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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
The Dragon Problem (long)
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MrCere
Sr. Staff


May 1 2008, 12:07am

Post #1 of 158 (7915 views)
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The Dragon Problem (long) Can't Post

Stories of dragons are as old as the written word and probably a lot older. To keep things inside the J.R.R. Tolkien realm, “Beowulf”, one of the oldest written stories of Europe features not only the monstrous Grendel but his serpentine Mother.

Ancient biblical writings allude to the great serpent or dragon while global mythology has oversized lizard creatures popping up so consistently that some have suggested there must be some common shared memory or primitive survival instinct built into humanity to cause us to tell our tribal stories about such a monstrosity.

Tolkien's “The Hobbit” follows in that grand tradition, as does much of his grander cosmology. While some of the creatures in his bestiary, such as the fire-and-shadow balrogs are original, the great worm Smaug and his Middle-earth cousins are certainly not new.

And yet, Tolkien's works and his world building, and the importance of his influence on both fantasy literature and fantasy in popular culture, mean that Smaug gets a prominent chapter in the “Who's Who of Dragons.” Smaug, even for those who haven't read “The Hobbit”, is familiar even if he isn't original. Some of his chief characteristics worked so effectively in making him a memorable character that they were used often by not only by other authors, but by others using dragons in any medium.

Special effects tools of the last few decades have taken a creature difficult to create with size and scale on film and made it not a fantastic creature but another option as a character. Eragon (and my goodness how that name rings a bell in the Middle-earth chapel) is the story of a boy and his dragon that was a publishing phenomenon and a big-budget film that perhaps didn't achieve financial, critical or artistic success but did reaffirm the “reality” of a talking, flying dragon in the minds of the movie going public.

Sean Connery voiced a dragon of his own and the abysmal Dungeons & Dragons movie featured a fleet of the beasts in combat. Dragons, often the rarest and among the most magical of creatures in a given mythology, have become so common as to be, well, common. Harry Potter and his ilk keep them in chains, own eggs and use them for schoolboy trials of manhood. Smaug certainly wouldn't have allowed that, even at the hands of the mighty Noldor Elves. Demigods including Gandalf himself would have been hard pressed to place even a single leash on such a creature. Indeed Smaug was virtually immortal with his longevity and near invulnerability.

What this means for 2008 is that “The Hobbit” production has a dragon problem. It has been well argued on TheOneRing.net's own message boards that Bilbo's conversation with Smaug are at least an emotional highlight of “The Hobbit,” if not the climax.

I have not the expertise and have not done the scholarship to try to contend that Tolkien's dragon was the original modern dragon prototype. But I can say that the shadow Smaug casts in modern fantasy is large and dark and since Smaug or dragons similar to him have now populated popular culture like rabbits in vegetable garden, Guillermo del Toro and Richard Taylor and his WETA team bear the burden of the dragon problem.

Smaug will need to be a fully realized character (much more than a monster) that feels as genuine as any of the flesh actors that appear in the film. WETA, with Gollum under its belt, has achieved that before but not with a gigantic non-humanoid. The “Fellowship” cave troll also did some fine acting thanks to the digital team. This creature will not have humanoid features but will need to emote as well as a human and connect with or repel the audience with complex emotions such as pride and greed. A t the same time Smaug needs to be terrifying. We need to empathize with Bilbo that Smaug is both polite and terrible, proud and horrific, conversational but deadly. This alone would be a tall order and asks WETA to take things a step beyond its prior accomplishments but given the dedication and innovation, I have faith in the special effects team to get that done.

But then the dragon also needs to step out of the mishmash of dragons that have popped up everywhere in film and in books. Smaug must be Smaug The Magnificent, not Smaug The Other Dragon. And besides his conversation with Bilbo he needs to swoop down on an entire town of hardy humans and incinerate their town built on a lake. Here again, he must be fearsome and ruthless and intelligent and not feel like the same creature that was in “Beowulf” and feel as real as anything in life.

The voice is an important factor, and the choice of this actor is one of the most anticipated of the film. I have been appealing to deity since contemplating who might fill our ears with roars and threats that no actor previously used for dragon or lion in film be used again. I am horrified to think of an actors voice that causes the audience to say, “Ohhhh! That is Actor X!”

Now the best actors can manage to create a whole different character and voice and take viewers beyond easy recognition but some voices are just too distinct. Doubly dangerous are voices that have already voiced dragons or lions or other obvious mythical beasts. Some lions and dragon voices have already been suggested on these forums, which gives me the shivers. I just don't want to say to myself while watching the much-anticipated film, “Who knew Smaug sounds like Darth Vader / Scar / Aslan!” This isn't the place to advocate any casting decisions (and beyond the fun of fan casting, no place is) but my opinion about that was expressed a few months back here.

