GB / US
Dir: Andrew Adamson
Starring: William Moseley and Tilda Swinton
Four evacuated children find a magical world through a wardrobe
This lavish and hugely successful version of the children’s classic saga has little ‘real’ railway action. Most of the opening scenes reveal the wonders of modern CGI techniques with the overview of London Paddington station mixing real footage of the platforms with computer imagery of GWR trains and hordes of people. There are, however, a number of genuine shots of a GWR passenger service on the Severn Valley Railway hauled by ‘Manor’ Class 4-6-0 No.7802 Bradley Manor. One shot is of the train crossing Oldbury Viaduct and Highley station appears several times (playing the part of ‘Pewsey’ though the nameboard still reads Highley), but for such an English story these were the only scenes filmed in the UK. ‘Coombe Halt’, for instance, is not the Coombe Halt on the Looe branch, but is actually in New Zealand, where a lot of location work took place. The GWR train pulling out of Paddington is (possibly?) another shot of the ‘Manor’ filmed on the Severn Valley which was then superimposed into a computer-generated image of a railway, and the close up shots of the carriages and those scenes onboard the train were in fact filmed in the studio. Unfortunately, this opening sequence is rather poor when compared to other films using CGI with most shots repeated at random several times over. This was the first of the film series based on C. S. Lewis’s epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the only one to feature railway scenes. The second Narnia film which followed, The Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian, did feature a scene on the London Underground, but it was nothing more than a studio set, though a very detailed one at that, which shows what can be achieved with computers and a stage set.