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PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 10:57 pm 
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There's something strange about Peter Jackson's treatment of outdoor adventure in LOTR and AUJ, and I wonder if there's any possibility that this will be any different in DoS.

To explain. As a lover of the outdoors, and outdoor adventure films, ranging from westerns to war films set in the wilderness, I have always been thrilled by the joy and challenges that the "wild" offers, in terms of adventure (which I define to be a mixture of beauty, wonder and danger).

In westerns and other outdoor adventure films, we often see thrilling scenes of trying to get cattle across a river, fording a rushing river, encountering wild animals at night (think: the Grey), keeping away from a waterfall or sharp rocks among rapids, dangerous rock-climbing, calming a horse gone mad, hunting for food, running out of water, etc. This is all dramatic stuff that works really well on screen.

However, in the LOTR films, and in AUJ, those bits from the books that involved such types of adventure were either omitted, sanitized (turned into simply walking through postcard landscapes rather than engaging with it), or most frequently, augmented by other tensions, usually involving being attacked by orcs, etc. This is strange when you consider PJ's tendency to amplify things in other areas! Why no amplified natural hazards?

A few examples:

In the Hobbit book, the dwarves' ponies get spooked, rush into the river, and we get a very dramatic scene of them getting the ponies out. Then we learn that they lost all of their provisions, and will starve if they don't find some food. Cue the troll scene. Very tense, consequential and cinematic stuff. In the film, the dwarves are having a leisurely picnic. Full stop. And instead of using natural hazards to drive the action later on, PJ and company follows the troll scene up with an invented orc chase. The question here: why defuse the tension by omitting the natural hazards (and very cinematic) dangers that the dwarves experience in the books (losing their ponies and food), and then just add another orc chase? To me, this is baffling.

Another few examples. In the Hobbit book, we have a harrowing trip through the Misty Mountains in a storm, which could have lended itself to some thrilling cinema, and could have been augmented with additional natural hazards. Perhaps the dwarves could have been forced to create a rope bridge, ala the elves in Lórien, to get across a chasm, and this gives us an opportunity to see a frightened Bilbo make some progress? Etc. Instead, PJ has the dwarves standing on the knees of massive CGI giants, and going for a ride...

In book FOTR, there is a hint that Saruman could be behind the inclement weather in Caradhras, but it is generally presented as the Fellowship being defeated by the mountains, and by the weather. In the films, it is obviously Saruman directing the weather. In the book, we have a night attack from wolves/wargs, not explicitly driven by Saruman or Sauron. In the film, this is omitted.

In book FOTR, we get a funny and thrilling scene of the Fellowship crossing a river on a makeshift rope bridge to get into Lórien. Could be very cinematic, especially if PJ increased the height of the riverbanks, and would have created a fun way of doing some more character development. Scene not in the movie.

In book FOTR, we have the Fellowship almost founder among the rocks of the Anduin, which is later augmented by arrow-shots from orcs along the banks. Scene not in the movie.

In book TTT, we have some very harrowing moments in the Emyn Muil, as Frodo falls, the darkness arrives, and a storm is on the horizon. In the film, that moment is reduced to a quick slip (and only in the EE).

And from what we know about barrels out of bond in DoS, the deliciously cinematic danger of flying aimlessly down a river in barrels (would have forgiven PJ for adding more rapids and waterfalls, and even keeping the tops off the barrels) is augmented by elves firing arrows at them, orcs trying to attack them (and elves), and the dwarves using weapons to deter the orcs, and possibly the elves. In other words, the natural hazards were not enough...

In short, PJ seems to have either removed all scenes of "outdoor hazards and adventure" entirely, and/or replaced them with hazards emanating from orcish or wizardy villains, which IMO often diminishes the impact of those dangers significantly.

Given the cinematic and adventure-enhancing potential of natural outdoor hazards, why is it that the film-makers either omit them, sanitize them, or feel the need to add monster hazard after monster hazard?

And is there any chance that we'll see something different in DoS? Perhaps some straight-up outdoor adventure perils in Mirkwood and on the slopes of the Lonely Mountain? Personally, I think this may be one of the less obvious reasons why Middle Earth on film doesn't seem as real as it could.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:04 pm 
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Is there any reason why you believe that a pattern that has continued throughout the first four films would not continue in the fifth?

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:42 pm 
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I'm just not sure if it's a conscious pattern, or just a function of how the scripts have happened to turn out thus far. I don't think it's beyond PJ and company to give us some straight, un-connected to Sauron natural obstacles, but who knows...As you imply, the probability does seem low.

But does this bother anyone else? I wasn't exactly sure until now, but I think it is one of my primary issues with the films.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:55 pm 
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My guess is that the writers believe "dangers with a face" are more compelling than the dangers of a raw, natural world. While I don't think he's necessarily right, I also don't think I have much of a problem with that. (In theory, at least; some of the execution is a different matter.)

He did leave at least leave Mordor largely as a "natural" danger, though.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:12 pm 
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I often wondered if nobody in Middle-earth had a fear of heights.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:13 pm 
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I suppose we did get the Midgewater Marshes in the FotR EE...

http://youtu.be/fO9vymA8-vo

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:17 pm 
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Haha! That's a great observation. Especially since there are so many thousand-foot walkways with no handrails.

