Ever since I watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) on telly last Xmas (and developed a bit of a crush on Tilda Swinton’s ‘Jadis’), I’ve been keeping an eye out for the DVD. I’ve seen plenty of copies of the one-disc edition around, but I was really holding out for the two-disc version, to achieve maximum Swinton-icity… so imagine my delight when I spotted the fancy-schmancy four-disc boxset on sale for a fiver in my local supermarket! Yay!!!
What struck me most while listening to the “Kids & Director” commentary track, aside from all the nice things they were saying about Swinton’s general awesomeness, was how respectful Andrew Adamson was towards his young cast. He genuinely listened to what they were saying, and responded thoughtfully to their observations and questions. I fear I would be far less open and understanding in his place… especially with Georgie Henley, who seems like she would have been a bit of a headache to work with at that age (no offence intended… she does give a great performance in the part, and seems like quite a bright, sweet girl in her quieter moments… so I’m sure she’s settled down a lot since then). It’s interesting to learn about the various tricks that Adamson used to draw more natural performances from the kids, such as keeping them away from certain costumed characters until shooting began, or blindfolding and physically carrying them onto the snowy Narnia set, so they’d be just as surprised to see it as their characters were!
To make Skandar Keynes (aka ‘Edmund’) seem more uncomfortable in the presence of the ‘White Witch’, Adamson would tease the poor boy about how much he “lurved” Swinton… which I can imagine being pretty effective, considering how infatuated I’d be with her if it was me she was cosying up to in that sleigh! Again, the director made sure to keep them apart at first, so they wouldn’t bond too much… but eventually they were allowed to socialise, and there are a few clips of them joking around together in the other featurettes. Fun fact: Keynes is currently studying Arabic and Middle Eastern History at Pembroke College, Cambridge… while Swinton graduated from New Hall College, Cambridge with a degree in Social and Political Sciences… so they’re quite the pair of smarty-pants!
Adamson makes a point of noting that Swinton was the first choice for the role, because of her sophisticated acting style, and her background in performance art… which he hoped would help them steer the character away from becoming a cackling cliché… and it’s pretty obvious from the “talking head” segments that she put a lot of thought into how the character should behave and dress. I hadn’t noticed this myself, but her first costume gradually “melts” and darkens over the course of the story, as Aslan’s influence grows. Clever stuff. Meanwhile, despite her fearsome appearance on-screen, everyone seems to have very complimentary things to say about how sociable and funny she was off-screen, and there are plenty of clips to back that up. I imagine if I were forced to endure the early calls and lengthy hair and make-up sessions that many of the cast members here had to, I would be throwing strops on a pretty regular basis, and sulking in a corner as soon as the director called “Cut!”… but clearly these professional thesps are made of sterner stuff!
Easter egg: On Disc 2 of the 2-Disc or 4-Disc Edition: Go to the “Evolution of an Epic” menu and scroll to “Anatomy of a Scene: The Melting River” and click the left arrow button to select the director’s chair. You’ll then see a short video showing how Keynes came to despise Turkish Delight, after having to eat the stuff in take after take after take. Ick