"He's to Blame" for Bringing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to Film
- Monday, November 22, 2010
What difference do you think that 3D is making for this film?
Contrary to what everyone seems to think, 3D is by no means new. There were 3D movies around when I was a child. They came and they went, sort of as a fad. At the time you wore silly looking glasses—red and green they were in those days. And you saw the film in three dimensions. The film was a black and white film to start usually. But I don't think it adds a huge dimension to the movie. It certainly does add some depth to it in various ways. It can make films more scary. When the sea serpent comes on the screen, I'm going to take off the 3D glasses. I don't want that thing to come down off of the screen at me.
So yes, there are some places that can be scary. A lady, who was at a screening I was at the other day. said to me, "Well what do I do about my eight-year-old granddaughter?" And I said at the salient points, "Pick her up and put her on your lap." I think all of us when we get into a movie with something that's really scary just wish we had a big lap to climb on. I'm lucky because I do. I have the lap of Jesus Christ. It's something one has to have a personal judgment on. I think [3D is] probably exciting to someone who's never seen it before. And I do think it can add a great deal of depth—depth of field and liveliness to a movie. But I do also think it can at times make things more scary than they need to be.
Speaking of depth and liveliness, what are your thoughts on the way Eustace Scrubb is portrayed on-screen in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader?
My favorite character! They certainly could not have found a better Eustace. And to me, the most extraordinary thing about all this is that this young actor is able to play this horrible young boy absolutely to a T. Will Poulter himself is one of the most charming, sweetest, good-natured, most polite, most beautiful children I have ever met in my life. You couldn't meet a nicer kid. And yet he's able to get on-screen and do this wonderful job projecting this complete brat. And so I don't think we could've found a better Eustace.
Do you find that Eustace and his personal journey and transformation stands out most to people who have read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader?
It varies an awful lot, I think. Eustace certainly does stand out to some people. Reepicheep is everybody's darling. Lucy is a lot of other people's darling and so on. People have all have different tastes in who they like to relate to and in who they like to find attractive. And of course, Caspian—King Caspian now—well Ben Barnes the actor has developed into a superb actor. He really shines in this movie. And I think there are a lot of people who are going to fall in love with Ben—not that it probably hasn't happened to him already with that character of King Caspian. Reepicheep, of course, and even Tavros the Minotaur is a fabulous character. So it all depends on your own personality, whom you're going to relate to and love the most. For me, I think probably I like Reepicheep and I also like Eustace.
What overall message do you think that C.S. Lewis was trying to convey when he wrote The Voyage of the Dawn Treader?
Jack was writing a book here about what happens to people who start trying to live the right kind of life—a life of virtue and a life of morality and ethical perfection if possible. And, of course, what happens to you when you do try to do those things is you're immediately assailed by the person who wants you to do bad stuff instead of good stuff. And temptation comes at you from all sides and all directions. This movie is all about temptation, and how we deal with it, how we should deal with it and how we can overcome it. People forget that you can never find out how strong temptation can be until you've met it, fought it and defeated it. Otherwise, you only find out the level of your own weakness. So this book is, in a sense, Screwtape Letters for kids. And I think that's what people should find here—the great lessons with how to deal with temptation.
Let's talk a little more about Eustace. I'm rereading the book right now but am not quite to the end. There's a scene near the end of the film where Eustace talks about his transformation from boy to dragon and back to boy again and how it was painful, yet good, for him. Is this from the book or was the scene created specifically for the film?
That's a very curly question. I can't completely answer it. While I know that there is a scene where he does apologize and makes amends for being such a brat, I'm not sure if it actually takes place in the rowboat or in the Dawn Treader or on the shore. I simply can't recall at the moment. You see, I'm already on to the next one. I'm starting to read the next book and figure out what we need to do with that one. So I've sort of put The Dawn Treader a bit on the back burner, as far as myself is concerned. But yes, there is a scene where he apologizes to everybody. There's a lovely remark that I think came from the scriptwriter where he says, "I think I was a better dragon than I was a boy." It's a lovely scene … that last bit on the beach is so moving and so powerful and so beautiful.
There are so many teachable moments in this film. For parents, what do you suggest that they talk about with their children after seeing the movie?
The fact that every child gets tempted to do bad stuff, and I think they have to learn to deal with it and I think that's the sort of thing that parents can gently point out to them. "Wow, they were tempted to bad things. But they didn't, because. …" But I do think if you're going to take very young children to this movie, which I hope a lot of people will, you should be prepared to pick them up and put them on your laps at the right points whenever the sea serpent is sort of leaping out of the screen at you.
In order to have a good moviegoing experience, do you recommend that people read the book first before they see the film or does it matter?
I don't think it really matters a great deal. I think people ought to read the books if they have them. When they see the movie, I think they'll read the book after the movie. Certainly. But I do think it's important, in this case, that you see the first two movies before you see the third one. Because we've got characters in this movie who stem back all the way to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You've got Edmund and Lucy. And then you've got Reepicheep and Caspian, who comes from Prince Caspian. So you really need to see the first two movies before you see the third one, just to keep things in order to understand what's happening and who's who.
Whether they're familiar with the story or The Chronicles of Narnia or not, why do you think people should consider seeing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader?
Oh you should definitely go to see this movie, because I need the money to make the next one. [Chuckles]. No, because it's exciting and it's beautiful and it's full of life and fun and hope and joy and all the sorts of things that Narnia stands for. I think there are many good reasons to see this movie. It's going to be a first-class evening of entertainment for everyone.
So will there be another film?
Well, it depends on whether the public supports us well enough to make us go with free conscience to our sponsors asking for another budget for the next one, you know? We have to do well each time. Obviously no one's going to sponsor a group of people who make movies that don't succeed.
Which book would make sense to adapt next?
I think we would look very strongly at doing The Silver Chair next. Because again, we have this continuity of casting which we've had right through, and we would continue that with Eustace and the story of The Silver Chair. I also think it would be a very beautiful story to film. That's the one I would look at initially for the next one. And I hope that people will support [The Voyage of the Dawn Treader] enough to allow us to make the next one.
I'll have to read that one next after The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Speaking of which, when I was buying my book at the bookstore, I noticed editions from two different publishers. And one had a special note inside that said the books were numbered in the way that C.S. Lewis would have wanted them to be read as opposed to the order in which he wrote them or the order in which they were published. What is that all about?
Originally, the American publisher of The Chronicles of Narnia decided that Americans needed numbers on the spine of the books to tell them what order to read them in. And they did it in the publication order that Jack actually published the books which meant that The Magician's Nephew and the creation of Narnia came about fourth or fifth or somewhere, or maybe sixth. So when HarperCollins took over the global production of these books and publication of them, they asked me and said, "You know we think Americans probably do need numbers to read them." And they asked, "What order do you think we ought to do them in?" And I said, "Well … I actually asked Jack himself what order he preferred and thought they should be read in. And he said he thought they should be read in the order of Narnian chronology." So I said, "Why don't you go with what Jack himself wanted?" So, it's my fault basically—the order of Narnian chronology. And I'm not the least bit ashamed of it.
For more information about Fox 2000 Pictures' and Walden Media's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, please visit Crosswalk's Narnia channel. Starring Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley and Will Poulter, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader releases wide in 3D and 2D in theaters on Friday, December 10, 2010 and is rated PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action.
To view the trailer for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
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