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EE Commentary Transcripts
The Tales That Really Mattered...

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<< The Flooding of Isengard

Fran: [Frodo approaches the Ringwraith] In the third film, Frodo’s attachment to the Ring is less internal: it’s more about fighting it now. If his battle in the second film was about not realising its strength – or realising too late – in the third film, it’s about physically surviving it: surviving the journey. He’s not engaged in an internal, sort of, fight: he’s won that, but it becomes now a test of his physical endurance.

Peter: This is really inspired by a moment that’s in the front of Minas Morgul, as you were saying, Fran: it’s like taking a moment from the book and putting it in a slightly different place and expanding it.

Philippa: It’s a very, very powerful piece of writing: internally, what’s going on in Frodo is…

Fran: It’s when he says, “We will die here.”

Philippa: Yeah. “We will die here.”

Peter: So it’s just a slight departure: it qualifies as a slight departure again, which is good!

Philippa: We only ever do slight departures.

Peter: Slight departures.

Philippa: [slowly] Go, Sam!

Fran: [at same time as Philippa, the Fell Beast is shot] There’s some lovely sound-design here from [?Plan] Nine, isn’t there?

Philippa: Yeah.

Fran: With the Ring-sound.

Philippa: [at same time as Fran] The Ring-sound.

Peter: And great animation. I love the animation on the Nazgûl: it’s really nice.

Philippa: [Frodo holds Sting to Sam’s throat] This is how far gone Frodo is. That was deliberately similar to him holding the sword over Gollum’s throat: he’s now…

Peter: Yeah, we deliberately wanted to evoke the moment with Gollum at the beginning of the film and then take it as full, a hundred and eighty degrees round to him threatening Sam.

Philippa: Mmm. This is how powerful [Peter: Yeah.] the Ring has been. And all through this, Sam has had that horrible experience of a friend – Fran actually always used to sue the analogy of the junkie: Frodo being the junkie, and Sam being the friend who’s trying to help him kick the habit. (beat) This was actually an attempt to draw all the story threads together in one [?].

Peter: It was interesting, because when we shot this sequence, we had Sam walking over to the window: we had him saying this first line of dialogue that he’s saying now, and then we didn’t have any other dialogue, and he just went, basically, to the end of the scene: he turned around and he picked Frodo up; but when we came to cutting it, we wanted to create a much more emotional ending, and so all of what you’re hearing Sam say is something that –. We had him go into a recording studio and record for us: it was never originally shot; it exists here only as voice-over. Thank God we had him walking over to the window and at least starting to say something!

Philippa: [laughing] Yeah, you could cut away!

Peter: Because it enabled us to create this feeling of a resolution; and in a sense, it’s tying the separate threads of the story together, isn’t it?

Philippa: Yeah.

Fran: Yeah.

Philippa: It was why we did it.

Fran: In the end, you have to think, “What is this movie about? What is it doing, and what is it saying?” and this was the moment where, if ever it was going to crystallise into a theme or a single thought, then we should do it. I felt that it was about storytelling, that it was about the value of stories: why we need them, and why… [Philippa: Mmm.] what we get from them; and I think, in the end, it’s about our need to feel that there are universal values of good. Whether or not that’s true in the real world, who can say? but certainly, in terms of drama, that’s why, I think, people need it. They need to know that –.

Peter: Why they need stories. Yeah.

Fran: Yeah. Within the world of drama that there are universal values of good…

Philippa: [at same time as Fran] To make sense of the world.

Fran: … not subject to the vagaries of our own lives.

Philippa: And that we are all part of the same story: that’s the other key thing that I think Tolkien says again and again. What was really funny, though, was: Fran and I wrote this and we wrote ourselves to a standstill when Frodo says, “What are we holding onto, Sam?” [laughing] We didn’t know, did we? Remember, we wrote that line and we were just… it was like, “Okay, well what are they holding onto?” [Philippa and Fran laugh] It took us a while! But the other thing –.

Peter: Well Fran had the great idea to –. [Philippa: Yeah.] One of Fran’s great ideas when we cut it together was to actually show Gollum’s reaction [Philippa: Mmm.] [screen cap] to those lines, and that was never planned; and, in fact, we didn’t have any Gollum animation, and so what we did is we looked back on the Dead Marshes, where Frodo is talking to him and calling him by his real name, Sméagol, for the first time and the way that Gollum reacted to that, and we pinched the animation from that scene and then we had Weta do a modification to it so that it fitted into here, but it made it much easier, because they were last-minute shots as well: that we were able just to modify existing animation and make it really work well for this; but the idea of having Gollum as a third party – a silent observer, but someone who’s also taking on board what’s being said was a really great idea.

Philippa: Well, it sets him apart from what’s being said, really.

Peter: [in agreement] Mmm.

Fran: Yeah. I mean, when Frodo asks the question, “What are we holding onto?” it’s a question that’s also in Gollum – Sméagol’s – mind, …

Fangorn Comes to Helm's Deep >>

The Lord of the Rings and its content does not belong to me, it is property of the Tolkien Estate;  the commentaries transcribed here, as well as the images used, are the property of New Line Cinema.