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Old 08-12-2002, 02:29 PM   #1
Durialion
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Question Why did Gandalf let go and fall off the cliff?

Why did Gandalf let go of the cliff? I have an idea, but I'm not sure tell me if I am right. He let go so they would not come back to help him and get caught be the orcs and get killed. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 08-12-2002, 02:31 PM   #2
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Tolkien

I guess it is possible that he sacrificed himself for the others.

Or maybe he just wanted to die atleast once...and the comeback all flashy and such...I would do that if I could [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]


But....in all honesty. I really don't know. Maybe he wanted Aragorn to lead them on. But if he hadn't of fallen, he wouldn't have become Gandalf the White.....right?

[ August 12, 2002: Message edited by: Davin ]
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Old 08-12-2002, 02:49 PM   #3
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You are thinking of the bastardised Hollywood version. In the text, the Balrog's whip of fire pulls him down.

[ August 12, 2002: Message edited by: Stephanos ]
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Old 08-12-2002, 03:16 PM   #4
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There's also the fact the if they had pulled him up, the Balrog could have been pulled up with him and then they would probably all have died.
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Old 08-12-2002, 03:22 PM   #5
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well-he fell off cuz he wanted to sacrifice himself-for the other 8-and besides it was for a good cause-he becomes the head of the White Council-and becomes more powerful than Saruman-in the Two Towers
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Old 08-12-2002, 03:35 PM   #6
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Sting

I was always bothered by that too. It wasn't so in the book, just PJ's movie. Even the cartoon depicts this scene better.

[ August 12, 2002: Message edited by: Raefindel ]
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Old 08-12-2002, 08:47 PM   #7
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Even the cartoon depicts this scene better.

Oooo. Harsh words!!
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Old 08-12-2002, 09:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
"if they had pulled him up, the Balrog could have been pulled up with him"
Somehow I doubt that could have happened. Not that I doubt the strength of the fellowship (those hobbits were tougher than nails), but I think the Balrog would have gotten whiplash (no pun intended) from the sudden stop of its fall. Not to mention what would've happened to poor Gandalf with the fiery whip still wrapped around his knees.
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Old 08-13-2002, 02:27 AM   #9
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Sting

It's blatantly obvious that it was the heat of the cliff-face that caused Gandalf to let go. All those flames in Moria must have made it hot enough to fry eggs on. Besides, his hobby was cliff-jumping: JRRT tells us so in HoME XIV.

It couldn't have had anything to do with the huge Balrog hanging from his foot by its whip of fire, dragging him into the abyss since, as we all know, Balrogs can fly.
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Old 08-13-2002, 05:36 AM   #10
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Sting

I think I was lost halfway through the threat, but...
Quote:
You are thinking of the bastardised Hollywood version. In the text, the Balrog's whip of fire pulls him down.
It also does in the movie! In the book, the whip is around Gandalf's knee(sp?), in the movie, it's around his ancle(sp?) (boy, I should really find my dictionary instead of this 'I don't know how to spell it and I'm too lazy to look it up'-stuff [img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img] )
But anyway I don't think he really had a choice but to let go [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img]

[ August 13, 2002: Message edited by: Melephelwen ]
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Old 08-13-2002, 07:16 AM   #11
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Sting

Yes, I have to agree. In the movie the Balrog also pulls him down. In the book it says something like "and for a brief moment, he held, in vain, to the edge of the bridge." I'm guessing the weight of the balrog (although there is some debate as to its size, I think we can all agree it was larger than a man) plus the lack of a good hand hold is what caused him to fall.
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Old 08-13-2002, 08:55 AM   #12
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Sting

Quote:
in the movie, it's around his ancle
But not for long. You see very clearly that it falls with the balrog. It only drags him over the cliff.

That part was bugging me too, but I guess that's what artistic freedom means.... [img]smilies/mad.gif[/img]
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Old 08-13-2002, 09:46 AM   #13
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Tolkien

So out of curiousity, anyone ever tried to hold onto a cliff with no real hand-holds for a long period of time when your leg, which has just been caught (whether it's still holding on or not!) by a flaming whip, is in extreme pain?

Also, ever tried to run back to get someone while it's raining arrows?

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Old 08-13-2002, 10:02 AM   #14
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Silmaril

Actually, I was once dragged to the edge of a cliff by a Balrog and had to run through a hail of arrows to save myself. Let me tell you, it hurts like Udn.

