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Old 11-29-2005, 08:44 PM   #1
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LotR1-FotR-Seq07

Due to my error when creating the sequence list, this week's sequence is a special two-part thread.

Part I

Tobacco, Townsend, Tomatoes…oh my!

Here we get to see Weathertop, and for those of us who read the books before going to the movie, we know that something's about to happen.

That and the movie trailer tipped me off. Anyway...

Aragorn looks none too pleased. Maybe it's a bad omen, maybe it's from traveling with four hobbits and a pony. But we get a little bit of history regarding the watchtower of Amon Sűl. PJ and crew note that the name Weathertop is not used, but I think that it was on the map, and so some astute watchers would make the connection. As the hobbits rest their weary feet, Strider looks outward, and I guess that he's considering what to do next, where to go, where the enemy may be lying in wait or maybe just taking a poll of the weather. Next he shows up with long knives for the hobbits to use. Interesting that he gives them the knives here. One may assume that this is where he had previous stashed them, and so could only give them to the hobbits after reaching Weathertop.

Or did PJ want Strider to give the hobbits the knives now for a different reason? Was it to give the scene a different air? Remember, when we saw the hobbits last, Aragorn had gone off to hunt deer while leaving the hobbits to their own devices. They didn’t need the mini swords then, and so why now? Rangers are farsighted indeed.

Funny they didn't (1) need knives then or (2) light a cooking fire. But both things can be explained as there were no knives to give and without the deer, there was nothing to eat.

The director’s commentary goes off on some tomato and tobacco tangent, noting that neither was indigenous to the Old World. But PJ steps in and states that it’s ludicrous to get bunged up about New World fruits and plants with Balrogs, Wizards and Hobbits running about. And for once I would agree.

Frodo's nap is rudely awakened by the hobbits' excitement over their victuals. Here we 'hear' again that same tone Elijah Wood masters when he's portraying Frodo as madly panicked. It's not, "Guys, what are you doing?" it's "what are you DOING!" with that hint of nasally whine. There's just something about that tone, heard through much of the later part of FotR, that just doesn't work for me. Ahh!

We hear even more whining as Frodo stomps out the cooking fire. I guess that he just didn't like hot-cooked meals, as the level of his voice surely isn't helping keeping their whereabouts concealed from the enemy. What a Pippin!

From a distance we see the cooking fire on the hill...and then the scream! The hobbits hear it too, and as they look down they see the Nazgűl approach. Yes, I know that every minute counts, but a little more build up of the approach of the Black Riders would have gone a long way. Like in the book, you're not sure if they're seeing shadows or something far worse. Here it's a little eerie with the Nazgűl skulking through the mist, but wouldn't it have been better if the hobbits were staring out into the dark, looking for something to move, and sudden what we (they and us in our seats) thought was a shadow moves towards them?

Frodo tells the crew to run, and they draw their knives as they do. At least if the knives were acquired in the Barrows there might be a chance of us thinking that maybe one of these four had held a sword before, but alas we know that they have no chance.

And where has that Strider gone off? Maybe he'll appear with Gandalf...riding Brego...and Glorfindel and Bombadil will be there too.

Or maybe he'll just show up as we expect him to do. No chance mistaking him for a wraith.

The hobbits rush to the top of the hill and await the enemy's approach. Now, knowing that the enemy is upon them and that they are in dire straits, wouldn't it behoove the four to start shouting out for assistance? You never know if there'll be any Rangers passing by in the dark, and at this time hiding is no longer an option. An aside - nice ruins on the top of Amon Sűl, like the broken crown on a dead king’s head.

But before help of any kind arrives something else gets there first. The first Nazgűl pops out of the darkness, and so my pleading for more fading from black was heard. Frodo sees them first, and starts to back away. A long camera shot shows that five have arrived and all are armed and dangerous - the five fingers of Sauron's outstretched hand, perhaps? The Nazgűl slowly attack in synchronous fashion, and one wonders what they would do given a pool of water, bathing suits and music.

Sam shows his mettle yet again, like in Bree, and attacks them. The hooded things parry his sword swinging and cast him aside. Merry and Pippin close ranks to protect cousin Frodo, but they too are easily thrust aside.

Weren't these the same Riders that played polo with a night watchman's head? Must have been the long climb up the hill that cured their need for gratuitous bloodshed.

Frodo drops his sword and falls/trips backward. Some hero. Oh Elbereth, where are your stars now? He responds assumedly to the chanting and will of the Ringwraiths and begins to put on the Ring. You can see the King cock his head as Frodo unveils the Ring like suddenly he sees something bright that catches his empty eyes. The King draws his Morgul blade and walks menacingly toward Frodo, who scampers backwards. As the Wraith pulls back to stab Frodo, Frodo is overcome by the desire to put on the Ring and places it on his finger.

