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December 09, 2004 - June 14, 2005

News for Jun. 14, 2005

Narnia Cast Member Kiran Shah Chats On TheOneRing.net This Weekend

6/14/05, 8:16 pm EST - Demosthenes

TheOneLion's sister-site TheOneRing.net is hosting a live Q&A chat this weekend [Saturday June 18, 5.30pm EDT (US East Coast)] with Kiran Shah - who plays the White Witch's evil offsider, Ginarrbrik, in the adaptation of CS Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

In Lord Of The Rings, Kiran doubled as - and did stunts for - all four of the main hobbits at one time or another. He worked most closely with Elijah Wood, doubling for Frodo.

Kiran, born in Nairobi in 1956, broke into show business in the 1970s and has been working ever since. His first film in 1976 was Candleshoe standing-in for a girl called Sara Tamakuni. On location, stunt coordinator Bob Anderson, asked Kiran to do stunts for Sara.

On the same film while being at Pinewood Studios Kiran was spotted by a producer John Dark who asked him to audition for a film The People That Time Forgot for a small part. Since appearing in this film playing Bolum, Kiran has appeared in various films, television productions, commercials and videos.

Just a few of his notable credits include: Titanic, Interview with the Vampire, Braveheart, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Legend, The Indiana Jones Trilogy, Aliens I and II, Return of the Jedi, The Dark Crystal and Superman I and II.

Kiran also writes poetry, his work has been published in Britain and America. His poems are based on his thoughts and feelings about the places he has been and the experiences he has had. He has written film scripts and currently is working with his nephew Chaitan on a script. He hopes one day these scripts will be produced.

Kiran will be mainly answering questions about his work in Lord of the Rings -- as well as his other previous films. He may - non-disclosure agreements permitting - answer some questions about Narnia.

All are welcome to attend.

This will be a moderated question and answer session, and TheOneRiong.net is accepting questions in advance. So if you have a question, and you don't think you can make it on the day, feel free to e-mail it to: halloffire@theonering.net.

The details

What: Kiran Shah moderated Q&A
Date: Saturday June 18, 5.30pm EDT (US East Coast)
Place: #thehalloffire on the TORn IRC server
Submit a question: E-mail halloffire@theonering.net

Getting onto the TORn IRC server:

Chat happens on #thehalloffire on irc.theonering.net - the TORn IRC server. You can connect instantly via a java chat client that works inside your web browser (find it here! ) or choose to install a dedicated chat program such as mIRC on your computer.

To find out more about using mIRC to connect to TORn IRC server, check out these instructions.

Time and date conversion:
Saturday June 18

5.30pm EDT
4.30pm CDT
3.30pm MDT
2.30pm PDT

10.30pm UK
11.30pm Central Europe

7.30am (Sunday) Brisbane
7.30am (Sunday) Sydney
9.30am (Sunday) Wellington

News for Mar. 09, 2005

Narnia Set Report 3: Centaurs and Satyrs

3/09/05, 3:01 pm EST - Xoanon

[Set Report 1] [Set Report 2]

Tehanu writes:

It's unusual to find a crowd of people at the studio who aren't doing anything, but today I find such a crowd. They are standing and admiring. The reason for this is that Richard Taylor and his team from Weta are visiting, and there is a kind of show-and-tell in progress in one of the studio sheds. The Weta people - already famous for their work on The Lord of the Rings, and currently busy on King Kong - are also making some of the prosthetics for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Today they have brought up the rigs and costumes for some of the C. S. Lewis's most magical characters.

In one room I met Stephen Ure, who should be familiar to Rings fans - not that you'd recognise him out of orc costume. He played both Grishnakh and Gorbag, and he's certainly used to being encased in latex and hair suits. Just as well, because he's doing it again - this time as a satyr. Satyrs are the ugly cousins to the cute little goat footed fauns. In Narnia they're very hairy, with stubby-fingered hands and curling ram's horns. Stephen's satyr was armed with a short curved sword. Weta's latex mask gave him a very different face, with a blunt muzzle and a lipless mouth. I asked him if he had to act under all that and he said he did. He has a very mobile face and I remember him saying a while back that he had learned, with Peter Jackson, how to move his features enough to transmit his expressions through the thickness of a latex mask.

