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***TTT-EE Appendices Discussion: From book to Script: Finding the Story**

Wraith Buster

Feb 1 2011, 4:23am

Post #1 of 7 (3165 views)
***TTT-EE Appendices Discussion: From book to Script: Finding the Story** Can't Post

Okay. Its my first discussion topic ever! I hope that my questions don’t get off the subject and that everything is interesting and thought provoking.Smile

Wraith Buster

Book to Script: Finding the Story

It starts with Peter Jackson telling us that shooting a trilogy is a great experience but there are drawbacks. The middle chapter, he says is one of the worst.

Mark Ordesky the Executive Producer explains that the Two Towers script was always going to be somewhat sacrificed because Fellowship was the first film and Return of the King actually had an ending.

Fran and Phillipa felt bad when they sat down and realized that there had been a lot of neglect going on in the script of the Two Towers. Phillipa says that it was the toughest of the three stories for her as a script-writer.

Pete looked at the “no beginning” in Two Towers as sort of a blessing because he didn't have the difficulty as he did in Fellowship of developing and introducing the main characters.

TT was a very different structure because the Fellowship was already together. Plus it follows three different story lines of the groups of characters that they are filming.

[FOTR] is a linear very strait forward road movie” - PJ

Viggo comes on screen and explains how when Tolkien was asked about writing obstacles in TT he said he had created many narrative debts by that point where TT begins and the only way to pay those debts was to make things even more complicated than they already were. Pete was in the same boat even though he had thought of certain solutions to that problem and the books. He had to also keep people interested in all three story lines and not get lost in the amount of important characters.

It was easy to not put Shelob in TT. Pete knew it right from the word ‘go’.’ - Phillipa

They could not undercut the huge climax of Helms Deep with the huge climax of Shelob. If they were going to try to put them in the same movie it would essentially demand too much emotion and become a mish-mash story. Both climaxes would cancel each other out. Plus it was not accurate to what Tolkien wrote. Although the chapter Shelob’s Lair was in TT it would not be the right chronologically. At the time Sam and Frodo are confronting Shelob the same moment the siege of Minas Tirith is taking place. Its not happening when Helms Deep is being fought.

Do you think the decision above was good on the part of the writers and Peter?

Faramir had to become an obstacle because after all Frodo and Sam had been through it then seemed to the writers like “a journey to where and to what?” That is why Faramir takes them to Osgilioth.

Is there another way you can think of that would have been better to refocus Frodo and Sam other than Faramir taking them as prisoners?

David Wenham came onto set not having read the book but the script had been written by that time and he read that. When David read the book he noticed a major change in Faramir’s character and confronted Phillipa, Fran and Peter about it. That is when they gave their reasons for the change.

They thought the character should go along a different journey” - David

Was this a wise move?

The main reason for this was to make the tension stronger.

It’s not just the impact that Faramir in the book would have on Frodo and Sam it’s the impact that the character would have on the Ring.” - Phillipa

All the way through the films they were establishing that the Ring is tearing up the mind of the main character even though he is trying his best to combat it and that the Ring is dangerous. Also Gollum, was totally controlled by it. Then Faramir says he would not pick it up if it was by the wayside. If you were to have Faramir come to that realization from the start of the film it could have totally stripped the Ring of its power.

Does Gollum’s situation show enough of an example of the Ring’s power over the characters? Was this change necessary?

What you see in Faramir as a character in the movie is that he is a young man who sees his chance to “show his quality” and to maybe earn a bit more of his father’s respect and love. Then after what he has gone through seeing evil and what the Ring did to Boromir he is able to give up the Ring.

Is that a journey you could relate to? Do you think that Faramir’s decision to give up the Ring was influenced by seeing it’s evil or was his turning point on hearing of the real reason for Boromir’s death? Were there more reasons than just those two for him giving up the Ring? If so, what?

There are more scenes of Faramir in the Extended Edition.

Do these scenes help you understand why the changes came about?

A thing that happened a lot in the script write was swapping lines from the book that were said by a certain character and giving it to another. One of these in particular is Gandalf’s line from in the book when Eowyn is in the houses of healing. That line was given to Grima Wormtounge. They wanted a scene where people could see how perceptive Wormtounge is and also how bizarrely connected he is to what Eowyn is feeling.
Phillipa says to her the importance of a speech is not who says it but that someone says it in the movie.

After reading Phillipa’s comment above what are your thoughts about a quote from Gandalf being given to Grima?

