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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
The butterflies above the forest canopy scene

BalrogTrainer
Rivendell

Feb 22 2014, 3:26pm

Post #1 of 24 (1737 views)
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The butterflies above the forest canopy scene Can't Post

Could this be an homage by PJ to the 1977 Rankin/Bass film? My memory of the book in these chapters is foggy, so I don't remember if Tolkien actually wrote about it. But considering PJ did homages to the 1978 Ralph Bakshi LOTR film in his LOTR films (and actually outright lifted a handful of scenes and/or elements Evil -- though he executed most of them better than Bakshi did) and considering "The Hobbit" is by far the best of the 3 animated Tolkien adaptations, I'd like to think he'd to at least one for these films.


book Gandalf
Rohan


Feb 22 2014, 3:43pm

Post #2 of 24 (1352 views)
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in the book [In reply to] Can't Post

it doesnt take long to quickly look this up on the internet or god forbid even in the book!!

tolkien wrote it.

This is a serious journey, not a hobbit walking-party.


QuackingTroll
Valinor


Feb 22 2014, 3:50pm

Post #3 of 24 (1371 views)
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It's a homage to the book [In reply to] Can't Post

PJ loves his little easter eggs, so here and there in the film you'll see little references, like this, to things that happened in the book. The butterflies and character names are just a couple of examples of things from the book. Almost everything else I think is entirely original?

Oh, I think there's a dragon in the book too. Not sure.


(This post was edited by QuackingTroll on Feb 22 2014, 3:53pm)


dormouse
Half-elven


Feb 22 2014, 4:03pm

Post #4 of 24 (1304 views)
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The book... [In reply to] Can't Post

It's in the book.


Lost Hobbit
Rivendell


Feb 22 2014, 4:03pm

Post #5 of 24 (1302 views)
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It is actually... [In reply to] Can't Post

...shot the way it should be :) Amazing scene, absolutely the same as in the book and while watching it you can sense the relief after that poisoned air so clearly.


Glorfindela
Valinor


Feb 22 2014, 4:46pm

Post #6 of 24 (1264 views)
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Nice one, Quacking Troll! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
PJ loves his little easter eggs, so here and there in the film you'll see little references, like this, to things that happened in the book. The butterflies and character names are just a couple of examples of things from the book. Almost everything else I think is entirely original?

Oh, I think there's a dragon in the book too. Not sure.



Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Feb 22 2014, 4:48pm

Post #7 of 24 (1272 views)
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There's a book? [In reply to] Can't Post

Tongue

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

The Hall of Fire


Magpie
Immortal


Feb 22 2014, 5:24pm

Post #8 of 24 (1240 views)
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It is in the book... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but it wasn't shot the way I thought it should be (just to provide a contrasting opinion).

Here's that scene from the book:
In the end he poked his head above the roof of the leaves, and then he found spiders all right. But they were only small ones of ordinary size, and they were after the butterflies. Bilbo’s eyes were nearly blinded by the light. He could hear the dwarves shouting up at him from far below, but he could not answer, only hold on and blink. The sun was shining brilliantly, and it was a long while before he could bear it. When he could, he saw all round him a sea of dark green, ruffled here and there by the breeze; and there were everywhere hundres of butterflies. I expect they were a kind of ‘purple emperor,’ a butterfly that loves the tops of oak-woods, but these were not purple at all, they were a dark dark velvety black without any markings to be seen.

Chapter VIII, FLIES AND SPIDERS


There was too much color grading in that shot in the movie.

screenshot

It's all orange and blue. I kind of get the use of color grading to convey sunset... or twilight... or cloudy days. But the result is the lack of color. There is no reason, imo, to remove all of the color -- other than orangey/brown and blue -- from that shot. I wanted to see a "sea of dark green" ... not drab brown. I wanted to see the sun shining brilliantly with a clear blue sky... not sunset with dimming light. I wanted to see 'dark, dark, velvety black' butterflies.



I wrote more about a popular trend toward 'orange and teal' color grading and this particular scene here:
http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=630262#630262

I remarked years ago that, somehow... the 'waiting for battle to commence' scenes in the first (of the recent series of) Narnia movie moved me way more than any of the LOTR 'waiting for battle to commence' scenes. I love LOTR like a gazillion times more than Narnia and I generally very much liked the LOTR movies and never had a conscious complaint about the battle scenes in LOTR.

