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Old 04-05-2006, 03:43 PM   #1
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LotR2-TTT-Seq09

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears.
~Arabian Proverb



The Three Hunters and the White Wizard ride over the plains. In the distance, backdropped by snow-capped mountains, is a populated mound or hillock. Gandalf, ever the Middle Earth tour guide, tells us what we are seeing, though I fail to see any golden glint in the area.

Did you notice how conveniently the face of Gimli is hidden by Legolas’s arrows?

We see Éowyn trying to break through the fog covering Théoden, but with no result. Éowyn, by calling him “Uncle,” lets us know how she and her brother are related to this king of Rohan. Miranda Otto’s portrayal of her broken-heartedness and even despair at her uncle’s lack of response is done well. I already feel for this shieldmaiden.

Before I get too far ahead, just wanted to mention what a sweet part Paris Howe Strewe had. He plays the almost dead, the mostly dead then the all and very dead Théodred. For his few moments of lying prone he’s a member of the LotR cast, has his own fansite and in ten years or so can be headlining a fantasy convention. Anyway…

While Éowyn grieves her cousin’s death, the snake appears around the corner. As Grima peaks into the room, I noticed the skins on the floor, which is a nice touch for this more rustic set. The Worm just starts creeping me out from there, as his words seem to suggest that he may have ‘done murder.’ He continues, playing the part of the abusive stalker, isolating his mark, cutting her off from the help and possibly clearer judgment of those that truly love her. Grima even has a ring on his finger, and he too seems to want to get via control that he cannot receive freely.

But Éowyn does not fall for his lines, and flees his trap for a breath of fresh air.

She looks over the horizon, looking perchance for something to help her in her despair, and as she looks downward, there appears a knight riding a horse. Wonder where this is going?

Howard Shore’s score is chilling, as is the visual - an omen - of the banner ripping and flying off into the wind. Aragorn sees the banner of Eorl hit the ground and drag away by the wind. It’s like the riders are bringing change with them, and whether for better or worse will have to be seen, but thing’s won’t be as they once were. Great scene by PJ.

The aerial shot of Meduseld is great, and knowing that the structure actually existed is even better. PJ chose the location for the scenery, and by building the Hall of Brego he allowed the actors to better understand and play their roles. Not one sniff of CG, which allows me to stay in Middle Earth.

The tramp up the hill shows the dispirited people as they’ve lost all hope and are leaderless. The buildings and the Golden Hall are well constructed, though the roof may have been a bit brighter (though PJ may have wanted to cast a pall over the whole scene). The tops of the buildings repeatedly show ornate horse carvings.

The scene at the entrance to the hall is not to my liking. As Aragorn does not have Narsil reforged, he hands over his weaponry with nary a word or warning, as does Gimli. Gandalf, like in the books, keeps his walking stick, but there could have been more made of the scene with Hama, like the doorwarden looking at Gandalf and trusting more in him than in the decrees of the Wormtongue (as Rohirrim do not lie, and so are not easily deceived), but…

Gandalf’s quick wink and Aragorn’s knowing smile should set everyone on edge.

The four members of the Fellowship walk towards Théoden’s throne as Wormtongue continues to poison the King’s thoughts. Interesting that Théoden speaks here but not when prompted by Éowyn of his son’s death. Wormtongue presses the attack, but it thwarted by Gandalf staff. Grima’s henchmen try to grab Gandalf, but Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn make short work of them. Now, unlike in the books, it’s apparent that Grima has men on his side, and not just those whose brains are addled. But to see them attack Gandalf’s party is another thing altogether. At least Hama restrains another from joining the attack.

Make you wonder how loyal these men are to the King. How far would they follow Grima, and will they leave him when their King returns?

Also from the books Théoden needs only a breath of fresh air and some light to throw off the chains of Saruman, but here PJ has decided that an exorcism is in order. Éowyn, seeing her uncle in pain, tries to help him but is grabbed by Aragorn. The exorcism continues, and Saruman threatens Gandalf with Théoden’s death. And then Gandalf replies with something that makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

“You did not kill me…you will not kill him.”

Huh? Gandalf escaped from Orthanc via an eagle. Does this mean a bird will be involved when Théoden escapes Saruman’s control? If this makes no sense, well, then you know how I feel about Gandalf’s statement. As the exorcism drags on, we get to see more and more of Théoden-possessed’s ugly visage. Finally, Gandalf give him a shot felt round the countryside, and Saruman goes sprawling across the floor in Orthanc.

