|More Caspian Creatures|
Special-effects maven Howard Berger told SCI FI Wire that his three children helped him make the creatures in The Chronicles of Narnia movies look more realistic for the film, which comes out on DVD and Blu-ray disc this week.
Berger, who is a founding partner of KNB EFX Group, developed the Narnia characters such as Aslan and Mr. Tumnus. In a tour of the company's Van Nuys, Calif., offices, Berger said he often consulted with his children, as well as with director Andrew Adamson. (Berger won an Oscar for makeup for the first Chronicles of Narnia movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).
"Every week [while filming,] we set it up so that Andrew would have a show-and-tell day, but before that we would show my kids and bring them in, and they'd critique everything and take their notes," Berger said. "We wanted, for example, a Mr. Tumnus that we remember as kids, and they were pure in thought. If my kids thought it was terrible--if the faun didn't look right, or something like that--then it is not working."
Berger's daughter, 13, and two sons, 9 and 8 at the time, were huge fans of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, on which the movies are based. "They were the perfect target audience, and if they said that it was exactly like it was in the books, or if it was the way they pictured it, then we got it right," Berger said. "Most of the time they were all pretty spot-on with their critiques."
Berger took the criticism to heart, even making a major change when one of his sons suggested that the White Witch's black hair was wrong. "It's true," Berger said. "Tilda Swinton in black hair looked a bit goth, and so we changed the hair for the witch lighter, and it worked. There was nothing in the books that ever talked about her hair color. There was no reference at all to it in the book, and in my mind it should have been black, but that wasn't necessarily correct."
For those who read the books over and over, like his children, such authenticity was important. It wasn't until a set visit that Berger and the director knew they were on the right track.
"When they went on the set and walked on all the snow in the Lantern wasteland, with the lamppost, there was this collective 'Wow,' and Andrew came over, and they told him, 'This is exactly how it is supposed to be,'" Berger said. "That is when Andrew said, 'I guess we did our job.'" A three-disc collector's edition of Prince Caspian is now available. --Mike Szymanski
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