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Old 11-22-2005, 10:06 PM   #1
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LotR1-FotR-Seq06

Rain cannot dampen all flames.

The hand of Saruman almost caresses the palantir with claw-like hands as he pledges fealty to his Lord Sauron. The toady in white awaits the orders from the Eye. And Sauron commands him to build an army "worthy of Mordor." Not sure what the loquacious Eye said there at first - can an Eye clear its throat? Saruman meditates on the deed, then with the help of his new henchmen - smaller orcs with a penchant for piercings - he begins the reshaping of Isengard.

What is strange is the question from the 'Orc with nose-bridge rings.' It doesn't ask, "What are your orders, m'lord?" but "What orders from Mordor, my lord? What does the Eye command?" Was the orc eavesdropping on Saruman's conversation? Were the orcs sent by Sauron to assist Saruman? I guess it could be possible that after Saruman got off of the phone that he sat around for a few weeks just thinking over the task.

"Should I use a white hand logo or something with more flair? Should a platoon consist of 20 or 24 soldiers? And would a Mordor-worthy army include a brass band?"

Decisions, decisions.

Anyway, so as Saruman sits there thinking the orcs travel from Mordor to Nan Curunír. The orc leader is told to consult Saruman regarding new orders once they arrive. And what does the second orc statement say in regards to all present in the room? I interpret it as all are beneath the pharaonic Sauron; none of his servants or slaves is of any consideration.

Smart thinking there, Saruman. You should have been asking Gandalf for help with your codependency.

So the orcs start their revamping of the grounds. They don't hack the trees down, but pull them over with chains in a very coordinated operation. I won't even go into all of the fun that these little orcs would be having doing that.

Ahh...yes I will. I've pulled out old tree stumps, and they're not that easy. Now, I'm no dendrologist, and really haven't a clue what type of tree that is that the orcs are working on, but it looks to have a root system more like a pine (more surface roots) than a maple (deeper roots). But this is quibbling. Peter Jackson makes sure to note that these are not real trees, and that they used one or two fake ones to shoot the whole scene. He also states that one of Tolkien's themes is that "industry destroys nature" and that Tolkien would have been appalled if real trees had been used.

Like all of the energy (jet fuel, petrol, electricity), textiles (props made of plastics), hardware (computers, cameras), humans (tramplings, waste products), horses (see humans) had no effect on the environment. But at least two trees weren't added to the list.

But back to the theme. Was it Aulë who said that the Children would need wood to burn? And burning trees is bad, yet burning nicotine-laced leaves is good? My point is that I don't think that Tolkien thought that all industry was all bad, but that care was needed so that it didn't devolve into orc work.

All of deforestation noise awakes Gandalf, who was sleeping off his vertigo. But at least he's in time for a shower. Is that a pentagram etched into the floor of Orthanc's roof? And in regards to the tower itself, wasn't Orthanc constructed to allow wise men to gaze at stars? Pretty silly design, then, as there are four points by which one's viewing is occluded.

And just how did Gandalf get up there? Is there cunning stonework involved where a trap door opens in the floor? Or do we have steps encircling the outside that just happen to be out of view?

And what foresight by Saruman! As he left Aman, surely he requested that his staff be shaped to look like...say...some tower in the center of the Angrenost. "Nah, I don't have any plans to set myself as a Power..." he said to Cirdan as he stepped ashore.

Middle Earth is just a magical place. Somewhat like Camelot, here the rain falls only on the protagonists. And Saruman wearing one of those plastic hair nets might look out of place - unless he were short, then it would be a great gag - and so it was lucky that the rain never hits the ground folk.

As the hacking begins, Gandalf finds what comfort he can out of the wind, sitting with his back to one of the spires. Truly a moment where Gandalf appears to despair, though those of us who know him well know that he's not 'done for' or 'done in' yet. Maybe what keeps him going is thinking that Frodo has found safety in Bree, and may even have found some help unlooked for there. Surely if the Ring had fallen into enemy hands, there'd be some sign by now. Could Frodo even be on his way to Rivendell?
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Old 11-23-2005, 12:36 AM   #2
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A very short sequence yet it helps to tie the story lines together rather well. First we learn that Saruman is a traitor, flash back to the hobbits and meet Strider, now we learn a bit more of Saruman's treason and we see the Palantir in action.

