More than 1,300 years have passed in Narnia since the four Pevensie children first stumbled unsuspectingly through one particularly unusual wardrobe. Eager C.S. Lewis fans might argue that the two-and-a-half year wait for the release of Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia has seemed almost as long. The second film inspired by the seven-book Narnia series opens on May 16, when the children return to the kingdom to face an even greater challenge and more unforgettable creatures.
Filmmakers began production shortly after shooting the first film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, so that the four young actors would not be too old to continue their roles. Ben Barnes (Stardust) joins the cast in the role of Prince Caspian, with Italian actor Sergio Castellitto as Caspian's uncle Miraz, and Liam Neeson returning as the voice of Aslan the lion.
Though more than a thousand years have passed in the magical kingdom since the adventures in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, only one year has transpired on Earth for the Pevensie children. Transported from a train in 1941, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are surprised to find that much has changed in Narnia since they first experienced its spectacular landscapes and peculiar inhabitants, as they discover the ruins of their own treasury room. A race of former pirates known as the Telmarines, imagined by director Andrew Adamson in the style of Spanish conquistadors, has driven the original Narnians underground. The evil king Miraz has taken hold of the throne of Cair Paravel, preventing the rightful heir, Prince Caspian, from reigning as the true king of Narnia. With the aid of Susan's magic horn, which was left behind from the first adventure, Caspian summons the children back to the kingdom and enlists their aid in reclaiming the throne and battling the ruthless Telmarines who siege Aslan's How. Prince Caspian also introduces memorable characters like Reepicheep the brave mouse, Glenstorm the Centaur, Trufflehunter the badger and Trumpkin the dwarf.
The first Narnia film from Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures more than met box office expectations after its December 2005 release, grossing more than $700 million worldwide and becoming one of the most popular live-action films in cinematic history. Adamson has promised moviegoers a grander, more spectacular creation in his latest effort, with elaborate battle scenes, filmed in New Zealand and Eastern Europe, and more than 1,500 special-effects shots.
Because of the warlike tone of the movie, Prince Caspian has a darker, more medieval feel than the first film, and the Weta Workshop, a special-effects house that also worked on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has constructed an impressive array of armor and weaponry for the sets. For a behind-the-scenes peek at the design and construction of these effects, pick up The Crafting of Narnia. The book offers readers never-before-seen clips of drawings, sculptures and photos of the work that has made Lewis' enchanted world a reality for moviegoers.
Because Lewis' magic world can prove daunting to the unacquainted reader, the Narnia Chronology: From the Archives of the Last King (HarperCollins, $19.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780061240058) is an engaging and handy text. The book presents abridged versions of all seven tales arranged chronologically, with pop-ups, illustrations based on the original drawings by Pauline Baynes, and pull-tab surprises. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (HarperEntertainment, $6.99, 256 pages, ISBN 9780061231063) offers readers the original story, complete with eight pages of colorful movie stills. For first-timers and seasoned fans who want to tackle the whole saga, The Chronicles of Narnia (HarperEntertainment, $21.99, 768 pages, ISBN 9780061231056) includes all seven books from the series, in a boxed set featuring art from the films. This unabridged set also contains a foldout timeline of the adventures in Narnia.
Fans won't have to wait quite as long for the third movie in the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, scheduled for release in 2010. In the meantime, they are encouraged to sit back and enjoy this return to the land of Narnia.