Théoden begins to fall to the floor, and is caught by his sister-daughter. The haggardness of Saruman’s control melts from his face like the sun melting snow. His healing continues as he grasps his sword, which I’m glad was included. Théoden suddenly remembers his old advisor, here treated more harshly than in the books. And here Théoden attempts to slay Grima (which is a bit problematic as I think that later he will be pleading for clemency for him) but is stopped by Aragorn, who just so happens to not be King of Rohan but is starting to act like it. But at least Aragorn is rewarded for his kindness.

I guess that this Grima, having done something to get Saruman inside of Théoden, deserves worse than the other Grima who just spun tales for Théoden’s ears. Grima rides off, and we all know where he’s going.

Where is my son?

The funeral of Théodred is touching, as is Éowyn's song as her face is clearly pained. We get to see the burial mounds covered with Simbelmynë and Théoden’s despair and grief.

Speaking of children, those two that we saw sequences ago have finally arrived at Edoras. After some food is seems that our children will be okay, thankfully. Gandalf uses the children as props, telling Théoden that he needs to ride out and meet Saruman’s forces in the plains. Why Saruman is driven by fear of Sauron is beyond me, as I thought that the two were working together, or was that another movie ? Théoden’s a bit creeped out when Gandalf lays his hand on the King’s, and that’s pretty funny. Just what are you selling, Stormcrow?

And now for the Éomer problem. He’s 300 leagues from Edoras, which is silly as you’d think that he’s find some place secure to hold up in yet be near enough to help his people if needed. And 300 leagues? Did he go to the beach or Rivendell? And if Éomer has 2000 riders, just where do all of the other warriors come from when the siege of Mundburg is raised?

Anyway, Théoden sees himself as a shield against Saruman’s aggression, and would rather wait this one out (like some large cellulose sticks we’ll soon see). Aragorn disagrees, and gets slapped down. Aragorn could have shown a bit more deference, and we just had to have Gimli belching. And does the dwarf have a drinking problem (if you remember *that* movie)?

Gandalf, realizing that he has to work with what he’s got, asks what the King of Rohan is going to do. It’s to be Helm’s Deep, and everybody’s going. Now, if Edoras has stone walls, then it would be a great defensive position for a short battle, but…I’d go to Helm’s Deep but with the purpose of fighting from the fortress, not hiding. Is Gimli suggesting that they go to Dunharrow and ride down now and then and attack the Uruks?

Aren’t these a people of cavalry? Clue!

Gandalf states that Théoden is going with the tried and true, but that it may be a trap. The wizard gives Aragorn a few last words (‘Here’s an impossible task for you. Good luck, good bye and thanks for all the fish.') Now Gandalf rides off in search of help, which to me is silly (and note that I’ve not said a word about how silly the King is being portrayed, how Éomer is treated, etc), but this is PJ’s version and not mine. I’m okay with Gandalf out of the fray but would like to see Éomer at the King’s and Aragorn’s sides.

Will Gandalf bring help in time, and will Aragorn hold the line until then? And will Gimli be able to quiet the rumblings of his stomach?

So much to look forward to…
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Old 04-06-2006, 06:50 AM   #2
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Pipe

A good summary above of (a typical) slice of
plus and minus PJ filmmaking. An argument is
frequently made, sometimes correctly, that
changes by PJ and friends to LOTR for filming were
necessary. Some are, and some aren't. To dicuss
just one here, Eomer. Instead of book Eomer
being pardoned by the king and fighting with and
forging a friendship with Eomer, Eomer just bizarrly
disappears (where?) and with whom? His household
followers/fighters are about 100, why did others go
with him, where were their families (they deserted
them?), where did they ride 900 miles to and where were
they going? Yes, a non-book viewer probably wouldn't
be overly concerned, but it was unneccessary .
The only ratiuonal reason I can see is that PJ wanted
the cavalry to ride to the rescue at Helm's Deep but
didn't want to introduce another character to lead them.
So cut out some of the other added PJ bits.

But, as Alatar notes, there is also some breathtaking
cinematography and solid acting (Wormtongue and Eowyn).

My take on movie Hama is 1) It was foolish to cut Hama's
line [something like] "It is said that a staff in the hands of a wizard may be more then an aid for old age. But when in doubt a man of worth will trust his judgement. I believe you to be people of good will." But of course this hint of a check on Gandalf would effect PJ's view of white wizard G as "The great and powerful Oz". 2) My reading of the scene of Hama restraining his men was that
the attackers of the Three Hunters were Grima's thugs, not any
of Theoden's guards, and that without Hama's restraint Aragorn,
Gandalf, and Gimli would have been tossed around.

