Prince Caspian U.K. Premiere Report
NarniaWebbers AJAiken and Jints were among several NarniaWebbers who attended the U.K. premier of Prince Caspian. Here are their reports!
It took much effort not to break into manic laughter while on the London Underground. As this was my “first” time (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe does not count; I knew about it and was excited about it, but I didn’t even see it on the opening day) I suppose I had a right to be excited. Whether I had the right or not made no difference in the end — I just was. And so was everybody else.
Jints and I had visited the Disney store earlier in the day, but found we were too early, so hung around until it opened. Once inside it was hard to stop squealing. You will be glad to know that it was the merchandise, as opposed to the people on the merchandise, that made us squeal so. In fact some of the pyjamas and T-shirts were a little scary. Peter… werewolves… so we settled for stickers.
I’d made a NarniaWeb banner, to make a kind of a landmark to meet at as well as being something to wave at the filmmakers and actors; in a way, a response to Ben’s “they know everything on NarniaWeb”. Unfortunately this proved to be untrue, although we waltzed down the red (and brilliantly green) carpet, we did not realise that we’d have to stay out there to meet anyone and get autographs. Then we wasted half an hour inside trying to see if we could catch a glimpse of anyone coming in. However, that wasn’t the real reason why we’d come. Well, at least, that wasn’t the reason why I’d come!
Once inside the enormous O2 arena, we found our seats and watched the myriad of interviews, trailers and broadcasts of what was happening on the green carpet (this was when we realised we should have stayed outside, and by then it was too late). Oddly enough, we kept being shown spoiler-filled clips which made us groan and cover our eyes. When you’ve given up spoilers for over a month because of the UK’s horrendously late release date, you don’t want to be spoiled minutes before you finally see the movie. That wasn’t as irritating as the presenter, even so! She very kindly reminded us every few minutes that this was the UK’s Biggest Ever Premiere (10,000 people!), with an enormous screen (91 by 38 feet!) and babbled on. And on. Even more painful that this was the last-minute competition for tickets. Question: “Which character does Eddie Izzard voice?” Answer: “Uhh…”
It really picked up once they stopped showing anything except the Narnia logo on the screen. There were cameras set up everywhere, pointing around the arena, so we waved the banner whenever it looked our way. As the cameras were finally set pointing at the little stage below the screen, we assumed that someone would be introducing the film, and we hoped and prayed it would be “the famous people”, seeing as we hadn’t seen a glimpse of them yet.
Half an hour later (and half an hour late) the lights dimmed and everyone cheered. On came the irritating presenter. Luckily, she quickly called forward the ones we’d been waiting for, and the cameras went off around the room. Including mine. I did manage to get at least one reasonable picture, but most gutting was the fact that I recorded a little part of what they said, and discovered later that my sister’s camera, that I was borrowing, does not record sound.
Georgie was lovely, and obviously very excited. I think they all were, perhaps even more so than the audience. At least, that’s what Ben claimed! That’s one question I would have asked, had I had the chance: “After sitting in an editing suite for months, and then Premiere after Premiere, how does it feel? Can you stand to watch the movie again?” It might have been a mistake, had I really been able to ask it — I’m a filmmaker myself, and as of yet I haven’t had to watch any of my films quite as often as these people have. None of my films have been to this scale, either, but the answer might have put me off for life!
And then, the film. Digitally projected, too — I wasn’t expecting that! But the sideweave and pop and crackle would have been very obvious on a screen of that size. There was a cheer at the Disney logo (“A lion on the flag!” someone in our party said) and a smaller cheer for Walden; then a gorgeous transition to a moon and planets! I won’t say much about the rest of the film because I’m sure a lot has been said before. It was so good, though! It wasn’t perfect — I don’t think any film can be perfect — but it was excellent. And the audience thought so, too. Cheering broke out when the Peter and Miraz duel came to an end. Cheering broke out again when the audience realised that he wasn’t actually going to kill him, and made a heroic decision instead. Much applause broke out again when Miraz finally was killed (that was clever. Really, really clever!).
All this applause was odd for Britain. We’re usually so reserved! I’ve never heard clapping and cheering in a cinema before, only in theatres at the end of some Shakespeare play or throughout with Christmas Pantomines and whatnot. I really hope that Adamson and everyone else heard it and really felt good about that because it was an oddity for Britain! Filmmakers don’t often get that kind of recognition. Usually it’s some cold response in the newspaper the next day. Perhaps Britain should do this sort of thing more often. It made the film seem so much more personal and close.
Oh, there were a couple of parts that really irritated me — why a trapdoor? (Someone came up with an easy way out there.) Why the panpipes with Reepicheep’s bier? (That got a laugh, highly inappropriate!) But Trumpkin was fantastic; so witty, so perfect. Edmund was great (that fumble with the torch!). I even liked the Peter/Caspian antagonism, the Night Raid, and, perhaps most importantly, Global Warming really does seem more of a problem than a certain moment in the film .
