The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the
is a 2005
directed by Andrew Adamson
based on The
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
, the first published
novel in C. S. Lewis
fantasy series The
Chronicles of Narnia
. It was produced by Walden Media
and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
. William Moseley
, Anna Popplewell
, Georgie Henley
and Skandar Keynes
, four British children evacuated
during the Blitz
to the countryside, who
find a wardrobe that leads to the fantasy
. There they ally
with the Lion Aslan
(voiced by Liam Neeson
) against the forces of the White Witch
It was released on December 9, 2005 in both Europe and North
America to positive reviews and was highly successful at the box
office. It won the 2005 Academy Award
for Best Make Up and various other
, and is the first of what will be a series of films
on the books. An Extended Edition
was released on December
12, 2006 and was only made available on DVD until January 31, 2007
when it was discontinued. It was the best selling DVD in North
America in 2006 taking in $332.7 million that year. It aired on
, uninterrupted by
commercials, on June 19, 2009.
begins with the 1940 bombing of Finchley, London,
during the Blitz.
, are in direct danger from
the falling bombs.
The children are evacuated
to the country home of Professor
. One day while they are playing hide and seek
, Lucy discovers a wardrobe
and enters a wintry fantasy world
. She spends a few hours in the home of the
, Mr. Tumnus
explains that the White Witch
Narnia, and it has been winter for one hundred years. In accordance
with her orders, if a human is ever encountered, a Narnian must
bring them to her. However, Tumnus likes Lucy and can't bring
himself to kidnap her so he sends her home. When she returns,
hardly any time has passed in the normal world, and when the other
children check the Wardrobe, all they see is a normal wooden back -
the portal is gone.
Later, Edmund follows Lucy into Narnia, and he meets the White
Witch and her faithful dwarf
. She offers him Turkish delight
, as well as the prospect of
becoming king if Edmund will bring his brother and sisters to her
castle. After she departs, Edmund and Lucy meet again and return to
tell the others. Edmund denies Narnia's existence to Peter and
Susan, saying he was playing along with Lucy. The Professor has a
private talk with Peter and Susan; he does not understand why they
do not believe Lucy's story and gives them three possible
explanations of Lucy's behavior — madness
dishonesty, and sincerity — the others know she is neither mad nor
dishonest, so she must be telling the truth.
On another day, while hiding from the housekeeper in the wardrobe
after breaking a window, the four siblings enter Narnia. Peter and
Susan apologize for their disbelief and Peter threatens Edmund
unless he apologizes to Lucy. They discover Mr. Tumnus has been
taken by the Witch's Secret Police and meet talking beavers who
tell them about Aslan
. According to the
beavers, Aslan is on the move to take control of Narnia from the
White Witch. The four must help Aslan and his followers; it has
that when two sons of Adam
and two daughters of Eve sit in the four thrones, the Witch's reign
Edmund sneaks off to visit the Witch alone. When he arrives at her
castle, she is angry that he did not deliver his siblings. The
Witch sends wolves to hunt down the other children and the beavers,
who barely escape with the aid of a fox. Edmund is chained in the
Witch's dungeon where he meets Mr. Tumnus. The Witch demands that
Edmund tell her where his family is because her police couldn't
find them; Edmund tells her some information, but hesitates when
Tumnus looks at him warningly (he also tries to tell the witch that
Edmund doesn't know anything). The witch tells Mr. Tumnus that it
was Edmund's fault that she knew about his involvement. Mr. Tumnus
is turned to stone.
While Peter, Lucy, Susan, and the beavers travel to the Stone
Table, they see what they believe to be the White Witch chasing
after them, so they run and hide — fortunately, it is really
, a sign that the
Witch's reign is ending. Father Christmas gives Lucy a bottle of
juice of fire-flowers and a dagger, Susan a bow and arrow and a
magical horn, and Peter a sword and shield.
Pursued by wolves led by Maugrim
, the group
manages to safely cross a thawing river, leaving the Witch no way
to reach them. Arriving at Aslan's camp, they encounter Aslan
, who is revealed as a huge and noble lion
. Aslan promises to help Edmund in any way he can.
Later, two wolves ambush Lucy and Susan while they are frolicking
by the river. When Peter intervenes, Maugrim attacks him, and Peter
kills him with his sword. Some of Aslan's troops follow the other
wolf back to the witch's camp and rescue Edmund.
The White Witch arrives at Aslan's camp and claims that Edmund is
her property, based on the "deep magic" of Narnia; it says that
traitors belong to her and that she must kill them at the Stone
Table. Aslan privately negotiates with the White Witch, who agrees
to leave Edmund alone. That night Susan and Lucy notice Aslan
leaving the encampment. After walking with him for a while he tells
the sisters to return to camp, for they cannot go with him. As they
watch, Aslan approaches the Stone Table where he is killed by the
White Witch. However, in the morning he is resurrected
because "there is a magic deeper
still the Witch does not know." Aslan takes Susan and Lucy to the
Witch's castle where he frees the prisoners of the White Witch,
including Mr. Tumnus, forming an army for battle.
