: Hi. Welcome to the second half of the commentary: I hope you’ve made a cup of tea, gone to the toilet,
done all that you need to do, and let’s get back into it again. (beat)
[Dwarf Women] More location shooting in
Deer Park Heights in Queenstown.
Philippa: This speech here, Pete, Fran and I found in the back of the appendices one day, and we just were laughing
hysterically, and then we decided we’d actually chuck it in; but it’s a bit of actual information which you can
find in the appendices, about Dwarves, and we decided to give it to Gimli, because John Rhys-Davies is such a wonderful actor
at making this sort of thing work. And it was also a moment to see a slightly light – more light-hearted Éowyn, so she’s
not all grim and dark and icy maiden the whole time. (beat) [Théoden talks about his relationship with Éowyn] This
piece here of Théoden was really to establish his connection to Éowyn, as it has quite a large payoff in Film Three,
of course. We wanted to use this notion that he should have loved her like a father, and he wasn’t there for her; and
it also serves the purpose of not just explaining his character, but providing a bit of background information about where
this young girl came from and why she might have this attitude to life, which is pretty grim. [One of the Dúnedain] This scene
was difficult to decide whether we’d done the right thing, which is one of the reasons, I think, it didn’t end
up in the…
Fran: [in agreement] Mmm.
Philippa: Wouldn’t you say? Because really this is not correct for Éowyn’s character; and Miranda
gave it her best shot at making it work, but what it was was a wonderful piece of, sort of, arcane knowledge of Aragorn
that we wanted to get out, or that we thought might be quite fun to get out, and again, it was finding those moments where
we could make these two connect before they actually had Helm’s Deep, because once they had Helm’s Deep, it was
all downhill, really: there wasn’t much time.
Peter: I mean, I loved finding out that Aragorn’s eighty-seven years old. [Philippa: Yeah. That’s
why we –.] I think it’s really cool.
Philippa: That’s why we did it.
Peter: It was confusing – I mean, one of the reasons why it didn’t end up in the theatrical version
where… is that we follow this scene with a flashback to Rivendell, and we build the whole [?] relationship between he
and Arwen, and the fact that he’s mortal and she’s immortal, and we felt when we were cutting the film that having
a scene where he talks about being eighty-seven years old and then in the very next scenes saying that he’s actually
a Mortal Man, and that people would get confused, you know. Does he die? Does he grow old? How old can he get? It is a little
bit confusing, but, I mean, obviously he does eventually die – he just has a longer lifespan because he’s a Man
of Númenor [Philippa: Mmm.], and in the mythology of Tolkien, they live to be – what? A hundred and fifty, or
something? Númenoreans? You know, they just have a longer [Philippa: Mmm. Yeah, they do.] lifespan to what we do. So
he’s still a youngish Man, you know, certainly not into middle-age yet, and he’s already eight-seven. He’s
been around a long time.
Philippa: Viggo loved doing this, didn’t he?
Peter: Yeah, he –.
Philippa: He loved the concept of being eighty-seven.
Peter: Yeah, yeah. A Dúnedain Ranger is what he’s called, isn’t he?
Peter: Because there’s a soccer team in New Zealand called Dunedin Rangers, and we always used to [Philippa
laughs] laugh about that when we were cutting it. “He’s one of the… He must be a centre-forward for Dunedin
Rangers!” (beat) [The Evenstar] That little transition into the flashback is a couple of shots that we stole
from the scene that we’ve had earlier, where Gandalf and Aragorn are talking on the plains together, and that’s
where we were originally going to position this flashback, having Aragorn wistfully smoking his pipe, staring at the long
grass, remembering Arwen; except when we came to do the editing, we felt that that was too early [Philippa agrees]
and we wanted to hold this back until later, so fortunately we still had them walking around long grass! The environment was
the same, and so we were able to put those same shots into a completely different scene.
Fran: And this is the night before he leaves Rivendell with the Fellowship, isn’t it?
Philippa: Yep. I know some people got confused about that.
Fran: Did they?
Philippa: Mmm hmm. They didn’t know whether he’d psychically travelled back there, and she was psychically
Peter: I know, I know; but the dialogue’s all [Philippa: Too bad.] pointing to the fact that he’s
just made his decision: he’s just volunteered to join the Fellowship that we saw at the Council of Elrond [Philippa:
Mmm.] and now this is the, sort of, evening before he’s due to leave. I know, it’s… it’s tricky, because
our big problem, obviously, with Aragorn and Arwen is… well, one, she doesn’t appear in the book of ‘The
Two Towers’ at all; but even keeping her in the story – how do you have the two of them together? Because there’s
no way that you can actually have them physically together, so [Philippa: That’s right.] the only way we could
do it was to have flashbacks to an earlier time period. (beat) There is actually footage that we shot during the shoot
that has a young Aragorn and Arwen frolicking together in the woods, but no-one’s ever seen it [Philippa: Mmm.],
and I don’t think it’s going to make it into any movie – any DVD. Viggo shaved his stubble off, and he’s
clean-shaven, and he’s supposed to be young, and the two of them were bounding round the trees together…
Philippa: Well actually, it’s shooting the moment he first saw her.
Peter: Yeah, which was something we were going to put it –.
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] That’s what we wanted to do.
Philippa: What were we –? We were going to put it in ‘The Fellowship’, weren’t we?
Philippa: That was in Lothlórien. [Peter: Yeah, yeah.] We were –. It was always going to go into Lothlórien,
before we did the moment with him and Boromir [Peter: Yeah.], and we sacrificed the remembrance of himself and Arwen
together for the Boromir scene.
Peter: That’s right. Well…
Philippa: Because we needed to earn that death scene.
Peter: … it’s unlikely to find a place, actually, because there’s nowhere to put it now, really,
even in ‘The Return of the King’, so… maybe in the 50th anniversary box-set we can put it in somewhere.
Fran: Wouldn’t it be fun to do an edit of all three films in chronological order? [laughs]
Peter: Like ‘The Godfather’ box-set? Yeah…
Fran: Oh, is that what happens there?
Philippa: Did they? Oh, cool!
Fran: You could put that scene, you know, right after [Peter: Yeah.] the Council meeting.
Peter: Well, you could, that’s right. I mean –. Well, people can do that with their – I shouldn’t
suggest this, but – people could do this with the sort of editing software available on home computers these days…
Philippa: [quietly] No!
Peter: … it’s something that any fan could do. As long as you don’t tell New Line I said that!
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Maybe they could do it for us, and then we wouldn’t have to do it
ourselves! (beat) [Elrond talks to Aragorn at Gilraen’s memorial] This is, of course, following on from a scene
which is in the extended cut of ‘Fellowship of the Ring’, which is by the graveside of Gilraen, Aragorn’s
mother, in Rivendell.
Peter: [screen cap] Now that’s the Fellowship all ready to leave; I regret that I didn’t get a better shot of them, because [Fran
agrees] it would have really cemented the scene in a time and place that everybody would have understood: you just see them
in the background – there’s Boromir and Gandalf, and there all waiting by Bill the Pony ready to leave –
and I never shot a decent shot of them, kind of, to open the scene on.
Philippa: [Arwen and Aragorn talk] This scene, of course, explains why the look in the extended cut DVD of ‘Fellowship
of the Ring’ – [Peter: Yes.] why that look… [?]
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] Oh, it’s a complicated cobweb of –
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] It’s very layered!
Peter: – connections and inter-connections and – [Fran agrees]
Philippa: Lots of layers!
Peter: – layers and… people will be writing books [Philippa sighs] about it, I’m sure.
It’s actually –. It is –. A really fun part of this project is these extended cuts, because one extended
cut can talk to another extended cut independently of the theatrical version; because you’re now seeing a scene which
sets up a moment in the extended cut of the previous film, yet theatrically, you know, none of this exists! [laughs] That’s
kind of like the people who just go to the movies and watch it; so it’s kind of neat: I think it’s… it’s
kind of a fun way to tell such a complicated, sprawling epic, because, really, there’s no definitive ‘Lord of
Peter: You can actually have the shorter version, you can have a longer version [Philippa: Mmm.]; we could
shoot for another year and shoot more stuff and have an even longer version still –
Philippa: [laughing, horrified] Oh, God!
Peter: – because Tolkien certainly wrote it all. [laughs]
Philippa: Stop him! Now! Fran, stop him!
Peter: [giggling] Now there’s an idea! [Fran: Can we –?
Philippa: Oh, Jesus!] Maybe
if we can’t make sequels… That’s actually a great idea!
Philippa: [horrified] No, God. Oh!
Peter: Because we can’t make sequels any more, we can only make three [Philippa laughs], maybe we could
make three more where we embellish [Philippa: The extended…] what we already have…
Philippa: The extended cut.
Peter: … and we just, sort of, fatten them all out, you know, [Philippa: Jesus!] and that’s the
way that New Line could, sort of, make more money, as you just, kind of, fatten these films out without technically going
beyond ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as the licensed property.
Philippa: Can you stop him?
Fran: [ironically] Do New Line need to make more money? [Philippa laughs]
Peter: Mmm, no! [laughs]
Philippa: That whole last scene between Aragorn and Arwen is about setting up his belief that she is going
to take the ships, that he’s done the right thing and done the noble thing, and that he believes that she is left; and
this, of course, as you will see, has a huge pay-off in Film Three.
Peter: The Warg scene has an interesting back story to it really, because it was a concept that we had from the
very beginning that –. We had read a description of these Wargs – these giant wolves that are ridden by Orcs –
and we wanted to put them in the movie somewhere, and for a long, long time, going back several years when it used to be a
Miramax project and we had two scripts and… then it became fleshed out with New Line. We had different places for these
things to be put into the story: it was always like a – sort of a – scene that was trying to find its true home;
and I know, for a long time, there was going to be a Warg attack at Edoras, when our characters were [Philippa: Mmm.]
at Edoras still, and the reason that they evacuate Edoras wasn’t going to be a decision that they make like it is now,
it was going to be a Warg attack – that suddenly the city was going to get attacked, the Wargs would jump over the gate,
they’d rampage through the streets of Edoras. It was going to be at night: there were flames and fire. There was a Warg
that got set on fire – like its fur and its saddle, blankets and things were blazing –
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Oh, you should still do that!
Peter: – and Aragorn was fighting this thing that was on fire, and he gets dragged through the streets by
this flaming Warg, and –. That was actually going to be how Aragorn ends up being left for dead [Philippa: Mmm.]
– is that he gets dragged away by this panicked, burning Warg away from Edoras, and that’s where the horse find
him on the river-bed at a later date; but actually, it was budgetary reasons why we ultimately didn’t do that. I remember
the conversation. [Fran: I remember.] I remember the –.
Fran: The flaming Warg was a source of contention for so long.
Peter: Oh, I know, I know.
Fran: Do you remember?
Peter: Well everybody thought we couldn’t do a flaming Warg [Fran: Mmm.], which is a bit of joke now,
seeing what has actually been done.
Philippa: I want to see the flaming Warg! Can we put it in Film Three?
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] But no, it was –. I’ll tell you why that didn’t happen:
because it had to be at night, and the concept of lighting the Edoras set for night shooting [Philippa laughs] was
just beyond –
Philippa: Someone would have [?gone over the…]
Peter: – anybody’s comprehension [Philippa: Yeah.] of just having to drag huge, big Dinos and
10K lights and stuff up there to light this thing at night in those strong winds. That’s why Edoras is only ever seen
in the daytime, you know: we don’t have any night scenes there [Philippa: Yeah.] because we just couldn’t
light it. (beat) Now the shot of Legolas jumping on the horse [screen cap] has obviously become quite a favourite of people: it was a complete accident, because Orlando Bloom had fallen off his horse
later on this day and cracked a rib and couldn’t get on a horse, so we couldn’t shoot anything of Orlando actually
jumping onto the saddle, which was our original plan. Then, much later on in post-production, I realised that we had forgotten
to actually shoot anything of Orlando jumping up on his horse; and so, the only way I could figure to get him on his horse
was to turn him into a CG guy and actually spring him up on there with this one shot that I had, which was, you know, the
only thing I could think of. And this was about six months before the release of the film: Orlando was shooting ‘Ned
Kelly’, and he’d grown whiskers for ‘Ned Kelly’ and they wouldn’t allow us to shave them [Philippa:
Mmm.] – shave them off – and so we couldn’t actually use him for any pick-up shooting, and it was all this
whole drama that ultimately resulted, by total fluke, in the shot that, actually, I believe gets rounds of applause in the
cinema, which is kind of like one of those lucky things that –. It’s weird how these things happen: it was just
a total accident. (beat) The Warg scene is reasonably successful CG-wise, but it could have been a lot better. It was
quite rushed, and I do think, given more time, these things would look a lot better, it…
Philippa: They look pretty amazing.
Peter: They’re not bad, but… they just don’t quite sit in the environment as well as what
you’d like. It was also shot in a fairly uncoordinated kind of way: we didn’t really have definitive storyboards
for it, so a lot of loose, kind of, action was photographed on location: Deer Park Heights, again, in Queenstown. We figured
out in post-production where to put the Wargs, and where we didn’t have horses we put CG horses in; so we kind of created
the scene almost back-to-front, really. There’s nothing better than when you’re shooting the stuff than to have
really detailed, pre-planned storyboards with a lot of gags thought through, and that’s not the way this scene was done:
it was done, kind of, ‘on the fly’.
Philippa: [Aragorn’s arm gets caught on the Warg] I mean, I’ve seen a criticism from some fans about
the fact that we pretend to kill off Aragorn.
Peter: Oh, yeah.
Philippa: One of them, especially, felt that we’d done that to Frodo, we’d done that to Sam, etcetera,
Philippa: But there is actually a very good reason why we do this at the end of this scene, one of the reasons being
that it was used as a kind of [?darker style] for the characters of Théoden and Éowyn: as you see later on, her belief that
Aragorn has died is one way for us to expose her true feelings about him, actually to herself as well as to the audience;
but more to the point, it gives us this moment when Aragorn himself has to choose to come back to life and to face
whatever’s coming, and it is the moment in which he sees the army – we wanted very much for Aragorn to see and
know the true horror of what these people in Helm’s Deep will be facing, and to bring that news back to Helm’s
Fran: It was really to give him a bit more status in the story…
Philippa: Mmm hmm.
Fran: … because he is just a reasonably passive character on…
Philippa: He’s being carried along by the action, isn’t he?
Philippa: And we needed for him to become vital and focal, which is what he does as soon as he goes off that cliff.
