Before his death, C.S. Lewis sold the adaptation rights to the entire "Narnia" series. At that time, he absolutely despised television adaptations of his books, believing they were non-realistic, since actors had to wear suits to play non-human characters. It was only after seeing a demo reel of creatures created with computer graphics and the advancement of that technology that Lewis's stepson/co-producer Douglas Gresham gave the approval for a film adaptation.
Georgie Henley's reaction to Mr. Tumnus at the lamppost is genuine. She had not seen her cast mate James McAvoy in his costume before the scene was filmed, so her screams and reaction were real. Georgie's first reaction to the snowy world of Narnia is also genuine - she was carried into the set blindfolded to make her first entrance, and her wide-eyed, delighted reactions to it all are entirely her own.
When the adults' swearing got out of hand on the set, Georgie Henley (Lucy) set up a swear bucket. James McAvoy was supposedly the worst offender. Even her teenager co-stars had to pay their toll, though, especially Skandar Keynes, accordingly to DVD's commentary.
The wolves that destroyed the Beavers' home were mostly real animals with one or two CGI ones added in, although their tails had to be digitally removed and re-added. Their tails kept wagging while filming the scene, making them seem less vicious, showing instead being happy with frolicking around.
The role of Edmund was cast last of the four children. That helped making his character a bit detached to his siblings, since the other three actors had been together in a workshop for almost a month by the time Skandar got the part. Skandar absolutely hated being hugged by the other kids, so to ramp up on-screen antagonism, the director used every opportunity to have them do just that - even if the scene was finished! Skandar was absent during the scene where Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe, Anna Popplewell wore his costume from the waist down and did the scene for him. After his voice changed during filming, some of his voice track had to be re-looped by his sister.
According to the "Narnia" books, Professor Kirke (played by Jim Broadbent) is the elderly Digory Kirke. As a boy, Digory Kirke was the hero of 'The Magician's Nephew', the Narnia book that takes place chronologically before the events in 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.' (This explains the Professor's willingness to believe that the Pevensie children have ventured to a magic land.) 'The Magician's Nephew' tells the story of the creation of Narnia, the coming of Jadis, the White Witch, the creation of the lamp post, and the creation of the wardrobe itself. Each design carved into the wardrobe signifies an important event that occurs in 'The Magician's Nephew.'
Professor Kirke presents three choices to the other Pevensie children of what to think about Lucy's claim about Narnia: that she is lying, that she is mad, or that she is telling the truth. C.S. Lewis was a vocal advocate of Christianity, and in his book "Mere Christianity" presented three similar choices about Jesus' claim to be the Son of God: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. This is known as his "Trilemma" argument, and is still often used by Christians today.
When Peter is talking to Aslan, Aslan says "Beaver also mentioned something about you turning him into a hat". That line was not originally in the movie. The smile you see is William Moseley smiling because a fly was buzzing around his head, which rendered the shot useless.
The movie was mostly shot in chronological order. The final scene where the Pevensies fall out of the wardrobe was shot before all the outdoor shots so the kids would still be pale and look like they had in the beginning of the film.
Plot similarities between the J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis Narnia stories was no coincidence. Both men were members of a literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Living trees that move and fight but also provide a safe zone, languages created for the legendary cultures within the mythology, rescues from towers by flying creatures are a few examples.
EASTER EGG: On disc 2, on the menu for Evolution of an Epic, there's a director's chair on the left-hand side of the menu. Pointing your remote on it will cause a little red symbol to appear. Click on the symbol, and it takes you to a short featurette showing how much Turkish delight Skandar Keynes had to eat.
No real lions were used for the film, simply because Andrew Adamson wanted a moment where Georgie Henley could reach out and touch Aslan. It took approximately 10 hours to render each frame of the CGI Aslan and his 5.2 million individual hairs.
In scenes where the children had to react or talk to CG characters, Andrew Adamson, the director, and Alina Phelan, his assistant, would provide the voices for those non-existing characters, to make it easier for the kids to respond to someone who really isn't there.
The Witch's coachman is unnamed in the book. The filmmakers named him Ginaarbrik, deciding that he is an ancestor of Nikabrik from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008). The two dwarves wear the same family ring in the films.
Susan and Lucy never interact with the White Witch and never share any dialogue with her. The closest they get to a meeting is when the White Witch comes in Aslan's camp to negotiate about the fate of Edmund.
Tilda Swinton, first choice for the role of Jadis the White Witch, hadn't read the book prior to filming. She wore platform shoes under costume to make her taller, and used a brace on her shoulders between takes to give her a break from the weight of her wig and crown.
Due to the way the rating systems work in the Netherlands and Germany, the original version of the film was rated for kids aged 12 and above. However, the distributor wanted the film to be more accessible to a family audience. Subsequently, in a highly unusual move, the film was reedited for the Dutch and German markets, and the new cut received a rating for ages 6 and up. Edits included diminished sound effects, battle scenes, animal attack scenes, and war images.
