The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is a 2008 high fantasy film co-written and directed by Andrew Adamson, based on Prince Caspian, the second published, fourth chronological novel in C. S. Lewis's epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. It is the second in The Chronicles of Narnia film series from Walden Media, following The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Liam Neeson, and Tilda Swinton reprise their roles from the first film, while new cast includes Ben Barnes, Sergio Castellitto, Peter Dinklage, Eddie Izzard, Warwick Davis, Ken Stott, and Vincent Grass. In the film, the four Pevensie children return to Narnia to aid Prince Caspian in his struggle with the "secret" help of Aslan for the throne against his corrupt uncle, King Miraz.
Prince Caspian, a British-American production, is the last Narnia film to be co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, as 20th Century Fox became the distributor for the next film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader due to budgetary disputes between Disney and Walden Media, but as a result of Disney eventually purchasing Fox on March 20, 2019, Disney now owns the rights to all three Narnia movies. Work on the script began before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was released, so filming could begin before the actors grew too old for their parts. Director Andrew Adamson wanted to make the film more spectacular than the first, and created an action sequence not in the novel. The Narnians were designed to look wilder as they have been hiding from persecution, stressing the darker tone of the sequel. The filmmakers also took a Spanish influence for the antagonistic race of the Telmarines. Filming began in February 2007 in New Zealand, but unlike the previous film, the majority of shooting took place in Central Europe, because of the larger sets available in those countries. To keep costs down, Adamson chose to base post-production in the UK, because of recent tax credits there.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian premiered on May 7, 2008 at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, before it was theatrically released on May 16 in the United States and on June 26 in the United Kingdom. The film received mostly positive reviews from film critics; many praised the performances and visual effects, however, the film's darker tone and mature themes drew polarizing opinions. It was a moderate success at the box office, grossing $55 million during its opening weekend. By the end of its theatrical run, it had grossed over $419.7 million worldwide. The film became the 10th highest-grossing film worldwide in 2008.
In Narnia, almost 1,300 years have passed after the Pevensie siblings left. Caspian, a Telmarine prince, is awoken by his mentor Doctor Cornelius, who informs him that his aunt has just given birth to a son and that his life is now in grave danger. Cornelius gives him Queen Susan's ancient magical horn and instructs him to use it if he is in dire need of help. Knowing that his Uncle Miraz would kill him in order to be king, Caspian flees. Chased by several Telmarine soldiers, Caspian falls off his horse and encounters two Narnian dwarfs and a talking badger in the woods. One of the dwarfs, Trumpkin, is captured by the soldiers after sacrificing himself to save Caspian, while the other dwarf, Nikabrik, and the badger Trufflehunter, save Caspian. Not knowing that they are trying to save him, Caspian blows the magical horn, trying to summon help.
In England, the four Pevensie children wait at the Strand tube station for their train which will take them to boarding school. One year has passed in their world after they left Narnia. Just as the train pulls into the station the station tears apart transporting them back in Narnia. There, they discover their castle, Cair Paravel, was attacked and ruined in their absence. The Pevensies save a bound and gagged Trumpkin, who is about to be drowned, and they set off together.
Meanwhile, Nikabrik and Trufflehunter lead Caspian to the Dancing Lawn, where all the old Narnians have assembled. Caspian convinces them to help him win his throne. Caspian and his troops encounter the Pevensies and Trumpkin, and they journey together to Aslan's How, a huge underground hall built over the Stone Table. Lucy wants to wait for Aslan, but Peter decides they have waited long enough and suggests attacking Miraz's castle. The Narnians succeed in infiltrating the castle, but Peter calls for a retreat when the gate is sabotaged. Half of the Narnians manage to escape, but the rest are trapped behind the closed gate and brutally slaughtered.
Nikabrik tells Caspian that there is a way he can claim his throne and guarantee Miraz's death. When Caspian agrees, a hag uses black sorcery to summon the White Witch. From inside a wall of ice, the Witch tries to convince Caspian to give her a drop of his blood in order to set her free. Peter, Edmund, and Trumpkin arrive and dispatch Nikabrik while Edmund shatters the wall of ice before the Witch can be freed.
Miraz and his army arrive at Aslan's How. Peter challenges Miraz to a one-on-one duel, in order to buy Lucy and Susan time to find Aslan. Peter is able to wound Miraz, and gives his sword to Caspian to finish him off. Caspian, who cannot bring himself to do it, spares Miraz's life but says that he intends to give Narnia back to its people. Lord Sopespian, one of Miraz's generals, suddenly stabs and kills Miraz with an arrow and blames the Narnians, igniting a massive battle between the Narnians and the Telmarines. Lucy, meanwhile, has found Aslan in the woods; he awakens the trees and the whole forest suddenly attacks the Telmarines, Lord Sopespian orders the retreat, where they are confronted by Lucy and Aslan. Aslan summons a river god, which wipes out the majority of the Telmarine army, including Sopespian; all of the surviving Telmarine soldiers surrender and hand over their weapons.
