As the latest Narnia film hits the big screen in the UK next month, RUSS BRAVO catches up with co-producer Douglas Gresham, the stepson of the book’s author CS Lewis
What have been the biggest challenges in filming Prince Caspian?
I think one of the toughest challenges was to somehow make the book work on screen without losing any of its very important deeper meanings. We had to make some interesting things happen and at the same time retain the essential character changes that are needed to convey the all-important return to truth, faith and justice after a millennium of corruption. I think our team have done a wonderful job with this, and the film, although starting with a possibly weaker book, has turned out even better than LWW [The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe].
Were you worried about following the best-known Narnia book?
Having worked with these guys for several years I had great confidence in them. And of course I pray – lots. In fact it is only right for a lot of reasons that LWW be the best known, but when this movie comes out, Prince Caspian will have his walk in the sun. And we do have the huge advantage of the Narnia Chronicles not being sequels to each other but tales in their own right. Each one carries different, though related, messages and meanings, and each is very different in texture and feel to each of the rest.
You cast Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian just three weeks before shooting started? Why was it such a struggle to find the right actor?
We simply could not cast anyone until we knew that the actor we had chosen was exactly the right person for the film. Ben absolutely glows in the role; he has done a marvellous job with it. I am very much looking forward to working with him on The Voyage of The Dawn Treader.
CGI is a great tool for telling exciting stories but how do you balance plot and characterisation with fantastic special effects?
A bit like juggling fast-revving chainsaws while walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon! Fortunately Andrew [director Andrew Adamson] is very good at it (the movie bit I mean). But we [also] try very hard to make our effects so realistic that they become invisible. Some of the finest compliments to the team's skills have been inadvertent; for example two charming ladies in Malta wept when they discovered that Aslan was entirely computer-generated. Those sorts of reactions are great tributes to the skills and hard work of our people in the computer rooms and also of course to Howard Berger's great team of prosthetic make-up artists as well.
As a committed Christian, what are your hopes and prayers for the film?
First that it will be made exactly as the Holy Spirit wants it to be made (and I started praying that for Prince Caspian the night of the premiere of LWW), and then that it will have the effect on the world and on everyone who sees it that God wants it to have. And finally, that if it be his will, that it will do so well that we will be able to make the next of the Chronicles to an even higher standard than we have achieved on this one, and that's a pretty tall order.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe saw Aslan's sacrifice and resurrection, a powerful allegory for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Do you think Prince Caspian communicates any similar reflections of CS Lewis' Christian faith?
LWW is not actually allegorical at all, it is a suppositional representative fantasy, but I really cannot answer in any depth without giving away too much. Suffice it to say that if one is truly a committed Christian, and Jack certainly was, then everything one says and especially writes is bound to be imbued with the colouration of one's faith.
But go and see the movie and enjoy it to the full, then repeat the process till you have searched out every nuance of every level of meaning and delight that lies hidden within this dense and tightly-packed adventure. And remember that no matter how far we stray away, there is always one way back. Our task in life, and that of our heroes and heroines in Prince Caspian is to find it.
Prince Caspian opens in cinemas nationwide on 26 June. Find out more at http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/narnia/
Christian Publishing & Outreach, registered in England & Wales (Charity no 221462).
Company limited by guarantee No 588731. VAT no 860 219 341.
Registered office: CPO, Garcia Estate, Canterbury Road, Worthing BN13 1BW, UK