One thing that impressed me is Saruman's expression after receiving the order to build an army. In the books we learn that Gandalf still had hope that Saruman might turn to good though there was never much hope. Here I think we see a bit of inner-strife with Saruman. He knows that if he begins this army there is no turning back, he will spoil the earth and create an orc army. I get the feeling that there is some nagging doubt in the back of his mind, a thought of good that he must overcome. The evil side wins and he reminds of of Emperor Palpatine in his tone and expression when he says "rip them all down" Palpatine says something like "kill them all". We now know that Saruman has been truly taken into service of Mordor and he is not coming back, he has fully been overcome by the evil influence of Sauron.

Again, we see that Saruman is merely Sauron's puppet but that is consistent with the earlier portrayal of him and his character. It is good to see the the spoling of Isengard did not occur prior to Gandalf's arrival, this shows good thought on PJ's part in keeping this part of the story line consistent.

Quick but a good sequence to move the story along.
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Old 11-23-2005, 11:49 AM   #3
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This sequence generally works, but one problem with PJ's version
is seen here (time sequence). Even forgetting the bizarre
uruk-hai "births", it takes some time to create and meld an
army. To do it virtually instantaneously as in the movie
stretches credulity and "suspension of disbelief." And
wouldn't female orcsees make quite nassty amazonian warriors? Perhaps riding wargs? Not the pumped up movie wargs but the book types, which I see as more wolves on steroids then the PJ's giants.

One movie bit that was quite well done was Saruman's brief
pondering of his chat with the eyeball before he acted. It is
just about the only (granted implied) movie Saruman doubt.
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Old 11-23-2005, 01:11 PM   #4
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Interesting that Saruman's moment of quiet pondering is seen as "a moment of doubt," as I didn't see it that way. I saw a wizard plumbing the depths of his knowledge and craft to create the vile Uruks. In the books it's more 'crossbreeding and selection;' here I'm not sure how Saruman begets the Uruks (Plants Uruk seeds in mud?). What does he use as his source material, as I would assume that not even movie-Saruman can create, but only pervert.
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Old 11-23-2005, 05:48 PM   #5
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Boots

Cloning?
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Old 11-23-2005, 08:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
Cloning?
As this comment is in regards to a PJ production, I assume that you left out the 'w.'
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Old 11-24-2005, 12:19 AM   #7
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Indeed, a short sequence. But I do like the way Christopher Lee has his hand spraed out over the Palantir. It really has this evil look to it.
I actually didn't catch the "Build me an army..." line either. It took me another two times before I understood what this big eyeball said. (Did anybody see the eyeball with a mouth, cause I didn't)
Although pulling the trees down might not have been realistic I still liked the dramatic affect. It did make me feel sad because I always do when I see old trees pulled down for development of roads or houses.
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Old 11-24-2005, 07:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
In the books it's more 'crossbreeding and selection;' here I'm not sure how Saruman begets the Uruks (Plants Uruk seeds in mud?). What does he use as his source material, as I would assume that not even movie-Saruman can create, but only pervert.
It's the same in the movies - here 's what movie gandalf says to Elrond
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By foul craft Saruman has crossed Orcs with Goblin-men. He's breeding an army in the caverns of Isengard.
And why do we get het up on the mechanics of how something happened 'magically' when the most 'magic' thing that happens is a Ring that makes its wearer INVISIBLE. I can't remember anyone ever mentioning the impossibility of that? (mainly because it's Tolkien's idea!) - Jackson has to put across cinematically what Tolkien can mention. I think he does a very good job at it.
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Old 11-24-2005, 09:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Essex
It's the same in the movies... And why do we get het up on the mechanics of how something happened 'magically' when the most 'magic' thing that happens is a Ring that makes its wearer INVISIBLE. I can't remember anyone ever mentioning the impossibility of that? (mainly because it's Tolkien's idea!) - Jackson has to put across cinematically what Tolkien can mention. I think he does a very good job at it.
Note that I'm not up nights pondering PJ's mudspawn - I'm up due to my own spawn...

But the question remains: why did PJ choose to show the Uruks as being born from some mud pit, whereas in the books it's much different. Weren't the pillars and chains that surrounded Orthanc used to 'train' and/or select orcs for resistance to sunlight? If not, then they are unusual lawn ornaments. But maybe I misread that.

