And then she 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 . . . 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 ...
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
One of the most beloved fantasy adventures of the 20th Century and a timeless tale of sheer imagination at last comes to life with this stunningly realistic, painstakingly authentic adaptation of C.S. Lewis' masterpiece. Years in the making, this is the first-ever big-screen adaptation of the powerful classic that has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.
Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media present THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, in which four young adventurers playing hide-and-seek in the country home of an old professor stumble upon an enchanted wardrobe that will take them places they never dreamed. Stepping through the wardrobe door, they are whisked out of World War II London into the spectacular parallel universe known as Narnia - a fairy-tale realm of magical proportions where woodland animals talk and mythological creatures roam the hills. But Narnia has fallen under the icy spell of a mad sorceress, cursed to suffer through a winter that never ends by the White Witch Jadis. Now, aided by Narnia's rightful leader, the wise and mystical lion Aslan, the four Pevensie children will discover their own strength and lead Narnia into a spectacular battle to be free of the Witch's glacial enslavement forever. Touching on eternal themes of good and evil, and of the power of family, courage and hope in the darkest moments, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is a classic fable for our times.
Years in the making and meticulously created by director Andrew Adamson to match C.S. Lewis' own vision of Narnia, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE marks the live-action debut of New Zealander Adamson, who came to fore bringing worldwide audiences the loveable green ogre at the heart of the Oscar-winning "Shrek" and "Shrek 2." Adamson carries to the film a passion for Lewis's story that began in his own childhood - one that now meets up with extraordinary advances in motion picture technology. The vast scope of the director's vision of Narnia is brought to life through a mixture of moving human performances and cutting-edge, photo-realistic techniques in CGI, animation and prosthetic makeup that turn the wildly creative worlds and characters Lewis forged into something heart-stoppingly close to reality.
Says Adamson: "THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE has taken millions of young minds into realms of fantasy - so the enormous challenge as a filmmaker was to try to re-create those worlds in a way that might live up to and even exceed people's imaginations, that could truly transport you to another time and place. You couldn't have made this film 5 years ago. You couldn't have made a photo-realistic lion like Aslan five years ago, or joined animal legs unto a human body realistically as we did with centaurs and minotaurs five years ago. Now is the right time to be making this story."
THROUGH THE WARDROBE DOOR: AN INTRODUCTION TO NARNIA
"THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is an adventure the likes of which no one has ever been through, yet everyone who is, or ever was, a child would love to be a part of."
-- Producer Mark Johnson
In 1950, the scholar, critic and writer C.S. Lewis published The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the first of his seven-volume series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and established a modern legend. A long-time fan of what he called "fairy stories," Lewis had set out to write a series of fantasy tales for children, but his creation turned out to be much larger and grander than even he had foreseen. Adults and children alike fell in love with his stirring, action-packed adventure that was set in the middle of World War II bombing raids yet transported readers into an alternate and far more enchanted universe of mythological creatures waging an epic battle between good and evil. Meanwhile, critics were impressed with Lewis' rare ability to forge a completely believable, imaginary world - one with its own history, geography, culture and myths that nevertheless reflected the struggles, hopes and moral dilemmas of our own world.
Profoundly affecting its fans, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe went on to develop an enduring, worldwide readership and to become a staple of family libraries across the planet. The entire Chronicles of Narnia series - which also includes Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle -- took the publishing world by storm, eventually selling over 85,000,000 books in 29 different languages, making it second only to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter tomes as the most popular book series ever. Indeed, Rowling has cited C.S. Lewis's Narnia as one of the inspirations to her own contemporary stories of magic and adventure.
From the beginning, C.S. Lewis had wanted the experience of Narnia's wonders to be open to people of all background and ages. Explains the film's co-producer, Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham, who grew up knowing Lewis and his writing intimately: "C.S. Lewis' mandate, his main idea about writing for children, included the theory that if a book is worth reading when you're five, it is still equally worth reading when you're fifty. So The Chronicles of Narnia was intended to be read to children and by children and also to be read by adults with great joy even to the last days of their lives."
Along with a few other rare stories such as The Lord of the Rings (written by Lewis' close friend and contemporary J.R.R. Tolkien), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe became the equivalent of a foundational 20th century fable. It was one of those timeless adventures that equally fascinated grade-schoolers, grown-up readers and the most sophisticated literary scholars intrigued by its metaphors and spiritual allegories. It soon saw many incarnations in stage versions, as a British television series, as an animated film and even in a BBC version created almost entirely with puppets.
But no one dared to attempt to bring Lewis' land of Narnia to life with real actors and sets, perhaps because it simply seemed too vast and overwhelming an undertaking. Only recently, as technology has at last begun to catch up with Lewis' far-reaching imagination was it even possible to imagine re-creating Narnia with the thrilling realism director Andrew Adamson brings to the story.
C.S. Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham -- the creative and artistic director of Lewis' estate and the C.S. Lewis Company -- always believed a motion picture of Lewis' masterwork would one day become reality. He stuck by the dream of bringing the story to life in a way that would honor Lewis' enduring creation for decades. "I've been working on seeing a movie made of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one way or another, for probably twenty-five or thirty years," Gresham notes. It was not until Gresham was approached by Walden Media that the project truly began to take shape. "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was my very favorite book as a kid, like it was for so many other people," notes executive producer Perry Moore, who was then a film executive at Walden Media. "I always thought it was the perfect fit for Walden."
