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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
does anyone else like the skull avalanche?
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Oct 22 2013, 11:20pm

Post #1 of 28 (997 views)
does anyone else like the skull avalanche? Can't Post

Ive seen alot of hate about this sequence and how it ruins the rotk ee. I actualy found it pretty cool and original.

Tol Eressea

Oct 22 2013, 11:23pm

Post #2 of 28 (717 views)
After listening to the commentaries, [In reply to] Can't Post

I find it kind of funny.

I wouldn't say I like it, but it doesn't "OMG ruin the whole trilogy!" for me either.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.

Eye's on Guard

Oct 22 2013, 11:48pm

Post #3 of 28 (675 views)
I don't mind it [In reply to] Can't Post

It doesn't make much sense to me, but I think the effect is good...adds to the atmosphere and emphasizes that these guys were once real people not just random spirits.

I wonder why they would have collected their skulls in one place. And what was up with the the dead starting the cave-in in the first place...do they want to fulfill the oath or not? They certainly can't do it if the only one who can accept the fulfillment gets buried.

Tol Eressea

Oct 23 2013, 12:35am

Post #4 of 28 (657 views)
Yes! [In reply to] Can't Post

The whole Paths of the Dead thing was the creepiest scary part of the films for me, and I much preferred that to the "live" decapitations and dismemberment that we get enough of Tongue (ick!). The skulls were so unexpected I felt as shocked as the three friends would have. I find it easy enough not to wonder where they all came from just at that moment Wink.

And I like the clunky sound they make as they start falling. Laugh


Oct 23 2013, 4:48am

Post #5 of 28 (633 views)
I thought it looked very good [In reply to] Can't Post

the whole undulating repeated pattern of the skulls. Also, it's pretty hard not to have some reaction to the idea of being burried alive in skulls. If you think about it for too long it does seem a bit silly. But, if that's what it takes to ruin a movie, then I guess 90% of films have just been ruined.

Tol Eressea

Oct 23 2013, 3:49pm

Post #6 of 28 (618 views)
It was a little......off [In reply to] Can't Post

A bit more comedic in a serious setting, but I liked it well enough. I understand why it was cut from the TE though.


Oct 23 2013, 3:53pm

Post #7 of 28 (604 views)
The only part... [In reply to] Can't Post

... in the trilogy that I disliked throughout in terms of design and execution.

Especially the greenish ghosts look horrible imho, the place they meet the dead king unimaginative compared to the Stone of Erech.

The skulls could have looked kind of good with today's technology. It is really bad CGI imho what we see in the movie. The basic idea however is kind of interesting.

“A dragon is no idle fancy. Whatever may be his origins, in fact or invention, the dragon in legend is a potent creation of men’s imagination, richer in significance than his barrow is in gold.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Words of wisdom that should be remembered - both by critics, purists and anyone in between.


Oct 23 2013, 7:09pm

Post #8 of 28 (620 views)
Sorry, no. [In reply to] Can't Post

The sequence was a bit too Indiana Jonesish. And not in a good way.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Oct 23 2013, 7:10pm)


Oct 23 2013, 7:14pm

Post #9 of 28 (576 views)
It worked for me. [In reply to] Can't Post

I gave approximately zero thought to it as it was happening.


Oct 24 2013, 12:56am

Post #10 of 28 (567 views)
That was my reaction. [In reply to] Can't Post

It seemed clownish, which works for Indiana Jones, but not in an epic movie. It didn't feel any different/scarier than watching a shelf of food collapse on actors in a grocery store. I didn't care that it was canon or not. It just seemed cheesy. I was half-waiting for the line, "Skulls? Oh, I hate skulls."


Oct 24 2013, 1:08am

Post #11 of 28 (574 views)
I feel a bit bad replying ... [In reply to] Can't Post

since the OP was phrased to find those who liked the scene, not disliked it.

But I didn't like it. And a search for posts made with the word 'skull' by 'magpie' will show you it's one I've spoken about disliking multiple times. :-)

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Oct 24 2013, 2:43am

Post #12 of 28 (532 views)
It was fine for me...didn't give it much thought// [In reply to] Can't Post


"Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?" -Samwise


Oct 24 2013, 7:20am

Post #13 of 28 (574 views)
A nice homage to one of Tolkien's childhood literary influences [In reply to] Can't Post

I suppose as a boy [H. Rider Haggard's novel] "She" interested me as much as anything—like the Greek shard of Amyntas [Amenartas], which was the kind of machine by which everything got moving.
-Henry Resnick, "An Interview with Tolkien", Niekas, 1967.

So far as I could judge, this pit was about the size of the space beneath the dome of St. Paul's in London, and when the lamps were held up I saw that it was nothing but one vast charnel-house, being literally full of thousands of human skeletons, which lay piled up in an enormous gleaming pyramid, formed by the slipping down of the bodies at the apex as fresh ones were dropped in from above. Anything more appalling than this jumbled mass of the remains of a departed race I cannot imagine, and what made it even more dreadful was that in this dry air a considerable number of the bodies had simply become desiccated with the skin still on them, and now, fixed in every conceivable position, stared at us out of the mountain of white bones, grotesquely horrible caricatures of humanity. In my astonishment I uttered an ejaculation, and the echoes of my voice, ringing in the vaulted space, disturbed a skull that had been accurately balanced for many thousands of years near the apex of the pile. Down it came with a run, bounding along merrily towards us, and of course bringing an avalanche of other bones after it, till at last the whole pit rattled with their movement, even as though the skeletons were getting up to greet us.
-She, H. Rider Haggard

I met a Balrog on the stair,
He had some wings that weren't there.
They weren't there again today,
I wish he would just fly away.


