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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
How would you structure a four film LOTR series?
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Aug 16 2012, 5:30pm

Post #26 of 28 (289 views)
I see 4 or 5 story threads in LOTR. [In reply to] Can't Post

We already have PJ's acclaimed live action master-piece version of LOTR. I would not bother trying to touch that. If I were to try a 4 part LOTR I would want to bring something significantly different to the table (not leastways because of the dfficulty of competing with the success of LOTR but also because I can't stand to bother with doing something that has already been done - very, very well).

I would take a different approach by separating out the complex and fascinating work of JRRT into some threads and focus on each thread as a separate film. There would be less recurrence of characters but more focus on each thread while allowing for more background characters to be included and more detail in all aspects of the story to be retained.

With a 3-film structure, the natural thing to do is to take one film per book (roughly). But with a 4-film structure, I no longer see the natural division by books as the most important structural factor. Instead, the more natural structural factor is the differing paths taken by the fellowship.

I think this is a little bit of a different and interesting perspective that would add something different to the collection of media out there about LOTR.

LOTR1: The Great Rings (the full fellowship)
Birthday party
Shadow of the past
Hunt for Gollum
Moria gate

LOTR2: Far From Home (Merry and Pippin)
Breaking of Fellowship
White Hand
Guard duty
Gondor attacked
Gondor battle
Witch King
Dol Guldur falls

LOTR3: New Age (Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli)
Breaking of Fellowship
Riders of Rohan
White Wizard
Deepening Wall
Paths of the Dead
Gondor battle
Healing houses
Gondorís history
Black Gate

LOTR4: Shadow and Light (Frodo and Sam)
Breaking of Fellowship
Black Gate
Cirith Ungol
Goblin Tower
Mount Doom
Healing houses
Grey Havens

Incidentally, I am working on my own massive world-creation / mythologicalish project (as an amateur of course and just for fun) and I found the complexity of the stories I had imagined just mind-boggling for the longest time. I worked and worked on the story threads until finally I decided to do just what I did here to LOTR to my own story. It was simply the only way I could conceive of pinning the tangled tale down! I would find it an interesting experiment to see how people would react to this kind of threaded approach to story-telling.

Show or do not show, there is no tell.

(This post was edited by Escapist on Aug 16 2012, 5:34pm)


Aug 17 2012, 4:50pm

Post #27 of 28 (296 views)
Interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

Such a structure also need very robust arc for each main charater. It could work if it really focusses on characters, their feelings, their doubts, their growths, etc.

Still, I'm also unsure for a number of reasons.
I am curious as to how you would deal with events occuring into more than one thread. Showing different perspectives on the battle of Pelennor field is easy, but Isengard and the Palantir, as well as the black gate, could be redundant.

I also think that you're losing some tension in early film 3 (Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas pursuing the orcs) by informing your audience that Merry and Pippin escape from the Uruk Hai and by informing your audience that Isengard and the rest of Saruman's forces will be dealt with pretty easily by the Ents.

I also am not sure that revealing in film 2 and 3 (by showing the coronation and assuming that you meant Barad Dur instead of Dol Guldur ) that the main plot of the story is resolved (ring destroyed; Frodo and Sam survive) does much good for subsequent films 4.

Basically, the main problem I see is splitting the rest of the fellowship storyline in two. Frodo and Sam can be dealt with separately in a fourth film. I don't think it is true for Merry and Pippin.

Tweaking your idea, here is another way to do it.

LOTR1 (same as yoiu)

LOTR 2 & 3 More or less follow Tolkien's structure in TTT and ROTK, alternating between chapters on Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, etc. (stopping, as Tolkien, with the Eagles coming at the Black gate, as Pippin faints).

LOTR 4: Frodo and Sam's journey + conclusion with all characters.

Using this structure really makes use of most of the books' natural tension points. When the mouth of Sauron appears at the black gate. We really don't know what happened to Frodo and Sam.

It even adds tension at a crucial place where there is none in the books:
When Faramir comes back to Minas Tirith (in film 3 under this structure), there is a passage in the book where Pippin sees Gandalf's hands shaking under the table while Faramir explains to a table of lords of Gondor that he has seen Frodo and Sam in the woods. This is one of my favorite part of the book! You really feel Gandalf's fear at this point (btw I always thought PJ missed an opportunity for great drama here).

However, in the books, we know a lot more about Frodo and Sam's journey than we would in a third film under this structure. The fact that Faramir tells Gandalf about Frodo and Sam are now travelling with "some sort of ill-looking creature by the name of Smeagol" and that they're going to Cirith Ungol would raise sooo many questions. We would really fear for them. Gandalf's emotion would come through very easily.

Afterward, marching on the black gate would be even more of a gamble. Clearly, a fool's hope.

(This post was edited by Unspoken_Request on Aug 17 2012, 4:54pm)


Aug 20 2012, 12:16am

Post #28 of 28 (306 views)
I like the idea of putting all the endings in film4. [In reply to] Can't Post

I debated whether to have Merry/Pippin first or Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli first for films 2 and 3.

I thought that the real tension surrounding Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli was during the stretch in the book where they had not heard any news of their friends yet but that most of the character arcs of the 3 hunters were not involved in that tension so I put the 3 hunters after Merry and Pippin. I thought this would lose some of the tension of the 3 hunters while amplifying the tension in Merry and Pippin's situation - with no clue about whether or not they may get rescued or survive their adventure.

I had to scratch my head a little bit about Isengard between film2 and film3. There would be some redundancy. I thought about leaving Pippin and Merry at the gate of Orthanc to finish their smoking and eating and then doing a camera perspective trick where the camera angle is from the walls for Merry and Pippin and from outside for Gandalf and company.

I like your ending with the Eagles at the Black Gate as an ending for my original film3. But for film2, I thought that after Merry and Eowyn do in the Witch-King, it might be an opportunity to show the struggles of the Wilderland theater related to Dol Guldur (although the final destruction of Dol Guldur would probably not fit until the end of film4). For film2, it might be better to just show the various realms successfully defending against an onslaught that would have been much more difficult if more of the 9 had been available to lead the battle.

So I would tweak your tweaking

Film1: same as what I had originally

Film2: same as what I had (There would be a lot more suspense without knowing that there were actually friends trying to rescue them)

Film3: same as what I had but with your Eagle ending, more focus on Rohan, and no coronation scene

Film4: same as what your tweaked version

I agree that some tension is still lost in film3 but I still think that the motivation of the 3 hunters would be compelling (but maybe that part should be shortened so as not to be boring) This would leave more space for fleshing out the situation in the kingdom of Rohan all around in film3.

I agree that the main character arcs would be a major focus but I think that there is enough material in the original books to flesh out each of the members of the fellowship quite a bit and that with a separate film for each cluster of characters, this will be easier to do. At the same time, I think there could be some cameos in film2 and film3. That way everyone would see all of their favorite characters in each movie with the exception of Frodo and Sam in film2 and film3.

Show or do not show, there is no tell.

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