Quote:
....But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. 'Fly, you fools!' he creid, and was gone.
He never "let go", he never even had been hanging on. He (quite clearly) fell right over.
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Old 08-13-2002, 12:31 PM   #15
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...seriously-did anyone think he could hang on?-the Balrog's whip brought him down!-and it's not that easy to get up from that kind of cliff!!!...as i said before-it was for the better-he became stronger in the end -which is more advantage to defeat the enemy...
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Old 08-13-2002, 01:38 PM   #16
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Sting

I've been rereading the series, and right now I'm up to that part. It says, word for word:

"But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him into the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss." (It meaning the Balrog, of course)

That's on p. 371, in the new Del Rey edition, you know, the one with Frodo holding Sting on the cover. Therefore, I think we can assume that Gandalf tried to save himself, but as the whip had curled itself around his knees, he couldn't very well escape. Well, that's my two cents.

*runs and hides in her little corner*

[ August 13, 2002: Message edited by: Merri ]
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Old 08-13-2002, 05:37 PM   #17
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Eye

Well, In the movie, you see the Balrog's wip grab Gandalf's knees. But the next shot, It is not grabbing him in any way....

Strange..... [img]smilies/redface.gif[/img] [img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img] [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img]
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Old 08-13-2002, 09:20 PM   #18
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I think that Gandalf didn't really let go out of choice (I'm referring to the movie). Think of all the energy he had to spend to stop the Balrog and destroy the bridge, not to mention that he's been in a fight already and been running for a long time. Gandalf, though a wizard, doesn't have infinite strength and enduracne 24/7. Also, orcs were closing in and Gandalf, who isn't impervious to arrows or swords, decided he might have a better chance if he fell [img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img] Perhaps...
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Old 08-14-2002, 02:59 AM   #19
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Sting

How much would a Balrog weigh? I mean, I suppose it depends on how large you conceive him as being, and how much of his size is just flame, which weighs nothing, but he must have been at least a few tons, right?
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Old 08-14-2002, 06:12 AM   #20
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Sting

If I read correctly some notins between the lines, movie forms an opinion that Gandalf let go out of his choice (as a sacrifice for the fellowship) and that was for the better, for he came back in power (and he knew it would be so). Some meditations on the subject:

if you are a wizard:

1 Sacrifice for your friends is valuable but when you don’t expect to be rewarded for it with new body
2 Otherwise it’s a suicide
3 Even if you don’t expect to get new body, than it’s suicide allright, for all other members of the fellowship are this side of the ruinedbridge
4 Suicide can not be appraised since it’s an act of refusing the service laid upon you as an emissary of the Valar

therefore, Gandalf letting go and falling would mean Gandalf defeated, and not by Balrog, but by his own weakness and weariness of the world. nothing to admire, really, though understandable with all his labors and sufferings.

Yet, as it was said above, that is the movie version, not as it was indeed
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Old 08-14-2002, 06:45 AM   #21
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Sting

Thanks! I agree with all of you and I undersdtand now.
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Old 08-14-2002, 09:00 PM   #22
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Tolkien

*1st post, bear with me* Here's another take on why Gandalf fell, let go, or whatever he did. If you've read the Two Towers, you find out about the battle above Moria between Gandalf and the Balrog where Galdalf defeats it. Here is where he gains the power to depose Sauraman(sorta like leveling up after a big battle in any RPG). First of all, Galdalf(Olorin, one of the oldest and chiefest Miar of Manwe) knows what the Balrog truly is, and that he can defeat it. Could it be that Gandalf let him self fall so that he could rid the world of a terrible evil?
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Old 08-14-2002, 10:56 PM   #23
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Sting

Welcome to the Downs, Kaszul [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

There are two points in your post I deem incorrect:
1 Gandalf is not gaining power in the duel with Balrog - he dies first (in fact, them both do), and then is returned into the world again, by whom - remains unclear, either Valar or Eru himself. Even in this case he is not more powerful than he was, but he's got more wisdom and authority, and is allowed to reveal more of his original power than he was before.

2 Gandalf was not trying to get the world rid of balrog. Two reasons are there - first of them given by Gandalf himself - he says he's too weary already to fight such an enemy, Another one is that Balrog was inside Moria for quite a long time, showing no inclination to come out. It's possible that Sauron would like to draw such a powerful spirit to his side, but it's not shown anywhere in JRRT's works, so assumption must be made that Balrog was going to stay inside Moria after Gandlaf's death as well (if it was victorious, of course).

+ if you judge by modern standards, the offended side was Balrog, not Gandalf and Co, for they broke into his private property and were trespassing [img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img] . Poor, poor Balrog. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 08-14-2002, 11:08 PM   #24
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Well, you've got me there. It's been a while since I've read The Two Towers so I'd forgotten about the acutal dying that Gandalf went through. And now that you mention it, the party was breaking and entering. Its like in Texas, shoot first and ask questions later.


