Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

The Story
‘ And then she [Lucy] saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away from where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air. ’

Bringing to life the classic children’s novel by CS Lewis, this spectacular New Zealand-based film tells the story of the Pevensie children and their adventures in the magical land of Narnia. When London is bombarded during the German air raids of World War II, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are sent away to the countryside mansion of an eccentric professor. Here, Lucy discovers an enchanted wardrobe which leads to Narnia, a world peopled by mythical creatures and talking animals, and ruled by the benevolent lion Aslan. But the evil White Witch keeps Narnia trapped in eternal winter, and the children must join Aslan and his loyal followers in a dangerous fight to free Narnia from the grip of her icy spell.

The Cast
Kiwi director Andrew Adamson cast four relatively unknown actors for the lead roles. After a two-year search, Georgie Henley was cast as Lucy, William Moseley as Peter, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, and Anna Popplewell as Susan. Keen eyes will be able to spot local actress Elizabeth Hawthorne as Mrs Macready, the mansion’s caretaker. There are also some very famous and familiar voices rounding out the cast, including Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan the Lion, comedienne Dawn French as the voice of Mrs Beaver, and Rupert Everett as the voice of Fox. Seasoned British actress Tilda Swinton plays the evil White Witch Jadis.

Visual Effects
A year-long post-production schedule was required to bring to life the film’s dazzling array of computer-generated effects, including a gallery of wondrous creatures such as fauns, minotaurs, centaurs and cyclops, as well as Narnia’s noble lion ruler, Aslan.

The film’s creative team included Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-winning visualist Richard Taylor, who heads up the effects wizards at Weta Workshop. Taylor’s Wellington-based team designed the film’s armour and weaponry, along with the early creature concepts. The film’s visual effects supervisor, Dean Wright, is also a veteran of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

New Zealand Location
Director Andrew Adamson, who was born in Auckland, established his main studio base in West Auckland, at the old Hobsonville Air Base. It was here that most of the film’s spectacular sets, including the White Witch’s great ice hall and ice dungeon, were built. Residents of the Auckland suburb of Hillsborough may also recognise the grounds of Monte Cecilia House, which doubled as the grounds of the mansion where the children take up residence.

Canterbury - South Island
Flock Hill Station, near the magnificent Arthur’s Pass in the Canterbury District, was the setting for the climactic final battle between Aslan’s forces and the powerful army of the White Witch, led by the fierce minotaur General Otman. The battle is said to be one of the most spectacular Hollywood has seen yet, with the snowcapped Southern Alps serving as a backdrop as the two sides ride into war. Arthur’s Pass National Park is known for its wild mountain scenery, which includes glaciers and dramatic waterfalls. The Scenic Tranzalpine Express travels over Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch to Greymouth, and the trip is an ideal way to view the park’s rugged alpine scenery.

Coastal Otago - South Island
Scenes featuring Aslan’s camp and training ground were shot north of Dunedin near the coastal township of Oamaru. The town is known for its historic limestone buildings and blue penguin colony.

Did You Know?
  • The entire seven-part Chronicles of Narnia book series has been optioned for film development
  • Since its publication between 1950 and 1956, CS Lewis’s Narnia series has sold over 85,000,000 books in 29 different languages, making it the world’s second biggest book series after JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.
  • Christian author CS Lewis created the character Aslan as an allegory to Christ. ‘Aslan’ means lion in Turkish.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer was offered the role of the White Witch, but turned it down due to family obligations.
  • There were 1350 weapons created for the film’s major action scenes.
  • There were 23 individual species of creature designed to people the land of Narnia.
  • Ten North American wolves were temporarily allowed into New Zealand to serve as the White Witch’s minions. The specially trained wolves were shipped home as soon as their scenes were filmed.
  • The set of the White Witch’s Courtyard took eight weeks to build. The six dozen frozen Narnian creatures were hand-carved from styrofoam moulds by a team of 10 New Zealand artists.
  • New Zealand director Andrew Adamson was born in Auckland in 1966. His previous film credits include Shrek and Shrek 2 , and he also supervised visual effects on Batman and Robin , and Batman Forever .

