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EE Commentary Transcripts
The Riders of Rohan

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<< Night Camp at Fangorn

Philippa: Yeah.

Peter: And we wanted to stretch that out a bit and, you know, make people – who weren’t familiar with the books, obviously – really wonder and believe that they might be dead.

Philippa: [The Riders of Rohan appear over the crest of the hill] Amazing shot.

Peter: Yeah, this shot was done by Geoff Murphy, again down in Alexandra. (beat) I love that shot of the horses all turning round – it’s like one of those flocks of birds, isn’t it, that kind of sweep around?

Philippa: [in agreement] Mmm.

Peter: … and come back. And then I shot… I shot all this other drama in one day, which is quite a lot of work to do in a single day of shooting, and I knew I had to get through it really quickly, so I said to the guys: “Look, we’re just going to shoot it handheld. We’re going to not worry about tripods, not worry about dollies, not do any of that.” I only had a day, and I had to get through it really quickly, this entire dialogue scene, so that’s kind of why it has a slightly loose, handheld feel, because it was done for speed reasons! I had two cameras rolling at the same time, so one camera would be aiming at Aragorn, one camera would be aiming at Gimli or Legolas, and it was just a way of blasting through the footage.

Fran: It’s good, though. It suits the scene.

Peter: Yeah.

Fran: We re-colourised Legolas’s eyes in this scene.

Peter: In the computer.

Fran: Yes.

Peter: Because his contact lenses were…

Fran: He wasn’t wearing his contacts.

Peter: Oh, he wasn’t?

Fran: And he’s got brown eyes. His contact lenses – we had a problem with them.

Peter: Well I know there were some days where he’d actually scratched his eye, wasn’t there? He couldn’t wear his contact lenses for a few days. We had to end up changing the colour of his eyes quite a lot, in our computer.

Fran: The introduction of characters has always been… It’s always been a challenge and… Well it’s a drag, really, to have to do it, because you want to get on with the storytelling, and the notion of having to introduce someone before you can actually engage them with the plot is boring! [Peter and Fran laugh] So you have to attempt to introduce them whilst you are unfolding the plot, you know, and somehow –.

Peter: We had seven new characters to introduce in ‘The Two Towers’.

Fran: Yeah. It’s, kind of, like folding in the eggs while you put the sugar in and the milk, and you’re kind of mixing it all up together, and hopefully people haven’t really noticed that you’ve also served up a bunch of introductions while you have also involved them in, you know, the premise of some piece of action.

Peter: [interrupting] The scars of introducing twelve characters in ‘The Fellowship’ had barely healed!

Fran: I know!

Peter: [laughing] And we had a whole lot more to have to introduce! (beat) The shots of John Rhys-Davies playing Gimli in this scene were actually done on a completely different day: they were done about six months after the main scene was shot, because we didn’t have John there at all for the main drama photography, when Éomer and Aragorn and Legolas are talking – we had his small double Brett Beattie, and then, a lot later, we put John in the make up and put a few horses behind him and we just shot some close-ups of him, hundreds of miles away from where the original location was! (beat) I love the Scandinavian kind of design of the Rohan riders – that’s something that you get that strong impression from Tolkien’s book, that sort of culture, and I think Weta did a great job on the armour and the look of all the leatherwork and the embossing and the helmets and… it just makes… Because I think, if a culture like this is believable then you somehow – it makes the whole film believable. It’s a case of trying to remove that fantasy/science-fiction kind of artifice from the movie and give it a grounding and some sort of history. And it’s so important, because you want to make this stuff feel authentic – as authentic as possible.

Philippa: This scene had to do a lot, but actually wasn’t subjected to a lot of rewrites, was it? We… this one…

Peter: No.

Philippa: Maybe a couple…

Peter: No, it’s similar to this in the book, isn’t it? It’s –

Philippa: Yes, it’s very similar.

Peter: It’s one of those scenes in the book where you’re able to go in and adapt with relative ease by just taking the key moments [Philippa agrees] that Tolkien wrote about, and, sort of, shortening it down and changing the order of a few things, but it’s kind of there. I love that shot there [screen cap] of Viggo: his performance, but with that huge crowd of horses galloping down the hill behind him. (beat)

The Fate of Merry and Pippin >>

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.