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Old 03-21-2013, 04:38 PM   #1
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Dark-Eye Sauron versus Aragorn

Maybe this is very old news, but at least for me this was very surprising news and absolutely horrifying, too. A friend informed me about the discarded idea of Peter Jackson's to have Sauron dueling Aragorn in RotK, which has been actually shot! As for example this clip proves.

Seriously, with all my hatred for Peter Jackson's treatment of the story, I have always been very... reserved. Or let's say, tolerant. I mean, yes, I consider much of what he has done twisting the story, taking it into completely different dimension which has nothing to do with the original, and all that. But at the same time I accept that his vision of Middle-Earth is just different from mine, and he is fully entitled to it. (Or would be, if he did not push it on others, but that's a completely different topic.)

But. I think I have heard many people say that PJ has "no sense for subtlety".* Valar probably saved us from the greatest proof of that by making him cut that scene. Aragorn, dueling Sauron in front of the gate... and they all had been very seriously (as it seems, since they even shot it and all, and had no backup plan for leaving it out) contemplating that? I would understand someone mentioning that when the screenplay was being written, as a possibility, which would of course be discarded... but how could it get so far as to shoot it goes beyond me. Likewise the "angelic voice"... putting aside the fact that it is absolutely uncanonical for Sauron to take on the fair form anymore (he couldn't), wouldn't it be even unfitting into PJ's own treatment of the setting? I would think so, actually. Mordor and its servants had always been grim and dark and hostile in PJ's presentation, and there was never any hint of alluring presence of some fake goodie angels. PJ's Mordor is even less of that kind, PJ's Mordor is only darkness, dark power, brute force, terror, and all that. This would be the first time ever in the movie we would see some "wannabe-goodie" on the Dark Side, and it would really seem out of place, I would think.

So what do you think? Have you seen this before? I know it would be hard for anyone to now stand up and actually defend such a scene after my initial outburst, but... if anyone feels that way, please do speak up

P.S. This of course raises a slight doubt in my mind - what is the Dol Guldur thing going to look like in The Hobbit. But hey, at least there it is justified for Sauron to have physical (or at least wannabel-physical) form. I think, however, after seeing this, that a duel is inavoidable.

I just very much hope it is Saruman dueling him (Well, canonically, it should be him, as it was "his art that drove the Enemy out".)

*(And whereas unrelated to the "Sauron versus Aragorn" thing, probably the worst thing from the whole video was to hear PJ say that in LotR, "the villain is basically just a giant eyeball". NO, HE ISN'T! THAT'S ALL YOUR DOING, SIR!!! Your villain is a giant eyeball. Not Tolkien's. /end of outburst which I just could not leave out)
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:18 PM   #2
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I have seen the feature about this on the Return of the King Extended DVD. When I was younger I didn't object to the films nearly as much and as such I do have the Extended Editions but I haven't watched them all the way through/with much attention for years. Anyway, frankly I find it absurd that this concept made it all the way to being filmed. As you say, it's totally inconsistent with their own characterisation of Sauron: as a wholly, indeed arbitrarily dark and evil figure, as a giant eyeball, as a hidden menace who never leaves his tower. And while I think it was the right decision for them to replace Sauron with a troll in the end, where's Pippin's heroic slaying of the troll?

It reminds me of the idea that apparently at one point they wanted the Mouth of Sauron to appear as an attractive woman (Kate Winslet possibly?) to "represent the temptations Aragorn is facing" or something. What temptations? And why Aragorn? Frodo and Sam are toiling up Mount Doom and they're worried about how they characterise Aragorn. I guess common sense tended to triumph somewhat in the long run, albeit in the Sauron case later than you might expect.

It really makes me wonder why Sauron-as-Annatar never appeared in the opening sequence of Fellowship, yet they wanted him to appear that way at the Black Gate.
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:08 PM   #3
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Yes, I knew about that. I'd never attempt to defend something so ridiculous, but perhaps I can explain it:

-It probably follows some half-baked set of rules that says there must be a one-on-one fight between the Villain and the Hero (i.e. Aragorn, Frodo having been pretty much fired as the hero by that point- but that's a whole other issue). There are things that made it through to the final cut that reflect that kind of "Screenwriting 101" thinking, too. I know this all sounds pretty belittling. Okay, I'm not saying everything about the script's terrible, by any means- but I believe the writers were relatively inexperienced, and at times it shows.

-It also seems like a very misguided attempt at canonicity or fan-service, using the same "anything Tolkien wrote can be inserted seamlessly into anything else he wrote" reasoning that now has Azog all over "The Hobbit". They might even have had some notion that the "Annatar" nonsense would balance the otherwise uncomplicated portrayal of the evil side. Without thinking it through, of course.

