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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Del Toro's Smaug
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Donoviel
Registered User

Jan 31 2011, 8:45pm

Post #1 of 246 (11647 views)
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Del Toro's Smaug Can't Post

The New Yorker has a nice and long article about Guillermo del Toro, including details of his vision of Smaug:

"I paused at what looked like an image of a double-bitted medieval hatchet. “That’s Smaug,” del Toro said. It was an overhead view: “See, he’s like a flying axe.” Del Toro thinks that monsters should appear transformed when viewed from a fresh angle, lest the audience lose a sense of awe. Defining silhouettes is the first step in good monster design, he said. “Then you start playing with movement. The next element of design is color. And then finally—finally—comes detail. A lot of people go the other way, and just pile up a lot of detail.”

I turned to a lateral image of the dragon. Smaug’s body, as del Toro had imagined it, was unusually long and thin. The bones of its wings were articulated on the dorsal side, giving the creature a slithery softness across its belly. “It’s a little bit more like a snake,” he said. I thought of his big Russian painting. Del Toro had written that the beast would alight “like a water bird.”


Smaug’s front legs looked disproportionately small, like those of a T. rex. This would allow the dragon to assume a different aspect in closeup: the camera could capture “hand” gestures and facial expressions in one tight frame, avoiding the quivery distractions of wings and tail. (Smaug is a voluble, manipulative dragon; Tolkien describes him as having “an overwhelming personality.”) Smaug’s eyes, del Toro added, were “going to be sculpturally very hidden.” This would create a sense of drama when the thieving Bilbo stirs the beast from slumber.


Del Toro wanted to be creative with the wing placement. “Dragon design can be broken into essentially two species,” he explained at one point. Most had wings attached to the forelimbs. “The only other variation is the anatomically incorrect variation of the six-appendage creature”—four legs, like a horse, with two additional winged arms. “But there’s no large creature on earth that has six appendages!” He had become frustrated while sketching dragons that followed these schemes. The journal had a discarded prototype. “Now,
that’s a dragon you’ve seen before,” he said. “I just added these samurai legs. That doesn’t work for me.”"


macfalk
Valinor


Jan 31 2011, 8:51pm

Post #2 of 246 (8661 views)
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Please, not another dinosaur [In reply to] Can't Post

Smaug’s front legs looked disproportionately small, like those of a T. rex.

No thanks!




The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Maiarmike
Grey Havens

Jan 31 2011, 9:07pm

Post #3 of 246 (8468 views)
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Hmm [In reply to] Can't Post

It will be very interesting to see if Peter Jackson goes with that or not, considering its all his decision now. Sounds different than what I imagined, but still pretty cool.


Pipe Dream
Gondor


Jan 31 2011, 9:24pm

Post #4 of 246 (8489 views)
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Yeah, not too crazy about that either. [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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Maiarmike
Grey Havens

Jan 31 2011, 9:26pm

Post #5 of 246 (8442 views)
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Well... [In reply to] Can't Post

After reading through it carefully, it doesn't appear to me that WETA was too thrilled with his design ideas. Probably too "out-there" for Middle-Earth, which is supposed to be more Medieval looking. To be honest, I'm not too crazy with the sound of some of those ideas. Some of it sounds like more of a Hellboy sequel than Tolkien. Just my reading of it though. I was hoping The Hobbit would follow through with the design style of LotR, with Del Toro, it would probably be very different, but with Peter Jackson, you feel a sort of familiarity (seems like a good thing to me), even though it takes place in a completely different area of Middle-Earth.


macfalk
Valinor


Jan 31 2011, 9:31pm

Post #6 of 246 (8517 views)
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Yeah, I hope PJ reverts Smaug to his more classic look: [In reply to] Can't Post

Like John Howes drawing as in my footer.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Alientraveller
Lorien

Jan 31 2011, 9:36pm

Post #7 of 246 (8380 views)
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Amazing article [In reply to] Can't Post

Despite the slight diss at PJ in one paragraph (I suppose that's journalists for you, unnecessarily cynical) I really enjoyed this. I can't wait for Del Toro's Mountains of Madness and Frankenstein. I loved that description of how he altered a maquette of the Creature to be less Skeletor and more like Shelley's description, and the aquatic look for Lovecraft's monsters (I squealed at the description of Barlowe's surprisingly majestic Cthulhu. I tend to give him a pot belly).