Peter: [Gimli confronts Sharku, screen cap] The Orc here is played by Jed Brophy, who –. For anyone who’s seen ‘Braindead’, Jed played a character
called Void, who was a punk rocker who ultimately gets chopped in half and walks around like this walking torso kind of guy.
Philippa: He also plays the soldier of Rohan who finds Théodred in the water…
Philippa: … in the very beginning of this extended cut.
Fran: He’s also played numerous Elves.
Peter: And stunt-riders, too –
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] We love Jed!
Peter: – actually Jed’s a great rider [Philippa: Yep.] and he did a lot of the horse –
kind of – stunt work for us as well.
Fran: And numerous Orcs.
Peter: Well that’s right: he’s at the beginning of the movie with Merry and Pippin, isn’t he?
He’s the Orc that, kind of, looks and wants to eat Merry and Pippin.
Fran: Yes, he says [Philippa: He says…]: “Why can’t we have some meat?”
Peter: Yeah. (beat) Viggo’s supposed death here is just really a way of trying to create that horrific
moment in a film where you think that one of your heroes has died, and… I mean, in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’
we were much more fortunate, because we had both Gandalf and Boromir actually dying, which really gave that story a lot of
Philippa: [ironically] Yeah, that was really great! [laughs]
Peter: We kind of missed it here: I mean, I certainly felt it, and I think that’s one of the reasons why we
ended up sending Aragorn [Philippa: Killing…] over the cliff, as well as the [Philippa agrees]…
We just felt we had to put some sort of weight in the story that it didn’t actually have. [Philippa agrees]
Fran: But the other thing is: you have to give a point to the Warg attack. It actually has to impact [Philippa:
Exactly.] on the story.
Philippa: It does.
Peter: It has to achieve something, yeah, otherwise it’s just a special effects…
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Yeah, that was the other thing. Exactly.
Peter: … feast, isn’t it? [Fran agrees]
Philippa: All those people who criticise it should just play it out to its logical conclusion, and not have
Aragorn go over that cliff, and then see what it does to the tension of the story, and it goes flat.
Peter: It’s a sort of “What’s the point?” kind of moment.
Peter: [the refugees enter Helm’s Deep] This was Miranda’s first day on the set.
Philippa: We didn’t know what to do with her hair, remember?
Fran: Yes – complete lack of hair continuity here.
Philippa: Mmm… but it’s all right. They sussed it. Beautiful wig, though: Peter Owen and Peter King,
I have to say, made the most beautiful wigs for Galadriel, Arwen and Éowyn.
Peter: [screen cap] This shot is a miniature of Helm’s Deep where everybody in it’s a computer-generated character. This miniature
was very big: this model, which we used extensively for the entire Helm’s Deep sequence, is enormous. It’s a one-quarter-scale
model, but that actually means it’s about twenty-five, thirty-foot wide. The archway where the front gate is –
I could actually walk through that archway without bending down: I mean, that’s the sort of size it was. It enabled
us to swing the camera round on a crane and get some great aerial-type shots of the castle. (beat) [Éowyn enquires
about the food] A little bit of extended DVD footage here, which is really just showing Éowyn’s rôle in what she does
at Helm’s Deep: I mean, okay, she’s lead the refugees there, but what does she do when she arrives? Well, she’s
an organiser, she helps set up the food for them, you know, she plays that sort of part which… We just felt was important
to establish a rôle for her, but obviously it got taken out of the theatrical cut.
Philippa: It also establishes that they ain’t in good shape for a long siege.
Peter: No. (beat) [Gimli tells Éowyn of Aragorn’s fate] I love the way that John Rhys-Davies plays
this moment. It’s another one of those memories I have of shooting this – of saying that Aragorn fell –
and this was literally two and a half years before we did the Warg scene, because the Warg scene didn’t really exist
properly until post-production of ‘The Two Towers’ and we were talking about [laughs] this cataclysmic event;
and when you’re a director, you’re filming this, and you’re just sitting there watching the actors, you
know, do their stuff, and you’re hoping: “God, I hope the Wargs look good. Oh God, I hope this scene’s going
to work okay” because, you know, everyone’s reacting to something that you still think is [Philippa: Yeah.]
a bit of a mystery. (beat) All of Helm’s Deep is basically polystyrene. Grant Major and Dan Hennah developed
this great technique that we used for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ –
Peter: – which was just basically making everything out of polystyrene! It’s incredible. You know, you’re
banging that with a hammer and it just flakes into that white polystyrene: there’s no strength to it at all; but it
looks good, it’s lightweight, it’s cheap and it’s easy to put together. Joe Bleakley was the art director
who was really in charge of doing the Helm’s Deep set; and it was done in several pieces: there’s the big wall,
there’s the lower courtyard, there’s the upper courtyard – it was all done in different pieces, built on
a quarry near Wellington, so a lot of the rock face that you see behind is real, because we just stuck it in the middle of
Fran: It does get quite hazardous on windy days.
Peter: The polystyrene?
Peter: Yeah, yeah. Sometimes we have had sets just blow apart: big sheets of polystyrene suddenly come flying through
Fran: Osgiliath was quite…
Peter: Osgiliath is a memory that we have, yes.
Fran: … quite dangerous at times.
Peter: That’s right. Flying Osgiliath polystyrene.
Fran: Flying lumps of large polystyrene.
Peter: [Saruman leads Gríma onto the balcony of Orthanc, screen cap] This was a Steadicam shot that was done in a studio: there’s actually just a blue screen out the door. There’s
a balcony; they walk out and they’re just staring at a blue screen which was against this studio wall.
Philippa: They’re staring at a bunch of gaffers, aren’t they? And grips –
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] Yeah, but we were able to…
Philippa: – standing down there being Uruks.
Peter: We were able to put this great vista in, which is largely a miniature; and during Christopher Lee’s
speech here, I wanted him to have reactions, because Uruks are cheering at what he’s saying, and so we got all the crew
together, all the grips and gaffers and everyone we could find in the studio – about thirty people – and I got
them to cheer Christopher, every time he said –. If you hear this with the original soundtrack – because this
is obviously ADR-ed – you get to hear all those guys clapping and cheering. It’s Nuremburg, really. That was the
obvious influence for this stuff. That sort of imagery is –
Philippa: ‘Triumph of the Will’.
Peter: – so potent, and it’s useful to dip into those historical references to… just to press
buttons in people.
Philippa: I love that performance from Brad Dourif, just showing Wormtongue was a man once: what has he done? what
has he unleashed?
Peter: Treebeard is very much the voice of Tolkien: I think a lot of Tolkien’s character actually went into
the creation of Treebeard; it certainly… it represents a lot of the, sort of, the viewpoints about nature, doesn’t
it? You know, Tolkien’s, kind of, obsession with the trees and the forests. A healthy obsession.
Fran: Yeah, and also his sadness at the passing of the woods.
Philippa: It’s a wonderful performance of John Rhys-Davies: really difficult conceptually. It’s
one of those things you read on the page, isn’t it? But to bring it to life, conceptually, is really, really hard.
Peter: And John has a great resonance to his voice, and we felt that John would make a good Treebeard, get that
slight Welsh, kind of, lilt to his voice; and the sound effects guys did a really nice, sort of, echo-chamber thing to make
it sound like his voice was coming out of a woody, kind of, voice box, somewhere deep down. (beat) This shot of Viggo
floating down the river [screen cap] was one in which he nearly drowned. I wasn’t there shooting the wide shots of him floating down, and I didn’t
actually know he’d nearly drowned until I read it in an interview in Premier Magazine! [laughs] But he said he got –
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Determined to do it himself.
Peter: – sucked under the, sort of, undertow; and I never actually heard about it [Philippa: Mmm.]
while we were shooting, for some reason.
Fran: Oh, he told us about it.
Peter: Sounded terrifying. (beat) [Arwen: “May the grace of the Valar protect you.”] Fran shot
this moment. It was one of the last days of pick-ups, wasn’t it, Fran? At the very…
Fran: Last day.
Peter: Yeah, the last day of pick-ups.
Fran: One of the things that became apparent with us working with Liv was that we needed to bring the character
back to the books: that we had to somehow make her bigger than the books and make her more actively involved in the story
and in the plot of the story; and the more we did that, the more it moved away from being the true sense of ‘The Lord
of the Rings’, and so… It was Liv that pointed that out to us, and in the trilogy, she remains true to her essence
and to the world of the Elves, rather than to the world of the Fellowship, if you like, which is all of Middle-earth.
Peter: [Brego awakens Aragorn] So this is Brego, who is played by Uraeus, and it’s a horse that Viggo now
owns. The horse and Viggo had worked together to work this routine up, because, you know, the horse needs a certain amount
of training and trust to be able to do this, and so Viggo had –. The weekends –. He’d gone up and worked
with the horse in his days off to make sure that we could do that. I know that Viggo, in order to connect with the horse and
to get to know the horse – and for the horse to get to know him – he actually used to occasionally sleep in the
stables with the horse [Philippa: Mmm.] so that the horse would come to trust him and come to recognise him and know
who he was, because, you know, Viggo just didn’t want to be on camera with an animal that was completely alienated from
him: he wanted to actually have that connection and make it part of the character. (beat) [Arwen’s Choice] Arwen’s
storyline was a problem, for the obvious reason that it doesn’t exist in the book, other then the concept exists that
an immortal Elf loves a mortal Man; and we wanted to create a story for Arwen, and we make so much of the fact that the Elves
are leaving Middle-earth – you know, that’s referenced several times throughout the movies – and that they’re
taking the Ships to Valinor, which is their Paradise over the Water; and we just thought, “Well, you know, why don’t
we crank up the tension by having Arwen, sort of, ordered to take the Ship as well?” There’s no way you can create
a greater conflict between Aragorn and Arwen than have them permanently separated. So that’s really the basis of this;
and we spent so much time talking about an immortal Elf and a mortal Man, one growing old and one staying young, that we thought
it was a powerful thing to actually visualise: that you can talk about it all you want, but to see imagery of that actually
occurring, which was one of the primary motivations why we created this scene here, [Elrond: “He will come to death…”]
which again was directed by Fran.
Philippa: This was about wanting to use some of the most beautiful writing, I think, that Tolkien does in his books,
as much as anything. What we discovered in going to the appendices and developing Arwen’s story is that her story is
not just a story about a woman kept apart from the man she loves, it is also the story of a daughter: confronting the fate
that she must choose between her father and the man she loves – and her people and the man she loves. This is where
this came from, and this is honouring, actually, the very fact that Elrond, although we’ve taken it further in the films
in him trying to almost get her on the Ships, is not happy about this, and does warn, in fact, warn Aragorn off her in the
book, in the appendices. This language that we’ve given to him is actually a description of the moment of Aragorn’s
death in the appendices, and that was a moment that we wanted to honour.
Fran: Mmm. But it came about because a man wrote a letter to us: he was a big Tolkien fan and he said, you know,
“I’m so pleased that these films are being made,” and then, he said, “I particularly love the passage:
and there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed until the breaking of the world,”
and he said, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” or something like that; and I thought, “God, that’s
the most glorious piece of writing. You’re so right, it would be fantastic to try and use it in the movie.”
Philippa: But before that, actually, Liv herself had foreshadowed this moment as one of her favourite moments and
[Fran: Oh, yeah.] [?maligned] the fact that she… that we would never get to see that moment, and as soon as she
said that, of course, your brain starts ticking over and thinks, “Well, maybe…” So those two things came
together. (beat) What this does is show the truth behind what she will have to face and endure, that it will
be bitter in the end. (beat) So just remember, if you were going to put these in chronological order, that would be
one of the last things you see, because that is the truth of [Fran: Hmm.] how the story ends.
Fran: [in agreement] Mmm.
Peter: Yeah, I mean it does. [Philippa: Mmm.] It’s not just a fantasy, that is – actually happens
in the book, doesn’t it?
Peter: Because Aragorn and Arwen spend the rest of their lives together – or the rest of Aragorn’s life
together – until he dies, so it is very sad. (beat) One of our very early drafts had a Lothlórien sequence, didn’t
it, where Arwen and Elrond both went to Galadriel to get some advice.
Peter: And I remember, we filmed some shots of Cate Blanchett for that scene, and we ended up using them in the
scene that comes up next, which was the, sort of, the montage sequence.
Philippa: That was about – as much about establishing that the Elves –. Haldir coming from Lothlórien,
Peter: Yeah, that’s right, establish that, yeah.
Philippa: They were also talking about that.
Peter: But the purpose of this is really to push the Arwen-Aragorn story as far, and to have a sense of drama and
dramatic reversal, as we can. You know, there’s nothing stronger, really, than having Arwen leaving Middle-earth and
not being with Aragorn any more. (beat) This is like the prologue, really, isn’t it? In some respects, this sequence
could have functioned as a prologue at the beginning of the film, but we felt we didn’t want a prologue at the
beginning of the film; but now it felt very important to re-orientate audiences to exactly what was happening. [A shadow
passes over Osgiliath] We found that people at New Line got very confused between Osgiliath, which is ultimately where Faramir
is heading with Frodo, and Helm’s Deep, but…
Philippa: Yeah, fair enough. Yeah.
Peter: … but there was a – sort of a geography problem. And also this re-establishes the Ring, because
we didn’t really have a sense of the power of the Ring much in this movie, because the Ring never gets put on by Frodo.
It never gets worn; it’s always hidden, sort of, under his shirt; it doesn’t really have that much potency in
the film, so it was a chance to re-establish what the Ring actually is and why it might be important to Faramir.
Fran: Hmm. It’s also his introduction, effectively, isn’t it?
Philippa: [in agreement] Mmm.
Peter: And it sets up the concept that Faramir’s going to take the Ring. I mean, the way that Galadriel says,
you know, “The young Captain of Gondor will try to take it” is just to provide that bit of tension.
Fran: [The Rangers of Osgiliath take Frodo and Sam to Henneth Annûn] I like the way those blindfolds cover their
entire faces: it’s quite helpful with the doubles! [Philippa laughs]
Peter: Yeah, yeah. That’s right!
Philippa: That was Frodo and Sam!
Peter: Why use…
Philippa: It was!
Peter: Why use narrow blindfolds when great big face-covering ones [Philippa laughs] can do the job?
Philippa: And it was good to get Alan Lee’s beautiful painting back in there [screen cap].