So looking at the first of the two films planned for production, this Smaug challenge looks to me to be both the most difficult and the most rewarding. I can't wait to see how the dragon problem gets solved. That is the fun of hotly anticipating movies based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

I have no choice but to believe in free will.

The cake is a lie
The cake is a lie
The cake is a lie




(This post was edited by MrCere on May 1 2008, 12:15am)


Sunflower
Valinor

May 1 2008, 12:53am

Post #2 of 158 (2196 views)
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Hear hear! [In reply to] Can't Post

Although, I have to say, the dragon in Beowulf scared the heck out of me (first time I have been genuinely frightened by a CGI creature) and I went out of the theater saying "NOW I know why they called Glaurung "the Great Worm." Glaurung, the destroyer of Gondolin always frightened me more than Smaug ever did. B/che was a different type of being.

Which leads me to another point about his voice. Whatever has been written about his voice, and however Tolkien described it, I think here that heresy should be committed, in that the way he speaks should convey his otherworldliness. Shelob and the Balrog by their very existences bespoke of their alien-ness-of their being last remnants of the First Age, left over in ME. Smaug, though, as a Dragon, will need something more, just b/c of his, as you say, familiarity.

Therefore, he should not speak in the cliched Queen's English,(for all that conveys an elegant menace...but heck, we had Grand Moff Tarkin for that. And we don't want him to be another Shere Khan. ) IMO, Smuag should have a completely unfamilar accent, something leftover from the ME of the First Age; perhaps a form of slurred or corrupted Quenya (Morgoth corrupting Noldor speech, as Saruman later corrupted orcs...or, actually, as Morgoth corrupted and twisted captured Elves.) Viggo demosrated this a litte in ROTK at the Rohan camp, when he says to Theoden, "We have until dawn, then we must ride." Thnakfully, they didn't overdo it.) To this slurred/gulped warped Quenya accent, should be overlaid the slightish bit of High Scottish (the accent of Dale, which he had taken residence in.)

I'm sure David Salo and/or Roison Carty could help with this.


(This post was edited by Sunflower on May 1 2008, 12:55am)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 1 2008, 12:57am

Post #3 of 158 (2398 views)
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Consider the Balrog. [In reply to] Can't Post

You make some cogent and thought-provoking points. (I won’t say which ones…)*

Leading into the LOTR films the big question I had were how were they going to depict the Balrog and Treebeard? The first because this was a creature we haven’t seen in fantasy literature before, and the second because a talking tree could undermine PJ’s hard-fought realism of Middle-earth.

But you’re right about Smaug. Dragons have a banality to them that reminds me of an editor’s comment I read once, who exclaimed upon reading a new manuscript, “Not more f****** dragons!” (This item referred to the influence of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, but I wouldn’t be surprised if her telepathic dragons were informed by Smaug.)

Elves also carry a lot of baggage with them – and I believe PJ, Ngila and Weta managed to present Tolkien’s Elves as a new form of being that intrigued audiences. But then, they had a lot of Elves with which to present nuances of character between them – with The Hobbit, there is just Smaug.

I do have faith in the team to do something original with Smaug. It is a challenging task for them, for all of the reasons you have outlined, but these are the guys who blew the screen apart with the originality of the Balrog, who removed the ridiculous from a walking tree, and who turned Elves into a mighty and dangerous (in their own way) species. They also managed to bring an unholy menace to a piece of jewellery through the use of sound effects.

And for what it’s worth, I think you’re onto something (as opposed to *on* something) about an unknown actor voicing Smaug. I imagine the casting for that role would be enormous.



* (kidding)

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Mirabella_Bunce
Rivendell

May 1 2008, 1:02am

Post #4 of 158 (2097 views)
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That's no oooooordinary rabbit! [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't thought a whole lot about "how will they do The Dragon?" because I really have a lot of faith in the whole team making this movie - including, now, and perhaps especially, GDT - but HAVE had a few "I Hope They"s.

For instance it seems to me that even tho' we now have all this wonderful CG imaging now, the impact of the horror and enormity of Smaug that Tolkien tried to convey (and Smaug being a mere diminished shadow of original dragonhood, at that!) would have more impact if we could never be able to see all of him at once. Even on the biggest of Big Screens. Raaaaar! etc.