Caspian becomes the King of Narnia and, with Aslan's help, brings peace between the Narnian and Telmarine kingdoms. Before the Pevensies depart, Peter and Susan declare to Caspian, Edmund, and Lucy that Aslan says that Susan and Peter will never enter Narnia again because they have accomplished what they were brought there for, but Lucy and Edmund might come back. Susan kisses Caspian, knowing she will never see him again, and the Pevensies then go back to England, leaving Caspian as King of Narnia.
Before the release of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the screenplay for the sequel Prince Caspian had already been written. Director Andrew Adamson said the decision was made to follow the publication order of the novels because "if we don't make it now we'll never be able to, because the [actors will] be too old". Prince Caspian, the second published novel in the series, is the fourth chronologically. The Horse and His Boy takes place during a time only hinted at in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The writers briefly considered combining Caspian with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which the BBC did for their television adaptation.
Screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wanted to explore how the Pevensies felt after returning from Narnia, going from being kings and queens back to an awkward year as school children. They noted, "[C. S. Lewis] doesn't much consider what it would be like for a King of Narnia to return to being a 1940s schoolchild." They also decided to introduce the Pevensies back into Narnia nearer the start, in order to weave the two separate stories of the Pevensies and Caspian, in contrast to the book's structure. A sense of guilt on the Pevensies' part was added, seeing the destruction of Narnia in their absence, as was hubris for Peter to enhance the theme of belief: his arrogance means he is unable to see Aslan.
Adamson also desired to make the film larger in scale; "I've gained confidence having gone through the first. This time, I was able to go larger [in] scale, with more extras and bigger battle scenes." Inspired by a passage in the novel where Reepicheep says he would like to attack the castle, a new battle scene in which Peter and Caspian make an attempted raid on Miraz's castle was created. Adamson felt the imagery of mythological Greek creatures storming a castle was highly original. Markus and McFeely used the sequence to illustrate Peter and Caspian's conflict and Edmund's maturity, in an effort to tighten the script by using action as drama. Adamson preferred subtlety to the drama scenes, asking his young male actors not to perform angrily. Adamson copied Alfred Hitchcock by "tell[ing] people at the end of the scene, 'Now just give me something where you're not thinking about anything.' By using it in context, the audience will read an emotion into it."
Andrew Adamson described the film as being darker, as it takes place "another 1300 years later, [and] Narnia has been oppressed by Telmarines for a large period of that time, so it's a dirtier, grittier, darker place than the last world was". He added, "This one is more of a boy's movie. It's a harsher world. The villains are human, and that lends a more realistic attitude." Creatures were designed by veteran horror and monster concept artist Jordu Schell and supervised by Howard Berger, who said that Prince Caspian would be more medieval than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Alongside Adamson, Berger's children critiqued his designs, aiding the process: his son thought the werewolf's ears were silly, so they were made smaller.
For the Narnians, Berger envisioned them as more wild in appearance, as they have been forced into the forests. He also decided to increase the portrayal of various ages, sizes and races. The black dwarfs are distinguished from the red dwarfs as they have more leather and jewellery, and a darker colour scheme in their costumes. Each race of creatures also had their fighting styles made more distinguishable. The minotaurs have maces, and the centaurs use swords. The satyrs were redesigned, as their creation on the first film had been rushed. 4,600 make-up jobs were performed, which Berger believes is a record.
The filmmakers interpreted the Telmarines, including Caspian, as being Spanish because of their pirate origins, which producer Mark Johnson noted made Caspian "a contrast to the lily-white [Pevensies]". Production designer Roger Ford originally wanted the Telmarines to be French, as they had a confrontational history with the English, who are represented by the Pevensies. This was scrapped as the crew were unable to shoot at Pierrefonds Castle, for Miraz's lair, so they went for the Spanish feel. Weta Workshop created masked helmets for their army, and faceplates for the live horses on set. The stunt soldiers wield two-hundred polearms in two different styles, two-hundred rapiers of varying design, over a hundred falchions, two-hundred and fifty shields and fifty-five crossbows. Caspian's own sword is a variation of the Royal Guard's weapons. Costume designer Isis Mussenden looked to the paintings of El Greco to inspire the Telmarines' costumes. She wanted to use colours that looked "acidic and hot and cool at the same time", unlike the red and gold seen in the Narnian soldiers. Their masked helmets are based on conquistadors and samurai. She visited the armour archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for inspiration. An eagle emblem was incorporated into the characters' lairs to make them feel fascist.
