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EE Commentary Transcripts
Flight to the Ford

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<< The Caverns of Isengard

Peter (cont.): … so we felt we needed a villain that could hit the road and ultimately have a showdown with our Fellowship at the end of the movie. And in the book, the Uruk-hai do get sent from Isengard, they do confront the Fellowship on Amon Hen, but we created Lúrtz as the leader who was a character in his own right to personify that group. (beat) This is the Trollshaw Forest, which obviously fans know that the three stone trolls of Bilbo’s –. Actually, in the theatrical version, we never even referenced the fact that they were these three stone trolls, but we did have Bilbo telling the story at the beginning of the movie, so we hoped that people would make the connection. But it’s another one of those things that I don’t believe you need to explain everything in Tolkien’s world as you see it on film, you know, fans of the book know what they’re looking at, and if you haven’t read the book, it doesn’t really matter: there just happens to be three big stone trolls there! (beat) Obviously, one of the major changes to the book was the fact we replaced Glorfindel with the character of Arwen, but there were, really, logical reasons to do that. One of the problems with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is that there are so many characters, and to introduce an Elf called Glorfindel in this scene and then to have Glorfindel drop out of the story a few minutes later and to have to then introduce Arwen at Rivendell, it just seemed like it would be introduction upon introduction, and there’s so many that we felt we needed to somehow condense characters – reduce them and condense them.

Fran: And additionally increase Arwen’s rôle, because it was [Peter: Yeah.] so small.

Peter: Yeah. So we, you know, we took a chance here at doing this, and, you know… But the character of Arwen, essentially, is still very much within the spirit of the character in the books. I know there was a lot of criticism and a lot of concern early on that we were going to do things to Arwen that would have made her a very different character, but ultimately, I think we’ve ended up with somebody who, you know, does feel pretty much like they belong in the books.

Fran: Yeah, Liv had a fantastic natural instinct for Elvish!

Philippa: She did.

Fran: She had…

Peter: Incredible, yeah.

Fran: She really had the most –.

Peter: And the sound of Liv’s voice is amazing, I mean, I just love the way that she sounds here [Fran: Yeah.], which is just her natural voice dropped a few octaves, isn’t it? She did it herself, she, sort of…

Fran: She just pitched it down a little.

Peter: She pitched it down, yeah, but she created… I think she –. What it does is it makes Liv sound so old and, you know, it gives her that feeling, because these Elves are, you know, thousands of years old, and it gives her that, sort of, that maturity, I guess, that weight in her voice.

Fran: Yeah, she has a brilliant ear.

Philippa: She does. Beautiful.

Fran: Yeah.

Philippa: The… All the translations were done by David Salo, an American scholar: all the Elvish, and in fact, some of the other languages as well.

Peter: [Shot of Arwen riding with Frodo, zooming in and tracking] This horse riding was all done for real. I mean, this is… This shot here is amazing, you know, I love the way the horse is pounding along; shot down near Te Anau in New Zealand.

Philippa: Beautiful horse.

Peter: [at same time as Philippa] Obviously, you have to –. We have to be honest and say that this wasn’t Liv riding in every single one of these shots: she’s there here… she’s here and there throughout the sequence, obviously, but we had a phenomenal group of riding doubles. A lot of this was directed by John Mahaffie, our second unit director, and it was shot over a period of three or four weeks near the beginning of the shoot, right at the time where all the flooding was happening, and I know that the horse chase scene was actually interrupted by the flooding, the huge storms that happened down in Queenstown, and they had to –. The crew and cast had to actually stop filming and go and help barricade the town with sandbags; and I think Liv and John and a lot of the other people involved were just helping the town sandbag up against the floodwaters.

Fran: Yes, I think all that plain area was flooded. It took a while before they could go back there and film again.

Peter: Yeah. (beat) I wanted the horse chase to ultimately feel like a car chase. I thought, you know, I wanted it to have this, sort of, excitement; and to… Ultimately, it should be shot in a type of way that you would shoot a car chase, if you’re imagining, you know, it was cars instead of horses. (beat) The Ford of Bruinen itself – which is this location here – is in a place called Skippers Canyon, and the irony is that the ford that you’re looking at there is an actual ford from the gold-mining days of the 1800s; this area – this canyon – was full of gold, and we had a gold rush in New Zealand, just as had happened in America at about the same time in 1860-1870. And this whole area was populated by about ten or twelve thousand people; and they used to have to get their wagons across the river, and so they built – they made this ford across the Shotover River at this particular point and this is the ford that we used in the movie: a very spectacular part of the countryside.

Philippa: And also there has been some criticism here that we, again, changed the books – the waters, of course – I mean, Frodo rides across by himself and the waters rise of their own accord, but we are actually honouring that the… What Arwen is saying is an invocation to those waters, but it’s not a spell to raise them; and actually, what Howard Shore did with the choir – the choral piece underneath this – is the spirit, almost, of the River, telling her that they’ve heard her call.

Peter: [Arwen: “Frodo, don’t give in…”] This little piece that we’re looking at now was added on much later, and it was actually shot by –. Fran directed this, and it wasn’t originally in our first cut of the film where Arwen thinks that she may have lost Frodo.

Fran: Yes, we added it because we felt that, in the end, after that spectacular chase, we’d lost sight of what was at stake in the scene, which was Frodo’s life, so it felt like the scene hadn’t properly delivered itself.

Philippa: The line that she says here, which is, “What grace I have, let it pass to him” is directly from the very end of the book, the very end of the entire series, when Arwen, in fact, does give her place to Frodo;…

Rivendell >>

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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.