And I completely understand why PJ sidesteps the other issue regarding where we get orc/human hybrids, as that's a topic not fit for a PG-13 movie, and maybe not even here.
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Old 11-24-2005, 10:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
But the question remains: why did PJ choose to show the Uruks as being born from some mud pit, whereas in the books it's much different.
I think it's the case that Tolkien does not show HOW they are 'born'. So it is not 'different' - just showing something that Tolkien glosses over?

or does he mention somewhere that I've forgotten?

All I can find is: (from The Silmarillion, Of the Coming of the Elves)
Quote:
Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressea, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mokery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes
and Treebeard
Quote:
"For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun; but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!"
and Hamling
Quote:
'But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun'
now where Tolkien show how they are 'created' - he mentions words like Multiply and Spawn in the Fellowship - but (to me at least) he does not state how they are born, other than they came from Elves as my first quote above.
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Old 11-24-2005, 11:53 AM   #11
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I don't really see that it's greatly important to know how the Uruk-hai were created because the idea is that they are bigger, stronger, superior to normal orcs and the first scene we get of one where it strangles the orc that got it out of it's mud-sack thing shows that well. Also, with no real explanation in the book (that i can recall) PJ had nothing to go off.

Also, it can be better not to see it sometimes. That which you don't see can often be scarier than that which you do.

As to Gandalf's magical appearance on the top of Orthanc, if Saruman is able to make him fly up vertically there isn't too much of a mystery as to how he got there!

The palantir though, I love the palantir. It looks exactly right and those clawed fingers of Saruman's curling around it - just looks wonderfully evil. The words though, I always had a weird sort of thought that Sauron spoke to a person looking into the palantir via some kind of telepathic connection.

Anyway, mostly I just liked the sequence. The destruction of the beautiful landscape of Isengard really was awful (in a good way) and made you see the horror industrialising can bring.
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Old 11-24-2005, 01:14 PM   #12
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The Uruk-hai discussion is interesting but really we are skipping ahead a bit. As we actually don't see the Uruks during this sequence.
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Old 11-24-2005, 01:35 PM   #13
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What bothered me from the very first viewing was the contradiction between the orc's statement that the trees are strong, their roots go deep - and we see trees being pulled out of the earth, with very shallow roots! That did take me out of the story.
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Old 11-24-2005, 09:03 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Kath
As to Gandalf's magical appearance on the top of Orthanc, if Saruman is able to make him fly up vertically there isn't too much of a mystery as to how he got there!
Not exactly sure what you mean. Do you mean that Saruman flew Gandalf up the center of the tower and out a window, then to the 'pinnacle,' or do you mean that Gandalf was magically teleported through the rock to the top? Either way, we have a Saruman at least able to move man-sized objects some distance without touching them. Was this only due to his possession of Gandalf's staff? Note that this ability would be helpful if he were attacked by, say, large tree-like things...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
What bothered me from the very first viewing was the contradiction between the orc's statement that the trees are strong, their roots go deep - and we see trees being pulled out of the earth, with very shallow roots!
Ahh! There it is; that's why it bothered me though I didn't see it until your post. Thanks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Essex
I think it's the case that Tolkien does not show HOW they are 'born'. So it is not 'different' - just showing something that Tolkien glosses over?
Essex, I'm with you on all of that. Just asking why PJ chose the mode that he did. What message/idea was he trying to convey? I could see him showing Saruman 'working in the lab' and then showing some orcs outside, chained in the sunlight. I think that it's called a montage, but maybe that would take too much time. Any thoughts?
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Old 11-25-2005, 04:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
What bothered me from the very first viewing was the contradiction between the orc's statement that the trees are strong, their roots go deep - and we see trees being pulled out of the earth, with very shallow roots! That did take me out of the story.
that's because no orc (or any one else) actually says this in the book! it's another case of the scriptwriters making rods for their own backs when they add additional dialogue. the only time anything like this is mentioned is by gandalf in his poem in the letter read at the prancing pony. - "Deep roots are not reached by the frost."
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Old 11-26-2005, 05:49 PM   #16
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I think it's the case that Tolkien does not show HOW they are 'born'. So it is not 'different' - just showing something that Tolkien glosses over?
Actually I think Tolkien makes it pretty clear that Orcs were bred like every other race...
Quote:
For the Orcs had life and multplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar...~The Silmarillion-The Coming of the Elves.
In a letter to Mrs. Munby Tolkien states:
Quote:
There must have been orc-women. But in stories that seldom see the Orcs except as soldiers of armies in the service of evil lords we naturally would not learn much about their lives. Not much was known.~dated 21 March 1963
So, I think it's pretty clear that Tolkien wanted orcs to reproduce like Elves and Men. Though, I have no strong objection to showing Orcs coming out of mudpits. Just saying it's not how Tolkien envisioned orcs as multiplying.
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:10 PM   #17
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Although the orc breeding isn't untill later I can't help but comment on it. That was actually the part that I liked the least of the whole FOTR movie. It just disturbed me. I thought it was completely uneccessary and the time they spent on that scene could have been put to better use later. (E.G showing more of Lothlorien)
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Old 12-10-2005, 04:07 PM   #18
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Real life has been kicking my butt for the past few weeks. I'll just post a few quick thoughts to try to get caught up.

