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EE Commentary Transcripts
A Journey in the Dark

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<< Moria

Peter (cont.): And I love the idea it’s a four day journey, that they’re walking under the Mountain. It’s just such a great, evocative sequence; it’s probably, you know, the best sequence in the book, really. It’s…

Philippa: Mmm. I love Moria.

Peter: It’s something that everybody remembers from the book, so [Fran: Yes.] [Philippa agrees] it, sort of, naturally became one of the major set pieces in the film.

Fran: I think it’s one of the most well-written chapters of the book.

Philippa: Yes, I agree.

Fran: It’s beautifully written. And musically, Howard [Philippa sighs] took his cue from…

Philippa: Yes.

Fran: …from the Dwarves and utilising a male choir to…

Philippa: That was Peter, actually.

Fran: …take us through Moria.

Philippa: What happened, I remember, we were having lunch at your place, and you were talking… You and Howard, Fran, were talking about the choral… the concept of choral music, especially in this place. I think you’d found some great stuff from the temp track that you’d used and Howard had really enjoyed it; and Pete, you were talking about some of the women vocalists that were around and things like this; and I said that all the Dwarves were male, and that’s when your eyes lit up and said, “A male choir!”. You were thinking of the great Welsh mining choirs and that… It took off from there, and then, of course, Howard managed to find an incredible Polynesian choir here in New Zealand.

Peter: (beat) [Gandalf reveals the mithril in the Mines to the Fellowship] We have a sequence coming up which was cut, revealing more information about the mithril vest which Bilbo gave Frodo, and we felt that the mithril vest had been established well enough back in the Rivendell bedroom scene, and we didn’t really need to dwell more on it, which is why this was trimmed out; but it’s got a nice mood to it, and I love the idea that there’s this huge mithril mine right in the middle of the Mountains: the actual mine shaft where the mithril has been dug out of the Mountain. It’s, sort of, a seemingly endless hole, which I found pretty creepy. It was one of the first miniatures that we ever shot for the film. [Gandalf tells the Fellowship of Thorin’s gift to Bilbo] And as readers of the book will know, the story that the shirt of mithril rings was given to Bilbo by Thorin, which is one of the episodes from the book ‘The Hobbit’ and we, sort of, make reference to it in this piece of dialogue. (beat) The fork in the road, the three-way crossroads, is in the book, and I always liked that idea that Gandalf kind of forgets. We wanted to play Gandalf as being… human, really.

Fran: Fallible.

Peter: Yeah, to be fallible: that he wasn’t just a wizard that knew what to do all the time, and I love the idea that he hadn’t been in there for hundreds of years, and, you know, he knew his way through but he just couldn’t quite remember which of these three tunnels to take. (beat) The Gollum that you’re seeing here is almost our prototype Gollum; when you see him in ‘The Two Towers’ he will look a little bit different to this. This was done, you know, early, and we have since developed him and changed him slightly; so, at some point, we’ll probably go and redo that shot there for some later DVD edition of ‘The Fellowship’ [laughs] so that it matches up with the Gollum that we’re going to see in ‘The Two Towers’. (beat) [Gollum looks through the ladder] We trimmed a little reference here out of the theatrical version, which refers to Gollum as Sméagol; and we trimmed it out because we didn’t need it in this film, but I’m including it here because this whole concept of Gollum’s original name being Sméagol is something that’s very important in ‘The Two Towers’ and so I wanted it back in this version of the film, so hopefully people will get to look at this prior to seeing ‘The Two Towers’, which is obviously coming onto screens very shortly.

Fran: [Frodo: “It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had the chance”] This scene’s really interesting because, although, you know… because it’s done with forced perspective, they’re not looking at each other when they’re saying these lines. When you see two shots of them making eye contact, they’re in fact, you know, many feet apart, looking at quite different points. (beat) [Gandalf: “Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement”] This scene has the… is really the heart of the book.

Philippa: It’s the heart of the film.

Peter: It actually happens in Bag End, doesn’t it?

Philippa: Yes.

Fran: It does, yeah.

Philippa: In ‘The Shadow of the Past’ chapter.

Peter: But this is a much more appropriate place for it –

Fran: It is.

Peter: – in terms of the cinematic story that we’re telling.

Fran: It’s –.

Philippa: This is the one place where we felt we could stop, and the key thing about this is that what Gandalf’s saying to Frodo is so utterly important, because this is where you’re getting a sense that he knows that he is not going to be around [Fran: Yes.] for this boy…

Fran: Yeah.

Philippa: …and not going to be around to help him.

Fran: Yes. And there –.

Philippa: And I think Ian played that beautifully.

Fran: There are two great messages that come through in this scene.

Philippa: Yes.

Fran: The first one is: “Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement”…

Philippa: Yes.

Fran: …which is Tolkien’s humanitarianism, really.

Philippa: Yes.

Fran: It’s the spirit of the book. It’s forgiveness, and through forgiveness is redemption, and in that sense it’s quite a Christian…

Philippa: And also that –.

Fran: …notion.

Philippa: And that is the rôle of the Greater Being, too.

Fran: Yes, yes. “There are other forces at work [Philippa, at same time as Fran: “at work”] in this world [Philippa: Yes.] besides the will of evil.” And the other great message in this scene is: “All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

Philippa: That is the essence of the book.

Fran: Well it… Well that’s about free will [Philippa: Yes.], which again, plays directly to the powerful things that underlie the story, which really informed Tolkien’s, you know, view of life.

Philippa: [in agreement] Mmm…

Fran: His Catholic faith.

Philippa: Mmm.

Peter: (beat) The sequence in the Dwarrowdelf hall was inspired by a painting that Alan Lee did for the centenary edition of ‘The Lord of the Rings’: a wonderful watercolour painting of these huge towering columns that seemed to go on and on forever, with this tiny little group of people walking at their base; and we looked at that painting while we were writing the script, long before we ever met Alan Lee, and we always took huge inspiration from the visual look of Moria. And then – that’s the image there [screen cap] – and then, much later, for my birthday [Philippa laughs] Fran gave me a present, and I opened it up and it was the original painting that she’d got. She’d persuaded Alan to part with it [laughs] and I’ve now got that original painting on the wall in our house.

Balin's Tomb >>

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.