Behind the Scenes of 'Prince Caspian': An Interview with Douglas Gresham
By Jeff Holder
Managing Editor, Movieguide Magazine'
CBN.com When a cherished book becomes a movie, the book fans usually cringe. Yet, three years ago, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe burst onto the screen, satisfying even the most ardent fan of C.S. Lewis’ literary classic.
The man most responsible for keeping the integrity of the initial book was producer and stepson to Lewis, Douglas Gresham. Now the next book, Prince Caspian, comes to the screen this month. Thus, the question in the minds of Lewis fans is, “Can they give us a film that’s faithful to the book again?”
Movieguide® recently chatted with Douglas Gresham. In his eloquent and affable manner, he gave us insight into the upcoming movie.
Considering himself to have a “moral, sacred duty to protect the essential messages of the books,” Gresham has worked hand in hand with director Andrew Adamson to make sure that the spirit of the book will make its way onto the screen. Gresham says that, during production of the first movie, he had a steep learning curve due to his ignorance of the filmmaking process. Gresham credits Adamson with being the “world’s best teacher.” This time around, the learning curve has not been as steep for Gresham, but he said they found Prince Caspian presented unique challenges not found in the previous book and movie.
For one thing, the book’s plot is darker, taking place when an evil tyrant rules the land at a time of civil war. The movie then needs to reflect that more somber era in the history of Narnia. The other challenge is the simplicity of the book’s plot.
In Gresham’s words, “The four kids arrive 1300 years later. Things are different. They rescue a dwarf named Trumpkin, and then, while sitting around the fire, Trumpkin tells them about Prince Caspian. Now, that doesn’t make for a great movie.”
To fully tell the story, more action sequences have been added to make the movie more epic in nature. Gresham believes that this makes Prince Caspian more exciting than the first movie.
Even with these scene changes and additions, he asserts, “The underlying message is what Jack (C.S. Lewis) put in there. Faith, truth, justice, courtesy, chivalry, honor, personal commitment.”
Gresham believes that Lewis most likely would not have worried about minor or even major changes as long as the movie stayed true to the message and spirit of the book.
Gresham’s journey with Hollywood has actually been a very long road. Some of the biggest names in filmmaking have been interested in and even developed scripts for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe . However, in the “wisdom” of Hollywood, changes were made which gutted the spirit of the book, and Gresham kept those scripts from going forward.
Not until Walden Media and Andrew Adamson became involved did Gresham have the confidence that the books would make a faithful transition to the screen. Gresham also sees in hindsight a side benefit of waiting. For only now with sophisticated computer animation can the regal lion Aslan really come to life.
So, if Lewis himself were able to sit next to Gresham at the premiere of Prince Caspian would Lewis like it?
Gresham is confident that he would.
He further says that Lewis saw the potential of the new, emerging technology of cinema and worried about the potential immoral use of the medium.
Gresham says that both Lewis and he believe that “the enemy of mankind has taken over the cinema. Jack (Lewis) would be overjoyed about taking it back.”
And what of the future? After Prince Caspian, what’s next?
Gresham reports that pre-production has begun on the next book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which also features the character of Prince Caspian. For the book which follows that, The Silver Chair, Gresham is in “initial talks” about it coming to the screen. He sees the day when all the books will finally make their way to film.
Books such as The Horse and His Boy which feature grown-up Pevensie kids will have to wait for the actors to become the right age. The book that technically predates the events of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (in Narnia time anyway) is The Magician's Nephew. Aficionados have often wondered if that book will become a movie. Giving hope to diehard Narnia fans, Gresham considers that book to be his “arch ambition.”
Gresham encourages Movieguide® readers to see the movie. “Take your friends, take your family, and even take your enemies!” he prompted.
He is relying on the Movieguide® community to get out the message of the movie, he said. He further added a word for all Movieguide® readers, viewers and listeners, “You’re my kind of people.”
Thank you for those kind words, Mr. Gresham.
Editor’s Note: As a complement to the movie, Dr. Ted Baehr has written Narnia Beckons, a fascinating glimpse of the life and ideas of the man behind the beloved children’s book series. While many books have been written to coincide with the movie’s release, Narnia Beckons has been featured by a number of reviewers who recognize the book as the cream of the Narnia-commentary crop. Jean Peerenboom of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes, “If you choose only one of these books, (Narnia Beckons) would be the one to go with.”
Narnia Beckons is an elegant coffee table book rich with photos relating to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and other C. S. Lewis stories. The book is full of profound, enlightening, inspiring, and discerning information and stories about the book from which the movie has been drawn.
Also included in Narnia Beckons is information about previous television adaptations of Lewis's masterpiece as well as interviews with some of the key players producing the movie and leading Lewis scholars. There are also rare photographs of his English childhood haunts and profiles of family and friends.
Fortunately, those who want to discover the inside story on The Chronicles of Narnia and Prince Caspian may now purchase Narnia Beckons at a significant 40 percent discount off the $24.99 retail price for $15 from www.movieguide.org and by calling 1-800-899-movie (1-800-899-6684).
Please get the word out to help your children and grandchildren learn the truth about C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. Purchase Narnia Beckons today.
(The Chronicles of Narnia, Narnia, and all book titles, characters and locales original thereto are trademarks of C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd., and the commentaries herein represent a fair use of that material.)
Visit CBN.com 's Prince Caspian special feature
Read more book excerpts and author interviews on CBN.com.
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.
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