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EE Commentary Transcripts
The Wolves of Isengard

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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, etcetera.

Peter: Yeah.

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 Deep.

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?

Fran: Yeah.

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…

Peter: Yeah.

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 power.

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]

Helm's Deep >>

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.