There was a good deal more excitement in the next room, and I had to push through a press of photographers and bystanders to see an astonishing sight: Four centaurs lined up with their armor and weapons.

The centaurs - three men and one woman - are standing with a kind of rig harnessed to their hips which provides the horse parts to their bodies. The back end of the horse is supported on a post that rides on a pair of small wheels. How the post attaches to the undercarriage of the horse is clever: I noticed that whenever the centaur actors shifted their weight from foot to foot, the body of the horse moved to counterbalance in a very natural way, just as a real horse would. I couldn't see the join - you can't see any of it. The centaurs are clothed in leather and chain mail armor, and the camera will only show them down to the tops of their legs. Just as well, because you could see their shoes and socks poking out from under their beautiful breastplates.

Being centaurs, they have two breastplates - one to cover the human chest, the other to protect the horse's chest. Weta's usual work is in evidence - the metal (or a realistic light plastic substitute) is beautifully decorated with lion emblems, sunburst patterns and slightly art deco papyrus motifs. The leather caparisons worn on the horse bodies are also tooled and worked with details. Many leather straps and belts bind the armor and war harness onto their bodies, and each is decorated with ornate golden buckles. Each centaur also wears a kind of short cloak fastened over the shoulders, in a coarsely woven cloth colored in rich ochre and reddish brown.

You can't see the join between the human and horse parts because of the armor and the cloak, but parts of the horsehide are visible, and they reveal another cunning piece of work. The hair is not real hair, but it does look realistic - most of all because the hair lies in the direction of the limbs, just as on a real animal, instead of pointing all the same way as it would with cheap fake fur. The centaurs seemed to have on their winter coats, which were rather rough.

Richard Taylor and his people were photographing the whole thing to record the details of how everything looked, and director Andrew Adamson stood by to give his opinion and suggestions. Richard looked like a proud parent as he watched the centaurs strut their stuff. "You get all the good jobs,"I commented. "This is the best job!" said Richard.

This was an opportunity for the actors to see how they were going to be able to move and act in the costumes. I asked them if they had to run in that rig, and they laughed and said "I hope not!" They walked outside without too much drama, and demonstrated how they could unsheathe their swords and whirl them around. One centaur had a long scabbard strapped to each flank, and two very long swords. He could draw them both and flash them about in a very dramatic way, but it was tricky to avoid hitting the horse body strapped behind him. The others carried long Norman-type shields with a lion emblem.

The horse wranglers were standing by holding two ponies with plaited tails. They were very pretty - fine-boned, glossy, and intelligent-looking. They would need to be intelligent, because they are "liberty trained," which means they can perform various tricks such as rearing up on a word of command, without a rider to direct them.

They were led alongside the centaurs, and all were measured exactly and the centaur rigs adjusted so that their backs would be level with the horses' backs. The CGI artists need this information because they're going to be merging the legs of the real horses in action with the centaur actors. It all seems incredibly tricky to pull off this kind of effect, and yet with the advances that happen in CGI effects every few months, nothing seems impossible any more. The centaurs are going to have nice legs, that seems certain at any rate.

Just a quick correction that I got from Daniel Falconer at Weta just after we posted this. "Weta did not make any masks or prosthetics for the film. That work is being done by LA based KNB Effects Group, lead by Howard Berger, a good friend of Weta. Weta provided some design work for creatures, some of which was used by KNB, but they also designed and redesigned a number of the creatures themselves. Weta only provided armour and weapons for the creatures to wear and use.We also made armour and weapons for the four children and some of the hero props."

In fact I met Howard in a later set visit, and I'll be talking about him and some of KNB's amazing work in my next set report - Tehanu.

