IGN had the opportunity to interview filmmaker David Goyer, producer of the new film Here, there Be Dragons (and he also wrote last year’s Batman Begins). As mentioned in this article, the story revolves around J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams entering a fantasy realm where they get swept up in adventures involving classical mythological characters… with nods to the influence their experiences together might have had on their later works.
IGN: Is the real appeal of Here, There Be Dragons to see fantasy authors J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams in these fantasy environments?
David Goyer: I think the project has appeal on two fronts. On one hand, they were really fascinating characters in real life and they enjoyed a kind of colorful and somewhat competitive relationship with one another. Tolkien was wounded in World War I and to a certain extent suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, not that that word existed back then. So I think you could easily have made a straight biographical film of the relationship of these remarkable guys, but I’ve always liked movies like Young Sherlock Holmes and there have been lots of novels that have posited that H.P. Lovecraft had really experienced some of these things or Edgar Allen Poe. It’s just a kind of fun sub-genre. I’m not sure that a name exists for it. And the other appeal for me is because this land is sort of the genesis land for all the aggregate myths of the world, you have the opportunity to really cherry pick whichever legends we want. So if we want to have Sinbad and the various characters he encountered in those voyages show up we can. If we want, Ulysses or Homer can show up or Arthur. It’s really kind of endless. Whoever is in public domain we can tap. And from a fanboy perspective that’s fun as well. It’s sort of like someone saying you’ve got access to the entire DC universe, the entire Marvel universe. It’s a complete universe that we can pull from. Finally, I guess that there’s a third appeal in that there is somewhat of a bleedover of these characters and creatures from that world into our world. The first act of what will be the film predominantly takes place in our world. There’s a really neat sequence in which a pilot in a Sopwith Camel encounters amidst the clouds flying sphinx. Just really neat sequences. There’s another one in which someone sees a unicorn in Trafalgar Square. A lot of these creatures are fleeing from the bad forces impressing upon them. It’s kind of mirroring what was happening with the refugees in World War I.
IGN: Will the specific myths that you’re going to use be chosen in order to suggest the authors’ works? Like say a myth that could have influenced Lord of the Rings.
Goyer: Yeah, we’re intending to make a selection process in two ways. One, obviously we want to build in what you could call cinematic easter eggs for die-hard fans. Of course that’s fun. Can we see the inklings of where Tolkien or C.S. Lewis might have gotten the idea for some of their novels they subsequently wrote? Also, what we plan to do is look at the landscape that’s out there in terms of film and say, “What haven’t we seen much of?” We’re envisioning perhaps three initial movies, which somewhat cobble pieces from – we had access not only to the manuscript for the first but the outlines for books two and three. The first movie is kind of a pastiche, predominantly of the first book but we’ve pulled some elements from some of the latter books. And our intention would be – I’m using this as an example – no one’s seen any kind of depiction of Sinbad or the various creatures he encountered since the ’70s or the ’60s Harryhausen films. Maybe that would be a cool thing to do now utilizing all of the CG technology that we have at our disposal. So we just want to look at the landscape of what’s out there, what’s been done, what hasn’t been done and say let’s do the things that really haven’t been done.
IGN: Does this story focus on these characters when they’re in their twenties at Oxford? I’m just wondering what the age range is for these characters.
Goyer: They were all slightly different in age. C.S. Lewis would be the youngest, probably his early twenties. Tolkien a little older, the mid-twenties or later twenties. Charles Williams was at least a good ten years older than the two of them and sort of functioned as a mentor. We liked that as well because for casting possibilities. We can pull from these different age groups.