The Chronicles of Narnia the Voyage of The Dawn TreaderCast: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes
Director: Michael Apted
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Family
Running Time: 115 minutes
Synopsis: Return to the hope and wonder of C.S. Lewis' beloved world - via the fantastic Narnian ship, The Dawn Treader, in 3D, in The Chronicles of Narnia the Voyage of The Dawn Treader. In this holiday motion picture event, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their cousin Eustace, are swallowed into a painting and transported back to Narnia and the magnificent ship The Dawn Treader. They join King Caspian and a warrior mouse named Reepicheep for a mission which holds the fate of Narnia itself. The courageous voyagers overcome their own greatest temptations, as they travel to mysterious islands; have fateful confrontations with magical creatures and sinister enemies; and reunite with their friend and protector, the "Great Lion" Aslan.
Release Date: 2nd December, 2010
Return to the hope and wonder of C.S. Lewis' beloved world - via the fantastic Narnian ship, The Dawn Treader, in 3D, in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In this holiday motion picture event, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their cousin Eustace, are swallowed into a painting and transported back to Narnia and the magnificent ship The Dawn Treader. They join King Caspian and a warrior mouse named Reepicheep for a mission which holds the fate of Narnia itself. The courageous voyagers overcome their own greatest temptations, as they travel to mysterious islands; have fateful confrontations with magical creatures and sinister enemies; and reunite with their friend and protector, the "Great Lion" Aslan.
The new film is based on the third of C.S. Lewis' seven-book "The Chronicles of Narnia" series. Published between 1950 and 1956 and long regarded as one of literature's most enduring and imaginative works, C.S. Lewis' books have sold over 100,000,000 copies in over 50 different languages. The movie based on C.S. Lewis' first "Narnia" book, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," became one of 2005's biggest earners. In 2008 came the second film, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," one of that year's biggest hits.
Now, for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Fox 2000 Pictures and Walden Media have joined forces to bring the film series back to its illustrious roots - with everything that delighted the books' and films' legions of fans. Distinguished filmmaker Michael Apted, whose many credits include the James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough," as well as the award-winning hits "Gorillas in the Mist" and "Coal Miner's Daughter," is at the helm of the new film. Returning cast members from the first two films are Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie and Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie, and Tilda Swinton makes a memorable re-appearance as The White Witch. From the second film, Ben Barnes reprises the role of Caspian. London-based teenager Will Poulter portrays Lucy and Edmund's annoying cousin Eustace. British comic actor Simon Pegg is the voice of Reepicheep, the valiant, swashbuckling mouse, and Liam Neeson returns as the voice of the all-powerful ruler of Narnia, Aslan the Lion.
While relinquishing the director's chair this time out, filmmaker Andrew Adamson ("Shrek," "Shrek 2") returns as one of the film's three producers, reteaming with his colleagues from the first two "Narnia" epics --Academy Award winner Mark Johnson ("Rain Man") and industry veteran Philip Steuer ("The Rookie," "The Alamo"). Also back for their third Narnian adventure are executive producers Perry Moore and C.S. Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham. The screenplay was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely ("The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian") and Michael Petroni.
The story's human cast is once again complemented by a gallery of original creatures brought to life through the combined efforts of live-action work and CGI animation, the latter guided by visual effects supervisor Angus Bickerton ("The Da Vinci Code," "Angels and Demons"). Oscar® winners Howard Berger and Tami Lane, also back for their third "Narnia" film, oversee the prosthetic makeup effects for many of the new characters, including otherworldly creatures called Dufflepuds.
Principal photography on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader began on location in Queensland, Australia, on July 27, 2009, where the entire 90-day production was mounted. Studio work encompassed several sound stages at the Warner Roadshow facility in Gold Coast (the country's sixth largest city), which houses the Southern Hemisphere's largest exterior water tank - a crucial element of the production.
In addition to the studio work, key locations included a seaside peninsula northeast of the studio called Cleveland Point, where the film's title character, the majestic Dawn Treader, was erected for over three weeks of outdoor filming. The 140-foot, 125-ton design was then disassembled in over fifty sections and trucked back to the studio for several weeks of interior stage work. Principal photography wrapped in November 2009, with a yearlong post-production schedule leading to the film's global release on December 10, 2010.