Honestly, I think the description of Smaug reminded me a lot of Howe and Lee's paintings and sounds quite accurate to Tolkien, with the snake-like body. In any case I still hope the finished result embodies the character and if some of Del Toro's wilder ideas aren't retained perhaps we'll see them in some form one day, even if it's just an art book (which will inspire future generations of creature creators).


Pittsmen
Rivendell


Jan 31 2011, 9:40pm

Post #8 of 246 (8482 views)
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I for one stand by GDT [In reply to] Can't Post

GDT is a visionary. End of story. I will be extremely disappointed if Jackson scraps GDTs Smaug.

My hope is that this Dragon is so unique and queer, that it cannot be compared to any other dragon, rather every other dragon shall be compared to it.

Besides... Nature is a very good place for source material.

While it is a mythical beast, it still has to have some basis in reality for us to fear it and stay captivated by it.

You can create monsters that fit the confines of what could have developed in our ecology. By doing this you lessen the gap of fantasy, thereby increasing the affect this creatures presence has on the viewer. In other worlds, the farther out in left field a creature design is, the less it affects us.

People fear sharks because we have evolved to fear sharks. If you design a creature that has some shark like elements, you automatically increase that creatures fear factor and staying power by tapping in on long inset genetic coding that tells us, what we see is dangerous and should be avoided.

The same goes for the dragon, most large reptiles (which I hate to break it to the fellow who didn't want skinny front legs) that had beefy sturdy front legs where herbivores. Most predatory, and especially flight capable, carnivorous, large reptiles had tiny, almost useless front legs.

Besides, if I am not mistaken, Tolkien used the word worm almost synonymously with dragon. Let me ask you this, when someone says worm, do you think big beefy front legs? I think not, so I will default to Tolkien and Del Toro on this one.

If you want to see a Dragon with beefy arms, meet Trogdor, The Burninator.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90X5NJleYJQ


Flagg
Tol Eressea


Jan 31 2011, 9:52pm

Post #9 of 246 (8428 views)
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Don't let that cloud your vision [In reply to] Can't Post

Just because this design had small forearms doesn't mean that it wasn't absolutely stunning. That little detail and the T-rex comparison might throw you off a little, but considering the rest of description, it could possibly work quite well. We shouldn't judge Guillermo's designs until we can see them – words can't really do them justice. By that logic, the Pale Man is just a skinny dude with eyes on his hands.

I am fascinated by his description of Smaug. It sounds like a really interesting, unique and memorable take on the character, small forearms notwithstanding. I sincerely hope Peter Jackson uses it.


LoremIpsum
Lorien


Jan 31 2011, 10:01pm

Post #10 of 246 (8424 views)
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Why? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I will be extremely disappointed if Jackson scraps GDTs Smaug.


have you already seen and compared both designs?

Tongue

Anyway, I'm pretty sure PJ, Alan Lee & a lot of the old design crew influenced the look of Smaug, so I don't think they will just scrap it, they could do a lot of improvements and modifications on the face and details of the body though. The general worm-like shape will stay I think, as it's on the FOTR map, and a lot of Howe and Lee drawings. Now really digging the tiny t-rex arms though.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jan 31 2011, 10:25pm

Post #11 of 246 (8490 views)
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After reading that ... [In reply to] Can't Post

... I am more convinced than ever that Guillermo was definitely the WRONG choice to direct these films. I'm not quite sure what to think about his Smaug ideas, but some of the other things that he mentions sound awful to me. A couple of examples:

Quote
In his journal, I spied many creatures with no precedent in Tolkien, such as an armor-plated troll that curls into a ball of metal plates. Del Toro said that it would be boring to make a slavish adaptation.


