The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: An Epic Journey Within
- Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Following in the footsteps of Andrew Adamson (who directed the first two Narnia films and returns as producer for the third), Apted makes his foray into directing a film for children with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And to prepare, he did his homework by reading the book in which he found the variety of the storyline very much to his liking. He also watched the first two films, but on the first day of filming he knew it was time for an adventure into the unknown.
"Well, day one is blind panic," he admits. "I've never made a movie for children, and I've never dealt with this amount of fantasy or surrealism or whatever you want to call it. Then you think, ‘Well this is step by step. You're going to have to learn a lot.' I liked the challenge of it. And I knew we had the tools to do it. Andrew had done it with the first two, so I knew the tools existed. It was just a question of not panicking and kind of learning it and listening to people and asking questions."
Indeed, the bar was set high not only for Apted but also for the special effects which had been crafted so well in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (winning the Oscar for Best Makeup and garnering two additional nominations for visual effects and sound) and Prince Caspian. In fact, the visual effects team for just the character of Reepicheep numbered 380 CG artists alone.
Post-production work included a year's period of editing, scoring, re-recording and mixing sound while working on the extensive 3D work. Filmmakers collaborated with the world's leading stereoscopic and VFX companies in a process exceeding the length of even the recent Alice in Wonderland film. Computer-generated shots and all of the CGI characters (including Reepicheep) were rendered from the beginning in 3D and delivered directly to the film as left eye/right eye pairs. There are no 2D "cutouts" in this Narnia, and the end result provides a brilliant 3D experience—provided you're wearing your complimentary 3D glasses.
"I have to say that I was a little skeptical at first, and now I'm completely glad that we have a 3D version of the film," reveals producer Mark Johnson. "It's much more weaved, and it's giving our film depth and I look at it and quite frankly I like the 3D version of it a lot. There's a slightly different experience watching it in 3D to the 2D. But I'm really sold."
However, lest audiences worry that technology will somehow trump or reduce the story, Apted assures that the emotional core of the film is still intact.
"It's a very intimate film. And my aim was to try and make a film on a big landscape, but yet which had a lot of emotion and had a lot of heart and a lot of feeling in it. And in a sense one of my challenges directing the film was to try and protect that, because there was a lot of technology at my fingertips—a lot of wonderful visual effects and 3D and that sort of stuff. I just wanted to make sure that the technology didn't overwhelm the underlying emotions of the film."
On Course to Self-Discovery
The pivotal relationship between Reepicheep and Eustace displays this type of emotional depth and intimacy most poignantly. Initially upon meeting on the deck of The Dawn Treader, Eustace is just as annoyed with Reepicheep as perhaps Reepicheep is with him. But as the twosome interact with each other along their journey, Reepicheep sees something in Eustace and remains a loyal friend while serving as a guiding force through the troubled boy's dramatic transformation.
"To play a part like Eustace was particularly interesting to me because I suppose his transition speaks to a louder volume than I guess it would just reading on the page," admits Will Poulter, who couldn't believe it when he first found out he had won the part. "There's kind of a lot of underlying messages to it and a lot of kind of religious allegory that is associated with his transformation. I think initially he's almost an unredeemable character, and you almost love to hate him."
In both the book and the film, Eustace's particular temptation is greediness and selfishness which results in being turned into a dragon with the inner ugliness now overtaking his exterior. But all is not lost for Eustace, and the beauty of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is certainly found in Lewis' brilliant portrayal of the effects of sin and eventual redemption, as Aslan confronts Eustace near the story's end, removes his scaly dragon skin and dresses him in new clothes (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
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