Another thing I must confess is that somehow, ever since I read Unfinished Tales, every time I try to envision (envision? enhearon?) Smaug's voice, I keep tending to hear Anthony Hopkins. *shudder*

Maybe that's all it really is. Not the Hopkins part (not likely, actually) but the "shudder" part. When we first see or hear Smaug, I don't want it to be the kind of thing where we all say "Oooooh COOOOOL!!!" I want it to be the kind of thing where we all shudder and want to crawl under our seats.

If anyone can make us do that, it's Del Toro!


lumpkin
The Shire


May 1 2008, 4:22am

Post #5 of 158 (2097 views)
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Eyes and voice [In reply to] Can't Post

will be key for my belief in the interpretation.

Due to some inspired casting for my 5th grade stage production of the Hobbit, I have often "heard" the voice of Smaug as a female's. A smug, beguiling feminine purr. I'm embarrassed to say I can't recall if Smaug is referred to as a "he" in the text--probably so (yes, my Hobbit is just downstairs on the bookshelf, but at the moment I'm already late to bed).

Thanks for your thoughtful musings MrCere. A pleasure to read.


Elizabeth
Valinor


May 1 2008, 4:40am

Post #6 of 158 (2258 views)
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We have Tolkien's vision of Smaug: [In reply to] Can't Post



Not all that terrifying, really, unless you're as tiny as the small, invisible Bilbo shown bowing on the right. Two ways to interpret this:

1) Tolkien still thought of this as a children's book, and didn't want to be too terrifying; or
2) Smaug could be charming, but turned lethal when he felt threatened.

Naturally we're hoping GDT will go for #2, but its a challenge to portray this. Other monsters have managed to be pathetic but terrifying (e.g. Frankenstein's monster). Offhand, I can't think of any charming-but-lethal monsters, although I can think of some human characters in that category.




New grandson of Elizabeth, b. 2/25/2008


Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


May 1 2008, 4:43am

Post #7 of 158 (2058 views)
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Well, Darkstone has [In reply to] Can't Post

...suggested both Eartha Kitt (four times!) and Angelina Jolie for Smaug (though Loresilme had the latter idea first).

He's made three other suggestions for Smaug on the new boards, including another actress, more than a year ago. The other two suggestions are not actresses, but have two things in common with each other. Anybody remember who? Or the connections?

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


May 1 2008, 4:51am

Post #8 of 158 (2066 views)
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Bilbo is too big in that picture. [In reply to] Can't Post

Just a footnote to your post: Tolkien said in a letter that Bilbo ought to have been drawn smaller.

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We're discussing The Lord of the Rings in the Reading Room, Oct. 15, 2007 - Mar. 22, 2009!

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Eledhwen
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 8:34am

Post #9 of 158 (2155 views)
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If John Howe's on board ... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Smaug will look brilliant - Weta proved time and time again they can realise Howe's monsters on screen. I agree it's characterisation that will be tricky, but I'm not at all worried about it! Smaug's written so well by Tolkien, hopefully it won't be too hard to translate that.

What about someone like Anthony Head? Buffy's Rupert Giles, he was also a superb villain in season 2 of Doctor Who as an evil, creepy headmaster ("School Reunion") - actually not an un-Smaug-like character, being somewhat lizardlike and good with words. And creepy.

Akaroa jetty, New Zealand, March 2008

Akaroa jetty


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 1 2008, 9:49am

Post #10 of 158 (2000 views)
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I'm just wondering: [In reply to] Can't Post

What would exhalation of fire do to the lining of a dragon's throat? And of what material would a dragon's throat have to be to withstand such flame?

And taking into account all of that, what would that do to a draconic voice?

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Eledhwen
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 10:17am

Post #11 of 158 (1957 views)
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Ooooh .... [In reply to] Can't Post

good thinking there. Maybe a dragon is a silicon-based lifeform? Silicone is heat-resistant - they make cooking utensils out of it these days! But giving Smaug a sort of hoarse, throaty voice would work for me.

Akaroa jetty, New Zealand, March 2008

Akaroa jetty


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 1 2008, 10:23am

Post #12 of 158 (1964 views)
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Silicone... [In reply to] Can't Post

So a voice like two super-smooth rocks rubbing alongside each other? The Balrog's 'voice' was like a blast furnace, so Smaug's would perhaps be more refined, smooth yet hard, maybe.

Hmmmm.

(And I can't help wondering if Smaug has a smoker's cough.)

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Eledhwen
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 10:33am

Post #13 of 158 (1924 views)
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Yeah, or like rocks [In reply to] Can't Post

The Wikipedia entry for silicon is quite enlightening actually. It's super-hard, but brittle; and how about this: "Pure silicon crystals are only occasionally found in nature; they can be found as inclusions with gold and in volcanic exhalations". Doesn't that sound dragon-y to you? There's a bit about silicon-based lifeforms at the bottom as well - I've been watching too much Doctor Who, they keep cropping up in that.

