Rob Holding of New Zealand’s Radio Rhema (Christian radio network) got the chance to interview The Voyage of the Dawn Treader director Michael Apted about the film. Amazing Grace will hit the cinemas of New Zealand soon.
Rob: Are we coming of an age now, where we look at directors? Maybe it’s because I’m now in my forties that when I’m looking at a movie I’m not necessarily looking at who the lead actor is, I’m looking at the director, going “Do I want to watch this movie? Oh look, he directed it, yeah…”
Michael Apted: I entirely approve of that. I don’t think there’s enough acknowledgment of what directors do, frankly. And we know, especially you who see a lot of movies, the difference between a well-directed and poorly-directed film. I think it’s great you think like that and that you pay attention to that. One of my other jobs is I’m President of the Directors’ Guild. One of the things we try and do is we try and put the director’s role more in front of people, so people know exactly how films get made, how films get put together, and whose vision has to guide it.
Rob: Well, that’s an interesting thing because you’re coming up for the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where the way I read it, you’re kind of having to jump onto Andrew Adamson’s vision in some ways.
Michael Apted: In a way, but not really. What’s fascinating about this particular franchise is how different all the stories are.
You know I’ve got two of the children, the two youngest, in my story; there’s no element of Narnia in it at all. This is a journey that Caspian the Tenth is making into the islands, outside to the east of Narnia. So it’s interesting, it’s a whole different tone to the other things.
Of course, Andrew’s mark is all over the franchise, but this is a completely really different story with a different tone.
So it’s not so much like doing, as I did, a Bond, where you’re really taking the baton and then handing it on. This is a little bit different â€“ you know, it’s good fun!
Rob: I was quite intrigued to see that Ben Barnes, who you’re directing in the next movie, in Dawn Treader, has starred in a movie called Stardust, which was your second movie too, wasn’t it?
Michael Apted: Yeah, that’s right, that’s right!
Rob: So it’s amazing how things go. Did you ever think about the fact that both Amazing Grace and Dawn Treader have little Christian themes in there – maybe God’s trying to get your attention?
Michael Apted: Well, it is coincidental, – but you know, they’re both good material, they’re both interesting material. They both present a challenge, for me to put the material out there in an even handed and interesting way; and not to be in a sense narrow- minded about it, either narrow-minded in a faith way or narrow-minded in an agnostic way. I have to open my heart to what the stories are about.
Rob: And tell the story so that people enjoy it.
Michael Apted: Yeah.
Rob: And get a message?
Michael Apted: Well, there’s lots of messages really, out of Amazing Grace. I’m not so clear about what message will come out of The Dawn Treader as yet – it’s early days for us here. But there are lots of things that come out of Amazing Grace, a lot of resonance, I think, of politics today, of what people are saying to people.
In politics in America we’re told, “If you don’t like what we do, then you’re being seditious” – which is what Pitt was saying to Wilberforce. “And the fact is, you can’t oppose slavery because it’s going to wreck the economy”, like we’re saying “If we don’t invade Iraq and protect American oil then we’ll wreck our economy.” All of this stuff; it was balderdash then and it’s balderdash now.