Eight months were spent scouting locations, including Ireland, China and Argentina, before New Zealand, Prague, Slovenia and Poland were chosen. Whereas the previous film was predominantly shot in New Zealand with a few months of filming in Central Europe, Adamson decided New Zealand lacked enough sound stages to accommodate the larger scale of the film. The decision to film most of the picture in Europe also allowed the ability to shoot during summer in both continents, although the weather turned out to be so erratic during filming that Adamson joked he had been lied to.
Filming began on February 12, 2007 in Auckland. The scene where the Pevensies return to the ruined Cair Paravel was shot at Cathedral Cove. The filmmakers chose the location because it had a tunnel-like arch, which echoed the train tunnel the children go into before being summoned back into Narnia. Henderson Valley Studios was used for the Pevensies' ancient treasure room and the Underground station.
On April 1, 2007, the crew began filming at Barrandov Studios in Prague. There, sets such as Miraz's castle, Aslan's How and the underground hiding places of the Narnians were created. The 200-foot-tall (61 m) castle was built to scale because Adamson felt he overused digital sets on the last film. The castle was built in the open air during winter, where the temperature would drop to –4 °F (–20 °C). Miraz's courtyard is the largest set in production designer Roger Ford's career, including the previous Narnia film. Aslan's How was modified into the hideout after filming for those scenes was finished. To create Trufflehunter's den, Ford's crew put a camera inside a badger's den to study what it should look like. The den's roof had to be raised by three inches because Ben Barnes was too tall.
In June 2007, they shot the bridge battle near Bovec in the Soča Valley, Slovenia. The location was chosen for its resemblance to New Zealand. A large bridge was built, which was modelled on the one Julius Caesar built to cross the Rhine. Whereas Caesar supposedly built his bridge in ten days, the filmmakers had around forty. The schedule was short though, but the authorities would only allow them this build time to not completely disrupt normal summer activities on the lake. The filmmakers made a trench to change the river's course, so they could deepen the drained sides of the riverbed so it looked like one could drown in it. The crew also cut down 100 trees for shots of the Telmarines building the bridge; the trees were moved to another side of the river for decoration. The bridge stood for two months before being dismantled. As part of the clean-up, the cut-down trees and parts of the bridge were sent to a recycling plant, while other portions of the bridge were sent to the studio for close-ups shot against bluescreen.
Part of the battle was shot at Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic. Only the entrance to Aslan's How was built on location. Adamson wanted Peter and Miraz's duel to feel unique and not like a controlled, overly choreographed fencing match: Moseley and Castellitto began training for the scene in November 2006. The stunt coordinator Allan Poppleton doubled for Castellitto in some shots because they are similar in size. For claustrophobic shots, cameras were built into their shields. The main camera was placed on a 360 degree track surrounding the ruin it takes place on. The filmmakers dug a large hole in the ground for the scene where the Narnians cause the pillars supporting the growth near Aslan's How to collapse on the Telmarines. The earth was then restored following completion of the scene. They also had to restore the grass after filming numerous cavalry charges. 18,000 fern plants were imported to the Czech Republic to create a forest. A scene shot in Poland, which involved building a cliff face, also had to leave no trace behind. Filming finished by September 8, 2007.
Prince Caspian has over 1,500 special effects shots, more than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe's 800 effects shots, yet the film had less time to complete them. The scale of special effects led Andrew Adamson to base production in the UK, to take advantage of new tax credits. Therefore, it legally qualifies as a British film. This also meant the director only had to walk five minutes from the editing room to supervise the effects. British visual effects companies the Moving Picture Company and Framestore CFC were hired to create the visual effects alongside Weta Digital. Framestore worked on Aslan, Trufflehunter and the door in the air; Scanline did the River-god; Weta created the werewolf, the wild bear and Miraz's castle; MPC and Escape Studios did the main battle, the tunnel scene, the castle assault, the council scenes and all the other creatures.
Alex Funke, who worked on The Lord of the Rings, directed the film's miniatures unit. These include 1/24th and 1/100th scale miniatures of Miraz's castle. A scale model was built of the Narnians' cave hideouts during the climactic battle, which the actor playing the giant Wimbleweather was filmed against. One of the improvements made over the previous film was to make the centaurs walk during dialogue scenes, so Cornell John as Glenstorm wore Power Risers (mechanical stilts with springs), to mimic a horse's canter and height. The animatronic Minotaur heads were also improved to properly lip sync, although this was not as successful as hoped and had to be revamped digitally.