Peter: Cate Blanchett ends up being in three shots in this movie, I think. I think she’s in two shots with
her face, plus a big close-up of her eyes: it’s probably the smallest rôle that Cate’s ever done in her entire
career! [laughs] I guess; but it’s –. I think it’s just great the way a character like that, though, can
return from the first film and just play a very minor but significant rôle in the second. It’s –. One of the great
things about having such a big ensemble cast is we can keep the texture of the world going through the three movies. (beat)
[Faramir: “What news?”] This is a scene to explain the geography, because it’s kind of confusing, you know:
you have two villains, one from Isengard, one from Mordor, with two different targets – Helm’s Deep and Osgiliath
– two different sets of people – the Rohan and the Gondorians – and it was kind of a deliberate scene to
re-orientate ourselves. We actually had shot a sequence where we have these two guys talking, Faramir and Madril, but they
weren’t saying much of this dialogue; and when we were in London doing the ADR recording and the scoring, we were doing
the final finessing of the edit, and we decided that we wanted to expand this scene a lot more, so I drew a map of Middle-earth
on a bit of paper and I went into the billiard room of this house that we were at and I got my DV camera and I filmed my finger,
sort of, pointing at the map, and then we sent that back to New Zealand, where, you know, everybody was at that stage, and
they filmed somebody’s hand pointing at the map in the same place that I was, and then we were able to get the actors
to do ADR to explain the map positions. That’s why the shots of the actors, which were filmed some time earlier don’t
actually talk about the map at all, but when we’re on the map, that’s where we could sneak the dialogue in to
explain who was doing what to whom.
Philippa: [Faramir: “My men tell me you are Orc spies.”] This scene never changed much, surprisingly,
did it? This is one of the few scenes that – well, certainly, the Sam and Frodo stuff never really changed much from
the [?grey] pages originally written.
Peter: It’s actually one of the few scenes in the movie where we get to see how big Hobbits are, too. There’s
a lot of things in this film which were a bit different to ‘Fellowship’: I mean, ‘Fellowship’ had
all that stuff where you saw that Hobbits were small, but because Frodo, Sam and Gollum are by themselves most of the time,
there’s very few opportunities to remind you how big they are. When they’re with these guys, obviously, we do
get that chance. (beat) We chose David Wenham partly for his resemblance to Sean Bean: we wanted to make sure we had
a feeling that they were a family; and also David, as well, is a very powerful actor. He was, what, voted the sexiest man
Peter: A few years ago?
Philippa: [laughing, at same time as Peter] Only a couple of years ago!
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] Which is why, I suspect, he was possibly chosen for the rôle.
Philippa: Yes! Definitely! He’s also one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet.
Peter: He’s very funny. (beat) It’s always very difficult to have waterfalls in films, because,
from a sound point of view, the noise that a waterfall makes is a horrible, roaring, kind of, white noise; and when you’re
mixing the soundtrack, you never, kind of, quite know how much waterfall to have, because even though it’s right behind
them, it gets a very irritating sound, and so you tend to, sort of, push the waterfall right down low so you’re not
distracted from the dialogue that’s being spoken. We were, obviously, just shooting the waterfall in a studio: we had
a big, fake, sort of Disneyland-style waterfall going.
Philippa: [Faramir: “His horn washed up upon the riverbank.”] That whole sequence is, of course, referring
to a beautiful passage from the book where Faramir describes the dream he has to Frodo of this boat appearing, floating down
the River Anduin and, of course, discovering that the body of the warrior lying in it is the body of his brother Boromir.
Peter: The idea that Faramir is Boromir’s brother is, obviously, spoken about, but I always think it’s
much stronger to have things visual, you know: see them in pictures, rather than just hear people discussing it in dialogue,
so these scenes were shot as a way of linking the two characters together. It’s supposed to be a dream scene, very,
Fran: That pinkish colour in the water [screen cap] was, in fact, the dye leaking out of Sean Bean’s shirt.
Philippa: [laughing] Oh, was it?
Fran: [laughing] It was!
Philippa: Oh, God!
Peter: Yeah, because when it got wet, it – we suddenly discovered that it wasn’t –. The dye wasn’t
holding in there. No.
Fran: No, and we did a few water changes, but always the pink surfaced.
Peter: You could say it’s some sort of symbolic blood-type effect, couldn’t you?
Peter: Yes, yes. Definitely. Yes.
Peter: [Sons of the Steward] When we were cutting the film together, we decided to do this next sequence: it’s
a big pick-up that we shot earlier last year, and it didn’t make the final cut, but I still am very pleased with it,
because we really liked the idea that within the mythology, if you like – within the trilogy – we see the family
together, which is basically –. I’m talking about Boromir and Faramir as brothers and Denethor as their father;
and in a sense, this gives you a little preview to ‘The Return of the King’ because the character of Denethor
is a character that features very strongly in that film. But this is effectively the only time that you see the three characters
together, which meant that we had to do a flashback, because within the events of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, they
never are together at the same time; but I somehow… You know, I just like the idea that this creates a… It almost,
like, fills in a missing piece of the puzzle, because when you see ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and you see Boromir
galloping in to Rivendell, and he’s there because he’d heard that the Ring had been found, you know. You, sort
of, could ask, “Why?” I mean, “Where did this guy come from? What’s this all about?” And this
sequence, in a way, explains exactly what it’s all about whilst also giving us some quite valuable relationship information,
particularly between Faramir and Denethor [Philippa: That –.], which is very relevant for ‘The Return of
Philippa: That’s definitely, I think, what the value of this was, for us: was explaining Faramir a little
bit more, and where he’s come from.
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] Now this is one of those instances where having the ‘Two Towers’
extended cut is going to give you a bit of valuable insight to this back story that… People who go and see ‘The
Return of the King’ are not going to have this information if they haven’t seen the extended cut. They don’t
need it, but it’s, kind of, quite cool, though. (beat) John Noble’s a really interesting actor. He’s
Australian, and I’d never seen him before: I’d never actually seen him in any Australian movies – I’m
sure he’s done some – but he auditioned for us, and he just has a great Shakespearian quality, which is –.
We felt the character of Denethor would be really suited to being just slightly ‘heightened’, if you like. [Philippa
agrees] (beat) The shots of Sean Bean were done after darkness had fallen, because it took us so long to shoot the
scene. We did all this in one day – the whole thing – and it was a real rush to get everything shot. Sean actually
flew out from England to New Zealand just to shoot this sequence: he was very gracious to do that, and I felt absolutely terrible
when we cut it out of the movie; but, of course, again, you know, with a DVD extended cut it can live to be seen and enjoyed
Fran: And it’s really this sort of sequence that – if you did ever do a re-edit on all three movies
– that would be an incredibly valuable piece of story set-up [Peter: Yeah.] that would play early.
Peter: It is like a missing piece of the puzzle.
Fran: [at same time as Peter] I’d love the try it.
Philippa: Yeah, we should! (beat) This relationship between the father and the two sons is actually great
drama and incredibly important in understanding Faramir’s character, and the actions of course, of his father Denethor.
It was also great… Fran and I always wanted to make sense of the line that we use in the caves: “A chance for
Faramir, Captain of Gondor to show his…”
Philippa: “… quality”, which was a strange line, and we wanted to find an opportunity to make
sense of that, because it’s also a beautiful line reprised by Sam in this extended cut.
Peter: [Boromir sets out from Gondor] Sean Bean’s wearing his costume from ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’
here, which is the linking component that I really like, that, you know, the first time we see him in ‘Fellowship’
is when he gallops in through the Rivendell gates and he’s wearing this same outfit; and this is him heading off on
what would be a five-day journey between Osgiliath and Rivendell.
Philippa: A scene with these two guys, the two brothers, and seeing how much they cared about each other and loved
Peter: It was interesting trying to just capture these little pieces from the book that do stand out in the memory;
whilst at the same time we did find that the Faramir sequence was, kind of, problematical to us, and a lot of the changes
that we made from the book to the film are actually from this whole sequence where the Hobbits are captured by Faramir. The
book is, sort of, lacking a little bit in dramatic tension, we felt: certainly for what we were trying to do with the movie,
so we, kind of, tended to amp it up a little bit. In the book, Faramir doesn’t really feel conflicted about the Ring:
he, kind of, shrugs it off a bit too easily, and so we wanted to, once Faramir knew that the Ring was in the possession of
Frodo, we wanted to make it much harder for him to, sort of, give it up.
Fran: Really diminishes the Ring’s power if Faramir can so readily resist its lure.
Philippa: [in agreement] Mmm.
Fran: That was one of the strong thoughts we had.
Philippa: Yeah. [Peter: This –.] No, it would have been death to the Ring. The Ring would have died.
Fran: There were decisions we made about Faramir that, if we’d had more perspective and time, maybe we would
have tried different things with his story, but some of those things – they were shot a long time ago and we had to
do the very best job we could. We made certain decisions which maybe in the light of day we would have done differently, but
we had delivered them; and there’s certainly been a degree of comment about some of those choices from some of the fans,
because they perceived that we’ve diminished the character by attempting to create more story for him, and that’s
a valid point of view.
Peter: The song that Gollum is singing here is actually a bit of ad-libbing that Andy Serkis did. It’s –.
I think it’s – the song’s in the book, isn’t it?
Philippa: [at same time as Fran] Yeah.
Peter: And Andy had read the book when he was coming into the motion capture stage, in fact, and he recorded the
song: it was never part of the plan to do it, but he wanted to try it, and it was so gorgeous that we put it into the cut.
Philippa: And when we tried to ADR it, he couldn’t sing it off key.
Philippa: He sung it in key: he couldn’t get that great off key thing, so –.
Peter: So we’ve used the mo-cap sound, haven’t we? Yeah.
Philippa: Yeah, you did, didn’t you?
Fran: Yes we did.
Peter: [at same time as Philippa and Fran] The recording on the mo-cap stage.
Philippa: That’s funny!
Peter: [screen cap] And I think this is just about the most successful piece of Gollum: he just looks great here. Gollum as a CG character always
looked better in moonlight. We found that when you see him in sunshine, like with the scene with the rabbits, it’s harder
to make his skin look real; but when you’re dealing with moonlight like this, he just looks fantastic, he looks incredibly
Fran: Because we needed a template for Gollum’s moods and his varying emotional state, we went through and
found expressions which were universal, you know, whether it was grief, sadness, joy, hate: that would be the basis from which
the animators would work, so that would be where you would start, and then of course they would bring a huge amount of their
own character, if you like, to the moments. I’m sure, by the end of the movie, we got to know animators through what
the shots were doing: you would feel their personal traits – even sometimes their physical features – coming through
in the characterisation of a moment.
Peter: The interrogation scene was something that used to be quite violent, and we trimmed it right back for the
theatrical release; and the DVD has a little bit more of the violence put back into it, just to sense –
Philippa: [ironically] A little?
Peter: – a little, yeah –
Peter: – just to sense that Gollum’s being – what’s the word? –
Philippa: Done up?
Peter: – softened up. Softened up.
Philippa: [surprised, laughing] Softened up! Is that how you soften up people, Pete?
Fran: Oh, it’s pretty nasty! I don’t think it really [Philippa: Helps.] represents the Gondorian
Rangers in the best possible light. [Philippa laughs]
Philippa: [Gollum: “Why does it cry, Sméagol?”] This is a great scene.
Peter: It even got worse than that, because, remember, they used to tread on Gollum’s fingers at one stage.
Philippa: Oh, that’s right.
Peter: They’d crush his fingers, which is why he sometimes has sore fingers later on, towards the end of the
Philippa: I quite like the fact that Faramir doesn’t use brute force the way that Boromir does, and that is
Peter: [interrupting] There’s some really nice animation here. This was –. An idea of Randy Cook’s
was to have Sméagol sobbing, but have Gollum, like in control of that one hand, and he’s, like, comforting Sméagol,
which I thought was a really lovely idea. Nice idea to [?] on the back of his head, too. I remember this was a scene that
was really largely developed in the cutting room. Quite a bit of the dialogue that he sang to himself didn’t really
exist, did it, earlier than when we were putting it together in the edit?
Fran: [at same time as Philippa] No.
Philippa: We knew how we wanted the scene to end, but how we got there…
Peter: [Frodo and Sam sitting by the barrels] This scene is one that we shot to address the very simple question
that if Frodo has a Ring that can make him invisible, why doesn’t he put it on and escape? And when we realised that
we wanted to make their capture a bit more significant than in the book, that was one of the problems we had: it’s like,
“Well, hang on, why doesn’t he just put the Ring on? He could slip away easily.”
Fran: There’s also the important moment where Frodo recognises – too late, he recognises – that
he’s been ensnared by this thing, and that Sam was right.
Philippa: It’s the junkie scene, isn’t it?
Fran: The second film was very much about the power of addiction, as it’s manifested in Gollum, who is a more
obvious example of what the Ring can do to you if you have it for a long period of time; but also in terms of what it’s
doing to Frodo psychologically and emotionally, and how it’s driving wedges in his friendship with Sam, which is something,
again, I think anyone understands, if you’ve had anything to do with someone who suffers an addiction: that it destroys
family and friendship eventually; and so too with the Ring, and it formed, again, a weird basis for a bond between Gollum
and Frodo, because there was an implicit understanding of that need for it.
Peter: [Faramir: “The Ring of Power within my grasp.”] This is pretty much taken from the book, isn’t
it, the dialogue from this scene? It’s…
Peter: I remember it was actually our audition scene for Faramir: everybody that came in to test for the rôle of
Faramir had to do this scene for us. It’s an interesting thing with audition scenes, because sometimes you’ve
seen audition scenes so many times that you don’t actually want it in the movie any more [laughs], because it’s,
like, totally –
Fran: They get completely worn out, don’t they?
Peter: – worn out, doesn’t it? And it feels like it’s no longer of much use, but this was one
that did make it into the film; and again, one of the very few times in the film that the Ring, kind of, features. We…
All the close-ups of the Ring are right back to ‘Fellowship’, you know: any close-up, I wanted to shoot really
big so that the Ring seems huge on screen to give it more weight and strength.
Fran: The Ring is less visible in the second film, but its effects were more demonstrable in terms of how it impacted
on these different characters, so it was still a strong presence, although we didn’t see it as much on screen.