Off the subject, its great to find people so well versed and willing converse about all things Tolkien. My friends loved the movie, but never go so obsessed with the books as I did. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 08-15-2002, 08:46 AM   #25
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Sting

Also, if I remember correctly, Gandalf did not know it was a balrog until Legolas says that it is. Initally he just knows that he 'has met his match', although by the time he falls, he does know.
My point is, if he did not even know what it was, how could he be assured of victory?
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Old 09-17-2002, 01:28 AM   #26
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What I would really like to know (and this is my first post so forgive me if i'm in the wrong place here)is what happened to Gandalf after he fell?? Some Balrogs I believe, after the War of Wrath fled to the roots of various mountains which I (wrongly?) presume have a ground or base. Was it really an abyss ie. bottomless pit that Gandalf fell into (in which case he would still be falling to this day?) or did he splatter somewhere deep in the bowels of the earth? Then what? who re-made him? or how did he become Gandalf the White? Why didnt the same thing happen to all wizards who met their demise? I have so many questions please help.

May I say that I am so enjoying being here and I have spent today reading past posts with the anticipation of reading most of them. I am impressed by many people's knowledge of all things Tolkien and some people just write so beautifully. I am envious of those to whom such language comes so easily... Tolkien included. You inspire me.

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Old 09-17-2002, 04:00 PM   #27
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Why did gandalf let go of the cliff?

To get to the other side.


[img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-17-2002, 05:42 PM   #28
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Hello, Varda's Wilwarin, welcome to the Downs, enjoy being dead, and post lots! I think there are two factors involved in Gandalf and the Balrog's survival, one being they fell into deep water (which means it wasn't a real abyss, as you point out, it ended at some point)-- only then climbing onto the uttermost foundations of the mountain-roots, and the other being that as Maia incarnate in bodies they were tougher and harder to kill than your average mortal. Possibly they were able to slow their fall some way. Obviously, though, falling far and fast enough onto a hard surface would kill them, because the Balrog died that way after Gandalf cast him down from the peaks (unless he was already dead).

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Old 09-17-2002, 06:17 PM   #29
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The weight of the Balrog was not an issue because he could have flown if he righted himself. Wouldn't it be cool to have Balrog wings?

In all seriousness folks the answer to this has been stated clearly by Rimbaud and others. Gandalf fell, he grasped VAINLY for the stone and shouted fly you fools as he fell. It's simply a question of the movie screwing up yet another scene.

[ September 17, 2002: Message edited by: Dwarin Thunderhammer ]
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Old 09-17-2002, 06:32 PM   #30
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Meleph-whatever and anyone else who saw my now deleted, last, and most embarassing post may I offer my most sincere apologies. I have had just had THE worst last few weeks of my life and everything I perceive seems to come accross as an "everyone is out to get me" sort of thing and I totally took your comments the wrong way Mel. I would like to confess to my total shame that I sent Mel a private and not so nice message also. Please can I just start afresh and say hello everyone nice to meet you all and I look forward to being dead and posting intelligent thoughts questions and comments in the future
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Old 09-17-2002, 06:34 PM   #31
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well, they fell into water. anyways, if you were a couple thousand years old, just had a fight with someone as strong or stronger than you, and were holding on to the egde of a bridge that is falling apart, how long do you think you would stay on? i don't think he sacrificed himself, because if he had gotten out of moria, the fellowship would have known what to do, and may not have broken apart. plus, he was the leader, so why would he leave them intentionally? i don't know, just my thoughts. it worked out for the better anyways...
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Old 09-17-2002, 06:49 PM   #32
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P.S.

Tolkien offers us escapism from life's problems but I should not have dragged my baggage into the world of Tolkien that you all share here. Again I am sorry. [img]smilies/frown.gif[/img]
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Old 09-17-2002, 08:41 PM   #33
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Sting

Gandalf let go of the bridge for the simple reason that PJ thought it would be more dramatic and more sad and heroic and stuff. With all the Fellowship watching and Boromir holding Frodo back (why did Boromir do that?) and then when he falls Frodo screams: "GANDALF!" and it's all sad and cue the sad and pretty music as Aragorn looks bewildered then dodges an arrow or two, and...k, I think I'm getting a bit carried away, but the point I'm trying to make is that PJ was goin' for dramatic.
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Old 09-17-2002, 09:33 PM   #34
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Sting

I can accept PJ's version of the Bridge. There's more drama to it, I agree.

Quote:
Or maybe he just wanted to die atleast once...and the comeback all flashy and such...I would do that if I could
Hey, I would do that, too.

Sacrifice is the main thing there, though. He knows that he is a powerful individual, but that doesn't mean that he has to escape.

Which brings me to another question: Why didn't he use his powers then?
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Old 09-18-2002, 08:12 AM   #35
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Varda's Wilwarin: that's quite all right, don't worry about it. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] That which we love makes us vulnerable, particularly when the forum is new. Hope things are going better for you.

