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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

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Lionwardrobe-centaur

Early Creature Shop modeling stage of a centaur for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Lion-centaurfinal

Final rendering of the character

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was a proposed film version of C. S. Lewis' classic book, the first published in The Chronicles of Narnia series. Option rights to the story were granted to Paramount in 1993, with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall as executive producers. In 1996, director John Boorman was in charge of the project, and had hired Jim Henson's Creature Shop to helm the pre-production design phase. Under the supervision of Neal Scanlan, and working closely with Boorman and his art team, the Creature Shop designed a puppet model of Aslan, the regal lion, which stood five feet at the shoulders and was designed to carry three child actors on its back. Because of its sheer size, Scanlan recalled that the designers "had to do a lot of work on the face to make it dignified. like a wise old man, rather than just plain scary." The team also built Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, designed to "look like a retired schoolmaster and his wife," and costumes for Fenris (a half-man, half-wolf character) and several fauns. [1]

In addition to the physical characters, the Creature Shop planned to create the film's centaurs through CGI, under the supervision of Hal Bertram. A mechanical rig, similar to that used on Mary Reilly, was created, to reproduce the movement of a real horse, located at a Bristol veterinary school, with additional input from circus horses. The centaur's human half was taken from motion-capture of Mike Lewis (aka Saracen), a star of the UK series Gladiators (the British equivalent of American Gladiators), and skin and coat textors were added. [2]

After several months of work, the film was put on hold, and the creatures went into storage. Later, Disney veteran Rob Minkoff was assigned to the project, and a new writing team was found. Ultimately, Paramount's option on the film lapsed, and in 2000, the C. S. Lewis Company partnered with Walden Media. A film version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe finally hit theaters in 2005, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures (followed by a 2008 sequel with further adaptations to come), but with no Creature Shop involvement. [3]

References

In episode 13 of From the Balcony, Statler and Waldorf reviewed the 2005 film version.

Connections

In 1979, the Children's Television Workshop produced its own animated adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, produced and co-written by Dave Connell. In addition, several cast and crew who have worked on Muppet/Creature Shop projects also participated in Chronicles of Narnia adaptations.

  • Gabrielle Anwar played Ramandu's daughter in Prince Caspian and the Dawn Treader (1989)
  • John Bach played a British Homeguard soldier in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
  • Kenny Baker played Dufflepud in Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989)
  • Geoffrey Bayldon played Ramandu in Prince Caspian and the Dawn Treader (1989)
  • Ailsa Berk puppeteered Aslan in all three BBC TV serial adaptations of the books: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988), Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989) and The Silver Chair (1990)
  • Jim Broadbent played Professor Kirke in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
  • Warwick Davis played Reepicheep in Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989) and The Silver Chair (1990), Glimfeather in The Silver Chair, and Nikabrik in Prince Caspian (2008)
  • Mike Edmonds played an owl in The Silver Chair (1990)
  • Dawn French played the voice of Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
  • Jessica Fox played Polly in The Magician's Nephew (Focus on the Family radio, 1999)
  • Vincent Grass played Doctor Cornelius in Prince Caspian (2008)
  • Harry Gregson-Williams composed the score for The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) and scored and played the voice of Pattertwig the Squirrel in Prince Caspian (2008)
  • Sheila Hancock played the voice of the White Witch in the UK broadcast version of CTW's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Eddie Izzard played the voice of Reepicheep in Prince Caspian (2008)
  • Simon Jones played author C. S. Lewis in The Question of God: Sigmund Freud & C.S. Lewis (2004, TV)
  • William Todd Jones puppeteered Aslan in the three BBC TV adaptations and played Glenstorm the centaur in The Silver Chair (1990)
  • Big Mick played Ginarrbrik in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988) and Trumpkin in Prince Caspian and the Dawn Treader (1989) and The Silver Chair (1990)
  • Liam Neeson played the voice of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) and Prince Caspian (2008)
  • Jack Purvis played Dufflepud in Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989) and Golg in The Silver Chair (1990)
  • Paul Scofield played the Storyteller in multiple adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia books (Focus on the Family radio, 1999-2002)
  • Kiran Shah played Ginarrbrik in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
  • Kerry Shale played the voice of Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988)
  • Peter Ustinov played the voice of C. S. Lewis in Through Joy and Beyond (1979, TV documentary)

Sources

  1. Bacon, Matt. No Strings Attached, p. 155.
  2. Bacon, Matt. No Strings Attached, p. 141.
  3. Manly, Lorne. "The Stepson, the Billionaire and the Walt Disney Co." The New York Times. November 6, 2005.

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