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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
BBC Radio Adaptation LOTR Episode II The Black Riders At the Prancing Pony

ArathornJax
Lorien


Jun 13 2008, 4:25am

Post #1 of 9 (147 views)
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BBC Radio Adaptation LOTR Episode II The Black Riders At the Prancing Pony Can't Post

1. One of the things about Strider is that he is kinda of like a "rascal" and that "he feels fairer but looks fouler." In the inn at Bree do you feel that Strider comes across intimidating and fouler? For many Aragorn's voice is different from what they have imagined. Do you think in time his voice will grow on you?

2. Sir Robert Stephens who plays Aragorn was often considered the successor to Sir Laurence Olivier, and he was very successful until around 1970-73 when he left the National Theater Company after having a dispute with Olivier. He divorced his third wife in 1973 and his heavy and consistent drinking limited his career. Luckily, before his death in 1995 he revived his acting career by giving some great performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company as Falstaff in Henry IV and as King Lear in the same play. Does Sir Robert Stephens Shakespearean training come through too strong in the scene of Bree? Did anyone pick up a change in the performance when Aragorn laughs at the "look fairer and seem fouler" comment by Frodo?

3. What images came to your mind when Frodo sang the "Man of the Moon" song at the Pony? What do you think of the tune and are you glad to see this in the adaptation? A question I have is who is playing the fiddle and how did they know the tune that Frodo would be chanting to?

4. I've heard and read comments that it is at the Pony that Frodo and his companions begin to realize how serious the quest is they are on. Does this adaptation convey this to the listener and if you think it does or does not, how does it

" . . . (we are ) too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or making one fit -- for what? At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts."

J.R.R. Tolkien in his 6 October 1940 letter to his son Michael Tolkien.




(This post was edited by ArathornJax on Jun 13 2008, 4:26am)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 13 2008, 9:30am

Post #2 of 9 (95 views)
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The last homely house [In reply to] Can't Post

1. One of the things about Strider is that he is kinda of like a "rascal" and that "he feels fairer but looks fouler." In the inn at Bree do you feel that Strider comes across intimidating and fouler? For many Aragorn's voice is different from what they have imagined. Do you think in time his voice will grow on you?

I remember the first time I listened, and how much I was looking forward to hearing Strider, especially after Maggot and Butterbur were so good. But Robert Stephen's fruity voice really hit the wrong note for me right from the start. Strider does put on a rough and rascally accent when he first meets Frodo - in fact to me he comes across as quite overbearing and rather bitter. Which I suppose is a possible reading of Strider's attitude to his lowly position as a Ranger, but it's not the way I normally read it. I've listened to this recording many times, and Aragorn is still the one character that I have trouble believing in. He seems so over-confident and cavalier about everything, that you don't end up admiring his feats of derring-do - heroism seems to be just another day at the office to him!

2. Sir Robert Stephens who plays Aragorn was often considered the successor to Sir Laurence Olivier, and he was very successful until around 1970-73 when he left the National Theater Company after having a dispute with Olivier. He divorced his third wife in 1973 and his heavy and consistent drinking limited his career. Luckily, before his death in 1995 he revived his acting career by giving some great performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company as Falstaff in Henry IV and as King Lear in the same play. Does Sir Robert Stephens Shakespearean training come through too strong in the scene of Bree? Did anyone pick up a change in the performance when Aragorn laughs at the "look fairer and seem fouler" comment by Frodo?

The wife he divorced in 1973 was Dame Maggie Smith, who has written about this period in her autobiography (they are also the parents of actor Toby Stephens, by the way). Robert Stephens seems to have gone through a very bad patch during these years, and there are times in his Aragorn performance where he sounds like he's never read to the end of the sentence he's delivering. If you read the personal quotes section from his IMDb entry, I think you get the impression that he was a fairly intolerant sort of guy, with a very high opinion of himself. I've always suspected that he felt he was above doing Tolkien, and so made very little effort with the role. Of course, this was during the time when his life was in disarray, so that may have something to do with it too. It's shame, though - Aragorn is such a pivotal role. Even if you don't want to introduce the kind of introspection that Aragorn has in the movies, at least you need some depth, and some sense that his heroism isn't totally effortless, and you don't get this from Robert Stephens, in my opinion.

3. What images came to your mind when Frodo sang the "Man of the Moon" song at the Pony? What do you think of the tune and are you glad to see this in the adaptation?

I like the delivery, although I read somewhere that Brian Sibley really wanted him to sing it! I always think that Frodo's performance at the Pony is a kind of parallel to Bilbo's speech at the Party - funny, and meant to both entertain and bamboozle the audience, and of course they both end the same way, with a disappearance.

A question I have is who is playing the fiddle and how did they know the tune that Frodo would be chanting to?

In fact, the tune is being played in the background earlier, when Frodo is talking to Strider, so I think we can imagine that Frodo has already heard the fiddler's tune and happens to know these words that fit it. We get the impression in the book that the hobbits use the same tune for many of their songs, and even make up new words to fit old tunes. I don't think Frodo is making this rhyme up though - I think it's probably one of a number that can be sung (or recited) to this particular tune.

4. I've heard and read comments that it is at the Pony that Frodo and his companions begin to realize how serious the quest is they are on. Does this adaptation convey this to the listener and if you think it does or does not, how does it?

