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Old 03-01-2008, 07:03 AM   #121
Brian Sibley
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Originally Posted by ArathornJax View Post
One thing I noticed and I may have to look back on the thread is the bell that rings right before Frodo accepts the task. Is that just because the bell was letting us know sometime had pass and then Frodo accepts?
At the conclusion of the Council of Elrond (Bk II, Chap 2) the question is asked who is to take the Ring. Tolkien writes...

'No one answered. The noon-bell rang. Still no one spoke. Frodo glanced at all the faces, but they were not turned to him... ...At last with an effort he spoke and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice. "I will take the Ring," said, "though I do not know the way."'

The 'ting' that you hear is supposed to be 'the noon-bell'... Oh, welll......
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Old 03-01-2008, 01:01 PM   #122
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Originally Posted by davem View Post
And I'll always be grateful for the fact that the Balrog in your adaptation didn't have wings
How do you know that? I don't think it said...

I was thrilled when I listened to the BBC radio adaptations, my mom was gracious and bought them for me for Christmas... I think I converted my cousin... we listened to TH and FoTR! She loved it, I on the other hand, was amazed at the closeness to the book! Although I was disappointed that there was no Barrow-Downs, but that is understandable, and one of my favourite parts of the book (The journey to Crickhollow) was there too!!!!
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Old 03-01-2008, 01:35 PM   #123
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How do you know that? I don't think it said...
Well, the Balrog may or may not have had wings in the original broadcast, but if so they must have been digitally removed when it was re-edited into 13 episodes - I've checked my cd's & there isn't a sign of wings on the Balrog - even when I use a large magnifying glass. Actually, I don't remember there being wings on the Balrog back in 1981 when I first heard the series - though I only had access to a small transistor radio at the time. I haven't heard the re-edited/remastered version which came out at the time of the movies, so I can't say whether wings have been added for that version to bring it in line with the Jackson films - they may have.

Apparently there were some Moria scenes in the original broadcast where the real Boromir was missing due to the actor having other commitments (apparently a passing cleaner had to be brought in to stand behind Aragorn to make up the numbers but luckily he didn't have any lines), & there was one infamous scene during Helm's Deep where Legolas is facing the wrong way & it appears he is shooting at his own side because the producer had inserted the audio tape in the wrong way round during a late night recording session. I've heard that these problems have been fixed for the latest version, but I can't be certain of that.

Of course, none of that may be true....

PS, to get serious again, I'll be starting the discussion on Episode Four tomorrow, so if everyone wants to get listening ASAP....

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Old 03-01-2008, 06:40 PM   #124
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Well, the Balrog may or may not have had wings in the original broadcast, but if so they must have been digitally removed when it was re-edited into 13 episodes - I've checked my cd's & there isn't a sign of wings on the Balrog - even when I use a large magnifying glass. Actually, I don't remember there being wings on the Balrog back in 1981 when I first heard the series - though I only had access to a small transistor radio at the time. I haven't heard the re-edited/remastered version which came out at the time of the movies, so I can't say whether wings have been added for that version to bring it in line with the Jackson films - they may have.

Apparently there were some Moria scenes in the original broadcast where the real Boromir was missing due to the actor having other commitments (apparently a passing cleaner had to be brought in to stand behind Aragorn to make up the numbers but luckily he didn't have any lines), & there was one infamous scene during Helm's Deep where Legolas is facing the wrong way & it appears he is shooting at his own side because the producer had inserted the audio tape in the wrong way round during a late night recording session. I've heard that these problems have been fixed for the latest version, but I can't be certain of that.
You DO know a lot about that series, don't you!

Thanks for LOL!
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Old 03-02-2008, 03:46 AM   #125
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I was working from the 2nd Impression of the Second Edition (1967) and the map in that edition shows Hithaeglir as Hithaiglin.
.
Yes - my mistake. I've re-checked my copies - in my 1965 First edition (& no, for the pedants out there its not a first/first, but it is the first ed. text & map) the map shows Hithaiglin, & also in my second ed. Two Towers from 1969 its Hithaiglin (as also in my 1976 paperback set - which was the first copy of LotR I bought). Its Hithaeglir in the Alan Lee illustrated deluxe ed - which was the 2nd edition copy I checked for comparison - but I think the correction might have been made originally in the re-drawn map which CT did for Unfinished Tales in 1981.

Er....sorry everybody for that rather dull digression......
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Old 03-02-2008, 06:02 AM   #126
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Episode 4: The Ring Goes South

Transcript: http://www.tolkienradio.com/ringgoessouth.html

I love this episode. We begin in the peace & security of Rvendell & end in the darkness & horror of Moria. Along the way we pass through Hollin, suffer the attack of Wargs, struggle through the snows of Caradhras & face the long dark of Moria.

Again, so much of the power of the drama comes from the use of Tolkien's own words, both via narration & dialogue. I particularly liked the gathering of the Fellowship scene . We get the sense that Elrond is facing a truly painful decision (though as with the book we aren't told why, exactly, he feels the need to choose nine companions, rather than 5, 10, or a nice round dozen!). The scene between Frodo & Bilbo, and particularly Frodo's awkward expression of gratitude to Bilbo for everything he has done for him (clearly extending right back to his adopting him after his parents' deaths) is quite beautiful. You get the sense that he's never actually said thankyou before - well, not in words (typically English - as is Bilbo's response - telling him not to mention it), but he knows this may be the last time they get the chance to say it.

One thing I liked was the way Gandalf's determination to get the Company into Moria was constantly played up - he is clearly steering them that way, & grabbing every opportunity to get the idea into the forefront of their minds. He wants them all to go through the Mines - as if he is aware that his destiny lies that way.

Another thing: Gimli. A person rather than comic relief. He is full of old lore & the wisdom of his folk. He chants the Song of Durin - & Sam is enthralled. In fact, what I love about this adaptation is that all the characters are given the chance to reveal their characters (often via little scenes or asides & comments). Sam's little comments to Bill are nice & really bring home how much he cares about him. His grief over the death of Balin, & the state to which Moria has come is subtly done but quite heartbreaking.

Anyway, as this is by way of an introduction to our discussion of the episode I'll keep it short. The only other thing I wanted to mention was the Balrog confrontation. David Collings was amazing - the sheer terror in his cry as the Balrog appeared was heart-stopping, & communicates to the audience a whole hidden history. Even a listener who does not know what a Balrog is (we are given no explanation of what it is, & no description of what it looks like), knows that this is the ultimate manifestation of destructive evil & sheer horror - the actors' voices convey that perfectly.

So, off we go....
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Old 03-03-2008, 10:22 PM   #127
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Time

Well I listen to this section and started the next one today on the drive home. My son has confirmed Influenza Type A so I don't have a lot of time right now (want to make sure he is ok, and he is watching the Extended Two Towers so I can sit with him through that) and the post I had spent 10 minutes putting together became lost as my MacBook Pro lost connection with my wireless adapter (I need to buy a new wireless adapter to work with the one in the MacBook Pro). So I'll post on this section tomorrow.
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Old 03-07-2008, 03:13 PM   #128
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I've seen that someone posted on this thread on the 'alternate universe' version of the forum - I can't get there, so hopefully this will be seen and read. It is difficult to get a coherent discussion together, so it might be wise to wait until this glitch is fixed.
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Old 03-07-2008, 04:51 PM   #129
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I've seen that someone posted on this thread on the 'alternate universe' version of the forum - I can't get there, so hopefully this will be seen and read. It is difficult to get a coherent discussion together, so it might be wise to wait until this glitch is fixed.
try http://barrowdowns.com/
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:37 AM   #130
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Am I posting . . . ?

Hello, I feel like the Def Leopard song "Foolin" at least this part:

"I realized that . . .
Is anybody out there, anybody there
Does anybody wonder, anybody care
Oh, I just gotta know
If youre really there and you really care"

So this is a test to see if this post sticks . . .

I'm probably not going to post on this until I know the posts are sticking. I noticed that Brian's new post has been deleted as well.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:58 PM   #131
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The Mines of Moria

Ok, several observations. First, the staff:

"Gandalf held his staff aloft, and from its tip there came a faint radiance which just showed the ground before his feet. They started on their way. By the pale light, they caught glimpses of stairs and arches and of passages and tunnels, sloping up, or running steeply down, or opening blankly dark on either side."

The key word here is tip. I guess you could say that a tip is the top, like the tip of a mountain, but the word also means the end of an extremity so it could mean the bottom. Much like the tip of an old spinning top. So it does provide a new way of looking at this, something I had not considered. Perhaps Gandalf can radiate light from the top, from the whole staff or from the bottom.

A close listening also gave me further evidence in a discussion I am in on the Balrog. It is evident that Gandalf (as Tolkien stated in one of his letters) knew there was a Balrog in Moria (and Legolas was the only other party member who could recognized it). I know someone who is arguing that the Balrog controled the weather on Caradhras and thus wanted to fight Gandalf. I argue that it was Sauron, based on info from Tolkien and the text itself (his arm has grown long) that closed the pass to force them through Moria. I also do not believe that the Balrog was in league with Sauron, though the Balrog was used by Sauron (see Appendix A under Durin's Folk) for his purposes (destroying the Kingdom of Khazad-dum, confronting Gandalf etc) and to further them. I think this also shows that as we'll get to in the next disc that Celeborn knew what was in Moria as well.

I would welcome thoughts on this as well. I always imagine that there were chasms in the chamber where the orcs had light fires and the trolls were bringing stones to bridge those chasms so the orcs could attack. Then the Balrog appears and the trolls and orcs fall back giving way to this demon. Then the orcs waited to follow the fellowship because of daylight and because they had to repair the bridge that was broken even if in a hastly way. However, could trolls be bringing a piece of stone (from lets say a fallen pillar) that is long enough to make a second bridge over the chasm?

Finally, I think it is at this point that Frodo realizes or begins to, that he is alone. He has lost Gandalf and from this point to the falls, he knows in his heart what he has to do; move to Mordor on his own. I also think this is why it is replayed on the next disc (along with the sense of loss).
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Old 03-12-2008, 05:41 PM   #132
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Well...

..I'm BACK!
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:25 PM   #133
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Yes - my mistake. I've re-checked my copies - in my 1965 First edition (& no, for the pedants out there its not a first/first, but it is the first ed. text & map) the map shows Hithaiglin, & also in my second ed. Two Towers from 1969 its Hithaiglin (as also in my 1976 paperback set - which was the first copy of LotR I bought)
Were these US or UK editions? It's my understanding that A&U made periodic corrections at the behest of JRRT and later CRT, but that the H-M 2nd ed. remained unchanged until the Doug Anderson corrections of 1987.

The Ballantines did not use CJRT's original map but rather substituted redrawings, the earlier by Barbara Remington and the later (1988 onward) by Shelly Shapiro.
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:44 PM   #134
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Welcome Back Brian and

everyone else. Hopefully we get back on track again.
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Old 03-13-2008, 12:55 AM   #135
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Were these US or UK editions? It's my understanding that A&U made periodic corrections at the behest of JRRT and later CRT, but that the H-M 2nd ed. remained unchanged until the Doug Anderson corrections of 1987..
UK editions.. I'm not up on the publication history though, or what changes occurred when. I just looked at me books & that's what I found - FotR 1st ed text (14th impression 1965) has Hithaiglin - though the word is partly obscured by the illustration (which is why I originally thought it was Hithaeglin) & TT 2nd ed text (4th impression1969) also has Hithaiglin. The earliest paperback I have is from 1976 (again 2nd/4th) which has Hithaiglin. Its Hithaeglir in my 1981 1st/1st hb UT. They're all A&U btw.
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Old 03-13-2008, 11:39 AM   #136
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Palantir-Green

The only version of the '54 map I have is in my H-M 2nd/12th (ca. 1974), where the name is still Hithaiglin. This was probably a mistake on CT's part in his great haste: the mountains are not labeled at all on JRRT's original, and their Elvish name does not appear anywhere in the text. Its first appearance, already Hithaeglir, is in the Annals of Aman ca. 1951. My very limited resources don't indicate that the name was changed before the 1980 redrawing.

However, the original '54 maps have on occasion been silently corrected. In my 50th Anniversary copy on the large-scale RK map it is now Cirith Ungol, as opposed to Kirith Ungol still present in the '74. Also, relatively early on, the Shire map was altered (somewhat crudely) to get Brandy Hall on the correct side of the Buckland Road.
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Old 03-13-2008, 12:41 PM   #137
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Any road up..... (as we say here in God's own county ) back to the plot.

One thing I wanted to bring up, mainly in response to earlier attacks on the sound effects is how well most of them are done. Yes, its easy to pick up on the ones that don't qute come off, but in the main they are exceptionally good - so good that actually you don't notice them - what I mean is the natural sounds, from birdsong, to echoing corridors & halls, to the movement of furniture, are all so perfectly done that you simply accept them. I think that's why the odd bad effect sticks out like a sore thumb.

In the Church House recording Penny Leicester stressed how much effort went into creating the effects - particularly the Moria sequence, & apparently none of the Orc cries over the entire series are ever duplicated - all are unique. Peter Woodthorpe also spoke about how much effort went in to creating the effects. I doubt the BBC would ever put so much effort into a radio series now. So, I think the truth is that its because the effects in this series are generally so good that when they do occasionally fail the seem to fail big time. So, a few questions for Brian

One aspect of the production that I haven't heard very much about is the part played by the old Radiophonics workshop - I mean, how much time did they put in - & was there much experimentation - I don't suppose you can just come up with a Ringwraith voice, or the sound of a Balrog in a couple of minutes.

Oh, & one other thing - I know the Ring sound was created by running a finger around the rim of a wine glass - but who came up with that idea? It sounds so right, but would any of us have thought of doing that?

And, finally for now - what was the largest number of actors in the studio at one time - was the whole Fellowship ever in the studio together?
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:30 PM   #138
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So, a few questions for Brian

One aspect of the production that I haven't heard very much about is the part played by the old Radiophonics workshop - I mean, how much time did they put in - & was there much experimentation - I don't suppose you can just come up with a Ringwraith voice, or the sound of a Balrog in a couple of minutes.
Please remember with all these answers this was a long time ago (27 years) so memories are hazy, patchy and often unreliable...

The Radiophonic Workshop actually created relatively few effects: Eagles, the Balrog, the Crack of Doom etc. Most of the effects were created by treating natural recordings: the Ringwraith horses hooves and voices etc and usually by using the technology in the studio, rather than the workshop. The reason for this was the producers' and adapters' desire for the story to be treated as realistically as possible.

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Oh, & one other thing - I know the Ring sound was created by running a finger around the rim of a wine glass - but who came up with that idea? It sounds so right, but would any of us have thought of doing that?
My memory is that the Workshop came up with several effects for the Ring and I seem to remember Stephen Oliver experimenting with sounds on the violin when we were recording all the music tracks - which were recorded before the drama sessions began. Memory tells me it was Stephen or a member of the orchestra who came up with the idea of the glass and the sound was recorded during one of those music recording sessions which we held at the BBC's studios at Maida Vale.

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And, finally for now - what was the largest number of actors in the studio at one time - was the whole Fellowship ever in the studio together?
Goodness... Well, the party scene, the Council of Elrond, the battles and so forth involved a lot of actors - the principles, obviously, but also perhaps a dozen members of the RDC (Radio Drama Company) the repertory of players who (at the time but no longer) were on call for productions and who gallantly played all the 'audio extras' such as the Orcs and other gangs and crowds.

Yes, the Fellowship (prior to the 'Breaking') would have been together pretty much all the time. After the death of Boromir, the schedule was more fractured but all the cast involved in an episode would be there for the rehearsal (usually half a day) but might then come in at different times during the following day of recording so as to avoid having people sitting around for hours with nothing to do.

The recording schedule ran as follows:

Day 1: Morning - rehearse Episode 1; Afternoon - begin recording Ep 1

Day 2: Morning - complete recording Ep 1; Afternoon - rehearse Ep 2

Day 3: Morning and afternoon - record Episode 2

And so on...

A handful of particularly complex episodes were allocated a TWO full days to rehearse and record! It doesn't sound like much - and it was an exhausting schedule - but no drama production today would have the luxury of that much time!
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Old 03-13-2008, 02:23 PM   #139
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Finally I can post something on here after Ye Gods conspired against it - first I couldn't listen to this episode when davem did as family were over and then the Downs went into a strange worm-hole and existed in the multiverse...

What got to me about this episode was how thoroughly scary it was. There's something satisfyingly right about listening to a story of a group of people going into a 'dark place' when you only have the 'dark place' of your own imagination to picture them in. Why are underground scenes in books so frightening? I'm thinking also of the tunnels and caves in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, the tunnel in The Amber Spyglass, the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic. Brrrr...I think it's because your imagination is also firmly in that kind of place.

So the Balrog was 100 times more weird. It's not just another 'beast' to be conquered in the manner of a game of D&D but a real, unearthly Maia - a worthy opponent for Gandalf to be terrified of. That's partly the fact that it was unseen again, but also due to the use of sound and script at that point. Everything is happening at once! It's no 'set-piece battle' but a real, chaotic struggle. Gandalf is gone in the blink of an eye. That's how it was in the book and I was pleased to see that this sense of sudden shock came over very well.

I also got thinking about how Gandalf wants to hang about and read the Book of Mazarbul. Handy of course, for the plot, but if that was a real situation I wouldn't be hanging about while Gandalf wasted 'running for the hills time' to read a book. Would you?

And I'm very pleased that the Warg encounter was included. One thing that was disappointing in the films was this sense that the journey to Caradhras was just a jolly hiking expedition, but here we see that the wilds really are wild. The bow-string sound effect was funny though - one of the creaky ones I reckon
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:59 AM   #140
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Episode 4: The Mirror of Galadriel

(Well, this seems to be one of those odd threads where we don't get many participants, but loads of readers - we're now approaching 2,000 views!! I can only assume that the reason is that most Downers haven't heard the series & hopefully this will inspire them to get hold of a set.)

Transcript: http://www.tolkienradio.com/mirrorofgaladriel.html

This episode takes us to the end of the Fellowship of the Ring. We begin with Gandalf's fall in Moria, & end with Boromir's fall at Parth Galen. In between we pass through Lorien & meet Gollum for the first time.

I have to admit that what I regret most is the omission of Mirrormere. And the inclusion of Aragorn's parody of Baby Bunting! - that has always made me groan & I suspect it is only by reason of his heritage (& his big sword) that he got away with it.....

Lorien must have a been challenge. How do you get across the experience of the Elvish realm in sound alone? Yet I'm not sure that a visual representation can work much better - I don't think the movie captured the magic either. What is missing in both is the subjective, psychological dimension. Jackson stated that if he had been writing the story from scratch he wouldn't have had Lorien in the story at that point, so near the end of the first movie, because it breaks the tension. In many ways the Lorien episode 'mirrors' the Old Forest/Barrow Downs episode, & I wonder whether something is lost in this adaptation by having omitted that first woodland adventure?

I did like the way Celeborn was played by Simon Cadell (& that the BBC budget stretched to employing an actor, rather than, as with the movie, having to resort to a robot...), though you do half expect him to greet the Fellowship with an awkward 'Hi de Hi!'...... No, unfair. Cadell's performance was subtle & informed. Which brings me to a question about the 'bit players' - how much background were they given as to their characters, & what was happening? And how many of them were like Michael Hordern, with no real clue about what was happening? Marian Diamond's Galadriel has always been one of my favourite performances - I love her voice.

Oh yes, were any of the actors fans of the story beforehand? I know Peter Woodthorpe said at Church House that he only read the parts of the book in which Gollum appeared & didn't really know the other events of the story.

I do love Ian Holm's performance in this episode - from his initial expression of loss, through his awkwardness first over Aragorn attempting to treat his 'wound' & later in his stumbling recitation of his poem about Gandalf. When his voice breaks at the 'old man in a battered hat' I always get a lump in my throat....

What else? No Amon Hen. I wonder why (of course, one always assumes 'time constraints' as the reason for cuts, but I do wonder whether anything got cut simply because there was no way of dramatising it effectively). However, I did think the scene between Boromir & Frodo was brialliantly done. Michael Graham Cox conveyed all the pain, confusion, & egotistic desire of Boromir perfectly, the sense of a man in a state of absolute hopelessness grasping at what he feels is his people's only chance for survival. MGC is often ignored in discussions of the series, but I think he is absolutely brilliant here.

Anyway, that's me intro - hope I haven't stolen anyone's ideas....
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:05 PM   #141
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My thoughts (and me too!)

Actually so far on the Downs, this is one of my favorite threads and probably the one I post the most on. On other threads I tend to come in after they have started and being new here (on a board of many long term members) I guess I am still trying to figure out what has been discussed and what has not since it seems some are core about not wanting to get into previous posts/issues. I will say though that out of the 3 LOTR sites I post on, this is the one that approaches what I want, good solid thinking, reflection and use of the many text sources to discuss this wonderful world.

That is one reason I love this thread! It makes me think about what I am listening to. As a former executive and now an educator I enjoy escaping to Tolkien to make me reflect on life itself. Weird I know. Enough to that stuff though.

Davem hit on some of the points I would have brought up so I'll try some other angles. I noticed that the poems/songs by Legolas (Nimrodel) was left out and I felt that was a wonderful edit from the text. The story of Amroth and Nimrodel though important to the lore of Middle Earth, does not move the story forward.

I concur on Ian Holm's part. I love his acting/voice over here and though I don't get a lump, I feel the pit in the stomach when I hear Frodo struggle at the end of his poem/lament/memoir of Gandalf.

I enjoyed Celeborn's portrayl also and felt it was much better than the film.

The mirror scene was extremely well done and not over dramatic. I wonder for those who have heard this adaptation and only scene the movie what they thought? I liked how Galaderial is in this scene and it is not over the top.

I also think that Douglas Livingston did a great job with Gimli here. His voice over on leaving Lorien and his thoughts on his Lady made me really think of that Chivarious love of the Medieval Period.

Besides no Amon Hem, the shooting of the Nazgul was deleted and I thought that was a significant event to not included. That incident combined with the orc voices increases the tension and forces the company to move more swiftly to their decision. I was sad that in both the movie (even the extended edition) that was not included nor in the radio adapation.

Finally the last interaction of Frodo and Sam I think provides a great insight into their relationship while conveying a sense of hope in that relationship. I could hear Frodo's relief when Sam demands to go or to put hole in all the boats and Ian did a great job here, and kudos should be given to William Nighey.

A thought on the background noises. What I have realized that I really appreciate in the production is that for me, the vast majority of the sounds do not distract me from the acting that is occurring. I am more focused on the inflection, the tension, the relief, the sorrow that is conveyed by the actors and their voices. I think this is perhaps on the harder challenges in audio only, that of portraying a mood, a feeling, an emotion without having visual aide. I think it is even harder in today's world where so much is visual from gaming systems, to television, to cell phones, to the internet and computers to the ease of video conferencing or netconferencing. We are moving into a period where it is very critical to still be able listen and gather information off voice. That is one thing I love about this series. It is a medium to do this. That is why on long trips, we take this series and the many book on cd's we own with us, and have our kids listen.

Anyway, my thoughts.
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Old 03-16-2008, 03:12 PM   #142
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I've remembered what the scary sound effect for the Balrog reminded me of. A blow torch! Is that what it was? Put through an echo of some kind?

Anyway...

Doesn't Gimli shine through in this episode? Why on earth Jackson chose to go with portraying him as some vertically challenged buffoon I'll never know but it doesn't half show up as a travesty after you listen to this Gimli! And I love that nice touch where there's a moment of silence after he's waxed lyrical over Galadriel after they leave in the boats, following which he's brought back to reality sharpish as the boast join the main current of the Anduin. Excellent stuff.

Other characters are better in this, too, such as Galadriel's voice is nicer (I love Cate Blanchett but my only drawback was she sounded too deep, like Margaret Thatcher, as Galadriel ), Haldir is less camp (I kept expecting him to launch into a rendition of an ABBA song in the film) and Celeborn is not a cipher.

I noticed that Galadriel's arms are described too - so she must be wearing a sleeveless gown then? Might not seem like much of note, but I do like to picture what characters may be wearing...

Lothlorien came across as a proper woodland glade too with the soft birdsong in the background.

Now one thing I missed in the radio version was there was not all that much of Boromir, as he seems to get lost in the general conversation, and in the books I like reading about his developing determination to go to Gondor, his developing interest in the Ring and that slight, simmering mistrust of Aragorn. Though that would be hard to portray without the aid of showing him giving glowering looks and so on But finally here we get to see plenty of Boromir! I like how we get plenty of time on his scene with Frodo and how he builds up to that final step; I also like how he's a bit shady and ashamed when he gets back to the rest of them.
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Old 03-17-2008, 03:52 AM   #143
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I did like the way Celeborn was played by Simon Cadell (& that the BBC budget stretched to employing an actor, rather than, as with the movie, having to resort to a robot...), though you do half expect him to greet the Fellowship with an awkward 'Hi de Hi!'...... No, unfair. Cadell's performance was subtle & informed.
I was surprised to realise that Cadell had already been in Hi de Hi (1980) when he worked on Rings. But I agree his performance in a small role was strong - and he was at least a real presence, unlike the film.

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Which brings me to a question about the 'bit players' - how much background were they given as to their characters, & what was happening? And how many of them were like Michael Hordern, with no real clue about what was happening? Marian Diamond's Galadriel has always been one of my favourite performances - I love her voice.
Yes, Marian's performance was excellent and she worked wonders in those few short scenes without any radiophonic tricksy stuff. My problem with the film is similar to the reaction I have when Gandalf becomes threatening at Bag End - it is just so unsubtle...

How much were the actors told? Not a great deal, I imagine - the time constraints in the recording sessions were pretty severe. Probably not much more than any actor in a soap opera is given about what is to happen to them. I seem to remember drawing up a list of characters and who they were and various reference books (there were fewer of them then!) were available.

But most of the actors would have been told who/what their character was and - since they didn't have all 26 scripts before the recordings began - would have learned their destiny as each new episode came to them.

Unless, of course, they had read the book...

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Oh yes, were any of the actors fans of the story beforehand? I know Peter Woodthorpe said at Church House that he only read the parts of the book in which Gollum appeared & didn't really know the other events of the story.
I'm trying to remember... Ian Holm, I think, had already read the book and certainly read it in close detail while preparing for the role. David Collings (Legolas) was a devoted fan of the book and knew it well which was a great help in the Fellowship scenes. I'm sure some of the others had read it or seen the truncated Bakshi version. The time available and the fees paid would probably not have induced many who hadn't read the book to do so...

I remember reading, in John (Bilbo) Le Mesurier's posthumous biography, a letter written to a show-biz friend saying something to the effect that he was working on The Lord of the Rings for the BBC, didn't have the faintest idea what it was all about but that it was all very jolly because he was working with old friends like Hordern who also didn't seem to know what was going on...

Which is a bit like real life, I guess...

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What else? No Amon Hen. I wonder why (of course, one always assumes 'time constraints' as the reason for cuts, but I do wonder whether anything got cut simply because there was no way of dramatising it effectively). However, I did think the scene between Boromir & Frodo was brialliantly done. Michael Graham Cox conveyed all the pain, confusion, & egotistic desire of Boromir perfectly, the sense of a man in a state of absolute hopelessness grasping at what he feels is his people's only chance for survival. MGC is often ignored in discussions of the series, but I think he is absolutely brilliant here.
Amon Hen was cut for several reasons: time (always a pressing factor); the necessity to have Frodo soliloquising on the Seat of Seeing - always a difficult thing to achieve on radio; and because the Eye imagery had featured so recently in the Mirror of Galadriel episode where it had similarly been described in a mini-Frodo-monologue...
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:40 AM   #144
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Yes, Marian's performance was excellent and she worked wonders in those few short scenes without any radiophonic tricksy stuff. My problem with the film is similar to the reaction I have when Gandalf becomes threatening at Bag End - it is just so unsubtle...
I think Jackson & the writers too often fell into the old 'show, don't tell' trap - film has advantages over radio in that you can show things, but there's always the temptation to show too much - to 'shout' rather than just 'say'. Brian Rosbury described movie Galadriel as a 'screaming sea-green hell-hag' or somesuch. Once again, as with the Balrog, radio allows the listener to visualise the characters/events as they wish, & not to have a director impose an image on them. Galadriel should not go 'psycho' at that point - however good the sfx a director has may be.

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I'm trying to remember... Ian Holm, I think, had already read the book and certainly read it in close detail while preparing for the role. David Collings (Legolas) was a devoted fan of the book and knew it well which was a great help in the Fellowship scenes.
I remember reading, in John (Bilbo) Le Mesurier's posthumous biography, a letter written to a show-biz friend saying something to the effect that he was working on The Lord of the Rings for the BBC, didn't have the faintest idea what it was all about but that it was all very jolly because he was working with old friends like Hordern who also didn't seem to know what was going on...
Hmm, you know, listening to the Church House recording, I got the feeling that David Collings was in the same position of not really knowing the story. I don't know why - of course, Peter Woodthorpe tended to take over the discussion a bit! Did you have Ian or David doing an 'Ian McKellan', wandering the studio with a copy of the book & making 'suggestions'?

More seriuously - how much of the recording was out of sequence - I think I heard Jane Morgan mention that the last few episodes at least we're recorded in order, but was there a lot of jumping around Bag End one day, Pelenor Fields the next, then Lothlorien the day after, etc...

I didn't realise that John Le Mesurier was in the same boat as Michael Hordern & didn't know what was going on - still, the magic of radio (or Middle-earth) worked in both cases.

Quote:
Amon Hen was cut for several reasons: time (always a pressing factor); the necessity to have Frodo soliloquising on the Seat of Seeing - always a difficult thing to achieve on radio; and because the Eye imagery had featured so recently in the Mirror of Galadriel episode where it had similarly been described in a mini-Frodo-monologue...
I see what you mean - Frodo's vision on Amon Hen, with the armies massing for the coming war, is one of the scenes from the book that sticks in my mind most strongly, but I don't see that working as a soliloquy, & you can't keep using the narrator to describe what's happening. Was there a temptation to keep resorting to the narrator - I think you hit the right balance, but it must be tempting to avoid the soliloquites, (or giving poor Pippin all the obvious questions to ask!) by just having the narrator tell the listener what's happening? Were there points at which you struggled over when to use a soliloquy & when to use the narrator - in other words did you only use the narrator when you couldn't use a character, or were there points where you could have written a scenes for the characters, but chose to use the narrator instead? What I'm getting at is did you decide to have a narrator in the series because there were things you couldn't handle any other way - was he a last resort - or was he seen as another character whose role was essential to telling the story?
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:14 AM   #145
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Hmm, you know, listening to the Church House recording, I got the feeling that David Collings was in the same position of not really knowing the story. I don't know why - of course, Peter Woodthorpe tended to take over the discussion a bit! Did you have Ian or David doing an 'Ian McKellan', wandering the studio with a copy of the book & making 'suggestions'?
Maybe my memory is at fault regarding Collings, but I thought he knew the book pretty well. Woodthorpe was a lovely man and a great actor, but he never found it easy to share the spotlight!

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More seriously - how much of the recording was out of sequence - I think I heard Jane Morgan mention that the last few episodes at least we're recorded in order, but was there a lot of jumping around Bag End one day, Pelenor Fields the next, then Lothlorien the day after, etc...
Not sure where or when Jane said that - or why... To teh best of my recall, with a few exceptions (to accommodate actors who would otherwise have had to come in for one day in order to deliver a couple of lines) the series was recorded episode by episode following the schedule I illustrated a few posts ago...

However, once the Fellowship had been broken and we were following three or more strands of story, it would be usual to record, say, all the Frodo and Sam scenes and then the Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas scenes and then those with Merry Pippin and the orcs.

The only other reason why scenes might be recorded significantly out of order would be because there were a couple of hours when we had access to the RDC (Radio Drama Company) and they were needed for 'crowd' scenes such as the party at Bag End and the bar of The Prancing Pony.

Otherwise, the recording schedule was pretty tightly followed - a day and a half per episode, two days for difficult sequences.

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I didn't realise that John Le Mesurier was in the same boat as Michael Hordern & didn't know what was going on - still, the magic of radio (or Middle-earth) worked in both cases.
True!

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I see what you mean - Frodo's vision on Amon Hen, with the armies massing for the coming war, is one of the scenes from the book that sticks in my mind most strongly, but I don't see that working as a soliloquy, & you can't keep using the narrator to describe what's happening. Was there a temptation to keep resorting to the narrator - I think you hit the right balance, but it must be tempting to avoid the soliloquies, (or giving poor Pippin all the obvious questions to ask!) by just having the narrator tell the listener what's happening? Were there points at which you struggled over when to use a soliloquy & when to use the narrator - in other words did you only use the narrator when you couldn't use a character, or were there points where you could have written a scenes for the characters, but chose to use the narrator instead? What I'm getting at is did you decide to have a narrator in the series because there were things you couldn't handle any other way - was he a last resort - or was he seen as another character whose role was essential to telling the story?
I think, now, that the remarks about the Narrator being another character which we made immediately after the series had been recorded, were probably something of a post-rationalisation.

The truth is that the radio style at the time was for someone to be telling the story (a character in the story or an authorial-voice-type Narrator); I don't think we ever thought of trying to do the story without a narrative voice and I'm pretty much certain that we primarily wanted to use that voice to get us as quickly as possible from A to B or to set a scene without having too many lines like "Look at those huge stone figures standing on either side of the river..."

Certainly I never consciously thought I was writing something specifically for the Narrator as a character - although Michael Bakewell has described writing a scene (the Balrog, perhaps?) for which, he said, he wrote a note in the script to the effect that even the Narrator should be astonished by this scene...

My initial choice was for Tolkien-like figure (authoritative, professorial) who would be telling you about his world. I later did something like that in my dramatisations of the Gormenghast books where the Narrator was 'The Artist' and whilst not sounding like Mervyn Peake was definitely intended to be the creative voice behind the stories...

I was, however, persuaded by that the argument (not that I actually had any choice in the matter!!) that it would be better to have a younger voice that could describe Middle-earth more in the style of a reporter describing a real place with real events.

I think it worked well, but if such a production were ever to be mounted today, the narrative device would be seen as too 'old fashioned' and it would probably be made without it. Narrator-less productions can be done: I did five of the seven Chronicles of Narnia in this way (the first two had a narrator), but it is difficult and sometimes the problems it creates and the loss to the richness of the story just aren't worth it!

By the way, we do seem to be having a very close-knit conversation on this list - considering how many people are apparently reading it!!
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Old 03-18-2008, 11:13 AM   #146
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I wouldn't be without Gerard Murphy's Narrator. I love his voice. In many ways he holds the whole thing together - however many storylines are running we always have Gerard's beautiful voice guiding us along. I honestly think that the narrator is vital & that the series would have been the poorer without him.
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:53 PM   #147
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I agree...

He really conveys a sense of immediacy - narrators can sound far too "knowing" - which would of course have been a problem if one of the fellowship had been a narrator.

I was thinking about this partly in relation to a discussion elsewhere about the films, and unless you take a radically different approach to the material and lose the perspective of going through the story basically at hobbit level of knowledge (cf the difference between "TheQuest of Erebor" in UT and the Hobbit), you need a narrator who doesn't sound too omniscient.

I am sorry I have been so lacking in my contributions sinceI have so been enjoying my more focused re listenings. I am continually amazed at how much has been kept especially given the shortness of the original episodes and the consequent need to make allowances for new listeners.

I am also impressed that although I know the story so well I am still on tenterhooks at the dramatic moments and still moved.

This episode contains perhaps my favourite piece of dialogue which is given proper treatment - the "memory is not what the heart desires" . A good example of what for me makes this adaptation superior to the films. Yes this little sequence may not move the plot on but it tells so much about these characters - as characters, as representatives of their races and also gets to the heart of so much of the essence of the story. Courage is not enough nor is sacrifice. Gimli and Boromir are so confident of their strength that this moment of weakness make Gimli seem very human - for want of a more appropriate word.
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:11 PM   #148
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Other characters are better in this, too, such as Galadriel's voice is nicer (I love Cate Blanchett but my only drawback was she sounded too deep, like Margaret Thatcher, as Galadriel ), Haldir is less camp (I kept expecting him to launch into a rendition of an ABBA song in the film) and Celeborn is not a cipher.

I noticed that Galadriel's arms are described too - so she must be wearing a sleeveless gown then? Might not seem like much of note, but I do like to picture what characters may be wearing...
Oh but while I think Marian Diamond does very well, I dont' thinkyou can criticise Cate since Galadriel is specifically stated to have a voice deeper than usual for a woman. As for the dress, I imagined wide floaty sleeves ... surely bit nippy for sleeveless in February even for an elf.

I like that there seems to be a fairly consistent elvish style of speaking - light and soft but not weak. David Collings voice is very distinctive but Elrond, Glorfindel and Haldir all tone. I must say from the discussions I got the impression that David Collings knew the books but couldn't get many words in edgeways . I don't think you could play an elf so well without knowing what was going on. Gandalf and Bilbo "fall off the page" so much more and have so much more dialogue.

Anyway I am sorry to ramble - and if I am repeating..I am not up to speed with everything yet but now I have got going again...
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:19 PM   #149
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Oh but while I think Marian Diamond does very well, I dont' thinkyou can criticise Cate since Galadriel is specifically stated to have a voice deeper than usual for a woman.
Well, they did use a bloke (Oz Clarke) to sing her Lament....no wonder he turned to drink
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:26 PM   #150
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No it was the fine countertenor David James. Oz Clarke did the baritone stuff - though I think in the production Bill Nighy actually sang Gil Galad and In Western Lands which are sung on the music tape by Clarke. Of course the counter-tenor range is similar to a contralto or mezzo but has a different timbre, and is also often used for "supernatural roles". Sorry to be geeky but this is the song that hooked me onto countertenors .... The purity of sound is presumably why Oliver used a treble rather than a soprano for A Elbereth Gilthoniel and Bilbos last song.

David James is a member of the Hilliard Ensemble which produced the amazing collaboration "officium" with Jan Gabarek,
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:51 PM   #151
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No - it has to be Oz Clarke for the joke to work.
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:24 PM   #152
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It would take more than that

Besides Clarke had already turned to drink by the time he was at Cambridge.

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Old 03-20-2008, 12:38 PM   #153
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Having been listening again and I am so glad that the gift giving was included in full. It is something that could so easily have been sacrificed to some extent but having seen the threat to the Shire in the Mirror, the box of earth gives hope for healing of whatever wounds may be inflicted. It also preserves a link to the larger mythology since the lone mallorn in the shire and the renewed white tree in Gondor are images of the Two Trees of Valinor.
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:52 PM   #154
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Having been listening again and I am so glad that the gift giving was included in full. It is something that could so easily have been sacrificed to some extent but having seen the threat to the Shire in the Mirror, the box of earth gives hope for healing of whatever wounds may be inflicted. It also preserves a link to the larger mythology since the lone mallorn in the shire and the renewed white tree in Gondor are images of the Two Trees of Valinor.
There are just so many 'little' things like that that a less sensitive adaptor would have thrown out. I was quite surprised to read that the BBC were negotiating the radio rights to LotR before they had an adaptor - or was that what happened? Was it the case that they were going for the rights & when they got them they would just have looked for a handy adaptor? I know Michael Bakewell was drafted in because he had adapted War & Peace for Radio 4, but was there anyone else in mind? I can't help thinking how lucky we were to have someone like Brian involved who actually loved the book & was prepared to include such little details.
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Old 03-20-2008, 01:00 PM   #155
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Another thing that strikes me is that if Boromir wasn't going to be killed anyway, you'd have to murder him. He is a constant source of negativity yet so up himself he is in danger of turning inside out. Had he survived I don't know how many companions he woudl have got to go to Minas Tirith. The film Boromir is more sympathetic in some ways (and that is from one of the few red-blooded women who isn't keen of Sean Bean)
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:02 PM   #156
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By the way..did I imagine it or does Aragorn speak of Caras Galadhrim?
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:06 PM   #157
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By the way..did I imagine it or does Aragorn speak of Caras Galadhrim?
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Aragorn: Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth. Arwen vanimelda, namárië! Here my heart dwells ever, unless there be light beyond the dark roads that we must tread. Let us continue our journey to Caras Galadhrim, to the City of Green Towers.
All in the transcript http://www.tolkienradio.com/mirrorofgaladriel.html
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:11 PM   #158
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I suspect most people would seem young to Theoden.
Boromir was also the same age as Theodred (who was 24 when Theodwyn died soon after her husband in 3002) and who was killed just the day before him... surely that would have been on his father's mind.
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:09 AM   #159
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Episode 6: The Breaking of the Fellowship

Transcript: http://www.tolkienradio.com/breakingfellowship.html

This episode takes us nearly half way through the adaptation. We begin with the death of Boromir & end with the reappearance of Gandalf.

The Three Hunters: the fallen Bormir is found by Aragorn, he is given to Rauros, & then they begin their pursuit of the Orcs who have taken Merry & Pippin & along the way they meet with Eomer & the Rohirrim. I particularly liked Robert Stephen's performance in this part. He starts out confused, angry with himself & at possibly one of the lowest points in his life. Slowly he finds his inner resources of strength & courage. He truly becomes a leader here, inspiring his companions,who are equally overwhelmed by grief & confusion, For the first time in the story we see the King in waiting break the surface. Up to now he has been Strider the Ranger, Now he is Aragorn, heir of Elendil. The transformation is awe-inspiring. When he confronts Eomer & tells forth his heritage:

Quote:
I am Aragorn son of Arathorn and am called Elessar the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor.
Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!
We know we are in the presence of true majesty.

The funeral of Boromir is beatifully handled, Stephen Oliver's music enhancing the sense of tragedy. This Boromir is (as in the book) not a 'sympathetic' figure, but we never doubt that he is a great warrior. Its interesting that the funeral he recieves is a Pagan one. Boromir is a warrior in the line of both Turin & Beowulf & recieves a suitably 'Viking' send off. He floats into the West, home of heroes from Scyld Sceafing onwards.

Again, we see how the medium helps. Battles on radio tend towards 'noise' & don't come across well, so the focus is on the characters. The meeting with the Rohirrim is beautifully done, Eomer is one of my favourite characters in this adaptation, & Anthony Hyde plays him beautifully.

The Merry & Pippin scenes are done beautifully too, & we begin to see their true characters now they are out from under the shadow of the rest of the Fellowship. Pippin is shown to be clever & resourceful, & Merry finds himself somewhat on the back foot! Treebeard is wonderful, wise, compassionate, complex, but never stupid or confused. The great thing about this adaptation, for me, is the time given to each scene. After watching the movie one is quite surprised at how long the scenes go on - few quick cuts, each scene allowed to play out properly, not cut short in order to get to the next 'joke' or action sequence. Character wins out over action.

The Frodo/Sam/Gollum sequence (longer than I remembered) is brilliantly done, & Ian Holm's performance is incredible. His sudden turning on Gollum ("How dare you!") is chilling. This is not the Frodo we've come to know & love & we get a glimpse of the Frodo he will become. There's a 'monster' growing in there, & here it rears its ugly head, just for a moment.

What else? Peter Woodthorpe's Gollum is a tour de force - clearly psychologically shattered, ranting, raving, spluttering over his words, gasping, shrieking, weeping struggling to speak. Its easy to unerstand Sam's desire to be rid of him & Frodo's pity for him. I don't think there's another actor who could have played him. Sorry movie fans, but Andy Serkis doesn't come close. Serkis stated that he portrayed Gollum as an addict. Woodthorpe said he played Gollum as 'half-animal'; I think that comes across here. I was also reminded of one of the lines on Gollum's song in the LotR stage show - 'Precious & me, alone we'll be, now & for always'. Gollum doesn't actually want anything but the Ring. He desires to get it back & retreat to his cave to be alone forever with it. Everything, everyone, else is simply an obstacle to his getting the Ring. I think Woodthorpe nailed that perfectly.

Finally, Gandalf returns. The White Rider. And this is the one point where it nearly didn't come off - I recognised Michael Hordern's voice straight off - yet that was inevitable I suppose. However, I suppose the adaptors simply accepted that & got the moment over as quickly as possible!

Anyway, that's me intro.... all I can say now is "Let's hunt some Or......" er "Forth the Three Hunters!"

(though hopefully we'll see more than three contributors to this one..... )
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Old 03-23-2008, 12:54 PM   #160
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Another thing that strikes me is that if Boromir wasn't going to be killed anyway, you'd have to murder him. He is a constant source of negativity yet so up himself he is in danger of turning inside out. Had he survived I don't know how many companions he woudl have got to go to Minas Tirith. The film Boromir is more sympathetic in some ways (and that is from one of the few red-blooded women who isn't keen of Sean Bean)
You are wrong. If Boromir had survived, he would have returned to Minas Tirith, alone if need be (as he said), and he would have saved many soliders from dying at Osgiliath, you better believe it. Turning inside out? What in the world are you talking about? Also who cares if he was negative? He was positive a good amount of times as well during the journey.

And they aren't talking about the overly sympathetic Bean portrayal here. I'm not a fan of MGC either. Book Boromir is the true Boromir, obviously.
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