In the climactic battle, 150 extras stood in for the Narnians, while 300 extras were used for the Telmarines. These were digitally duplicated until there were 1,000 Narnians and 5,000 Telmarines onscreen. The animators found it easier to create entirely digital centaurs and fauns, rather than mix digital legs with real actors. The dryads were entirely computer-generated, whereas in the first film digital petals had been composited over actors. However, Adamson had chosen to make the centaurs not wear armour, meaning the animators had to make the human–horse join behave more cohesively. Combining digital characters with actors, such as when Lucy hugs Aslan, had become easier since the first film, as lighting had improved. To achieve Lucy hugging Aslan, Framestore even replaced Georgie Henley's arm with a digital version. For the gryphons, a motion control rig was created for the actors to ride on. The rig could simulate subtle movements such as wing beats for realism. Adamson cited the river-god as the character he was most proud of. "It was a really masterful effect: to control water like that is incredibly difficult", he said. "The [visual effects company] told us they'd been waiting to do a shot like that for ten years."
The film features catapults resembling windmills, that can fire rapidly, and a ballista that can fire three projectiles at a time. The practical versions of these were metal with fibreglass painted and aged to resemble wood on top. Weta created props of the missiles thrown by the Telmarine equipment. The practical version of the catapult had its upper half painted blue, to composite a digital version programmed for rapid firing movement.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe composer Harry Gregson-Williams began composing the sequel in December 2007. Recording began at Abbey Road Studios the following month, and finished by April 2008. The Crouch End Festival Chorus, Regina Spektor's song, "The Call", Oren Lavie's song, "Dance 'Round The Memory Tree" and Switchfoot's song, "This Is Home", are featured on the soundtrack. Imogen Heap, who sang "Can't Take It In" for the first film, wrote a new song which Gregson-Williams considered too dark.
Gregson-Williams' score is darker to follow suit with the film. Gregson-Williams wanted Caspian's theme to convey a vulnerability, which would sound more vibrant as he became more heroic. It originally used a 3/4 time signature, but the opening scene required a 4/4 and thus it was changed. To represent Miraz's cunning, the heroic theme from the first film was inverted. For Reepicheep, a muted trumpet was used to present his militaristic and organised character. Gregson-Williams considered arranging his theme for a small pennywhistle, but found that it sounded too cute and broke the tension of the night raid.
During pre-production, Disney announced a December 14, 2007 release date, but pushed it back to May 16, 2008, because Disney opted to not release it in competition with The Water Horse, another Walden Media production. Disney also felt the Harry Potter films comfortably changed their release dates from (Northern Hemisphere) winters to summers, and Narnia could likewise do the same because the film was darker and more like an action film. The world premiere was held at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City on May 7, 2008. The British premiere was held at the O2 Arena on June 19, the first time the dome has hosted a film screening. Around 10,000 people attended the event, the proceeds of which went to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The film opened in 3,929 theaters in the United States and Canada on May 16, 2008. The Motion Picture Association of America gave the film a PG. To earn this rating, which the filmmakers were contractually bound by Disney to do, Adamson altered a shot of a fallen helmet to make clear that it did not contain a severed head. Adamson made numerous edits to the film beforehand after showing the film to a young audience, explaining "When you sit down and you're watching it, and you see the kids' faces while making the film, you're just making an attempt, you're making it exciting, you're doing all of these things because you're essentially making the film for yourself. When you start showing it to an audience, that then influences how you feel about the film."
Adding to the film's $225 million budget (almost $100 million of which were spent on the effects), Disney also spent $175 million on promoting the film. Play Along Toys created a playset of Miraz's castle, a series of 3¾-inch and 7-inch action figures, and roleplaying costumes. Weta Workshop's Collectibles unit also created statues, busts and helmets based on their props for the film, and there was also a Monopoly edition based on the film. In the UK, Damaris Trust was commissioned to produce resources relating to the film for churches and schools, which are available from the official UK Narnia website. In June 2008, the Journey into Narnia: Prince Caspian Attraction opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios, featuring a recreation of the Stone Table, behind-the-scenes footage, concept art, storyboards, props and costumes from the film. The tone of the film's marketing focused on the film's action, and unlike The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Disney and Walden did not screen the film for pastors or give Bible-based study guides in North America.
