View Full Version : About the accents...

03-23-2002, 08:14 PM
I’ve been wondering whether Elijah Wood and Sean Astin had a believable accent. I have noticed that British and Australian actors seem to do an American accent better than American actors do Brit or Aussie accents. Some recent examples would be Ewen McGregor in Black Hawk Down, and Russell Crowe in…well, take your pick! <BR> I’m wondering what British fans think of this. To my American ear Frodo and Sams accents seemed a little forced at times.

03-23-2002, 10:18 PM
Actually, I thought Sean astin had an excellent accent (sounded Irish) and Elijah Wood did pretty well too. Viggo Mortensen on the other hand almost didn't have an accent in most scenes and sounded American to me. Also, Orlando Bloom was in Black Hawk Down and I could tell he had an accent because it slipped several times.But oh well, the movie was so good one doesn't really notice how great or horrible the accenta sre anyway.

03-23-2002, 11:49 PM
I agree, I think they did pretty well with the accent and that's an interesting point that some actors had next to no accent. I didn't notice that...but then, I was so caught up in the movie and Frodo *shrug* I guess it depends also on what type of accent you want...Australian is different from British as is New Zealand from either of those. PLus then there is the matter of more common speech or a higher speech. ;P See, ya got me started so now I'll just have to watch the movie again just to analyze that! hehe, thanks!

Tigerlily Gamgee
03-24-2002, 11:53 AM
I think that Elijah Wood's accent was very good - much, much better than his cockney in Oliver. He did standard British, and he carried it out throughout the movie. Sean Astin's Bristish was much different from Wood's (I wonder if it's because he's supposed to be a servant) and he slipped out of it on occasion.<BR>They did well, though. I really had no problems with any of the accents (and I have had major problems with accents in past movies - especially a Knight's Tale).<BR>As for learning accents... from what I have learned British was the easiest, Southern is next, followed by Irish and Scottish, and Austrialian is actually the hardest because it is so close to British. <BR>It is actually harder for the English to learn American accents, we've been working with an English girl at school with it for a while & she can say "Better" (bedder) now!!!!

03-24-2002, 04:52 PM
Hey! You forgot something: Orlando Bloom's accent in Black Hawk Down! Or did you forget that 1: he was in it or 2: he has an accent. lol...but their accents were good! Although, Viggo kept having some sort of southern-drawl-like thing...or did his people have one? hmmm...there's a thought. lol. just kidding! :-P

03-24-2002, 05:16 PM
I thought the hobbits were all speaking with a vaguely Scottish accent, which kind of surprised me; I'd have thought they'd go for vaguely Irish. (Which is where the whole "little people" thing started in the first place.)<P>Now maybe it didn't sound too Scottish in Scotland, but it sounded Gaelic enough for Ohio.

03-24-2002, 10:37 PM
I dunno if Sam's accent was intentially different from Frodo's, but it is written differently in the book, so it worked.

03-25-2002, 12:32 AM
Being a Midwesterner, I can't really pronounce on this one way or the other, but thought the accents sounded pretty good on the whole, though of course we don't really know what they were *intended* to be . Sean Astin did seem to slip into an American accent rather often (especially if he was shouting) but since Sam is a bit of a comic servant, why shouldn't he have an amusing (American) accent? Aragorn sounded a little Midwestern in a few of the early scenes as well; again, though, I don't think it damages the movie too much, since these characters come from all over their world and it's believable that their accents would vary among themselves (unlike, say, the dreadful "Man In The Iron Mask" which I got dragged to over many protests and where the accents were Irish, English, French and blatant Californian - all in a group of people who allegedly grew up within a 20 mile radius of each other and speak the same language).

Mayla Took
03-25-2002, 12:43 AM
Ha ha! You are funny Kalimac! I thought that Arigorn was supposed to have an American accent. I thought the accents kinda separated the species. For example, the Elves had more of a light British accent while the Hobbits leaned towards Irish and Scottish accents. Maybe they wanted the Men to be American? Ha ha, funny thought!