Published in 1952, "The Voyage of The Dawn Treader," a grand, episodic adventure, is the third of C.S. Lewis' seven-book "The Chronicles of Narnia" series. The story's events take place about three Narnian years after the preceding novel, "Prince Caspian." While the two elder Pevensie siblings are away -- Peter studying for university entrance exams; Susan on holiday in the U.S. -- the two youngest, Lucy and Edmund, are reluctantly visiting a relative at his home near Cambridge in wartime England, circa 1943. Lucy and Edmund's greatest challenge there is dealing with their annoying cousin Eustace Clarence Scrubb - until the three young people come across a painting of The Dawn Treader, a majestic sailing vessel whose look was inspired by dragons. (The prow depicts a dragon's head; the stern its tail; and the wings adorn the starboard and port sides.)
The canvas suddenly and inexplicably comes to life, flooding the room and submerging the teens before transporting them to Narnia's Eastern Sea, where they are rescued by King Caspian and his crew aboard The Dawn Treader, the very same single-masted ship depicted in the artwork. Edmund and Lucy are thrilled to be back in the land they once ruled as a High King and Queen; the perpetually-whining Eustace, a newcomer to this world, is much less enthusiastic. The trio soon learns the reason for Caspian's voyage east: He is fulfilling an oath to find the seven lost Lords of Telmar, the best friends of his murdered father. Their journey takes them to five islands, each of which brings the ship's crew unexpected peril and adventure, and each has its own hidden, seductive secret. Caspian and his men discover the existence of an evil green mist that has powers to kidnap not just people's bodies, but their minds as well.
A wise old magician, Coriakin, explains to Caspian and the Pevensies, that to break this deadly spell they must find the seven Lords and retrieve each of the swords gifted to them by Aslan to protect Narnia. Once collected and laid upon Aslan's banquet table, the swords will empower them to defeat the mist and the Witch. Without this union of the seven swords, they and Narnia will be destroyed.
The voyagers' task is daunting, as they must brave violent seas and a monstrous sea serpent, among other dangers. As they embark on this life-changing journey, their courage and beliefs are tempted and tested in a voyage of destiny and transformation that takes them to the far edges of the world.
While C.S. Lewis' first book set in Narnia, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," may be the series' most famous and popular, many devotees of C.S. Lewis' classic stories point to "The Voyage of The Dawn Treader" as the best of all seven "Narnia" novels. "It is certainly one of the most beloved books in the series," says producer Andrew Adamson. "'The Voyage of The Dawn Treader' returns to the wonder, magic, awe and adventure of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.'"
In adapting his third "Narnia" book to the screen (with longtime writing partner Christopher Markus, and Michael Petroni), screenwriter Stephen McFeely notes that "the most challenging aspect of writing the screenplay was keeping the highly individual flavor of each island adventure, without letting the film get too episodic. This film should feel of a piece with the two preceding films, as a unified Narnian epic, while at the same time introducing lands, species and issues that we hadn't encountered in previous stories."
Michael Apted, the franchise's new skipper, was drawn to the project because, he says, "The film is about two simultaneous journeys. One is an adventure through unchartered and dangerous seas, and the other into their own selves as they grow into adulthood. Just as they overcome the forces of evil they meet on the journey so they learn to deal with temptations and, in doing so, find their true character. That's what they learn in Narnia, so at the end of our story they are ready to leave and get on with their lives. That's the universal theme that Lewis presents to us in his book."
While remaining true to the book's spirit, emotions and characters, the filmmakers made some necessary adjustments to bring C.S. Lewis' story to the screen. Michael Apted explains: "In the book, the narrative thread revolves around Caspian's search for seven Lords, but in the film, the quest is for seven swords. The threat of the Green Mist, as depicted in our film, isn't really touched on in the book 'The Voyage of The Dawn Treader' - though it does appear in a subsequent book."
"In the film, the quest for the seven swords is there to reinforce the purpose of Caspian's journey to the edge of the world," executive producer Douglas Gresham elaborates. Gresham, who is C.S. Lewis' stepson, has made it a lifelong mission to bring C.S. Lewis' books to the screen. "The film's sword motif is an addition to the book's storyline about the seven Lords of Telmar and has been added to help drive the story forward to keep the audiences enthralled."
The filmmakers were also careful to maintain the book's thematic integrity. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a story largely about temptation," Douglas Gresham relates. "Along the journey, Caspian, Eustace, Lucy and Edmund and the entire crew of The Dawn Treader face many challenges and adventures, and cope with the accompanying temptations. Each character meets his or her deepest temptations, which we have seen glimpses of in the previous movies."