Meanwhile, Edmund persuades Peter to join battle with the Witch's
army. At first quite successful, Peter's army begins to lose, and
Edmund is injured, though he has managed to destroy the White
Witch's staff, her most effective weapon. As she fights Peter,
Aslan arrives with reinforcements and kills her. Lucy revives
Edmund and many others with the fire-flower juice given to her by
Father Christmas, while Aslan frees more victims of the White
Witch's stone-turning spell.
The Pevensies become Kings and Queens, staying in Narnia until they
are adults. Fifteen years later, while chasing a white stag to
receive wishes, they find the wardrobe and return to England,
becoming children again. The professor enters the room and asks
what they were doing. Peter replies, "You wouldn't believe us, if
we told you, sir." Then the professor tosses him the ball, used to
break the window, and replies, "Try me." Later Lucy attempts to go
back to Narnia, but the Professor tells her he has been trying for
years, and they will probably return to Narnia when they least
- William Moseley as
Peter Pevensie, the eldest of the
four Pevensie children.
- Anna Popplewell as Susan Pevensie, the second eldest child of
the four Pevensie children.
- Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie, the third of the four
- Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie, the youngest of the four
- Tilda Swinton as Jadis, the White Witch, the evil witch who holds
Narnia under an eternal winter. The white witch is the main
antagonist and villain.
- Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan, the great lion who was
responsible for creating Narnia and who sacrifices himself for
- James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus, a faun who at first is on the White
Witch's side, then, seeing her evil ways, turns to Aslan's forces.
- Ray Winstone voices Mr. Beaver, a beaver who
helps lead the children to Aslan.
- Dawn French voices Mrs. Beaver, a beaver who helps lead the
children to Aslan.
- Kiran Shah as Ginarrbrik, the White Witch's servant dwarf.
- Jim Broadbent as Professor Digory Kirke, an old professor who went to Narnia as a child although
he has been unable for years to get through the Wardrobe. He let
the children stay at his manor in the country during the war.
- Elizabeth Hawthorne as Mrs.
Macready, Kirke's strict housekeeper.
- James Cosmo as Father Christmas. He gives Peter, Susan,
and Lucy their Christmas gifts.
- Michael Madsen as the voice of
Maugrim, a wolf who is
captain of the White Witch's secret police.
- Patrick Kake as Oreius, a centaur who is
second-in-command of Aslan's army.
- Shane Rangi as General Otmin, a minotaur who is second-in-command of the White
- Morris Cupton as Train Conductor, the conductor of the train
Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy ride.
- Judy McIntosh as Helen Pevensie,
the mother of the four Pevensie children.
- Rupert Everett as the voice of a
fox who helps the children along their way to
- Noah Huntley as the adult Peter
Pevensie, who has grown up as a king in Narnia.
- Sophie Winkleman as the adult
Susan Pevensie, who has grown up as a queen in Narnia.
- Mark Wells as the adult Edmund
Pevensie, who has grown up as a king in Narnia.
- Rachael Henley as the adult Lucy
Pevensie, who has grown up as a queen in Narnia.
- Producer Philip Steuer voices
Phillip, Edmund's talking horse.
The radio-announcer that Peter listens to on the rainy day near the
beginning of the film is played by Douglas Gresham
, co-producer of the movie
and C. S. Lewis's stepson. Keynes' voice broke during filming, so
some of his voice track had to be re-looped by his sister Soumaya
. Mr. Pevensie is only glimpsed in a
photo which Edmund tries to retrieve during the bombing, which is
of Sim-Evan Jones' father.
With the exception of Tilda Swinton
who was the first choice to play the White Witch, casting was a
long process. Beginning in 2002, Adamson went through 2500 audition
tapes, met 1800 children and workshopped 400 before coming down to
the final four actors for the Pevensies. Moseley and Popplewell
came from the very start of casting, whilst Henley and Keynes were
cast relatively late. Moseley was cast because casting director
Pippa Hall remembered she cast him as an extra in a 1998
dramatization of Cider with
. He quit school to learn all his lines and beat 3000
boys to the role of Peter.
