"The Last Queen of Charn" adapts a two-page passage from C. S. Lewis' "The Magician's Nephew" and brings it to life in a short fan film. Before the land of Narnia and Aslan and the Pevensie children, there existed the realm of Charn where Jadis ruled before she was ever the White Witch. In a flashback moment in the book, according to Jadis, Charn was "that great city, the city of the King of Kings, the wonder of the world," until a fateful final battle with her unnamed rival witch queen sister.
"It was my sister's fault," said the Queen. "She drove me to it. May the curse of all the Powers rest upon her forever! At any moment I was ready to make peace — yes and to spare her life too, if only she would yield me the throne. But she would not. Her pride has destroyed the whole world. Even after the war had begun, there was a solemn promise that neither side would use Magic. But when she broke her promise, what could I do? Fool!" - The Magician's Nephew
As Jadis' sister claims victory over the realm of Charn, Jadis utters "The Deplorable Word" - a forbidden incantation that would wipe all life except for the one who invoked it, destroying her sister and all beings in Charn.
"That was the secret of secrets," said the Queen Jadis. "It had long been known to the great kings of our race that there was a word which, if spoken with the proper ceremonies, would destroy all living things except the one who spoke it. But the ancient kings were weak and softhearted and bound themselves and all who should come after them with great oaths never even to seek after the knowledge of that word. But I learned it in a secret place and paid a terrible price to learn it. I did not use it until she forced me to it. I fought to overcome her by every other means. I poured out the blood of my armies like water -" - The Magician's Nephew
The "Deplorable Word" has been a literary mystery. In this interpretation, the magical phrase invoked by Jadis, coined by actress Tina Rhodes, is "Gemini fatality" which breaks the bonds between the two rival sisters.
I did not use my power till the last of my soldiers had fallen, and the accursed woman, my sister, at the head of her rebels was halfway up those great stairs that lead up from the city to the terrace. Then I waited till we were so close that we could see one another's faces. She flashed her horrible, wicked eyes upon me and said, "Victory." "Yes," said I, "Victory, but not yours." Then I spoke the Deplorable Word. A moment later I was the only living thing beneath the sun." - The Magician's Nephew
Also a literary mystery is the name of Jadis' sister. Actress Kat Stevens found through research that C.S. Lewis may have derived "Jadis" from the Hindi word for magic which is "Jadu." Using the same approach, Kat found the Hindi word for victory -"Vijaya," thereby coining Jadis' sister's name in this fan film as Jaya.
Inspired by the director's and actors' Filipino heritage, the film weaves in Filipina cultural terno dresses and arnis, Filipino martial arts. Fight choreographer Ryan McIntire trained the actresses with kali sticks in a bootcamp over Zoom and provided on-set guidance during the filming.
I designed the historical Filipiñana heritage terno dresses with fabric design specificity representing the basket weave textures of Mindanao, and the black, white and red color blocking of the Ifugao people. Jadis' silhouette is a nod to the Muslim princess gown worn during the dance known as Singkil; Jaya's silhouette is nod to the 'traje de mestiza' with a bolero and empire waist. I redesigned them both many times with Filipino martial arts in mind. Crowns created by Viva Valentina represent the encroaching Spanish colonial rule over indigenous tribes and practitioners of rural ancestral magic. - Philip Odango, director, The Last Queen of Charn