"Fear and temptation are the principal issues the characters face, and those themes point to the 'Narnia' books' weight and substance," adds Michael Apted. "The film reminds us that you have to know yourself to deal with temptation and fear. That, too, is part of becoming an adult."
"The first thing you do when you decide to adapt a book into a movie is ask what it's about," offers producer Mark Johnson. "What are the themes? What is the author trying to tell us, and how do we imbue the movie with those same themes? 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' was very much about faith. 'Prince Caspian' was about losing and regaining that faith. This new film is about overcoming temptation. We made sure that theme was an important element of our movie, in the guise of telling a great and magical story."
The Actors and their Voyage
Georgie Henley was the first actor cast after the filmmakers began their search in 2003 for the Pevensie siblings in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." When Georgie Henley was spotted by a London-based casting director, the youngster was all of seven years old, and had no professional acting experience. Now, eight years later - Georgie Henley has spent almost half her life in the folds of Narnia -- she has blossomed into a beautiful teenager. Moreover, Georgie Henley's personal journey through the three movies mirrors what her character Lucy experiences, especially in the new film. Of course, Lucy's adventures take place in the wondrous world of Narnia; Georgie Henly's are in a different land of fantasy -- Hollywood.
"I was a bit nervous coming back to Narnia for the third time," Georgie Henley admits. Perhaps her anxiety stemmed from the realisation that she was the only major female character in the story, because Lucy's older sister Susan's journey through Narnia ended in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." Additionally, Lucy has changed a lot since her previous visit to Narnia. "She's going through that stage where everybody feels insecure," says Georgie Henley. "Lucy still wants to be her sister Susan and be beautiful like her, because everybody knows that Susan is absolutely gorgeous.
"The characters' journeys are all about temptation, and in this film you see Lucy as a more complex person," Georgie Henley continues. "In the first two films, she's portrayed as honest and true and sure. Now, she's more complex. And I think her journey is overcoming her challenges and realising that she is human, she's growing up, and the feelings she has are normal."
About her journey through Narnia these past seven years, Georgie Henly notes, "Skandar Keynes, who portrays Edmund and I have grown up with these characters. I feel quite connected to Lucy because she's been a huge part of my life."
Skandar Keynes was cast at age 12 as the treacherous Edmund in the first movie. And, while Georgie Henley might continue her acting career ("What I will take away from Narnia, among many other things, is a passion for acting," she admits), Skandar Keynes has different plans. During filming of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Skandar Keynes sought admission to Cambridge University, where he will focus on Arabic studies. (His mother hails from Lebanon.) Having won admission to the revered institution of higher learning (where C.S. Lewis taught literature from 1954-63) a few months after filming concluded, Skandar Keynes has begun a sabbatical from his performing career to pursue his academic studies.
As his final days and hours in Narnia drew near, the only tension Skandar Keynes felt was awaiting word on whether he had won admission to Cambridge. Not unlike his character at the end of the long sea voyage, when Aslan explains to Edmund and Lucy that they are destined never to return to Narnia, Skandar Keynes was making the transition from childhood to adulthood. "You know, after six years of being involved in the 'Narnia' films, I have to be so thankful for this experience," he relates. "It's really helped me in so many ways. I'm now more confident than I thought possible. It's given me the courage to stand up and to take on tasks. I'm ready to move on. Where that'll take me, I don't know. But, I'm happy and content."
For Skandar Keynes's Edmund, the journey on The Dawn Treader means facing a formidable temptation, in the form of the villainous White Witch, once again portrayed by Tilda Swinton. Having lived in the shadow of older brother Peter, Edmund is determined to be his own man. The White Witch, a powerful antagonist in the first film, appears in Edmund's dream, offering the young man power and glory surpassing even his brother's achievements.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader also marks a rite of passage for Ben Barnes and his cinematic alter ego, King Caspian. "Caspian has been leading Narnia for three years," Ben Barnes explains. "He's fought and won battles. In returning to the role of Caspian, I needed a certain confidence and authority. I was actually glad for the gap of a couple of years between production on 'The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian' and this film because it allowed me to do other things and gain additional confidence, which I've been able to bring to the role."
