01/04/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: HarperCollins. 213 page illustrated softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for £ 3.50 (UK) so shop around for the best price. ISBN: 978-0-00-782397-0.
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I've only just got around to watching the 'Prince Caspian' film and its amazing eight minutes of credits at the end. If nothing else, it tells you there's a lot of work involved in bringing the film in on a couple years production schedule. Film publicist Ernie Malik has a major advantage writing this book. He's on the inside so has contact with all the right people, not wandering in from time to time and at the same time and doesn't shy away from any work difficulties.
The stills show the mud and rain and the only thing missing is not showing the cast and crew being attacked by sand flies and ticks but you do see the inoculation tents and instructions to take the jabs. Publicists for long-term films get to make contact with all aspects of the film so it's a bonus that they can also write or as here, not afraid to let some of those involved to write their own pieces or interview them and hog the limelight.
Ernie Malik succeeds in making this an essential read and I'm surprised its classed as a child's book cos with all the technical stuff covered it is more for adults. It gives a firm insight into all aspects of production, finishing as the post-production on effects carries beyond his time on the film. If you're interested in getting into films then it shows the long hours, travelling and long time away from homes. You'd need the constitution of a centaur to fully appreciate what's involved.
As with all films, its up to the director to guide everyone else in what he needs. Many of the crew who worked on 'The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe' are back and you have to admire their stamina. If anything, it makes sense because they don't have to be educated into what is needed and already know the pitfalls and what needs improving. Considering that this film is mostly set in Narnia and all its varied creatures then this practically made it essential. It would have been disastrous if they hadn't gotten on with each other or pulled in awkward directions.
The film is not only covered in text but in production design and photos that are not just publicity. Did you know the film's disguise name was 'Toastie' with an emphasis on a Reepicheep design? With over fifty different species, that when it came to dining, they set in their respective groups, something reminiscent of what happened in the 'Planet Of The Apes' films. Other than a couple female centaurs, it also looks like most of the other species only sent the males turned up.
This is a beautifully made book and like all media tie-in books aren't on the shelves for too long and aren't likely to be reprinted. I'll be giving my comments on the DVD next month but this book makes a useful companion to giving the inside information how it was done. Even more magically, it doesn't spoil the film but produces a desire to watch again with greater understanding.
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