Make your own free website on
Home | FotR Disc 1 | FotR Disc 2 | TTT Disc 1 | TTT Disc 2
EE Commentary Transcripts
Balin's Tomb

Back to Scene-by-Scene contents

<< A Journey in the Dark

Philippa: I love the scale.

Peter: Yeah.

Philippa: It’s just so huge.

Peter: It’s just… The scale’s fantastic, of just showing tiny people with this huge architecture: it’s mind-boggling. And then to think that it was carved out of the interior of a mountain; I mean, I just love the idea that it was once solid rock, and yet the Dwarves chipped away at the rock and created this hall of columns. It’s just… You know, I just like thinking about it! [laughs] It’s really exciting! (beat) Balin’s Tomb is pretty much as described in the books.

Philippa: [in agreement] Mmm.

Peter: The shaft of white light, you know… We really wanted to be as accurate as possible to the descriptions. We felt that, even though were taking liberties sometimes with characters and with dialogue and with the way that the story unfolded, we didn’t really ever want to take liberties with the world that the story was in. So we [Philippa: No.] were always very strictly accurate – as much as possible, anyway – to the places, so that, at least fans of the book would feel that they were seeing Middle-earth come to life.

Fran: [in agreement] Mmm.

Philippa: Underneath this you can hear John Rhys-Davies actually speaking some Dwarvish. I believe, except for the choral pieces, it’s the only Dwarvish we hear.

Fran: And you’re only able to see –.

Philippa: Fiendishly difficult language.

Fran: You’re going to see Viggo in profile here, because he [Philippa laughs] whacked himself in the eye with a surfboard and gave himself a black eye, so we had to [Philippa gasps] shoot him for about a week…

Philippa: He went surfing with the Hobbits.

Peter: This was shot on a Monday, and he’d come in on the Monday morning and he had this huge, swollen face – that shot there [screen cap] – he had this huge swollen face on the right side, and so I had to shoot everything from the left, which is why you see some rather slightly awkward shots of Viggo, because normally I wouldn’t choose to do that, but I had no choice in this instance. (beat) The well is used a little differently. It’s sort of how we worked on the screenplay: we’d take all these ideas of Tolkien’s and then we’d find slightly different ways to use them, because Pippin throws a pebble down a well at some point – not in Balin’s Tomb, but in some other place in Moria –, but we took that idea and we enlarged it to make it this, kind of, key moment in Balin’s Tomb when the Orcs are alerted to their whereabouts. (beat) On the walls of Balin’s Tomb are Dwarven runes. If you look closely, all around the Tomb, on every single wall, is carved the story of the history of Moria [Philippa: Mmm.] and the Dwarves of Moria, and it’s all there: if you understand runes, you can, sort of, read the odd word here and there. (beat) [shots of the Mines as the Orcs start to approach] We used some miniatures, obviously, to create the large caverns of Moria. (beat) The Orcs – or the Goblins… I mean, I don’t know whether they’re Goblins –. We called them either Goblins or Moria Orcs.

Philippa: They’re the same, they’re the same.

Peter: It’s the same thing essentially. We wanted to create a, sort of, a race of feral creatures that live underground. They’re a little different to the Orcs that you see elsewhere in the movie, that they’re much more…

Fran: Subterranean.

Philippa: [at same time at Fran] They’re paler.

Peter: Yeah, they’re subterranean, large, round eyes, which would have developed so they could see in the dark.

Philippa: Very sickly skin.

Peter: Yeah. Pale skin, yeah. Yeah. So, we, sort of… We did put a lot of thought –. And their armour is quite, sort of, ‘cockroachy’, and even, on some of their gloves they have little hooks, which is what allows them to crawl up and down the walls.

Philippa: [Frodo is holding a glowing Sting] Somebody asked me why Glamdring wasn’t glowing, and I must admit, I didn’t know why.

Peter: Er, probably due to budgetary cuts! [Philippa, at same time as Peter: budgetary cuts!] [Philippa and Fran laugh]

Philippa: Not enough blue left!