From the start, everyone at Walden and subsequently at Disney was committed to remaining steadfastly true to the spirit of C.S. Lewis' story -- without adding manufactured twists to a story that has continued to inspire generation after generation. "On the very first day that we sat down with the estate, we assured them that we were going to do an absolutely faithful adaptation," Cary Granat of Walden Media explains. "Perry and I and, most importantly, Phil Anschutz [Walden Media's founder], were devoted to that vision. We weren't looking to put modern-day spin on this piece, but to honor it as a classic of all times."
Sums up Gresham, for whom the journey to bringing his stepfather's work to the screen was profoundly personal: "The story of THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is so true, so honest, so straightforward, we felt certain that the less we messed around with it, the better movie we would make. The first and most important thing about getting this movie made properly was to get the right people involved. Finding Andrew Adamson and bringing him on as director was key."
ENTER ANDREW ADAMSON: A VISIONARY
"Unlike Tolkien, who was very specific, Lewis left a lot to your imagination. So we had the enormous challenge of not only creating Narnia, but of trying to fulfill people's expectations, to bring the film up to the level of their own dreams and fantasies."
-- Director Andrew Adamson
To take on this first live-action cinematic telling of C.S. Lewis' masterpiece, the producers knew they would need an unusually creative - not to mention hugely energetic - director; someone who could seamlessly marry the real world with a fantasy realm of tremendous scope in a way that would be at once believable and emotionally powerful. It would require someone with definite savvy in high-tech filmmaking, someone with a vivid fantasy-oriented imagination, yet also someone with the sensitivity to evoke a tale that is at heart, about children, family and the powerful notion of bringing good back into the world. Most of all, it would require someone with a passion for Lewis' highly distinctive style of fantasy storytelling - at once simple, magical and resonant.
At first, the search naturally focused on some of today's best-known directors, but then along came an utterly unexpected candidate: Andrew Adamson. One of Hollywood's preeminent animation directors and visual effects artists, Adamson's directorial debut, the animated global hit "Shrek," had captivated audiences with its fairy-tale charm, humanity and visual imagination. Despite the fact that he had never directed a live-action film before, Adamson came to his first meeting bursting with a storm of creative ideas that left the producers wowed by his personal passion for the project. He seemed to have a deep inner connection with Lewis' Narnia that the producers knew was essential to imbuing the film with magic.
"He talked so passionately about the emotion and the themes of the piece," Cary Granat recalls, "and from those conversations we knew he was the guy. I've worked with a lot of different filmmakers but I have never seen somebody who was so completely in tune with a specific vision for a movie. After one meeting with Andrew, Perry and I were both in agreement that this was the right person."
Adamson's excitement was inspired by his own memories of being an 8 year-old boy who was whisked into Narnia and was never quite the same again. "I read all seven books continuously over a period of a year or two, just read them over and over," he recalls. "I basically existed in this world of Narnia for a time. I remembered it as this huge, vivid story with a massive battle between good and evil and a whole menagerie of mythological creatures - and I wanted the chance to bring that world to the screen."
Stirred by his childhood remembrances, Adamson started from the premise that Narnia had to come off as one hundred percent real - no matter what it would take cinematically to achieve. "What is Narnia?" he asks. "That's an interesting question and key to our approach. I don't see Narnia as just a figment of the children's imaginations, a place that they retreat to in their minds to escape World War II. Rather, I believe in Narnia as a true alternate universe. There are many parallels to our world and there are many differences, but the main point is that it is real."
He continues: "So my approach to the movie was that it's not quite like 'The Wizard of Oz' or 'Peter Pan,' where you realize in the end that the story all happened in someone's imagination. When Lucy goes through that wardrobe and steps into a world, I wanted that world to be completely believable, as if it was another country you might visit. It had to be a whole Narnian reality unto itself."
It was clear from the start that Adamson's ideas for the film were vastly ambitious, but Adamson was only further excited by the risk of tackling one of the most massive projects of his, or anyone's, career -- one that would demand constant creativity in every aspect of filmmaking. The director began on the page -- by collaborating with screenwriting partners Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (who went on to write the Emmy winning "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers") and polishing the original screenplay by Emmy winner Ann Peacock, putting the emphasis first and foremost on storytelling.
"We approached it as a story that is very much about themes of betrayal, forgiveness and loyalty. It's about a family who feels disempowered by the terror of World War II and then finds their power again in Narnia," Adamson remarks. "It's a story about four kids who enter this land where they're not only empowered, but where they're ultimately the only solution to the war in that land. And it's only through unity as a family that they can actually triumph. And that's where we began."
As they re-read the book, the screenwriters were surprised to find that the text of the story itself was actually far more brief than they had remembered. "Most people recall it as a denser, fuller book than it actually is. That's a tribute to Lewis. He was a master at tweaking kids' imaginations enough where they could generate the rest of the story themselves," explains McFeely. "So we needed to flesh parts of it out, take the image we had as kids and make that feel very real."