Tom Bombadil is like the guardian of living things. He’s not in the movies but they wanted to honor him. That is why they gave some of his lines from the book to Treebeard.

Is there a character that could have said Tom’s lines better or was Treebeard the best choice?

The battle, as Peter recounts, is not so much the hard part but the build up to the battle that is important. I haven’t seen the movie Zulu but Peter talks about how the first half hour of the film is all build up to a battle that happens in the middle of the movie. In the battle of Helms Deep PJ explains that he wanted to show how the odds were staked against all the good people. By all rights the Urk Hai should have won the battle.

Do you think there is sufficient build up to the battle of Helms Deep? As a side, do you think that the speech by Theoden when he is putting his armor on before the battle adds to the film?

The battle for Helms Deep is a very dark hour but every dark hour has a glimmer of hope in it. The elves giving one last piece of assistance Peter says is romantic as it is given right before they leave Middle Earth and it is given to the race of Men. Something they were trying to do in this was honor the spirit of the old alliance from the prologue.

While Haldir and the other elves could leave (or not have even come) they stay because they care about Middle Earth. Does this add to the movie? Did they nail the spirit of the alliance in the prologue or did it seem like a filler to the battle at Helms Deep?

People that know that the elves don’t come to Helm’s Deep cheered in the theater when they turned up.

What do you think the reason is for this reaction from the crowd in the theater?

The one problem with Arwen and Aragorn was how to keep a romance going when two characters are at totally different geographical areas. Their solution – bring Arwen into Helm's Deep to try to make a connection between her and Aragorn.
Once it was all over the net, objections from fans went up immediately.

There seem to be a lot of good reasons for objections to this scene but what would be some positive thoughts on keeping this in the film?

Arwen in Helms Deep survived for a while in the New Line version. In fact, it survived long enough for Liv Tyler to come to New Zealand and be trained in sword fighting and horseback riding. She did come to New Zealand and worked with a trainer for a couple hours a day to polish her skills in these things. All of this was done to make sure that if she was in the film at this scene she would be the courageous fighter like all elves are capable. After all of this though, Rick Porris said that while they were on set filming it, it just wasn’t working and had to be changed.

Would you have liked to see Arwen fighting at Helms Deep? There is a lot of confrontation about Eowyn who actually went out to fight in the book, being “feminist” or getting feminist jabs in. Would this have been “over the top” as far as too many women being at battles? Do you think it would have added anything in any way to the romance between Arwen and Aragorn since they weren’t even talking to each other? In other words, would it have been “worth it” if they would have chosen to use it?

In the end of all this though, they stayed true to the book and integrated the appendices into the films to add to the story of Arwen and Aragorn.

Does this give you any more hope for the two Hobbit films coming out in 2012 and 2013?

Tolkien said that the appendices about Aragorn and Arwen were the most important to him personally.

Why do you think Tolkien put those characters’ interaction in the appendix instead of adding it to the story? Why do you think these parts of the story meant so much to Tolkien?

You don’t have to put a sword in her [Arwen’s] hands to make her strong.” - Liv Tyler

What are some points of Arwen’s character that make her strong even without a sword? Do you think Phillipa, Fran and Peter portrayed these well in the trilogy?

A solution to the problem that Arwen and Aragorn could not be together through most of TT took the crew more than a year to figure out. They came to the conclusion that flashbacks would be a great way to get them together even though they are apart without having to add a new element that wasn’t in the book such as the Helms Deep scene.

Was this a good solution? Some things influence film more than is realized. Lighting and focus is a main part of the emotion in a scene. Do you think they should have changed anything minor like that to give it a surreal feel or did that not go along with the real life personal interaction they wanted?

Another challenge in TT was to make an emotional fulfilling climax for the end of the movie. There was a disadvantage in TT to making a climax in that there were no main characters who died, where in FOTR both Boromir and Gandalf die. That is why they decided to go with an action climax - Gandalf and Eomer charging at the Urk Hai army. One of the other climaxes in the movie is for Sam and the Ringbearer. Frodo and Sam’s mission had to become dangerous. When Frodo turns on the one closest to him, Sam, and nearly kills him at Osgilioth Sam has to snap him out of it. It makes Sam get stronger in the sense that Frodo is starting to fade away.

Do you think Frodo’s slow deterioration of his will shown when he pulls Sting on Sam created a sort of loss that isn’t really associated with death but makes a part of their journey seem empty?
Does the charge give the battle a feeling of completion?