Peter: There was a moment here that we shot where Faramir looks at Frodo, and for a split-second he has an image
of Frodo as Gollum, and I remember, we actually made Elijah Wood up to look a bit like Gollum: we had this bald cap on him
and a whole number; and it was a concept that we had that we ultimately decided not to use. It was just, like, Faramir seeing
a vision of what the Ring was about to do to Frodo, and it was going to help, you know, show him the power of the Ring, but
it just felt like it would confuse people to put it in there. (beat) [Aragorn’s Return] This sequence is the
same as the theatrical cut. We actually had –. A little bit more was shot originally, where Aragorn’s, kind of,
unconscious on the back of the horse and they go past an Orc encampment, but we didn’t use that in either, in the theatrical
or in the extended cut. I remember these amazing galloping shots [screen cap], which were shot by Geoff Murphy in Otago on the South Island, Central Otago. (beat) [screen cap] This helicopter shot was actually done just up the valley from where Edoras was, the location for Edoras: it was about two
miles away, just round the corner, and… We were always trying to find somewhere that we could put Helm’s Deep,
you know, a particular feature, so even though Helm’s Deep is, obviously, a model and a matte painting, the cleft in
the hillside is real, and it was great to finally find a geographical location that we could put Helm’s Deep into; and
it just happened to be right by the Edoras location, so we were lucky. (beat) [Gimli greets Aragorn] This was always
tricky, because Aragorn’s arriving back at Helm’s Deep with important new, you know, like, critical news that
there’s a huge army marching towards them, yet before he can hand that news on to anybody, he has to have a greeting
with Gimli, a greeting with Legolas, and Éowyn has to see that he’s alive, and all of this, sort of, has to happen before
he can actually relay his vital bit of information to the King, and we always found that, kind of, tricky. It’s just
one of those situations in a movie where you can’t quite just have them bursting in and saying: “There’s
Uruks on the way.” You have to acknowledge the fact that his friends thought he was dead and now they see that he’s
alive and you have to let that moment play itself out before you can get on with the story.
Fran: Now this was shot a couple of years earlier, wasn’t it? It was [Peter: Yeah.] very near the beginning.
Peter: And it was shot with Aragorn wearing the Evenstar round his neck, remember? He…
Peter: He had an Evenstar, but then later on we came up with the idea of him having lost the Evenstar and Legolas
was going to give it to him here, so we had to go back and use our computers to paint out the Evenstar in all those shots
where he’s hugging Gimli. (beat) [Aragorn tells Théoden about the Uruk-hai] I think a lot of the power of battle
scenes are to do with the build-up of the battle: I mean, you know, the battle’s the battle, in a sense, but whether
or not you’re, kind of, at the edge of your seat by the time the battle begins is all to do with the long, slow build-up
towards battles, and when you think of all the great battle movies, they are really great because of the build-up, you know:
that you, kind of, get this sense of tension and this knot in your stomach as you’re waiting for the inevitable to begin,
and I really wanted to try to give Helm’s Deep that feeling, which is why we just keep emphasising, in different ways,
how hopeless the situation really is, and the characters losing heart and despairing; and, you know, even though Théoden’s
full of bluster here, you don’t, kind of, quite believe it: you think it’s a bit of bravado, really. Well he says
it himself, anyway: he says as much to Aragorn. (beat) We wanted to give people a feeling of the geography of Helm’s
Deep, because, you know, we wanted to just make sure that everyone understood that there was, like, a castle, and then there
was a big wall, and so some of these shots were done deliberately just to, sort of, re-establish in people’s minds what
the layout of the place was. Also to build up tension: I mean, this is the classic, sort of, a ‘Zulu’-type battle,
really, isn’t it, which is a, sort of, a… small numbers of goodies defending somewhere against overwhelming odds.
Peter: [screen cap] Now this was a very, very intricate CG shot, because about half of the castle you’re seeing is real and the other
half is done on a computer, and it’s all just craning in as one shot: half the people are CG – you’re seeing
a lot of CG people there [screen cap] – but we’re also real people, because these guys here are obviously real; and it’s a very intricate shot:
it took a long, long time to do, but it really does make you feel like the place is real, it’s authentic. We never built
Helm’s Deep quite to that size: we built some large, significant pieces of it, but we had a piece that was the upper
courtyard area and a separate piece which was the gate, and they were in two different places of this big quarry that we built
the set in, so some of these shots we had to resort to CG work to combine the two halves together.
Fran: It’s interesting, because in the different edits that we tried on this build-up sequence, it showed
us that some… you know, we’d include some scenes and omit others, and they… It would effect enormously the
sense of dramatic tension before the battle started [Peter: Yeah.], and some of them were very unsuccessful, weren’t
they? And by the time the battle started, you were so, like, over it. It was a real lesson in shaping dramatic ingredients
to get there.
Peter: Yeah, well it is all to do with the characters and the drama, because the battle itself has to have a story,
and then the build-up to the battle does, and it’s a real… It was a lesson, really, in just how to shape these
things: it was, kind of, interesting. I always use the movie ‘Zulu’ as my prototype, really, because that, to
me, has just about the perfect build-up to a battle that any film I’ve ever seen has, and the battle itself, you know,
even though it was shot in the Sixties and it’s obviously a little dated now, is still pretty cool; and ‘Zulu’
was always in the back of my mind when I was thinking about Helm’s Deep. (beat) [Entmoot] All of Fangorn Forest
in these scenes was a big model that we built, a great, big miniature that filled, you know, half a studio. It was huge, like,
a human being would be almost the size of Treebeard when standing in the miniature: it was quite big, but it’s all just
model trees that were built by Weta and photographed; and then all of these shots of the Hobbits were blue-screened, and so
we could never really find a location for Fangorn: it was always… needed to be a twisty, gnarly, fantasy-type forest,
and we ended up having to build it entirely ourselves. (beat) Alan Lee contributed enormously to the look of the different
Ents; and they’re all based on trees, you know, there’s willow trees and oak trees and rowan tree, linden tree…
elm, I think. I love the characters that the faces of them – like the faces we’re seeing here, there –.
To me, the faces of the Ents almost are the most successful thing of capturing that Alan Lee look that was in his ‘Faeries’
book – remember that book ‘Faeries’ [Fran: Yes.] that he did? [Fran: Yeah.] – and that,
you know, the face of that Ent kind of, somehow, just manages to capture that whimsical…
Peter: Yeah. Yeah.
Fran: A bit like Alan.
Peter: That’s right. Exactly. (beat) [Aragorn discusses the defence of Helm’s Deep with Legolas]
I like the idea that Aragorn is just thinking about the defence: again, it was just building up that tension; and this is
a scene that we decided for pacing reasons, really, more than anything, not to include in the theatrical version. I guess
we felt that it got in the way, a little bit, of the build-up to the battle, didn’t we?
Fran: Yeah. We didn’t really want to, also, put Éowyn quite in such a definitive place with Aragorn in this
movie: it was something that we felt in the end would’ve been better to leave for Film Three.
Peter: That she’s, sort of, completely in love with him? You mean you think this scene goes too far to reveal
Fran: [at same time as Peter] Yes, I do, yeah.
Fran: It doesn’t leave us anywhere to go.
Peter: Well I hope it does! We’ve got a whole other film to do yet!
Fran: Well, exactly. [Peter laughs]
Peter: We ultimately didn’t feel the need to make it like a soap opera. We just thought, “Well, it works
okay in the book.” It’s a romantic triangle, but it’s not, you know, because at no point, really, does Aragorn
ever commit to Éowyn.
Fran: Yeah, and it diminished, too, the true nature of the love story between Aragorn and Arwen, because that’s
a story of heightened romantic love.
Peter: [screen cap] This is Elijah Wood’s sister that you’re seeing on the screen here with the blonde hair, just walking past the
camera. She came to visit the set one day down here in New Zealand and we made sure we got her in as a featured Rohan extra.
(beat) The only shot that we ever see of the Glittering Caves and their enormity is this one [screen cap], which is a lovely matte painting that was done by Weta, and I love the idea of these incredible caves in Helm’s Deep:
they weren’t just caves, but they were like some, you know, geological wonder that we never really were able to show
much of it in the movie, unfortunately. Most of the Glittering Caves is just this relatively small set that we built. (beat)
[Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in the armouries] This is a piece of made-up stuff that’s not in the book, but it’s,
again, trying to really amp the tension up before the battle, because we felt that if there was fractiousness between our
heroes, then that would just show that the situation is indeed getting very desperate. And I always liked the idea that the
old men and young boys are being forced to arm themselves, because there’s no – just simply not enough soldiers
to defend this place properly. (beat) There’s a couple of featured extras in the back of some of these shots,
too: there’s Dan Hennah, our art director, and Alan Lee features in the back of a couple of the shots too as one of
the Rohan extras. (beat) The armouries scene was originally a bit longer, because Théoden came in and addressed the
troops; but in a sense, Bernard’s performance was so strong and so compelling that it actually, in a funny way, diffused
the tension, because we have this, kind of, this subtle sense of despair with the fact that Aragorn and Legolas are at each
other’s throats; we have the scene where Théoden is relaying the – is, sort of, saying that poem, which again
has a sense of despair; Aragorn talks to the young boy; and it’s just nicely building up the tension, and we had Théoden
give quite a stirring, rallying speech to the soldiers, but, in a funny kind of a way, it was almost so effective that it
almost made you believe that they were okay [laughs], and so for that reason, we decided it undermined what we were attempting
to do, which was to build up this sense of dread before the battle. (beat) [“Where is the Horse and the Rider”]
Where did this poem come from? Is it… is it a poem that Aragorn says in the book?
Fran and Philippa: [together] Yeah.
Fran: Isn’t it in reference to Boromir’s death?
Philippa: No. No, it’s… he says it when he looks on the Golden Hall of Meduseld…
Fran: Oh, really?
Philippa: … when he reveals that he knows these people quite well. He says it in their own tongue.
Peter: This is one of my favourite scenes in the movie. We shot it in slow motion, so we filmed it with high-speed
cameras, and the actors are actually, you know… we filmed their dialogue slowly, so when you heard the original sound,
they were [elongated vowels] so-o-ort of ta-a-alking li-i-ike tha-a-at, [normal pace] and when we did the ADR, of course,
we were able to ADR a more natural speak – speaking, but still with the same slow pace, and it just gives it a slightly
dreamy quality [?]. These Uruk-hai crowd shots [screen cap] were actually done originally as a test-shot for one of our very early teaser trailers before ‘The Fellowship of the
Ring’ came out, and we didn’t think we’d ever use it in the movie, because it was just a Weta test, but
when we created this montage for the poem, it was quite late in post-production and Weta didn’t really have time to
do any new shots, and so we said, “Well, why don’t we use that old [laughing] … that old test shot that
we did, like, about three years ago?” and we, sort of, got it of the files [Philippa laughs] and dusted it off
and put it into the movie. (beat) [“Don’t Be Hasty, Master Meriadoc!”] Entmoot. Always quite tricky,
because we didn’t quite know what Entmoot should, sort of, look like or sound like; and we shot some extra material:
we ended up, kind of, putting into the theatrical version a hybrid of two or three of these Entmoot scenes, but here on the
DVD, we’ve put them back to being how we originally wrote and shot them, which was just, sort of, extending and stretching
out the same idea just a little bit longer, but it is –. I do think it’s very funny when he says, “We’ve
only just finished saying ‘Good morning.’” [Philippa laughs] (beat) [Aragorn sits on the steps
of Helm’s Deep] This scene is particularly noticeable because of the two boys: Aragorn looks across and Viggo sees his
own son, who’s standing there on the right-hand side [screen cap] – that’s Henry, Viggo’s son – and then this is Calum, who’s Philippa’s son. [Philippa:
Hmm.] Ey, Philippa?
Philippa: Yes. [?A bit of ?] in the casting. He was quite young then.
Peter: How old will he be? Twelve?
Philippa: He’s… no, I think he was thirteen there, but just thirteen. And he’s coming up seventeen
now, so when we came to do his ADR, his voice had broken, so we couldn’t use his own voice. We found a lovely young
actor in England who was able to match his performance pretty well. He probably still sounds a little young, actually.
Fran: It was Viggo’s idea to do this scene.
Fran: And it was a very good one.
Philippa: Yep. His turning point.
Peter: Yeah. Yeah, it’s all good. (beat) [Aragorn prepares for battle] This is a classic arming up
moment. [giggles] I love this stuff! It’s the classic strapping on the weapons! You normally see it in science-fiction
films, don’t you, when they pull their armour and their, kind of, gadgets on, but we sort of did it in a kind of mediaeval
way. The person at Weta that was joining these chain-mail rings did it for, like, two years, and they wore the fingerprints
off their fingers. [Philippa gasps] Yeah, because they just spent, like, two years putting millions of these little
links together, and they ended up [laughs] with no fingerprints on their fingers!
Fran: [surprised] Is that true?
Peter: Yeah, completely true!
Philippa: Oh, my…
Peter: Just worn…
Fran: [at same time as Peter] I find that impossible to believe!
Peter: No, just worn flat, like shiny, smooth fingers.
Philippa: [Gimli’s chain-mail fall to the ground] This is an old gag. This was around for a while, wasn’t
Peter: Well, this was back in the original script, wasn’t it?
Peter: Like way, way back, years ago.
Peter: [The horn of the Elves is heard] Of course, the Elves don’t actually come to Helm’s Deep at all
in the book, do they?
Philippa: No, they definitely don’t.
Peter: [to Philippa] Can you explain yourself here? Why… why…?
Philippa: [laughs] This was you!
Peter: Me? No! I didn’t! You girls –.
Philippa: You wanted it!
Fran: It was all Peter’s idea!
Philippa: This was a Peter Jackson idea that we had to make work.
Fran: He forced us to write [Philippa: He did.] all the scenes with Elves in them! It was terrible! [Peter
Philippa: This –. This was actually –.
Fran: We said, “The fans are going to hate it!” and he said, “I don’t care about the fans!”
Peter: Oh, I did not!
Philippa: This, actually, was a very good instinct, because every time I’ve seen this with an audience, they’ve
burst out cheering when the Elves turn up, and it really was… You need this at this moment.
Peter: Well, I tell you what: if, for no other reason, it’s a kind of a device of a battle build-up.
Philippa: [in agreement] Mmm.
Peter: That the heroes are… overwhelmingly outnumbered, and then at the last minute, this small band of addition
heroes shows up, you know, they’re still outnumbered [Philippa agrees] but they just have another group of –
Fran: They have a fighting chance.
Peter: – of willing, kind of, supporters.
Philippa: For the purists who felt this was very against the spirit of Tolkien, we just want to remind them that
it was very difficult, because the Elves do actually drop out of the story and, reported, you find out in the book
that they are fighting their own battles and holding the line against invasions from the North, attacks are being made on
Lothlórien – perhaps not quite at this phase –.
Peter: That’s something –. That would be great to show that, wouldn’t it?
Peter: Let Lothlórien [?] under attack.