Hmmm. There are a lot of aspects to the scenes at the Prancing Pony. I think the real seriousness comes through a bit later, after they get back to their room. This scene in the bar seems like the very last cosy, homely scene, in tone very much like the Party, with good food and drink, and a mostly friendly audience. Except that this time, putting the Ring on at the end suddenly seems so much more dangerous... (by they way, did you notice that when Frodo gets up to distract everyone's attention from Pippin, Pippin is actually in the middle of telling the story of the Party and is about to describe Bilbo putting on the Ring?)

Very interesting questions you come up with - thank you!

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


ArathornJax
Lorien


Jun 13 2008, 12:56pm

Post #3 of 9 (58 views)
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Yes, Brian Sibley [In reply to] Can't Post

wished Ian could have sung this part. Here is a quote from him:

"I just wish that Ian had been able to SING 'The Man in the Moon'.

I remember the agonies and frustrations (for him and composer Stephen Oliver) at the recording session... Speaking the lines didn't quite work for me and I always found myself asking: "WHO is playing the fiddle?" and "How do they KNOW what song he is going to perform?"

You can see where I borrowed one of my questions from . . .


Also, as a side note, I'm not sure if this was part of the original discussion/post but here is a link to Brian Sibley's blog about the making of the adaptation for the BBC: BRIAN SIBLEY: THE WORKS

" . . . (we are ) too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or making one fit -- for what? At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts."

J.R.R. Tolkien in his 6 October 1940 letter to his son Michael Tolkien.




FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 13 2008, 1:34pm

Post #4 of 9 (58 views)
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Thanks for that link [In reply to] Can't Post

to Brian Sibley's blog. I've read some of that background information before, probably on his old site, but it's still a good read. And I really like that photo of Frodo, Sam and Gollum (aka Ian Holm, Bill Nighy and Peter Woodthorpe) working together, which I've never seen before. In particular, Bill Nighy's Sam really comes to life in my imagination, to the extent that I have never been able to picture Bill Nighy himself saying the words! But seeing him look so young (although still ridiculously tall and thin for a hobbit!) gives me a different perspective.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jun 13 2008, 4:31pm

Post #5 of 9 (59 views)
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This Strider's voice [In reply to] Can't Post

is one of the few I find myself dealing with. It's rougher than I imagine when I'm reader. Viggo's is a bit higher than I'd pictured, too. Actually, my ultimate Aragorn/Strider voice is from Bakshi's adaptation. John Hurt's got one of the most amazing voices out there, imho... and his portrayal of Aragorn/Strider is earthy, wise, mysterious, melodic, powerful, gentle... all the things I get from the character. THAT's the one I imagine when I read now :)

sample

"Barney Snow was here." ~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."



TORn's Observations Lists


Jazmine
Tol Eressea


Jun 13 2008, 6:16pm

Post #6 of 9 (49 views)
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I was really looking forward to meeting Strider [In reply to] Can't Post

in the Prancing Pony, but it was such a disappointment! To me, the voice does not fit the character at all. It's such a shame, this sort of thing can be overlooked for a minor character, but for one so important it's dreadful! His voice conjours the image of a fat old man which is not what I envisage when I think of Strider!


*Jazminatar the Brown*


Idril Celebrindal
Tol Eressea


Jun 14 2008, 1:23am

Post #7 of 9 (47 views)
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Strider's voice kind of grew on me [In reply to] Can't Post

I rather like Robert Stephens' take on Aragorn. His voice grew on me as I listened to the series. The cadenced Shakespearean tone he sometimes adopts seems somehow appropriate for the heir to Isildur, yet he can speak with warmth, too. I didn't get the sense that he was just dialing it in, either, although his performance isn't as intense as Ian Holm's or Bill Nighy's are. Mostly he seems to speak very formally, which is consistent with how Aragorn comes across in the novel. There's a change in his performance as he goes along, too, and starts getting into his role. Anyhow, for better or worse, his voice is what I hear when I read the book now.

The "Man in the Moon" incident is one of the things I like about this adaptation! Tolkien's songs are tightly integrated into the story and seem very natural. I too think Frodo finds a song or verse to fit the tune that the fiddler's playing, and not the other way around.

Strider does a lot to dispel the hobbits'' false sense of security. And Merry bursting in at the end with news that he's seen the Black Riders in Bree certainly brings it home to the hobbits that they're not safe!

We're discussing the BBC Lotrd of the Rings Radio Play on the Movie Discussion - LOTR board.

With caffeine, all things are possible.

The pity of Bilbo will screw up the fate of many.

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Huan71
Lorien

Jun 14 2008, 7:07am

Post #8 of 9 (69 views)
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It grew on me... [In reply to] Can't Post

Strider's voice started of sounding to county bumpkin like then, fairly quickly, changed while they were talking back in the room.
I don't know if this was conscious (part of the strider disguise) or not? But, once it had changed i thought he sounded pretty good!...

"Only the guilty dream"... oh dear, i'm DOOMED!!


Patty
Immortal


Jun 14 2008, 4:11pm

Post #9 of 9 (50 views)
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I am usually not a fan of songs in my stories... [In reply to] Can't Post

and was very pleasantly surprised with Billy Boyd's song in the film. Viggo's inserted song (in the EE) never came across correctly to me.

But the medium of a radio play, perhaps because there are no distracting visuals, was just perfect for the interludes of song. Ian Holm's "Man in the Moon" cleverly reminded us of the homey hobbits--although it was not "sung", and was not jarring at all. I was very glad to hear this inserted here.

Like Idril, and like I said in another post, I feel that Robert Stephen's "Aragorn" was a perfect mix of the aristocratic king- in- exile yet raised as a ranger.

Hanging out with the Lonely Isle elves.

 
 

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