Peter: The intention with the fighting was to make you feel like you were part of it; I wanted to really get in there with the camera: it was all shot handheld. I often used to shoot this fight on Saturdays, when I was shooting Monday to Friday with the main unit, and I’d come in on the Saturdays and shoot some of this stuff with the second unit. And then, through the week, Geoff Murphy, one of our second unit directors, was also shooting a substantial part of this fight as well. He shot… Most of the shots with the cave troll were done by Geoff. (beat) [Aragorn and Boromir save Sam from the cave troll] There’s a actually a few cave troll shots that we trimmed out of the movie, which we can get to look at here: a little bit involving Sam, which I always liked, but again, we just felt that the cave troll sequence went on a little bit too long, so we nipped and tucked a few shots out. But they were actually shots that we’d already finished: we’d done all the effects for them, so we were able just to put them straight back into here. (beat) [Aragorn saves Boromir from an Orc] This little moment between Boromir and Aragorn is significant, too, because it does show that their respect for each other is growing, following the earlier antagonism between the two characters. (beat) The cave troll was a character that we developed very early: he existed at least a year before we started shooting, if not actually more than that, really: two years before we started shooting we had tests of the cave troll. And I always loved the idea of a monster that sort of felt real. I wanted to not make it an over the top movie monster, but a creature that you can, sort of, believe in, so we wanted to make him a little stupid, you know: like he’s not really evil, but he’s just fallen into bad company. He’s like a big, simple kid who has just got bad friends, and, you know, he comes in waving his hammer around, but I wanted there to be some sympathy for the troll, because I always imagined that the troll has a mother, you know, and she’s probably got his bed turned down and [Philippa, cutely: Ohh!] a glass of warm milk by his bed, and he’s just… He’s not going to come home. [Philippa: Ah!] You know, and I always [Peter laughs] [?] quite… it’s sad, really, but…

Fran: He is quite empathetic, though.

Peter: Yeah, yeah.

Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Yeah.

Fran: Which is, I think –.

Philippa: It is in the book.

Fran: But it’s a testament to Randy Cook, is it not?

Philippa: Yes, too.

Fran: Did Randy drive for this?

Peter: Yeah, well Randy, who was our animation supervisor… I mean, he and I are big Ray Harryhausen fans, and we always regarded this as being our Harryhausen scene. The one thing we’re doing differently is we’re using handheld cameras, whereas in the old Harryhausen movies like ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ and ‘Sinbad’, the cameras were always locked off, completely static, because it was just… it was the only way that those effects could be achieved in those days; but we thought it would be great to do what’s essentially a wonderful Harryhausen monster fight, but do it with handheld cameras, so you get much more of that documentary sort of feel. So, if you look at the troll, for every single shot, the camera’s handheld, and that gives it that little bit of life and energy. But, you know, the gags are all Harryhausen gags, really: throwing stones at monsters, he did that, you know, throwing spears, jumping on their backs, you know, it’s all been done before and in a way, we thought it was just our opportunity to pay homage to the great old Harryhausen films. (beat) Once Merry and Pippin jump on the back of the troll, they become CG characters. They’re a little computer-generated Merry and Pippin. (beat) [Frodo falls to the ground] You know, I mean, we took our lead from the book again with the mithril vest gag, where Frodo gets stabbed in the chest by the [?vest], but we just milked it a little bit more, I mean, that’s… Often what we did in the film was to take our lead from sections of the book, but then, sort of, to milk them for all they’re worth in a much more of a movie kind of way. (beat) We did a lot of pre-visualisation on this scene, which is to plan it before you shoot it. It’s quite complicated, but I’m sure there’ll be something in the documentary accompanying this DVD which will explain that in more detail. (beat) Creating the mithril vest was tricky too, because it is such a magical thing, and yet we had to create something real; but we did it… We made a chain mail vest out of tiny, tiny rings of chain mail: the finest, sort of, wire that we could bend into loops and we had it silver-coated.

Philippa: Yeah.

Peter: Sort of a platinum colour.

Philippa: It was a nightmare for Ngila: they had to get the measurements so right before they cut it [Peter: And it – ] because it was a one-off.

Peter: – it took somebody weeks and weeks and weeks [Philippa: Yeah.] to put all this chain mail together, but those are all tiny, little metal loops put… assembled by hand, one at a time.

Philippa: Yeah. It is actually very beautiful to look at. It’s a very beautiful garment.

The Bridge of Khazad-dûm >>

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.