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The Red Book of Westmarch, Book II - The Ring Goes South

kerr

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Calgmoth said:
I know it's not a very good scene, but Gandalf does not really say anything at the Council despite that, and Boromir is not really out of character when he shows interest in touching the Ring.
I agree that Boromir doesn't act out of character in that scene in particular, but taken in context with the rest of the Council sequence, I feel that Boromir is portrayed in too negative a light. I also feel that Gandalf is acting out of character by suddenly scaring everyone with Black Speech. It also ruins the pacing of the scene.

Calgmoth said:
Did you need to omit the line about Sauron hiding in Barad-dûr along with that that he cannot take on physical form?
I can't remember at the moment, but probably yes - I think I had to use the shot where Saruman says that line as the opening shot of the scene (the original had a camera move that ended in a closeup of Saruman saying that Sauron can't take physical form, so I couldn't use it).

Calgmoth said:
Why did you cut the line about Minas Morgul? It really disturbed flow of the whole scene. Redundancy cuts are not really necessary, as Tolkien himself goes through all this redundant stuff when he lets characters tell things they have done before, although we already know and see the results (the destruction of Isengard would be the best example).
So such redundancy should actually be strength, not a weakness of your version.
The line itself isn't the problem, it's the way it was delivered and shot. It clearly sets up something that's about to happen, and would feel odd and out of place in the edit.

Calgmoth said:
Oh, and I'm in the camp that prefers to cut immediately to Gandalf awakening on Orthanc after the stupid wizard duel. The tree should fall later.
I think the tree falling first works better visually - cutting from Gandalf in motion to Gandalf lying still felt a bit odd to me.

Calgmoth said:
Gandalf's line about Orcs and goblin-men is not really that out of place, as the books do establish Saruman has been able to breed a whole new stock of Orcish creatures (not called Uruk-hai, they were created by Sauron about 2500 TA) that are not hindered by sunlight.
Yes, but these creatures are called either "half-orcs" or "goblin-men", meaning they're half orc, half human, whereas Gandalf's line suggests that they're half orc, half goblin, which doesn't make sense.

Calgmoth said:
You should remove Gandalf's stupid voiceover regarding their planned route. They do already know about Saruman's betrayal, so taking the Ring close to Isengard would be madness. If there is no elaboration about the route, then changing the route after the crebain discovered them is not nearly as bad as it is now.
Hm, I never thought about that. I thought it was the same in the book? That they originally planned to go through the Gap of Rohan?

Calgmoth said:
I'm not sure about removing the dead dwarves from the entrance of Moria. Getting rid of the Cthulhu thing is perfect, but Gandalf has the good line about the foul things in the deep places of the world which, combined with his talk to Frodo shortly before, foreshadows the Balrog perfectly.
That line, which is indeed excellent, is in the edit as well. Also, in the book they didn't see any dead dwarves until they reach the Chamber of Mazarbul, so I felt I had to do it that way in the edit as well.

Calgmoth said:
PJ has ruined the Balrog scene entirely. Gandalf falls in the book; he does not nearly fall, grabs the brink of the chasm, and then decides to let go for some occult reason. I'm pretty sure you could rearrange the scene so that Gandalf does fall properly, and is still able to say 'Fly you fools'.
Wouldn't work because of the way he delivers the line - it's almost like a whisper, whereas if he was falling, he would have to use a stronger tone of voice or it'd feel weird. Also, I don't think he decides to let go - he just doesn't have the strength to pull himself up (he is a very old man, after all). That explanation doesn't really make sense, I know, since he apparantly has all the strength he needs to fight the Balrog seconds afterwards, but... Oh well.

Once again, thanks for the comments! :)
 

Calgmoth

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Well, just thought about reintegrating the Black Speech scene later during the Council sequence, while putting Boromir's dream at the beginning, but I assume that's just silly talk ;-).

You are right about that Orc stuff, in fact, the whole thing becomes even weirder with Legolas uttering 'goblins' in Moria - which of course is there a nod to the Hobbit, and the fact that Orcs are mostly called goblins there, but the movie has already established then that at least 'goblin-men' are no Orcs.

About the route thing:

In the book there is a quarrel between Aragorn and Gandalf about their route, as Aragorn númenórian insight lets him fear that Gandalf might suffer a ill fate when entering Moria. That's why they try the Pass of Caradhras at first. Gandalf always wanted to go through Moria. But that is only revealed later on. When they first talk about the route, Gandalf makes it perfectly clear that they will take cross the mountains, and follow the stream to Rauros.