So why was I more moved by Narnia? I'm not sure I know but I think part of it is the filmmakers staged the battle on a sunny, green field. I think the beauty of the staging contrasts with the horror you know is coming. Now, I get that there was a lot of literal darkness toward the end of LOTR. So I think they couldn't have put the battles on a sunny field of green in LOTR.

But I do think that the amount of color grading that Jackson and Co seemed keen to use does impair my ability to fully connect with the scenes. I think it's a combination of the unnatural colors (if you want to see a great depiction of sunset 'colors'... check out Maxfield Parrish) and the diminished color palette that results from the grading. It just looks wrong to me and I can't get over the 'wrongness' of it.

There are many scenes in LOTR that I think have beautiful color - even when light is subdued - so I don't think this choice is due to lack of skill. I think there is some conscious choice to start messing with those color channel dials in an attempt to convey.... "something?" In the case of this butterfly scene, I'm not quite sure what they were going for but I don't like what they gave me.

And this scene, had it been done more like the book, would have gone a long way towards WOW-ing me since it's one of a handful of small moments that I most love about the book. It not only wowed me, it disappointed me.


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iduna
Rivendell


Feb 22 2014, 5:44pm

Post #9 of 24 (1187 views)
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It's in the book [In reply to] Can't Post

As others have already noted, it is a moment from the book. A lovely, beautiful and meaningful moment.

I, too, wanted to see green leaves on the trees, but if it's actually late in the autumn when the moment takes place, the leaves in a deciduous forest wouldn't be green anymore. They would be turning brown and orange and yellow, the colors of fall.

And I was sorry that the butterflies weren't black, as described by Tolkien, but I don't think they would have looked right on screen. Black butterflies probably would have looked like bats or something. Or like black animated blobs. Also, in real life when the sun shines on glossy black surfaces, the black tends to have a blue sheen, so I'm thinking they did it right. The undersides of the butterflies' wings are black, but where the sun strikes them, they look blue.

Therefore, although I've read the arguments about the over-use of orange and teal in the movies, I have to conclude that it was unavoidable in this scene.


Elarie
Gondor

Feb 22 2014, 5:51pm

Post #10 of 24 (1209 views)
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Color in DOS changes with each format [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to: ..I wanted to see a "sea of dark green" ... not drab brown.
----

This color issue is something I've posted about a couple of times already, so sorry if I'm repeating myself, but the color in DOS seems to depend entirely on the format it's in, and the quality of the theater equipment.

This has been my experience at our local theaters: In 24FPS 3D and 24FPS IMAX 3D, the leaves above Mirkwood are, indeed, drab brown. In the 3D 48FPS IMAX that I saw, they were a nice autumn red. In the 2D version, the colors are the most brilliant of all, and the sun, and the sky and the glowing red leaves above Mirkwood are gorgeous, particularly at the local Regal cinema, as compared to the AMC theaters.

Other scenes in the movie also have noticeable differences between formats and theaters, particularly Beorn's house and inside Erebor.

Lighting and color are very, very important to me in films, so I'm hoping that the Blu-Ray gets it right, and if it does, I think a lot of people are going to be pleasantly amazed at the beautiful light and color in DOS. But it's really sad that a lot of casual viewers who won't be buying the Blu-Ray probably saw DOS one time in 3D at the theater with crummy color and that's how they'll remember it.


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Feb 22 2014, 7:00pm

Post #11 of 24 (1158 views)
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I believe the colors... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in this instance reflect a desire on the part of the filmmakers, to communicate the change of seasons. In the film, as this iconic scene takes place, it is already Autumn, and the leaves are changing color. The color grading may or may not also be off, it is a matter about which I am not knowledgable, but it seems certain to me that the trees were not supposed to be green in the film.



Magpie
Immortal


Feb 22 2014, 7:39pm

Post #12 of 24 (1139 views)
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oh, I'm sure they weren't supposed to have been green, as well. [In reply to] Can't Post

As I said. I don't think it was a mistake or lack of skill. I think it was a choice to depict the scene other than how it was described.


