Watching LOTR for the first time in four years

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Post by Forest Shepherd Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:28 am

Eowyn must be a good actress, and Merry fails to see through it.

Here's what I was talking about:

Eowyn with helmet:
Watching LOTR for the first time in four years - Page 12 Eowyn_art

Annoying Orange:
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:16 am

Then a certain Arithmancer points out that the book doesn't work either: much of the power of the scene is Merry's surprise to find out Dernhelm is actually Eowyn. But he had spent days riding with her, that he wouldn't have figured this out rather stretches credulity.- Halfy

{{Well I'd crabbitly dispute Arithmancer. It works on the page fine. And he has left some bits out.
Interestingly the radio play version keeps a lot more of the stuff with Eoweyn/Dernhelm and Merry- unfortunately in it the actress does that theatre thing of doing a female, doing a male voice in such a way as the audience will know its a woman doing it. Whereas I suspect the 'real' thing would have been better at it.

Merry still has limited experience with humans, and even less so with female humans so him not noticing if she was discreet enough is not so incredulous. Plus Eowyn herself is surprised he doesn't right from the off, when she first offers to take him with her Merry responds that he doesn't know her name thinking him a young male rider, to which she replies "Do you not?" before giving him the Dernhelm name. So I think there Tolkien is showing us that Merry simply lacks the experience of human females to even have the suspicion and that Eowyn was quite prepared for him to spot it was her from the off. And in fact was a bit surprised when he didn't immediately spot it was her.
Also its dark, thanks to Mordor sending out a permanent night most of the ride is conducted in the dark and at pace.
And finally in the book at least she was not working alone, she had the head of her company of Rohirrim in on it and covering for her, though Tolkien doesn't make a lot of it the implication is he was someone who was either a bit soft on her in their youth, or they were just good mates. So she wasn't fooling everyone, just Merry and anyone outside her Company. At least some in her company were in on it (and incidentally defining their King for her which is interesting in itself but hardly surprising. Given the situation at Court up until Gandalf's reappearance its not surprising Eowyn would have made her own allies and political friends to survive in the meantime, she was certainly smart and strong enough of mind to have done so).
Ive always found it one of the more interesting, yet largely completely unexplored bits of the story. }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:19 am

My favourite parts of the LotR EE blu-ray boxed sets are the lightly-edited "Behind the Scenes" videos. There's only one for each film, but they take up a whole disc each. They aren't polished, like the other special features. There are no talking heads in front of a green-screen, or clever musical editing: it's mostly just candid hand-held filming of the on-set day-to-day operations. You get to see the faces behind a lot of the lesser names from the credits, as well as some of the "warts" of the project. It feels more real, like an actual peak behind the scenes at some of the stuff that the PR people wouldn't want shown.

There's a lot of footage taken from the sidelines of deleted scenes and scrapped takes. One in particular stood out to me from Two Towers: they have the Three Hunters stop at what was, I think, the partially-eaten corpse of an orc. I only caught Gimli's response, which was something typically goofy about how the uruks have "quite the appetite on them!" and how they even ate the maggots. That line doesn't quite make sense to me, as I recall it, so perhaps something else was going on in that scene. Or perhaps there's a reason it was cut.

Anyway, point is, the main special features are well-made and great for breaking down how certain effects were made, or why the writers chose to include or exclude different story elements; but the behind-the-scenes stuff with all its little details and lack of polish appeal to me just as much. I especially like seeing what might have been in the movies, but didn't make it.


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Post by Eldy Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:45 am

I still have yet to watch the behind-the-scenes film for Return of the King but I agree, they are exceptional. More of a "boots on the ground" approach, as Forest describes. I've never owned a copy of the Limited Edition DVDs where those documentaries were originally included, so I'm really glad they were added to the Extended Edition box sets when those were released on Blu-ray. The bonus features on the EE DVDs are largely responsible for my interest in film as a medium, but I think the other documentaries are a great complement because they take a different approach.

If anyone hasn't seen them, the director, Costa Botes (who also co-directed the mockumentary Forgotten Silver with PJ before LOTR), has an informative post about them on his blog talking about the production-within-a-production that was the making of the documentaries. His films were produced separately from the better-known "Appendices" material, although those used a lot of his footage.

https://costabotes.com/making-of-lord-of-the-rings/

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Post by halfwise Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:57 pm

I love their posh New Zealand accents.  Somehow all the other New Zealanders sounded a bit more outback.

(I love the outback accents too; it's the contrast within the accent that's so adorable).

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Post by azriel Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:59 pm

I enjoyed that Eldy. I would love to see all the footage Costa managed to film from LOTRs , that would be so interesting !

