One of Ford’s more whimsical designs for the film is Trufflehunter’s Den, an octagonal structure built on wheels so that pieces of the set could be dismantled to allow intricate camera angles. Director Adamson mounted a still photo camera on a pole, and used it to photograph an actual badger’s den inside the hollow of an oak tree. Those photos inspired Ford’s set design and Kerrie Brown’s set dressing, which added a touch of verisimilitude to Lewis’ imaginary world.
At New Zealand’s Henderson Studios outside of Auckland, Ford’s crew built the Treasure Chamber, a decaying, two-story subterranean cavern. For inspiration in creating the massive treasure collection, Brown visited several museums in London and Paris and took photographs of lavish gifts that had been presented to the nobility of various countries. “We wanted the room to show that Peter and Edmund and Susan and Lucy, when they were kings and queens in Narnia, had been presented with treasures from people from different lands,” she says.
Brown next scoured prop stores in Australia and New Zealand to rent chalices, urns, armor and such, “but there wasn’t enough to fill up this huge room.” She added over 2,000 props designed, molded and sculpted by her prop department. That busy department, headed by Roland Stevenson, kept a staff of 35 working around the clock to manufacture over 7,000 prop pieces for the entire film.
Costume designer Isis Mussenden engineered the creation of hundreds of original wardrobe designs to clothe the Telmarines. Supervising a staff of over 70 artisans in both Prague and Auckland, Mussenden drew upon two sources for her vivid designs—folk dress of Sardinia and the paintings of the Cretan artist and Byzantine Mannerist, El Greco. “There are images in Pauline Baynes’ illustrations for the book that stay with one forever,” Mussenden recalls. “We never intended to ignore them. At the same time, I could not be bound by her illustrations either, because we are designing three-dimensional costumes.
“I like to start with a color palette,” she notes about the cool silver and gray shadings of the Telmarine army. “We already had the palette of the Narnians, but we needed to create one for the Telmarines. We didn’t want to use red and gold. Those are Narnian colors. I eventually chose several paintings of El Greco. They are gruesome images, acidic and cool, and were perfect for our needs.”
The next piece of the puzzle was taken from a book about the Sardinian cultural dress she found on a shopping trip to Italy. “Sardinia is a notorious rough-and-tough island which sported the new look I was after,” Mussenden says. “Skirts, vest, wide belts, garters and jackets...no capes! We went for the Mediterranean feel, which was a call by Andrew, to get ourselves in a different culture, a little different skin tone, a little different flavor.”
She also visited the curator of one of the world’s foremost armor collections, Stuart Pyhrr of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. A private tour and an afternoon in the archives provided the spark for what would become the Telmarines battle gear.
“The scope of this film for us in the wardrobe department was ten times bigger than the first one,” she exclaims. “Not only in the actual count of how many characters and extras for whom we had to make costumes, but also the number of multiple costumes we had to make to cover stunt doubles, photo doubles, actors’ growth and just wear and tear over six months of shooting.”
“I designed and manufactured an army, which I have never done before,” Mussenden says. “While it was fascinating and interesting, it was also more work than I could have ever imagined.” Mussenden and associate designer Kimberly Adams, her longtime colleague and friend, estimate they built 262 cast outfits, 3,722 individual items for the Telmarine army including helmets, masks, brigandines, underbrigs, shirts, pants, boots, gloves and grieves, 1,003 Telmarine villager stock items and 2,184 metal rivets per brigandine (for a total of almost 1 million rivets).
Mussenden closely collaborated with Weta’s Richard Taylor in the design of the weapons and armor for both Telmarines and Narnians. “We also had a wonderful team of armorists in the Czech Republic who fabricated everything for the Telmarines soldiers and Lords using Richard's prototypes for the helmets and etching motifs,” she continues. “It was an interesting contrast of old world techniques and the high-tech new design world of Weta.”
“Miraz and his Lords needed special weaponry,” Taylor says. “Weta created individual swords, scabbards and sculpted faceplate helmets for the featured Lords including Glozelle, who also has a beautiful dagger. Miraz himself has a special shield, sword, scabbard, full plate armor and an ornate faceplate helmet.”
“Miraz’s helmet and facial mask represent the manner in which he commands his forces,” Taylor says about the unique designs. “The idea that it’s a faceless army hidden behind these masks, not showing their emotions or their faces, is captured in these very stylistic Italian ceremonial masks they wear.”