Boromir counsels to try to take the way south when Caradhras turns against them, either through the Gap of Rohan (rejected due to the fact that this would take them too close to Isengard), or crossing the Isen and entering Gondor by following the shore (that is rejected because it would take to much time, and may give Sauron the opportunity to localize them).

You can't possibly recreate this whole scenario, but to omit Gandalf stupidly talking about a wrong route would easily be possible. Thus, Gandalf would look much smarter, as Aragorn dismisses Boromir's Gap of Rohan suggestion later on in the movie with the correct argument - too close to Isengard.

That's what I really hated in this movies. Changing the motivation of the characters for no reason at all, or giving real Tolkien lines to the wrong people.

About the Balrog thing:

You realized it yourself, this scene is crap, and it becomes even worse with the whole background knowledge about Gandalf's sacrifice here. Tolkien wrote that his real sacrifice was deciding to face the Balrog instead of trying to get away with Frodo and the Ring. At that point in the story Gandalf knew that without him the whole quest was doomed to fail, but despite that he confronted the Balrog. That's why he was sent back after he died, not because dying is the common way of Istar promotion.

Well, I'd go as to suggest to let Gandalf fall without the line, to make it some kind of telepathic goodbye, best placed in the shot where Gandalf disappears into the blackness of the chasm. That would be a major change, but it would be closer to the spirit of the book, I think.
 

Captain Khajiit

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kerr said:
Also, I don't think he decides to let go - he just doesn't have the strength to pull himself up (he is a very old man, after all).

That's odd. I've always thought that this was the sequence of events:

The Balrog's long whip lashes round Gandalf and pulls him down;
He grabs hold of the edge to stop himself from falling, which gives him time to urge the others to flee;
The whip still has him ensared while the above point is taking place;
When the Balrog has fallen to a certain depth, the whip tightens, so the weight of the Balrog pulls Gandalf down.

Basically, I've always interpreted Gandalf as being on borrowed time before the length of whip runs out and the Balrog's weight overcomes his strength and forces him to let go. Maybe I've read the scene wrong, but this explanation has always worked for me.
 

Calgmoth

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Captain Khajiit, that would be a great explanation, but we can see in the movie how the whip lets go of Gandalf's ankle.

I remember thinking/hoping something similar back when the movie came out, but it's pretty obvious that this is not the case. And it would be, well, irritating if it were true, as it would require the Balrog to have a very long magic whip that can enlarge itself for the sole purpose of allowing Gandalf to drop his last line, as we see that the whip has an appropriate length when the Balrog first uses it on the bridge.

And even if Gandalf would not have the strength to pull himself up (he has it, of course), then it is even more odd that none of the fellowship tries to give the old man a hand. Instead, Boromir even prevents Frodo from rushing to Gandalf's aid. Well, yeah, there are the Orcs and arrows and stuff, but the way the scene is cut you don't see them, nor am I sure that their presence should prevent Aragorn, Boromir and Legolas from doing something.

Oh, and the bridge actually only crushing when the Balrog stepped on it is wrong, too. They actually admitted somewhere that they deliberately altered this. It seems that Gandalf is as incompetent that he cannot even destroy a bridge.
That could be fixed easily, I think, the scene would just need a slight trimming.

After thinking a bit about the Saruman flashbacks I wondered if it would make sense to include the wild men/Fangorn sequence from TTT there, before showing Gandalf leaving Orthanc. It would add to the feeling that Gandalf stayed some time there and build up to the Ent scenes in Book III.
And I'm still skeptical about omitting the line about the goblin-men. Not because of them, but because of 'Saruman is coming for the Ring'. Nowhere else is it established that good that Saruman wants the Ring for himself, so I'm not sure if that's a good decision.
 

Captain Khajiit

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Calgmoth said:
Captain Khajiit, that would be a great explanation, but we can see in the movie how the whip lets go of Gandalf's ankle.

In that case, if the scene could be edited slightly so the release of the whip is removed, it would be an improvement. If not, I'll pretend that the release of the whip is a continuity error and continue to hold my own explanation in mind. It has always worked for me.

Calgmoth said:
Oh, and the bridge actually only crushing when the Balrog stepped on it is wrong, too. They actually admitted somewhere that they deliberately altered this. It seems that Gandalf is as incompetent that he cannot even destroy a bridge.
That could be fixed easily, I think, the scene would just need a slight trimming.

Well, if the filmmakers deliberately changed this, it is not wrong in terms of the film; it's just a departure from Tolkien's work. :) I suppose it could be changed, but this one doesn't really bother me either way.
 
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