They wanted to bring up the concept of tales and “old stories”. It was also an opportunity for them to draw in the whole of the tale and make it complete. Phillipa also mentions that TT is all about holding on. Not just for the characters but for the fans.

Folk in those stories had many chances of turning back - only they didn’t. They kept on going because they were holding onto something.”

What does Sam’s speech at Osgilith show you of his strength and will to hold on? Does what Sam say apply to all of life, even in this world?

At this point Fran and Phillipa wrote themselves into a corner. “So what are they holding onto?” They finally found a brilliant answer with amazing truth.

There is some good in this world Mr. Frodo, and its worth fighting for.”

Bustin' makes me feel good!!

I do believe if our honorable friend continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel for objections he is in danger of getting splinters under his fingernails.

Have you heard nothing of the stubbornness of dwarves and their elf

The dark spybot will not avail you, flame of Ubuntu!

(This post was edited by Wraith Buster on Feb 1 2011, 4:24am)

One Ringer
Tol Eressea

Feb 1 2011, 4:53pm

Post #2 of 7 (2685 views)
The middle is sometimes the best part... [In reply to] Can't Post

Although it's not the beginning, where there's much introduction (and in this case a more linear story), or the ending where everything comes together, I find that the second installment to a trilogy (assuming they're all one story) is the most fun. Being in the middle, you know where you are, you know where you're going, and you know that there's still another movie after this. That in thought allows the story to be at more ease in its pacing (perhaps why this one is more slow) and you get a chance to really appreciate the plot. Yes, there's not much action in the first half of the film, but the dialogue and character progress is key to make for the satisfying climax taking place over three separate locations. Generally, the second movie is the film where by the end all of the characters understand who they are in the mess of things. Where movie one teaches them what they have to do, movie two shows them who they have to be to claim victory in movie three. It's no different than any great story; there has to be a beginning, middle, and end.

"Oh, the cleverness of me."


Feb 1 2011, 8:44pm

Post #3 of 7 (2677 views)
I second that emotion! [In reply to] Can't Post

Absolutely, One Ringer!

I don't know why exactly, but I sure have a soft spot in my heart for The Two Towers, and I think you have nailed it. There was a feeling that we were in the middle of the journey, over the initial fears of starting out and knowing that we still had one more great movie in store for Christmas the next year.

There was something about TTT that rung true for me... I think to me it felt even more "movie"ish because there was real time for character development, and I'm one of those sappy guys who likes character-driven period movies, so it was perfect for me when the amazing detail of the Golden Hall was revealed. Perhaps it was just the overall digital color scheme of making everything very earth-tone, I don't know. I felt very connected to this movie in a way I did not feel with the others (not that I didn't think they were fabulous). It may also have been partly because I snuck away from work on opening day and went to an early afternoon showing all by myself (something I rarely do). When you go see a movie alone there's something about not having any distraction at all between you and the screen (and believe me, the entire crowd was mesmerized so there were no phones going off or anything like that) that makes a movie stick with you in a special way.

I still say that the opening sequence of TTT is one of the top 10 movie openings of all time. All I could think was, "How are they DOING that?" Just blown away by it. Not just the visuals. It was just so unexpected. I've read the books a zillion times and it never occurred to me to show that part of the story, let alone use it to facilitate the audience being drawn back into Middle Earth so viscerally.

So many other questions to answer here. This part of the appendices is my favorite. To get the screenwriters insight is a particularly great result of today's technology and the advent of DVDs.

If there is anything about the story that I wish I could change, it is the Ents decision to not go to war. I understand the screenwriter's opinion of that, and I'm not saying it isn't valid, it just didn't seem necessary to me. Treebeard nearly snaps Merry and Pippin in half just TALKING about orcs, so I didn't understand why the Ents could just be so matter-of-fact about it later. Maybe Treebeard had gone and stood underneath his waterfall in Wellinghall during a cut scene or something. Can you imagine the Dolby Digital thunder and earthquake-like rumbling that would have ensued if the Ents had blown up at the end of the moot like in the books?!!! There is not really anything about what comes after that in the movie that would have had to be changed other than not needing Pippin to trick Treebeard into walking toward Isengard. But all of that is trifling... just nitpicking.

