contains an Afterword by Ben Barnes.
Overall this book is just as fantastic as the first one. It is written from a more technical viewpoint from Perry Moore’s personable approach, and I did miss some of the sections like Anna’s journal and Georgie’s interviews, but the pictures, the side notes, and the hilarious moments more than made up for it. I highly recommend this book to all fans who would love a look behind the scenes.
And with that I think I have seen every official Prince Caspian tie-in book in local Christian bookstores, including The Crafting of Narnia book by Weta. These are all officially due in stores on April 1.