Belief versus doubt seems to be one of the major themes [in this movie], particularly in relation to Aslan, who [doesn't] appear until the end. In the book, he [was] introduced earlier. What was your process in exploring that?
In the book it happens very much within one scene in the gorge, when they're following Aslan and one by one they get to see him. I didn't want to do it that way largely because I felt like it would be a really long scene that wasn't that interesting because it's really just walking through a gorge saying, "Do you see him?" "No, do you see him?" I felt that wouldn't play very cinematically.
I wanted to make it sort of a belief on so many levels. Belief in yourself, belief in Narnia. I guess the thing for me was within Susan, there was this idea of it's better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. And that's more with her in relation to Narnia. She has that line by the campfire when she says, "while it lasts." So, it was this general sense of them all coming to terms with what has happened before, who they were, who Aslan was, believing in Aslan, believing in their past, and then allowing themselves to let go and let things happen.
Peter's trying to control the whole thing. Susan's rejecting/accepting the thing. Lucy's really the only one that stays relatively unwavering, and in this movie much more than the last, her self-doubt was tested as well.
Why was Lucy's dream sequence with Aslan done as a dream sequence?
There's something you can get away with in the structure of the book where a lot of it is told in retrospect, which is the fact that Aslan is there and he doesn't do anything. But, I had a problem with that cinematically because once you show Aslan, if you don't have him do something, it's going to be like, "Well, why is he letting all this happen?" It became very hard to let your audience see this sort of powerful, omnipotent creature come along, hang out with the kids, and not do anything to stop this carnage.
I wanted to bring Aslan to the story, I wanted to see the connection between him and Lucy. I think all those things were important in the book, and it ended up being the best way to achieve that without having to explain why he wasn't there. There's also that question of, 'was it a dream or not?' He repeats later on a line that he said to her in that dream. So, that's sort of something I've deliberately left up to the audience to interpret themselves.
Why this theme of change? In your estimation, what character has to make the greatest change from the beginning of the film to the end?
I think Peter, actually. I think the scene where he hands over his sword to Caspian is probably the biggest sign of change. I mean, he lived 15 years as this high king conquering the giants, all those kind of things, and now he has to pass that on and accept that he's going back to being a school boy. So, that's a pretty hard change.
Peter, obviously, gets to the point where it's like, I just need to do this myself. Basically, just forget Aslan.
Yeah, I think the thing for him really is also just wanting to relieve his glory days. For Peter it was sort of a chance to reassert himself, to prove himself again. So, he didn't really want Aslan's help because that would mean that he needed somebody's help, and he wanted to prove that he was the High King. Therefore, he was the last to come around to actually saying, okay, I need help.
How did you want your audience to reconnect with Narnia, even though it's been 1,300 years since the four children have come back? What kind of challenges did that pose in your filming?
One of the things I found in one of the early test screenings is when the Pevensies come on, the audience were just really happy to see them. So, that made it easy to connect with a place that was very different.
At the same time, I was actually trying to create somewhat of a disconnection. I grew up in Papua New Guinea from when I was 11 until 18. And it's a country that's gone through an awful lot of change in the last 22 years. And I've never gone back there partly because I know that the place that I grew up doesn't really exist anymore. There's a lot of conflict, there's curfews, there's violence. When I grew up there, it was very free. I'd jump on my motorcycle and ride off into the bush at 13 years old.
So, I related to this sense of loss, of not being able to go back to something that you grew up with, and realized it's also a universal thing. You can't go back to your childhood, and that's really what these kids are going through. They're sort of going back to a place that no longer exists and then having to accept it and move on. And so, as much as I wanted the connection, I wanted the audience to feel that sense of loss as well.