Philippa: I know, but you can’t. You know, that’s –. We knew that.
Peter: Well, maybe we should do it [Philippa: Oh, God!] in ‘Return of the King’.
Philippa: [laughing] Do you mean we did this for nothing?
Fran: Enough battles!
Philippa: Fran! Stop him!
Fran: No, I know!
Philippa: Stop him now!
Peter: No, but wouldn’t it be cool? That…
Philippa: Oh, my God!
Peter: Because it’s one of those things that’s just hinted at in the books [Philippa: Yeah],
and it’s like... anyway…
Philippa: Okay. Well, there were a number of reasons: one, we have already spoken about the Last Alliance, and there
being an alliance between Elves and Men. You have this presence of Elves in the films; this was a way of reinforcing them
and showing them holding the line with the rest of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth – which they are, in fact, doing
in the book: one of my favourite moments is when Elrond sends his sons to Aragorn, and that was a moment that we were never
going to be able to do, because it would have meant establishing that Elrond had two sons and introducing two new characters,
and so this is in the spirit of Elrond sending his sons to Aragorn.
Peter: And that happens in ‘The Return of the King’, doesn’t it, when his two sons are…?
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] It does, yeah, just before the Paths of the Dead, yeah. [Peter:
Yeah, that’s right.] He sends them with the Dúnedain.
Peter: Yes. Yeah.
Philippa: It would have just meant casting two more – and possibly beautiful, good-looking – men, and
Fran and I were just sick and tired of doing that, weren’t we?
Peter: Oh, you were already just burnt out, weren’t you –
Fran: [at same time as Peter] And –. And there weren’t –.
Peter: – with good looking men?
Philippa: It was just… had enough.
Fran: [?] combed New Zealand.
Philippa: [laughing] Combed New Zealand for gorgeous –.
Fran: Beautiful men, and we’d found them all!
Philippa: We ran out of gorge–
Peter: Well they would have had no choice but for me to play one of the characters!
Philippa: I know. Well, Pete…
Peter: maybe that’s what you were trying to avoid! [Philippa laughs]
Philippa: I don’t think he’s an Elf, do you? Son of Elrond? [Philippa and Peter laugh]
I don’t think so!
Peter; Well, you could –.
Fran: He’s a Half-elf!
Peter: You could squeeze me in a computer! [Philippa laughs] You could, sort of, do some sort of a digital
Philippa: Oh, God! I don’t think even Weta has the technology, do they? [Philippa and Peter
laugh] (beat) [Helm’s Deep’s defenders await the Uruk-hai] You shot the guys on the wall, though, didn’t
Peter: I shot some of the guys on the wall.
Philippa: [screen cap] Who’s that beautiful child? Extraordinarily… gorgeous.
Peter: I know, it’s some amazing child that we found somewhere! (beat) A lot of the marching shots
that you’re seeing now are actually completely CG: there’s no real Uruks in the big shot that we’re looking
at now [screen cap] with the guy on the rock. They’re all digital, as they are in this shot here as well [screen cap]: there’s no Elves, there’s no Uruks. [Aragorn: “A Eruchîn!...”] This is one of my favourite
bits. I love what Viggo says here – it’s just really cool. Whenever I see this, I – you sort of think, “Okay,
now we’re in for a battle!” When “Show them no mercy because none will be shown to you” – it’s
like, “Okay, the rules are established! We know what’s at stake now.” (beat) The editing of the civilians
in the caves was something that we did at the last minute. We actually didn’t really have it in our script, for instance,
you know. The script didn’t say, you know, ‘intercut between Rohan civilians’, but when we came to edit
it together, it became very apparent to us that the battle was going to gain more power if you really juxtapose the preparations
for battle with the frightened women and children. It sort of gives the battle a purpose, really, beyond just defending a
stone castle: you know, you’re obviously now defending the women and children – and, in a sense, the future of
your own race, really. (beat) The stunt-guys were amazing: they just got, you know, drenching, soaking wet, because
all this rain was coming from rain towers. (beat) [an Uruk is accidentally shot] This was an idea that… of how
the battle begins; it was… I just liked the idea that the battle starts almost by accident: that there’s one guy
who lets an arrow go by mistake that causes the Uruks to go crazy. Not that they would have turned around and gone home again,
one assumes. [Philippa laughs] They weren’t really into that kind of mode. (beat) Another mixture of completely
digital Uruk-hai with close-ups for real. We never actually had more than a hundred Uruk-hai in any shots – we never
build more than a hundred costumes for Uruk-hai! – and so we were limited in a sense of what we could actually shoot
with the extras and the stunt-guys; so any time that you’re looking at more than a hundred in a shot, you are looking
at a lot of CG guys. (beat) All of the arrows that are flying through the air are all CG arrows. In the old days, you
used to have to fire them down wires, but now you can just put them on with the computer. (beat) [screen cap] There was a shot there of one of the extras who’d actually lost an eye. He turned up and he had an eye-patch on, and
we asked him if he’d mind taking his eye-patch off and he said that he’d never ever done it before, that he felt
very self-conscious; but he took it off and he just had this amazing, kind of, you know socket [Philippa: Mmm.], and
so I shot a big close-up of it, and afterwards, he came to me and he said, “That was really great.” He said, “It
made me feel much better, and I, sort of, don’t feel as bad about it” now that he actually got to, sort of, be
in the movie.
Fran: Well, it’s a powerful moment, the way you use it.
Peter: Originally, when we were back in the Miramax days, we built the 31st scale model of Helm’s Deep; at
that time, we sort of plotted out the basic beats of the battle. John Howe was very instrumental in coming up with ideas,
because John’s very much into mediaeval military stuff, and so he came up with a lot of the ideas with the ladders,
the catapults firing, the grappling hook. We shot a version of most of the big shots using these little plastic soldiers and
the video camera. (beat) A lot of the stuff on top of the wall, here, we shot in a studio, but there’s a miniature
of Helm’s Deep that we made that’s quarter-scale, and we put the miniature down the end of the wall, so, occasionally
– it’s very quick and fleeting – but you occasionally see – like, behind this shot here [screen cap] – you see that there is actually Helm’s Deep at the end of the wall, but there’s a quarter-scale miniature
that’s just sitting at the end of the full-size wall: it’s like a forced-perspective trick that just meant that
we didn’t have to blue-screen-in the castle, because we were shooting the model one for real down the end of the studio.
(beat) I made a rule when we were editing the battle together that we shouldn’t have any more than two or three
shots where we didn’t see one of our heroes – and our heroes being Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and then occasionally
there’s Théoden and there’s Haldir. The battle just seemed to be so much more interesting if we kept looking at
it through the actions of the heroes, because we had a lot more footage: I mean, we had, literally, hours of footage of stunt-guys
fighting [Philippa: Mmm.] but we just found, when you were looking at stunt-guys fighting, so matter how good the action
was, you were just wondering: what was Gimli doing, or what was Legolas doing? What was Aragorn doing? And…
Fran: Or, what was the point?
Peter: Yeah, what was the point? And so we kept focussing entirely on what the heroes were doing.
Philippa: [Old Entish] This is, of course, a slight departure from the book. We had an understanding that, of course,
the Ents come to a decision in the book themselves that they need to fight, but it actually left Merry and Pippin as a piece
of luggage being dragged along – which is ironic, because that’s what they see themselves as: in the book, they
see themselves as ‘bits of luggage’ being carted around by various forces – and so it was nice, we had an
understanding that if we were going to see this conflict from the eyes of the two Hobbits, they had to be more proactive,
so that is why we went for this strategy. (beat) This was an effort to build the tension here. You want these huge,
extraordinary creatures to join forces with our heroes: this becomes this desperate need of Merry to make them understand,
and then, of course, you bring them to the point where you think they’re going to do that, and you don’t, which
just adds to the tension, adds to the tension, and works really well, I think, as a device. The other thing is: this is part
of Pippin’s journey, part of his story, and part of, of course, Merry’s story: that Merry immediately has an understanding
of what’s at stake; Pippin doesn’t, and this is about Pippin beginning to finally get it, as we will see when
we come to Merry’s speech about what is at stake. In the end, the very existence of the Shire is at stake here: not
just those people in Helm’s Deep, but the Shire.
Peter: I know a few people got irritated by the fact that we interrupted the battle by cutting away to the Entmoot,
but in a way, that irritation was deliberate, because the whole point of it is [Philippa: Mmm.] that there’s
this desperate fight happening, where our heroes are just fighting for their lives, and some miles away, there’s this
group of trees trying to figure out what to do! [Peter and Philippa laugh] And that, kind of, is deliberately
frustrating, and we wanted to actually make audiences feel that in the movie.
Philippa: And, actually having seen both versions, this is the better way to go.
Peter: Well, the, you know…
Philippa: I thought.
Peter: Yeah. I mean, showing the battle just from one end to the other – just constant fighting in itself
– gets a bit boring, but –
Peter: – the difference of the pacing of the events of Helm’s Deep compared to those in the Forest is
kind of the point, really: to show that there’s this really pedantic decision being made about whether they should fight,
when this desperate struggle of survival is going on.
Philippa: [flame-bearing Uruk approaches the gunpowder] This is a great moment.
Peter: The Olympic torch-bearer…
Peter: … is what he kind of looks like, isn’t he? This is one of the Uruk berserkers; we called them
berserkers – I don’t know whether they’re in the book, I can’t remember, but they were like these
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] No. I think that was your idea.
Peter: – they were like these Uruk-hai Storm troopers who were the nutty, suicidal ones that were just trained
to do what they’re told. (beat) I love this shot of the wall blowing up. That was a miniature castle that we
blew up with real explosives, but of course, there was nobody there: there were no people there, it was just the model castle
with this big bang going off and the dust and the things flying through the air, and so we added all the soldiers in later.
Philippa: The brilliant Alex Funke and Marty Walsh shooting with miniatures.
Peter: I thought it was really important to, in the confusion of the battle, to somehow tell a story of the basic
beats of the battle, so that people could understand: okay, the Wall’s blown up; the Wall’s breached; and now
the Gate is being attacked, and so they’re, sort of, coming at them from all sides. It was a fairly difficult editing
job to basically take all this footage that we had of Helm’s Deep and to cut it together in a way that there seemed
to be a story-within-a-story: that you could see what was actually going on.
Fran: We just saw your cameo back there, too, Pete.
Fran: I remember, the first time I saw it, I thought, “Oh, that extra’s not too bad!” [All
three laugh] I didn’t recognise you!
Philippa: [laughing, at same time as Fran] Did she?
Peter: Did you think he was handsome, and did you, sort of…
Philippa: Fancy him?
Fran: [at same time as Philippa] No, no, I just –. Sometimes I –. You know…
Peter: Did you think, “Oh, he’s a… He’s a bit of all right!” [Philippa and
Fran: [laughing] It’s just, sometimes moments like that, if you’re on a close-up with an extra, it doesn’t
always… [Peter: Well, I –.] It’s not always convincing.
Peter: I turned the tide. [Philippa laughs]
Fran: You did?
Peter: No, it wasn’t Viggo at all, really.
Fran: [at same time as Peter] It was your rock.
Philippa: I know!
Peter: It was my spear that I threw, you see, I –.
Fran: Oh, was it a spear?
Peter: It actually killed some very vitally important Uruk-hai commander, and the Uruks, basically, lose their way
and from that point on there’s really no hope that they’re going to win.
Philippa: Oh, and –.
Peter: And we just have to edit the film in a way that looks like Viggo’s doing it, of course – you
know, Aragorn’s doing it – but it really is a whole… There’s –. The truth lies behind the scenes,
and it really starts with that spear that I threw.
Peter: Don’t tell him about that!
Fran: And Barrie, of course, is a… Well, Barrie’s shot is shot is so brief that you can hardly see it.
Philippa: Barrie Osborne.
Fran: I guess that was the choice you made in the editing room, Pete.
Peter: [laughing] No, Barrie gets to throw a rock at him. He gets extra, but he just gets a low-ranking, kind of,
Uruk-hai guy on the head.
Fran: He’s obscured behind his helmet as well.
Peter: Yes, he is.
Philippa: [The Entmoot Decides] This is the point at which you think that these two little Hobbits are just about
to be packed off to home, and that the Ents are going to do nothing.
Peter: The Ents are, sort of, doing a Switzerland here, really, aren’t they?
Philippa: Yeah. They are Switzerland.
Fran: Yeah, I think maybe this is why some people think the movie’s pro-war.
Philippa: [surprised] What?
Fran: I know that that’s a criticism that’s been made of the film; it’s not anything we intended.
Well, you look at it saying, what, “if you sit on the sidelines and [Philippa: Right.] do nothing, you can’t…”
Philippa: “…be a part of this world.”
Philippa: Yeah. I think it’s actually –. What we’re trying to do is address the Ents’ point
of view, which is that the Ents are saying, “We can’t hold back that storm, we just must weather these things”
and it’s about turning your back on great evil.
Peter: What Tolkien’s point is is that there are –. Some things are worth fighting for. I mean,
Philippa: That’s right. Exactly.
Peter: Tolkien wasn’t pro-war, but [Philippa: No.] he is saying that occasionally you do actually have
to fight for the things [Philippa: It’s –.] you believe in [Philippa: Exactly.], particularly freedom
– I mean, the Ents are being destroyed, you know –.
Philippa: He’s pro-unity, really. Pro-[?].
Peter: I mean, nobody likes war. Nobody is pro-war: I don’t believe many people in the world are genuinely
pro-war, but if you look at something like World War II, you know, [Philippa: Mmm.] was that a war that was worth fighting?
I mean, you don’t have to be pro-war to say, “Yes, World War II was a justifiable war,” [Philippa
agrees] you know, as opposed to World War I, which was a completely unjustifiable war: it was a complete mess, and it should
never have happened; but occasionally, there are those moments in time – moments of history – where you do have
to say, “This is not acceptable. We have to fight,” and I think Tolkien was really –.
Philippa: It’s in defence of something, isn’t it?
Peter: Defence of freedom: [Philippa: Yeah.] I mean, Tolkien was all about defending freedom.
Philippa: But simply, to say that this situation has existed throughout humanity: this is not an original or new
situation. It really speaks to history repeating itself, really.
Peter: [Retreat to the Hornburg] Some of these, sort of, spectacular wide shots we’re seeing of Helm’s
Deep [screen cap] were ones that were added at the very last minute. By the time we thought we were done with cutting the battle scene, there
were still some what I called the ‘geography shots’ that I felt were missing, which really showed you where people
were and what the situation was within the walls of the castle. I remember, I was in London doing the final bit of cutting,
and doing the scoring, and we had, maybe, six weeks to go before we had to finish the film completely, and I picked –.