Akaroa jetty, New Zealand, March 2008

Akaroa jetty


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 1 2008, 10:44am

Post #14 of 158 (1873 views)
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Interesting link! [In reply to] Can't Post

Makes you wonder if Morgoth had a tame volcano to use in the creation of his wyrms.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Hengist
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 12:53pm

Post #15 of 158 (1837 views)
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Maybe it doesnt exhale flame [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe it exhales a flammable gas that ignites in the presence of oxygen in the air. I seem to remember thats how Anne MacCaffeys dragons do it.

Disclaimer: Anything said in an admin capability is subject to change dependent on how loud Altaira yells at me........





entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 12:59pm

Post #16 of 158 (1906 views)
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After WETA's Kong, [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm confident they will create a dragon who IS Smaug. He will be funny, smart, wry, greedy and dangerous. He will cause Bilbo to risk falling under the dragon-spell and remember to "Never laugh at live dragons".

But so much of the success of The Hobbit movie hinges on a successful creation of Smaug. If Smaug isn't outstanding, the rest of the movie will not be able to succeed.

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Elven
Valinor


May 1 2008, 1:50pm

Post #17 of 158 (1794 views)
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No problem ... [In reply to] Can't Post

I dont doubt WETA's skill, nor their visionary teams interpreations, to present Smaug in all his glory to the screen. If he is animatronically created and CGI enhanced - he will be glorious, deceptive and dangerous no doubt - but it is the realm of 'sound engineering' with Smaugs voice which I think will need to be convincing. I'm in the mind that Smaugs voice wont be recognizable - no matter who does it. The 'sound' of the Dragon is one thing I am really looking forward to, and how effective it is - on screen and in the viewing environment - I want to feel the hairs on my neck rise when I feel this Dragons breath on my back and his voice in my ear. Im sure they will manange this Smile

I dont think they have a problem with Smaug but they do have an exciting challenge to define his qualities and personality and make them perfectly realistic.


Were off to Hobbiton finally!

Tolkien was a Capricorn!!
Russell Crowe for Beorn!!



Hengist
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 1:53pm

Post #18 of 158 (1829 views)
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Maybe not silicon based but thinking about it.. [In reply to] Can't Post

many animals (like snails) have shells made of calcium carbonate. Its not inconceivable then that instead of calcium carbonate a dragon may be able to use calcium silicate to produce a hard covering like scales? Calcium silicate has a melting point of around 1200 -1500 celsius compared to steel at 1300 celsius. Now if it was exhaling fire it could have a throat lined with the scales maybe.

Hmm - a vey dry throat - however they could use a lubricant - how about the silicon or maybe even graphite? Graphite can be very smooth and is a good lubricant. Its a very good conductor of heat though but does have a high melting point. Ha! maybe thats why dragons go after dwarf holds - not for the gems but for the coal! maybe they can convert coal to graphite? So would that give a languid and smooth - almost liquid (hypnotic?) voice.

Thinking even more randomly - what happens to the injested coal when the dragon hibernates? Maybe it turns into another form - ie diamond! Could dragon dung be diamonds - maybe that explains the hoard!

Maybe I should stop thinking now

Disclaimer: Anything said in an admin capability is subject to change dependent on how loud Altaira yells at me........





Earl
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 2:15pm

Post #19 of 158 (1809 views)
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A theory... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
What would exhalation of fire do to the lining of a dragon's throat? And of what material would a dragon's throat have to be to withstand such flame?

And taking into account all of that, what would that do to a draconic voice?


I saw a documentary on Discovery or National Geographic some time ago concerning a dragon carcass explorers found in the Scandinavian Mountains. After diagnosing the remains, they apparently came to this conclusion...

There was a sack-type organ (not sure if it was the intestine, or one of many intestines), that contained helium gas, which was a byproduct of the stomach bacteria breaking down food - much as hydrogen sulphide is a byproduct of human digestion. It was this helium gas that enabled the dragon to fly, effectively making its body 'lightweight' like a balloon (which by the way, seemed like a problem for this particluar dragon since its wings didn't seem like they could bear the weight of its body). Anyway, they also found that the dragon's teeth contained traces of platinum, the same substance that was found in many caves about those mountains. So by conjecture, they deduced that the dragon probably sharpened its teeth, or ingested those rocks for digestion, and the teeth grinding them before swallowing was what caused the platinum to be deposited in there. The interesting part is that when helium meets platinum, boom, a blast of fire Pirate

I'm not sure of the veracity of all this, but found it interesting nonetheless.

