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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Serkis, Gollum and motion capture: new article

Ethel Duath

Dec 6 2021, 4:20pm

Post #1 of 7 (19599 views)
Serkis, Gollum and motion capture: new article Can't Post

Did anyone else see this yet?Smile



Dec 6 2021, 6:29pm

Post #2 of 7 (19574 views)
Very good article [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember the time, during the Oscar push, when Serkis began getting (and occasionally claiming) credit for Gollum's performance far beyond what earlier reports had allowed him. As this piece reminds us, and Serkis' own first book on the Gollum character emphasized, the animators had far more to do with the character we saw on screen than Serkis' fans have liked to admit.

But the piece notes that the craft has developed so that the motion-capture actors are now doing much more than they used to do in creating their screen-image roles; and the final paragraphs, about how screen acting has always been more of a collaboration between the actor and the technicians than Hollywood's publicists have ever liked to admit.

Thanks for this!

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Ethel Duath

Dec 7 2021, 12:26am

Post #3 of 7 (19540 views)
Yes, [In reply to] Can't Post

it gave me a much clearer picture of exactly how the whole thing worked at the time, and of how difficult the process was.

I can't imagine anyone better for the job than Serkis, and it's somewhat understandable why he wanted to "upgrade" what his role actually was, in the face of the dismissiveness by some.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Dec 7 2021, 3:17am

Post #4 of 7 (19515 views)
I love this reading of Gollum's place in the story: [In reply to] Can't Post

"(Gollum's) whole arc only works if the audience understands and sympathizes with multiple characters’ refusal to kill Gollum when they have the chance. Gollum is untrustworthy, vicious, cruel, violent, manipulative, and weak. In a George R.R. Martin novel, he’d have a life expectancy of a dependent clause. In Lord of the Rings, his survival evokes our struggle to cling to our better natures in the darkest and most urgent of times..."

I haven't read an interpretation of Gollum quite like that before. It's thought-provoking.

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 beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Dec 7 2021, 7:04am

Post #5 of 7 (19477 views)
Gollum is a bit unique in the respect of mercy [In reply to] Can't Post

Other similar characters such as Wormtongue don't really get the same treatment. They are simply bad guys to be wiped. Mind I do sometimes wonder if Gandalf's mercy towards Gollum wasn't entirely out of good nature. Gollum for a start did have some very useful unique information. Getting into Mordor for starters. Gandalf might well have thought it useful to have a loose cannon like Gollum about given the situation in ME at the time. Gollum might well go off in Sauron's face!

Chen G.

Dec 7 2021, 7:34am

Post #6 of 7 (19471 views)
It varies [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
But the piece notes that the craft has developed so that the motion-capture actors are now doing much more than they used to do in creating their screen-image roles; and the final paragraphs, about how screen acting has always been more of a collaboration between the actor and the technicians than Hollywood's publicists have ever liked to admit.

Gollum was certainly a collaborative work: there was no facial motion-capture on Gollum, but they did have close-up footage of Serkis' face for reference and the final result is usually not too far off of what he did. But its unquestionable that the original Gollum was a collaborative work.

As we get into more contemporary motion-capture (what's often called performance-capture) it varies. I'm told Gollum from An Unexpected Journey is very, very close to Serkis' "digital makeup" concept, but I've yet to ascertain it, whereas other characters are not: The Great Goblin and the Trolls aren't. Even Thanos, who's very humanoid, has "zero" raw motion capture in the final performance.

Smaug is a curiosity where I really think they motion-captured him just to satiate Cumberbatch. They did use some of his stuff as inspiration, but ultimately its not Cumberbatch performing Smaug's physically 99% of the time, and even the final vocal performance you see was done in a booth with a microphone, not on a mo-cap stage.

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Dec 7 2021, 7:36am)


Dec 7 2021, 6:32pm

Post #7 of 7 (19394 views)
From the book - [In reply to] Can't Post

There is an idea from the text, that responding with pity—or mercy perhaps—was a way of resisting the Ring’s influence over its possessor. Gandalf talks about it in his long dialogue with Frodo before Frodo determines to take the quest of destroying the Ring.

Their propensity to extend mercy was key to the Fellowship to not be overwhelmed utterly by Sauron’s will, through ownership or proximity to the Ring. So this idea is entwined in the DNA of the tale, even though it’s not explicitly stated (well, not so fully explained) in the movies. Yet it is there, and is evident in the slightly gross scene where Aragorn extends a hand to Wormtongue as well.

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Dec 7 2021, 6:34pm)


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