I remember the phone call where I said to Weta, “Listen, I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but I need
another seven big Helm’s Deep shots, completely CG shots that just allow us to show more of what’s happening where,
so, like, the geographical clarity; and they… there was just this silence on the phone. I mean, I think they all nearly
had heart attacks.
Philippa: Oh, my God.
Peter: But they went ahead and they did them, and they’re, like, perfectly great shots: they’re, like,
spectacular! And it’s a lot of the big wide shots towards the second half of the battle, where Aragorn’s fighting
for his life behind the wall where the big ladders, those big grappling hook siege ladders are being raised up against the
Hornburg: it’s key shots which now, I mean, make a huge difference to determine the clarity of what’s going on.
Fran: [Haldir’s death] There’s a beautiful piece of solo singing here from Elizabeth Fraser.
Peter: As Haldir dies.
Fran: [together] Yeah.
Peter: Because she did the lament for Gandalf in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ [Fran: Mmm.] didn’t
Philippa: Mmm hmm.
Peter: And we felt that that was something that – we should repeat that sense of an Elvish lament at that
moment, although we did –. We wanted to use something different.
Philippa: The reason Haldir dies is – one of the reasons Haldir dies is – not just to place Aragorn
on that wall so he has to make that great escape with the ladder – although that’s pretty cool – it’s
also because we wanted to show the price that the Elves had to pay. One of the things that happens, of course, with…
An Elf can be killed in battle, otherwise they’re not going to die, so it’s a huge cost to them; and that’s
something we wanted to show. And it’s, sort of, honouring the whole thing of Gil-galad in the Last Alliance dying as
well: we wanted that to his [?] on that level as well.
Peter: I think a few people get confused about Elves being immortal, but then they can die in battle [Philippa:
Mmm.], but they are, basically, living creatures [Philippa: Mmm.], they just simply don’t age: they don’t
[Philippa: Mmm.] go through an ageing process. I guess they don’t have disease [Philippa: No, they don’t.]
in the way that we have disease, but, of course, if you kill them with a sword, they’re absolutely as capable of dying
as we are, aren’t they?
Philippa: We used to have that in the prologue: “Some who were not born to die, whom age nor disease could
touch, were slain.”
Peter: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. (beat) [Aragorn and Théoden defend the Gate] I had a lot of fun shooting
this Gate stuff: I shot quite a bit of this with Bernard, and I really enjoyed it, actually. It was great work from the stunt-guys,
and we did it all handheld to make you try to feel like you were right in amongst it. (beat) [Aragorn and Gimli sneak
towards the causeway] This is another example of trying to just keep a battle scene, kind of, based on character and based
in a way that you can relate to the people that are involved in it, rather than just having endless fighting, so it’s
always very effective just to take some time out and have a little moment between our guys. This was always in our original
script: I mean, when we did the Dwarf-tossing gag in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, we knew that this was…
I mean, this had already been shot, in actual fact, for ‘The Two Towers’ that was setting up something from the
following movie. (beat) I love this shot that’s coming up now [screen cap]. This is a completely CG-shot, with
a miniature castle, but all those guys are motion-captured: that’s motion-capture animation. (beat) Filmmakers
are in a great position of being able to really show battle scenes of a size and scale and complexity to what you could never
ever do. You know, even the biggest battle scenes in movies to date have been with four- or five-thousand extras, but because
you have this… these computers and all these little CG-soldiers, there’s no problem putting, you know, ten-thousand,
twenty-thousand soldiers on screen now. [Philippa: Hmm.] It’s…
Philippa: It’s extraordinary, isn’t it?
Peter: You know, you can finally show the size and scale.
Fran: Do you think there comes a point when it defeats itself? You know, all these thousands of, sort of, you know,
little CG-people flocking around.
Peter: Well so long as it’s telling a story: I mean, it’s all to do with the story, isn’t it,
with the narrative? (beat) [Legolas brings down the siege-ladder] That gag didn’t exist until the cutting: Legolas…
That was a moment of Legolas firing at that Olympic torch-holder guy, and I came up with the idea that maybe we should involve
him in the action more, so I took a shot of him firing his arrow, and we just did a little CG, fake shot of an arrow severing
the rope, and then put the shot of the tower falling back in.
Philippa: Orli must have been a bit surprised! [laughs]
Peter: Yeah, he didn’t even know it was there…
Philippa: He didn’t even know he did it!
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] … until he saw it… until the premiere, no he didn’t!
(beat) [Aragorn and Gimli grab the rope the escape from the causeway] Kind of like a Douglas Fairbanks moment, isn’t
Philippa: [in agreement] Mmmm. (beat) [Man impaled by grappling hook] Oh! That’s a Peter Jackson moment!
That thing going through somebody.
Peter: Yeah, well that stunt-man actually broke his leg on that: that was one of the few serious accidents [Philippa:
Ooh!] that we had on-set. In fact, it was just about –. The only accident we had shooting Helm’s Deep was the
stunt-man that got hit with the grappling hook. He had, like, a jerk wire that pulled him back against the wall, and he just
landed awkwardly against the wall [Philippa: Ow! Oh, no.] and broke his leg very badly [Philippa: Ooh.] on that
Philippa: [screen cap] Great shot. I…
Peter: Now this is an interesting shot, because this is basically the set that we built in a quarry filmed with
a big crane, and half the people, again, are CG and half are real, and the set is being extended with a digital extension
blended into the real set: it’s a difficult shot, but it does really sell the idea of what’s happening. I –.
You know, it was –. Again, it was a very important story point to end the battle at that stage, with the feeling that
everybody was retreating…
Philippa: [together] Mmm.
Peter: … that the battle was hopelessly lost at that point.
Philippa: [Master Peregrin’s Plan] This scene really is about Pippin’s… giving Pippin actually
something to do in this story more than anything, really, and that’s this sudden mad, great idea. Pippin’s on
a journey towards growing up, really, which is what we see especially coming true in the third film, ‘Return of the
Peter: I love the Ents! I could, kind of, honestly make a whole film about the Ents.
Philippa: I think you should! That’d be fabulous!
Peter: A spin-off TV series: ‘Fangorn Forest’!
Fran: Where nothing happens. [Philippa laughs]
Peter: Where nothing happens… Well, nothing happens very quickly: it does happen eventually. But maybe Treebeard
could be like some sort of crime-fighting tree…
Philippa: [laughing] Oh! Don’t!
Peter: … who solves murders and solves mysteries of what happens in Fangorn! He just does it very slowly.
Philippa: I love the line, “That doesn’t make any sense to me,” because it doesn’t make
any sense to anybody! [Philippa and Peter laugh]
Peter: The line at the end of this scene was an ad-lib of John’s, when he says, “I always like going
down south, it feels like going downhill,” which was just something he threw into the end of the recording session that
we did; but he often comes up with those really nice little lines that… We can always try to find places for them in
the film. (beat) [Osgiliath] Now if you look at the back of the shot that’s coming up here [screen cap], you’ll see Minas Tirith against the Mountains – it’s hard to see, but it’s at the very back of
the shot – and we actually removed that from the theatrical version because people at New Line saw it and thought that
Minas Tirith was Helm’s Deep, and thought that these people were approaching Helm’s Deep, and –
Philippa: Oh, God.
Peter: – had a whole lot of expectations that, obviously, weren’t going to happen, so we actually took…
We took Minas Tirith out of this shot, and another shot when they enter the city just so it wasn’t there, but then –
because we want to re-establish the correct geography for Middle-earth, we put it back for the extended DVD. (beat)
[The Last March of the Ents] This was a miniature hillside that we built – again, a very big miniature that filled half
Philippa: Now this moment does actually happen in the book, it just doesn’t happen where we’ve put it.
Peter: What, Treebeard seeing the chopped-down trees?
Philippa: Yeah, it’s quite a moving moment in the book, I think.
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] “Creatures I have known since nut and acorn.”
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Yeah. “From nut and acorn.”
Peter: It’s very sweet, isn’t it?
Peter: And I like his names for them. I love the [Philippa: Yeah.] way that – it’s not really…
it doesn’t really come across here so much in the movie – but he has names for every tree.
Peter: Like every single tree had a name [Philippa: Mmm.] and an identity and a personality, and he’s
Peter: … [?]
Philippa: And it is what spurs him.
Peter: [screen cap] Here’s another of our library of helicopter shots, shot particularly for this scene, but we had this great little
library that we could pull upon. (beat) [Pippin: “Look! The trees – they’re moving!”] The moving
forest was always a very difficult concept, and we ultimately left it out of the theatrical version, but in anybody who’s
read the book, it’s –. One of the most key, sort of, climactic moments of Helm’s Deep is when the Forest
actually arrives at Helm’s Deep, and so we did originally plan to put it in the film, and we put it back in here in
the extended cut; but we just felt that it was one thing too much for the theatrical version. The Ents marching on Isengard
was really… We wanted to simplify it down to that for the theatrical version, but obviously, here in the DVD we can,
sort of, expand it out to its proper size and scope.
Philippa: This is, kind of, a fantasy of Professor Tolkien’s, isn’t it? This concept that nature would
fight back against the machine.
Philippa: And it’s –.
Peter: It’s quite potent.
Philippa: Yeah. It gets lots of cheers, doesn’t it?
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] I didn’t really realise how potent it was [Philippa: Yeah.]
till I saw it in the movie, because these shots were done at the very, very end of the post-production. I mean, these ones
were coming in in the last few days before we had to deliver the film: they were Weta’s last shots to do.
Fran: This is also Birnam Wood, isn’t it?
Philippa: Yep. That’s right.
Fran: Coming to Dunsinane… It is, because he – Tolkien – did say he was disappointed in ‘Macbeth’…
Philippa: As a child, yeah.
Fran: … that it was, in the end, a pretend forest: why couldn’t it have come, you know?
Fran: Why couldn’t it have actually happened, rather than being, in the end, a pretence?
Fran: Which, I think, really shows, more than anything, the kind of scope of his mind…
Fran: … and his imaginative scale: that he wasn’t in any way inhibited by the rules of reality, which
was his strength, in that sense.
Peter: [The Nazgûl Attack] We tried very hard to not have people confused by Osgiliath and Helm’s Deep, and,
you know, it was a tricky situation.
Philippa: My God, we had a map, which pointed the two out! [laughs] It was…
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] I know! Well, that was why that map scene was there.
Philippa: I mean, short of… There’s been –. Some people have hated that we [?] Frodo and Sam out
to there, because they’re actually never taken to Osgiliath by…This is a slight – another slight
departure, slight departure from the book…
Philippa: … but we had a very good reason, which is: once we knew very early on that we weren’t going
to be able to fit Shelob into Film Two, a decision was made very early on – we needed to drive Frodo and Sam’s
story towards some kind of climax. For all those people that, sort of, have a problem with this, I think you just need to
play out the story in your mind without this sequence for Frodo and Sam, and you’ll see how suddenly their story
lacked the dramatic tension, lacks urgency.
Philippa: [Sam: “Do you want to know what happened to Boromir?”] And it gives Sam this wonderful moment,
this wonderful speech here. It gives Sam a few wonderful speeches, actually.
Peter: I mean, there was never really any possibility that Shelob could go in this story, because…
Peter: … the intercutting of Helm’s Deep with Shelob was just never going to work, and I think when
people see ‘The Return of the King’, and see that whole sequence playing itself out up to Shelob, you’ll
realise why none of that could really fit into the end of ‘The Two Towers’. It was just too much. [Philippa
Philippa: I mean, once we made the decision that Faramir was going to have a much more difficult decision than he
does in the book, this was always where we were going to end up, really.
Fran: But Frodo’s descent into despair [Philippa: Yeah.] and his desire to present himself, if you
like, to the Enemy –
Philippa: [at same time as Fran] Expose himself, yeah.
Fran: – I mean, that he’s drawn to the Witch-king when he appears at Minas Morgul – which is in
the book – it’s just a very small part of ‘The Two Towers’: it’s only a small passage, but that’s
really what inspired…
Philippa: [in agreement] Mmm.
Fran: … this sequence here, and in that sense, it’s true to it.
Fran: It’s just being made much larger.
Philippa: It’s a slight departure.
Fran: There were decisions that we had made with ‘The Two Towers’ that we’d made two or three
years prior to finishing the film, and some of them were quite radical decisions, like the Elves arriving at Helm’s
Deep: that was not a decision we could reverse, too.
Peter: Because we’d shot so much footage.
Fran: Because there were too many Elves at Helm’s Deep! [laughs]
Peter: We were locked into it.
Fran: That we were locked into it! There were decisions we made about Faramir that –. If we’d had more
perspective and time, maybe we would have tried different things with his story.
Peter: It’s a process in which we arrived at the final shape of ‘The Two Towers’ in a series of
stages: it would have been preferable to have more time in pre-production to really revise the script two or three more times,
but as it was, we shot a very early version of the script – comparatively – you know; we then looked at what we
shot; we then decided things were working in some areas, not working in others; decisions we’d made were either good
or bad. We’d then look at the bad decisions and we’d try to shoot pick-ups to rectify those; but you were, sort
of, building on what you’d already done, and weren’t able to clear the slate and start again, or you weren’t
able to really look at it with a totally fresh point of view: you were having to adapt what you’d already shot. It was
always a bit difficult as to know the geography between the castle – the Hornburg – and the Caves themselves,
but we figured that the Caves are just through the back of the door in a, you know, a tunnel into the Mountains, and they’re
not that far away.
Philippa: [Théoden: “What can Men do against such reckless hate?”] Great lines from the book.
Peter: I always liked this moment: I like the way that Viggo plays this: it’s… He just does it brilliantly.
Philippa: [in agreement] Mmm.
Peter: The look on his face, it’s like he’s remembered, and now we’re going to get reminded of
it here. It’s just –. I like the way that he’s totally reliant upon Gandalf: that he trusts Gandalf: that
if Gandalf says, “I will be back” –
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Mmm. It’s about trust.
Peter: – “I will be back then,” Aragorn is prepared to put everything on the line because he feels
that Gandalf is not going to let him down.
Fran: I think it’s an inspired moment of heroism, too.
Fran: That with or without Gandalf, he will never give up, or give in to despair.
Peter: Yeah… Yeah.
Philippa: Yeah. He had his darkest hour. He’s through it now.
Fran: [Gimli ascends to blow the horn, screen cap] I love this shot!