Quote
Even the major characters of “The Hobbit” bore del Toro’s watermark. In one sketch, the dwarf Thorin, depicted in battle, wore a surreal helmet that appeared to be sprouting antlers. “They’re thorns—his name is Thorin, after all,” he said. The flourish reminded me of a similar arboreal creature in “Hellboy II,” which was slightly worrying. That film is so overpopulated with monsters that it begins to feel like a Halloween party overrun by crashers.

Ugh! Thank Eru we were saved from these type of ideas. Jackson, at least, can be relied upon to make things look reasonably consistent with what Tolkien wrote. There is no way that I would enjoy an adaptation of the Hobbit that included an armor plated troll that curls into a ball of metal plates. Or anything like that. Ugh!

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Flagg
Tol Eressea


Jan 31 2011, 10:26pm

Post #12 of 246 (8420 views)
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Wait, there's more! [In reply to] Can't Post

I just read the rest of the article, and there's an enormous amount of information in there!


Quote
Del Toro’s production design for “The Hobbit” seemed similarly intent on avoiding things that viewers had seen before. Whereas Jackson’s compositions had been framed by the azure New Zealand sky, del Toro planned to employ digital “sky replacement,” for a more “painterly effect.” Sometimes, instead of shooting in an actual forest, he wanted to shoot amid artificial trees that mimicked the “drawings in Tolkien’s book.” In his journal, I spied many creatures with no precedent in Tolkien, such as an armor-plated troll that curls into a ball of metal plates. Del Toro said that it would be boring to make a slavish adaptation. “Hellboy,” he noted, was based on a popular comic-book series, but he had liberally changed the story line, and the demon had become an emotionally clumsy nerd. “I am Hellboy,” he said.

It seems that Guillermo actually wanted to make Mirkwood look just like Tolkien's own cover illustration. I am also liking the sound of the armour-plated troll that curls up into a ball of metal plates – that sounds much more interesting, original, memorable and distinctive than the repetitive and rather generic cave- and mountain-trolls used in the trilogy.



Quote
Even the major characters of “The Hobbit” bore del Toro’s watermark. In one sketch, the dwarf Thorin, depicted in battle, wore a surreal helmet that appeared to be sprouting antlers. “They’re thorns—his name is Thorin, after all,” he said. The flourish reminded me of a similar arboreal creature in “Hellboy II,” which was slightly worrying. That film is so overpopulated with monsters that it begins to feel like a Halloween party overrun by crashers. Midway through the film, del Toro stages a delightful but extraneous action sequence in a creature-clogged “troll market” hidden beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The scene comes across as del Toro’s bid to supplant the famous Cantina scene in “Star Wars.”

I know which Hellboy II character the reporter is referring to – King Balor. Apparently Guillermo wanted Thorin's helmet to look like this:



Guillermo has also revealed a huge amount of information regarding At the Mountains of Madness. I am now more excited for it than ever, despite my inability to absorb so much mind-shattering information all at once.


(This post was edited by Flagg on Jan 31 2011, 10:31pm)


Pittsmen
Rivendell


Jan 31 2011, 10:34pm

Post #13 of 246 (8375 views)
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Why? [In reply to] Can't Post

Because the only reason GDT isn't still directing is because the project got stalled. Had it not, he would still be at the helm of this project.

PJ didn't force him out because he didn't trust his designs, he didn't leave because people weren't digging him as a director, he left because of the situation he was put in.

I myself personally see it as a huge loss to this movie. I love PJ and I am reasonably happy with his take on the trilogy, but don't lie when I say I was releaved to have someone else take a shot at middle earth.

GDT could have brought this source material to a totally new level of appreciation, instead we get more Jackson, which is an amazing second choice, but you all should not forget, PJ was NOT the first choice for this movie.

Now I loved How to Train your Dragon just as much as the next guy, but The Hobbit deserves more then a Hollywood blockbuster take on an extremely culturally important piece of literature.

Open your minds to something outside of you comfort level, being unfamiliar means you are being introduced to something new, new is good. If I want to see a Hollywood dragon, I will rent any number of movies with dragons voiced by academy award winning actors.