Suddenly we're in the wraith world and we get to see what these dark beings look like, which is almost like wispy angel ghosts. All have crowns and swords, and I looked for the one-eyed Wraith but I guess that his eye got better upon wraithdom . The Lord of the Nazgűl exerts more force to have Frodo do...I don't know, as Frodo already has the Ring on, and the King can see him, and he can easily stab him with the knife…and so I can only guess that he wants Frodo’s pipe.

The King stretches out a hand, similar to that of Saruman, and hovers it over the Ring. But Frodo draws back, and this just irks the King to no end and so he stabs Frodo. Now it looks to me that the stab to the shoulder was deliberate, and so I can only assume that the knife attack was not meant to kill Frodo initially. As the Wraith doesn't withdraw the blade for some time, I also assume that the knife stab was simply to fix the hobbit in one place while the Ring could be recovered or so that the Witch-king of Angmar could go through Frodo’ pockets. It was a common practice in those days to ask or attempt to find out what hobbits gots in their pocketses…

These Nazgűl must have some other plan, as the King could have easily stabbed Frodo multiple times in the heart. Again no resistance from the Ringbearer, no slashes to the cloak, no Elbereth, etc. Just a prone doe-eyed whiner. The King continues to hover over the wounded hobbit, then his attention is suddenly elsewhere as we hear another scream, but this is not one of pain. He removes the Morgul steel from Frodo and turns to meet the attack.

Isn't it interesting that Frodo can clearly see Aragorn fighting the Wraiths before he removes the Ring? Must be some proximity effect of all of those Rings or white ghosty beings in one place.

Aragorn begins chasing away the Nazgűl while Sam recovers his senses (“Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee.”) and rushes to his master's aid. The pace really quickens as we get a shot or two of Sam consoling while Aragorn plays five-on-one. One Nazgűl becomes a walking torch, and the others flee as I assume as they're just too tired to parry any more of Aragorn's blows.

It was noted that this was Viggo’s first day on the set, and at this time he had very little sword training. Heard that he replaced some other actor on short notice…hmm...good decision that.

So the wraiths are in retreat, except for that tricky one who thinks that he can get the jump on our Ranger. Doesn’t he know that you cannot surprise a Ranger…well, unless you are a she-elf, that is. Not sure what the last Wraith was going to do as Aragorn sticks a torch in him - well thrown into the head, that - and drives him away. The Witch-King had Frodo pinned to the ground, the other four were idle, and so what did the lingering dwimmerlaik intend?

The dissolution of the Morgul blade was a nice touch, but sunlight and not Aragorn's touch would have been a better cause. Strider does drop it as if it were hot. He lifts and carries the stricken Frodo, and all five are off to the nearest elven hospital. Not really sure why the wound could not be healed by Aragorn, and don't think that that was adequately explained. But we're off running through the dark woods. Those Nazgűl must be really tired, as they offer no pursuit. Should have ridden horses to the summit of Weathertop.

Sam states that they are six days from Rivendell, and so Weathertop is a bit closer to Rivendell than in the books, the party can travels a lot faster than we think, or we have had some time between the stabbing and the running scenes. Why six days and not five or eleven? Frodo, having a really bad day, cries out for the one who he thinks can save him.

Gandalf. Where is he?

Part II

…Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19

Isengard has changed a bit since we last saw the place. Talk about renovations! Choose an amount of time - a week, a month, even a year - and just think how quickly those caverns and tunnels were made. When I think about it I get time-vertigo, but whatever as the timeline is already out of sync. Saruman obviously has made the place over into a mini-Mordor, and having seen Isengard as it was helped as now we see what listening to the lies of Mordor has wrought. And the number of regular orcs has really increased, and again I assume that these were sent from Mordor to help.

There's just not that much mud in Isengard...

The camera flies over the landscape (a really detailed miniature) of metal and spikey wheels, and then we catch the flight of a grey moth, the least of things, but possibly more important that we know. It flies and flutters up to a mostly dead Gandalf, who looks to be exactly where we had left him in the last sequence, seated against the tower spire.

But Gandalf is more wary than one might expect. He catches the moth and whispers some words to it, then sets it free on some errand. I think that on the official Ian McKellen site there was a question regarding what he whispers to the moth. Think that it wasn’t anything scripted or…well, important. Anyway, for all of Saruman's planning, plotting and power, it seems that he just might be outdone by a simple moth.

If only he had installed a bug zapper.