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Post by Forest Shepherd Sun Jan 20, 2019 3:54 am

Oh neat! I thought "Costa" was a woman, for some reason, haha.

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Post by chris63 Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:14 am


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Post by halfwise Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:36 am

I just noticed something. The sequence of events immediately following Bilbo's Party:

• Bilbo appears back in Bag end, tootles around for a few minutes, then suddenly Gandalf is there
• Gandalf convinces Bilbo to leave the Ring, the Bilbo heads out, walking down the hill in the same direction as the party. We must assume this is long afterwards or he'd be spotted immediately since everyone is wondering what happened to him.
• Frodo rushes in shouting "Bilbo! Bilbo!" Clearly it's NOT long after he disappeared from the party.

Was anyone else bothered by this?

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:08 am

{{ Doesnt Bilbo leave across the back field? }}

'Then without another word he (Bilbo) turned away from the lights and voices in the field and tents, and...went round into his garden, and trotted down the long sloping path. He jumped over a low place in the hedge at the bottom, and took to the meadows, passing into the night like a rustle of wind in the grass."- FotR

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Post by malickfan Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:26 am

Hmm, that is a good point Halfy, never realised that before...

I guess you could argue the Hobbits at the party were too usy talking/eating amongst themselves to notice bilbo walking past down the lane in the dark. In the books it does say that hobbits are quiet and adept at hiding themselves if they don't want to be found...

I also think it's a bit odd in the film that Bilbo would decide to leave without telling Frodo first, yes it's more 'dramatic' for the film but does make Bilbo seem a bit of a d*ck tbh...

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:51 am

{{ It does say he turned away from the lights and tents, that tells me he went in the other direction.
This is further implied when Frodo leaves by the same route-

'..then turned and (following Bilbo, if he had known it) hurried after Peregrin down the garden-path. They jumped over the low place in the hedge at the bottom and took to the fields.'

That says to me they are not following the main path or road, but going across country over the fields behind Bag End, which would be away from the party field. }}

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Post by halfwise Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:43 am

The road crosses in front of Bag End, and he could have gone either way. Since it's not specified in the books you would expect he would go the way Gandalf came, away from the direction of the party. The direction they chose him to go just seems odd to me.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:55 am

{{ Going on the description and Tolkien illustration of Hobbiton this is the route they seem to take, marked in red.

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We are told first Bilbo turned away from the lights and tents in the Party Field, so he must have turned right (left facing on the map but to his right coming out Bag End). We are then told he went round into his own garden, so not along the road. And that he went down a long sloping path, that matches the path that goes down through his first set of gardens to the orchard below and went over a low bit in the hedge into the meadows beyond. So he went away from the Party Field in completely the opposite direction.}}

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Post by halfwise Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:17 pm

Yep, what they had him do in the film just didn't make any sense at all.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Nov 03, 2020 6:12 pm

{{ Just another film mistake, though its odd as their version of Bag End has the main road go right by the front door, so the option to go the other way exists. In the book and illustration the only road up The Hill terminates at Bag End, it doesnt go passed it.

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Though if we're listing things that bug me about film version the road being in wrong place is only part of it. The unkempt overgrown wild gardens are a bigger complaint, as is the lack of gardens and orchards in general in Bag End's grounds. Also the second big hill right behind Bag End, the reason the Hill is so-called is because its the ony prominant hill there. And of course the grass is all wrong, and is that lush long southern hemisphere type that looks weird for the Shire and its northern latitude. So in fact, despite all the praise they recieved for BAg End all they actually got right was it had a round door and windows and a tree on top (and its in the wrong place and of wrong type).  Mad  And the rest of the Shire is worse, one pub and a few holes and a mill round a muddy pool with one muddy field.  Mad }}

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Post by halfwise Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:18 am

Rewatching Return of the King. In the scene "The Decline of Gondor" Gandalf describes to Pippin:

"A thousand years this city has stood....the old wisdom borne out the west was forsaken; kings made tombs more splendid then the houses of the living, and counted the names of their descendants dearer than the names of their songs. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars. And so the people of Gondor fell into ruin, the line of kings failed, the white tree withered. The rule of Gondor was given over to lesser men."

It has enough of a Tolkien ring to it that I feel parts were cobbled together from appendices, etc. But I can find no examples for most of it. Some of it seems to reflect statements made of Numenor, but I haven't found clear extractions anywhere. In the writer's commentary PJ just said he wanted to put the speech in because he was fascinated by Tolkien's language, but I can't match it up. Any thoughts on it?