Not me, I am a Tolkien fan first, and a movie fan second. Respect the source material, and respect the master that is GDT.


duats
Grey Havens

Jan 31 2011, 10:39pm

Post #14 of 246 (8322 views)
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Hmm [In reply to] Can't Post

Loved everything I heard, with the exception of the small forearms. I don't necessarily dislike it. I just can't picture it.

I do, however, like the idea of Smaug have a long, snake-like body. We really don't see alot of dragons in cinema with that body type. And I'm curious as to what GDT came up with in regards to the wings.

However, judging by this description, I would not be surprised at all if PJ opted for a different design altogether.


duats
Grey Havens

Jan 31 2011, 10:49pm

Post #15 of 246 (8335 views)
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And there it is [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
He admitted that there had been discomfort over his design of Smaug. “I know this was not something that was popular,” he said. He said that he had come up with several audacious innovations—“Eight hundred years of designing dragons, going back to China, and no one has done it!”—but added that he couldn’t discuss them, because the design was not his intellectual property. “I have never operated with that much secrecy,” he said of his time at Weta.


From the same article.

I'm more convinced that Smaug's design will change.


(This post was edited by duats on Jan 31 2011, 10:52pm)


Flagg
Tol Eressea


Jan 31 2011, 10:51pm

Post #16 of 246 (8350 views)
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Discomfort [In reply to] Can't Post

I suppose that depends on who exactly was 'uncomfortable' with the design. If it was PJ, we can probably kiss is goodbye,


duats
Grey Havens

Jan 31 2011, 11:04pm

Post #17 of 246 (8272 views)
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True [In reply to] Can't Post

The more I think about it, the more I hope the long, snake-like body is maintained. I really cannot recall the last time I saw a cinematic dragon with that body type. It'd be quite unique.


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Jan 31 2011, 11:30pm

Post #18 of 246 (8441 views)
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It ain't going to happen [In reply to] Can't Post

Smaug will be awesome! After all Every one was involved in the design.

Kangi Ska Resident Trickster & Wicked White Crebain
Life is an adventure, not a contest.

At night you can not tell if crows are black or white.

Photobucket

Smaug Small


dormouse
Half-elven

Jan 31 2011, 11:31pm

Post #19 of 246 (8325 views)
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I have to agree with Voronwë.... [In reply to] Can't Post

It feels like a kind of disloyalty to say it, because I liked Guillermo's posts and felt really sad when he left the film, but reading that I can only feel relief. Maybe it has to do with the journalist, but phrases like 'creatures with no precedent in Tolkien' and 'it would be boring to make a slavish adaptation' turn me cold inside, as does all that stuff about having eight seasons. It seems to me that one of the key things about Tolkien's stories is that they are so deeply rooted in the real world. That's one thing Peter Jackson and co did understand and respect in the previous films, and one thing I really value in them.


Hellmistress
Lorien


Jan 31 2011, 11:34pm

Post #20 of 246 (8310 views)
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I too ... [In reply to] Can't Post

... will be very disappointed if we don't see G's version of Smaug. I don't need to see 'both' designs (if indeed there were 2 designs in the first place). I trust G's instincts and I have always loved his designs. Incidentally, how do you know there was any influence on G other than what goes on in that genius noggin of his? This perennial assumption that Guillermo was under the thumb of/directed by/influenced by previous designs is a disservice to the man. He has always - thank God - marched to the beat of his own drum, and is one of the most original and eclectic creators of creatures in film today.

BTW, his design for King Balor in HB2 I have no doubt was influenced by the legends of Cernunnos, the Celtic horned god, lord of the greenwood. His figure looms large on such artefacts as the Gundestrup Cauldron and the Gallic-Roman Pillar of the Boatmen, and reputed to be a symbol of fertility and nature. Guillermo is a scholar of ancient mythologies, and is well aware of many of the beliefs and legends of the Angles, Celts, Scandinavians and Slavs. The stories of great worms run rife throughout these legends, and the very name - worm - comes from the Anglo Saxom word wyrm, a word used in Eddas for a legless serpent or dragon. It persisted well into late medieval times, and every bestiary I've seen has a dragon that resembles a wyrm. If G's Smaug looked like that I would very happy indeed.

