C.S. Lewis’ novel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is considered to be a fan favorite, so when Disney dropped the “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise and it looked like there wouldn’t be a third installment of the series, eager followers of the books and movies were highly disappointed – that is until Fox Walden picked up the film and renewed the excitement for Narnia.
The story follows two of the main characters from the first two films and books, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes). The siblings meet up with their old friend King Caspian (Ben Barnes) to help find the seven lost lords of Narnia. Their cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) unenthusiastically tags along on the adventure as they go on a magical journey through several islands, fulfilling the oath Caspian took to find the lords who were connected to his father.
The film was shot on location in Australia and ComingSoon.net was the only domestic outlet invited to the set. Not only did we talk to the director Michael Apted, but we were able to speak with the entire cast as well and watch them shoot a couple of scenes.
A lot of the movie was shot on soundstages on the Gold Coast, which is about 45 minutes from Brisbane and 20 minutes from Surfer’s Paradise. The day after we arrived, we hung out at the studio which was nestled between the Warner Brothers’ Movie World and a Wet n’ Wild water park. It was interesting, because all day you could hear people screaming from the roller coasters next door as you walked around the different stages.
We didn’t talk to the cast our first day on set, but we did watch Georgie Henley shoot a scene in the Magician’s Library. She goes into the library to read from the book of spells. She comes across several spells, one of which she starts to read and it starts snowing in the room. The scene was just with her and there was no dialogue, but it was exciting to see because it was going to go in the trailer and it was fun to watch Henley’s reaction when she first saw the set.
When it was time for Henley to start shooting, she was brought in with her eyes close. The shot was set up with her stand-in and was ready when Henley was taken into the room. Apted wanted her original reaction once the cameras started rolling and he definitely got it. When she opened her eyes and saw the beautiful set and the snow, her face lit up and she screamed. This was also done with the young actress in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” when she first enters Narnia.
In the novel, Lucy reads a spell about being beautiful and another about hearing what other people say about her (in chapter 10), but to add to the magical element of the story in the film, snow was added after she reads the spells. Apted wanted to highlight the magic of Narnia and thought it was a good place in the movie to do so.
The part of the scene we were there for was a cut to Lucy just after she reads the spell. She looks up from the book and realizes that it is snowing. The scene is actually a significant part of the movie because the Magician tells them what is going on in Narnia and what they must do to defeat it. It is also explained why they must find the seven lords of Telmar who were exiled by Caspian’s uncle, around the time that “Prince Caspian” takes place.
A few days later we visited the set of the Dawn Treader which was located at Cleveland Point. The ship was speculator. It was fenced in so that the general public didn’t have access, but people were allowed to stand outside the gate and take pictures or watch whatever was happening on set.
The Dawn Treader took 22 weeks to build on a stage. It was then taken apart and transported over to Cleveland Point (situated on Moreton Bay), where it was reassembled on a gimbal. The gimbal was constructed out of 40 tons of steel and was built on a turntable, so that the filmmakers could change the direction of the boat to follow the sun. The gimbal pitched forward, back and side to side.
The boat was 120 feet long and from the ground to the top of the head and tail was approximately 70 feet high. It was about 30 feet wide and weighed nearly 80 tons. The mast and sail were only built to represent the lower portion of both and will be added in as CGI elements in post production.
We were lucky enough to go on the boat and it was quite an experience. A ladder was placed near the ship and then we walked across a metal bridge one by one until we were on board. The attention to detail was incredible and we got to stand behind Apted for about an hour while he shot a scene with Ben Barnes.
“I tried to keep the sequence of when the children arrive on the boat where they are rescued from the sea. I’ve already shot half of it and I shot it in the sun. It was sunny this morning so we had it all set up to continue but then it got cloudy so we had to think fast and find another scene to start which I could shoot in the clouds,” Apted told ComignSoon.net. Instead he shot the crew asking Caspian and Drinian (the Captain), to turn the boat around and head back to Narnia.
After spending the afternoon with Apted on the Dawn Treader, we had the opportunity to chat with the cast. You can read our interview with Apted below and we’ll be posting the cast interviews soon, so stay tuned.
ComingSoon.net: When you first met Skandar and Georgie what impressed you about them?
CS: Since they’re both minors, is their schedule challenging at times?
CS: I understand the first two films had much more shooting time so how difficult has that been for you?
CS: This is your first time working with CG characters. How’s it going?
CS: Andrew Adamson acted out the CG characters for the cast. What’s your approach?
CS: What are some of the challenges of filming a movie that mostly takes place on water?
CS: The Dawn Treader is one of the most speculator sets I’ve ever seen. Can you talk about your vision and how you wanted it to look?
CS: How close to the book are you staying?
CS: What is it about the Narnia franchise that you love?
CS: Were you looking for another franchise to be a part of?
CS: “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is considered to be one of the fans’ favorite books, so does that add pressure to you as a director?
CS: Do you hope to change the look of the movie from the first two in anyway or keep it consistent?
CS: As far as the various islands go, what’s your influence or reference for the visuals?
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader hits 3D and 2D theaters on December 10.