Oct 24 2013, 8:30am

Post #14 of 28 (538 views)
The first time it made me rant [In reply to] Can't Post

The second time I sat there in silence.
The third time I laughed.
The fourth time I giggled like a maniac and my stomach hurt for days.

"Eala Earendel engla beorhtast
ofer middangeard monnum sended."

"There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it." - Cicero


Oct 24 2013, 12:03pm

Post #15 of 28 (540 views)
I really hate it [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think it's scary or anything, only an strange scene, kind out of place.

But it doesn't ruined ROTK EE for me, at all.

Ziggy Stardust

Oct 25 2013, 12:53am

Post #16 of 28 (488 views)
I thought it was good [In reply to] Can't Post

It wasn't the most spectacular, but they did they're best. The skull avalanche made a good effect, after all, those skulls once belonged to people that were once alive. Since it was the Paths of the Dead, it needed to have skulls, if not whole skeletons.

Ziggy Stardust

Oct 25 2013, 12:54am

Post #17 of 28 (495 views)
Strange [In reply to] Can't Post

I would describe it as strange. It wasn't the most scary, but strange works. It was a strange scene. A strange scene in a strange place. Cool


Oct 26 2013, 6:40pm

Post #18 of 28 (453 views)
It'd hmmm...different [In reply to] Can't Post

My wife loves that part and all the parts of the dead, while I don't really like a single section the dead are apart of, and for me the avalanche thing is just not really needed. I think the entire way the dead was handled was wrong though.


Oct 28 2013, 2:48am

Post #19 of 28 (431 views)
No, it's terrible (IMO) [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not even talking about whether or not it's faithful to the book; the scene is simply out of place within the context of the film. The Paths of the Dead is set up as this really spooky and ominous place. Having such a goofy set piece ruins the atmosphere, although they'd already started doing that with Gimli's skull-crunching comic relief. It doesn't ruin ROTK for me or anything*, but I still think it's a bad scene.

*I can never decide on a favorite film in the trilogy, but I love ROTK a lot. That said, if anything comes close to ruining the final film for me, it would be either the scrubbing bubble army or Frodo sending Sam away rather than anything in the EE.

There's a feeling I get, when I look to the West...

Tol Eressea

Oct 28 2013, 12:03pm

Post #20 of 28 (406 views)
The skull avalanche doesn't ruin it. [In reply to] Can't Post

The green comedy ghosts ruin. At least the skulls are creepy and grotesque as they should be - as anything about this segment should be.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Oct 28 2013, 2:54pm

Post #21 of 28 (401 views)
I have to agree Elanor [In reply to] Can't Post

I really don't like this bit. It undermines, imo, the build up of evil and fear concerning the Paths of the Dead- brave warriors and horses alike are spooked even being near the entrance to the Paths. It is a terrible place.... but then we have these silly scenes with Gimli blowing away the phantoms and rolling his eyes as he treads on bones. Then the skull avalanche- the number of skulls is pretty much overkill imo. It just takes me out of the fear and creepiness of the whole place. There is then a brief interlude of pathos, when Aragorn sees the ships of the Corsairs and the damage that they have inflicted and he almost despairs. But then... we have the daft cameo scene with the Corsairs.. "You and whose army?" It gets a little Monty Python for a bit!!! Not my favourite scenes of the trilogy, that's for sure. But then, I guess that others may hate scenes that I like.

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!


Oct 29 2013, 8:20am

Post #22 of 28 (386 views)
Glad to know others feel the same [In reply to] Can't Post



Oct 29 2013, 9:51am

Post #23 of 28 (392 views)
Ehm [In reply to] Can't Post

My least favourite part of RoTK... it just looks really wierd IMO Unimpressed


Gandalf: FLY, YOU FOOLS!

Werde Spinner

Oct 29 2013, 3:01pm

Post #24 of 28 (380 views)
'Hate' might be too strong of a word for me... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not longer the purist I once was, so by now I just roll my eyes and move on. I think the skulls were meant to be creepy and horrifying, but it didn't work for me. It just seemed so random and unexplained. A few could have worked just fine. But an avalanche? It just took me straight out of the movie, because I was spending all my time thinking, "How many people had to die to make for that many skulls? And why did they pile just the skulls up there? Who keeps a reservoir of skulls just to inundate unexpected company, anyway?" Crazy

For the record, though, I think the green ghosts worked fine, and the part where Gimli looks down and realizes he is walking on bones is truly horrifying - I would be totally freaking out in that situation myself. Also, the green hands reaching upwards were scary - until Gimli started blowing them away. Then all I could think of was Jack Sparrow and Han Solo trying to blow out the fires they are about to be roasted upon... Cool

"I had forgotten that. It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"

"As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."


Nov 1 2013, 4:34pm

Post #25 of 28 (330 views)
I liked it. [In reply to] Can't Post

I assumed that the skulls had been piled up bit by bit in that underground mausoleum, as the people who had fled to the mountains gradually died out. I assumed there would have been some kind of strange ritual - interring the head and burying or eating(?) the body - after all, they were a cursed people, hiding in the mountains with little access to good farming land. People in that situation are likely to devise strange rituals, and turn to cannibalism.

I also thought it was fitting that when Aragorn turned up, the mausoleum would crumble - hence releasing the avalanche of skulls, as the things that were bound together by Isildur's curse would be disturbed or freed by the arrival of his heir. From a purist's perspective, it at least makes some sense.

What doesn't make sense is the army of the dead arriving at Pellenor Fields and making everyone else's efforts seem a bit pointless. (And they're too green.)

"Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear."

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