Adamson adds: "I too remembered it as this epic story. So the first thing that I did was to write everything that I remembered from reading it as a child -- how I imagined the battles, how the mythological creatures might fight with each other, who the characters are, right down to the color schemes. I put down a stream-of-consciousness of everything I thought the movie should be and extrapolated from there."
The ideas, however, were all sparked directly by the writing itself, by Lewis' endlessly imaginative frame. "All the themes, all the messages that were important to C.S. Lewis are present in the movie, and it is, I hope, a faithful envisioning of what Lewis was imagining when he wrote the book," he comments. "It's both an epic story of a battle between good and evil, and an intimate family drama about a fractured family that has to mend itself."
Sums up producer Mark Johnson: "I think audiences will take away the most positive messages of belief, strength and family. But, in the process, they will also go on an original, exciting, unexpected ride. People ask it is like 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Harry Potter'? The answer is no, it is its own world, and yet I think the sensation of seeing those movies will be akin to the sensation one will feel in seeing this movie."
C.S. LEWIS (author), one of the 20th century's most respected and prolific authors, produced fiction ranging from children's books to fantasy, science fiction, and novels. His scholarly work, from Medieval and Renaissance literature to literary theory, and his witty and imaginative exposition of Christian belief, have made him an intellectual and spiritual mentor to millions.
Born in Belfast, Ireland, on November 29, 1898, Clive Staples Lewis was educated in various secondary schools before entering Oxford University in 1917. His college education was interrupted by his service in World War 1 as a second lieutenant with the Somerset Light Infantry. Wounded and hospitalized in 1918, he returned to Oxford in 1919, graduated with honors in 1923, and became a lecturer in philosophy at University College, Oxford, a year later. In 1925, Lewis began a three decade tenure at Oxford when he was named fellow and tutor at Magdelen College, Oxford. He retained the post until 1954, when he was elected professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge, an appointment he held until his death in 1963.
He is the author of over forty books, which includes virtually every genre except biography and drama. Lewis first expressed interest in becoming a poet with the publication of his first two volumes of verse, Spirits in Bondage (1919) and Dymer (1926), both written under the pseudonym of Clive Hamilton (his own first name plus his mother's maiden name).
His reputation as a scholar was established with his 1936 tome, The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition, which earned the Gollancz Memorial Prize for literature. He ventured into fiction with his 1938 novel, Out of the Silent Planet, the first of his science-fiction trilogy that included Perelandra (1943) and That Hideous Strength (1945), fiction dealing with the cosmic struggle between good and evil.
Lewis' broader reputation rests with his scholarly interpretation of Christianity, a subject the former atheist explored in such original works as The Screwtape Letters (1942), a unique look at life on earth as seen from the viewpoint of the devil, which became one of his most popular books; The Great Divorce (1946), a first-person narrative depicting a busload of souls from hell who travel to heaven to repent their sins; and Mere Christianity (1952), a collection of lectures on the basics of Christian faith broadcast by the BBC during World War II.
In 1950, Lewis turned to the world of fantasy and fairy tales with the first of seven children's books, collectively entitled The Chronicles of Narnia. The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe, the first book published, introduces the reader to the imaginative land of Narnia, an enchanting world of talking animals ruled by a noble lion, Aslan, which is discovered by a quartet of siblings in a magical wardrobe in an English country house.
Lewis published six more volumes, one annually, continuing with Prince Caspian (1951), The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader' (1952), The Silver Chair (1953), The Horse and His Boy (1954), The Magician's Nephew (1955, and the prequel to the first book) and concluded his adventures in Narnia with The Last Battle (1956), the latter honored with the prestigious Carnegie Award, the highest mark of excellence in children's literature. To date, the series has sold over 85,000,000 copies.
Lewis' other works of note include The Pilgrim's Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason and Romanticism (1933), The Problem of Pain (1940), Reflections on the Psalms (1958), Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (1956) and two autobiographical works -- Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955) and A Grief Observed (1961), the former his spiritual journey from atheism to Christianity, and the latter a response to his wife's untimely death from cancer in 1960. Lewis himself died on November 22, 1963, the same day as author Aldous Huxley and assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Three years after his death, his letters, edited and with a memoir by his older brother, W.H. Lewis, were published. With translation of dozens of books into scores of languages and foreign sales in multiple millions, Lewis has become a thinker of international importance.
INTRODUCING NARNIA'S EXPLORERS: THE PEVENSIE FAMILY
INTO NARNIA: CASTING AND CREATING NARNIA'S ICONIC CREATURES
JOURNEY TO NARNIA: THE FILM'S DESIGN
THE NARNIANS COME TO LIFE: THE WORK OF WETA WORKSHOP AND K.N.B. EFX
BEHIND NARNIA'S MAGIC: THE SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
ANDREW ADAMSON (director/executive producer/co-screenwriter)
SCREENWRITERS CHRISTOPHER MARKUS & STEPHEN McFEELY/ ANN PEACOCK
READ MORE ABOUT: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN