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Old 10-18-2005, 09:52 PM   #1
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LotR1-FotR-Seq01

Like many things, we start in darkness...

Peter Jackson's prologue to the Trilogy really had a lot of work to do: get buy-in for this fantasy world from both Tolkienites and those that just happened to stumble into the theater or were dragged therein by a date. He had 7.5 minutes with which to work, to set up the world of Middle Earth, to establish the characters/players and to get us all fearing the One Ring. What is this place Middle Earth, how does it work? Who lives there? Should proper names be used, and if so, and how many to include? How much information was too much for the general audience? Or too little - or worse, incorrect - for the fan base? And who should be narrating - who's POV?

New Line wanted a prologue of about two minutes. Glad that PJ fought for the longer version.

The movie begins with Galadriel speaking Treebeard's words, getting us started in the world of Middle Earth and letting us know what's so special about this least of rings. There's something about Cate Blanchett's voice - not young, not old; authoritative, yet not too harsh. Mysterious. The whispering Elvish in the background adds to the eeriness of the narration.

Next, the main races or peoples of Middle Earth are introduced - Elves, Dwarves and Men. The elves are perfect beings; the dwarves shown more neutrally. Men are not presented in the best light, and this even before we get to meet Isildur. Did you catch the one-eyed bearer of one of the Nine?

We hear the "one Ring to rule them all" line, again delivered well by Ms. Blanchett, while seeing the elvish script on the Ring. The map shows us Mordor and the blackness that spreads over the countryside. Nice way to show where everything is located while also showing the growing menace in a simple yet threatening way.

Then it's on to the battle of the Last Alliance. The color palette is muted, possibly to show that this event occurred in the past. Plus Mordor is a black and grey place. The only real color in the scene is in the groups of elves and men, who are presented as green - a 'nature/life' color?

The synchronized sword swinging thing that the elves do looks really cool, and I assume that it was added to show the precision and coordination of the Elves, in contrast to the chaos of the orcs, who seem to attack in a free-for-all swarm. If you really think about it, though, the orcs have to hit the line in sync with the elves' sword wave for the wave to serve any purpose. If an elf swings his/her sword too soon, it's ineffective (but looks really nice! just like a marching band...); too late, and the orc has already bopped him/her on the head. On the one hand you have this graceful coordinated orc-dicing wave, on the other hand you start to think that the elves are automatons. A quick shot shows someone wielding a spear- to me it's Aiglos.

And while quibbling, do the arrows sail close by Elrond's head (1) to show that the archers were performing really close ranged-attack support, (2) to demonstrate the precision in which elves do everything, and so Elrond is unconcerned as the arrows will fly true (yet close) or (3) to see Elrond yet again, as he's important to this story somehow and we need to reinforce that? What's funny here is that we have the elves, all with the same shields and helmets and sword-moves, and later we will see this 'mass production' conformity in the Uruks, and so is the sameness a good thing or a bad thing? Sure, I'd rather have an elvish sword over those chunk of metal scimitars, even if it were mass-produced, but just thought that this was a noted difference between the races.

Whoa! Sauron shows up. Not exactly as imagined, but cool nonetheless. He has his Ring, and he's also carrying a big stick and obviously he means to use it...But what didn't really work is the fact that everyone seems a bit surprised that he shows up. Hello!?! He's most likely twice as tall as everyone else, and there are not many trees in Mordor behind which to hide. So where did he come from? After watching the scene a few times, you start getting (more?) goofy in the head, and you start thinking that Sauron is going to tap Elendil on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me sir, but I'm late come to this battle, and was just wondering if you could direct me?"

The Ring, seen again on his right index finger, looks menacing, but after Sauron starts swinging his mace I'm guessing that the only power the Ring supplies here is to only help him bat people away better. He didn't hold up his Ringed hand and crush people down, or push them back remotely, or even make them feel like an invisible hand was choking them. The Ring must have just made him stronger. Can you imagine Sauron saying, "Batter up!" or "Fore!" as he swung away at the elves and men?

And why didn't someone pepper him with some of those nifty arrows that we just saw? Even better, the Elves could have shot at him from a distance as he walked from behind a mound of slag. But maybe they thought it was to be a champion vs. champion fight. "Don't shoot the big guy who just popped out of nowhere. It's to be a Gil-Galad and Elendil tag-team against Sauron and the Mouth of the South, so just stay out of it."

Just a clue for the for the Last Alliance regarding attacking Sauron - encircle him, and attack him from the back. Just my two coppers.

And so now we come to it. Elendil "the King" takes a Mace-induced flight, and his son runs to his aid and to his sword. Sauron breaks Narsil by stepping on it. Ahh... not how I would have pictured it. Always thought that the Sword would have been broken while attacking Sauron, not cracking beneath his foot. If Sauron can break the sword with his heel, and he becomes a searchlight eyeball, exactly why would he ever fear Narsil/Anduril later?

Oops, jumped too far ahead there...back to the action.

So now Sauron reaches for Isildur. Why? Did Isildur have something that Sauron wanted? Was the Dark Lord going to hold him up and crush him with the Force? Was Sauron going for Elendil's wallet? What? But ha! Isildur cuts off Sauron's fingers.

Yes, fingers.

Oops! Looks to me that Sauron isn't going to be able to count beyond six using his hands. Wasn't he subsequently nine-fingered, even in the movie? Losing the Ring makes Sauron implode with light, then explode. Everyone on screen is knocked flat - initially I thought that they might have been killed, but as Elrond and Isildur are still around afterwards, it was just some sort of force wave, a 'parting gift' from Annatar to the elves - to tussle their hair.

Isildur is a pompous jerk. He has such a smug look as he rides through the foggy forest with the Ring atop his 'made-for-ring' chestplate you almost start hoping (quickly, as the scene's moving on) that he falls for some misadventure. And he does - ambushed! The attack is a little hokey, as you'd think that the good guys would have seen it coming. Isildur experiences a flight/fight reaction and goes with the first option. The grass that he parts (to show his invisible movement) is just too contrived as it seems to be the only such weed of that height anywhere. And just what was Isildur thinking anyway? Most people, especially when in water, sink. Most of these same people, laden with chain-mail armor, sink like rocks in water. Actually more like heavy large aerodynamic rocks with lead centers. So not so sure what he planned to do when Isildur started into the water. Luckily he gets a few wooden 'arrows of buoyancy' in his back as these offset the weight of his body and armor so that he can float away.

Or did he shed his armor? Hard to tell, seeing him from the back floating on the water like that, but it looks more like he's robed. Anyway, couldn't we have had a chase scene where Isildur is pursued, throwing away his armor piecemeal, then is shot after diving into the river? I guess every frame counts in film, and that would be too much time and detail for a character that isn't really important to the rest of the tale. Or not.

We learn that ~2500 years pass, which is odd that we get a detail that might not have made that much of a difference to the telling. The deed becomes history which becomes legend which becomes myth line expressed the same relative time span.

So Gollum finds the Ring and goes into hiding. Not sure who he is at this point (from the movie POV), except that he's obviously not one of the good guys and that he really really likes fish. The circular waves in the water, like the darkness spreading across the ME map, was another good visual. The sunset, and the Ring falling down. Nice images. Plus we are hearing that this Ring isn't just a spectator but a player. And now we're approaching the present time, and something odd happens when we see an ordinary-looking person find the Ring - definitely not a King, not a creature, but someone more like you and me. He's a Hobbit, we're told, and these little people are going to be important to the story.

But just who are these Hobbits? That will be for next week.
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Old 10-19-2005, 05:00 AM   #2
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Believe it or not I'm quite pleased with the way Jackson handled the introduction. Though as far as being historically (ahem-Tolkienical) accurate, it's really quite far off, Jackson does the introduction well. As you said, the whole point of the intro is to...
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He had 7.5 minutes with which to work, to set up the world of Middle Earth, to establish the characters/players and to get us all fearing the One Ring.
So, the minor details in the intro (like where the battle was at, when it was at, how it happened) aren't totally necessary in the movie. The point is to get everyone (bookfans and non-readers) into the world of middle-earth, and I think in the overall picture of the intro he does this.

As you have said he establishes the three main races at the time, and sets them all in a different light.

I don't think many more characters need to be established besides Elrond, Gil-galad, Isildur, and Elendil. Other than that, I don't see the need to establish someone like Cirdan.

Despite the change in what happens at Mount Doom (putting Elrond in there with Isildur), I think it goes to show a lot. It parallels Elves and Men by using Isildur and Elrond. With Isildur's "No" it shows that men can be more prone to the Ring, and the Elves are goody-goodies (Do what's right!) type of people.

This is an effective "addition" by Jackson. I can't say change, because we really don't know what happened at Mount Doom (are we even sure Isildur got there??) But it establishes the power and fear of the Ring, and that such a thing that was so close to destruction and it's end, escapes.

One extra thing I'd like to point out, in that (this might be suited better for later, but I'll probably say it again when the time comes). But here's a photo of how Isildur looks when deciding to destroy the Ring or not, and how Frodo looks. It's scaringly similar, and a great job by Jackson and his team to draw such a similarity...



Just looking at the smile is rather weary. It's that look of "It's mine to have, and mine forever." But more important the smile is each directed at someone. Isildur's smile towards Elrond, and Frodo's menacing smile towards Sam. So it's more like..."The ring's mine and you can't do nothing about it!"

Mor will probably come later when I actually get home and watch this sequence.
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Old 10-19-2005, 07:31 AM   #3
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Overall, I do like the prologue. It was cohesive in having to introduce and explain in a relatively short amount. Even my family members who haven't read the books caught on easily enough, at least good guys, bad guys, evil ring etc.

A couple of things:

1. The scene showing the three elves having their rings with Galadriel in the forefront and Cirdan and Elrond blurred out, I wonder why Elrond (Hugo Weaving) wasn't used. The men were already blurred, so what was the big deal in Elrond not being there?(BTW, Alatar, I'm lost on the signifigance of one of the men having only one eye. Maybe a foreshadowing of Sauron's one eye?)

2.The first shot of seeing Sauron after he successfully forged the one ring and is holding it up, his armour makes him look like he's got a big ol' fat beer belly. Sure there are and have been heavy set evil rulers of the world, but it doesn't seem to work for Sauron.

3.I just love the sound of the line "But they were all of them deceived". I even used it in my werewolf game.

4.As far as the implode/explode of Sauron after having his fingers and ring removed (yes, it should have been only the ring finger), it kind of shows really how greedy for absolute power he was to the detrimant of himself. Sauron had tunnel-vision and didn't stop to think 'maybe I'm putting too much of myself into this object, man that would suck if I lost it'.

5.I think the biggest disservice of the prologue is that Bilbo really did come off looking like a thief. He finds a ring and someone is yelling 'lost, lost, my precious is lost'. So what does Bilbo do? Hurries and puts it in his pocket with a look of 'I hope I don't get caught'.
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Old 10-19-2005, 07:52 AM   #4
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I generally agree with Boromir on this one. The introduction looks, sounds, and feels fabulous, and to ask questions like "where did Sauron come from?" or "surely the Elves would have different swords from each other?" seems somewhat over-pedantic.

I don't mind Galadriel's poaching of Treebeard's lines at all. They are a dramatic opening, Galadriel is far more interesting (and better portayed in the films) than Treebeard, and the refernce to "feeling it in the water" works perfectly with the Mirror, and perhaps Nenya, both of which we will discover later. Filmically speaking, it's better to set up a major character throughout all the films and especially the first than a fairly major character in the second film.

Besides, both Galadriel-the survivor of the House of Finwe-and Ms Blanchett are made for the narrator's role. Personally I was hoping for an ending with her voiceover, finishing with Legolas and Gimli taking ship...

The introduction of the races seems a bit token, with the Men and Dwarves identical to each other, but given its symbolic nature I don't mind it. I liked our glimpse of Gil-galad and Cirdan here.

The Last Alliance-I'm intrigued alatar got an impression of greenness; I overwhelmingly recall gold and blue. These are wonderful scenes. I love the line "But there were some who resisted" and the music and marching Elendil which accompany it. It really captures the spirit of the Free Peoples in LOTR.

The only disadvantage is the murder of Gil-galad on the cutting-room floor. His appearance wielding Aiglos is very tricky to catch. Why not have shown more shots of him in the fighting? It needn't have cut Elrond's appearances if they'd fought side by side. I don't especially mind the absence of Cirdan though.

I think Sauron is tremendous, if perhaps not as I'd quite imagine him; a bit too in-your-face and Gothmogish. Nevertheless, his sweeping away of the Elven and Human lines is amazing. Once again, Gil-galad's contribution to killing him is elided, sadly. Isildur deserves a little less credit than he gets.

Unlike alatar, though, I felt sympathy for him during the Gladden Fields EE scene-an extremely wise addition. The EE of FOTR is less radically different from the other EEs, but still debatably the best them; a very intelligent director's cut.

"The creature Gollum" seems a fair enough description, and yes, the Ring's hopping sets a nice, sinister tone...
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Old 10-19-2005, 09:25 AM   #5
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it's all about the Ring.........

Quick post to start with, as I'm off to see Fish tonight in Norwich (ex Marillion front man - who, yes, were once called Silmarillion but had to drop the Sil for trademark purposes!)

Anyway, it's all about the Ring. I never noticed this until I listened to the director's commentary, and I think Fran Walsh states this. It's amazing to listen to their discussion on how the prologue came about - who to actually narrate it (Gandalf/ frodo/ or galadriel) - how long it should be (new line wanted 2 mins max!) - and the viewpoint itself - I think it works superbly having the Ring as the main viewpoint.

Look at the extra dvds you get with the EE - another version of the Prologue is in there (in storybook form) with frodo narrating the history of middle-earth rather than the Ring. - this would not have had the same impact as the Prologue as it stands.

couple of things -

jackson has never mentioned it, but he stole the shot of the ring bouncing
on the rocks from Ralph Baski's version of the Prologue! There are other places whre jackson has 'borrowed' from baski, and I'll explain these as we come to them

it looks like to me that cate blanchet DID actually narrate a closure to lotr trilogy that anguirel (and myself) wanted - listen to fran walsh's commentary at the start of the next scene (as the commentary usually follows over to the next scene by a few seconds!) - she says cate blanchett would bookend the movies - and there's a clue in the ROTK ee inasmuch as jackson states they did film some scenes of the fellowship after the events of LOTR.

more later!
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Old 10-19-2005, 12:53 PM   #6
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As far as the implode/explode of Sauron after having his fingers and ring removed (yes, it should have been only the ring finger), it kind of shows really how greedy for absolute power he was to the detrimant of himself.~Holby
I have to disagree (though it's not a bad thing), but I think this is pretty clearly shown without having Isildur crawl up and cut off one of Sauron's finger. That is, I think it's shown fairly well (and more later on), how greedy Isildur was when it came to wanting the Ring. (Isildur's scroll, Elrond's account...etc).

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"But there were some who resisted" and the music and marching Elendil which accompany it. It really captures the spirit of the Free Peoples in LOTR.~Anguirel
I too love that line.

(And I just realized upon watching it, we don't see Isildur at Mount Doom with Elrond until much later. I forgot that this part wasn't until later, sorry about that alatar).
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Old 10-19-2005, 01:03 PM   #7
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Argh, it's hard not to pick out those book-to-film differences, but I have decided I shall resist!

Anyway, this has finally made me look at some of the commentary tracks, which i have never bothered with until this point as I tend to find them very tiresome after a few minutes. I do like to simply enjoy a film without having someone telling me all about it; it's like going to the cinema and having some idiot talk his wife all the way through the film...

Did anyone else notice how some of the Orcs would later be seen on the Pelennor Fields? I liked this. Some might accuse PJ of being a cheapskate and recycling his footage, but no, in this context it works. Orcs, like Elves, have endless lives, maybe they even have their own 'Halls of mandos' and keep on coming back after death, so to have them reappear (or make their first appearance?) does in fact work.

I did like the way that light was used. The Ring glowing on Sauron's finger was interesting; I wonder if they intended that this might demonstrate how it was his Ring alone? How it could only truly be used properly by its maker? It was as though they wanted to show how the Ring's power tapped into either Light or some Dark version of it. Of course then Sauron's bodily destruction is represented by a blast wave of light.

Incidentally, in this blast wave, if you watch on freeze-frame you can see that nobody is actually felled by it. Other freeze-frame oddities I noticed included an elf with an uncanny resemblance to Legolas with brown hair, and Alan Lee as one of the Kings. And as for the other two Elven ring-bearers, they are Gil-galad and Cirdan (with grey hair, too).

I realised how much I like the design of the films while watching this Prologue again. Listening to what the people from the design team say on the commentaries it is clear that they are real fans of the books, as they attempted to make use of Tolkien's own designs as much as possible, even if those props were hardly seen. I think this is the area where the real Tolkien nerds were let loose, and it shows. Happily.
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Old 10-19-2005, 03:49 PM   #8
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I have to agree that overall, the Prologue sequence does do a good job of establishing Middle-earth, the Ring, and the history of the Ring. I notice that fire is quickly established as a visual theme linked with Sauron and the Ring, foreshadowing the fiery climax of the trilogy.

It's hard to fault Jackson & Co. much here in terms of sheer transmission of information. There's a lot of exposition compressed into these few minutes; it's clear, easily understandable even to the uninitiated, and not boring. Still, there are seeds here of future discontent:

An overall very stylized presentation. I didn't much care for the shots of the various races and their rings. In the very moments that we're establishing Middle-earth, its credibility, and its rules, those shots signal, "It's just a story." On the other hand, I can appreciate the need for brevity.

The "mass-produced" Elven arms and armor, and their coordinated drill-team chop (as noted by alatar) also detract from the film's "realism", though I hasten to add that overall I think the design of the films -- props, costumes, sets, VFX, etc -- are one of their strongest and most successful aspects, as Lal mentioned.

I wonder if the narrative could have gotten away without this prologue, or at least with shifting some of the history to the Council scene.

Galadriel is something of an odd choice for our narrator, at least from the point of view of the books. She represents more or less pure Elvishness in Middle-earth, and in many ways is outside of and disconnected from its human concerns.

Bilbo is not an unikely candidate, but the film plays him as especially eccentric and comical -- I suppose he isn't right for the high historical tone of the prologue.

Frodo, as author of the Red Book, at first glance seems an attractive possibility -- but to have him here as the one who explains the Ring and Middle-earth, then a few scenes later have him be the one who is explained to -- well, it just doesn't work.

Sam is a very strong candidate. His earthiness often puts him into the position of being able to comment on events as if it were all a story that he was watching and only sort of coincidentally also involved in. Of course, there's the same tension you have with Frodo -- at the start of the films, Sam knows nothing, has never even been outside of the Shire. But I wonder what a prologue delivered by a much older and wiser Sam -- maybe we don't even recoginize his voice at first -- would be like.

I wonder that they didn't use Elrond as the narrator, since he has the advantage of having been a participant in the Ring's history and is also a pivotal character in the films' tension between Men and Elves. But perhaps having him narrate and also appear in the early scenes is too much Elrond -- it establishes him as a central character when he's really only a supporting player.

Of course there was also the option of an anonymous narrator, some unknown person relating a tale of events long past.

In the event, I agree that Blanchett did a good job in a less than ideal situation, and I really like Treebeard's lines opening the trilogy. As a rule, the filmmakers never misstep by using direct Tolkien quotations -- the contrast between Tolkien-crafted lines and those crafted by the filmmakers often highlights how much Tolkien's prose style contributes to the feeling -- the magic, if you will -- of Middle-earth.

Other things I love:

The sound design is great. Shore's score works well in establishing a mystical, mythical atmosphere, and the effects go a long way towards establishing an involving and credible Middle-earth: the hissing, almost electrical crackling sound when Isildur raises Sauron's severed finger with the Ring still on it, and the low, moaning, vvvwwoooommmm of Sauron's shock-wave are two notable examples.

The shots of the Misty Mountains are great. Jackson's use of real landscapes in the movie starts here, and strongly contributes to evoking Middle-earth.

I love the shot of Sauron's smoking helm.

One miscue that always throws me a bit: the shot of Isildur right before he puts on the Ring and disappears during the ambush. The visual effects of the films are almost without exception of an extremely high quality, but something about this shot, the lighting being off, something, makes you feel you're seeing an actor in front of a green-screen who was matted in.

Overall, I agree that the Prologue is effective and well done, but it's interesting how it contains, in microcosm, the foreshadowings of many of the things I dislike about the films.
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Old 10-19-2005, 04:39 PM   #9
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I thought the prologue was done wonderfully. As has been said the filmmakers needed to capture their audience in the story as quickly as possible, and yet cater for so many different people. I think this was achieved. The narration over the actions on the screen gave enough of the history so that those who had not read Tolkien could understand without getting too bogged down in details, but it had enough to satisfy the Tolkien fanatic that these people knew what they were talking about.

As to who should have narrated it:
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Galadriel is something of an odd choice for our narrator, at least from the point of view of the books. She represents more or less pure Elvishness in Middle-earth, and in many ways is outside of and disconnected from its human concerns.
I agree that she is somewhat disconnected, but in a way that makes her a good candidate. It could be considered that she is then telling the history in an unbiased way, from all points of view. Her way of narrating, softly but with feeling behind the words worked for me and I think the ethereal quality that comes from Cate Blanchett, even when you don't see her, reinforced the idea that this was a long time ago, and that she (Galadriel) had lived through all the time in between.

The actual imagery on the screen was amazing as well. I went with my mum the first time I saw it and I had to drag her to the cinema (I only took her so she'd pay) because she isn't a fan and she thought she wouldn't enjoy it. 7.5 minutes in and she was hooked. To me the prologue is one of the best bits in the film because it manages to incorporate the essence of the books and what the next 3 hours will hold without really detracting too much from what Tolkien actually wrote. It also shows the beautiful scenery that we come to know and love, something that really made the films what they are. The prologue could almost have been a film on it's own if they'd just added the ending on!

I can see problems in it, especially the one that Mr Underhill mentioned, with Isildur putting on the Ring. It did seem slightly out of place, or out of sync somehow, as though the editors hadn't put it in quite the right place. But they did get all the story in and as a beginning to a film, or as in this case three films, it was excellent.
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Old 10-19-2005, 05:46 PM   #10
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One of the things I really like is that they begin the movie quietly and that they don't have all the promotional jingles at the beginning of New Line Cinema etc. So I sometimes get goosebumps when Galadriel begins to speak and the fate theme comes with the title.
I general the script is nice and almost poetic. Myth became Legend... (sorry if I switched myth and legend)
I do like the way the rings are shown. By the way the elves, dwarves, and men take it you can guess at their nature. You can see that the elves are cautious because they study the rings. The dwarves seem happier about it and they don't think of the possibility that the rings could be evil. The men are greedy because they close their hands over their ringds so no-one else can take them away.
I really like most of the shots. For example, those of the Misty mountains, the moon, the circle in the water, the ring bouncing down, of course the shot of the elves as they bring down their swords.
I get an immediate feeling that I am entering another world. However, the first time I saw the movie I had to adjust myself to the way PJ saw the Orcs and Sauron. I myself had never actually imagined Sauron in a physical form, somehow my mind had skipped over that when I read the book. And the orcs were scarier than my imagined ones but with time I came to accept them,somewhat.
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Old 10-20-2005, 12:47 AM   #11
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I thought the opening black screen, with the voice-over was a very effective way to set a mood of mystery, especially with Cate doing the voice. Not that Galadriel was necessarily the best narrator for the prologue or the worst, since there were many options, but Cate does the reading exactly right, I think, and we don't know her as a character yet, so it doesn't impact our understanding of what's going on. It could be any voice, even the Ring's voice.

Everything in this prologue seems to be muted in color except the fire. Sort of smokey charcoal-grey or fire-yellow, nothing else. Even the eyes of the orcs glow with the same yellow color as the inscription on Sauron's ring. The elves in the battle wear gold armor, to be sure, but it is muted with a sort of dull green cast. It's very moody and hazy, like an ancient memory. It really enhances the sense of that this is history.

One of the things that I like to do when I first watch a movie is look at the horizon in the long shots, especially at the beginning of the film. Horizons mark the shape of the world, and tell you where you're at. This opening sequence doesn't seem to distinguish its horizons. The closer shots are either interior, or they are shrouded in mist such that the distant edge of the world is invisible. Even the battle scene at Mount Doom is surrounded by so much smoke that you can't tell where the land ends and the sky begins. This enhances the other-worldly mood of these scenes by displacing us. We are floating and rather unstuck like in a dream or a memory.

Quote:
And just what was Isildur thinking anyway? Most people, especially when in water, sink. Most of these same people, laden with chain-mail armor, sink like rocks in water. Actually more like heavy large aerodynamic rocks with lead centers. So not so sure what he planned to do when Isildur started into the water. Luckily he gets a few wooden 'arrows of buoyancy' in his back as these offset the weight of his body and armor so that he can float away.
I must admit, this bothered me, too. One of the first things I thought of was Spanish Conquistadors trying to swim to their ships fully armored and with pockets full of gold, drowning on the way because the weight was too much.

Quote:
The synchronized sword swinging thing that the elves do looks really cool, and I assume that it was added to show the precision and coordination of the Elves, in contrast to the chaos of the orcs, who seem to attack in a free-for-all swarm. If you really think about it, though, the orcs have to hit the line in sync with the elves' sword wave for the wave to serve any purpose. If an elf swings his/her sword too soon, it's ineffective (but looks really nice! just like a marching band...); too late, and the orc has already bopped him/her on the head.
I took another look at this, just to see if the orcs really were chaotic. Their front line is in a wedge formation, albeit rounded a bit, a legitimate method of attack, and the synchronised sword swing starts in the middle, where the orcs collide first. It then moves out in both directions. We just see it from one end, a visually exciting POV.

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The only disadvantage is the murder of Gil-galad on the cutting-room floor. His appearance wielding Aiglos is very tricky to catch. Why not have shown more shots of him in the fighting? It needn't have cut Elrond's appearances if they'd fought side by side.
As much as I like him as a character, Gil-Galad isn't as important to the story of Lord of the Rings as Elrond is. I believe he was sacrificed for the sake of clarity. If you feature him now, he ought to turn up later, and that could eat up time without advancing the plot. Better to leave him obscure and shift the focus onto an elf who does turn up later anyway.

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Argh, it's hard not to pick out those book-to-film differences, but I have decided I shall resist!
I know what you mean. I first read these books when P.J. was in diapers, but I'm determined to put that aside as a means of comparison. I'll use if to clarify what I'm trying to say if need be, but I'm going to make every effort to stay within the context of the film throughout this discussion. Wish me luck!
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Old 10-20-2005, 01:34 AM   #12
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I too love the Cate Blanchett voiceover at the beginning - her voice has a wonderfully mysterious quality, and I agree with radagastly - first time viewers don't know who is speaking, so there's not yet a connection with Galadriel. Besides, the beginning is the mythological background, and Tolkien's Legendarium was written from the Elves' point of view. For that reason alone no other race could have taken over that part.

For the same reason, (the beginning being mythological) I actually like the stylized images at the beginning. Unlike Underhill, I don't expect a realistic approach to this part of the story. It's like a painting of an historical event - we know very well that it didn't look exactly like that on the actual scene, but the artistic point of view shows symbolic details that give those who view it later information and "truth" despite the lack of realism. I guess I would apply that to the Elven sword-fighting - who cares about realism when it looks so cool?!

I think the color theme chosen for the two forces is very good - gold as a symbol of light for the Elves and allies, black/grey for the orcs and cohorts, to show darkness. Interesting detail - we see Elendil's helmet only very briefly, but it is the one Aragorn wears at his crowning later. The one thing that grated with me in the battle was the fact that Elrond wears no helmet. I know his face has to be shown so that people recall it when he appears later, but having him bare-headed in the middle of helmeted soldiers seems silly.

I too like the sound effect of the falling ring in the cave - it sounds very heavy, not at all what one would expect of so little an object. That of course shows how "weighty" it is in the context of the story.

We have one visual element that is used occasionally in all three films - the map. It gives a brief sense of orientation and makes the fantasy world feel more real. Having it underlying the pictures of Sauron's destruction of Middle-earth (those look like they come from the Rohan scenes in TTT) gives that scene a sense of broadness in scope. Also, a map is used for the transition to the next scene, Bag End in the Shire. Whoever did the map drawing did an excellent job of recapturing the Tolkienish look; they were very close to the original book maps.
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Old 10-20-2005, 02:13 AM   #13
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I like the Prologue a lot, but.... I don't think there should have been one!

I don't think there is any need at all to 'hold the hand' of newcomers to the world of Middle Earth. Everything explained at the beginning of the film should have been left for Gandalf to tell Frodo or until the Council of Elrond. That way, some of the information about different races and the history would have already been drip-fed to the audience, rather than the massive amount of exposition that has to absorbed by the viewer in the first few minutes of the film. I think that it is all too much.

But the main reason that I think the prologue was a poor decision is that it immediately removes one of the most potent pieces of storytelling in FotR - the discovery that Bilbo's old ring is The One Ring. As it is, we know its true identity right from the start of the film (even if Frodo doesn't) and this takes a big chunk of the mystery and wonder out of the story. Then, at that point, Gandalf could have told Frodo about some of the history behind it. A real missed opportunity IMHO.

I know I seem to be alone on this one, but when I go to see a movie, or read a book, or watch a TV programme, I want to be surprised, intrigued and have my curiosity piqued, not have everything laid out on a plate for me. A sense of mystery, of unanswered questions coupled with the dramatic impact of them being resolved. That's why I feel that the Prologue - great piece of cinema though it is - was in the wrong place.

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Old 10-20-2005, 02:33 AM   #14
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well done to those above who have stopped themselves delving too deeply into the differences between book and film. But hang on, if you're already thinking about doing that her, at the Prologue which was pretty faifthful to the books, then what chance have we that we won't have a bun fight in pretty much EVERY other scene in the film?

and here I go starting one off now.....

In the books, we have the siege of Barad-Dur and the fight at Dagorlad. We don't see this. This is an omission not a change.

Now, as Gandalf states to Frodo:
Quote:
It was Gil-galad, Elven-king and Elendil of Westernesse who overthrew Sauron, though they themselves perished in the deed; and Isildur Elendil's son cut the Ring from Sauron's hand and took it for his own.
Gil-gald and Elendil 'defeat' Sauron but are slain. In the histories of any nation, a commander who's Battle was won is seen to be victorious, even if they die. So, in this way we can say that movie wise Elendil and Gil-Galad DID defeat Sauron and his forces as the battle was won.

As Elrond states at the Council
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I was the herald of Gil-galad and marched with his host. I was at the Battle of Dagorlad before the Black Gate of Mordor, where we had the mastery: for the Spear of Gil-galad and the Sword of Elendil, Aiglos and Narsil, none could withstand. I beheld the last combat on the slopes of Orodruin, where Gil-galad died, and Elendil fell, and Narsil broke beneath him; but Sauron himself was overthrown, and Isildur cut the Ring from his hand with the hilt-shard of his father's sword, and took it for his own
So Jackson is faithful in having the last Battle on the slopes of Mount Doom. Yes, Narsil brakes beneath Elendil as he fell, that is different. And movie Isildur cuts the Ring with the hilt shard as mentioned by Elrond above. OK, so how this comes about IS different movie wise to how it's described by Elrond, I'll warrant that - but filmically, isn't this a great idea from Jackson and co? Just showing Isildur cutting the Ring from a lifeless Sauron would not look good! and also, he kills two birds with one stone in having Sauron break Narsil and still (technically) have isildur cut the Ring off of Sauron's hand. We had to have a few fingers come off of Sauron's hand because of this shot - It would be pretty much impossible for his one Ring finger to be cut off this way.


to finish, for now, re Isildur wearing armour when swimming. Here Jackson is being totally faithful to the books, but still we have issues.
Quote:
He leaped into the waters, but the Ring slipped from his finger as he swam, and then the Orcs saw him and killed him with arrows.
Does Tolkien say he removed his armour? No. Does he say he leaped into the water? Yes Does Jackson follow this to the letter? Yes.
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Old 10-20-2005, 09:35 AM   #15
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Thanks to all of you who are participating. Now with that out of the way...

Hope that it came across that I did like the prologue. Surely it was changed from the books, and there was some silliness, but it worked. PJ states in the commentaries that he wanted a 'James Bond-like' opening, and I think that he made the right choice. You are grabbed from your seat and dragged into Middle Earth. Gandalf and Frodo could have talked about the defeat of Sauron over cupcakes and tea in the comfort of Bag End, but to see it (and to get it out of the way) to me was the better way to go. One thing that I've learned through examining the films is that there's always a clock running, and you need to 'get it done' within a specified amount of time. Also, there's pacing - too slow, and your audience (in the theater) starts finding that their seats aren't really that comfortable; too fast, and you lose most viewers (as an example of the later, see the theatrical release of "Dune" by David Lynch circa 1984 where a six-hour movie was hacked down to two. Huh?).

Still think that Cate Blanchett's voice was the best choice, irregardless of her role in the film. A man's voice, presumably deeper, may have sounded more evil or (worse) more earthy. Sean Astin might not have been able to add the 'mysterious' quality to the narration, and some viewers may have gotten the first impression that ME was not a fantasy world. Tough choice, but PJ made the right one.

Note that there's no significance to the 'ne-eyed' soon-to-be wraith, but on the other hand, why was such a small detail added? There's no way anyone saw it during his/her first viewing, yet it's there. Was it added on a whim ("Ehh...make one of the Nine one-eyed...") or so that you'd pick up on it subconsciously, seeing that men are not perfect and subject to perils of the world.

The greenness that I see in the battle is just during the wideshot where you see the Elves and men off in the distance. They appear as a green mold on the surface of the moon. Of cource I see the other colors too, but to me the green was deliberate, and think that somewhere that's talked about in the DVD appendices.

Though I too saw that the orcs were attacking using a loose wedge formation, still the orc line must meet with the elven one exactly as the swords are being swung. Note that I've never considered shredding my DVDs over *this* scene....

And I agree that PJ had to make some comprises in regards to what happens in Sauron's final moments, but it still doesn't work for me. Why did he reach with his Ringed hand? Where was his mace? Again, why was he reaching for poor Isildur? Concerning the number of fingers that Sauron looses, I wouldn't care if he lost all ten ("Argh...no fingers! I must then assume the form of an eye..."), but just thought that he's thought to have nine remaining - was there talk about Sauron fighting Aragorn in ROTK, and that this walking Sauron would have nine fingers? Maybe that's where I got it. Anyway, we'll see if there's some mention later in the movies.

And you know that I still don't have my books (even the Hobbit!), but from memory thought that Isildur tries to swim the Anduin, and is shot by orcs. Doesn't Ohtar bring the shards of Narsil back to Rivendell? If so, then why would Isildur yield this, and only this item, yet retain his armor? Again, my memory is failing, but thought that other items were also brought by Ohtar, yet these other things were lost in the countless years. Isn't there a line somewhere like "we kept the shards of Narsil though other relics were lost?" To me, Isildur in the books was no fool, not like his counterpart in the movie (though I understand PJ's change), and so would not attempt the river in weighty armor.

And if he retains his armor, as I assume he does in the movie (it's really hard to tell as it seems to me that he's robed as he floats on the water), then how do all of the arrows hit? I'd be looking for a refund. Anyway...

And please, we can talk about the book vs film differences as long we try to consider 'why' the difference exists. Was it due to lack of time, did it slow the pacing, did PJ think that he needed to simplify a concept, did he just decide to insert himself ("This is MY film, not JRRT's!") or did he just goof it? Let's not cut short the discussion.
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Old 10-20-2005, 10:16 AM   #16
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In UT, the battle at the Gladden Fields is, of course, far more protracted, with some attack and maneuver on both sides. In fact, Isildur repents of his pride in keeping the Ring and leaves when he knows the battle is lost to "go to the Keepers of the Three" and give the Ring to them (though I think we can all predict how that might have turned out eventually).

The battle does not take place next to the river; Isildur has a short journey to make before he reaches its banks. "He stood for a while, alone and in despair. Then in haste he cast off all his armour and weapons, save a short sword at his belt, and plunged into the water." In fact, his story is rather moving, for the shadow is lifted from him when he loses the Ring.

Of course there is no room for all this activity and subtlety in the films. It seems quite clear that he's still armored in the shot where the Ring slips from his finger and he reaches for it.

Reg -- I can understand your complaint about the Prologue and sympathize with it. I'm torn. I agree that giving all this exposition about the Ring and its nature right up front spoils a chance for mystery and suspense. On the other hand, we've got to get to the point pretty quickly where we establish Sauron as the enemy and Bilbo's ring as the Ring.

If we've read The Hobbit, we've had time to get used to Bilbo's ring as remarkable but not all that important, and so the early chapters of LotR -- and in particular the scene in Bag End with Gandalf urging Bilbo to give up the Ring -- are suspenseful and surprising. But here in FotR the movie, we don't have the luxury of having had the Ring established for us before, or the time to do it now.

In the end, I think a prologue was necessary, even if it is a wee bit clunky to jam in so much exposition right up front.
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Old 10-20-2005, 10:44 AM   #17
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Ring

To me, the prologue works in both movie and extended dvd versions. I think it is crucial to explain the importance of the Ring to a non-book person as a story "grabber". It's amazing how well the world of Middle-earth is fitted in. Many
technical critigues above are, of course, warranted. The one I'm most uncomfortable with is the way Sauron lost the Ring. The implication is that without Isildur's lucky swipe all would have been lost, when in ("reality"? ) the Last Alliance had already won with Sauron's personal (one on four- I believe) fight
just essentially a moping up (if nasty one) for the good guys.

P.S. The way PJ briefly put events into a middle-earth historical context was brilliant.
I thin k even CT would appreciate (if he ever deigned to watch the movie) the way depth and legend/myth/history
intermingling was done.

P.P.S. While the extended dvd here is just suppimental to the movie, the next section to be discussed has some interesting variations to each other.
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Old 10-20-2005, 10:51 AM   #18
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Isildur has a short journey to make before he reaches its banks. "He stood for a while, alone and in despair. Then in haste he cast off all his armour and weapons, save a short sword at his belt, and plunged into the water."
Ah yes, Mister Underhill, I knew I'd read somewhere about the battle, but couldn't find it today before I posted - I might have a read tonight now.

So I concede another difference to the books! he was not rushed, he also removed his armour, etc. he just must of been ambushed away from the fight. Those tricksy Orcs!!!!

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Old 10-20-2005, 12:18 PM   #19
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I don't really blame Jackson for changes in Isildur's story. Time is short, and all that's really essential to know is that Isildur kept the Ring, and Isildur lost the Ring in Anduin. Of course, he comes off as rather cowardly in the films, making a run for it the moment that his force is attacked, but that plays into the theme that Jackson wanted to develop later: the weakness of Men.

EDIT -- I forgot to add that I think the filmmakers could have made a more realistic play of Isildur's foray into Anduin than they did, even within the constraints of their condensed account of events. Maybe we see a breastplate become visible as it's cast off, for instance. Or we could have seen Isildur wading in the reeds of the bank rather than swimming in deep water. I confess that I would have liked to seen more attention to this sort of detail on Jackson's part, but when push comes to shove he usually opts for the prettier image over a more truthful moment -- the coordinated Elf-chop, a submerged Isildur grasping for the Ring underwater, etc.
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Old 10-20-2005, 09:35 PM   #20
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I don't enjoy this scene. It's quite adequate and it does a good job of introducing viewers to Middle-earth, its peoples, and most importantly the Ring. But I always breathe a sigh of relief when it's over and we enter Bag End for Bilbo's narration. Why? I'm not really sure. I just think it does a pretty rough job of trying to capture the glory of the Second Age and the Last Alliance. Which is hard to do, I'll admit.

I do agree that Cate Blanchett was the best pick for the narrator. It would have been interesting to hear how some others would have done it, though (Ian McKellen, for example).

I also do appreciate the attention to detail in the prologue (things like Elendil's helm later becoming Aragorn's crown).
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Old 10-21-2005, 03:12 AM   #21
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A note on Cate Blanchett's voiceover. This is a stunning piece of narration. The inflections in her voice, the way she uses a perfect (and I mean Perfect) well spoken English voice in her narration (the best impersination of an English accent I've ever heard - well at least since Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins! ) - the depth of feeling she reaches with her voice is marvellous. I just love listening to her in the Prologue.
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Old 10-21-2005, 11:33 AM   #22
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I’m not sure whether I agree there would have been more suspense and wonder had the prologue been left out. For the ones among us who knew Lord of the Rings before, it is no surprise the ring is evil. But somehow, I don’t think the power and importance of the Ring could have come across in a believable way if we were solely informed of its origins by Gandalf. As classical authors very well knew, sometimes a story works better if you know what the issue is from the start. Should the Ring have come out of nowhere, I don’t think the audience would have been as intrigued. I really think those not familiar with Tolkien’s world need this little piece of background info and it contrasts nicely with the Shire-scene that follows. Even more, since not all people are big on the fantasy thing, the true identity of the Ring (“What Ring? What’s the big deal, anyway?”) might have come off as slightly ridiculous, while the prologue does an extremely good job of drawing people into the mystery atmosphere of the trilogy.

I enjoyed the prologue very much and Cate Blanchett does an excellent job. Sure, not everything is correct, I presume, but I really felt it captured the mood.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Holbytlass
I think the biggest disservice of the prologue is that Bilbo really did come off looking like a thief. He finds a ring and someone is yelling 'lost, lost, my precious is lost'. So what does Bilbo do? Hurries and puts it in his pocket with a look of 'I hope I don't get caught'.
This is the only thing that bothered me too.
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Old 10-21-2005, 12:05 PM   #23
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This came out of nowhere

Can't help it, but if I don't post this now it will be forever lost...though maybe that's a good thing. Hmmm. This was prompted by the posts regarding Bilbo being a thief.

Anyway, we will eventually see a scene in which Gollum is tortured, and surely he is being questioned regarding the whereabouts of the Ring and the thief Baggins.

Can you imagine Sauron asking, "And by the way, when you found the Ring, you didn't see any extra fingers lying around, did you?"

Okay, so it was funnier in my head.
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Old 10-21-2005, 04:06 PM   #24
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I've only had a chance to read about half of what has been said so far and briefly look at some of the rest and what I want to add is nothing similar so here it goes.

Every time I watch the prologue in my mind's eye I'm back at the theater where I first saw the movie. It was either on my anniversary or right near it and my wife and I decided to watch the 12:01 showing of it. I went rather early to get us a place in line and waited for over 14 hours. I must say that this was one of the greatest times I've ever waited for a movie the reason being is all those who waited for the 12:01 showing were true Tolkien fans and not merely movie fans. At the subsequent two there were many more fanboys and Leggy lovers that ruined the mood for me. However, the fellowship was perfect! So there was a slow building surge of excitement and energy that progressed as each hour passed and to me the climax was seeing the beautiful graphic of the title on the screen while hearing Cate's voice.

Her ethereal voice mixed with the music score held me mesmerized and I was rather giddy with excitement. Her voice truly enchanted me and I thought was the perfect voice for the narration. The character for the narration is debatable and seemingly has been here already so I won't go into that but her voice truly was perfect. It had a power and mystic to it that is Middle-earth.

Also two other items of note in this sequence is we see the first glimpses of the costumes and scenery/backdrop. I thought I was in heaven and I was instantly amazed at the high level of quality given to the costumes and the subtle detail put into them. And we see what wonderful landscapes PJ picked out for us and our interest is definitely piqued at this point and in my opinion we are not let down on that front, at least.

In essence I see past all of the story differences and trivial details at this point and I am brought back to the sheer joy and excitement of watching this production for the first time.
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Old 10-21-2005, 07:01 PM   #25
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Funny , during this discussion I also begin to remember the first time that I saw the fellowship. I don't remember exactly how I felt during the prologue that first time but I do remember immediatly falling in love with Hobbiton.
This opening sequence never bores me, I watched it many times but I never have the instinct to go to the next seuence of the movie.
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Old 10-21-2005, 08:32 PM   #26
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I think PJ did a great job on the Prologue. There is one thing I would change though. I don't know if this should go here but since it relates to the Prologue, I'll say it. I think that PJ should have used the opening sequence of ROTK(loved that sequence btw ) in FOTR as well as the current sequence. I realize though that it would go way over the time limit for the Prologue, but think about it. The FOTR Prologue gives a history of ME and the Ring, but if the ROTK sequence was in there, it would sort of bridge the gap between the Last Alliance and Gollum and Bilbo. You would have seen why Gollum is evil and how he got the Ring. I mean c'mon. The FOTR Prologue has the Ring getting picked up from the River and then in the hands of this creature. The ROTK sequence would tell how he became like that and why he is so mad when the Ring is stolen by Bilbo. I remeber thinking when I saw ROTK, "Why do they have this at the beginning of ROTK? This belongs way earlier."

Just my thoughts.
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Old 10-21-2005, 09:05 PM   #27
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I totally agree with mormegil: Every time I see the prologue I'm right back in the Cinema watching the film for the first time. I don't think there will ever be a movie related experience in my life more perfect than that one. I was completely blown away. I'd never seen anything like it before all the visuals were stunningly beautiful and I was lost in P-J's Middle-Earth. I guess the experience for me was a kin to those lucky people who saw Star Wars in the cinema...There really hadn't been anything remotely similar before. Indeed it was this experience that got my interested in LotR and Tolkien. After seeing the film once and not really taking any of it in because I was so stunned I went straight to the nearest book shop and brought FotR. I had read all of the books within a week and had started the second reading. If it hadn't of been for the stunning way the prologue affected me I wouldn't be posting this message today.

I can't imagine a better way to have started off the films, or indeed of introducing anyone to Tolkien. It starts off simple and enchanting with Cate's perfectly Elven sounding voice and the whispers of Elvish, giving birth to questions in your mind that entice you to watch on(if you're new to the whole thing and have no-idea what's going on). And well it's just great... all the effects look quite realistic and you really get a sense of all the different peoples of Middle-Earth and what they stand for...

* I shall continue this post at a later date...must sleep....eyes getting very heavy...ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*
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Old 10-22-2005, 01:01 AM   #28
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I thought I was in heaven and I was instantly amazed at the high level of quality given to the costumes and the subtle detail put into them.
I knew I was about to see something special when I saw the intricate tracing of gold on the finger of Sauron's gauntlet, seen in a close-up of the ring. incredible detail.

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Every time I watch the prologue in my mind's eye I'm back at the theater where I first saw the movie.
It's funny, but the first time I saw this in the theatre, I completely missed the prologue. A friend got lost on the way back from the bathroom, and by the time we got our seats, the movie was already in the Shire. I had to wait until I saw it on my own later before I saw the beginning. Good thing I already knew the book.

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Can you imagine Sauron asking, "And by the way, when you found the Ring, you didn't see any extra fingers lying around, did you?"
I'm glad it was the index finger and not the next one down. Imagine all the jokes then.
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Old 10-23-2005, 02:44 PM   #29
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Quick thoughts....

Haven't had time to read all that's been said, so I hope this isn't repeating.

First off, the narration by Cate is brilliant. When I sit down to watch the movie, I get chills even before the words begin. The fact that it starts off in elvish really adds a lot I think. Basically highlighting that this is a completely different world than what we are used to. It almost comes across as a translation then(which it actually is... book-->movie), and sets it apart. But just in general the voiceover was very pleasing. Especially '...history became legend, legend became myth...' says so much more than just that the Ring was forgotten.

The Last Alliance was pretty good, too. I enjoyed the rows of archers firing one after another, as well as the first row of elves with glaives(I think that's what they are). The fighting was good, too. Not very extensive, but well shot.

The only thing I really didn't like about this sequence is the way Sauron was defeated. First, he simply hurls Elendil against a wall like a rag doll. Not a lot wrong there(from movie standpoint). Then Isildur runs to his father, completely disregarding the battle, and removes his helmet. Upon noticing Sauron's approach, he reaches for his father's sword, which is crushed by the Dark Lord. Nothing wrong so far.

But this next part is what irks me. Sauron, for some unknown reason, reaches down, with his Ring hand, towards Isildur, who is holding the equivalent of a knife. Completely stupid. Not only is it off from the book, it doesn't make any sense. Seriously, show Isildur get a rush of adrenaline and knock Sauron down. Make Sauron swing and miss, get off balance, and Isildur makes a well timed shot. Make Sauron trip on a rock or something, I don't care, just don't make it like 'Oh, here, cut off my Ring."!

Sorry. That part is just a little annoying to me.

Apart from that, the whole sequence was excellant.
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Old 10-23-2005, 04:07 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by AragronII
There is one thing I would change though. I don't know if this should go here but since it relates to the Prologue, I'll say it. I think that PJ should have used the opening sequence of ROTK(loved that sequence btw) in FOTR as well as the current sequence.
I would disagree with you there. I think that the Smeagol/Deagol sequence and Smeagol's transformation works much better once we have got to know Gollum as a character. The full horror of seeing him as he once was works well when we already have the combination of sympathy and revulsion for him that his role in TTT brings.

Originally, I believe that it was intended to be included in the Dead Marshes scene, when Frodo calls Gollum by his original name and the camera pans in on Gollum's expression. But it works well as an opener to RotK, setting up the revelation of the Ring's full effect on Frodo and the link that is made between Gollum's experience and Frodo's possible future.

But I am getting way ahead of us here ...
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Old 10-23-2005, 05:38 PM   #31
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mormegil and a few others who followed up his comments -- thanks for making that point about the first experience. It's easy to lose sight of that. I went to a midnight screening too, and it was like you say -- die-hard Tolkien fans. Some were aging hippies, some were just young kids, and collectively they had the look of a crowd you'd expect to see at a comic-con or skulking around the sci-fi/fantasy section of your local bookstore. It was a Tolkien crowd, a book crowd, that had camped out for that first showing, and they were all amped for the film, myself included.

And though I can analyze the prologue sequence rather dispassionately now, I have to agree that Jackson delivered in those first few minutes, when the rest of the trilogy was all just a wide-open possibility.

radagastly, great point about that close-up shot of the Ring and the finger of Sauron's gauntlet. I don't think I consciously recognized it, but that shot for sure signals that the viewer is in for a very lovingly crafted Middle-earth, and even in the few cases where I disagree with design choices, I can't argue with the passion and craftsmanship with which they're executed.
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Old 10-23-2005, 07:40 PM   #32
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I was just kind of scanning through the thread so forgive me if I repeat something.

1) Loved the narraration from Cate. I much perfered her saying it at the beginning of the series then Treebeard saying it in the middle of it. Her voice added a really cool effect. It made the scene even more dark and eiriesome. Loved the elven voices in the background. Also added an eriesome effect to the scene. Galadriel speaking in elven at the beginning automatically makes you think about how different our world and Tolkien's world is. Her saying "History became legend, legend..." so on so forth, really made a difference and makes you think "Wow! That much time has passed already?"

2)The Last Alliance parts overall were really good. A few things did bug me though. - First, where in Eru's name did Sauron come from? Did he come out of a hole in the ground? Did he come out from behind a boulder? Did he just magically appear there? Where did he come from!?!?
- Two, the fact that everyone was really surprised that Sauron showed up annoyed me to death. I mean come on. You're standing in HIS realm fighting HIS army. Why wouldn't he show up?
- Three. I swear, when Sauron was exploding and it showed a group of Elves, I could have sworn that I saw Legolas there. I've been puzzling about this forever and I STILL can't draw any conclusions or theories on it.
- Four. Sauron breaking the sword. Why did he step on it? I thought there was something more to it. I thought there was a fabulous battle in which the sword was broken by the mace. And since when did he become six fingered? I thought Isildur cut off his FINGER not his FINGERS.
- Why on Middle-Earth was Sauron reaching for Isildur? Why not finish him off with the mace? I mean Isildur was laying there at the mercy of Sauron. Why wouldn't you just make it easier and attack him with the mace?
Other than that, the scene was fine. Fell in love when I saw the syncriniztion of the Elves when the Orcs started coming at him.

3) The Ambush was not quite how I liked it after reading The Unfinished Tales. Why did Isildu float and not sink? I mean he was wearing all that heavy armour. Why was he floating? He must have weighed at least two hundred to three hundred pounds with all that on. The smug look he had on and then him getting ambushed made me really happy. He deserved what he got.

4) The darkness spreading had a really good effect on showing how dark the times were at that point in time. Loved it.

5) The Ring bouncing off the rocks. That's what annoyed me. I've always been thinking that The Ring just fell off of Gollum's finger, just like it did to Isildur. I mean, it's like The Ring betrayed Gollum, isn't it?

6) Bilbo finding it. Another thing that annoyed me. In The Hobbit, he bumped his head on the ground and got knocked out. When he found The Ring in the movie, it didn't look like he was gropping(sp?) around in the dark, trying to get up. It looked like he saw it on the ground and picked it up and said "Why isn't this a nice pretty piece of jewlery. Maybe I'll sell it when I get back home."

And that's it. Other than those few little spots, loved the first scene. Again, I'm pretty sure a lot of this has probably been said, but I only scanned throught the posts. Don't have time to go back and read all of them thouroughly.
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Old 10-24-2005, 04:15 AM   #33
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re the last few posts about Sauron reaching down to Isildur - It was ARROGANCE. He no doubt was reaching for him to kill him in his bare hands, but like any soldier/commander who has arrogance, they can be defeated because of it.

re the amount of fingers cut off Sauron's hand - really, if we're getting het up about the amount of fingers cut off, then woe betide us for the rest of these discussions!!!!!!!

Sauron 'just appearing' - I haven't deeply delved into posts on why Sauron (or Tom) did not disappear when putting on the Ring, but why can’t Sauron make himself invisible with the Ring on IF HE WANTED? - Then appear (as if by magic!) right infront of the Alliance to scare the bee Jesus out of them! Plus, as Silmarillion states, the reason why he turned up to fight (only at the end) was
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Old 10-24-2005, 10:59 AM   #34
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I do like the prologue. Blanchettes voice using Treebeard's lines was good for me. A good introduction that in ME there are creatures, like elves, among others, that are undying, and can feel the passage of time in the air the water the stones, etc. It also sets the thing up like- "here in this early time, Im already feeling so old... " nice.

I too go back to the 1st cinema impression with the prologue. Also, it reminds me of that 1st cinema experience for that first Star Trek movie. That feeling of- Finally, the long wait is over- its here!!! PJ also sets up the anxiety ridden Tolkien geek as well as the nonTolkien movie goer. Kind of shows that the Tolkien geeks can rest easy for the rest of the film, as the sweeping grandeur of the works will not be ignored, or the interpretation wont be half hearted.

I know that PJ cant spend a prologue explaining the characters: "here is Elendil and GilGalad. Elrond is GilGalad's standard bearer and Isildur and Anarion are Elendil's sons"..... but the whole chopping off the fingerS of Sauron by Isildur seemed weak to me. Like, if it werent for the accidental chopping off of S's fingerS, all would have been a disaster. To me, the dramatics were already there: It was over, at that point. After a seven year seige, the forces of good won. Sauron came down after this fact was woefully obvious, and did battle with Elendil and GilGalad. Death came to all three. Isildur cut the ring off of the broken body of the defeated Sauron, and disregarding the advice from Elrond, kept it for himself. Seems that the plot line of how all things seemed to look wonderfull at the absolute victory of the war, except for one small thing.... could have worked out well there.

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Old 10-25-2005, 08:17 AM   #35
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There is one major drawback to the way you just described drigel and that would be time. I can't imagine showing the last alliance winning the day and then Sauron coming forth, the fight to the death and Isildur finally cutting off the ring. That would have taken at least 10 to 15 minutes to do. Plus you would alienate a huge audience with such a large battle at the beginning. I think it was well done in that it showed how powerful Sauron was/is and that without his ring his power is lessened. That is the main point we need from this and it was well done for the time allotted.
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Old 10-25-2005, 08:33 AM   #36
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Yea I agree mormegil! Sadly, I still get peeved at the notion that the plot line implies that the fingerS chop and Sauron's demise was an accidental occurence.

ill get over it
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Old 10-25-2005, 08:41 AM   #37
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I wanted to point out something that Essex said...
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Does Tolkien say he removed his armour? No. Does he say he leaped into the water? Yes Does Jackson follow this to the letter? Yes.
If you look at this film shot, it appears Jackson depicts it exactly as that. Isildur jumps in the water and is probably shot while doing it, or in the water?



I love this picture-shot, and I think it depicts what Tolkien describes. Isildur
jumped into the water after the Ring, and the orcs shot him then...
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Old 10-25-2005, 09:02 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Boromir88
I wanted to point out something that Essex said...

If you look at this film shot, it appears Jackson depicts it exactly as that. Isildur jumps in the water and is probably shot while doing it, or in the water?



I love this picture-shot, and I think it depicts what Tolkien describes. Isildur
jumped into the water after the Ring, and the orcs shot him then...
Sorry, but your link didn't work for me. Anyway, that must be an omen, as I would still disagree. I would not say that "Isildur jumped into the water after the Ring," as this implies that the Ring hits the water first, and he goes in after it. In the movie Isildur intends on going into the water. The Ring falls off when he's swimming (probably the need to open/cup his hand so that he could stay afloat with all of that armor...).

To me, in the books, it would be that Isildur's men would fight a rear-guard action while allowing him to escape with his squires. The men are overrun, and the pursuit begins. Isildur could have fled invisibly, sending his squires in another direction to lead the orcs awry, yet it seems to me that he stayed with them as long as he could. It even may have been that he, nobly, thought that he could stay the pursuit using the Ring while his squires got away safely. He sends his useless sword away. The orcs, seeing the King, chase after him instead. Maybe the Ring had pumped up his ego a bit, but maybe he thought to be able to get away.

But at the river his plan goes wrong.

Anyway, short reply is that I still think that the scene doesn't portray the account from the books. Yes, there is "Ring," "Isildur" and "water," but I think that the rest of the words are completely different.
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Old 10-25-2005, 09:24 AM   #39
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The LotR account is about as compressed as you can get and does give the bare facts -- and is not contradicted by the film.

In UT, Isildur sends the squire(s) away early. When he leaves, it's only after the battle is truly lost. Anyway, in that account, he's swept back downriver towards the Gladden Fields he had so lately escaped, but he actually gains the western shore -- after having lost the Ring near its banks -- and is shot by orcs patrolling the far side.
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Old 10-25-2005, 09:31 AM   #40
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Question

OK, there are quite a few differences between film and book identified even in just this opening sequence. For me, however, the main interest lies not in the fact that the differences exist but in their impact on the story told by the film.

Do they matter in the context of the film?

Do they set up a logical inconsistency or improbability (eg Isildur running into the water with full armour)?

If so, are they explicable (eg the foolishness of Sauron reaching for Isildur as an aspect of the arrogance that ultimately proves to be his downfall)?

If not, are they likely to be noticed by, or detract from the experience of, the audience as a whole, as opposed to purely book fans (eg does it really matter that Sauron loses a few fingers rather than just one)?

Are the changes merely a consequence of the need to attenuate the story or is it possible that they are a product of themes that Jackson wished to develop (eg the somewhat unsympathetic portrayal of Isildur as an aspect of the weakness of Men, setting up Aragorn's "you are Isildur's heir, not Isildur himself" theme)?

These are the kinds of questions that I think that we should be exploring when looking at the changes from book to film.
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