Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Producer,
Douglas Gresham Discusses the New Film, Today's War on Terror and Growing
Up With C.S. Lewis
By Terry Roland
Douglas Grehsam had a unique childhood.
The son of Joy Davidson-Gresham, who later became Joy Davidson-Lewis, he
grew up with a step-father by the name of C.S. Lewis, who, during this
interview, he affectionately refered to as "Jack." Today, he oversees
the C.S. Lewis Foundation in the role of Creative Director. This is a duty
he regards a 'sacred trust and a moral responsibility.' This
has led him to become a co-producer of the successful film series of Lewis'
most beloved books The Chronicles of Narnia. On May 5th, just prior
to the release of the newest film, Prince Caspian, Mr. Gresham was kind
enough to allow me to interview him by phone.
Phantom Tollbooth(PT) Hello.
May I call you Douglas?
Douglas Gresham(DG) Most certainly.
PT First, Tell me something
about Prince Caspian. How does it differ from the first film?
DG Well, this film has more action
and adventure to it. It takes place 1300 years after the golden age
of the Narnia represented in Wardrobe. All of the known characters
are gone except for the Penvises children, who are called to save Narnia
from a cruel leader.
PT The Lion, The Witch and
the Wardrobe had a strong Christian theme running through it. What
can you tell us about the Christian influence on this story?
DG Its important to note that
Jack didn't wish Narnia to represent earth. It is simply a fantasy.
He never intended for the story to be an allegory. There is certainly
the influence of Jack's understanding of Christianity, but it was not designed
to promote any theology.
PT How was the story influenced
by the events of the time in which it was written?
DG There were two strands
running through the story. First, the need to love. Second,
the need to combat evil. In Jack's time of history this certainly
came from the rise of The Third Reich. He learned the only way to
combat evil is to stand up to it.
PT How would you account for
the success of the passive resistive/civil disobedience demonstrated by
DG Was it successful?
Gandhi's movement had to withstand a hail of bullets. Gandhi's example
remained one-sided. In some minds he failed in that so many innocents had
to die before independence was attained. When we stand up to evil, we protect
rather than allow the death of innocent people.
PT Could you relate Prince
Caspian and the commitment to stand up to evil to today's war on terror?
DG Terrorism cannot succeed.
In this story, and in the past, evil has been much more out front. Not
a covert enemy. Terrorism cannot succeed because its based on fear. This
story reflects on action based on justice rather than fear.
PT Well, back to the
film. Will Aslan return?
DG (Laughs) You'll have
to see the film, won't you? Ultimately, beyond the need to
overcome evil, Prince Caspian is about the need to return to true faith,
PT Tell me about your childhood
with C.S. Lewis?
DG What is often overlooked
and misunderstood is Jack was a man who was full of fun and imagination.
He was a truly congenial man, full of compassion. He was full of
fun. My impression of him was that of a prankster. Within minutes
of being in his presence, he made me laugh. He fully embraced his
life and, well, he was just fun to be with.
PT How did his spirituality
DG Jack was a great example
of Christ. He was a courageous man. He lived his Christianity.
This is a man who slowly watched his wife die of a dreadful disease. He
stayed by her through it all. He also had a vision in his writing.
He wrote in terms of prophecy that seems very relevant today. I'd
recommend That Hideous Strength as an example of this.
PT I see you have been doing
great work at preserving your step-father's legacy. What is being
done with respect to your mother, Joy Davidson's work?
DG Her poetry is being published
soon, edited by Don Willams. There is also a biography in the works
by a writer named Abbey St. Maria.
PT So, what's in the future for
the Narnia series.
DG The entire series will be produced
eventually. Voyage of the Dawn Treader is currently in pre-production.
We are also negotiating for production of The Screwtape Letters.
PT Well, it has certainly
been a pleasure and an honor talking with you, Douglas. I wish you
success with all of these projects.
DG Thank you. God bless.