Aslan's voice was a contention point. Brian
was originally cast in the role on December 9, 2004, but
Adamson changed his mind. Liam Neeson
sought out the role, and was announced as the voice on July 17,
During the early 1990s, producers Frank Marshall
and Kathleen Kennedy
planning a film version. They could not find a space in Britain to shoot the film during 1996, and their plans to
set the film in modern times made Douglas Gresham oppose the film, in addition
to his feeling that technology had yet to catch up. Perry Moore
began negotiations with the C. S. Lewis
Estate in 2000. On December 7, 2001,
Walden Media announced that they had acquired the rights to
The Chronicles of
The success of Harry Potter and
the Philosopher's Stone
prompted the producers to feel
they could make a faithful adaptation of the novel set in Britain.
came along, and all those cultural or
geographical lines were broken," Mark Johnson
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
was being developed
at Paramount, the imperative was to set it in the U.S., and it just
doesn't hold. [...] It's not the book." Guillermo del Toro
turned down the offer
to direct due to his commitment on Pan's Labyrinth
. Following his Academy Award
win for Shrek
, director Andrew
began adapting the source material with a 20 page
treatment based on his memories of the book. As such the film
begins with the Luftwaffe
concludes with an enormous battle, although they do not take up as
much time in the novel.
In the novel, the battle is never seen until Aslan, Susan, Lucy and
their reinforcements arrive. This was changed in the movie because
Adamson said he could vividly remember a huge battle, an example of
how Lewis left a lot to the readers' imagination. Other small
changes include the reason all four children come to Narnia, in
that an accident breaks a window and forces them to hide. Tumnus
also never meets Edmund until the end in the novel. Minor details
were added to the Pevensies, such as their mother's name, Helen,
being the actual first name of Georgie Henley's mother.
Finchley as the home
of the Pevensies was inspired by Anna Popplewell, who actually is
Adamson also changed the circumstances in
which Lucy first comes into Narnia. He felt it was more natural
that she first see the wardrobe while looking for a hide and seek
hiding place, rather than just
chance upon it exploring the house. The film also hints at
Professor Kirke's role in The
, such as the engravings on the wardrobe
when it is a simple one in the novel and the Professor's surprise
and intrigue when Peter and Susan mentions Lucy's discovery in the
wardrobe. When Lewis wrote the novel, such a back-story did not
exist. In the novel also, the father of the Pevensie children is in
London with their mother, but in the film, their father is fighting
in the war as Lucy stated to Mr. Tumnus when they first meet in
head Richard Taylor
cited Hieronymus Bosch
's The Garden of Earthly
as an inspiration on the film. He felt Narnia had
to be less dark and gritty than their depiction of Middle-earth
in The Lord of the
because it is a new world. Many of Weta's creature
designs were designed for digital creation, so when Howard Berger
and KNB FX inherited the practical effects work, they had to spend
three months retooling approved designs for animatronics. Berger's
children would comment and advise upon his designs; they suggested
the White Witch's hair be changed from black to blonde, which
Berger concurred with as he realized Swinton's wig looked too
Principal photography began on June 28, 2004, shooting in primarily
chronological order. Adamson did this in order to naturally create
a sense of mature development from his young actors, which mirrored
their real life development. Georgie
and Skandar Keynes
never shown the set before filming scenes of their characters
entering Narnia, nor had Henley seen James
in his Mr. Tumnus costume before shooting their scenes
together. Thus, their reactions on camera are completely
The first scene shot was at the disused Hobsonville Air Base for
the railway scene. Afterwards, they shot the Blitz scene, which
Adamson called their first formal day of shooting.
The filmmakers asked permission to bring in twelve reindeer to New
Zealand to pull the Ice Queen's sled. The Ministry of Agriculture
and Forestry denied, citing the potentially deadly Q fever from
which the North American reindeer population suffers as the reason.
However, ten wolves and wolf hybrids
were allowed in for filming in Auckland. To replace the denied live
Rappaport's Creature Effects, Inc.
created four animatronic
reindeer that were used in shots where the deer were standing in
place. The reindeer were designed with replace-able skins to get
the most usage; brown for Father Christmas and white for the White
and crew spent their time in New Zealand in Auckland before
moving in November to the South Island.
filmed in Poland and Prague after the
Christmas break, before wrapping in
The soundtrack was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams
Gregson-Williams had previously worked with Adamson on Shrek
(2001) and Shrek
(2004). In addition there are three original songs in
the film; Can't Take It In
by Imogen Heap
by Alanis Morissette
by Tim Finn
soundtrack was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London,
Gregson-Williams employed the 75-piece Hollywood Studio Symphony
, along with a 140-member choir (mostly members of the
) and numerous other solo
musicians such as electric violinist Hugh
and vocalist Lisbeth Scott
(at his Wavecrest Studio). He composed the original score and then
spent late September through early November 2005 conducting the
Hollywood Orchestra and overseeing the recording of the English
. For "color", he employed instruments
used in ancient folk music
, and to
underscore critical dramatic moments, he added choral textures and,
occasionally, a solo voice. The score includes instances of
The soundtrack received two Golden
award nominations: "Best Original
" and "Best Original
" (for "Wunderkind").