Ben Barnes also explored more of Caspian's personal history. "Caspian feels like he never had a family or a strong father figure," he notes. "In one respect, Caspian very much fills that older brother gap for Lucy and Edmund, while also leading his men. When Caspian comes to the end of the world, and meets with Aslan, he wonders if his father is on the other side. Caspian's desire to meet his father is his ultimate temptation. But he realises that his responsibilities are to Narnia, to his people, and to his father's legacy."
When Ben Barnes filmed "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," he was a Hollywood unknown and a new member of the Narnia family. Young actor Will Poulter, who portrays Eustace, finds himself in a similar situation on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. While playing the unlikable Eustace, whom Will Poulter describes as "a complete brat," the young actor won the hearts of the filmmakers and his cast mates. "Will Poulter is one of the gentlest, kindest, best-mannered kids you could ever meet in your life," says Douglas Gresham. "Thanks to Will Poulter's impressive work, I don't think anybody in the audience is going to be able to avoid, first of all, disliking Eustace, and then falling in love with him." Adds Michael Apted: "We saw a lot of people for that role, but once I met Will Poulter, I knew we had our Eustace. He was a natural."
Like the other principal characters, Eustace confronts temptation, which for him takes the form of the bejeweled valley on Goldwater Island. This leads to Eustace's startling transformation into a dragon, which in turn helps Eustace become a better person. "The dragon is an interesting and important character because it is really Eustace," says MPC visual effects supervisor Adam Valdez, who oversaw much of the work on the computer generated creature. "Once everybody saw what Will Poulter brought to the role, it became essential that when he's in dragon form, we connect with his performance. So we gave the dragon certain physical characteristics of Will Poulter/Eustace."
Adam Valdez also supervised the animation of Reepicheep, Caspian's valiant soldier-at-arms who becomes Eustace's friend and protector. The animated mouse was familiar terrain for Adam Valdez, whose responsibilities as animation director on the "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," included the creation of the on-screen Reepicheep. "For this film, we've aged Reepicheep a bit, given him slight signs of age with a softer feel around the eyes," Adam Valdez notes. "We went for a slightly softer look because Reepicheep makes a major connection to Eustace. The two of them not only bond, but he's a major part of Eustace's growing up and moving on in the story."
"Reepicheep is a very important character, and his relationship with Eustace is one of the most important elements of the film," says Michael Apted. "The human aspects of the animated characters are key to C.S. Lewis' storytelling and iconic to the franchise. The visual effects team got Reepicheep absolutely right. His every move and gesture is spot on. He was established in the earlier film and now we see him older, wiser and a character of destiny."
British comic actor Simon Pegg, beloved around the world for his work in the films "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," provides the voice of Reepicheep. A fan of the "Narnia" books since childhood, Simom Pegg embraced the opportunity to play one of the saga's most beloved characters. "Reepicheep is an incredibly noble little mouse who's a thousand times bigger on the inside - in terms of his bravery of honor - than in physical stature," says Simon Pegg. "He's exactly the kind of character you'd want to have looking after you." Indeed, Eustace is very lucky to have Reepicheep watching his back - though the two characters are not exactly fast friends. "Reepicheep can't quite understand why Eustace is so annoyed at everything, all the time, and he's a little bit put off by Eustace's rudeness," Simon Pegg relates. "But Reepicheep spots something in the boy - maybe Reepicheep as a young mouse was not unlike Eustace. So there's a very sweet relationship that grows between them."
There's more to Reepicheep than swashbuckling adventure. Like his friends aboard The Dawn Treader, he has important goals. "What Reepicheep really wants to do is travel to the edge of the world and sort of retire to Aslan's Country," says Simon Pegg. "He'll never turn down an adventure, but in his heart he wants to move on."
The sequence in which the voyagers reach Aslan's Country, is the only meeting in this film between the film's principal CG characters, Reepicheep and Aslan the Lion. It's a sequence rife with emotion as each of the five characters discovers his or her destiny. (Reepicheep and Aslan had met before in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," in an amusing and moving scene in which Aslan restores the tail that Reepicheep lost in battle.)
The Title Character
"Her prow was gilded and shaped like the head of a dragon with a wide-open mouth. She had only one mast and one large, square sail, which was a rich purple. The sides of the ship, what you could see of them, where the gilded wings of the dragon ended, were green." (From the novel, "The Voyage of The Dawn Treader" - Chapter 1- The Picture in the Bedroom)
"The Dawn Treader is more than a set; it's a character," says producer Mark Johnson. "It's the most impressive set I've ever seen." Adds producer Andrew Adamson: "The Dawn Treader is such an iconic symbol. To some degree, it's almost like Aslan. When I saw the boat fully assembled for the first time and walked onto it, the experience was how I imagined it as a boy reading the book."
Like the handsome and iconic wardrobe in the first story, The Dawn Treader makes for an impressive title character. "In my view, The Dawn Treader is Narnia," Michael Apted notes. "We never go to [the land of] Narnia in this story, so I always made the point that the boat is Narnia. The boat embodies everything that Narnia is. When you're on The Dawn Treader, you're in Narnia."
Production designer Barry Robison began work on T The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in the spring of 2008 -- the project ultimately consumed over two years of his life -- just as production was wrapping on "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." Barry Robison drew inspiration from a replica of Capt. James Cook's boat The Endeavor, which sits in the harbor in Sydney, Australia. "We visited the ship to get a sense of what it felt like. We used The Endeavor as our blueprint for the scale of the boat." While The Dawn Treader became much larger than Cook's historic vessel (on which he was the first European to reach the eastern shores of Australia in 1770), Barry Robison and his supervising art director, Ian Gracie (who served in the same capacity on "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"), were still unsure as to how big their ship should be. So, they painted an outline of it on the side of one of the production's sound stages to show Michael Apted what they had in mind. "Michael Apted said the boat in our design was too short, and wanted another twenty feet of deck space," Barry Robison remembers.
Barry Robison brought on a talented group of draftsmen from Mexico City and Baja. "The draftsmen had an incredible knowledge of shipbuilding," says Barry Robison. "And it was at that point that The Dawn Treader began to take shape as a real, breathing ship. The gestation period for the boat was almost eighteen months. It was the largest prop I've ever built."
That period commenced with Barry Robison's sketches (the designer is an accomplished artist and illustrator), followed by clay models. Once the director and the studio signed off on its design, construction of the vessel began in March 2009, and took 21 weeks to complete. "The Dawn Treader was crucial because it's the star of the movie," Michael Apted emphasises. "Once Barry Robinson designed its shape and scale, you could see his love and caring in the details. The craftsmanship was brilliant and as it came together it was thrilling for all of us to see. We're probably on The Dawn Treader for nearly half the film, so it needed to be something to look at. To experience this jewel on which no expense had been spared, and into which so much attention had gone, I think really inspired us all."
Before fabricating the vessel, which cost about US$2.7 million to build, discussions ensued as to whether Barry Robison, his art department and construction crew (which numbered almost 400 during the planning and production phases of the film) should build a boat that could sail on the water. For various reasons, that idea was dismissed before hammer was put to nail and paint was put to brush.
Barry Robison says the materials used to construct the boat were primarily "steel and wood, then polystyrene and fiberglass. It's also got brass elements, plaster and rope. It was 100% fabricated because there is no Narnian store. I would always joke to the set decorator that you can't go out and buy something to put into this set. It had to be absolutely fabricated because this is a created world."
Ian Gracie further details the materials used for the boat set, as follows:
2000 lineal meters of Oregon planking (that equates to over a mile of lumber)
3 km 90x45 framing timber
320 sheets 18mm ply for formers
500 sheets 9mm ply
300 liters structural adhesive
40 square meters of glazing
3 tons fiberglass and resin
1500 kg. of silicon molds
10 rolls scrim
1 pallet casting plaster
150 kg. easy cast
200 kilos latex (about 425 lbs.)
250 liters varnish
25,000 sheets of gold leaf
500 tubes of black caulking sealer
400 liters paint
35 kg. Bees Wax
250 liters varnish
100 cubic meters of polystyrene
2500 kg. hard coating
1500 kg. modeling clay
30 cubic meters of urethane spray foam
30 tons of steel
35 rolls mig wire
30 liters of coolant
4 km. rope
Main mast 13.7meters, plus 10 meters of top mast
The set was assembled at Warner Roadshow Studios' Stage 8 in "sixty individual pieces of various sizes and weights," Ian Gracie elaborates. "Once the puzzle was complete, it had to be dismantled and moved to the exterior peninsula at Cleveland Point, about 50 km away, which we accomplished on 35 flatbed semitrailers. When filming concluded there, we had to repeat the exercise."
