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EE Commentary Transcripts
The Pass of Caradhras

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Fran: Ian was really funny: on one of the blooper outtakes [Fran and Philippa laugh] he emerges from behind the rock and he says, instead of “spies of Saruman” he says, “spies of Star Wars!” [Philippa laughs]

Peter: [Caradhras] This was a sequence that was shot on a mountaintop near Mount Aspiring: it was a real, very high, remote mountain; and the helicopters flew us in, dropped us off, and then they went off to park on the other side of the hill, so they weren’t in sight of the cameras; but the helicopters were never that far away, because the weather is so difficult up there and it can change. It’s so changeable that a storm could have suddenly swept in and stranded us on this mountain, so they were very close by in case they had to do an emergency evacuation.

Fran: And for that big Ring close-up shot, Pete… [screen cap]

Peter: That was a large Ring.

Fran: How big was it?

Peter: Oh, about six inches in diameter, so we could get the Ring close to the lens. We had a much, much bigger Ring.

Fran: This scene, of course, is not in the book, although Boromir’s temptation is in the book, at the Council.

Philippa: [at same time as Fran] Boromir’s temptation is utterly in the book, and that particular line, “that we should suffer so much fate”…

Fran: “Fear and doubt”

Philippa: Yeah… Is of course one of the last things he says in the book.

Fran: Yes.

Philippa: But it was just too good not to play it this soon. We needed this progression.

Peter: [flying through the caverns of Isengard] This was a shot that was almost one of our last things that we added to the film. We wanted a sense of the crows returning to give their message to Saruman; and the model of the caverns below Isengard had already been packed away, so I got them to drag the model out and set it up again just to do this shot, and we did the blue screen with Christopher Lee very late, as well – he flew back out to New Zealand to do that.

Philippa: [heavy snowfall on Caradhras] These are all miniatures.

Peter: All miniatures, yep. This was a huge, big model that Alex Funke, our Miniature DP shot. One of the very first miniatures ever to be shot for the film.

Fran: Yes. (beat) This was a hellish [Philippa groans] studio shoot.

Philippa: The worst studio…

Peter: [at same time as Philippa] That’s right. Fran actually directed quite a significant piece of this scene.

Fran: Well John Mahaffie did it, too.

Peter: Right, yeah.

Fran: And… Well John really did it.

Peter: John Mahaffie, our second unit director, directed quite a bit of this scene, with Fran: I think you were there, too, weren’t you?

Fran: I was there. There was rice flakes flying around, and polystyrene, and the rice flakes would get wet and turn, sort of, gluey.

Philippa: Yeah.

Fran: And…

Philippa: And get everywhere.

Fran: …they’d stick in the treads of your shoes and…

Philippa: Your handbag was full of it.

Fran: It was horrendous. It got into everybody’s underwear!

Philippa: [laughing] What the hell were you doing in there?! What were you doing?

Fran: [laughing] Well I wasn’t personally checking it, but everyone reported it. It was a horror. And I said to Pete, you know, “You’ve really got to come and shoot some of this stuff, because it’s [gassy?] and I don’t want to be here any more!” and he said, [stubbornly] “No! No, I’m due at –. I have to run with the Olympic torch.” [Philippa and Fran laugh]

Philippa: Yeah, that’s right! I remember that!

Fran: “I don’t want to get all that crap in my hair!” And so, unfortunately, I got stuck there.

Philippa: He’s a great athlete. [Philippa and Fran laugh]

Peter: That shot there of Legolas is actually in real snow. It’s weird, because most of it’s fake in a studio, but there was a couple of shots we didn’t have, and so, one day, we were filming – on a real mountaintop – a different scene, and I thought, “Well, I could get that shot that I want of Legolas breaking through the snow, so Orlando got to be the guy that had to do it in real snow, while we buried him! We covered him over in snow and he got to punch his way out as an insert for this scene, even though everybody else was in polystyrene and rice flakes.

Fran: I’m fairly sure that in that shot of Saruman on top of the tower – where he’s invoking the mountain – that you can see his bandaged finger.

Philippa: Ooh!

Fran: I’m pretty sure I can see a big, lumpy finger there.

Philippa: You mean they missed it? You mean the critics…

Fran: I don’t think the fans have seen that.

Philippa: The anally-retentive…

Fran: And now I’ve pointed it out.

Philippa: …mistake-spotters have missed it.

Fran: It’s there.

Philippa: The interesting thing about the spells that the two wizards are contending with each other with: it’s spoken in Quenya, an older Elvish dialect; and what’s interesting is that Gandalf is actually saying, as he does in the book, “Sleep”. He’s asking Caradhras to go back to sleep; and one of the things I love about Tolkien is the idea that there is a spirit even within the mountain, and what Saruman is doing is awakening that malice – the malice of the mountain – and Gandalf is trying to make it sleep.

Moria >>

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.