I thought it was AWESOME how PJ, Fran and Phillippa took so many memorable and meaningful speeches from the book and used them in creative ways to make the plot more immediate. Wormtongue's recitation of Gandalf's words is the prime example... but there are many others... like moving Frodo's dream in the House of Bombadil to Gandalf to reassure Pippin with. Stroke of genius, that. Of course, you could give Ian McKellen a copy of the instructions to put a model car together and he could turn it into Shakespeare. I've said this before, but if you watch ROTK (theatrical version) and take note of every time anyone says or does anything expository, you will find that in about 40 minutes the screenwriters have set up and reviewed every single important storyline and theme and re-introduced every major character from the prior movie's 6+ hour running time (even Saruman's plight, though you don't actually see him even one time). Impressive craftmanship.

I'm SOOOO glad that the writers decided to go back to the drawing board with Arwen's story and not have her appear at Helm's Deep. Besides lessening the impact of Eowyn's choice to go to war in film 3, it also would have made Arwen's appearance at the coronation meaningless. In my wistful wishing, I would have liked to have heard Elrond tell Aragorn that no one less than the king of Gondor and Arnor would marry his daughter. But since Arnor is never mentioned, that just muddies the waters for movie-first folks.

I love, love, LOVE the reappearance of Gandalf (Extended version). That is classic and classy. Perfect music. Perfect lighting. Perfect delivery.

I am probably one of the few book-firsters that was not completely outraged by the changes to Faramir. Yes, he is one of my favorite characters in the book, and the EE did much to improve his movie-version character, but I have to agree with the screenwriters. Not much happens with the Frodo/Sam story if Faramir is purely friendly and unaffected by the Ring given that Shelob's Lair was being moved to the final film (and I also understand and agree with that choice).

In the end, TTT feels more like a history movie than a fantasy movie (Ents and Wargs aside). And that's probably what makes me feel so attached to it.


Feb 2 2011, 1:08am

Post #4 of 7 (2682 views)
Nice debut! [In reply to] Can't Post

Well summarized and lots of great questions -- you certainly got me thinking!
Here are some general comments on all of the different things you focused on in your questions:

On the moving of Shelob's Lair to ROTK -- When I was reading the books for the first time, I thought the ending with Frodo being alive but taken by the enemy was an amazing cliffhanger. I could not believe Tolkien left me hanging there! So I was kind of surprised that they chose not to end the second film with that moment -- it seemed a natural to me. But, if they had done that, then the Frodo/Sam storyline in ROTK would have basically consisted of them trudging through Mordor. Effective in the book, but probably death on screen. So I can see why they changed it. I also really liked that moving Shelob to ROTK let them parallel Aragorn's trip into a the Paths of the Dead with Frodo going into Shelob's cave.

On a side note, I love how Jackson uses the books to justify a change from the books here, also!

On Faramir as an obstacle -- I think they made the right call here. And my husband, a non-reader, still came away with a very favorable impression of Faramir, and how noble he was, because of the way he was able to rise above the Ring, and like Aragorn, to let Frodo go. He particularly liked that Faramir was shown, like Aragorn, as kneeling down to meet Frodo at eye level; he said that this worked to show that they were the kind of leaders who recognized the importance of making their own interests secondary to the job of supporting Frodo in the quest.

On the Ring's power/effect -- I thought they did a good job of showing us, externally, what the Ring was doing to Frodo on the inside. Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis deserve huge kudos for conveying its impact on them through their acting.

On why Faramir lets Frodo go -- I thought that Sam's revelation about Boromir was a shock to Faramir, which opened him up to seeing the truth about the Ring. But I always felt that seeing Frodo spellbound by the Nazgul, and Sam's intervention there, was what really made Faramir alter course from taking the Ring to Gondor and intervening himself, by shooting the arrow which drives the Nazgul away. I read it as "I couldn't save my brother", but I can do something to help someone else save theirs (well, the equivalent of a brother, anyway!). Kind of like the way people who have experienced a tragedy will work to prevent it from happening to others. Does that make sense?

On Grima giving Gandalf's speec
h -- Like others, I thought that was really inspired and incredibly well acted. I love the way he circles around her, and how she's so desperate for someone to understand her pain that she "almost" falls for it at one point. And it was much more effective, in the film, to get this insight into Eowyn before her storyline plays out, rather than as an explanation after the fact. That was fine and effective in the book, and it's placement right before Eowyn hooks up with Faramir is great. But without the whole Houses of Healing section, in the TE's at least, we don't need to learn anything more about Eowyn that late into the film.