As the moth leaves on its journey we plunge off the side of Orthanc down down down and get a glimpse of what's going on there in the basement. The orcs are working on the scimitars that will be used by the Uruks. It was noted that PJ wanted to show that these weapons were mass-produced and ugly. I would also note that they do not appear to be too sharp, and so may be intended to 'beat down' the enemy in a cruel and painful manner, which makes a lot of sense to me, movie-wise. The spike at the end of the blade can be used to pull an opponent closer. These ugly brutal weapons will fit well with their bearers. PJ states that as molten metal was difficult to fake, they filmed the scene in an actual forge and so those swords are really hot when pounded by the orcs. Some of the orcs actually worked there.

After a look over the armory, it's on to the mud womb.

The smaller orcs help resurrect/birth the larger Uruks, and dig them from their muddy homes as Saruman looks on. Gross! And this new breed comes out fighting and with really poor attitude and social skills. Happy Birthday Lurtz! We see the difference in these Maia creations when the first one strangles its nurse orc. Saruman's small smile shows his pleasure/satisfaction with these new children of a lesser god. I noted that Saruman holds back a group of the smaller orcs, and I'm not sure that he is protecting them or his creation.

Life's getting pretty interesting in ME. We have Strider carrying a wounded Frodo on to Rivendell, the birth of a new race/army of orcs and a moth on a mission. Just what will happen next?
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Old 11-30-2005, 11:31 AM   #2
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Let's get the Big One out ot the way first.

Yes, Frodo should of stabbed the Witch King in the foot and shouted
Quote:
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
And afterwards Aragorn would have come over and explained that
Quote:
'This was the stroke of Frodo's sword,' he said. 'The only hurt that it did to his enemy, I fear; for it is unharmed, but all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth
But we didn't see this in the movie!

Now count to 10 slowly. Calmer now? OK, I'll continue.

I put it to you that we could not have the scene set as above in the movie. Remember the high majority of people seeing this film at the Cinema would be non-LOTR readers - I'm sorry, PJ can't always pander to us. Just having Frodo shout out the Star Queen's name would not have worked for your average movie goer - They would have laughed at this, surely - So we have instead Aragorn fight off the Nazgul - as in the book anyway
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Even as he swooned he caught, as through a swirling mist, a glimpse of Strider leaping out of the darkness with a flaming brand of wood in either hand
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Old 12-01-2005, 12:48 AM   #3
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The greatest part of this sequence is the music score. It is truly brilliant and sets the tone rather well.

For myself I rather liked the W-K perking up a bit when Frodo took out the ring. I think it showed his (W-K) relationship to the ring. He had been calling for it and now it was within his 'sight' so to speak. I think it's logical for him to glance Frodo's way or to sense the ring.

Now it does seem that Isengard has undertaken a radical transformation but really, in my opinion, the only change is the topical landscape. In other words the land has been nearly stripped or all its vegitation thereby showing the pits that existed but were covered from the ariel view by the trees. With that thick of foilage it would be difficult to spot from the ground. Saruaman seemingly had many common orcs in his service and we see that in the last sequence and further in this.

One problem I do have is that the Ring Wraiths catch on fire, I think it's three of them. Now wouldn't they be more or less unclothed and have no physical form? Yet they are reclothed rather quickly to catch up with Frodo later on because it is all nine that we see at the fords later on.

While I like this sequence generally and I think it moves the story along nicely I would have proposed a different way of fighting off the wraiths, maybe what the book did. All it would require is 30 seconds from Aragorn explaining that they left because they think Frodo will soon succomb to the Morgul blade.
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Old 12-01-2005, 12:08 PM   #4
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Pipe

I thought the bit with Strider seeing Amon Sul, his comment,
and the accompanying music were one of the best bits
in the movies.

As for "The director’s commentary goes off on some tomato and tobacco tangent, noting that neither was indigenous to the Old World. But PJ steps in and states that it’s ludicrous to get bunged up about New World fruits and plants with Balrogs, Wizards and Hobbits running about. And for once I would agree."

It's always semed to me, given that this tale is set in a time
far, far away (although the same galaxy) you can explain away
tomatoes and tobacco by continental drift since the Third Age,
tobacco dying out in Europe/Asia/Africa after continents drift apart.

No doubt PJ thought it was adorable having a moth wander by, but
some sort of book rationale for (Gwaihir?) coming by would have been
more consistent (perhaps a picture of Agent Elrond asking him to
look for Gandalf).
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Old 12-01-2005, 01:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuor of Gondolin
No doubt PJ thought it was adorable having a moth wander by, but some sort of book rationale for (Gwaihir?) coming by would have been more consistent (perhaps a picture of Agent Elrond asking him to look for Gandalf).
My assumption is that if the Eagle were to show up initially, then Gandalf would have hopped a flight out of Isengard before we got to learn more about Saruman and the machinations of Orthanc. A bird may have been a better choice, but as we have the evil crebain showing up later, that might have been a bit too confusing (good and evil birds?).

