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EE Commentary Transcripts
The Burning of the Westfold

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Fran: [shot of Isengard] We used to call this ‘the Pizza’, didn’t we?

Peter: The Pizza… place.

Philippa: This was funny; we wrote this voice-over about fifty million times, and the last time was when Pete was about to record with Christopher Lee. I was in Malta, actually doing ADR with Gimli, and I was out shopping in a gift shop and my phone rang and it was Fran saying, “We’ve got to fix this line! Pete’s about to record it!” Which was the line? It was the ‘fires of industry’ line.

Fran: Mmm hmm. “The old ways are burning in the fires of industry.”

Philippa: That’s right. We couldn’t get it right.

Fran: [at same time as Philippa] An invention of Stephen’s.

Philippa: It is! It’s a Stephen line.

Fran: Mmm hmm.

Peter: This particular script is credited to Philippa, Fran and myself; and in addition there’s Stephen Sinclair. Stephen was involved back in the Miramax days, when it was two scripts; we felt it was obviously fair to credit him, though he wasn’t really involved in the screenplays over the last three or four years. (beat) This is quite a big miniature, the Barad-dr tower: it’s something like twenty feet tall, and even just to do a shot where we’re rotating and going right up to the summit of it is quite a big move for the miniature team to do. (beat) The tree falling into the pit is a steal from the first movie: we took the same shot we use in the first film [laughs] and just flipped it round to make it look kind of different. In fact, this whole montage is actually comprised of outtakes from the Film One montage, apart from this Uruk birthing stuff, which we never used in the first film. We were going to use it in the first film at some stage; but only really had Lrtz being born in the first film and we didn’t show many other Uruks being born. And we felt that we wanted to re-establish the concept that Saruman’s army was growing bigger by the day, therefore the threat was growing bigger.

Philippa: [screen cap] This is a woman, this one, isn’t it?

Peter: Yeah –

Philippa: She’s…

Peter: The Orc with the long neck. She’s –

Philippa: [at same time as Peter] She’s fantastic.

Peter: The Orc with the long neck is a great-looking Orc; and it’s actually…

Philippa: A woman.

Peter: … a lady inside there. Yeah.

Philippa: I wish I could [? know who it is.]

Peter: [at same time as Philippa] Quite a few of the Orcs are women, you know – they’re not all blokes. [Fran laughs]

Philippa: [jokingly] What are you saying?

Peter: I don’t know what I’m saying! They didn’t bring their own costumes, though. [Philippa laughs] (beat) [Saruman: “The forest of Fangorn lies on our doorstep.”] This scene establishes the whole concept of Fangorn being the forest on the borders of Isengard, and Fangorn is what they’re now going to rip into to get more wood and timber to burn in the industry; and ultimately, obviously, Fangorn the forest exacts its revenge, and so it’s got a quite a nice little place in our story. [Wildman pledges allegiance to Saruman] Another new scene that we felt was important to establish the characters of the Wildmen. There was a lot of confusion, particularly amongst New Line: “We thought Orcs were bad, Uruks were bad; who are these guys?” [laughs] It’s in the book, and, you know, Saruman is gathering the disenfranchised human beings to his cause as well: the rather primitive, inbred Wildmen. You always imagine banjos to be playing in this scene, don’t you? [Philippa laughs]

Philippa: A bit of inbreeding going on.

Peter: [Saruman’s pep talk to the Wildmen] People think that I did a cameo in this; and I probably should have done a cameo, because I would have loved to have acted with Christopher Lee – if you can call my cameos ‘acting’.

Fran: But you were shooting two scenes that day, weren’t you?

Peter: I was shooting two scenes. I was up at the other studio – I remember jumping into a car and driving for about a mile down to that set, shooting a shot with Christopher, driving back up to the other set, shooting something. I can’t even remember what it was I was shooting.

Fran: It was something completely different [Peter: Yeah.], quite… something quite…

Peter: Like something from the third movie [Fran: Hmm.], from ‘Return of the King’ or something; and it was a tough day, because there were two-hundred extras in that tin shed, baking hot, waiting for me, and Christopher was waiting for me, and they were waiting for me to finish up the other shot so I could drive down and shoot that. It was on one of those ‘doing-two-things-at-once’ days. (beat) [The Burning of the Westfold] This is a sequence that was shot by Geoff Murphy, our second unit director; I think he did a great job: I love the performances of the kids in this scene – it really feels nice and real. This village was built on the side of a really amazing area called [?Pullburn] Lakes in New Zealand, and we built quite a few of the huts – some of them are computer-generated in the wide shots, but most of what you see here we did for real. It was this amazing little Scandinavian-style village on the side of the lake.

Massacre at the Fords of Isen >>

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.