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EE Commentary Transcripts
Isengard Unleashed

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<< Helm's Deep

Peter (cont.): 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 this quarry.

Fran: It does get quite hazardous on windy days.

Peter: The polystyrene?

Fran: Mmm.

Peter: Yeah, yeah. Sometimes we have had sets just blow apart: big sheets of polystyrene suddenly come flying through the air.

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Peter: – so potent, and it’s useful to dip into those historical references to… just to press buttons in people.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)

The Grace of the Valar >>

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.