Remember that PJ endeavors to keep the story moving (pace) and simple.
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Old 12-02-2005, 04:01 PM   #6
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This is probably one of the scenes I picture Tolkien not liking. In his rant against Zimmerman, Tolkien seems to criticize the same things that Jackson ends up doing:
Quote:
11. Aragorn did not ’sing the song of Gil-galad’. Naturally: it was quite inappropriate, since it told of the defeat of the Elven-king by the Enemy. The Black Riders do not scream, but keep a more terrifying silence. Aragorn does not blanch. The riders draw slowly in on foot in darkness, and do not ’spur’. There is no fight. Sam does not ’sink his blade into the Ringwraith?s thigh’, nor does his thrust save Frodo’s life. (If he had, the result would have been much the same as in III 117-20:4 the Wraith would have fallen down and the sword would have been destroyed.)

Why has my account been entirely rewritten here, with disregard for the rest of the tale? I can see that there are certain difficulties in representing a dark scene; but they are not insuperable. A scene of gloom lit by a small red fire, with the Wraiths slowly approaching as darker shadows until the moment when Frodo puts on the Ring, and the King steps forward revealed would seem to me far more impressive than yet one more scene of screams and rather meaningless slashings.....

I have spent some time on this passage, as an example of what I find too frequent to give me ’pleasure or satisfaction’: deliberate alteration of the story, in fact and significance, without any practical or artistic object (that I can see); and of the flattening effect that assimilation of one incident to another must have.(Letter 210)
Now grant it this is Tolkien going off on Zimmerman, however I can see a lot of similarities between Tolkien's rant against Zimmerman, and what Jackson did. Because, he did turn it into a scene of "scream and slashings." Where to Tolkien that's not the significance of the scene, the significance is the quiet, suspense, and terror of Nazgul closing around. Where Jackson turns this Weathertop scene into a fight to appease to pleasure and satisfaction.

I bolded the last paragraph specifically, because Tolkien says he can see and atleast accept artistic license, but he hates seeing his story changed for the purposes of "pleasure." With this scene, I'd say Tolkien would not have liked seeing if he watched the movies.

For me, I'm kind of mixed. Because, I think there's just way too much fighting throughout the movies. At many points I felt like characters and meaning was sacrificed with large-scale fight scenes. As an old-timer (and yes I know people will disagree) I'm not too big onto fight scenes and special effects, I like the old movies. So, for me, I'm not too happy seeing Weathertop turn up into "screams and slash."

However, the problem still remains as to how to solve this scene, and get the Nazgul to go away without all the slashing? Because, I do agree with Essex in shouting "Elbereth Gilthoniel" and having the Nazgul run away, not only would most be confused, but I think a lot of people would view it as humorous...and think...Nazgul are afraid of words?
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Old 12-02-2005, 04:28 PM   #7
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The only thing that realy bothered me with weathertop was that Strider just left the hobbits for no apparent reason. He's like,"Here are your swords,bye." He doesn't even tell them to keep a fire going since ringwraiths are afraid of it. I think this is a crucial point, so why didn't Strider inform the Hobbits about it?
Even if the ringwraiths didn't make any noise in the book their screams in the movie worked for me. Especially inROTK I found them to be very creepy.
Also as I mentioned in the other thread, I don't like the orc-breeding.
One thing that I dol ike of the Isengard sequence is the moth, especially because the music that accompanies it is gorgeous. I also like the industrialization part because it illustrates one of Tolkien's major concerns and at least PJ and crew drew attention to that aspect.
More later,if I have time.
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Old 12-05-2005, 03:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Lathriel
The only thing that realy bothered me with weathertop was that Strider just left the hobbits for no apparent reason. He's like,"Here are your swords,bye."
Yep. Change the story and that's what you get! 'I'm going for a look around' - doesn;t sound very Tolkien does it? That's what you get when you mess with the plot. Where on earth did he get 4 hobbit sized swords from? not in movie Bree, as there were no other hobbits there. How did he know there were 4 hobbits travelling? He didn't - if Gandalf had somehow got news to him then he would have had two swords for frodo and sam.