-Finally, I wonder how serious Peter Jackson ever was about including the scene in the finished version? He's one of those directors who always shoot vast amounts of extra material, just on the off-chance they might find some use for it.
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Old 03-22-2013, 04:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
I have seen the feature about this on the Return of the King Extended DVD. When I was younger I didn't object to the films nearly as much and as such I do have the Extended Editions but I haven't watched them all the way through/with much attention for years. Anyway, frankly I find it absurd that this concept made it all the way to being filmed. As you say, it's totally inconsistent with their own characterisation of Sauron: as a wholly, indeed arbitrarily dark and evil figure, as a giant eyeball, as a hidden menace who never leaves his tower. And while I think it was the right decision for them to replace Sauron with a troll in the end, where's Pippin's heroic slaying of the troll?

It reminds me of the idea that apparently at one point they wanted the Mouth of Sauron to appear as an attractive woman (Kate Winslet possibly?) to "represent the temptations Aragorn is facing" or something. What temptations? And why Aragorn? Frodo and Sam are toiling up Mount Doom and they're worried about how they characterise Aragorn. I guess common sense tended to triumph somewhat in the long run, albeit in the Sauron case later than you might expect.
Well, it just shows how much, despite the whole "you bow to no one" fuss and attempt to show the Hobbits as the heroes and trying to keep the basic idea of LotR that one does not win by the strength of arms, the filmmakers were affected by the common mentality of cheap heroic-movie expectations. Therefore, who cares about Pippin, we want surfing Legolases; who cares about Frodo and Sam, we want to see Aragorn dueling Sauron.

And whereas the idea of Mouth of Sauron being a woman would have been interesting especially in a story consisting mostly of male characters, I am afraid that it would be no win and it would just slip into some "dark seductress" film stereotype. Besides, I think at this point, Aragorn is already past all temptations. At least where the Ring is concerned, and also where sitting at home and trying to just preserve his new kingdom a la Denethor is concerned. His final decision to march to the Black Gate was the final act of bravery and possibly even self-sacrifice in order to help Frodo's mission to succeed. He can't even run anymore. So what could Sauron still tempt him with? Sure, Sauron could not have known he did not have the Ring, so maybe in his mind Aragorn falling to it could still be an option, but I doubt PJ would think so far.

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It really makes me wonder why Sauron-as-Annatar never appeared in the opening sequence of Fellowship, yet they wanted him to appear that way at the Black Gate.
Exactly. But then again, not sure how much the development of the script went, maybe the idea came only later than when the opening had been already made? I don't know.

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-It probably follows some half-baked set of rules that says there must be a one-on-one fight between the Villain and the Hero (i.e. Aragorn, Frodo having been pretty much fired as the hero by that point- but that's a whole other issue). There are things that made it through to the final cut that reflect that kind of "Screenwriting 101" thinking, too. I know this all sounds pretty belittling. Okay, I'm not saying everything about the script's terrible, by any means- but I believe the writers were relatively inexperienced, and at times it shows.
Indeed. They even basically say as much in there. That's why I think they decided they have to keep the part of Aragorn fighting someone, even if it were to be a totally random troll (which is even a bit downgrading to Aragorn already at that point, in my opinion. After all, he had fought a troll before already in Moria. I think one would have expected at least a Nazgul, but I guess that comes from the fact that they had only the material of him fighting Sauron, and Nazgul would probably be at least slightly smaller enemy).

Quote:
-It also seems like a very misguided attempt at canonicity or fan-service, using the same "anything Tolkien wrote can be inserted seamlessly into anything else he wrote" reasoning that now has Azog all over "The Hobbit". They might even have had some notion that the "Annatar" nonsense would balance the otherwise uncomplicated portrayal of the evil side. Without thinking it through, of course.
Yep, I would say you are right on this one probably as well. (But that isn't a very good defense of it, right )