The character of the White Witch was inspired by the Snow Queen in the story of Hans Christian Andersen. The scene with Jadis taking Edmund in her sleigh is heavily influenced from the corresponding scene where Snow Queen forces Kay into traveling with her reindeer coach. In both cases the young boy is an emotionally detached child, the magical being tucks the boy with her cloak and talks him into following her. Both the White Witch and the Snow Queen reside in vast palaces made of ice. Another artistic choice by the filmmakers which probably serves as a nod to the Snow Queen is the fact that Edmund is lightly dressed in all his scenes inside the frozen palace but inexplicably never displays any sign of shivering or feeling cold. This mirrors the story of the Snow Queen where Kay never felt uncomfortable in the polar area because the Snow Queen had removed magically his sense of cold.
In the scene where the professor talks with Peter and Susan in his study, he smokes his pipe. The container from which he draws his tobacco is a silver apple - a reference to the professor's experience in Narnia in the first book in the series, The Magician's Nephew.
Several birds had made nests within the filming studio, and several scenes had to be filmed twice due to the noise these birds were making. A green screen was used to film one of these birds who leads the children from Tumnus's house to the Beavers.
The makers asked for 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 were allowed in for filming in Auckland.
In the Audio Commentary, Skandar Keynes comments that William Moseley coerced him into eating some of the sugar glass from the broken picture of their father in the beginning of the movie. Only after trying did Skander realize the fake glass was made of silicon.
The Director, Andrew Adamson, who himself is from West Auckland, along with some of his production crew, were given a traditional Maori welcome in a meeting house near the West Auckland studios. This was done as a sign of respect to the native people of West Auckland, whose lands were used for filming locations.
The four kids made up a dance which they sang to whenever Andrew Adamson said "check the gate" after each take. "Check the gate" means check that there are no hairs or other foreign bodies between the film and the gate which holds the film in a flat plane within the camera; such hairs would show up on the film and make the shot useless.
Aslan is a Turkish word meaning Lion. Lewis came up with the name during a trip to Turkey before 1922, where he saw the Sultan's elite guards, called Aslan because of their bravery and loyalty. The name of the White Witch is "Jadis," a French word meaning "of old." Aslan explains that the witch practices the very old "deep magic," but his "magic" is even older--from "before the dawn of time." "Jadis" is the usual start to French fairy tales (much like the English phrase "Once upon a time...").
When Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus the faun, he plays music for her on a funny-looking Narnian instrument. The actual sound heard is produced by the duduk (doudouk, düdük), an ancient wind instrument, famously featured in Sergei Parajanov's The Color of Pomegranates (1969) as well as Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992); the use of the duduk has become almost a tradition in Hollywood blockbusters. The instrument that Mr. Tumnus uses on set is actually a figment of the prop department's imagination. In the book Tumnus plays, as a faun, a Pan's flute. It's an instrument which is very difficult to play or even to mime playing.
Much of this film was shot in New Zealand. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and, subsequently, The Hobbit trilogy were also shot in New Zealand. In real life, the authors of the two book series, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were very close friends.
Co-producer Douglas Gresham's voice is heard early in the film, as a radio announcer giving news of the German bombings in London. Gresham is C.S. Lewis's stepson, and the executor of Lewis's estate, who manages the rights to the "Narnia" books. He is one of the sons of the American poet Joy Gresham, Lewis's wife, but the only one depicted in the autobiographical 1993 movie Shadowlands.
There are three versions of Peter's sword: steel, aluminum, and rubber. William Moseley preferred working with the aluminum swords for the fighting scenes because they were a lot lighter and "they didn't bounce like the rubber swords."
When placing ads in "The New Zealand Herald" for extras, the first call was put out for people under five feet and over six feet four. Calls for extras were made in New Zealand's main cities of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch over a period of two weeks. Later calls were for moderately tall males and females.
The motive power for the Pevensies' evacuation train was GWR 7802 Bradley Manor, one of the former Great Western Railway's Manor-class steam locomotives. Nine out of the thirty Manor-class locomotives built survive today.
The four thrones at Cair Paravel are slightly different: at their heads, they have carvings of the gift their occupant received from Father Christmas. Lucy's throne has a vial, Susan's has a horn, and Peter's has the hilt of his sword. Since Edmund wasn't present at the time and received no gift, his throne has a depiction of a sword breaking a staff - his act of heroism during the climactic battle.
Several birds had made nests within the filming studio, and several scenes had to be filmed twice due to the noise these birds were making. One of these bird was filmed using the 'Green Screen' as the bird who leads the 4 children from Tumnus's house to the Beavers.
The original plans to set the new adaptation in contemporary USA met with a hostile reception from the C.S. Lewis estate. The success of the UK-based Harry Potter franchise led the producers to rethink that stance.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Georgie Henley is the principal actress in the role of Lucy. Near the end of the film, her older sister Rachael Henley plays her grown-up alter ego. Early in the film, when Mr. Tumnus refers to Lucy as a "Daughter of Eve", a confused Lucy says her mother's name is Helen, who is the mother of the two actresses.
In the scene where the grown up leads go hunting, the importance of the white stag is never mentioned. The stag was supposed to be magical and grant a wish to its possessor. The 4 Kings and Queens wanted to acquire its power which is why they chased it themselves and even reached the outer border of Narnia with the lamppost.