Fun facts about the making of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
By Catholic Digest Staff
Photos at Right:
First picture: From left to right: Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian), Skandar Keynes (Edmund), and Georgie Henley (Lucy) in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
Second picture: Georgie Henley as Lucy in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
Third picture: The Dawn Treader
In our December 2010 issue, Catholic Digest interviewed Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis and executive producer of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” releasing December 10 by Fox-Walden (click here for the trailer). Here are some fun facts Catholic Digest obtained about the making of the film.
- The Dawn Treader ship was modeled somewhat after James Cook’s Endeavour, which sailed the South Seas in 1768, a replica of which currently sits in Sydney’s harbor. The look of The Dawn Treader was based on the traditional Viking single mast and hull shape, but with all the practical elements of a square rigger such as Nelson’s HMS Victory and, to a lesser degree, detailed elements from the HMS Surprise (from Master & Commander)
- In order to get them completely comfortable when shooting the underwater scenes, production had Georgie Henley (Lucy), Skandar Keynes (Edmund), and Will Poulter (Eustace) earn their PADI Scuba certification prior to the start of filming. It paid off, as there were several situations in which the trio needed to wait underwater until “action!” was called. In such cases, the safety dive crew rigged scuba tanks to the floor of the studio water tank 24 feet down. The kids would then dive to the bottom of the pool, don a mask and regulator, and just breathe normally until they were ready to film a take. The kids became so adept and comfortable staying underwater for longer periods that, to pass the time, they would play Paper-Scissors-Rock! while waiting for their filming cue.
- Production designer Barry Robison etched the words “All Narnians, with grateful hearts may we give thanks to the crew of the mighty Dawn Treader for their strong minds and artisan hands” onto the base of The Dawn Treader’s mast. In the context of the film, the inscription is intended to be Caspian’s words of dedication to his loyal Narnian crew, those who built the vessel for their king. But beneath the poetic words, Robison also listed the actual names of each individual on the film crew who had a hand in bringing the ship to be. Robison estimates that there are at least 200 people listed, including the names of carpenters, illustrators, plasterers, painters, laborers, and art department personnel.
- Even though they are movie stars, the young cast of “Narnia” still had to attend school during production. While there may be some variance, for the most part a minor’s typical work day on a set is nine-and-a-half hours maximum, divided as follows — five and a half hours of work, three hours of school, and a one-hour lunch break. On days when the young cast is not filming, they can compile five hours of school time, thus banking extra hours for those days that require more than five and a half hours of camera time.
- Paul Martin, the Catholic webmaster of the site narniafans.com, found a way to make his proposal to his longtime girlfriend extra special. Through his contacts in the “Narnia” world, he approached Douglas Gresham about his idea to pop the big question on the deck of the film’s ship, The Dawn Treader. That notion was relayed to the studio, which also endorsed the idea. So, after traveling for 24 hours from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Brisbane, Australia, the couple climbed aboard the ship and Paul dropped to one knee. She said yes!
- To build the Dawn Treader, the production utilized 2000 meters of timber, three tons of fiberglass and resin, 400 liters of paint, 100 cubic meters of polystyrene, 30 tons of steel, and 4 km of rope.
- During filming, Oscar-winning creature makeup artist Howard Berger threw a Halloween party at a local lawn bowling club in Australia’s Gold Coast, complete with tricks, treats, and prizes for all the best costumes. Ben Barnes (Caspian) came as Willy Wonka, Skandar Keynes and Will Poulter (Edmund and Eustace) joined forces as Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., while co-star Georgie Henley (Lucy) walked off with one of the evening’s dozen prizes as Wonder Woman (she was named the night’s Best Superhero).
- It took almost 200 visual effects artists to create the CG characters Reepicheep, a dragon, and a sea serpent.
To learn more about the film, visit narnia.com. For more Catholic Digest coverage of Narnia, type “Narnia” in the Catholic Digest search box. You can find the interview with Douglas Gresham, accompanied by photos from the film, in the December issue of Catholic Digest.