Quote:
-Finally, I wonder how serious Peter Jackson ever was about including the scene in the finished version? He's one of those directors who always shoot vast amounts of extra material, just on the off-chance they might find some use for it.
That is possible, but the more it surprises me that he actually didn't shoot at least a short scene of Aragorn fighting a troll, or something similar they could replace it with. It is clear that they were all the time totally and absolutely serious about having the Sauron-fight, it was a no-question thing, nobody even dared to assume it would not happen. Because if they did, then they would have had some backup option of having Aragorn fighting something else, in order to make the proper "one on one, hero vs. villain" epic ending.
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Old 03-22-2013, 06:01 AM   #5
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I really don't think they knew what to do with Sauron in general. In the opening of Fellowship he shows up with zero explanation as some big horrible person who made a Ring. As I've said elsewhere, this is why in my opinion an adaptation of The Hobbit really needed to come first. When you have the mysterious "Necromancer" becoming the main villain in the sequel it really is a lot more dramatically effective. You probably couldn't sell that to Hollywood, but my point is that we never really hear anything about Sauron: not that he helped forge the Rings, nor that he was significantly responsible for the destruction of Númenor, two events which establish him as a deceiver and despicable villain, and both of which are in the source material (although Númenor is largely confined to the Appendices, but that didn't stop them elsewhere, with Aragorn and Arwen for instance - is there a risk of treading into The Silmarillion and other material for which they lack the rights regarding Númenor?). Anyway, I'm not saying that these events should have been dwelt upon, but they could at least have been given as elaboration at some point for the evil of Sauron.

Instead the filmmakers don't know what to do: first he's just a spooky costume apparently defeated because he stuck his fingers out at the wrong time. Then they turn him into a giant floating eyeball and give all the actual villainy to Saruman, upon whom swathes of time in the first and second films are unnecessarily spent. The fight with Aragorn is just another example of this. They don't even know their own interpretation of Sauron. Is he an eyeball who "cannot yet take physical form" (an example of both misinterpretation and very un-Tolkien-like vocabulary with "physical", incidentally)? Is he still a big armoured dark lord? Aragorn sees him this way in the palantír in the Extended Edition, and so they film him coming out to fight before the Morannon after appearing as a seraphic vision. Now in "The Hobbit" he's a shadow in a corridor.

Professor Tolkien is impressively subtle in his depiction of Sauron, of course, and that makes certain demands upon readers which are more possible in literature than film. It turns out he was too subtle for the filmmakers, at least. They have the challenge and the opportunity to bring these elements out into the open, but it's too great a task for them and they retreat in the opposite direction, instead making him a cardboard cutout, leaving us with an empty suit of armour and a giant floating eyeball. The latter of these denies us even of the possibility of Sauron-the-absence, the faceless, often nameless foe who operates solely through armies and agents. Professor Tolkien gives us both takes on Sauron, of course, across the Second Age and the Third. The filmmakers give us neither, just hollow images, neither meaningfully present nor genuinely absent. They had the archetypal Fantasy villain in their hands and frankly I think they bungled it with particular incompetence.
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Old 03-22-2013, 06:11 AM   #6
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While I'm really happy they realised that some sort of duel between Aragorn and Sauron would totally undermine the message of the story and Aragorn's heroism, I was actually kind of positively surprised by that clip. (I've heard of this duel idea before but I hadn't seen the footage.)

I mean, come on, how cool is that Sauron manifests himself in an angelic form? That they wanted to show what kind of good and noble stuff he was originally made of? That is kind of awesome. And while I abhor Orlando Bloom's acting in general (not sure if this is a necessary disclaimer from anyone on this forum but anyway ) his expression looking at the angelic Sauron kind of sends shivers down my spine. Because he looks actually intrigued or awed or kind of enchanted by the main villain. (Nice nod to the Eregion Elves and Númenóreans being enchanted by Sauron.) This is actually the kind of "subtlety" I always wanted from Peter Jackson.

But of course from the canon point of view this is just more and more nonsense, or did PJ skip the part where it says that Sauron lost his ability to assume a fair form? That was quite explicitly stated.

Last of all, I think they could have left the duel out all in all. Aragorn dueling a troll is just kind of too random (anyway it should be Pippin doing that, not him).
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:36 AM   #7
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The very fact of it is irrebuttable proof positive that PJ is completely unqualified to make any Tolkien movie whatsoever, including Mr Bliss. The man truly has no clue.
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:12 AM   #8
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While I'm really happy they realised that some sort of duel between Aragorn and Sauron would totally undermine the message of the story and Aragorn's heroism, I was actually kind of positively surprised by that clip. (I've heard of this duel idea before but I hadn't seen the footage.)