Barry Robison added many unique design touches to The Dawn Treader, working from Michael Apted's instructions, as well as those from the C.S. Lewis estate. "Everyone really wanted to bring the magic of Narnia back into the movie," says the designer. Barry Robison's most inspired and personal touches were bestowed upon the ship's mast. He explains: "I went to the producers and Michael Apted and said I wanted to do something to honor the commitment of all the people who worked on designing and building The Dawn Treader. They thought it was a great idea." Barry Robison had a dedication etched onto the base of the ship's towering mast, which reads: "All Narnians, with grateful hearts may we give thanks to the crew of the mighty Dawn Treader for their strong minds and artisan hands." Below Barry Robison's poetic inscription are the names of each individual on the film crew who had a hand in bringing this kingly vessel to life.
The completed set would now get to shine - and move - before the movie cameras. That trickery was conceived by the film's mechanical special effects crew, headed by Brian Cox. Unlike other movie ships, The Dawn Treader was never positioned in the water. To replicate the ship sailing on the high seas, a motion-control mechanism called a gimbal was devised. A gimbal (six of which were built for this film) gives a pitching and rolling motion to the boat, so that the whole set moves like a ship at sea.
While there were early talks about putting the boat in the ocean, then shooting it entirely onstage in a blue screen environment, the filmmakers decided to shoot The Dawn Treader scenes on location. Two-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Dante Spinotti, ASC, AIC ("L.A. Confidential," "The Insider") explains: "Michael Apted and I felt strongly that we needed a location because most of the scenes in the boat are full day exteriors. We wanted the vision of a real environment, including wind, weather, sunshine, overcast skies, and the ocean. The best solution was to shoot the boat's exterior scenes at Cleveland Point, where it could be positioned against a real ocean horizon. The gimbal enabled us to turn the boat to follow the sun, which was a valuable tool. That allowed us the full range of the daylight, from early morning to sunset."
Well before construction began on the massive title character, special effects supervisor Brian Cox obtained a two-foot model of the ship from the prop department. He bolted the small replica to a table, then placed springs underneath it to simulate how the ship would be able to roll and pitch once erected atop the multi-ton steel and hydraulic gimbal. Once satisfied that he could proceed with the design and construction of the hydraulics and steel skeleton, it dawned on Brian Cox that Michael Apted and Dante Spinotti could use the model to position the boat each day as dictated by the script's specific scenes and the location of the sun overhead. Brian Cox proceeded to create a makeshift compass on the table by attaching the model ship to a turntable. He next painted compass points on the table (N, E, S, W) along with the numbers 1-8 to serve as a guide for the filmmakers prior to actually shifting the 125-ton boat and gimbal to the desired position for a given scene.
Just like the smaller device on the table, the actual Dawn Treader was attached to two sets of steel wheels situated 180 degrees apart, which allowed Brian Cox's team to turn the boat in any direction at any given moment as mandated by the scenes being filmed.
Barry Robison and his artisans built several stage sets representing the interiors of The Dawn Treader, including Caspian's handsome state room, the captain's map room, and an oar room (or "aft hold"), where the crew propels the boat to its various island expeditions. (The stage sets were built on several sound stages at the Warner Roadshow facility in Queensland.)
Barry Robison had inherited a mighty responsibility -- to continue the vision of C.S. Lewis' fantastical world, based on both the author's scant book descriptions, while honoring the visuals created in the first two films. At the same time, Barry Robison would apply his own design signature to the ongoing movie series. "Narnia is a magical world," Barry Robison states. "Michael Apted and I felt that we could bring something special to the movie franchise." Adds Douglas Gresham: "The sets we built on this movie, I have to say, are the best we've ever done. We did some amazing sets for the first and second films, but I think the sets on this movie top everything we've ever done."
For the "Magician's Garden" set, home to the Dufflepuds, who are maniacal gardeners, Barry Robison used his theatrical background, he says, "to really pump up the volume because the garden is a comical environment. In New Zealand, we found a beautiful beach with this gorgeous rolling landscape whose roly-poly hills mirror the Dufflepuds' rotund physiognomy." Adding to the set's fantastic nature were the incorrigible Dufflepuds themselves - odd, one-legged dwarves who are, at first, invisible in the Magician Coriakin's garden before a spell turns them visible again.