There is much more to discuss here, both pro and con, of PJ's works.
And it is still my view that FOTR was by far the best of his three pics,
Largely because he took less liberties with LOTR there.
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Old 04-08-2006, 06:04 AM   #3
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Shield

This is a really interesting sequence. where good changes and bad changes of P.J. are very close to each other.

One of my favourite only-movie scenes is the dialogue between Gríma and Éowyn. That is no witless worm we meet here: It is an intelligent, though unscrupulous (not completely unscrupulous, as we will see later) man who chose his loyalties wrong. For a second we are made believe that Éowyn could comply.

I took a closer look on "Gríma's thugs" this time. There are five of them that lurk at the side when the four approach Théoden. And there are exactly five unconscious bodies on the floor after the fight. Some of them don't even look rohirric but rather dunlendic. How did Gríma import those?
I don't think we have to fear for the loyalty of the majority.

And now there's the exorcism...
Actually I liked that Jackson made Saruman's hold over Théoden stronger, but as so many other times, he simply overdid it.

Did you notice how Gandalf reacts after the King's decision? He leaves Meduseld for the stables, ranting over the decision in front of all the people. Very decent, Greyhame.
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Old 04-16-2006, 02:57 PM   #4
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I realize this comment won't help the discussion very much, but for the life of me I cannot figure how Ian McKellen can wink without moving another single muscle in his face. Try it and see how hard it is. Just another example of a great actor at work, I guess...

I like the Golden Hall scenes more than I dislike them, overall, but I do agree that PJ took some significant story liberties, they weren't all justified, some of it was powerful and some of it was kind of dumb.

Eowyn's lament is powerful, but it takes you a while to get used to how loud it is. She starts out really loud and doesn't take it down any as she sings. I think Tolkien would have absolutely LOVED this touch, as he was a scholar in Old English.

The scene with Gandalf and Theoden at Theodred's grave is beautifully scripted and shot, methinks. What gets me is that on the technical commentary, they said that it took them seventy-something takes to get the falling flower shot right, and they ended up using take number 40-something. What were all those other ones for, then?

PJ seems to revel in Gandalf the Manipulator, but I don't like it. He goes on and on in the director's commentary about how Gandalf is using the kids and blah blah blah to get Theoden to do what he wants. I don't think it has to be interpreted that way even in the films, and it kind of disturbs me that PJ sees it that way and doesn't care. But then again, his G the W is going to end up way different from the books.

Speaking of Gandalf the Grumpy (there's an endless barrage of epithets for him, I guess), what's wrong with going to Helm's Deep? It's a whole lot more secure than Edoras, that's fo shizzle. Of course, in the book Theoden is going to the Fords of Isen, with only his army, and then ends up going to the Deep, but it's still a smart strategic move. I don't like how going to the Deep is suddenly presented as stupid and shortsighted.
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Old 04-17-2006, 01:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elladan and Elrohir
I realize this comment won't help the discussion very much, but for the life of me I cannot figure how Ian McKellen can wink without moving another single muscle in his face. Try it and see how hard it is. Just another example of a great actor at work, I guess...
Excellent observation. I will have to go back and look.


Quote:
The scene with Gandalf and Theoden at Theodred's grave is beautifully scripted and shot, methinks. What gets me is that on the technical commentary, they said that it took them seventy-something takes to get the falling flower shot right, and they ended up using take number 40-something. What were all those other ones for, then?
In a decade or two you'll be shelling out some gold for the super platinum director's cut WITH additional never before seen footage!; then you'll remember your question.


Quote:
PJ seems to revel in Gandalf the Manipulator, but I don't like it. He goes on and on in the director's commentary about how Gandalf is using the kids and blah blah blah to get Theoden to do what he wants. I don't think it has to be interpreted that way even in the films, and it kind of disturbs me that PJ sees it that way and doesn't care. But then again, his G the W is going to end up way different from the books.
Though I like the idea of the kids to see the up close and personal the horror of Saruman's hordes, but to be used as political pawns is silly.