I mean, come on, how cool is that Sauron manifests himself in an angelic form? That they wanted to show what kind of good and noble stuff he was originally made of? That is kind of awesome. And while I abhor Orlando Bloom's acting in general (not sure if this is a necessary disclaimer from anyone on this forum but anyway ) his expression looking at the angelic Sauron kind of sends shivers down my spine. Because he looks actually intrigued or awed or kind of enchanted by the main villain. (Nice nod to the Eregion Elves and Númenóreans being enchanted by Sauron.) This is actually the kind of "subtlety" I always wanted from Peter Jackson.
Mayhaps (pun intended ). But I am not sure how much "subtlety" there is in having the main villain walking about merrily on two legs, in the size of a house, whichever form he might currently have. Anyway, as I have outlined above, it might be nice, but it is too late for subtlety. Had he done this in the first movie, fine. But PJ's Sauron is already a Dark Lord in a Dark Tower (resp. a fiery eye on top of a mostly orange tower) and remembering two minutes before the end (okay, okay, 45 minutes before the end, but two minutes before Mordor crumbles down) that Sauron might actually have that more subtle, tricky side to him is not going to change the movie - rather, it will confuse the hordes of casual viewers who will be like "what, how did Sauron recruit an Archangel at Inferno?"
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:08 AM   #9
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I know the way he had Elendil go out was so dumb. I mean, the Númenóreans were like the strongest force in Middle Earth and he basically had Sauron b-slap Elendil to death. I suppose he wanted to represent Elendil in Aragorn with that one on one fight because the way Elendil went out was weak.
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Old 08-31-2013, 03:34 AM   #10
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This thread has been hillarious, and that clip was rather sickening, ignoring its non canon appearance, cliched screwriting 101 feeling, and god awful further cheapening of Frodo, I've got to say...I know it was left unfinished but that 14 fot Sauron suit looked ridiculous-and how did Sauron as a floating eyeball put it back together?

It's little wonder Phillpa Boyens hasn't read The Silmarillion in 25 years, obviously the material is too complicted for them to understand.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:17 AM   #11
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I agree with this 100%. can you imagine the nonsense that would come of it.
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:54 AM   #12
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I totally agree that shooting one-to-one fight would have been in sharp contrast with what Tolkien had written about the demise of poor Sauron. On the other hand I don't see this particular amendment a grave matter. Aragorn and Gandalf (with essential aid on behalf of Pippin) had done everything to make Sauron believe that Aragorn bore The Ring. Thus, it had not contradict everything else in the plot if Sauron, desperate to have his Ring back, would have gone to Morannon Gates and duelled Aragorn.

What I tend to agree is that Sauron's character was left without any proper development, and an attempt to replace it with some rapid change of images during the last minutes of his screen presence is a very poor substitute. Moreover, transforming him into virtually the Eye left PJ without an opportunity to show him, for instance, present at Gollum's torture as it happens in the book. Apart from PJ's tendency to opt on occasion for more eye-catching (sorry for the pun) but superficial solutions, I have to admit that Tolkien's manner to show Sauron indirectly makes an awful lot of difficulties for any director. One would have to re-create this paranoid feel about Hitler's bunker/Stalin's ever lit window out there, where something had been always going on, that no-one could see but it would define everyone's life no-one could hide; and an almost 'physical' presence of fear and admiration. Honestly, I believe, PJ managed to catch this feel here and there in the movie but it is rather in the horror of Nazgul, or in Gandalf's concerns, or in Galadriel's sorrow than simply in the image of the Eye on the top of the Tower.
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:16 PM   #13
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I know the way he had Elendil go out was so dumb. I mean, the Númenóreans were like the strongest force in Middle Earth and he basically had Sauron b-slap Elendil to death. I suppose he wanted to represent Elendil in Aragorn with that one on one fight because the way Elendil went out was weak.
Agreed. I thought Jackson botched the flashback scene. I always read the text as the two great champions of Men and Elves (Elendil & Gil Galad) facing off against Sauron, and killing him. They were mortally wounded in the process. Isildur (who was with Elrond as a sort of corner man) then picks up his father's broken sword and slices off the ring as his father's "wereguild".
Felt like the movie made Isildur out to be a lucky, and he immediately came off as sullen and evil right away.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:33 AM   #14
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And Gilgalad who actually wrestled Sauron in one account doesn't get a look in..poor guy's credit was longer than his appearance.
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Old 09-09-2013, 04:41 AM   #15
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I guess Gil-galad is seen as a shadowy figure, but that was his moment.
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:58 AM   #16
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Then again if we'd seen Peter Jackson's interpretation of Gil-Galad's canonical death by the "heat of Sauron's hand" presumably he would have exploded into a twenty-foot pillar of fire and run screaming off a cliff-top flailing his arms, thus foreshadowing Denethor's championship-title earning Marathon Man whilst-on-fire run in the third film.

Perhaps then Elrond could have ridden to the summit of Minas Tirith all the way from Rivendell (having just returned there after delivering Andúril) to deliver an arch comment about how back in his day Elves died in flames better than Men.
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