Helm's Deep -- I really like the way they chose to not just show us a battle, but all the things they improvised around it. Theoden's speech while being armed is just grand, as is the moment when Aragorn finds his way out of despair by giving hope to that scared young boy. Helm's Deep was never my favorite chapter of the books, so these additions really added a lot to it, for me.

The arrival of the Elves -- I did not mind this change, and love ARagorn's reaction to their arrival. I do think, though, that it takes away a little from the return of Gandalf with Eomer at the end, by competing with that moment some.

Arwen's role -- I am glad they backed off having her in a battle, but I think it was important that she was shown in an independent, active role in FOTR before we got to these romantic scenes in TTT. Having her replace Glorfindel, and the way Aragorn defers to her abilities in FOTR, really helped to establish her as an equal to Aragorn, and not just his princess-bride. The flashbacks were a pretty inspired way to get her back into the story, I agree. I like the thought and care they put into finding a way to show the relationship between A&A in ways that worked with the main storyline. And I do think they succeeded in showing that her struggles and choices were as difficult and heroic as the things the other characters were going through.

Frodo attacking Sam
-- I liked the parallel with the earlier scene, where Frodo holds the sword at Gollum's throat. It shows how "lost" he is at this point, and how far down the path he's come from a guy who tried to save his friend to one who's now trying to kill him.

Sam's speech -- I like it, but I admit it requires a bit of effort on my part to get myself into the space where it really works for me. Sam's use of "fighting" here bothers me, I guess, because Sam and Frodo aren't really fighters, and that's not what their part of the story is really about. When I think of fighting in a more generic way, and not just in a battle sense, it works best for me. I do like how they worked in the idea of "the great tale" here, and at the end of the film.

Gandalf's return -- What I really like is the moment where Aragorn sees the light coming through the window, and you can see he has this sort of realization of the signficance of this moment. The blinding white light charge is pretty amazing, also, and the music sublime here. It's the moment the story goes from history to legend, for me, if that makes sense.

Thanks for the time you put into this! You can lead discussions around here anytime! And please do!Smile


Wraith Buster

Feb 3 2011, 3:31am

Post #5 of 7 (2669 views)
Thanks Weaver! [In reply to] Can't Post

I might do another one next time. It was really fun to get back into the special features again. Smile

Bustin' makes me feel good!!

I do believe if our honorable friend continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel for objections he is in danger of getting splinters under his fingernails.

Have you heard nothing of the stubbornness of dwarves and their elf

The dark spybot will not avail you, flame of Ubuntu!


Feb 5 2011, 2:53am

Post #6 of 7 (2705 views)
Arwen's role [In reply to] Can't Post

I really love that they ended up showing Arwen in flashback, but I wish there had been more of them. There's only two, and they are back-to-back. But I really only like the first one, because in the second Aragorn breaks up with her which was definitely not canon. Still, I enjoyed all of what they did with her in TTT. Liv acted it all so well, and i wish that so much of it hadn't ended being cut out. They were trying to expand her role, but she's only in about 10 minutes of the movie. Was it enough for the movie-only audience?

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Feb 6 2011, 10:03am

Post #7 of 7 (2973 views)
Good first topic [In reply to] Can't Post

So I hope you don't mind a nit-picker like me taking a few points apart. Well, this is the movie thread!

I am not sure about the wisdom of putting in Osigiliath as an extra obsticle for Frodo and Sam. Isn't having the Ring so close to Mordor having to get through to Mordor trying to dodge Haradrim, Easterlings and multidues of Orcs obsticles enough? Going to Osigiliath is just a waste of film time which might have been better spent on filming more of the original tale. Also the entire battle surely just distracts from the main battle in Helm's deep, at least that is the impression I get in watching the DVD's again!

A journey for Faramir. I do must admit that when I hear film producers talking about characters going on a journey I reach for my gun! It is not impossible for someone like Faramir to refuse the Ring as people like Aragorn and Gandalf did and Faramir is of a similair quality. If they didn't like his words about not picking the Ring up on a highway, which were good enough for Tolkien by the way, why not just simply cut them out? I don't think many would notice. It is possible that book Faramir was been a bit boastful here and one does sometimes wonder what would have happened had he found the Ring on a highway.

Strangely enough I never did mind the Elves arriving at Helm's deep as having one of them die was quite moving and a bit similair to the more tragic events in the Silmarillion. Also, the Elves were kind of fighting alongside the men just not in the same place.


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