On December 7, 2005 the film premiered in London, going on general
release the following day. The film was released December 8, 2005
in the United Kingdom and December 9, 2005 in North America and the
rest of Europe.
opened with $23 million USD in 3,616 theatres
on its opening day (December 9,
2005), averaging $6,363 per location. The film took in a total of
$65.5 million on its opening weekend (December 9–11, 2005), the
24th best opening weekend at the time, as well as the second
biggest December opening, behind The Lord of the
Rings: The Return of the King
. It is now third following
the 2007 opening of I Am
The worldwide total was $744.7 million as of July 30, 2006. Of
that, $291.7 million came from the United States, where it was the
second highest grossing film of 2005 behind Star Wars Episode
III: Revenge of the Sith
. There it surpassed the gross of
Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by only $1 million, which
grossed $896 million total worldwide (Source: Boxofficemojo).
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
highest-grossing live action film and the third highest-grossing
film overall in Disney company history before being passed in
by Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
, and Pirates of the
Caribbean: At World's End
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
won several awards
including the Academy Award for
; the BeliefNet Film Award
Spiritual film; the Movieguide Faith & Values Awards: Most
Inspiring Movie of 2005 and Best Family Movie of 2005; and the
(Character and Morality In Entertainment)
Award. Others include the British Academy Film
for Makeup and Hair and Orange Rising Star (James McAvoy
); Outstanding Motion Picture, Animated or
; the Phoenix Film Critics Society
Award for Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role
, Female); the
Costume Designers Guild
Award for Excellence in Fantasy Film (Isis Mussenden
); and the Saturn Award
for Costumes (Isis Mussenden) and
Make-up (Howard Berger, Greg Nicotero
and Nikki Gooley).
- The film is currently 75% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and 151 of the listed 202
reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.9/10.
- Movie critic Leonard Maltin gave
the film 3 out of four stars, calling it, "an impressive and
worthwhile family film," though he also said, "it does go on a bit
and the special effects are extremely variable."
- Stuart Klawans of The
Nation said, "All ticket buyers will get their money's
- Elizabeth Weitzman of New York
Daily News gave it 4 out of 4 stars and said: "A
generation-spanning journey that feels both comfortingly familiar
and excitingly original."
- Metacritic gives the movie a 75 out
of 100, based on 39 reviews.
- Tilda Swinton's performance in the
film as the White Witch has gained considerable acclaim among fans
and critics alike.
- John Anderson from Newsday stated that:
"…there's a deliberateness, a fastidiousness and a lack of daring
and vision that marks the entire operation."
- Cynthia Fuchs from PopMatters wrote:
"…the children's indoctrination seems less charming. They are
warriors, drawn into killing and a general faith in militarism,
into the sense that wars might solve problems, or at the least,
beat them into submission."
DVD and Blu-ray release
for The Chronicles of Narnia: The
Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
was released on April 4,
2006. It is available in a standard one-disc set (with separate
editions), and a deluxe widescreen
two-disc boxed set with additional artwork and other materials from
Disney and Walden Media. The DVD sold four million copies on its
first day of release and overtook Harry Potter and the
Goblet of Fire
to become the top selling DVD in North
America for 2006. As of December 2008 it has grossed $353.5 million
in DVD sales.
Disney made a four-disc DVD release of an extended cut of the film.
It was released on December 12, 2006 and was available commercially
until January 31, 2007, after which Disney put the DVD on
moratorium. The extended cut of the film runs approximately 150
minutes, including an extended version of the climactic battle
scene. The set also has all the features previously released on the
two-disc special edition. The two further discs include a segment
called "The Dreamer of Narnia," a previously unreleased feature
length film about C. S. Lewis, and additional production
featurettes. Most of the extended footage, besides the extended
battle sequence, are just longer shots of Narnia and footage of the
Pevensies walking in Narnia.
The high-definition Blu-ray Disc
version was released on May 13, 2008 in the United States, and was
released on June 16, 2008 in the United Kingdom, delayed from the
original planned release date in late 2007.
- Brennan, Mike. "Exclusive - The Chronicles of Narnia - First Listen".
SoundtrackNet. November 14 2005.
- Burlingame, Jon. "Harry
Gregson-Williams: A 21st Century Man". Music World via BMI. October 5 2006.
- [Leonard Maltin's 2009 movie and video guide page 245]
- Stuart Klawans. Imitation of Art.
- Metacritic reviews
- Metacritic: 2005 Film Critic Top Ten Lists
- Hollywood.com review
- Newsday Review
- PopMatters review
- CominSoon.net news report
- DVD Press Release
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The
Wardrobe Four-Disc Extended Edition DVD Review Ultimate Disney,
dated December 12, 2006, accessed 2007-01-03
- Disney Sets 'Chronicles of Narnia' Blu-ray for May
| High-Def Digest