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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
SCOD: The countenance of Gandalf the White

Xanaseb
Tol Eressea


Dec 3 2012, 12:16am

Post #1 of 7 (571 views)
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SCOD: The countenance of Gandalf the White Can't Post

Sorry for a belated SCOD people!



full size here

Doesn't this shot -wow- you? It does wow me. There is such humanity in Gandalf here. Eyes like deep pools of sorrow and understanding, and yet as a Maiar, he is immortal. The funeral of Théodred and the following exchange between Gandalf and Théoden is a potent emotional part of the film which I adore, and Gandalf's face here just encapsulates it for me. It is rather more than just mourning though, there's a great many layers to his demeanour in this cap.

1. What do you feel from Gandalf's expression here? Describe it


2. How do you think that this scene would be different if it were Gandalf the Grey?

4. Do you think PJ & Co. addressed the themes of death in this part and throughout the films adequately?

5. Extra comments :)

thanks!


--I'm a victim of Bifurcation--
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(This post was edited by Xanaseb on Dec 3 2012, 12:19am)


paperC
Rivendell

Dec 3 2012, 10:27am

Post #2 of 7 (189 views)
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One of the most cinematic moments in the trilogy! [In reply to] Can't Post

Just love this whole scene with Gandalf hailing Théodred etc. So beautiful.


Kristin Thompson
Rohan


Dec 3 2012, 5:23pm

Post #3 of 7 (163 views)
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I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

A terrific moment by Ian. It would have been easy to overplay this, but he's relatively still. I think it's also notable that Andrew Lesnie or somebody decided to film Ian against the sun with no fill light. The result is to bring out the lines on his face and the bags under his eyes in a way that's not typical of other scenes. The result is to suggest his age and perhaps weariness in a way that's appropriate to the grimness of the action.

I think the theme of death is appropriately treated here and in a lot of places. I'm not happy with the decision to use the "far green country" description from Tolkien as if it's a reference to some sort of heaven. For Tolkien, the green country that Frodo sees is presumably Tol Erressea, the easternmost of the Undying Lands, where the High Elves will live until the end of the world. Tolkien says specifically in a letter that Frodo and Bilbo will live out the rest of their lives there and then die. I think a lot of people take the ending of the film to represent death for the characters going aboard the ship, which obviously is far from Tolkien's intention.

(BTW, "Maiar" is the plural form; the singular is "Maia.")


Xanaseb
Tol Eressea


Dec 3 2012, 5:55pm

Post #4 of 7 (152 views)
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hmm interesting indeed Kristin. However... [In reply to] Can't Post

..it could be interpreted as the passing on of life, reaching a higher plane, proceeding from the world as they knew it, and from the people, places and experiences that they had known. It has of course huge symbolism nevertheless. The direct association of death within the film in terms of 'far green country' maybe is too narrow, but I also think it beautiful in its own right, even if it's flawed! The sheer emotional effect that they achieve with it is marvellous.

--I'm a victim of Bifurcation--
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Join us over at Barliman's chat all day, any day!
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zarabia
Tol Eressea


Dec 4 2012, 7:55am

Post #5 of 7 (130 views)
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What a great performance from Sir Ian [In reply to] Can't Post

1. What do you feel from Gandalf's expression here? Describe it

True compassion and empathy. It's as if he finally comprehends what humans go through when they lose a loved one.

2. How do you think that this scene would be different if it were Gandalf the Grey?

I think Gandalf the Grey would be more actively sympathetic - a hand on Theodon's shoulder, maybe. But I think Gandalf, after " being taken from
space and time" and returning as The White has a better understanding of the fate of humans. Grey would want to try to comfort; White knows there is no immediate comfort, only reassurance that Theodred is now with his kindred.

4. Do you think PJ & Co. addressed the themes of death in this part and throughout the films adequately?

Considering that PJ had to keep commercial considerations in mind, I think he did quite well. For what was seen by many to be an action-adventure film, it was brave to take this break from action to show the real consequences of war: death of young people in their prime, and the grief of families. As for the overall theme of Death, I think you and Kristin have covered it very well.


5. Extra comments :)

Nice choice! Thanks, Xanaseb Smile




"The question isn't where, Constable, but when." - Inspector Spacetime


Loresilme
Valinor


Dec 4 2012, 2:33pm

Post #6 of 7 (201 views)
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Yes, wow! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think I have never really noticed this screencap before. Perhaps in this scene, I have previously been so focused on Theoden and his grief, that I did not stop to look at Gandalf here.


1. What do you feel from Gandalf's expression here? Describe it
There is just so much there, not just grief, although there do seem to be some tears, and not just sympathy, but also you can see in his eyes it's as if he's looking beyond, to something else.

2. How do you think that this scene would be different if it were Gandalf the Grey?
Somehow I think Gandalf the Grey would have been more unsettled, perhaps angry, in the way that humans get angry and rail at fate. But as Gandalf the White, while he is sympathetic and comforting, he also seems to still be at peace.


4. Do you think PJ & Co. addressed the themes of death in this part and throughout the films adequately?
I think so, I think there was a balance. In each film there was a moment that dealt with these realities, and they were appropriately placed in terms of the action and flow of events.

5. Extra comments :)

What a subtle and nuanced moment here by Sir Ian. Extraordinary! Thank you for calling out this screencap and also for the thought-provoking questions :-).


Mardragon
The Shire

Dec 30 2012, 12:25am

Post #7 of 7 (224 views)
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A great scene. [In reply to] Can't Post

I always thought Bernard Hill's acting in that scene was amazing too. So heart wrenching. I'm not one to cry at films but that scene often takes me close to tears.

 
 

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