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Post by Forest Shepherd Tue Nov 17, 2020 5:02 am

It's been modified, naturally, but most of that is what Faramir tells Frodo of his city while Frodo is his guest in Henneth Annun.

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Post by halfwise Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:07 pm

Ah, that's why it sounded so familiar but I couldn't find it. Looking in the wrong book, wrong character delivery, etc.

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Post by Mrs Figg Tue Nov 17, 2020 3:03 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Then a certain Arithmancer points out that the book doesn't work either: much of the power of the scene is Merry's surprise to find out Dernhelm is actually Eowyn. But he had spent days riding with her, that he wouldn't have figured this out rather stretches credulity.- Halfy

{{Well I'd crabbitly dispute Arithmancer. It works on the page fine. And he has left some bits out.
Interestingly the radio play version keeps a lot more of the stuff with Eoweyn/Dernhelm and Merry- unfortunately in it the actress does that theatre thing of doing a female, doing a male voice in such a way as the audience will know its a woman doing it. Whereas I suspect the 'real' thing would have been better at it.

Merry still has limited experience with humans, and even less so with female humans so him not noticing if she was discreet enough is not so incredulous. Plus Eowyn herself is surprised he doesn't right from the off, when she first offers to take him with her Merry responds that he doesn't know her name thinking him a young male rider, to which she replies "Do you not?" before giving him the Dernhelm name. So I think there Tolkien is showing us that Merry simply lacks the experience of human females to even have the suspicion and that Eowyn was quite prepared for him to spot it was her from the off. And in fact was a bit surprised when he didn't immediately spot it was her.
Also its dark, thanks to Mordor sending out a permanent night most of the ride is conducted in the dark and at pace.
And finally in the book at least she was not working alone, she had the head of her company of Rohirrim in on it and covering for her, though Tolkien doesn't make a lot of it the implication is he was someone who was either a bit soft on her in their youth, or they were just good mates. So she wasn't fooling everyone, just Merry and anyone outside her Company. At least some in her company were in on it (and incidentally defining their King for her which is interesting in itself but hardly surprising. Given the situation at Court up until Gandalf's reappearance its not surprising Eowyn would have made her own allies and political friends to survive in the meantime, she was certainly smart and strong enough of mind to have done so).
Ive always found it one of the more interesting, yet largely completely unexplored bits of the story. }}


going back to this discussion, I think the disguise worked because Merry was expecting a man so he saw a man, what little he knew about humans would tell him that women didn't go to war. He saw what he expected to see. She was in armour so her body would be hidden and her hair also. He probably thought he was with a young man with a light boyish voice.
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Post by halfwise Tue Nov 17, 2020 3:10 pm

I think the film went with Merry recognizing her immediately because there was no way they could have fooled the audience.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Nov 17, 2020 5:32 pm

{{ Oddly in the films she does cut her hair short- the scene has been cut but there are a couple of scenes remaining where she has the cropped hair. The main reason they seem to have dropped that aspect was so when she reveals she is a woman and pulls her helmet off her long hair can flow out. }}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:41 pm

halfwise wrote:I think the film went with Merry recognizing her immediately because there was no way they could have fooled the audience.

{{ It would take a better set up than the film has. And more time. In the film the Rohirrim dont travel under the cover of darkness, so that excuse is gone, nor is there any hint that the person in charge of that group of riders is in on it, that she could fool Merry who as Figg points out has little experience of human culture and would be inclined to accept things at face value is also not really present in the films. So you'd be left with the impression she was fooling everyone with her disguise which is stretching it, but just fooling Merry isnt. }}

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Post by halfwise Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:54 pm

The director/writer's commentary said exactly that - impossible to pull it off so better to make the change.

On another note, there were some cascading effects.  Since they cut the rangers, Elrond's sons, etc in order to not introduce more characters they wouldn't have enough of an army/leadership to come pouring out of the ships at the Pellenor, so they decided to just bring the army of the dead along.  PJ was not entirely comfortable with making things that easy, but was less comfortable with having just Aragorn, Legalos and Gimli command an entire fleet (would need to take time to recruit the locals and explain that slaves were manning the ores, etc etc).  So we ended up with Tidy-bowl army at Minas Tirith.


Last edited by halfwise on Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:02 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:00 pm

{{ I wouldnt agree its impossible to pull off. Id agree how they wrote and presented the films made it impossible for them to pull off. But thats their failing in the writing and characterisations, not in the original narrative.
And with PJ being so visually orientated in his story telling, for better and worse, I think the single image of Eowyn pulling her helmet off to reveal her long hair tumbling out was more important to him than any narrative concerns.}}

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