To celebrate the release of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, RT went all the way to Narnia, or at least New Zealand, to bring you back a glimpse of a world that really does seem to exist on the other side of the wardrobe.
In a tiny, suburban nook of Wellington, New Zealand there stands a simple weatherboard house. It is differentiated from the other homey cottages in the area by the fact that it is filled with enough weaponry for numerous mythical armies. That and the two wrought-iron dragons that guard its doors. Here stands the Weta Cave, home to the five time Academy Award winning Weta Workshop and one of the coolest museums of movie collectibles and memorabilia in the Southern Hemisphere.
Weta Workshop worked closely with The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian director, Andrew Adamson and the Los Angeles based creative team leaders, production designer Roger Ford and costume designer Isis Mussenden, to design and produce weapons, armor, miniatures and costuming for the film.
Some of Weta’s work included:
RT was invited in to find out what life is like behind-the-scenes on a film like The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Join us for our pictorial tour of Weta Workshop, and some amazing locations.
Sitting on the desk, Susan’s horn looks like it has been carved from ivory. On picking it up, however, it feels very much like the urethane prop it is.
Paul Tobin and Christian Pearce, two designers from the Weta Workshop, created many of the children’s gifts for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, including Susan’s horn which then re-appeared in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. The concept behind this horn was that it should look as if it were a pair with Susan’s other gifts, the quiver and the bow. They decided the design should indicate that they were all carved from the same ivory tusk and when slung on her back, become one unit. The very tip has a mother of pearl inlay while the horn itself is carved in Aslan’s likeness.
Also lying on the desk for our grubby mitts to play with was Lucy’s vial. Lucy received this vial of life-giving cordial as one of her gifts in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was designed by Weta Workshop designer, Christian Pearce.
The stopper is a lion’s head, much the same as Peter’s sword and Lucy’s dagger. The colours are red and gold which are the colours used to symbolise Aslan. Amazingly, when you open it up, on the inside there is delicate design and illustration that will never be seen in detail in the film. Weta Workshop designers don’t create something just to be pretty; it must have a reason for existing. The design has Lucy’s monogram, surrounded by a stylised image. In order for the designer to construct that image he had to think about the justification for it. In one of the other Narnia books, it is mentions that the contents of the vial are made from fire-berry flowers. The fire-berry flower only grows in the Mountains of the Sun so part of the illustration is of a bird bring the flower back from the mountain.
Sadly this is as far as we could go at Weta, despite asking, then pleading, closely followed by attempted acts of subterfuge, we could not get ourselves into the privacy-clad workshop.
Never-mind, the next step on our behind-the-scenes tour of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian would prove itself to be quite the adventure…
Welcome to Narnia.
Otherwise known as the Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula.
This is where the children first stepped back into Narnia by way of The Strand tube station. It is not hard to understand why director, Andrew Adamson, chose this location. Even on a warm afternoon, the beach is strangely unaffected by the human world.
After yet another helicopter ride, bus trip and hike, we reach the site of Cair Paravel. Looking at this empty, green plot of land it is at first hard to imagine this as a place of ruins of the four thrones of High King Peter Pevensie the Magnificent, Queen Susan Pevensie the Gentle, King Edmund Pevensie the Just, and Queen Lucy Pevensie The Valiant.
And yet, the moment you peer over the side and see the cliffs rising above the flat, turquoise sea, you know you could not possibly be anywhere but on an island by the Great River of Narnia.
The site feels pristine; like it may indeed have been left alone to ruin over many centuries. In reality, it is just under two years since this site was a filmset teaming with people. While we hiked up the hill, the crew built roads over the private property in order to facilitate filming. Once they left, however, the roads were lifted and slowly consumed by nature.
There is something undeniably Pevensie about standing on a beautiful hilltop and feeling like you may be the first Daughter of Eve to ever have done so.
Richard Taylor talks about creating new worlds, the importance of good weaponry and how his six year-old son became a king.