Treading carefully

"Treading carefully" Continued...

Issue: "Daniel of the Year," Dec. 18, 2010

While no one involved with the production will directly state that Caspian underplayed Lewis' theological subtext, Flaherty says that during the making of Dawn Treader, Walden had as many Lewis experts as possible on hand to advise them on the points they "absolutely could not miss." And he maintains that even with changes to the plot, Walden strove to maintain Lewis' worldview. "We added things with the conviction that they were amplifying Lewis' themes and not taking away from them." Specifically, he says they "really wanted to play up that theme of the Christian walk, the spiritual journey, all the things that continue to hold us back from being the person that we were created to be."

Douglas Gresham, Lewis' stepson and an executive producer on all three films, describes himself as the "Narnia purist and card-carrying Christian" on the production team. "Which basically means I'm the resident nuisance," he jokes. "So if you move a comma from one point on the page to another, I'm the one that jumps up and down and screams." When a choice between deferring to the other filmmakers and digging in his heels over a story change arose, Gresham says he prayed for wisdom and let the deciding factor be whether the alteration affected the film thematically.

"I can't really speak to the plot additions because I don't always understand them myself," says Gresham. "And I sometimes have to accept, not without a fight I hasten to add, what they say we have to do. I stick to making sure that we get the theological messages that Jack [C.S. Lewis] himself was trying to portray in the books. And I think we've done that."

I mention, as an example of his point, the particularly significant line in the book where Aslan tells Lucy that he is also in her own world, but by a different name. Gresham laughs and admits, "That was one of the fights that I won. That scene was done the way I wanted it to be done almost completely."

Though almost all of the focus on Dawn Treader centers on whether it will achieve enough to allow the franchise to go forward (Gresham bluntly says, "I'd love to do Silver Chair next, but it depends entirely upon how much the public supports this movie"), Flaherty points out that there may be more at stake than merely the future of The Chronicles. "If the Narnia films do well, it sends a message to the other studios that they should also be making films like this," he says. "One of Walden's counterintuitive goals is that we invite imitators. The more studios making family-friendly films, the more studios making films based on good books, the more successful we feel like we've been."
For a review of the film, see "Fantastical."

Megan Basham
Megan Basham

Megan, a regular correspondent for WORLD News Group, is a writer and film critic living in Charlotte, N.C. She is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide to Having It All.


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