Dwarin: I'm sure the balrog WOULD have flown out, except his 'wings' were ... no! I'm going to WITHHOLD my counter-argument from you! Hahahaha! [img]smilies/evil.gif[/img]

Yes, I tend to go with those who think that Gandalf slid right over because he was attached to a whip attached to a Balrog in freefall. I don't think Gandalf deliberately let go to sacrifice himself. macaroni, welcome to the Downs, enjoy being dead! I agree with you.

Mithuial and Neferchoirwen, I agree it was a dramatic scene in the movie, but I think it was too stretched out, long enough for us to feel like the company (at least Aragorn) could have pulled Gandalf out --not the impression I got from the book. I think we're meant to think he went over too quickly for anyone to help; the editing just wasn't tight enough to convey that-- it was a huge moviemaking endeavor after all. Considering that, it's not surprising if the timing slipped a little.

Gandalf wasn't guaranteed that he'd come back and help; as far as he knew, getting killed put him out of the quest and out of Middle Earth and he was going to end up wandering Valinor obsessing about whether all his friends had gotten themselves killed or captured and begging Manwe to tell him the news. (I'm not clear on whether everyone there could see Middle Earth, but I'm sure the Valar could, the Silmarillion talks about the far-seeing ability of the Valinor being inflicted on Hurin so he could see how Morgoth (and fate and bad judgement) were tormenting his family.)

Being out of the quest and unable to help in Middle Earth would have driven Gandalf as nuts as it is possible for a law-abiding and spiritually advanced Maia to be. Gandalf made his sacrifice when he decided to stay on the bridge and stop the Balrog: he knew that that would almost certainly cost him his life, although he hoped of course he'd be able to kill it and escape. In the First Age, everyone who killed a Balrog (a select group of Elven-lords and Gandalf) died in the process; that's what Gandalf realistically expected to happen. He just accepted that he had to do his duty by the company, and if it cost him his life, he'd have to accept it; he was sworn to use his power in a limited way and if he broke his word he'd quite likely corrupt himself into becoming another Saruman or Sauron. That's another question: if Gandalf went wrong, would he be more dangerous than Saruman or Sauron? I think yes-- he was more energetic than Saruman, cleverer than Saruman (if less patient and skilled in craft), and he was much, much braver than Sauron.
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Old 09-18-2002, 09:11 AM   #36
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I haven't seen the movie since around the time of its release, but I recall the Bridge scene being one of the better played moments. McKellan did a good job of showing Gandalf's fear and humanity.

I don't think you can fault PJ too strongly for the way he played the scene (without having seen it in a while -- I really need to rent the DVD, I reckon). Anyway, the scene highlights the difficulty of adapting book to film. A straight adaptation of the text:
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He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. 'Fly, you fools! ' he cried, and was gone.
...would be hard to pull off to say the least. It's easy to imagine Gandalf's dialogue looking more likel, "Fly you fooooooooooollllsssss!!!", the last sounds trailing off as he falls -- silly. You have to give him his moment to show that he knows what's about to happen and that his last thoughts are -- very typically of Gandalf -- not sentimental, even on his own behalf.
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Old 09-18-2002, 02:36 PM   #37
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If all Gandalf wanted was white robes all he had to do was bleech. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

In the movie it looks like he lets go but he really just slips off. Though I think he didn't fight it. He probably could have pulled himself back up but then he would be endangering everyone else.
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Old 09-18-2002, 06:17 PM   #38
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Mr Underhill:
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McKellan did a good job of showing Gandalf's fear and humanity.
Agreed! McKellan's was an excellent performance all through. I did think the director meant to indicate Aragorn moving to help Gandalf, but not able to reach him in time, and Gandalf slipping as in the book. Reasonably enough for an action scene, the events were shown in the extended 'movie time' that movies always use in an action scene, where the same few seconds are shown from a couple of different angles. I didn't think the timing and editing quite conveyed that Aragorn was moving back but couldn't reach his friend in time and that Gandalf didn't have a chance to hold on-- he's shown free of the whip and clinging just a beat too long. However, it's not a major problem; I still enjoyed the scene. It was close enough.
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Old 09-18-2002, 06:32 PM   #39
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I think the movie's pretty good for what it is, and all though the book is always better, if we continue to always compare the movie to the book we're gonna always come to the conclusion that the movie totally stinks. lol. Anyway, Gandalf's a pretty smart guy and knew what he was doing all along. Yeah, Gandalf would be more powerful that Saruman or Sauron, but I admire him sooooo much for being the only Istari that obeyed and stuck to his origanal commision. Gandalf's sacrifice adds to my admiration of him.
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Old 09-21-2002, 09:16 PM   #40
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Quote:
In the movie it looks like he lets go but he really just slips off. Though I think he didn't fight it. He probably could have pulled himself back up but then he would be endangering everyone else.
what makes you think he could have pulled himself up? he was weak from trying to lock the door against the balrog, and the counter-spell. plus the balrog was kinda attached to his leg, i think
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