Cultivating that unique look of the Dufflepuds fell to another kind of magician -- Oscar-winning prosthetics makeup artist Howard Berger, who took home the coveted statue (along with colleague Tami Lane) for his creations in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," including actor James McAvoy's memorable Faun, Mr. Tumnus. "Since the Dufflepuds walk on one leg, the actors portraying them wore blue-screen suits from the waist down so the film's CG artists could superimpose a single appendage for the finished film," Howard Berger explains.
After her encounter with the Dufflepuds in the garden, Lucy is told to find the Magician's Library and locate his book of spells -- another of the film's impressive props. "With the Magician's Library, we wanted to get away from the fantastical nature of the Dufflepuds and give it a much more learned, bookish kind of gravitas," notes Michael Apted.
Once Coriakin explains the true nature of the voyagers' quest, The Dawn Treader sets sail for the island Goldwater, where Caspian finds the remains of two of the missing Lords -- one in a pool inside a cave where everything that touches the water turns to gold; the other in a rock-strewn valley littered with a treasure of jewels. "We took a different direction with Goldwater Island from the book," says Barry Robison. "In the book, they come across a pond. It was producer Philip Steuer's idea to set it in the underground grotto."
The Dawn Treader's next stop in the story is Ramandu's Island, a colossal set built at the studio's Stage 5. For this set, Barry Robison retained motifs he had included in the Magician's Library, but gave them a spooky twist. "Michael Apted wanted the island set to be rough, windswept, and ancient," Barry Robison states. "It's a bit scary. This is where we placed Aslan's Table."
The story's island locales meant a lot of shooting in and under water. To create the effect of the wall painting flooding Eustace's bedroom, the mechanical SFX crew duplicated the "dry" soundstage bedroom set on an elevated platform which was then lowered, or dunked, into the smaller of two exterior studio water tanks. Georgie Henley, Skandar Keyes and Will Poulter swam out of the bedroom to the surface, which, when spliced together with footage filmed in the larger tank, makes it appear as if they are afloat in the ocean. "The moment of entering Narnia from our world is always key," notes Michael Apted. "The previous two films had set the bar high, so we had to show our stuff, especially as this was the first action sequence in the movie. C.S. Lewis had conceived of the moment but we had to pull it off and not only was it difficult but a little dangerous for the actors. It needed to be totally believable, and I shot it in a way that put the audience in the moment. They weren't just watching the scene; they were in it with the characters."
The dry set was made of timber, plaster and other materials you would find in a bedroom. For the wet set, fiberglass and other composite materials were used. "The effect feels as though the water is coming out of the painting and rising to the ceiling," says Barry Robison. "But what we were actually doing was taking the set down into the water."
Water also played a prominent role in sequences depicting a violent storm that rocks the ship on the open seas, and its attack by a monstrous sea serpent. Both scenes took place on the deck of The Dawn Treader, which was enveloped in a bluescreen environment on Stage 5, where the ship was first pieced together before being transported to Cleveland Point.
The visual effects team numbered 380 CG artists alone for the character of Reepicheep, the Eustace/Dragon creature, and the sea serpent sequence. When filming concluded in late November, work began on the hundreds of effects shots that would bring these characters to life. The post-production period also encompassed editing, scoring, re-recording and mixing sound, and working on the extensive 3D work. The 3D in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is state-of-the-art quality, created during the two years of shooting and completing the film. The filmmakers worked with the world's leading stereoscopic and VFX companies, in a lengthy process surpassing even that of the recent hit "Alice in Wonderland."
The vast number of computer generated shots and the all-CGI characters (including the beloved Reepicheep) were rendered from the beginning in 3D and delivered directly to the film as left eye / right eye pairs. This involved not only the real world 3D geometry of The Dawn Treader and other environments in the film (and all associated VFX manipulation of same), but over 10,000 unique pieces of photography and computer generated imagery. As such, there are no 2D "cutouts" in Narnia. The dimensionality of the film matches that of the characters, culminating in a brilliant 3D experience for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
As the end of the journey approached for the cast and crew, producer Adamson, who helped give birth to the movie franchise, noted, "Of the three films so far, the first film for me was really about the birth of Narnia. The children brought hope into this land ravaged by cold, under siege of the White Witch. That movie was all about color and magic and brightness and this whole new world opening up. The second movie presented a darker world, which the Pevensies helped bring back to life. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is more like the first film, because we are again opening up a new world. The magic is back."