Comments (0)

-Erica 'Tehanu' Challis is an Editor for TheOneRing.net and TheOneLion.net, she has written two books on Tolkien with other members of TheOneRing.net 'People's Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien' and 'MORE People's Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien'. She currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand

News for Feb. 20, 2005

Disney's Next Hero: A Lion King of Kings

2/20/05, 11:29 am EST - Xoanon

DAVID KEHR writes: As the residents of Narnia like to whisper, "Aslan is on the move." And so he is. But for the moment, Walt Disney Pictures has him on a very short leash.

Aslan, a talking lion with mystical powers, is the central figure in "The Chronicles of Narnia," the much-beloved seven-volume series of fantasy novels written by the British academic C. S. Lewis in the 1950's. By the year's end, if Disney marketers have their way, he will have joined Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio and Buzz Lightyear in a long line of characters that have periodically provided the Burbank giant with entertainment's most valuable asset, a new fantasy to trade on.

This next wave begins with the expected release on Dec. 9 of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which combines live action and computer-generated images in a movie adaptation of Lewis's epic. Sequels may follow. But films are only the spearhead of a corporate initiative that is likely to include a theme park presence, toys, clothing, video games and whatever other tchotchkes the infinitely resourceful Disney team can devise. Having been criticized for failing to cash in on the merchandising opportunities offered by 2003's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," Disney is preparing for the kind of all-encompassing drive it hasn't mounted since 1994, when it turned "The Lion King" into a pop cultural event that still reverberates in its retail stores and on Broadway.

Company representatives, however, have little to say publicly about the "Narnia" cycle, which is being produced in partnership with the financier Philip Anschutz's Walden Media. They cite a natural reticence about promoting work that is still in progress: the director Andrew Adamson, an animation specialist whose only previous films are the computer-generated comic fairy tales "Shrek" and "Shrek 2," is still behind his digital console.

But this time, the pros at Disney are wrestling with a special challenge: how to sell a screen hero who was conceived as a forthright symbol of Jesus Christ, a redeemer who is tortured and killed in place of a young human sinner and who returns in a glorious resurrection that transforms the snowy landscape of Narnia into a verdant paradise.

That spirituality sets Aslan apart from most of the Disney pantheon and presents the company with a significant dilemma: whether to acknowledge the Christian symbolism and risk alienating a large part of the potential audience, or to play it down and possibly offend the many Christians who count among the books' fan base.

Disney executives say their aim is to capture the largest possible audience by remaining true to Lewis's work. "We're lucky that there are millions of devoted fans, who probably cross four generations," said Dennis Rice, the studio's senior vice president of publicity. "We want to reach all of those devoted fans."

To do that, Mr. Rice said, the studio plans to reach out to middle schools, boys' clubs, girls' clubs, fantasy fans and, where appropriate, religious groups. Mr. Rice said the company's message would be: "We are trying to make this movie to be as faithful to the book as possible. And if you connect to the book, we think you will connect to the movie."

Peter Sealey, an adjunct professor of marketing at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former marketing executive for Coca-Cola and Columbia Pictures, nonetheless described the project's combination of religion and children's entertainment as "an absolute time bomb in these days of extreme sensitivity."

Mr. Sealey's advice to Disney: "Either don't do it, or come completely clean, like a 'Ten Commandments' or a 'Passion of the Christ.' It seems duplicitous just to repress the religious aspects, and certainly they will all come out in this age of the Internet and strident voices on both the left and the right."

By contrast, Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center of the University of Southern California and a 12-year veteran of the Disney Company, finds plenty of precedent for mingling spiritual ideas and popular entertainment.

"P. L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books, was actually a follower of the mystic G. I. Gurdjieff," Mr. Kaplan said. "Her books were imbued by mysticism, the idea that all is one and one is all. But the film became a family drama in which domestic issues, the role of the children and the prospect of the working world were the themes, rather than the great chain of being or the universality of humanity."

