Transforming a Literary Masterpiece into
By Andrea D. Hicks
CBN.com Associate Producer
Flaherty is the president of Walden
Media, a company he co-founded
with his former college roommate, Cary Granat, to produce films, books,
and interactive programs that tie directly into school curricula. Walden
Media released its first films – Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey,
Ghosts of the Abyss and Holes - to both critical and commercial
success in 2003. In 2004, the company released I Am David,
based on Ann Holm’s
classic book, and Around the World in 80 Days. Earlier this year,
Walden released Because of Winn-Dixie, based on Kate DiCamillo’s
book of the same name. Walden also is developing a number of other
feature films, including adaptations of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe, Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to
and E.B. White’s
Flaherty shared his thoughts and experiences related to the
film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in a recent CBN.com interview.
ANDREA HICKS: C. S. Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, always knew
that this [The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe] would become a big film
one day, but it took decades in the making. Why do you think this was
the right time to make this film?
MICHAEL FLAHERTY: I think two reasons. Number one, Douglas had an
awesome partner that was one hundred percent dedicated to a faithful adaptation.
That had always been a significant stumbling block for him to find someone
would not try to change anything because Lewis wrote a great story. Second
was finding the right director. Andrew Adamson was the right director
for this. I think the technology had finally gotten to the point where
he could successfully make this movie and have humans and animals interacting
with each other and have it look believable.
HICKS: I read that you and Walden Media had a part in helping propel the
project forward. Explain how you became involved and how that helped
make this film come to play.
FLAHERTY: With Walden, Cary and I decide on the kinds of properties that
we want to pursue. Carrie and I often agree on these things. This is another
one of those cases where we both loved it and others in our company also
wanted to see this made into a film. Everybody in the company really made
it an imitative. We have a great development executive, Perry Moore,
who made it his full-time job just to track down the rights. That was the
key, was just being able to get Douglas Gresham in a room to successfully
present our vision and our pitch for the film to see if we could get the
HICKS: You said you and Gresham wanted to make sure it was a faithful adaptation
to the film, and I know sometimes that's kind of a concern because you may
have someone who will take a book and change it, which can be very disappointing. So,
how close would you say this is to the actual book?
FLAHERTY: I would say one hundred percent.
HICKS: How did you make that possible? Were there any difficulties in doing
FLAHERTY: Not really because everyone had that faithful adaptation as their
north star. So, everyday Andrew had to crew up literally thousands
of people to make this a success. And every person that was brought on had
that idea of making a faithful adaptation-that was their key goal. Andrew
was able to successfully make sure that vision penetrated all of the production.
HICKS: Why were you so excited to work on this film?
FLAHERTY: I love Lewis, and I love the Chronicles and the
Apologetics. Just to be doing anything associated with Lewis was a real joy. We
co-produced a documentary called The Question of God, comparing Lewis
with Sigmund Freud. We'd love to do more with Lewis, maybe something with
HICKS: I understand that you are involved with education
and want to make sure children are interested in learning, excited about
using their imagination. What does Walden Media hope to achieve by taking
books like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and turning them into full-length
FLAHERTY: The simplest thing to accomplish is to actually
get the kids to read great books. We've been able to do that with Holes,
Winn Dixie, and now Narnia. All of those books went
up to number one on The New York Times best-seller list with the movie coming
up. They've all increased with both in terms of their book sales. The first
goal is to get everyone reading the book. The second goal is, once
you've read the book, how do you take a lot of the themes and truths and
apply them your everyday life? For
us, we're not the experts on that, but we like the fact that we do
convene a rather substantial number of librarians and other educators
around the county. And they're able to tell us how to use it. The
most interesting example was after Hurricane Katrina. We got a letter
from a librarian in Louisiana that said she was able to use The Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe to help a lot of the kids traumatized in the aftermath
of Katrina cope and adjust with what it's like to have people around you
lost in death and destruction, and to also leave the home you've grown up
in and have to move to a strange and far away place and how to cope with
that--which is identical to what happened to the Pevensies.
HICKS: Is there a concern with you, because someone children do not
like to read in the first place. Is there ever a concern that once
a movie comes out and a kid has not read the book that they still will not
read it? Or do you think it's turning kids back to reading?
FLAHERTY: Yes, it definitely is a concern. But from our
attitude, if that's the case that the kid was not going to read anyway,
and at least great elements of that story--chivalry, loyalty, honor-they'll
still be implanted.
HICKS: What do you think about the story makes it particularly teachable?
FLAHERTY: I think that it's teachable on so many levels. If you look
at our Web site, walden.com, first at the micro level, we teach about music.
We teach about history from different elements from the book. But
there are also those huge themes in terms of friendship, family, and forgiveness.
HICKS: From your standpoint, what was the most challenging aspect with this
FLAHERTY: I think Andrew Adamson was the guy who had all the challenges
as the director. The beauty of having a guy like that is just watching
every few months the progress the film has made. He's the guy who has to
wrangle it and get it all done. I think his greatest challenge was:
How do you create Aslan, this king of all kings who's not safe but good?
HICKS: Have you had a chance to watch the finished
FLAHERTY: Yes, several times.
HICKS: What would you say is your favorite moment, favorite scene?
FLAHERTY: My favorite part at the end of the film is when Lucy opens the
wardrobe and she wants to get back in and the professor looks at her and
says 'you won't get back in that way, but you will get back in one day when
you're not expecting it.'
HICKS: Do you think it's fair to say the Narnia series will continue on
FLAHERTY: I think so. We're very committed, and we're excited
to start on the next one.
Send Andrea your feedback.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe Special Feature
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