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EE Commentary Transcripts
Foundations of Stone

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Peter: Hi everybody, and welcome to the continuing epic commentary for the extended cut of ‘The Two Towers’; I’m Peter Jackson.

Fran: And I’m Fran Walsh.

Philippa: And I’m Philippa Boyens.

Peter: The first thing we can talk about is the New Line logo, because what people won’t realise is that the logo that New Line gave us was quite scratched an jumpy and old, and so we actually put it through Weta – the digital effects facility – and we cleaned it up and stabilised it and sharpened it and gave it back to New Line as a special little present. So I don’t know whether they even knew about it.

Fran: Did we bill them? [Philippa laughs]

Peter: We should bill them now! (beat) It was interesting to figure out how to start this film, because the studio were quite insistent for a long time that we had a prologue the same as the first film: they wanted Cate Blanchett, in actual fact, to give us a, sort of, a back story of what’s happened so far in this movie – you know, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ – and to set us up; and we resisted doing that, didn’t we?

Fran: Yes, yes. It was ironic, really, because they didn’t like the idea of Cate Blanchett doing the prologue in the first film, in ‘Fellowship’ [Philippa laughs]. It was something we were keen on, but they weren’t –.

Peter: And then it flipped around the other way.

Fran: Yes, and then in this one, they decided that it was a good device, but we’d, sort of, moved on from there and thought, “No [Peter laughs], we’re just going to go straight into this one! [laughs] Nobody needs more back story.”

Peter: Well I kind of think it’s just important to be able to join all three movies up at the end and be able to run them as a film, and I think, you know –. And I think Cate Blanchett’s great to come on at the beginning of the story and do the prologue, but this is not the beginning of the story.

Philippa: We did have this opening for a very long time, though. This was actually written quite early, in very early drafts.

Peter: Well the Balrog scene was. [Philippa: Mmm] The mountain scene – I remember thinking of that idea when I was in the cutting room cutting it, because I thought: how do we actually open the movie? And we knew we were going to open it with the reprise of the Balrog and the plunge, but, you know: what’s the first shot? And then I thought the mountains… I love the idea of hearing the voices coming from [Fran agrees] the first movie. It occurred to me as reminiscent of what Zemeckis on ‘Back to the Future Part II’ when the characters were sort of, you know… went back to the first film again, and I love the idea of: we hear something that’s familiar coming from inside the mountain, but it’s not really the first film although it’s sort of going back to half way through the first film, which is kind of neat. (beat) The editing of this was identical to what we did in ‘The Fellowship’ although we switched a couple of Frodo shots round just to change it slightly; and then the plunge!

Fran: This came about because we felt it was very important to prefigure, in some way, Gandalf’s reappearance in the story. You know, you just couldn’t have him step out of the woods.

Peter: It kind of replaces the prologue and achieves a similar goal because it reminds people of the first film again. [Fran agrees] It actually, sort of, repositions you back into where you were a year ago watching ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and to re-orientate you into the world of the movie before you have to start giving new information and having people think about new things.

Philippa: And there was also that great John Howe painting that you fell in love with, Peter.

Peter: Yeah, well that’s true. This entire scene way – way back in our scriptwriting days [Philippa, laughing: Yes!] years ago – was inspired by one single John Howe painting, because I would have never ever thought about showing the fight between Gandalf and the Balrog, but John had painted an image for a card game – for a board… rôle-playing game – which was Gandalf fighting the Balrog; and as soon as I saw that picture, I said, “Wow, we’ve got to do this scene.” If it hadn’t have been for that painting, it wouldn’t have happened, I don’t think. I would never have thought of it. (beat) The scene was drastically shortened before we ever shot anything, for budgetary reasons; because once Gandalf hit the water – remember, we were going to have [Philippa: Yeah.] the Balrog turn to slime.

Philippa: Yes.

Peter: And he was going to be, like, a slimy Balrog creature fighting underwater, and then we were going to have a battle up the staircase – the, sort of… what’s called the Endless Stair; and we had storyboards for all that stuff; eventually – and it was literally due to budgetary constraints [laughs], wasn’t it?

Fran: Yes, it was.

Peter: [?] really wanting to go there. I think at one point, we had to cut some CG stuff down, and we… and the ‘slimy Balrog’ was going to cost fifty grand or something, and we decided to do without him. I remember that.

Fran: What was he called? He wasn’t called Slimy Balrog.

Peter: [mumbling] Oh, I think it was…

Philippa: He was – he was ‘Slime Balrog’.

Peter: Slime Balrog…

Fran: Slime Balrog. [Philippa laughs]

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The Lord of the Rings and its content does not belong to me, it is property of the Tolkien Estate;  the commentaries transcribed here, as well as the images used, are the property of New Line Cinema.