Of Lewis's work, Mr. Kaplan said: "There's enough story and traditional emotion in the 'Narnia' books that they can let the Christian mysticism in it either be a subtext or not a part of it at all. I suspect you can portray resurrection in the same way that E. T. comes back to life, and that practically every fairy tale has a hero or heroine who seems to be gone forever but nevertheless manages to come back."

Still, Disney is already putting out feelers to the religious audience. It has hired Motive Marketing, a California public relations firm that specializes in cultivating Christian audiences, to design and direct a faith-based marketing and publicity campaign. The company, founded by Paul Lauer, performed similar duties for Newmarket Films on "The Passion of the Christ" and for Warner Brothers on "The Polar Express." Motive Marketing recently held a reception for some 30 members of the faith-based press and educational organizations at Disney's Burbank headquarters, where they were addressed by Mr. Adamson and Oren Aviv, the president of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures Marketing unit. According to a report in the Feb. 12 issue of the Christian newsweekly World, Mr. Aviv assured the gathering that "our goal is to make sure that we make and market the movie so that it has the same significance that the book has had."

If Disney manages to create a "Star Wars"-like, generalized hero myth of Lewis's work without alienating its Christian fans, the potential rewards are huge. "The Chronicles of Narnia" represents one of the last children's classics unexplored by cinema (though two British television series and an animated film for American television have been based on the material since 1967), and the books contain enough sweep, action and imagination to compete with "The Lord of the Rings," which was written by Lewis's Oxford friend, J. R. R. Tolkien.

Disney hopes at once to add another large cast of child-friendly characters to its corporate stable, which already includes the British imports Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins, while capturing the older audience that took New Line Cinema's recent "Lord of the Rings" trilogy to a worldwide gross approaching $3 billion. As a franchise, the possibilities of "Narnia" seem almost unlimited. It's "Harry Potter" with intellectual respectability and deep cultural roots.

But how Disney plans to wrestle the Lewis books into line remains a closely held secret. There appear to be few screenplays floating through the underground of Hollywood assistants, where even the most highly protected projects can usually be found, and Disney declined to make any of the film's creative personnel available for interview. Photographs from the New Zealand set, where principal photography finished last month, haven't yet been distributed to the media.

Instead, Disney is practicing a shrewd public relations technique: the slow, carefully controlled release of information. Web sites that serve the desired fan base have been given rationed tidbits: representatives from sites devoted to fantasy films and gaming were invited to visit the New Zealand locations in October; four shots of conceptual art were leaked to darkhorizons.com at the end of November; and the ultimate fanboy site, aint-it-cool-news.com, became the beneficiary of a short film in which Richard Taylor, who's overseeing "Narnia's" special effects, shows off some of the creature models and costumes that have been developed.

From these fragmentary sources, it's possible to glean a few facts. Though the project is being directed by Mr. Adamson, a computer animation expert, for instance, the "Narnia" adventures will be filmed largely with human actors (including Tilda Swinton, a critics' favorite, as Lewis's temptress figure, the White Witch, and the professionally affable Jim Broadbent as the children's eccentric guardian). Some characters, like the faun Mr. Tumnus, will be played by human actors (James McAvoy, in Tumnus's case), equipped with computer-animated limbs. Aslan, who will speak in the trained theatrical voice of Brian Cox, will be a wholly computer-generated creation, as will Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (with the voices of Ray Winstone and Dawn French).

And judging from the concept art, Mr. Adamson will be creating a world far, far from the sunny storybook kingdom of the "Shrek" films. The London Blitz, which drives the four children of the Pevensie family to seek refuge in the country, will be portrayed in explosively realistic terms. A painting of a battle scene grimly suggests the violent combat of the "Lord of the Rings" series, with supernatural and human figures brought together in a teeming, epic landscape. And in his short film, the effects supervisor Mr. Taylor shows off a number of realistic, or perhaps just plain real, weapons, including a sword that figures prominently in the film's title treatment and looks as if it could do some serious damage. (Mr. Taylor is affiliated with Weta Workshop, the New Zealand special-effects house that also created the props and costumes for "The Lord of the Rings.")

