Bickering beavers, hmmm
- And no more sexism. And animatronic reindeer.
Part of a story linked from narniaweb, sorry, I've lost the URL:
ADAMSON recognized that "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" carried
messianic themes, which he quickly notes also anchor the "Harry Potter,"
"Star Wars" and "Matrix" movies. But he also saw in Lewis' book a story of a
family of four children looking after one another, a tale of young girls
becoming empowered, and a place to laugh with a couple of bickering beavers.
"The characters in the book are pretty simple and one-note," the director
says. "But I wanted the movie to be told through the kids' point of view."
The challenge was convincing the Lewis estate that those were all acceptable
ideas, since it had to approve departures from the book. "I suspect the
major studios would not have allowed us this much input," Gresham says.
Adamson and screenwriters Ann Peacock, Chris Markus and Steve McFeely made
Susan far less passive than in the book; she now actually shoots an arrow in
the film's final battle. The estate approved the change, on condition that
Susan's shot wasn't lethal.
Adamson also wanted to strip Lewis' 1950 book of language that today feels
sexist. When the Pevensie children encounter Father Christmas in the book,
he gives them weapons, telling Lucy as he hands her a dagger, " . battles
are ugly when women fight." The line in the movie now reads: "Battles are
ugly affairs." Father Christmas also no longer instructs Susan, "I do not
mean you to fight in the battle."
Even the wisecracking beavers (voiced by Ray Winstone and Dawn French)
attracted Gresham's concern. "I felt a little bit wary about that in the
beginning," Gresham says. "But that's the way it should be in the movies:
What you do in the movie has to be very different from what you do in the
Adamson faced countless other minor complications.
Worries about an early screenplay draft halted preproduction and casting.
Brian Cox, initially cast as Aslan's voice, was replaced by Neeson because,
Adamson says, Cox's voice lacked the necessary weight. Due largely to
special effects costs, the film's $150-million budget grew by $30 million.
Even though Disney's initial investment was capped at $75 million, the
studio agreed to share the overages with Walden.
The film's reindeer couldn't pass New Zealand's quarantine and had to be
created digitally and as animatronic models. And Adamson had to trim some
sequences, including a brief scene in which the White Witch's troops are on
fire, to get a PG rating (although parents still should carefully consider
whether to take young children to the film).
The test now is how "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" will be received,
whether its spiritual message - the boys are called "sons of Adam," the
girls "daughters of Eve" - will unite audiences or divide them. Christians
will surely see it as a retelling of part of the New Testament, with Aslan's
return from death analogous to the resurrection of Christ. A number of
conservative Christian leaders are rallying around the film, and Disney has
hired some of the same grass-roots-marketing consultants who worked on Mel
Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."
Disney certainly believes the movie will appeal to faith-based communities.
But the studio is equally confident that audiences spiritual and agnostic,
and of all ages, will find "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" an
emotionally moving fantasy. The competition is intense: In addition to all
of the other movies flooding the multiplex at the end of the year, "The
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" debuts just five days before the season's
true 800-pound gorilla, Peter Jackson's epic remake of "King Kong."