HM


In Reply To

In Reply To
I will be extremely disappointed if Jackson scraps GDTs Smaug.


have you already seen and compared both designs?

Tongue

Anyway, I'm pretty sure PJ, Alan Lee & a lot of the old design crew influenced the look of Smaug, so I don't think they will just scrap it, they could do a lot of improvements and modifications on the face and details of the body though. The general worm-like shape will stay I think, as it's on the FOTR map, and a lot of Howe and Lee drawings. Now really digging the tiny t-rex arms though.



(This post was edited by Hellmistress on Jan 31 2011, 11:37pm)


nenyacaster
Bree


Feb 1 2011, 12:03am

Post #21 of 246 (8251 views)
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hmm [In reply to] Can't Post

That is really very interesting. I would like to see GDT's wholly original designs in the film. I was under the impression that Jackson (or whoever the new director would be) was going to largely go with the designs GDT already made, and that in this case it was a good thing for Jackson because he would get a fresh look as opposed to repeating his LOTR. I could see, naturally, Jackson will be making his own decisions and it will have his touch inevitably, but I hope he won't just scrap everything GDT did.


Pittsmen
Rivendell


Feb 1 2011, 12:12am

Post #22 of 246 (8267 views)
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No I haven't [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think PJ had a design other then the one he, GDT, Mike Mignola and the others where working on.

My frustration is coming from the bandwagon fans who only started paying attention to the Hobbit production after PJ was announced as director. They have no knowledge of the past two years.

Unless you understand the huge amount of material that was created, designed, and created before GDT left, including both scripts, you should't be comparing GDT Vs. PJ. Its just ignorant. Every aspect of this movie has been touched and influenced by GDT, and from my understanding continues to be as he is still "Part of the production". If you don't like his style, your going to be SOL because he wrote the damn scripts (With Collaboration).

I find it irritating to hear these people tearing down the foundations of the movie that we have been so fervently following for these past three or so years.


Hellmistress
Lorien


Feb 1 2011, 12:21am

Post #23 of 246 (8221 views)
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Well said ... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I don't think PJ had a design other then the one he, GDT, Mike Mignola and the others where working on.

My frustration is coming from the bandwagon fans who only started paying attention to the Hobbit production after PJ was announced as director. They have no knowledge of the past two years.

Unless you understand the huge amount of material that was created, designed, and created before GDT left, including both scripts, you should't be comparing GDT Vs. PJ. Its just ignorant. Every aspect of this movie has been touched and influenced by GDT, and from my understanding continues to be as he is still "Part of the production". If you don't like his style, your going to be SOL because he wrote the damn scripts (With Collaboration).

I find it irritating to hear these people tearing down the foundations of the movie that we have been so fervently following for these past three or so years.



Maiarmike
Grey Havens

Feb 1 2011, 12:56am

Post #24 of 246 (8247 views)
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I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

Love most of Guillermo's designs for Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth, but I think a lot of his fans are going to be disappointed when the film comes out and it doesn't have the strong GDT influence that some people think it will. Almost 8 months of pre-production have passed since he left, and while I think some of the designs are set in stone, I think many of the set designs and CGI designs might change from then til December 2012/13, especially since the project wasn't even green-lit until 5 months after he left. Not to mention, Guillermo had to deal with 3 others who may have had disagreements about some things in his ideas for the screenplay, so any of those things might be taken out or revised since May 2010. I guess we'll all find out together. Some fresh ideas from GDT certainly wouldn't be a bad thing though, especially when they're in collaboration with PJ and WETA.


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Feb 1 2011, 12:58am

Post #25 of 246 (8258 views)
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Gaze upon the dragon in my footer [In reply to] Can't Post

Smaug by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Kangi Ska Resident Trickster & Wicked White Crebain
Life is an adventure, not a contest.

At night you can not tell if crows are black or white.

Photobucket

Smaug Small

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