Based on the available material, Disney seems to be going for a strict "sword and sorcery" look, as the genre is known to its fans: dark, muddy, full of clanking metal and grunting extras. Though the climactic battle scene occupies only a page and a half of Lewis's original text for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," it seems certain to figure much more strongly in the film. This looks like Disney's way of appeasing the teenage sword and sorcery fans, who have a large, well-organized presence on the Internet and whose early support of the project is crucial.

The next wave of leaks will probably offer glimpses of the film's more childlike, whimsical side, Disney's traditional strengths. Expect concept art of the fauns, the beavers and the other more cuddly creatures to start emerging in the next few months as a way of inviting younger children and their parents into the film. Disney will almost certainly have to increase the cute quotient of these creations, who are barely characterized in Lewis's narration. This is where Disney's pre-eminent stable of animators will go to work, forging fuzzy creatures that will project vivid, embraceable characters in the film, and lend themselves to easy modeling for the toy manufacturers.

But will that merchandise be palatable if it comes with religious connotations? As a publicly held company that must appeal to the widest possible market, Disney does not want to take a side in the culture wars, as it demonstrated when it declined to distribute Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." Indeed, Disney's privileged position in American culture is due in large part to the apolitical image of innocence and cheerful na´vetÚ that the company has cultivated since Uncle Walt was in charge. To seem to endorse one religious or political opinion over another, as Mr. Sealey of Berkeley said, would be to risk returning the Disney brand to the routine contentiousness of the everyday adult world.

HarperCollins, the American publisher of the "Narnia" books, stepped into just such a controversy in 2001 when a memorandum from an executive with the its HarperSanFrancisco imprint surfaced with the assertion that "we'll need to be able to give emphatic assurances that no attempt will be made to correlate the stories to Christian imagery/theology." As reported by Doreen Carvajal in The New York Times on June 3, 2001, the memorandum was part of HarperCollins's successful effort to squelch a documentary and teaching aid about Lewis being developed for the publisher's Christian division, Zondervan Publishing House. A HarperCollins spokeswoman, Lisa Herling, responded then, "The goal of HarperCollins is to publish the work of C. S. Lewis to the broadest possible audience and leave any interpretation of the works to the reader."

Indeed, in HarperCollins's recently published adult edition of the novels, with all seven united in a single volume of biblical (or at least "Harry Potter") proportions, there are no references to Lewis's deep and celebrated religious beliefs. The only supplementary material is a brief essay by Lewis on the art of writing for children.

But at the same time, "Mere Christianity," a compilation of Lewis's wartime radio talks on his Christian faith, remains a successful title for HarperSanFrancisco, catching up with the "Narnia" books on Amazon.com. And there are a number of Christian-oriented guides to the "Narnia" series in print, including "A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis' 'The Chronicles of Narnia' " by Christin Ditchfield, a syndicated Christian radio host.

If Disney is tempted to tap the growing power of the Christian market, it will almost certainly receive a warm welcome. "The 'Narnia' books are very well loved in evangelical households," said Mark Moring, the managing editor of christianitytodaymovies.com, an online film guide offshoot of the evangelical magazine Christianity Today. "Just about everyone I know at work and at church read these books as children, and now they're reading them to their children. They are definitely on the A-list."

Mr. Moring finds the prospect of a "Narnia" stripped of its Christian dimension "a dumb thing to do. It would be self-defeating."

But the company will probably proceed gingerly. Look for, at most, study guides to be prepared for Sunday school classes, local discussion groups to be organized and blocks of tickets to be offered to churches at a discount (a technique that figured heavily in the box-office triumph of "The Passion of the Christ"). Those who want to see Aslan as a Jesus figure or the White Witch as his satanic opponent will find little to encourage or discourage their interpretation, even though that interpretation was its author's own.

"They're seeing it from 10,000 feet, from which the religious themes are no longer specific to Christianity, but part of the great Joseph Campbell tradition of universal myth," Mr. Kaplan, of the Lear Center, said of "Narnia's" new caretakers. "When you get to that level, it's broadly acceptable to the public."

