July 22nd, 2006
This week one of our Netflix selections was the DVD of bonus material for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Given our obsession with adopting Georgie Henley (no luck there yet), we most enjoyed a short documentary focusing on the children playing Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.
Director Andrew Adamson had good taste: he said he knew, as soon as he saw Georgie’s audition tape, that she would be Lucy. Why, then, did she and the three other children (not to mention their unsuccessful competitors) have to spend a year and a half in the audition process before casting decisions were made? I mean, sure, you want to make sure that you’re not getting obnoxious little child actors, but a year and a half? That’s torture for any child. They could have spent that time getting a head start on Prince Caspian, which is due to be released an eternity from now. Georgie may be a teenager before they get to my favorite book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Speaking of casting children for adaptations of fantasy books, many of you have probably already heard that the movie of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass will star a little girl named Dakota. Not Fanning. Her full name is Dakota Blue Richards, and there are no images of her available on the Internet.
The more interesting Golden Compass news is that Nicole Kidman may be joining the cast as Mrs. Coulter (ah, but will her golden lion tamarin be as charming as a certain undead monkey?). Several sources say this rumor is “confirmed,” but IMDB still lists her connection as “rumored.” The same goes for Paul Bettany, who may or may not be playing Lord Asriel. Anyway, I thought Jillian and Dormouse would be very happy about these rumors.
I’m really enjoying the fact that I can talk about Lewis-based and Pullman-based movies in the same post. Because, as you may know, Pullman hates Lewis. His famous 1998 essay “The Dark Side of C.S. Lewis” critiques Lewis for filling The Chronicles of Narnia with Christian didacticism . . . and yet The Amber Spyglass, the third installment of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, is one of the most didactic bits of twentieth-century fiction I’ve ever read. It just happens to be atheist (or perhaps satanic, in the technical sense, would be more accurate) didacticism. The characters kill God because he’s a Fascist. Pullman says that it’s a cheap trick for Lewis to “kill off” his characters in The Last Battle and assert that they’re all right because they’ve gone to heaven, yet Pullman kills his characters off and then asserts that they’re all right because they’ve disintegrated into happy little dust particles.
I could go on and on about how silly Pullman’s critique of Lewis is, but instead I’ll refer you to Alan Jacobs’ Lewis biography The Narnian. Jacobs is also very familiar with Pullman, and, like me, he was intrigued with The Golden Compass because of its vivid alternate-world creation. (Porpoise and I were reading the Pullman books at approximately the same time that Jacobs was, so we were able to trade reactions as our disappointment grew with The Subtle Knife and finally The Amber Spyglass.) If you don’t have time to check out The Narnian, take a look at Michael Nelson’s article from The Chronicle Review.
On a completely different note, but one still related to my original topic of casting rumors, a movie adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl (which I know nothing about, except what I’ve read on Amazon) is set to star Eric Bana as Henry VIII, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, and (possibly) Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn. Wow—that’s a lot of pretty people in one movie. Eric Bana as Henry VIII? Kind of hard to picture. Not much rotundity there. Also, since Bana is 6’3”, Portman is 5’3”, and Johansson is 5’4”, I’m imagining that a lot of scenes featuring between either of the sisters and their love are going to have to be carefully angled to make up for a foot of height difference. Heels can only do so much. But, hey, hurrah for casting petite people!