03-25-2002, 12:52 AM
Thanks, Mayla . (Not really trying to be, but linguistic malpractice in movies always upsets me). I kind of thought that the men were supposed to speak like Americans as well, but Boromir sounded (as he is) very English. Of course, he and Aragorn grew up rather far from each other. I wonder how the Rohirrim will sound? Anyway all I meant to say was that since the characters were all supposed to have grown up fairly distant from each other, it's believable that their accents would vary like that.<P>As for the hobbit accents - well, you had Frodo who I think was just meant to sound straight English (by which I mean the radio-announcer English accent that Americans hear more than any other, unless of course they're Monty Python fans ) since he's "higher class" than Sam. Sam I've already gone into. It's odd that Merry and Pippin (Pippin especially) would sound Scottish since they didn't grow up *that* far away from Frodo and are in the same social class. OTOH those Brandybucks and Tooks are rather suspiciously regarded by the Hobbiton citizenry, and have a reputation for being odd, and they do live more than several days' distance away. Maybe it works if you think of Hobbiton as London and Tookland and Buckland as the equivalent of those loons up north of the Scottish border . (No disrespect intended to posters of any nationality, BTW).<p>[ March 25, 2002: Message edited by: Kalimac ]

03-25-2002, 06:13 AM
I think that Elijah's was good, and Sean's too, apart from when he said 'What ur ya doin'? Those wraiths ur still out thur!' (my attempt to type his american accent). Also Viggo's was good, but when he said 'I swear to you, I will not let the white city fall', it sounded a bit irish to me!<BR>But I've seen it 6 times, so I notice these things. <BR>I'm English and the 1st time I saw it, I didn't really notice their accents not being english at all (apart from Pippin's. That was how I could tell him and Merry apart!)

03-25-2002, 06:59 AM
I actually thought Viggo drifted into a mild Irish accent on a number of occassions. I agree that his accent was a bit suspiscous at times, but I can't say it bothered me.<P>I also agree with the first post, about Frodo's accent sounding a little forced at times. In fact, Elijah quite annoyed me for the first hour or so but I got used to it.

Tigerlily Gamgee
03-25-2002, 05:46 PM
It's actually quite easy to drift between Irish and English accents if you know how to speak both. I had to learn both of them, and I had trouble sticking with one the whole time.<BR>I will watch for that part next time I see the movie.

03-25-2002, 06:02 PM
Being a student of linguistics, well, I can't say I was at all bothered by the accents in the movie. But, I did notice the little differences. And, I still loved it. All 4 times (only 4 so far... sigh).

03-27-2002, 09:12 PM
Here's a quote from one of the linguistic experts on the film:<P>"Each character speaks a carefully selected dialect of English. The strategy is well thought out, subtle, and rigorously applied. I had some part in its development, and am delighted with the result. All of the actors read their lines effortlessly, in dialect."<P>So I guess the differences are deliberate. Also, apparently the film was "looped" which I've learned just today is when they run the film and record separately over the original, fixing inflections, intonation, etc. So none of these differences are accidental. And Elijah had plenty of time to "fix" any slips in his accent.