Philippa: The great horn.
Peter: This was another interesting, sort of, concept of this big horn that’s supposed to be in the tower
of Helm’s Deep: Gimli blows into this thing and the whole tower reverberates with this, the horn of Helm Hammerhand.
(beat) [Théoden: “Forth Eorlingas!”] This was kind of fun, because the set was built in a studio we had
in Park Road, and the horses just galloped straight out of the door of the studio and across the road to the California Garden
Centre! [Philippa laughs] Because they couldn’t stop and we had to have –.
Philippa: [at same time as
Peter, laughing] Oh, really?
Peter: The road had to be cordoned off because they were just, like, galloping right out of the door onto the street:
there was no room in the studio to stop them [Peter and Philippa laugh] and at the end of the hall, just went
right out of the roller door onto the road!
Philippa: Into the Garden Centre!
Peter: Into the California Garden Centre. [Philippa and Fran laugh] (beat) [screen cap] This was a pretty amazing shot: this was a really tricky one to do. This is one of Weta’s utter nightmares, where
all the horses were real, except we had to add CG-Uruk-hai to feel like they were being trampled underfoot. We also didn’t
really have adequate close-ups of Aragorn reacting to Gandalf, and so we stole the shots of him from a couple of other places
in the film. We… His turn and his look up was actually a reaction to Haldir’s death, and then saying “Gandalf”
was back in the hall when he was looking at the sunlight coming through the window, and we had to take those two shots of
Viggo, chop them out of the background he was originally in and put him against a background that represented the outside
of the Hornburg here.
Philippa: [The Rohirrim congregate behind Gandalf and Éomer] Another slight departure from the book, but one –
which I note with great interest – nobody ever worries about.
Peter: Because this is really Erkenbrand, is it?
Peter: A guy called Erkenbrand. You see, people that don’t… never read the book, this is…
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] And Éomer is always in Helm’s Deep and fighting side-by-side [Peter:
Right.], and great, huge irony that nobody’s ever worried about this, but they did worry –.
Fran: It’s because we committed much bigger sins.
Philippa: I know… Well, did we? I don’t know…
Peter: Well, that’s the whole plan: [Philippa: I suspect –.] you commit a few big crimes and
it takes everyone’s eye away from the small ones.
Philippa: Off the small crime.
Peter: It’s like a clever little detour.
Philippa: We could be, like… could do courses in criminal screenwriting.
Fran: [laughing] Crimes against the book!
Philippa: [laughing] Crimes Against the Books 101!
Peter: The shots of them galloping down the shale-slide are entirely CG: it’s a miniature of Helm’s
Deep that we’re using, but it’s CG-horses, CG-Uruk-hai, it’s all very… artificial! [laughs] I guess
is the word I’m after! [Philippa and Fran laugh] Fake! Fake is the real word!
Philippa: [laughing] [?] fake! No, it’s all real, and it did happen! [The Flooding of Isengard] But these
Ents are real.
Peter: The attack on Isengard by the Ents was actually a scene that we always wanted to do, but it was never really
addressed until the last minute, and it was literally in the last… I’d say the last three months of post-production
[Philippa: Mmm.] on ‘The Two Towers’ that we even started to put our minds to it; and it was… We
had to storyboard, do animatics; there were various crude animatics that were very quickly done, and then Weta just had to
go for it. It was not really an afterthought, because it was something we always wanted to show. In the book, this doesn’t
happen in the book: what you see is – you see Merry and Pippin after a big battle has occurred and they, sort of, tell
the other guys that, you know, “Oh, it was amazing, you should have seen it, there was this big attack,” you know.
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Yeah, to report it, yeah.
Peter: It was reported [Philippa: Yeah.], but we wanted to make it real time.
Philippa: [screen cap] I love him!
Peter: [Ent set on fire] This was interesting, because we set the Ent on fire…
Fran: Him we called Moses.
Peter: Moses. Moses the Ent was set on fire and I said to Weta, “You know what, we can’t really have
a burning Ent: I mean, the kids are going to be really upset at that and it’s not good,” so we then looked at
one of our flooding shots that happens later, and we came up with the idea of having him douse himself in the flames; and
that idea only really came because of the fact we’d set him on fire in the first place. We felt this, sort of, degree
of guilt [Philippa laughs], we somehow had to, sort of, help him.
Philippa: Explaining it to your six-year-old.
Peter: We had to help him. (beat) The dam was a huge miniature that was made, and it was really destroyed
in the way you’re seeing it here: it was a fantastic model that Weta had put together, and they dumped these massive
tanks of water behind it and just blew it apart. I think they did it two or three times. (beat) [Saruman views the
oncoming water] We didn’t actually have any shots of Christopher Lee reacting to the flood, because a long, long time
earlier, when we had filmed Christopher Lee’s shots, we didn’t know that he was going to be reacting to the flood
[Philippa: No.] because we weren’t sure that we were going to do the scene, so we took some footage that we had
of Christopher that’s actually going to appear in ‘Return of the King’ when he’s stuck on top of his
tower, and we found a bit where he turns towards Wormtongue, in actually fact, who’s on the tower with him, and that
spinning round that he does there was actually spinning round to talk to Wormtongue, except it was – looked like a great
reaction for the water coming down the hill [Philippa agrees], so we found a bit we could use.
Peter: It’s always hard to do water in movies, but, you know, this doesn’t look too bad. All of the
water here is pretty much real; it’s obviously a miniature: it was a huge, big miniature that we made. That’s
CG-water in this particular shot. [screen cap] That’s mostly computerised water.
Fran: [Frodo approaches the Ringwraith] In the third film, Frodo’s attachment to the Ring is less internal:
it’s more about fighting it now. If his battle in the second film was about not realising its strength – or realising
too late – in the third film, it’s about physically surviving it: surviving the journey. He’s not engaged
in an internal, sort of, fight: he’s won that, but it becomes now a test of his physical endurance.
Peter: This is really inspired by a moment that’s in the front of Minas Morgul, as you were saying, Fran:
it’s like taking a moment from the book and putting it in a slightly different place and expanding it.
Philippa: It’s a very, very powerful piece of writing: internally, what’s going on in Frodo is…
Fran: It’s when he says, “We will die here.”
Philippa: Yeah. “We will die here.”
Peter: So it’s just a slight departure: it qualifies as a slight departure again, which is good!
Philippa: We only ever do slight departures.
Peter: Slight departures.
Philippa: [slowly] Go, Sam!
Fran: [at same time as
Philippa, the Fell Beast is shot] There’s some lovely sound-design here from
[?Plan] Nine, isn’t there?
Fran: With the Ring-sound.
Philippa: [at same time as Fran] The Ring-sound.
Peter: And great animation. I love the animation on the Nazgûl: it’s really nice.
Philippa: [Frodo holds Sting to Sam’s throat] This is how far gone Frodo is. That was deliberately similar
to him holding the sword over Gollum’s throat: he’s now…
Peter: Yeah, we deliberately wanted to evoke the moment with Gollum at the beginning of the film and then take it
as full, a hundred and eighty degrees round to him threatening Sam.
Philippa: Mmm. This is how powerful [Peter: Yeah.] the Ring has been. And all through this, Sam has had that
horrible experience of a friend – Fran actually always used to sue the analogy of the junkie: Frodo being the junkie,
and Sam being the friend who’s trying to help him kick the habit. (beat) This was actually an attempt to draw
all the story threads together in one [?].
Peter: It was interesting, because when we shot this sequence, we had Sam walking over to the window: we had him
saying this first line of dialogue that he’s saying now, and then we didn’t have any other dialogue, and he just
went, basically, to the end of the scene: he turned around and he picked Frodo up; but when we came to cutting it, we wanted
to create a much more emotional ending, and so all of what you’re hearing Sam say is something that –. We had
him go into a recording studio and record for us: it was never originally shot; it exists here only as voice-over. Thank God
we had him walking over to the window and at least starting to say something!
Philippa: [laughing] Yeah, you could cut away!
Peter: Because it enabled us to create this feeling of a resolution; and in a sense, it’s tying the separate
threads of the story together, isn’t it?
Philippa: It was why we did it.
Fran: In the end, you have to think, “What is this movie about? What is it doing, and what is it saying?”
and this was the moment where, if ever it was going to crystallise into a theme or a single thought, then we should do it.
I felt that it was about storytelling, that it was about the value of stories: why we need them, and why… [Philippa:
Mmm.] what we get from them; and I think, in the end, it’s about our need to feel that there are universal values of
good. Whether or not that’s true in the real world, who can say? but certainly, in terms of drama, that’s why,
I think, people need it. They need to know that –.
Peter: Why they need stories. Yeah.
Fran: Yeah. Within the world of drama that there are universal values of good…
Philippa: [at same time as Fran] To make sense of the world.
Fran: … not subject to the vagaries of our own lives.
Philippa: And that we are all part of the same story: that’s the other key thing that I think Tolkien says
again and again. What was really funny, though, was: Fran and I wrote this and we wrote ourselves to a standstill when Frodo
says, “What are we holding onto, Sam?” [laughing] We didn’t know, did we? Remember, we wrote that line and
we were just… it was like, “Okay, well what are they holding onto?” [Philippa and Fran
laugh] It took us a while! But the other thing –.
Peter: Well Fran had the great idea to –. [Philippa: Yeah.] One of Fran’s great ideas when we
cut it together was to actually show Gollum’s reaction [Philippa: Mmm.] [screen cap] to those lines, and that was never planned; and, in fact, we didn’t have any Gollum animation, and so what we did
is we looked back on the Dead Marshes, where Frodo is talking to him and calling him by his real name, Sméagol, for the first
time and the way that Gollum reacted to that, and we pinched the animation from that scene and then we had Weta do a modification
to it so that it fitted into here, but it made it much easier, because they were last-minute shots as well: that we were able
just to modify existing animation and make it really work well for this; but the idea of having Gollum as a third party –
a silent observer, but someone who’s also taking on board what’s being said was a really great idea.
Philippa: Well, it sets him apart from what’s being said, really.
Peter: [in agreement] Mmm.
Fran: Yeah. I mean, when Frodo asks the question, “What are we holding onto?” it’s a question
that’s also in Gollum – Sméagol’s – mind, because he, too, is on the brink of something. When he gets
his answer, “that there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for,” he understands that
he will be forever [Philippa: Can never…] outside of Frodo’s…
Philippa: He can never be a part of that goodness ever again.
Philippa: It’s lost to him. It’s not lost to Frodo, because of Sam’s friendship.
Fran: Well it was something that, ironically, Sméagol believed in: for a brief window of time [Philippa:
That brief moment.], he believed in – that there was some good in this world [Philippa: Yeah.] and he tried to
hold onto it. It ultimately failed him.
Philippa: I love that… yeah.
Fran: So I kind of –. I like that in the end there’s some complexity to that thought, that it’s
not just a simple, sort of, tub-thumping [Philippa: Yeah.] notion of good versus evil: I wouldn’t want that.
Philippa: No. We never wanted that; but it’s also that infinite sadness, too, that you see in the CGI character:
just see that level of sadness and, kind of, internal grief, and understanding at the same time that he can never again be
part of that world: that moral world is lost to him now.
Fran: And that the notion of good is entirely subjective.
Peter: [The Final Tally] This scene probably qualifies as just about the most painful deletion from the movie, doesn’t
Fran: [in agreement] Mmm.
Peter: Everybody wanted this scene to be in the film, except there was just an organic, kind of, flow of momentum
at the end that didn’t allow room for this, but it’s very, very funny: I love the way that the guys play this
moment. I mean, obviously, it’s the culmination of the whole rivalry between Legolas and Gimli, which… We have
it in the movie, but we don’t have the final beat, but here it is. I think that would be a great toy. Imagine, you know
Philippa: [laughing] Oh, Pete!
Peter: – you press a little button and you sort of… and Gimli’s arm movies and the thing twitches.
Philippa: Oh, that’s terrible!
Peter: Well I’d buy it. (beat) [Flotsam and Jetsam] This sequence, again, with Merry and Pippin was…
we just decided we’d had such a climactic end to the battle that we felt that to have a long, extended denouement was
just going to be asking for trouble when we did the movie version, but, of course, we’re able to put this in the DVD;
and it does provide closure, too, to the little bit of rivalry with their height and the drinking of the Ent-draught that
we didn’t… include that in the theatrical version either.
Philippa: [laughs, Pippin looks up at the sky] That’s a little reference to Film One.
Philippa: Now this, again, is, of course, true to the book, because they did actually discover Saruman’s store-house.
Peter: Well, I love the whole pipe-smoking back-story in the book, eh, you know how [Philippa: Mmm.] Saruman
tells Gandalf off for smoking his pipe, but he’s really, secretly got a stash of pipe-weed himself.
Peter: Ah no, it’s because Gandalf started smoking pipe-weed that Saruman was, sort of, envious of Gandalf’s,
kind of, liberalism and he’d got pipe-weed to try it out for himself but kept it secret.
Fran: He was a secret smoker.
Peter: He was secret smoker, and so Isengard’s, kind of, like, full of all this pipe-weed from the Shire that
Saruman has secretly smuggled in there. He probably indulges in pipe-smoking in the dead of night. I mean, I always liked
that – you can’t really put it in the movie or get that much of it in the film, but…
Philippa: And I wonder what people are going to think of this scene! [laughs]
Peter: I don’t know.
Philippa: It’s going to be funny!
Peter: Go onto the Internet tomorrow and you’ll find out, Philippa!
Philippa: Oh, dear! It’s also our… just our two Hobbits – little Hobbits – indomitable,
good-cheer and joy. [Pippin laughs] Oh, that’s great!
Peter: At the beginning of Film Three, we find them still enjoying the ‘spoils of battle’, as they say.
(beat) [Farewell to Faramir] Likewise, this is another scene that was more of a denouement scene that we felt –.
You can, sort of, see from what we are, you know, looking at now how many, kind of, denouements we actually had. One of the
problems of having multiple storylines is that you, sort of… to want to wrap each of them up, so we did film these little
conclusions to each of the storylines, and felt that we didn’t really need any of them in the theatrical version. In
fact, this one here sort of serves the main purpose of setting up the threat that they face in Film Three, doesn’t it,
really? The dark terror that dwells above Cirith Ungol.
Philippa: Yep. This is exactly what this is about.
Fran: [at same time as Philippa] Mmm.