The only problem, on the whole, was that I came out wanting to see it again, and I can’t. Not until the 26th, anyway!
Here’s a tip: if you want to get to premieres to see the stars of the show, don’t sign up for any trip I’m involved with. I’m now 0-for-2 on Meeting The Film People At Narnia Premieres.
My excitement had been building all day, too. It started at the Disney Store, despite the scary Peter pyjamas and the 3D mug that is just slightly too creepy to drink out of. Just being in London brought back the feelings I’d had in December ’03 at the LWW premiere, and now I had even more anticipation to add to it. I was meeting other Narnia fans, and finally getting to see this film that all my American friends had seen and and yet not spoiled for me (y’all rock)!
The evening started with a lot of standing. We stood with our banner just outside the Tube station, and Shantih was first to arrive. As we waited for the others, we heard lots of people murmur ‘Narnia-web-dot-com? Look, what’s that?’ as they passed, which was pretty cool. One girl even said that she visited the site every day, but she walked too far away to catch our reply of ‘Er, yes, so do we! Just once or twice an hour.’
Presently the whole group had arrived, and we stopped standing where we were to go and stand in the queue proper. After more standing, standing, standing, we were let in, along to a red carpet leading through a huge mock-ruin arch emblazoned with the Narnia logo (and the TV crew right next to it!), then on to a green carpet that covered the way into the arena. Because we were so early, the entertainment wasn’t quite in full swing, but the soundtrack score was blaring out and getting everyone’s blood racing all the more. I paused to look at a figure of a Telmarine soldier on a plinth next to me. Then it blinked, inside the mask, and I realized ‘it’ was a real-live ‘he’, as was every other one of the statues that lined the walkway. From the continual exclamations I could hear after I’d passed this first guy, I was not the only person to be taken in. What a job!
I was fizzing inside with excitement now. Things seemed to have happened in flashes as I tried to take in as much as possible in a short space of time. I saw two Telmarines walking along with swords, followed by two on horseback. The swordsmen stopped, half-shrugged and nodded to each other, hefted their weapons once, twice, and then fought. Ah — the entertainment! By this time the horsemen had moved into position just behind the fighters; all the children around had flocked to see what was going on. It looked quite impressive, but there were still so many officials fussing about and blocking the views that I didn’t think anything else would be happening there.
When we got to the final Telmarine statue we stopped and had a group photo taken beside his plinth. After that, a grey mist descended before our eyes and we were bewitched into traipsing, zombie-style, into the arena, unable to look back; unable to return. We were at the top of the escalator to our block before the mist lifted and we realized that we were stuck inside; the ‘entertainment’ was all behind us. We’d missed the stars’ entrance.*
The time between this point and the cast & crew appearing on the little stage was slow, frustrating and rather irritating. AJ has described the woeful presenters (oh, just give us those microphones — we wouldn’t have made Liam Neeson cringe!), the shoddy quiz questions and mumbled answers, and the spoiler-tastic clips and features. At 7:15 pm a good third of the arena was still empty. It felt like these people cared more about their garlic chips and nachos than seeing this film for the first time! It was galling. After we’d waved the banner hopefully at the camera man and still nothing was happening, I got out my copy of Prince Caspian and started to read.
I got one full chapter in before the lights went down. Finally! On came the people we longed to see, and boy they did look gobsmacked. No wonder — it was the film equivalent of a pop concert, with thousands of fans cheering, whistling and clapping non-stop right in front of them.
And then — at last! The film! I don’t think my shoulders moved from my ears until The Strand appeared, and from that point on it was all one ‘Ah, need to take this in, take it in!’ moment to the next. I was really impressed with it — more so than LWW, I have to say. Narnia felt more comfortable with itself. The work of Howard Berger and the KFX team was almost ignored, in a way, because the crowd just accepted that fauns and satyrs and centaurs and minotaurs existed. No biggie — but I can remember the audible gasp when Tumnus appeared the last time. I do want to do a shout-out for Trufflehunter — I’m so glad the steadfast, non-confrontational yet brave as anything badger was Scottish! Yes!
Disney/Walden took a bit of a risk with this Premiere. Had the film been sub-par, they would have seen 10,000 people walk away filled with warnings for their friends; the word of mouth from an event this big could make or break the movie over here. For my part, it’ll make it. I can’t tell anyone great stories about how Skandar told me his NarniaWeb ID so as I could doctor his post count, or how Andrew Adamson signed my book and wanted a copy of our banner for his office, but I can go on at length about how everyone in the UK should go and see the movie. Roll on the 26th!
*Actual events may have been re-imagined here, to avoid pain to the writer.
Visit AJAiken’s Photobucket for more pictures!
Thanks to AJAiken and Jints for the reports!
UPDATE: MTV has posted footage of the green carpet. View the video here.