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Magpie
Immortal


Feb 22 2014, 7:46pm

Post #13 of 24 (1142 views)
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I hope to see it in 2D [In reply to] Can't Post

...when it comes to my local second run theater (which has top notch projection equipment)... that is, if the weather cooperates. (we experienced one of those 'shut the highways down we've got gridlock' moments with this last mix of ice and snow)

So I'll pay close attention to that shot in particular.

If the shot can be elevated to 'beautiful' (or even 'lovely') it will at least remove the distraction of 'wrong' my brain wants to scream at me (and not that it provides any cachet but I'm a graphic designer that has to pay attention to color and I have definite likes and dislikes with certain color choices).

But even if I can appreciate some beauty heretofore unseen (by me), it still wouldn't be an entirely 'accurate' depiction of the description in the book. I'm not de facto anti-change. But I went into the movie hoping to see the scene in the book and I got the scene... but not as in the book. So that will always be a slight personal disappointment. And it would still be hard for me to read 'it was exactly as it was in the book'! :-)

(and don't be sorry to repeat yourself. I hadn't caught your comments in particular even though I've caught discussion about differences in format in general. And your observations are very pertinent to my comments so it was great you repeated yourself.)


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(This post was edited by Magpie on Feb 22 2014, 7:47pm)


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Feb 22 2014, 7:51pm

Post #14 of 24 (1128 views)
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Oh, sorry! [In reply to] Can't Post

I misunderstood. I though you were suggesting the color grading was at fault for the mismatch between book and film. Now I get it - you know they were going for Fall color, and you would have preferred green. And on top of that you find the color grading in that scene they filmed displeasing. Got it now. Smile



Escapist
Gondor


Feb 22 2014, 7:53pm

Post #15 of 24 (1139 views)
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I think that a lot of the similarities could easily be explained [In reply to] Can't Post

by the common source material.

I liked the butterflies scene, myself. I already have the image in my mind and the original text so another take on it that is really different doesn't bother me at all. I can see why they wouldn't a totally "green" Mirkwood since it isn't "Greenwood" anymore.

If it were like a translation of my own personal diary or if there wasn't the original text for me to go back to and there was a major focus on bringing imagery in my own head to life ... instead of just comparing interpretations of someone else's attempts and bringing a story to life ... I would probably be pretty frustrated - probably wouldn't even be able to handle it.

But that's not what this is. This is just a mass collaborative interpretation of another person's completed work. Deviation from what I was thinking is mostly "interesting". It's just not something I would tolerate at all as an interference in my own creative process. At all. I can see how it would get under the skin of the likes of Christopher Tolkien and how little details would niggle at JRRT enough for him to write letters about it decades ago.

If all the world's a stage then who's writing the script?


Crunchable Birdses
Rohan


Feb 22 2014, 8:15pm

Post #16 of 24 (1141 views)
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I like the cut of your jib :} [In reply to] Can't Post

 

* crunch *


Magpie
Immortal


Feb 22 2014, 10:41pm

Post #17 of 24 (1078 views)
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yeah. [In reply to] Can't Post

perfectly summarized. :-)


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Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Feb 22 2014, 11:06pm

Post #18 of 24 (1076 views)
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It could have been meant as a tribute to both. [In reply to] Can't Post

In the book, the scene would have taken place probably around the third week of August; this was several days after encountering the enchanted stream and the leaves of the trees were still green. Part of me wishes that Jackson's team had kept to the description of the butterflies as "black emperors" instead of making them blue.

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


Bumblingidiot
Rohan

Feb 23 2014, 12:33am

Post #19 of 24 (1070 views)
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The key thing about that scene in the book [In reply to] Can't Post

is that even the nice parts of Mirkwood - where there's sunlight and normal things like butterflies - are invested with the strange and slightly sinister or 'unnatural'. The butterflies being black is the whole point. I've no idea why they changed it for the film - it now says something completely different.

"Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear."


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Feb 23 2014, 3:19am

Post #20 of 24 (1045 views)
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I think what it says now [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
is that even the nice parts of Mirkwood - where there's sunlight and normal things like butterflies - are invested with the strange and slightly sinister or 'unnatural'. The butterflies being black is the whole point. I've no idea why they changed it for the film - it now says something completely different.

is that the air down under the trees is foul and treacherous, but above the trees where there is still pure light and clean air, healthy things still live. That scene provides a stark contrast to the decay of Mirkwood.


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.