Prince Caspian was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the UK on November 17, 2008, and on December 2, 2008 in North America. It was the top selling DVD of its release week in the U.S. taking in $54.7 million. The film was released in Australia on November 27, 2008. There were one-disc and three-disc DVD editions (two-disc only in the UK), and two-disc and three-disc Blu-ray Disc editions (two-disc only in the UK). The first two discs contain an audio commentary by Adamson, blooper reel, deleted scenes and documentaries, while the third disc contains a digital copy of the film. For the Blu-ray Disc, Circle-Vision 360° was used to allow viewers to watch the night raid from different angles. An additional disc of special features was only made available in Japan and Zavvi stores in the UK, while a separate version containing a disc of electronic press kit material was exclusive to Sanity stores in Australia. By the end of 2008, the film earned almost $71 million in DVD sales.
The review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 67% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 188 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is an entertaining family adventure worthy of the standard set by its predecessor." Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 62 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audience members polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film 3 out of 4 stars (as he did with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe), calling the performances "strong", the storytelling "solid", and the scenery "breathtaking", though he also said, "it's a dark tale, and the climactic battle scenes go on at length."
Two film industry trade journals gave the film positive reviews. Todd McCarthy of Variety felt Adamson's direction had a "surer sense of cinematic values" and praised the improved special effects, the "timeless" locations and production design. On the performances, he felt "the four kids overall have more character and are therefore more interesting to watch than they were before, and Italian actor Castellitto registers strongly with evil that's implacable but not overplayed." Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter noted the film was darker than its predecessor, with "the loss of innocence theme ... significantly deepened". He highlighted Peter Dinklage's performance, which "outmaneuver[ed] the title character as Narnia's most colorful new inhabitant";.
A number of critics took issue with what they interpreted as the film's underlying messages. San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick Lasalle wrote in his parental advisory that "basically, this is a movie about kids who go into another world and dimension and spend the whole time killing people." MSNBC reviewer Alonso Duralde noted that "all the heroes have British accents while the Telmarines are all decidedly Mediterranean in appearance and inflection". An Anglican Journal review described the movie as reasonably faithful to the adventure elements of the book, much lighter on the religious faith aspects, which they found integral to the novel, and deficient on character and emotion.
The Visual Effects Society nominated it for Best Visual Effects and Best Compositing. It was nominated for Best Fantasy Film, Best Costumes, Best Make-up, and Best Special Effects at the Saturn Awards. Keynes and Henley received nominations at the Young Artist Awards.
In 2010, Mark Johnson, a producer from all of the Narnia movies, admitted that "We made some mistakes with Prince Caspian and I don't want to make them again." He also said Caspian lacked some of the "wonder and magic of Narnia," was "a little bit too rough" for families, and too much of a "boys' action movie."
When released on May 16 in the United States and Canada, the film grossed $55 million from 8,400 screens at 3,929 theaters in its opening weekend, ranking #1 at the box office. Disney said it was happy with the film's performance, although the opening fell short of industry expectations of $80 million and was also behind The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe's opening gross of $65.6 million. By June 1 it grossed $115 million, while the first film had grossed $153 million in the same amount of time. Disney CEO Robert Iger attributed the film's underperformance to being released between two of the year's biggest hits, Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
On May 16, the film also opened at number one in twelve other countries, grossing $22.1 million, and bringing the worldwide opening total to about $77 million. The film opened in Russia with $6.7 million, the biggest opening of the year; it earned $6.3 million (15% more than the first) in Mexico; $4 million in South Korea, making it in the third most successful Disney film there; $2 million from India, which was triple the gross of the first; and it earned $1.1 million in Malaysia, making it the country's third most popular Disney film after the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. The film also opened with $1 million in Argentina on June 13, which was Disney's third biggest opening in the country and the biggest of 2008 at that time. Prince Caspian made $141.6 million in the United States and Canada while the worldwide total stands at $419.7 million. The movie was the tenth highest-grossing film of 2008 worldwide, and was Disney's second highest-grossing film of 2008 after WALL-E.
|2008||MTV Movie Awards||Best Summer Movie So Far||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Action||Won|
|Choice Movie: Male Breakout Star (Ben Barnes)||Nominated|
|National Movie Awards||Best Family Film||Nominated|
|Best Performance – Male (Ben Barnes)||Nominated|
|2009||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Family Movie||Nominated|
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Excellence in Costume Design for Film – Fantasy||Nominated|
|Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing – Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR in a Foreign Feature Film||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a Feature Film – Young Ensemble Cast (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell)||Nominated|
|Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress (Georgie Henley)||Nominated|
|Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor (Skandar Keynes)||Nominated|
|Taurus World Stunt Awards||Best Fight||Nominated|
|BMI Film & TV Awards||BMI Film Music Award||Won|
|MTV Movie Awards||Breakthrough Male Performance (Ben Barnes)||Nominated|
|Saturn Award||Best Fantasy Film||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Nominated|
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