Making the “Chronicles of Narnia” movies has been no
easy feat. In fact, it’s basically consumed 15 years of Douglas
Gresham’s life. But the keeper of all things Narnia, who is also
C.S. Lewis’ stepson, clearly loves what he does, and all that
hard work will come to fruition with the December 10 release
of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Narnia is about to get a whole lot weirder—and even more beautiful—for The Voyage of
the Dawn Treader, the third chapter in the
popular C.S. Lewis series.
Not wanting to give away too many secrets
before the film hits theaters nationwide on
December 10, Douglas Gresham will say
this: “I think what people can expect from
the third Narnia movie is excitement and
beauty. It’s a very beautiful film to look at.”
Beyond developing the film’s rich aesthetic
quality, Gresham says the beauty isn’t just
skin deep, though. What’s always been
the hallmark of C.S. Lewis’ writing is the
way that faith is subtly but meaningfully
“There are a lot of extremely valuable
lessons this time around, particularly in
regard to temptation,” Gresham shares.
“Basically, it does what Narnia does best. It
transmits the essential, life-affirming
messages that everyone needs to learn in an
Describing himself as “sort of a Narnia
watchdog or policeman,” it’s Gresham’s
responsibility to be the sole guardian of his
stepfather’s work, a task that’s certainly not
been easy. Still, it’s a challenge he’s been
proudly invested in.
“My biggest job is to make sure Narnia
remains Narnia onscreen in these movies. I try
to ensure that everything appears onscreen in
Narnia is a genuine Narnian possibility or
event,” Gresham says. “And I think this film,
that Narnian feel is very much there.”
VOYAGE TO NARNIA
Centering around the two younger Pevensies,
Edmund and Lucy, The Voyage of the Dawn
Treader marks a few firsts in the Narnia
series. Not only is it the first in the series that
will utilize 3-D technology, but it’s the first
that will feature a slew of magical creatures
including dwarfs, dragons and merpeople.
Picking up where Prince Caspian left off
three years after Caspian became king, Lucy
(played by Georgia Henley) and Edmund
(Skander Keynes) are staying with their
rather annoying, unpleasant cousin Eustace
Scrubb (Will Poulter) while their older sister Susan (Anna Popplewell) is traveling
through America with their parents and
their older brother Peter (William Moseley) is studying for university exams.
Then when seems like a routine visit with
family abruptly changes when Lucy,
Edmund, and yes, even ol’ Eustace are
captivated—and eventually drawn back to
Narnia—by a neglected picture of a ship at
sea that had been given to Eustace’s family
as a gift.
Although Eustace never believed in Narnia
before, he quickly becomes a believer when
the children land in the ocean near that
pictured boat, The Dawn Treader. As it turns
out, the ship belongs to Caspian, the new
King of Narnia.
But Narnia wouldn’t be Narnia without a
battle between good and evil, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader definitely follows suit.
Even though Narnia is peaceful when the
story begins, it doesn’t take long for things to
grow corrupt when the Narnians begin
falling prey to less than Narnia ideals,
particularly with slave trade.
“What’s always been one of the most
important parts of what I do is to make sure
the themes of these books reappear in the
film,” says Gresham. “And this time around,
the message of trying to live a right life
couldn’t be more relevant. One of the things
that I think often gets lost in modern times is
the understanding that one never knows how
strong temptation can be once you’ve met it
and defeated it, and that’s the message of The
Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”
PRAYING IT OUT
So how did Gresham prepare himself for
such an arduous task, one that’s scrutinized
and debated regularly about on online
message forums, Facebook and the like?
“Well, I pray a lot,” says Gresham with a
laugh. “With the books, everything is done
verbally with words, of course, and with
movies, everything must translate visually.
So the transition from one medium to the
other is a difficult process.”
Even more complicated is writing the
screenplay, which goes through several
incarnations before shooting even begins.
“You don’t even want to know how many
different drafts there are,” Gresham says.
“But the end result makes it absolutely
worth all the work and deliberation.”
As for how he thinks he’s fared with the
Narnia movies, something he’s dreamt
about since he first read The Lion, The
Witch and The Wardrobe at age nine, he
hopes that C.S. himself would be happy
with what he’s done.
“If he wasn’t, I would’ve basically wasted
15 years of my life,” Gresham says matter of
factly. “But aside from maybe a couple of
minor, minor things that you can’t help but
notice later on, I think he’d really be happy
with it and love to see how far technology
has come since his day.” FF