I'm moaning about this as they really got their swords from the barrow wights via good old Tom Bombadil - Bring back Tom! that's what I say. When my mini series get's made, he's gonna be one of the biggest stars!
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Old 12-05-2005, 05:27 PM   #9
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I don't neccessarily think Tom had to be in the movie although it would have been nice if he had. I would simply like to have had a better explanation from Aragorn. For example he could have told the hobbits that The Ringwraiths are afraid of fire and don't make too much noise. That is another little peeve of mine, the hobbits make enough noise to attract attention from any creature who happens to be 5 minutes away from weathertop..
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Old 12-05-2005, 09:24 PM   #10
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Can't really justify placing Tom in the movie just to give the swords their lineage, but on the other hand the fact that Aragorn just happened to have four 'long knives' just laying around is a bit silly. And though some of us have gone round and round regarding Merry's W-K bane, the fact that Aragorn chases *five* of them away with a little more than a no name sword and a torch begs the question: so just how hard is it to defeat these wraiths?

One was put off by thrown luggage, another or the same wasn't able to make any headway after surprising four hobbits in darkened woods while on horseback, and the Lord of Angmar himself simply sticks Frodo to the ground instead of killing him (like Saruman taunted Gandalf with) and fails to recover the One Ring because some Ranger just happens to show up with a torch.

I would conclude that PJ lessened the mystery of these creatures and erased much of their backstory so that they could be dealt with by Aragorn, around whom much of this action movie centers.

Bring on the mini-series!
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Old 12-06-2005, 06:08 AM   #11
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i'm in an argumentative mood here!

'justfy' tom? OK, understand this point from a point of view of cutting down time in the movie, but if we're talking about cutting characters out - let's start with Galadriel.

what did she add to the movie? yes, she gave frodo the light, but he could have picked it up elsewhere (hey aragorn or elrond could have given him it) - what else did she 'add' - yes she shows that the temptation of the Ring nearly takes her but she passes the test - so adds more drama to the Ring - but so does Tom by his reaction to the ring - he is not controlled or tempted by it -

could go on for ages about this, but I've got a conference call to join so must dash!
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Old 12-06-2005, 10:15 AM   #12
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i'm in an argumentative mood here!

'justfy' tom? OK, understand this point from a point of view of cutting down time in the movie, but if we're talking about cutting characters out - let's start with Galadriel.

...but so does Tom by his reaction to the ring - he is not controlled or tempted by it
Before we begin cutting Galadriel, assume that we have time to include Tom or another Pippin joke, and have to decide between the two. I'm PJ (I'll even wear shorts for the exercise) and you're one of the writers. Convince me that within the flow of the story that we have, and using the PJisms noted in the SbS (i.e. elevating Aragorn, making Pippin silly, etc) that we could include the character of Tom Bombadil. You can even suppose that he would only appear in the extended edition.

My argument is that any appearance of Tom would only slow the pace and confuse the average viewer, and PJ endeavored to avoid doing both. Since first seeing the Ring, we've only observed *bad* connected to it. Sauron, its first bearer and maker, gets a finger-ectomy. Isildur goes for a face-down float, Déagol gets strangled (though we see that later), Sméagol gets an extreme makeover and Bilbo starts to get really odd and is not content in Paradise. Gandalf won't take the thing. Frodo is pressed by the wraiths to place it on, and when he finally does, he not only sees the Eye full screen but also has to endure its moronic rambling ("I'm a He-Eye, and I SEE YOU! "). And the next time Frodo places the Ring on his finger, he gets stabbed.

So if we had Tom, who is immune to the Ring, appear and caper about, I think that the audience would wonder (1) who Tom really was, (2) why he was immune (3) why the Ring was so important and (4) why Tom did not keep the Ring.

Anyway, maybe others have more pros and cons.
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Old 12-06-2005, 02:51 PM   #13
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So if we had Tom, who is immune to the Ring, appear and caper about, I think that the audience would wonder (1) who Tom really was, (2) why he was immune (3) why the Ring was so important and (4) why Tom did not keep the Ring.
Fair point. Except number 4 - he doesn't need it, and it does nothing for him, so why would he keep it?

PS haven't we ALL wondered from time to time about the first 2?

I suppose we have to except that the average movie goer is a stupid, "Just show me the Action, Jackson!" type person. Oh well. But I don't think they are myself - Yes they want action, but if there are conflicting views of how the Ring affects people (and we have a contradiction inasmuch as Sauron is not invisible when he wears it), and we want this movie to be Tolkien, then why not show this?

Now what about having Tom not show his powers against the Ring - but have him saving the hobbits from Old man Willow and the Barrow Wights? That would have been OK to me (and perhaps showing his power in the EE). We are still 'moving the characters along' - through the old forest and past the Wights - and just imagine the scene jackson could build in the Barrow itself - the sword across the hobbits' throats - Wow!