Quote:
Speaking of Gandalf the Grumpy (there's an endless barrage of epithets for him, I guess), what's wrong with going to Helm's Deep? It's a whole lot more secure than Edoras, that's fo shizzle. Of course, in the book Theoden is going to the Fords of Isen, with only his army, and then ends up going to the Deep, but it's still a smart strategic move. I don't like how going to the Deep is suddenly presented as stupid and shortsighted.
Theoden could go to Helm's Deep after calling out all those that will follow him later to Mundburg. And at the last they can come to Eomer's and Theoden's aid, and Gandalf could still be the morning star. Theoden could still express concern that he feels manipulated and ill-used, but this need not show in his choice of fortresses.
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Old 04-17-2006, 03:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
In a decade or two you'll be shelling out some gold for the super platinum director's cut WITH additional never before seen footage!; then you'll remember your question.
You are precisely right. I will gladly shell out as many bucks as necessary for the extended extended super deluxe Lord of the Rings to end all Lord of the Rings set, or whatever they want to call it. And I will remember my question. Right now I only actually own the theatrical DVDs (and I only bought those used for eight bucks apiece a couple weeks age because I'm such a cheapskate), but I'm eventually going to get the collector's gift sets. Right now, I only have the extended editions because I'm borrowing them from a friend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Though I like the idea of the kids to see the up close and personal the horror of Saruman's hordes, but to be used as political pawns is silly.
I must concur.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Theoden could go to Helm's Deep after calling out all those that will follow him later to Mundburg. And at the last they can come to Eomer's and Theoden's aid, and Gandalf could still be the morning star. Theoden could still express concern that he feels manipulated and ill-used, but this need not show in his choice of fortresses.
I think that would make a lot more sense film-wise and make us book fans a lot happier, but of course, we have to have Hero Aragorn overcoming impossible odds to keep the Deep alive, seemingly all by himself. After all, what were all those Elves good for but dying, in the end?
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Old 04-17-2006, 03:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elladan and Elrohir
You are precisely right. I will gladly shell out as many bucks as necessary for the extended extended super deluxe Lord of the Rings to end all Lord of the Rings set, or whatever they want to call it. And I will remember my question. Right now I only actually own the theatrical DVDs (and I only bought those used for eight bucks apiece a couple weeks age because I'm such a cheapskate), but I'm eventually going to get the collector's gift sets. Right now, I only have the extended editions because I'm borrowing them from a friend.
My point is that in my experience, directors and the ilk tend to lead off with their best film in the theatrical version, or in the extended version if the theatrical version is reduced due to external constraints. After that they are slapping footage together just to state that new unseen unreleased scenes are present, driving up the hype and the price. Some of the unseen hits the floor for a reason, as it was really bad; other footage may make no sense, detract from the film and produce unintended consequences.

Like I could have done without seeing Gandalf destaffed in RotK EE.

The extended version of FotR was definitely better than the theatrical release, but TTT and RotK EE versions weren't as spectacular.

Then there is the fear that the director just can't leave well enough alone. "Time's passed, new technology is available and I'm just sooo much wiser and artsier and full of myself now that I have to remake the film like I really intended (but didn't) 20 years ago."

caveat emptor.
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Last edited by alatar; 04-17-2006 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 12-01-2006, 08:59 PM   #8
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Pipe enter the exorcist

The intro to Edoras was excellent. The filmmakers once again did extremely well in creating a believable civilisation, in Rohan. It's a shame the villagers of Edoras were so depressing, but I guess they're going through a bit of a rough patch.

I absolutely hated the exorcism of Théoden. For some reason, it just really went against the grain, and I am sure that Tolkien would not have wished an exorcism to be shown in a movie based on his book. Granted, Gandalf's curing of Théoden in the book borders on too easy, but surely there could be a happy medium which didn't involve possession?

I also didn't like the way that the Fellowship manhandled the men of Rohan, despite the fact that they were Gríma's boys. It makes them out to be self-righteous thugs, coming in to the place and throwing their weight around. What possible use was having them do that? To show that they were tough even without their weapons? Or that if you think a "regime change" is needed, you should always rock up with fists of fury and effect it? At least Aragorn prevented Théoden from slaying Wormtongue.

The funeral scene was moving, indeed. Théoden's line, "a parent should never have to bury their child" was heart-wrenching. Some fine acting by Bernard Hill there.
Quote:
what's wrong with going to Helm's Deep?
I have the same sentiment as Elladan and Elrohir here. I don't see why Gandalf, Aragorn and co have to diss Théoden's suggestion of going to Helm's Deep. It sounds far wiser than riding out to meet Saruman in open battle, or whatever it was Gandalf was proposing.
Quote:
And now for the Éomer problem. He’s 300 leagues from Edoras, which is silly as you’d think that he’s find some place secure to hold up in yet be near enough to help his people if needed. And 300 leagues? Did he go to the beach or Rivendell?
It is indeed a problem. Makes absolutely no sense to me that Éomer would desert Rohan, and ride "north" to an undisclosed location only to be brought back in the nick of time by Gandalf. It's just silliness. Gandalf returning with the men of Westfold and the huorns works much better IMHO.
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