Narnia in New Zealand - A Guide to Prince Caspian

New Zealand's magnificent scenery has served as a backdrop to a series of best-selling international films over the past years, from wind-swept Oreti Beach in The World's Fastest Indian through to the 'Misty Mountains' of  Peter Jackson’s award-winning Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

In 2005, the screenplay of the first book in the CS Lewis' epic fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia made headlines around the world. Filmed amid the snow-capped grandeur of Flock Hill Station, near Arthur's Pass, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe earned over $745 million dollars and became one of the most successful movies ever.

Next year, fans can look forward to the second installment of the seven-book series, Prince Caspian. Kiwi director Andrew Adamson (of Shrek fame) will be returning home to helm the film, parts of which are currently being shot around the North Island and South Island.

The Story of Prince Caspian
Prince Caspian continues the adventures of the four Pevensie children, Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) in the magical realm of Narnia. One year after the incredible events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the children find themselves back in Narnia only to discover that many centuries have passed and their old castle, Cair Paravel, lies in ruins. The Golden Age of Narnia has become extinct and the talking animals and mythical creatures have disappeared, replaced by a new race of humans, The Telmarines, ruled by the ruthless King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto). The noble lion Aslan has not been seen in a thousand years. The exiled heir to the Telmarine throne, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), enlists the help of the children to end his uncle Miraz's evil reign, and together they embark on a remarkable journey to find Aslan and restore magic and glory to Narnia.

Narnia's New Zealand Locations
  • Coromandel Peninsula, North Island
    Los Angeles film company Wimbleweather shot the opening scenes of Prince Caspian in the seaside township of Hahei, 56km north of Whangamata. The set for the ruins of the castle Cair Paravel was built on the nearby Hereherataura Peninsula, overlooking Cathedral Cove. This scenic crescent of white sand is famous for its dramatic natural rock arch. You can reach the cove via the Hahei Coastal Walkway, a hilly walk (45min) that starts off Hahei Beach Road and leads along bush-lined ridges, affording sweeping seaviews along the way. 
  • West Coast, South Island
    The film crew is currently shooting on the South Island's rugged west coast. making Prince Caspian the first major film to be shot in the Westland region. The region is known for its craggy coastline and lush native rainforest. Some 200 cast and crew from the Narnia movie have set up base camp in an old quarry near Lake Moeraki, in South Westland.

Special FX
The characters of Prince Caspian will come to dazzling life using a combination of live-action and CGI animation created by movie magicians at London's Moving Picture Company, Framestore/CFC and New Zealand's Weta Digital, based in Wellington. Academy Award-winning visualist Richard Taylor, who worked with Jackson on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, and the team at Weta Workshop will design the armour and weaponry for Narnia's new inhabitants, the Telmarines. Make-up artists will also apply hundreds of special makeup prosthetics to bring to life the story's fantasy characters.

Did You Know?

  • Since its publication between 1950 and 1956, CS Lewis's Narnia series has sold over 85,000,000 books in 29 different languages, making it the world's second biggest book series after JK Rowling's Harry Potter. 
  • New Zealand director Andrew Adamson was born in Auckland in 1966. His previous film credits include Shrek and Shrek 2, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
  • Prince Caspian is the second book published in the Narnia Chronicles although chronologically, it comes later in the series. This is because Adamson chose to follow the original order in which the books were published, not the chronological order into which they were later rearranged.
  • British star Ben Barnes (aged 25) plays Prince Caspian in the second Narnia film. His upcoming feature films include the fantasy adventure Stardust (2007), and the independent film Bigger Than Ben (2007), in which he plays a Russian character described as 'low-life Moscow scum'.
  • Italian actor Sergio Castellitto, who plays the evil king Miraz, lent his voice to the French version of the animated adventure, Arthur and The Invisibles.
  • Christian author CS Lewis created the character Aslan as an allegory to Christ. 'Aslan' means lion in Turkish.

Useful websites
  • Jasons Guides  - Free New Zealand maps, RoutePlanners and accommodation directories.
  • – A site for Narnia fans with movie news, fan reviews and blogs.
  • – The latest Narnia news on Prince Caspian including an interview with director, Andrew Adamson, trailers, press releases and an image gallery.

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