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EE Commentary Transcripts
Farewell Dear Bilbo

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Philippa: And, of course, we made the decision early on that Frodo is suspicious of Bilbo leaving, but has no idea that he is, in fact, going to do it, as opposed to the story in the book, where Frodo is fully in on Bilbo’s plans, and enjoys the joke.

Peter: We also had to drop the idea that it was Frodo’s birthday as well as Bilbo’s, because often those things are just too complicated and confusing for what value you get from them.

Philippa: One of my favourite things in the book is that Hobbits give presents on their birthdays instead of receiving them, and so it’s one of those things that you’d love to do, but just stops the film dead if you attempt to do them. [Bilbo’s confrontation with Gandalf] And on the wall, if you look, closely and see two portraits, which is Bilbo’s parents, and if you look even closer, you’ll see they bear a striking resemblance to Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh.

Peter: [screen cap] This was a difficult shot because it’s so long: if you just look at it, it just keeps going and going and going without cutting, and I wanted to do that deliberately, again, I wanted to spend a lot of time… This single shot took us an entire day to shoot, because I really wanted to sell the idea again of Ian Holm and Ian McKellen being together and being different sizes. And I thought it was worth it, because the shot’s over a minute long, which means you’re not spending the entire day doing eight or nine second-long difficult shots; you’re doing a minute-long difficult shot, so it makes the time worthwhile. (beat) [Bilbo: ‘Why shouldn’t I keep it?’] I think Ian Holm does this brilliantly: this is, probably, one of my favourite scenes in the entire film. I just think that you’ve just got to imagine how difficult it is to sell the idea, without making it look hammy or cheesy, and he’s just doing brilliant, brilliant work here.

Philippa: Sir Ian Holm played Frodo in the BBC radio adaptation of ‘The Lord of the Rings’; he was very, very familiar with the world.

Peter: When you look at the scenes in Bag End, just forgetting the trick-shots that have the two actors in the scenes at the same time, what you’re seeing is actually two completely different sets: we built Bag End at two different sizes, so every time that you’re seeing Ian Holm, you’re looking at a Bag End which is large, which makes him look like he’s the right size, and when you look at Ian McKellen, you’re seeing a much smaller Bag End, one in which we all had to bend over, and stoop as we went in the door, and we just simply –. They were exactly the same: the books on the shelves were built to different scales, the candles, the candlesticks; the furniture was all manufactured at two different sizes; they’re exact replicas of each other, except one of them is thirty-three percent smaller than the other. (beat) I loved this Bag End set so much; it felt so comfortable that when we finished shooting with it, it was due to be destroyed, as all of our sets are: they basically get broken up and junked when the filming’s finished, and I couldn’t bear that to happen to Bag End, so I approached New Line, and said, “If I can pay for my own storage, can I keep the Bag End set?” and they agreed, so I’ve got Bag End in storage, and one day I’m going to put it into the side of a hill. I’m going to actually… I’m going to make my own hobbit-hole, because it’s just so comfortable: it’s just an amazing experience to be in a house where everything’s round; it’s something like being in the womb – it’s, sort of, very, very peaceful and tranquil and something calming about it, so I’m looking forward to, one day, being able to spend weekends in Bag End.

Philippa: [Bilbo drops the Ring] I thought this was conceptually brilliant. I remember reading this – again, this was in your treatment, Peter – that the Ring doesn’t just fall, it almost adheres.

Peter: It almost sticks to the palm of his hand [Philippa: Sticks to his hand…], only reluctantly. And then when the Ring lands, we wanted to put this big, heavy sound effect on, so it goes thump like it weighs a hell of a lot more than what it really should.

Philippa: [Bilbo steps out of Bag End and speaks to Gandalf] This was so beautifully done, this scene, I believe, and it is one of those moments, as a Tolkien fan – for someone who’s read the book – where these two actors truly are Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, I believe. And you wouldn’t know that these two really didn’t know each other that well. The song is taken, of course, from the poem, and the music – the tune – was composed by Fran: she came up with it at the last second.

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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.