Bumblingidiot
Rohan

Feb 23 2014, 3:54pm

Post #21 of 24 (981 views)
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And of course in the book, they misread things [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo can't see the mountain or the edge of the wood - because they are literally (and probably metaphorically) in a depression, so the trees seem to go on for ever, even though they are actually near the eastern edge. The strange butterflies serve to highlight the strange, alien world they are apparently stuck in. The film completely changes that.

It's a common theme in Tolkien, that, instead of trusting to sound advice and clear thinking, characters tend to try to read the signs, and get caught out by their own prejudices or moods. Same could be said for Hollywood execs who are more likely to trust a focus group than the source material.

"Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear."


Reuel
The Shire

Feb 24 2014, 3:24pm

Post #22 of 24 (898 views)
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Gotta agree with Magpie [In reply to] Can't Post

This was an amazing shot -

http://youtu.be/PKfZzeptleg?t=52m43s

- from the BBC's old Singing Detective TV show. It has everything you might hope for - the sense that this is a secret world, the freedom, the solitude, a feeling of great height, and, naturally, the beauty of a forest moving in the wind and sun. Which isn't hard, seeing as, you know, it's just a crane shot of a real forest.

As soon as I saw Freeman against a green screen in the vlog, I knew that this scene - which is really one of the greatest little touches in the whole of the book, and brilliantly cinematic (taking a wild guess, I suspect it's the source of the shot in Matrix Revolutions when they pilot the ship into the clear blue sky) - wouldn't work. Because it's all about taking a breath of fresh air, one of things that CGI and studio work can't do.

This forest feels sick, is right.


Magpie
Immortal


Feb 24 2014, 3:59pm

Post #23 of 24 (891 views)
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re: the link [In reply to] Can't Post

I've noticed that youtube's "link to a specific spot in the video" isn't working. I tried and tried last week and couldn't get it to work for me. It just loads the video at the beginning.

So, if anyone visits the link Reuel provided, just push the video to 52 minutes and 43 seconds.

That's a great comparison shot, Reuel.

I hadn't thought about it but a scene trying to convey a similar feeling was Eowyn fleeing from Theodred's bedside and Grima's attention to the outside steps of Edoras.

It always provided this great contrast between the stifling, dark, and probably odorous room where death and a dire future sits... and the brisk, breezy, clear outside air. I wrote about it here:
http://newboards.theonering.net/...cgi?post=95403#95403

The canopy butterfly scene didn't provide that same visceral hit at all.


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Reuel
The Shire

Feb 24 2014, 5:15pm

Post #24 of 24 (885 views)
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Thanks Magpie [In reply to] Can't Post

The other thing is that Tolkien, with genuine artistry, gets across the way that Bilbo's senses are sharpened as he emerges from the haze of Mirkwood. "A dark dark velvety black" is the brilliant touch of a real writer (it sounds like DH Lawrence, actually) that describes both the hard-to-capture colouring of the butterflies (a 'dark dark black' - nonsensical, but you know what he's getting at) and the sudden specificity of Bilbo's perceptions, like he's just woken from a smog - which he has. Not only that, it communicates Bilbo's Hobbity love of nature (the awareness of the habitats of Purple Emperors) and gives you a subliminal pang of homesickness on his behalf (that's Shire knowledge) and also (with the brilliant use of the word 'love' - "a butterfly that loves the top of oak trees") gives a more general sense of the rightness of nature in comparison to down below in Mirkwood. It's a terrfic and emotional Tolkien moment, like seeing Cerin Amroth. It's also one of the great moments of Bilbo's life, one of the sights he'll never forget.

In other words, this one shot exemplifies the (to me disastrous) shortcomings of the over-CGIed approach. The feeling you want is of liberation from a suffocating and sickly spell, and it would be the perfect place to move from the CGI/studio-bound Mirkwood to the greater clarity, the real air, of a location shot. But I think things have gone so far by now that that would've been too risky - the CGI interior and an actual canopy of an actual forest might clash badly. So yeah, teal and orange etc etc... when it could and should (after all, it's basically been storyboarded for you - bright light, Bilbo blinks, extreme-close-up of butterfly, the strange beauty of it, extreme close-up of Martin Freeman: the relief) have been the best shot, even moment of the whole movie. It's not terrible, it's just a missed opportunity.

 
 

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