03-28-2002, 12:01 AM
Oh, here's more detail:<P>Right after this Peter gets grabbed to do some more work… but I pick up a conversation with Andrew Jack, one of the Dialect & Creative Language Coaches on LORD OF THE RINGS (the other being the amazing Roisin Carty), who is so kind as to give me a language breakdown on the vocal universe of Tolkien. <BR>Andrew Jack is an insanely perfect speaker and alongside his colleague and professional partner, Roisin Carty, in this amazing and difficult endeavor . I felt like such the lowly commoner just speaking with him. He is very very happy to finally talk about his work on the film… <BR>"You’ve seen how detailed all the work on this film has been… through all the different aspects of production. It is very much the same on my end as well" <BR>We begin simply, just going down the line of the different accent types... <BR>Gondorians --- the speak with a straight English accent with an O diphthong giving them a dark Yorkshire sound. <BR>Hobbit speech--- they sound as though they come from Gloucestershire… in the west country. Which gives them a lighter sound… more timeless… Having said this, Bilbo and Frodo are more educated than the rest and have a slightly more standard English sound. And then Merry is an oddball… coming from a different class than most of the Hobbits. <BR>The Wizards: Gandalf and Saruman--- speak with a straight standard English accent stemming from Received Pronunciation… <BR>Elrond and the elves… Have the same basic accent as Gandalf but there is a linguist quality to them. A highly educated studied sound… coming from the fact that the elves are experts in language. Everything is pronounced very clearly and deliberately. And their Elvish… that is handled by the Elvish expert, Roisin Carty, with the help of David Falo and Bill Welden (Two of the absolute world experts on ELVISH.) <BR>Gollum starts with the Gloucestershire which comes from the time spent as a Hobbit, but as he makes the transition to the CG character… over those centuries… his accent degenerates into the Gollum speak we know. The other day when I had the pleasure to get drunk while everyone else remained perfectly sober… ahem…. I heard Andy’s GOLLUM voice, it is even more evil and pitiable than you have previously imagined. <BR>Aragorn – Viggo is American and brought up in Argentina, he also is Danish in orgin and has an unique rhythm to his speech… He’s kept an R… which might sound American, but is actually an Irish R… He speaks Elvish as well, as he was brought up by elves. He starts off speaking in the dark out of the corner of his mouth… but as he continues his Vocal journey from Strider to… well, you know. <BR>Dwarves --- Lowland Scottish, Celtic influence… has that same Irish R… That gives you an OLD feel. <BR>Orcs and Uruk Hai have a vocal quality that is ugly and brutal… very raw and mean. If you heard those fellows you’d know that they were very crude and raw. <BR>Rohans – these people speak a Rhotic accent… which is an accent that uses and stresses their Rs. <BR>There is a strict rationale for all of this…. When you see a map of the Tolkien universe… they’ve mapped the language much like England and Wales. <BR>Wormtongue is a different animal all together…he is an oddball…based on Received Pronunciation… then goes from there. <BR>Followed the Tolkien appendix to the letter at the back of the book…. "It was a godsend really. It’s all there for how to do it, It’s almost as if Tolkien knew we were going to make a movie." <BR>Andrew Jack (Dialogue Coach) and Roisin Carty (assistant dialect coach) though on this film they refer to themselves as Dialect and Creative Language Coaches… From all things I can tell they’ve been amazing language tag team… always picking up where the other left off.

03-31-2002, 04:09 PM
I'm not sure what type of accent Merry has, but I do know that Pippin (played by Billy Boyd) has a Scottish accent, and is in fact, Scottish. Just thought I'd let you all know, if you didn't know already. <BR>~M-dith~

03-31-2002, 04:19 PM
I found nothing wrong with any of the accents...but then again, I wasn't really paying attention to accents (more to Elijah...hehehe) and I've only seen it one time. Yes...one, it's sad...I lead a sad sad life...

03-31-2002, 04:29 PM
I absoultely adored Hugo's accent as he portrayed Elrond !!! <P>Kalimac - I love the "blatant Californian!"<BR> <P>Now what would have been really hilarious is that if Viggo did a John Wayne impersonation! ROTFLMAO!!!!

04-01-2002, 01:11 PM
Out of the hobbits the only accent that I thought wasn't as noticable was Merry's. It could be just me but, Pippin and Sam had rather strong irish accents. Frodo had a pretty strong english accent. Merry did have a noticable accent but it came across to me as not as strong.

04-01-2002, 04:00 PM
I always thought that the cast were supposed to have slightly different accents which i guess has been confirmed.<P>As for Merry's accent i can't say that i can place his either, Dom was born in Berlin, so i guess he learnt an accent although i can't recognise it.<P>And i'm British and can't say i talk like any of the characters in the film, oh well.....

04-01-2002, 11:18 PM
Well, I guess the way I see it, as they are just different dialects...I mean...when I hear people from the same country talking they can even say the same words and sound like they're from a different region of the world, even if they live next door and grew up together. I did think that for the most part, the accents matched the differences that Tolkien depicted in the book...it was mentioned earlier about Frodo and Bilbo being more educated and the elves speaking more refined and poetic, etc. It doesn't strike me as odd though that Merry would sound similar to Pippen but not exactly like him. I know my own speaking is not completely one dialect and most the people I talk to resemble certain languages but are not the "traditional" pronunciation that most would think of. Then again, I may be reading into it a bit too much, but I guess that's what happens when my brain gets going! Languages fascinate me so...I just had to comment. If only I could live as long as an elf to learn all the languages....*sigh*

04-02-2002, 11:12 AM
I'm not sure if I'm being the worst kind of spoil-sport but I have some objections to accent creation in film. Frpm the early days of theatre, much was done with suspension of disbelief. Someone was introduced as being from Italy and then would continue as normal, acting to his/her full ability, not worrying about 'putting on' some sort of Latin accent.<P>I often wish film-makers would desist from the nonsense of ruining perfectly good voices and acting vocal mannerisms by forcing the actor to convolute his language. Particularly in American films it has made British/French/Australian etc actors seem awkward and imprecise in their roles because they are forced to speak a certain way. In a fantasy film like FoTR it is not vital to have a set of systematic accents for me to enjoy the film. But hearing Americans mauling the English/Irish accents is less enjoyable. Although it is preferable to the plethora of bad American accents I've heard from European and Australasian actors! I've probably annoyed a lot of Tolkien purists who had a firm idea of what the heroes should sound like but I would value a natural acting performance more highly. <P>End of rant. Thank you and good night, Middle Earthers.