This way

1/ no 'pace' problem
2/ we're still getting the hobbits along the jorney
3/ we can then see Bree isn't just round the corner from the buckleberry ferry
4/ IT'S CLOSER TO THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 12-06-2005, 03:07 PM   #14
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I think the main problem with Tom is he's superfluous to the core story line. While I like the Tom sequence in the book I have met many people who get hung up there and never finish the book because of him. Why? Because really he's not needed for the integrity of the story and the confusion he would add would not outweigh the small faction of fans that would actually enjoy the sequence.

Galadriel, as one of the bearers of the three, is much more important to the story than Tom. The books even could be just fine without Tom in them. I feel that it would make the movie too choppy and scattered at that stage.

I disagree about pace problems but even more so I think that this would add at least 15 to 30 minutes to an already long movie.
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Old 12-06-2005, 11:19 PM   #15
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I would just like to add something in PJ's favour although it is not completely related to the thread. On sunday and monday TTT was on CBC and as I watched a few minutes I realized that this was one of the best movies I have seen all year. It was actually a relief to watch since there have been so many bad movies that were produced this year. No wonder nobody is going to the movies.

Back on topic, I would have liked to see Frodo stabbing the ringwraith's foot. But I do like th way weathertop is designed although I myself saw it simpler, just a circle of stones really. I never pictured any statues.
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Old 12-07-2005, 12:07 PM   #16
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The house of Tom, whether in the books or the movie, is a tar pit. For those of us interested in tar, it's not that bad, as you get to wonder just who this person is and how he fits into the story. But as mentioned, Tom has put off many a reader. My own brother is one who was lost in the Old Forest.

And assume that we have Tom in the movie. Do we check back in when the four return to the Shire? No, as Tom doesn't care. So why bother even having him in if he's a five minute dead end?

And you might have noticed that PJ did cut Galadriel, just not completely. The first venture through Lothlorien, as seen in the theatrical version, made my head spin as we entered and left Galadriel's abode in minutes.

I would like to have the hobbits encounter the wights, just to show that Frodo has some gumption and how they receive special swords, but as we have to introduce Tom to get them out, I would then just leave it out, as PJ did.
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Old 12-07-2005, 01:08 PM   #17
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Although I agree with much of what has been said about this sequence (though not the exclusion of Bomabadil whom I loathe heartily), the fight with the ringwraiths on Weather top is one of my favorite scenes simpley because of Viggo Mortensen's performance. As some of you may have observed from other posts, I am not an action film person and a lot of the fight sequences I found tedious. This one was electrifying - the look on his face when he is about to torch one is incredible. The scene indicates that Aragorn really is a person of power and was the moment when I really accepted that this actor who was too short and too fair to match the book's description "was Aragorn". It is a pity that a moment later he will be shown as someone who doesn't notice his girlfriend approaching with a drawn sword.


As for the Nazgul, I saw this film with my cousin who hasn't read the books but is a highly intelligent person, and the effect of fire and water on the Nazgul was something she felt wasn't really clear...
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Old 12-27-2005, 12:11 PM   #18
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Leaving the matter of Bombadil aside for the moment, there are a lot of things about this sequence that bother me. I don't like the deliberate, agonizingly slow, synchronized Nazgűl. Stop-drop-and-cringe Frodo, as has already been mentioned, bugs me mightily too. What do you suppose is the motivation for this change in Frodo's character? Off the top of my head I can't see any real narrative benefits. If I were stretching, maybe it makes Aragorn seem stronger by comparison, but that's really reaching.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Essex
Remember the high majority of people seeing this film at the Cinema would be non-LOTR readers - I'm sorry, PJ can't always pander to us. Just having Frodo shout out the Star Queen's name would not have worked for your average movie goer - They would have laughed at this, surely...
Well, we were all "first-timers" once. Did you laugh when Frodo cried out on Weathertop in the book? I think it could easily have been made to work – indeed might make better sense in a way: Frodo's invocation and his resistance helping to drive the Nazgűl away. When you think about it, which is more comical – the Ringwraiths being “turned” by a mystical invocation, or them being so easily torched by Strider? He should have armed the hobbits with Bic lighters instead of swords of Westernesse.

Besides, PJ wouldn’t be pandering to us (book fans); what’s pandering is making changes based on what you suppose some theoretical mass audience’s reaction will be to strange names instead of just telling the story.

On the subject of the swords -- yeah, rather clumsy job I'd say. I think they could have at least had a beat where Aragorn pulls the blades from a hidden Ranger stash at Weathertop. Didn't they find some firewood left there by Rangers in the books? Still not the greatest solution, but I think it beats him conveniently pulling four hobbit-sized swords from his pack at this point. If he had them, why not arm the hobbits earlier?

