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EE Commentary Transcripts
A Short Cut to Mushrooms

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Peter (cont.): [Sam in the cornfield] This cornfield was in a part of the country that has a lot of cornfields; we didn’t grow it specially for the film, although we did talk about growing a cornfield; but as it was, the art department went up there the day before and they chopped this path through the corn so that we could go and shoot this scene. But we shot the entire scene in a day: it was one of those really quick shooting days where we did a lot of work very, very fast. (beat) [Merry and Pippin jump out onto Frodo and Sam] It was just one of those situations of how you introduce Merry and Pippin, because how they’re introduced in the book just didn’t really have the sharpness and the momentum that we needed for the movie, so it was another one of those changes that we had to make.

Philippa: When this was first filmed, Samwise is saying, “Trust a Brandybuck and a Took” [pronounced ‘Tuk’] but further investigation revealed that it’s actually ‘Took’ [pronounced ‘Took’], which suited our purposes brilliantly, because when Billy first showed up, he was quite prepared to do a Gloucester accent, and he did it very well, but he tended to lose some of his natural, brilliant comic timing – a little bit – but it wasn’t even that. What we discovered… When we discovered that the proper pronunciation was ‘Took’ I did a little bit more reading, and realised, of course, that the Tooks… the head of the family is the Thain, and then one of their ancestors invented golf, I decided that I thought that Professor Tolkien was in fact telling us that he was Scottish! So that was brilliant.

Peter: [Four hobbits fall down the hill] Out of all the stunts that we did in the movies, we had very few injuries: we were very, very lucky, and obviously we planed things as well as we could, but one of the more serious injuries we had was this moment here, that when those guys fall, one of the stuntmen actually dislocated his shoulder on set, and he had to be carted away to hospital. It was like one of those very simple things that shouldn’t have gone wrong, and you would never have thought it would have led to an injury, but it was just a freaky accident.

Fran: [Hobbits crowd around mushrooms] This was the first day, wasn’t it?

Peter: The first day of shooting. Yeah. Yup, this was pretty much one of the first times that the boys were ever together saying dialogue together in the movie.

Fran: Did you always have in mind that tracking zoom shot for that moment? [screen cap]

Peter: Yeah, it’s an Alfred Hitchcock shot that he designed, and I think Spielberg’s used it a few times. It’s sort of… It’s become a little bit of a cliché, but I thought we could go away with it there: it’s the way that the road concertinas, it just, sort of, creates this… a sense of unease because you don’t quite know what you’re looking at. [Fran: Yeah.], but it defies the laws of Physics…

Fran: Yeah.

Peter: …in a way. It’s kind of a weird effect. (beat) [Hobbits hide under the tree] The tree that they hide under is not real… Well, it is a real tree, but it was on a farm many miles away and so the guys chain-sawed it up and brought it to Mount Victoria and they assembled it again, so it’s sort of a real tree, but it didn’t really belong there. And this looks like it’s in some remote, wooded area, but it’s actually right in the middle of the city: the middle of Wellington city is a park, called Mount Victoria Park, surrounded by skyscrapers, and you just have this little green belt.

Fran: This was an idea you had early, wasn’t it, about the disturbance of nature at the presence of the Rider?

Peter: Yeah, I don’t know how well it comes across in the movie; the idea was that as soon as this Black Rider appears, all the insects flee. [Fran: Yes.] They basically just run away, and I don’t quite know whether that comes across like that, but I guess it’s sort of interesting.

Fran: I think it does.

Peter: Yeah.

Philippa: I remember seeing audition tapes for worms and spiders and earwigs and –.

Peter: Oh, it was horrible! I hate them! [Philippa laughs]

Fran: Yeah!

Peter: I hate insects.

Philippa: But it as really funny, after seeing hours and hours of audition tapes of actors to have to audition for spiders and worms.

Peter: Oh yes.

Fran: But the weirdest thing was we had a… Was it a weta?

Peter: And that big centipede?

Fran: Yes! [Philippa: Mmm] We had a weta and a centipede – a weta is, you know, this New Zealand [?] – a frightening-looking New Zealand… It’s like a big, large cricket, really, looking thing; …

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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.