And this doesn't even affect the dragon's throat, nor its voice... but maybe blurred its vision just a little bit Laugh



Annael
Half-elven


May 1 2008, 2:26pm

Post #20 of 158 (1793 views)
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I think [In reply to] Can't Post

a whispery voice would make sense - hissed rather than resonant. And personally I think a tenor voice can sound much more evil than a baritone or bass.

Andy Serkis could do a voice none of us would recognize, that's been well established.



Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain


* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


grammaboodawg
Immortal


May 1 2008, 2:56pm

Post #21 of 158 (1858 views)
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I think a majority of Smaug's influence [In reply to] Can't Post

on the film will be in his voice. I just can't get Richard Boone's voice out of my head when I think of Smaug, and I rarely envision the character's image when I reflect on it… just that amazing voice. I think they can achieve so much if they keep Smaug still… filling the room with his mass as he lies on the treasure hoard, a brooding power that warns he's a breath away from annihilating everything in his universe. I think his voice should be silkier than Saruman's (dragon speech) but deep and resonating, his threatening strength great than Shelob's, his intellect deeper than Denethor's. The counterbalance of hearing him in debate with Bilbo will only enhance his menace, imho. I think there's an "unknown" actor out there that will be plagued like Andy Serkis with only being identified by a stunning performance as Smaug. I really don't want to be distracted by "actor x" that has such a familiar voice, regardless how amazing. All of the suggested actors are a template of what to strive for.

Weta's team can bring all of that to this characters… I can feel it. They have 10 more years of technology and filmmaking behind them, and more resources to enhance their talent with the success of LotR.

I think Smaug will be the crowning jewel of this film, and I have no doubt that Peter, GdT, Weta and Weta Digital will totally own this creature and it will become the new standard for … dragons. ;)

Hotly anticipating these films and having fun? YOU GOT IT! BIG TIME! :D



sample sample
Trust him... The Hobbit is coming!

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


TORn's Observations Lists


lumpkin
The Shire


May 1 2008, 3:08pm

Post #22 of 158 (1930 views)
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Smaug as important as a successful Gollum? [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree, entmaiden, that given WETA's prior successes--including the utter slam dunk of Gollum, I'm not really doubting that we'll have a superiorly rendered Smaug. For some reason I'm rather curious what color tone he'll be and whether or not he'll look dinosaur-ish (is that a word?) Those don't honestly seem very important really, but when you start deconstructing all the design elements/decisions, it's quite a list.

Do you think Smaug is as key (from a character and getting-it-right CGI perspespective) as Gollum was/is? I think a faulty Gollum would've sunk LOTR, but I think the Hobbit could withstand a controversial Smaug as long as the rest of the movie held up.

ps- hi--good to see you!


(This post was edited by lumpkin on May 1 2008, 3:08pm)


Hengist
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 3:55pm

Post #23 of 158 (1760 views)
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So was this [In reply to] Can't Post

an April 1st edition by any chance?

Disclaimer: Anything said in an admin capability is subject to change dependent on how loud Altaira yells at me........





MrCere
Sr. Staff


May 1 2008, 3:56pm

Post #24 of 158 (1981 views)
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Look who the dragon dragged in! [In reply to] Can't Post

Nice to see posted thoughts from a legendary friend.

I have no choice but to believe in free will.

The cake is a lie
The cake is a lie
The cake is a lie




entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 1 2008, 4:05pm

Post #25 of 158 (1758 views)
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Great to see you too! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think for book-firsters, a good Smaug is important for the credibility of the movie. I think many of us are looking to Smaug to be an indicator of whether the movie succeeds (not everyone, or course). Smaug for movie-firsters is maybe not quie as important, but Bilbo's conversation with Smaug is a key part of capturing the essence of The Hobbit, so even though the movie might be able to overcome a so-so Smaug, the movie-firsters will not get the Tolkien experience they did with the LOTR films.

I think capturing Gollum was more important because his character appeared throughout the second two movies. He was just as much a part of the action as Frodo and Sam. Smaug, however, is an off-screen presence for much of The Hobbit, and doesn't actually appear until more than 2/3 into the book. For the movie, of course, they could give us glimpses of Smaug as Bilbo and the dwarves approach the Lonely Mountain, or tease us with flashbacks, but he only really appears in 2 scenes - the conversation with Bilbo, and flying over Lake-Town. It's important to get him right because he will have been built-up so much before he actually appears.

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows

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