Philippa: Which is good to put it in the DVD, because when you think about it, you know, in the theatrical version,
Film Three was a year away, so what was the point of, sort of, talking about something that people weren’t going to
see for a year? but this DVD is coming out, what, about a month or six weeks before the release of ‘The Return of the
King’, so it’s a great opportunity just to set up where they’re going and what that actually means: it’s
– they’re going to a very, very bad place. [in an American accent] A very bad place for Frodo and Sam.
Peter: [American accent] Stay tuned. (beat) [normal accent] Going in the sewers under the River was a way
that we could get them across the River, because we had this problem with Osgiliath that the goodies are on the other side
of the River, and Frodo and Sam need to get across the River to carry their journey on, and so we didn’t want them to
go on boats or anything, so we created this concept of a sewer-tunnel that, sort of, goes underneath. (beat) A little
moment with Sam and Gollum here. It prefigures the next scene with Gollum in the sense that this shows how he’s duopolistic:
he’s pretending that nothing’s wrong, but when we see him in the subsequent scene, which was in the theatrical
version, we can see just what a pretence he’s putting on here.
Philippa: Well he’s quite wretched in that scene, and I don’t think he has come to a decision.
Peter: No, he works it out on screen, [Philippa: Yeah.] doesn’t he? Within the course of the scene.
Philippa: It’s a little bit of an olive branch, in a way, to make the fact that the one person who’s
always mistrusted Sméagol – the last thing you hear in this movie has been Sam saying, “That’s very
decent of you, very decent indeed,” which is, like, “No, Sam! Don’t! Don’t! What’re you doing?
You can’t trust this guy.”
Fran: [“The Battle for Middle-earth is About to Begin”, screen cap] So, Pete, you’ve got to tell us who this bloke on the horse is.
Philippa: Yeah, over there.
Fran: [at same time as Philippa] At the end.
Fran: And why is he there?
Peter: Well, he’s Éomer’s double…
Philippa: Who doesn’t look…
Peter: … and I think we were going to put Éomer’s head on him at some stage and never got round to it,
but now he just is –. He’s a generic Rohan rider.
Peter: He’s the Fourth Lieutenant of the Second Company B-Division of the Mark. [Philippa laughs]
Fran: I see.
Peter: His name is George.
Philippa: George! You’re making it up.
Peter: And there’s going to be a TV show: he’s going to feature in ‘The Lord of the Rings’
spin-off TV series that New Line will do once these movies are finished [Philippa: Mmm.], you see: that was just a
shot to really establish him in the movies –
Peter: – and then he’ll later get his own TV show.
Fran: Right! The old head-replacement trick.
Philippa: What never got… done.
Fran: Don’t go there.
Peter: [Samwise the Brave] This is a scene that we did as a pick-up: we shot this after we’d cut ‘The
Two Towers’ together, and we did have the scene already shot which we see in a minute, where Gollum is plotting to kill
them, but we felt that we wanted some… more affectionate closure on Frodo and Sam, especially since we did take their
friendship right to the brink with Frodo with the sword at Sam’s throat, that we wanted to bring it back down to something
that was much more fond and friendly.
Philippa: It’s also about the storytelling that Fran was referencing earlier.
Peter: Yeah. Yeah. The guys play this very well.
Philippa: [Sam: “Samwise the Brave”] It’s actually ‘Samwise the Stoutheart’ or something,
Fran: ‘The Stouthearted’ in the book.
Philippa: Which is just, actually, a bit of a mouthful when you actually say it: it doesn’t scan, does it?
Peter: [Gollum’s Plan] This is probably the longest continuous CG shot ever done for a film, in actual fact:
it’s – I think it’s over two minutes long, and it was a nightmarish shot. It was the very first Gollum shot
I ever gave to Weta to do, which –. I handed it over to them about two weeks after we shot it, which would probably
be about three years ago; and it was the last shot that they finished [laughs], which is, kind of, the way it was always going
to be, because it’s so difficult. We filmed Andy Serkis doing this exact performance, and then we had to then film with
our Steadicam – because it wasn’t motion-controlled, it was just shot with the Steadicam – we then had to
have the Steadicam operator film an empty version of what Andy had just done, trying to remember all the timing, and remember
exactly where Andy was, because he was basically filming absolutely nothing. He had no reference for where his camera should
be, so it took us all day: it was a shot that took all day long to film, right from the morning to the evening; and then,
much, much later, we had Andy reproduce his performance again in a motion-capture suit, so we had our motion-capture stage
laid out with where these pine trees were so he could grab onto a piece of wood that was supposed to represent the pine tree.
It was all measured out very carefully and reproduced in the studio; and it was just a very technically long and… but
it was all done as one continuous shot with no cuts. It’s kind of audacious, but I just thought it would be a nice way
to end the film.
Philippa: It certainly helped make him feel more real, that you do something like this.
Peter: Yeah. Well, it’s –. I just think if you’re dealing with something artificial like Gollum,
if you can do, then, on top of that, do something weird, like do a long, continuous, two-minute shot with no cuts, you’re,
sort of, somehow drawing people’s attention from the fake… fakery.
Philippa: [at same time as Peter] Yeah. Absolutely.
Peter: It’s kind of weird, because it’s not the way that you’re used to seeing that kind of thing
Peter: And the final shot of the film, which we deliberately wanted to evoke the final shot of Film One, as well,
which was basically to show that the journey is continuing with the crane-up, but now they’re, obviously, a lot, lot
closer to Mordor than they were at the end of the first film.
Philippa: [fade to black] That end.
Peter: We originally were going to crane-up and they were going to be walking towards the Morgul-vale – the
valley – but we never actually did the shot: it was never finished or anything, but it was a piece of artwork that was
done that we thought, “Okay, we’ll just go above the trees and we’ll look at this big, horrible valley that
they’re heading to, and the sky will be flashing above; but they’re basically heading towards Minas Morgul. But
then we decided that it wasn’t really about going towards Minas Morgul, it was about Mordor, so in order to get to Mordor,
we had to just keep the camera moving up and up the Mountains, to get to the top of the Mountain range and see Mount Doom
Peter: So we just decided, basically, to go from ending on Minas Morgul to ending on Mordor, to just… to wrap
it up a little bit, and wrap up the tension. (beat) It was interesting, when I did the press junket for ‘The
Two Towers’, one of the most commonly-asked questions, you know: why did we not have any recap of Part One? Why didn’t
we explain what had happened so far? and to me it wasn’t that difficult, it was just, you know, assuming that most people
had seen ‘The Fellowship’ – maybe if ‘The Fellowship’ had been less successful as a film, you
would have felt obliged to have a recap, because it was, like, “Oh, hang on, you know, not many people saw [Philippa:
Mmm.] the first one, so we’ve got to make sure everyone gets the story!”
Peter: But because, you know, so many people had seen ‘The Fellowship’, I think we felt that
we were able just to jump in; and it was only a year ago: that’s what I kept saying to the journalists, you know, “Well,
it’s only a year ago, you… surely you haven’t forgotten what happened in the movie.”
Philippa: Plus, you’d just had the extended cut DVD released of ‘Fellowship’, which was very clever.
Peter: Well the DVD and the video release helped a lot [Philippa agrees] because it was able to, sort of,
put everybody back into a ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ frame of mind –
Philippa: Or if they hadn’t seen it.
Peter: – two or three months, you know [Philippa: Mmm.], before the release of ‘Two Towers’.
(beat) But it would be fair to say that it was given the least amount of thought…
Philippa: [in agreement] Oh, yeah.
Peter: … during the writing, because [Philippa: Oh.] there was so much focus on the beginning of the
story, of how we introduce everybody up [Philippa agrees], do we spend too long in Hobbiton before they hit the road?
You know, how do we get all this incredibly complicated back-story about Isildur and the Ring [Philippa agrees] across?
We then… On the other side of it, we were focussing on ‘The Return of the King’, of wanting to climax the
story in a great way, of really trying to shape the end of what happens [Philippa: Well –.] in the third act,
‘Return of the King’ and then… and in some respects, this one slipped through the cracks –
Peter: [laughing] – if it’s possible for an entire movie to slip through the cracks!
Philippa: No, it did.
Peter: It sort of… This, kind of, did…
Philippa: And because it was the hardest, too.
Peter: … in a way.
Philippa: It’s the hardest one [Peter: Yeah.] to put your brain there. I mean, Film Three is much more
filmic: the story plays out, especially Frodo and Sam’s one.
Peter: [at same time as Philippa] Yeah. It really rattles along. Yeah.
Philippa: It lends itself, of any sequence in the book, lends itself to film…
Peter: Yes, it does, actually, yeah.
Philippa: … the best, so that was always easier to do; but I think with the second film, it’s what it
had to do to bridge these two, to bridge these two great stories: you had a great beginning, you had a great end, and we didn’t
know – until we sat down and looked at it –. That was the other thing: after production, we had no time: we were
straight into ‘Fellowship’, so we didn’t really have any time to sit down and see what we’d got. We
didn’t know, did we, what we had?
Peter: Also, I think it would be fair to say that it’s the slightest of the books, too: it has the least dramatic
conflict of any of the books.
Philippa: [drawn-out] Mmmm.
Peter: It has the most linear, kind of, plotting…
Philippa: It does –. It certainly suffers from a lack of reversals in the Aragorn/Théoden/Gandalf story.
Peter: Well, and even in the Frodo/Sam/Faramir story, as well.
Philippa: Yeah, well, exactly.
Peter: Really, you know.
Philippa: It… yes, yes. This [?]
Peter: I think the irony, too, is that one of the most memorable sequences in ‘The Two Towers’ book
is the whole Shelob [laughs] sequence, which [Philippa: Yeah] of course we didn’t have in the film, so [Philippa:
Yeah.] in a way, we’d already [Philippa: Maybe…], you know, taken out the most memorable scene. I suppose
Helm’s Deep is the other… is the other memorable…
Philippa: No, you’re right, because you read –.
Peter: Because it ends with a cliff-hanger, I mean –
Philippa: Yep, you do.
Peter: – they use Shelob as an enormous cliff-hanger, you know [Philippa: Yeah.], Tolkien provides
you with this great cliff-hanger, but as I said earlier, I think that when people see our film version of ‘Return of
the King’, you’ll see immediately why we put Shelob into ‘Return of the King’ – I don’t
think there was any doubt about it.
Philippa: Well, as you’ve actually often pointed out, Pete, in terms of true chronology with the story, Shelob
doesn’t play out against Helm’s Deep, it plays out against the…
Peter: The Siege of Minas Tirith.
Philippa: Yeah, the Siege of Minas Tirith.
Peter: And, of course, the thing that we should mention here as well is the fact that this is not really where ‘The
Two Towers’ ends from the point of view of Aragorn and Théoden, either –
Peter: – because there’s a sequence where they return to Isengard and confront Saruman. [Philippa:
Mmm.] Now, we shot that, and when we shot it, we originally thought it was going to be in ‘The Two Towers’
– I mean, it was in the ‘Two Towers’ script when we filmed it – but we just felt that we couldn’t
go through that entire Battle of Helm’s Deep, and with the climax of Frodo and Sam, and then go into what was going
to basically be a seven- or eight-minute sequence…
Peter: … of returning to Isengard, and the reason why it’s not in either the theatrical version or the
extended cut is because it is somewhat anticlimactic. It’s a much better beginning for a film [Philippa agrees]
than it is a climax for a film; and so, therefore, we made a decision last year when we were cutting ‘The Two Towers’
that that entire sequence of the – basically the Voice of Saruman is the chapter in the book, of course [Philippa:
Mmm.], as people remember – that got shifted to the beginning of’ Return of the King’, so it’s weird:
the identity of ‘The Two Towers’, even in the way we’ve constructed the film… we’ve shifted
its identity round and just used bits and pieces of it, haven’t we?
Fran: All cinema storytelling – to a degree – is shallow [laughs], and that’s the nature of the
medium: you’ve got two or three hours to present a world and a dense story with a hundred themes and a ton of back-story
in this instance, and twenty-two characters, so you can only, really, have the veneer of that. [laughs] You really can’t
have anything that comes close to the depth of the books – or the experience of the books – so I think what we
attempted to do was to use the language of the books where we could, and to certainly invoke them – the iconic images
– where we could, but to keep the storytelling very much… to modernise it, if you like, in terms of cinema language,
so we didn’t, for example, use the style of storytelling that was in the books between these different after-the-fact
storytelling: Sam and Frodo, and then a chunk of the Aragorn story: we completely intercut it: that was a far more, kind of,
immediate and more engaging way to connect it to the audience. You can’t really hope to satisfy people who adore this
book with the movie; you can only ever give them a sense of what might have been! [laughs] That’s all a film can do.
I think in that sense, films… I mean, they’re entertainments. They’re just not going to give you the pleasure
that a book can give you. We felt, the entire year, that we didn’t have the time that we should have had [Peter:
Hmm.] and had lost so much because of the junkets, you know, for the Academy and… gone to the BAFTAs, and we’d
done all the things that you’re supposed to do to support your movie, but at the expense of ‘The Two Towers’.
Peter: We went into the pick-ups not having written all the stuff we needed: actors were arriving – I mean,
actors were actually landing in the country saying, “Can I have a look at what you want to shoot with me?” and
we hadn’t even written it yet! [laughs]
Fran: I was writing them on-set for the pick-ups.
Peter: I know! It was just –. We were, sort of, four or five weeks late for everything the entire year. On
top of that, it was a tough movie to do: I mean, ultimately, you know, any movie can be fixed and any editing can be refined
if you have enough time, but because we always felt like we were four or five weeks late the whole year, we felt an enormous
amount of pressure on us. I’m happy with ‘The Two Towers’ because, for a long time, we thought it wasn’t
going to be as good as the first film, and then, for some reason – [laughing] I still don’t know quite how! –
we ended up with a movie which a lot of people think is better than the first film, which is totally not what we expected!
It was obviously a very pleasing result: it’s a very satisfying result. We’re happy that we ended up somehow,
you know, making a film that people enjoyed, but it was problematical – and continued to be problematical all the way
through post-production and right up until the very end.
Philippa: We used every second to tell the story, right up to Fran [?in the mix]. We used every second of time that
we had to tell the story and to fix the story, and to make it work.
Peter: So, we hope you’ve enjoyed this extended cut of ‘The Two Towers’, and I hope in seeing
it, it’s given you, you know, a nice context for things that you’re about to see in ‘Return of the King’,
which is going to be on in the theatres very soon.
Peter: That’s if you’re watching this DVD before December; but if you get it for Christmas and you watch,
you know, after Christmas, then ‘The Return of the King’ is in the cinemas right now.
Philippa: And go and see it.