In terms of 'dangers with a face' I think they are wrong. Some of the most crippling fears - such as falling to your death from a great height - are faceless.

Honestly, I think more faceless dangers (and fears) would have made all of these films more compelling and real. Especially AUJ.

But agreed on Mordor, and IMO, it was one of the most compelling sequences across the four films. Seeing Frodo parched, and squeezing a last drop of water out of his leather canteen, made me believe that Mordor, and the vast distance of Gorgoroth, were real. Otherwise it would have just been a depressing postcard!


Last edited by Passdagas the Brown on Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:35 pm 
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Bungee jumping as we know it was invented in NZ. I think they simply don't understand the concept of the natural world being scary. ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:26 pm 
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I think they got spiders right.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:47 pm 
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axordil wrote:
Bungee jumping as we know it was invented in NZ. I think they simply don't understand the concept of the natural world being scary. ;)


Good point. :)

Or even the concept of the natural world being at all challenging!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:31 am 
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The barrel scene should certainly incorporate an aspect of the challenge of the natural world. Despite the added ramping up with the orcs and all.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:19 am 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
The barrel scene should certainly incorporate an aspect of the challenge of the natural world. Despite the added ramping up with the orcs and all.


But that's a part of the question. Instead of focusing on making the natural obstacle as real and challenging as possible, PJ adds an orc and elf chase (and gives the dwarves weapons) thus taking the attention away from the simple and more believable peril of the river itself. Apart from feeling a need to tie every danger back to the main villains, I do not understand why they feel this makes for better cinema...


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:48 am 
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Yup.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:26 am 
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I wonder if this is stems from the same decision I've grumbled about since first photos of Thorin and the crew appeared. Tokien's dwarves are as unprepared as Bilbo and are cold, hungry marches are a serious hardship to them. PJ's dwarves are rough, tough, armed bunch, and it takes a platoon of orcs to give them trouble.

That said, losing their food in the flood could have still worked. Possibly it was concern for the horses that caused its omission?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:55 am 
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Frelga wrote:
I wonder if this is stems from the same decision I've grumbled about since first photos of Thorin and the crew appeared. Tokien's dwarves are as unprepared as Bilbo and are cold, hungry marches are a serious hardship to them. PJ's dwarves are rough, tough, armed bunch, and it takes a platoon of orcs to give them trouble.

That said, losing their food in the flood could have still worked. Possibly it was concern for the horses that caused its omission?


With so many issues in AUJ being resolved via CGI, I am sure they could have drowned a few digital horses. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:11 pm 
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Quote:
Tokien's dwarves are as unprepared as Bilbo and are cold, hungry marches are a serious hardship to them.


In other words, they're not Naugrim. They're dwarves from "The Hobbit."

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:13 pm 
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axordil wrote:
Quote:
Tokien's dwarves are as unprepared as Bilbo and are cold, hungry marches are a serious hardship to them.


In other words, they're not Naugrim. They're dwarves from "The Hobbit."


Yes. Or, dwarves who had grown soft in the Blue Mountains, and the more placid lands of western Eriador. A bit hobbitier than the Sil's Naugrim, to be sure...


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:06 pm 
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I always figured that the dwarves from the hobbit were so different from the Naugrim in Sil, because of Bilbo's perspective. I always assumed that the hobbit was told from Bilbo's perspective, like he would have told to the Shire children, injecting his own humor and perhaps "making up" somethings to spice it up. As a result the dwarves end up appearing more bumbling and cartoonish than they really were to make himself (Bilbo) the real hero. It may sound silly I guess.

But in reality, the Naugrim and the hobbit-dwarves are so worlds apart in character that they don't appear to be from the same Middle-earth race at all.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:15 pm 
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Natural hazards.

I think PJ did the spiders really well. And we did get Old Man Willow in TTT EE. And the washing of Isengard by the breaking of the dam, was brilliant in expressing the true might of nature.

I think why the films really don't focus on the natural hazards and associate them with the villain is to not make them seen unnecessary to the plot.

Just pure natural hazards add nothing to the story and when even removed the film works fine. Which, imo, is loose film-making. By associating them to the main antagonist, we get to keep the scene from the book which otherwise should be omitted and also do not make it unnecessary for the plot.

A good example is the Stone-giants from AUJ. I remember from the Critical reviews, that besides calling it over-the-top, another recurring comment was how it didn't add to the story. In a way, it is an example of the dwarves v/s the pure nature, but it adds nothing to the story besides eye-popping SFX. You can cut it and the film flows fine. And hence the mixed reaction to it.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:54 pm 
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Completely disagree with that.

Had the "Over hill" sequence been kept to a struggle to cross the mountains, the purpose of it, in terms of the story, is that they have to traverse a lot of natural obstacles in order to get to the Lonely Mountain! That's not irrelevant to the plot (in fact, it's central), and I think critics would have accepted it as a reasonable (and realistic) part of the journey.

I think the critics have a problem with the scene because it shows a preposterously implausible rollercoaster ride/attack by actual beings who are disconnected from the main story. That enhances the irrelevance of it.


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