Polly Sandybanks
04-02-2002, 12:02 PM
Someone mentioned that Dom was born in Berlin.. and I've read that too.. but I know that he grew up in the Manchester area. <P>I read about all the accents somewhere. And also, someone else wrote about that above, so I won't say it again. They were supposed to have different types of accents. And they are from different places of Middle Earth anyway. Pippin (Billy) definitely has a clear Scottish accent, and I think that Merry's is similar to Pippin's. I read somewhere that both of them had to change their accents a little bit. <P>I think that Sean (Astin) and Elijah did a great job with their accents, although I've noticed a few times when they slip out of them. It's, to me, more noticable with Elijah though.. as Sam has got an Irish type accent, which sounds more like American than British English does. I did also notice that moment though, that someone else mentioned as well, when he says: "What are you doing? Those wraiths are still out there!!".<P>With Elijah I noticed when he says "Get off the road.. quick!". It's just some parts of that that sounds more American to me. And also at other times. But he does a great accent.<P>It could be also because I've been listening very carefully. Also.. I'm not English, so. There could be accents in England that are like that. <P>But all in all they're all great.

Genandra of Mirkwood
04-06-2002, 02:15 PM
Wow thanks for that run-down of the linguists/vocal coaches' rationale...that's really great and just about says it all. I had guessed the thing about Frodo and Bilbo speaking a more standard English accent because they're educated and had contact with elves. What they said about the elves speaking clearly and deliberately makes me see why the elves in the film all seemed...hm, a bit snooty? Tense? Something like that. I guess, what can you expect from mortals trying to play Quendi. <P>I had guessed Aragorn and the wizards were rolling R's because that is the elvish way to do it. The comments from the coaches didn't say that specifically though. Well, if they need an excuse it sounds like a good reason to me!<P>They are actually following in Tolkien's footsteps in doing things this way, ie giving different accents to different groups. In the appendix to the book Tolkien explains how he came by transcriptions of names out of the Common Speech and it sounds a lot like the reasoning they used in the film. None of the accents were jarring so I agree that the actors did a great job.

04-06-2002, 02:30 PM
I'm a mixed breed. Born in America, I come from British (Mom) and Italian (Dad) families. Bad accents in movies bother me, though not as bad as incorrect grammar. FoTR did not bother me too much. Yes, Sean Astin's accent could have better, but his was harder than Frodo's.<P>What bothered me was the small things like Legolas not calling Gandalf "Mithrandir".

04-07-2002, 02:47 AM
Ohhh, I agree completely Raefindel!! I kept waiting to hear that and never did. It's kinda like one of those little annoyances...like how a picture hangs just not quite straight...err, perhaps that's just me. Personally, I'm just glad my study of language and "retentiveness" didn't prevent me from enjoying the movie. Sometimes it's nice to just sit back and watch.

Auriel Haevasawen
04-19-2002, 03:58 PM
Sam sounded very 'West Country' or English country yokel of the 18th Century which I think is quite accurate and does sound almost American at times and if that was what he intended then he carried it off. Viggo sounded Irish but then I think most of us only started analysing the accents after the third or so viewing. Heigho nothing's perfect. I'm English and live no more than 5 miles from Sarehole the original inspiration for The Shire, trust me no one speaks with a recieved pronunciation accent round here except me and I get laughed at and called posh. Never give your child elecution lessons, it destroys them for later life.

Rose Cotton
04-20-2002, 10:06 AM
Billy Boyd has the most beautiful scotish accent! I love it! <P>When Viggo talked in the move he sounded almost like he was bored.<P>I didn't notice everyone else's accent exept maybe Sean Bean's.

04-21-2002, 06:20 PM
Sean Astin could let his accent slip a couple of times because he's just a servant and isn't as well schooled. However Elijah Wood shouldn't slip up because the Bagginses are very rich hobbits.