Entertainment | June 2008
|Mexico Contributes to the Narnia Movies|
"Prince Caspian," a movie produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media, was recently released worldwide, opening in the #1 position in 14 countries, including the U.S. and Mexico.
Contemporary big-budget movies, with their legions of actors, artists, technicians and other contributors, only a fraction of whom are seen onscreen, are international collaborations. "Prince Caspian" was no exception.
"Prince Caspian" is a cinematic adaptation of the fantasy novel of the same name by C.S. Lewis. It's part of the seven-volume "Chronicles of Narnia" series, about the imaginary land of Narnia, first published in the 1950s. The books have sold more than 100 million copies and have been translated into 41 languages, including Spanish.
In 2005, Disney and Walden brought "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (the first of the Narnia series that Lewis wrote) to the big screen, and now it's being followed by "Prince Caspian," which has several Mexican contributions.
Some of these contributions are in the area of computer-generated visual effects, produced at Studio C in Mexico City, under the direction of Guatemalan-born Carlos Arguello.
The twenty Mexicans working at Studio C produced 40 visual effects for "Prince Caspian." These effects are briefly seen onscreen, lasting from 3-4 seconds apiece.
But the movie's most prominent effect produced at Studio C was the "Hag," a totally digital character, quite grotesque and evil, appearing about halfway through the film. Quite effectively done, it managed to scare one of my children when we watched the movie!
While producing such effects, Studio C had to be in communication with director Andrew Adamson in New Zealand, and a production director in Britain, illustrating once again the globe-girdling nature of modern film production.
Also, prominent Mexican actor, Damian Alcazar, had a major role in the movie.
Alcazar, who has previously won 10 Ariels (an Ariel is a Mexican equivalent of the Oscar) portrayed Sopespian, one of the principal bad guys.
Alcazar turns in a very solid acting performance, and near the end of the movie, is part of an impressive special effects scene (which I don't divulge because I don't like to spoil movies for others.)
Alcazar thoroughly enjoyed his stint on "Prince Caspian", his first Hollywood movie. The Mexican actor had not even sought the role. Rather, Adamson and the producers had seen his work in Mexican cinema and sought him out for the Sopespian role, not even requiring an audition.
Alcazar says he tried to being a sense of "Mexican irony" to the role.
In his role as Sospesian, a leader of the Telmarine army, Alcazar wore a suit of armor weighing 55 pounds. The Telmarines in the movie (though not in the original novel) look like Spaniards, and their armor resembles that of the Spanish conquistadors with a little touch of Samurai. (Click here for a photograph of Damian Alcazar in the movie.)
Damian Alcazar acted in his portions of the movie for 35 days in the Czech Republic and Slovenia (other portions were filmed in Poland and New Zealand,) and his 20-year old son, who tagged along, also appears in the film.
Alcazar said the experience changed his mind about big-budget Hollywood film production: "...I thought that it was very simple because there was a a lot of money and production, but on the contrary, it becomes more complex and interesting."
And he was impressed by the scale of production: "I had never done a movie with special effects, with a team of 2000 persons, before 4 or 5 cameras at the same time."
Damian Alcazar now says he won't work in a Hollywood movie with a smaller role than this one, unless it's for director Martin Scorsese.
Mexico is a huge movie market. So before "Prince Caspian" premiered here on May 16th (the same day as the general release in the U.S.) a few of the film's major actors, William Moseley (Peter) and Anna Popplewell (Susan) made separate promotional visits to Mexico.
And when "Prince Caspian" did arrive, it did well, opening at #1 on its initial weekend.
In October, filming is scheduled to begin on the next Narnia movie, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," which is nautically-themed. Two-thirds of the movie is to be filmed in Rosarito, Mexico, in the studio which was constructed for the "Titanic" movie.
So the Narnia-Mexico collaboration, it appears, is scheduled to continue...
Allan Wall is an American citizen who has been teaching English in Mexico since 1991, and writing articles about various aspects of Mexico and Mexican society for the past decade. Some of these articles are about Mexico's political scene, history and culture, tourism, and Mexican emigration as viewed from south of the border, which you can read on his website at AllanWall.net.
Click HERE for more articles by Allan Wall.