News for Feb. 19, 2005

'Past Watchful Dragons' Update

2/19/05, 10:39 am EST - Xoanon

Amy H. Sturgis, Conference Director for 'Past Watchful Dragons' writes: Just a quick update re: the "'Past Watchful Dragons': Fantasy and Faith in the World of C.S. Lewis" conference on November 3-5, 2005, at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Just added to the list of events is the Nashville Symphony's performance of Howard Shore's The Lord of the Rings Symphony, a musical journey into the realm of Middle-Earth that calls to the stage more than 200 musicians and vocalists, including the Nashville Symphony Chorus, and a multimedia tribute to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. This performance will take place at Belmont's Curb Event Center on Saturday night at the conclusion of the conference.

Other key events, beyond each day's scholarly panels and presentations, include Thursday night's dinner with and keynote address by Doug Gresham (stepson of C.S. Lewis and consultant to the forthcoming The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe film), Friday night's performance of "An Evening with C.S. Lewis" by British actor and President of Rising Image Productions David Payne, and Saturday afternoon's The Inconsolable Secret concert by literary progressive rock band Glass Hammer. For more on these events, visit belmont.edu.

More details, including conference registration information, will be available very shortly. Paper abstract submissions are currently being solicited at the website and accepted through May 1, 2005.

News for Jan. 22, 2005

Narnia Set Report 2: Gloomy Halls and Golden Pillars

1/22/05, 9:25 am EST - weetanya

By Tehanu

On my next visit, things are a lot quieter in the Henderson film lot, and I have the chance to watch people preparing some of the other sets. The first thing I see is the great hall in the Witch's House. Again, it's built inside one of the big packing sheds that are used as soundstages, but once inside you forget that. The set builders have made a grim, grey, imposing space. The architecture is not exactly spiky, but the details on the walls are full of angles, like Art Deco only more threatening. Ranks of icebound pillars march down either side of the hall, and stalactites hang from above. It is truly a winter palace.

It's a place designed to put the White Witch's subjects in their place. The main floor is a sunken court surrounded by steps on all sides - no doubt the Queen's guards and bullies can look down from there onto anyone standing before her throne.

The throne itself is an angular heavy thing, once again looking like Art Deco furniture gone subtly wrong, and it sits on a platform well above the floor of the hall. A huge white fur rug is thrown carelessly across it. When somebody is sitting in that throne, there is no question of who is the boss in this place. The rest of the hall is utterly without comfort. It is empty.

There should be frozen statues of Narnians who have displeased the Witch scattered around the hall, but perhaps they are needed elsewhere. In other parts of New Zealand, film crews are preparing to shoot the great battle scene that occurs later in the book. Many of the Narnian statues will be needed at Flock Hill Station in the South Island, where they will play the roles of unfortunate Narnians caught by the Witch's sorcery.

My next stop on this set tour takes me to a place where plaster pillars are being cast and decorated for another set. Nothing could be more different from the pillars of the Witch's hall. These ones are rounded and beautifully proportioned, and they are painted to look like marble of a soft and delicate green colour. I look around for more details for the set, (things are lying around in various states of construction) and see designs that use Celtic motifs, such as you might see in an illuminated manuscript. There are lots of curves and spirals that seem ready to spring to life. In some cultures, (like the New Zealand Maori, for instance) spirals are a symbol of life and growth. Such things will go into the set for Cair Paravel, and their colours and forms seem full of a Spring-like energy. They should form a perfect opposition to the cold and deadly architecture of the Witch's house.

Three people are at work gilding the bases of the pillars. You would think that this would simply be a case of painting them gold, but that isn't how they do it. They are applying gold leaf. Each piece of gold leaf is only a few inches square and must be peeled carefully off a thin backing sheet, pressed onto the plaster surface and rubbed gently until it sticks without wrinkling. It looks like unbelievably slow and painstaking work. I ask if the leaf was real gold, and one of the crew replies jokingly that they have to find some way to spend up their budget.

