|Thursday, December 27, 2001
03:59 - Did You Notice?
Just got back from seeing LotR again with Lance. It was my second time through, and his third. I expect I'll see it at least once more before I'm through.
Warning: Don't read further if you're unwilling to read LotR spoilers.
This time through I was able to concentrate more on the little details they put in, rather than on how well the plot and the adaptation and the casting worked. Things that stuck out at me:
- The fireworks. Not just the ones mentioned in the book, but the butterfles ("There they go!") and the things shooting out of the cart for the kids' benefit... they're perfect encapsulations of Gandalf's character, just like his first line in the movie. He can play birthday-party conjurer just as easily as Balrog-killer. Perfect.
- Likewise, the smoke-rings scene was gold.
- The scarecrow in the fields (at the heretofore limit of Sam's travels in the Shire), covered with crows.
- Every little word is pronounced properly, even down to obscurities like crébain.
- The fight scene with the cave troll has no music for most of its length. Just goes to show that John Williams isn't the only one who knows how to convey a stress scene atmosphere, and cacophonic music isn't the only way to do it.
- Every bit of text in the movie, whether on parchment or maps or signs, has the Tengwar diacritic marks over the English vowels. They're even carved and painted into the Prancing Pony sign.
- The Elven rings were given to Galadriel, Círdan, and Gil-galad... which means all three had to be cast, for that one scene at least.
- Gandalf is not vulnerable to the strength of a beautifully CG Balrog, but he is vulnerable to a whip made of negative scratches.
- Aragorn puts on Boromir's arm-guards after his death scene. No sense wasting good armor.
- After Lórien, the Ring gets put on a new chain with a hook attachment for easy access.
- Galadriel's temptation scene should have been handled in the same subtle but effective way that Gandalf's threatening of Bilbo at the beginning was handled. Instead of cranking up the audio-visual funkiness, they should have let the actress handle it all in-character. It would have worked.
- Legolas can run light-footed over the surface of the snow while everyone else slogs through it waist-deep.
- The camera swoop past Saruman as he calls down the weather onto the Fellowship on Caradhras is a triumph.
- The knife-edge straight lines criss-crossing the smooth top surface of Orthanc... it makes the tower look amazingly old and mysterious.
- Saruman's staff is designed to look just like Orthanc.
- Gandalf being spun around on his shoulder semi-levitated by Saruman just before being flung up onto the roof-- it looks so weird, but so cool.
- How the hell does Hugo Weaving do that thing with his eyebrows?
- When Isildur picks up the Ring, it shrinks from Sauron-sized to Isildur-sized right in his hand.
- The movie doesn't make an explicit big deal about how important it is that Bilbo gives up the Ring of his own free will; but it conveys the tension visually and musically, by having Gandalf move between Bilbo and the door as soon as he's outside, and by playing up the stress of the moment when Gandalf invites Frodo to put the Ring in the envelope (without the dialogue betraying the scene's purpose at all).
- In Rivendell, Ian Holm does a flawless job of being old. He's got the perfect inflection in his voice, the little quiverings and uncertain movements... unbelievable. Especially when earlier in the movie he has to be vibrant and energetic. But then Ian Holm has been doing LotR performances longer than anyone else in the cast, so he's bound to have it deep down inside...
More will probably follow later after I see it yet again.