I wonder if PJ put the beat here for practical reasons: knowing that he was shooting more than he could possibly use for the Bree-Weathertop sequence, he might have hesitated to have a scene where Strider passes out swords earlier, knowing that it might be difficult to fit into a tightly edited version of the trip. Putting the scene here in its simplest possible form gets the hobbits armed in time for the fight and banishes worries about editing later. Although, come to think of it, since the swords are put to such ineffectual use, a case could be made for dropping them from the journey altogether and having the hobbits armed in Rivendell.

One other thing I really dislike is the shot of the last Nazgűl running away with a torch sticking straight out from his hood. No doubt this gag appealed to PJ’s sense of humor. The whole Nazgűl-set-aflame bit also begs the question from a logic standpoint – where did they get fresh robes from for the subsequent chase?

Now for the good stuff. Things I like:

The model of Isengard is really cool. I’m glad PJ decided to go miniature rather than CG for these shots (though of course there are CJ elements beefing the shots up). Miniatures have a reality, a “there-ness” which is still hard to duplicate with computers.

I love the way the music changes from the strident, clanging Uruk theme to the lone rising voice as the camera follows the moth up to Gandalf, then back again to the Uruk theme as we tip over the edge of Orthanc. I also like the moth device; this is the sort of visual shorthand that is perfect for a film adaptation.
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Old 12-27-2005, 06:28 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill
I think it could easily have been made to work – indeed might make better sense in a way: Frodo's invocation and his resistance helping to drive the Nazgűl away. When you think about it, which is more comical – the Ringwraiths being “turned” by a mystical invocation, or them being so easily torched by Strider?
Read the paragraph before Frodo faints in the book. Aragorn DOES chase the Nazgul away with his torches. What does this imply? That he attacked them with his torches!! Thus Jacskon is being faithful to the book. Yes, it would have been nice to have the Star Queen incantation, but it would have required more exposition (if that's the right word) after the event. As it's a 2.5 hour movie, and we're cutting 'to the chase' here we can't have this - unless you show the hobbits actually journeying another 14 days or so before they reached the Ford..................Now THAT wouldn't work straight after a scene we've just had - So PJ HAD to remove this line - I don't see how it could have fit in otherwise........ so therefore we have the next best, and that's Jackson staying partly faithful to the books and having Aragorn 'frighten' the nazgul off. Indeed, what creature isn't frightened of Fire? - I'd run if I had an annoyed figure brandishing a torch in my face!!!!!!
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Old 12-27-2005, 07:20 PM   #20
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Sure, Aragorn leapt into the fray with torches -- but read on:
Quote:
'Look!' he cried; and stooping he lifted from the ground a black cloak that had lain there hidden by the darkness. A foot above the lower hem there was a slash. 'This was the stroke of Frodo's sword,' he said. 'The only hurt that it did to his enemy, I fear; for it is unharmed, but all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth.'
There's not much exposition needed -- how much is in the book, really? A line of explanation from Strider, or a line about Elbereth tucked in somewhere earlier or later would easily suffice. And although Jackson here is as you say "partly" faithful to the books in terms of the events of the fight, he is not at all faithful to the character of Frodo. Which is more important?

Not sure what you mean by needing a fourteen day trip to the ford in order to have the line work.
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Old 12-28-2005, 05:30 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill
Sure, Aragorn leapt into the fray with torches -- but read on: There's not much exposition needed -- how much is in the book, really? A line of explanation from Strider, or a line about Elbereth tucked in somewhere earlier or later would easily suffice. And although Jackson here is as you say "partly" faithful to the books in terms of the events of the fight, he is not at all faithful to the character of Frodo. Which is more important?

Not sure what you mean by needing a fourteen day trip to the ford in order to have the line work.
with the exposition we would need a slow down of the film at this point. the way the film is running at this point, we have nearly reached the crescendo before the healing of Frodo at rivendell. to slow it down (ie have aragorn talking about the sword / nazgul cloak / elbereth's name etc) would have meant slowing the film down before arwen's chase scene.

the arwen/aragorn scene just worked anyway without slowing things to a halt - but at least this was not exposition - just the continuation of events - to have all the exposition about the sword / ring / wraiths etc would have jarred greatly cinematically wise and would not have worked - ie build the story up and up and then stop dead for some chat - it just would not have worked -

the only way TO make it work was to have all the exposition during the two weeks of travel before the Ford - now this would have meant seing Glorfindel 'in all his wrath' - but unfortunately we do not see this.