On my last visit, I'd heard that the other children were fleeing across the melting ice with the Beavers on their way to rescue Edmund from this dungeon. More than one worried correspondent had written to ask whether this meant that Aslan's role would be downplayed. What if Aslan doesn't rescue Edmund? I'm able to ask film's publicist, Ernie Malik, about this apparent plot change. He stresses that the film follows C S Lewis's works very closely and keeps its themes intact. The official word on that is, Lamp Post Productions confirms that Edmund's rescue is very faithful to Lewis' book.

There's a point beyond which it doesn't pay to press my informant too hard, so I leave it at that. It's the same problem we faced reporting on The Lord of the Rings: if there was a way to find out exactly how the movie would be made, how could the movie surprise us when we finally went to see it? It would become, as somebody once said, ?just a visual Xerox of the story we already know.

Edmund may be imprisoned, and the children may intend to rescue him, but apparently they do not carry out their plan. The Beavers are there, after all, to warn them not to attempt it. There is time for Edmund to be taken away on the dreadful sleigh journey by the Witch first, and her plans for him can be thwarted by Aslan as in the book. Certainly the Stone Table exists for Aslan's pivotal scene, and film crews have been working around it for over two weeks.

What is interesting is that nobody's denied that at some point Tumnus is imprisoned with Edmund, instead of spending most of the story as a frozen statue in the Witch's courtyard. I think this may add up to some additional scenes that don't detract from the book. After all, if the film has a fine actor like James McAvoy playing Tumnus, it's a shame to have him appear only in one scene near the beginning, when he invites Lucy to tea, and then let him disappear from the film until near the end. It would make sense to give us more time with the character of Tumnus. He is a typical Narnian, and the audience has to get a chance to care about Narnians and their fate. If Edmund spends time imprisoned with Tumnus, we may see him realise that he has been misled by the Witch. He must see that the nature of Narnian creatures is very different to what she made him believe. Perhaps in that dungeon he will finally realise what he has done by betraying them. That could be a very emotional moment. It would lead naturally to his moment of pity later on when he sees the Witch turn other innocent creatures into stone. One of the themes of the book is Edmund's learning to feel sorry for others besides himself, and the movie won't suffer from spending time on that. Well, the next thing on my visit was a little unexpected: Centaurs! But that will have to wait until next time.

News for Jan. 19, 2005

More Narnia Production-art online!

1/19/05, 5:26 pm EST - leo

Three more pieces of production-art for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe have found their way online. This time JoBlo.com have the scoop. Take a look at Mr. Tumnus approaching Lucy under the lantarn, a scene from the Last Battle and the Pevensie-children meeting Aslan for the first time! [JoBlo.com] [Narniafilms.nl]

News for Dec. 09, 2004

Brian Cox To Voice Aslan!?

12/09/04, 2:15 pm EST - Xoanon

From AICN: Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a bit of news on the old NARNIA front. I'm sure many of you have seen that beautiful WARDROBE standee at your local cineplex and if you're a fan of Lewis' NARNIA series then the juices must be flowing.

According to the official newsleter I received not more 15 minutes ago, they have announced the voice of Aslan. No, it's not James Earl Jones (he's already done the kingly lion thing before, dontcha know?), no it's not Sean Connery (thank god)... Here's a hint: "I swear to God I'm gonna pistol whip the next guy that says 'Shenanigans.'" Or "Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black." OK, one more. "You were an animal then and you're an animal now. I just gave you claws."

That's right, dude! It's noneother than Brian Cox, the original Hannibal Lector, Cpt. O'Hagan himself.

I love this choice, but then again I love Brian Cox. I have no idea how he'll approach the Jesus-Lion, but I have a lot of faith in him as an actor. All the early art from this flick looks gorgeous. I hope they pull it off!!!

PS The release date for THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE has been confirmed as Dec. 9th 2005!!!

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