I've never delved deeply into it, but I'm pretty sure that the subject of orcish origins and reproductive mechanisms is not all that clear-cut. It's up there with Elvish ears and Bombadil and such -- though I don't think spawning from mudpits was ever a variation Tolkien contemplated. There's at least one old thread I recall, Orcish Fëar, which gets into the more arcane depths of the controversy. For a more primary source, see the "Myths Transformed" section of HoME X - Morgoth's Ring.

One thing that strikes me right off about this sequence is the Dutch angle at 1:08:55, when Saruman is "communing" with the palantir -- the odd angle is more typical of horror films or stylized Hitchcock thrillers. This is just down the road from the push-in/zoom-out shot (another Hitchcockian technique) on the road at 53:24. These sorts of shots hark back once again to PJ's horror roots, and signal again a more dreamlike, stylized approach rather than a more realistic, "historical" approach. I mention this because I recall from very early publicity -- like around the time the deal for the movies was first announced -- that Jackson often mentioned Braveheart as a point of inspiration for tone and style, specifically citing its "historical authority" and contrasting it with more fantastic movies like Willow and The Dark Crystal. For my money, Jackson could have tilted more towards a historical tone than he ultimately did, but I realize that's a matter of taste.
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Old 12-10-2005, 05:26 PM   #19
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Mister Underhill wrote:
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I've never delved deeply into it, but I'm pretty sure that the subject of orcish origins and reproductive mechanisms is not all that clear-cut.
It's true that the matter of Orcish origins is an ambiguous one. The possible sources mentioned by Tolkien are, I believe, Maiar, Elves, Men, beasts, and various combinations thereof. But I think that he was consistent in holding that Orcish reproduction is just like human reproduction. After all, Maiar, Elves, Men, and beasts all reproduce the same way.

You bring up the interesting topic of Jackson's camera angles and movement. I agree that they are often rather stylized. I seem to recall that the Vertigo track/zoom is used more than once across the three movies - perhaps in RotK as they pass Minas Morgul? In any case, this is certainly something that distinguishes him from the more documentarian style of such people as Lucas and, perhaps, Spielberg. And now that I think about it, it may be one of the reasons I find the "tone" of the films to be wrong in many places.
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Old 11-19-2006, 01:55 AM   #20
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The scenes showing the creation of Saruman's army worked well for me. It was interesting to see the orcs at their work, burning, smelting and forging. However, it is a little gratuitous and unnecessary. All we need to know is that Saruman has an army, and also that he is mean to trees. Do we really need to see how said army is birthed and outfitted?

I too liked Saruman's fingers over the Palantír. It reminded me of Gandalf's line about Saruman's hands being like an extension of the claw of Mordor, cruel and cold.

I didn't like the portrayal of Saruman merely as a vassal of Sauron. I found book Saruman to be far more interesting, with his own desire for power and his independence from Mordor.
Quote:
I get the feeling that there is some nagging doubt in the back of his mind, a thought of good that he must overcome.
That's interesting; I never thought of interpreting his brooding as such. I thought that he was simply thinking about metal and wheels in his unscrupulous mind. I shall watch a little more closely next time, and see if I can feel the inner conflict.

All in all, a fairly short and innocuous sequence. Not much else to say from this corner.
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