Quote:
And although Jackson here is as you say "partly" faithful to the books in terms of the events of the fight, he is not at all faithful to the character of Frodo. Which is more important?
To me, Frodo's character in the books is all about his SUFFERING. it's not about his leadership, not about him standing up at the Ford or at Weathertop, not about him weeping or moaning or crying as some people put it - it's about the PAIN he goes through, and this culminates with his journey into the West for healing. This is what Frodo is about to me - And I believe this is what we see in Jackson's versions of the films - his suffering - and how close he came to death on certain occasions - now this is were Jackson comes up trumps.

We can see how close to death he was after the attack by the Witch King - so when people say his character has been 'lessened' - then yes, he sometimes doesn't 'stand up for himself' when he should, but by golly we see his suffering AND FINALLY HIS VICTORY IN SPITE OF IT which is the KEY aspect of his character throughout the books to me.
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Old 12-28-2005, 11:10 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essex
To me, Frodo's character in the books is all about his SUFFERING.
Well, that's certainly an interesting take. Can Frodo's character and journey finally be summed up as endurance of suffering and pain?

This is an important topic because it goes to the heart of an adaptation and its success or failure. Frodo is the principal character of LotR; it would thus seem essential that the essence of his character and his journey be preserved in an adaptation.

I don't think it's only Frodo's suffering that makes him heroic. And I do think that his resistance to Evil, though ultimately not enough to overcome it, is an important step in his sanctification. Frodo comes to understand grace because he resists and then is pushed beyond his breaking point.

And anyway I guess I just hate to see Frodo so passive because that's not the Frodo I know. Frodo suffers mainly because of the choices he makes, not just because he happens to find himself in painful situations. Frodo, to me, is more about sacrifice than suffering per se.

Quote:
to slow it down (ie have aragorn talking about the sword / nazgul cloak / elbereth's name etc) would have meant slowing the film down before arwen's chase scene.
Still not sure why you're convinced we'd need an extended explanation here. Aragorn's dialogue in the book is three sentences. I'm sure this could be compressed for film into a line or two. Are you really convinced that two lines of dialogue would bring the film's pace to a halt? I disagree.
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Old 11-19-2006, 08:43 PM   #23
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Yeah, I found the presentation of the swords to the hobbits a little unlikely, as well. But having cut the Barrow Downs out, there is really no credible way to outfit the hobbits with the weapons they need. Let's just say that Strider was an adherent to the "be prepared" philosophy, and lugged such items around the countryside, "just in case". Although it does irk me to see weapons given without being earned, as this goes against what I have read in Tolkien.

The way in which our heroes were discovered by the Nazgűl was quite inventive; even clever! Their love of food was their undoing, "tomatoes, sausages and nice crispy bacon." You can't leave those boys alone for a second!

PJ missed out on a good opportunity for a few scares here, IMHO. The coming of the Nazgűl to the dell under Weathertop is one of the most terrifying episodes of the book. Jackson turned it into mere slasher film material.

Without Frodo's lunge, there is no plausible reason why the Witch King didn't just stab him in the heart right then and there, and be done with it. I dislike the weakening of Frodo in comparison with his counterpart in the book. He is transformed into helpless victim all too often; we have already missed out on his bravery in the barrow, and here is the second time we are robbed of seeing his heroics. Essex makes a fair point about the suffering of Frodo being key, but I don't think showing some of his braver exploits would take away from this at all. He still gets stabbed, in any case.

I loathed the fight between Aragorn and the Nazgűl. PJ was catering to the lowest element here; the kind of person who would have been disappointed with anything less than an all-out brawl. It would have been perfectly satisfactory for the wraiths to retreat as Aragorn appears brandishing a flaming brand, and his sword if absolutely necessary. We are treated to plenty of fight scenes later: in Moria, and on the slopes of Amon Hen (also the warg fight, regrettably dropped).

I loved Aragorn's line, "he's been stabbed by a Morgul blade", and the disintegration of the blade. Very nicely done. And I think that he does explain that the wound is beyond his skill to heal, requiring "Elvis medicine" (at least that's what I hear lol). I think this would have been a better time for he and Sam to search for athelas, rather than waiting until Frodo has already put up with the pain for several days! Of course then we would need another entry for Arwen (or Glorfindel... sigh...). Good!

I thought the moth was a nice touch and another clever idea (two in the same sequence!). The score for that moment was brilliant. Nice to see Gandalf showing his diverse wizardly powers (although I suspect that that skill was borrowed by the filmmakers from Radagast the Brown). I can't imagine how the moth told Gwaihir to come and rescue Gandalf, but I guess there's nothing wrong with a little willing suspension of disbelief (indeed, these movies stretch the concept as never before!).

And the "camera" move from the pinnacle of Orthanc down into the smithies was great... like a roller coaster!
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:31 AM   #24
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Think its really cool how Aragorn/Strider fought off those wraiths!
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