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EE Commentary Transcripts
The Caverns of Isengard

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Peter (cont.): [The ‘moth shot’ at Isengard] This is one of my favourite shots in the movie, because normally with visual effects shots, the concept is that if it’s fake – if it’s some sort of trick – then you don’t dwell on it, you don’t let audiences study it long enough to see where the seams are; but the reason why I like this shot is that it just keeps on going and going and going. I actually think it’s over a minute long. And it’s largely a miniature, I mean everything that you’re seeing – the environment, the scaffolding, the tower – it’s actually… all of that is big models. This was a huge model that filled an entire parking lot; but the moth and all the little people are generated on a computer, and Gandalf – you’re looking at Gandalf – he’s a CG Gandalf here [screen cap], but at some point when the moth flutters across him… about there, somewhere, [screen cap] he becomes real, and he’s now a real Gandalf that we filmed on the stage. And I just love the way that the shot is fairly… It’s, you know, it’s a brave shot in a sense, and we managed to pull it off pretty well, I think. This is a real moth, but moths only live for, like, two days, and they only have a twenty-four hour lifespan, so this moth had to be born and photographed before it died that night.

Fran: But how did you make it stay on Ian’s hand?

Peter: Oh, I think it just sat there.

Fran: You told me you superglued it. [Philippa laughs]

Peter: No, no, no, no, no… I think the wrangler… I think the wrangler keeps them in the fridge, and sort of dulls them down a little bit, kind of gets them a bit cold and they go a bit floppy, and it just sits on the hand. (beat) Despite all the effects technology, there was one thing that we couldn’t really figure out a way to cheat that well, and that was all that red-hot metal, molten metal, and so what you’re seeing there is genuine molten metal. We actually set up a studio set inside a foundry; we filmed real molten metal being splashed around, and all of the red-hot steel that they’re hammering is genuine red-hot steel. We had a forge, and we, sort of, used to heat the swords up, hand them to the Orcs – who couldn’t see very well – who were, sort of, waving these red-hot bits of metal around and whacking them with hammers. [Peter laughs] But it’s funny because things like that, you can’t really figure out a good way to fake it, and you’ve got to use the real thing.

Fran: And the foundry men were dressed up in Orc make up.

Peter: That’s right, yeah, the Orcs themselves were the foundry workers that we dressed up as Orcs, that’s right. (beat) Lúrtz is a character that we developed for the movie – he’s not in the book – and, you know, the reason for that is really because the villains in the book, which are really Sauron and Saruman, have limitations. Obviously, Sauron is in the form of a giant eye and can’t really participate in the story to any great degree; and Saruman never leaves his fortress…;

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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.