In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed May 07, 2014 10:54 pm

At least some part of our minds could go, "well, this is strange, but then Gandalf is a wizard. Perhaps that explains some of this."
I did not have that luxury when the dwarves were all crushed by the Great Goblin's corpse.

Even so, I find the sequence more enjoyable for reasons beyond those I've already mentioned. Gandalf's fall is Jackson's illustration of a blank left in the book. It is not entirely a blank (the "clasping" line Petty mentioned) but the point stands that it is not a departure, in any real sense, from the source material. We know Gandalf killed the damn thing in a battle that lasted for days. Is it really a stretch of the imagination for him to be able to sustain the buffeting we see in the film?

Now on the other hand, the Goblin-Town sequence in AUJ is largely fabricated. The book describes a series of rough, sometimes steep, tunnels through the mountain. There is no mention of scaffolding, a humongous central cave (and I mean hu-freakin'-mongous), or a scrotum-beard in the book. Furthermore, the series of events are clearly outlined in the story. The blank that exists for Bilbo as to where his friends have gone is later filled in when he overhears the company arguing amongst themselves.
The film's dialogue is changed, the events are changed, the number of combatants are changed, the fierceness of the dwarves is ramped up several magnitudes, and any sense of the reality, the fear, of a chase through dark tunnels inside a mountain from horrible creatures that wish to hurt you is lost, irretrievably.

Q.E.D  Cool

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed May 07, 2014 11:00 pm

This is how I see that seequence Eldo

1. Why does it exist at this point in the film? To open on a big spectacular action scene and there is no other contender at this point in the storyline.
2. What purpose does it serve? To remind us of Gandalf and foreshadow his return.
3. What does us tell us? Nothing at all.
4. Why does it contain so much implausibility? Because of point 1.

Forest you are confusing my points. I am talking not about the specific details of each scene but the similar sensibilities underpinning both.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed May 07, 2014 11:21 pm

Well, I may be confusing your points Petty, but I believe you may be missing the point.
You clearly asked, rhetorically, what the difference was between the stunts used during the fall of Gandalf in FotR, and those used during the Goblin-town chase in AUJ. I answered that rhetorical question in a previous post. I made the point that the emotional effect, and overall cinematic quality, plays a part.

In response:
1. Yes, you're right I think. It is good that we the film did not open with a battle between the Rohirrim and Orcs, that would be potentially confusing.
2. Yes. However, it also emphasizes the loss felt by Frodo of his best counselor and family friend. He has nightmares about Gandalf's fall in Moria. This is character growth. This is comparable to war veterans reliving of battles. Survivor's guilt might even come into it (the later comment about what Gandalf might have intended), who knows. The point is that it also makes the audience think about what Frodo is going through, which is really a good thing to be doing.
3. See the above.
4. Yes, agreed.


Last edited by Forest Shepherd on Wed May 07, 2014 11:23 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed May 07, 2014 11:23 pm

Points 2 and 3 dont require the flashback- simply having Frodo awake from sleep crying out Gandalf's name accomplishes exactly the same thing dramatically (and in fact is how I use it in my edit).

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed May 07, 2014 11:28 pm

However, the opening sequence works very well to draw in the audience. It performs multiple functions within a limited amount of time. It's good film-making.

Seeing what Frodo has been dreaming about Gandalf helps us relate to his nightmarish idea of what may have happened. (The idea that the action we see on-screen only occurs inside Frodo's head is probably not something any of us accept).

It introduces the audience to the ramped-up action that will occur throughout the film, it reminds us of Gandalf and possibly suggests his return, it shows Frodo's troubled state of mind, and it serves as a quick recap. I don't find it indulgent in the least. I find it substantial.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed May 07, 2014 11:53 pm

the opening sequence works very well to draw in the audience.- Forest

Agreed I said as much above. In fact I would go as far as to say ths is its primary purpose and concern.
It follows the format of blockbuster film perfectly.

"Seeing what Frodo has been dreaming about Gandalf helps us relate to his nightmarish idea of what may have happened."

I dont agree. What sells the notion it is nightmarish and what sells the notion Frodo's mind is troubled and scarred by the loss of Gandalf is his reaction. His manner of waking and his anguished cry of Gandalf's name.
It is not necessary to witness the dream to get Frodo's state of mind, or the subject of it across.

"It introduces the audience to the ramped-up action that will occur throughout the film"

No argument there, it is. Where you see 'ramped-up action' I see 'really stupid things' like shield surfing Legolamb or Aragorn and Gimli holding off entire platoons of Uruk-Hai by spinning round and round for a bit before being implausibly hauled to safety by Legolas.
So this is not a good thing for me.

"it reminds us of Gandalf and possibly suggests his return"

I would say it does more than remind it says dont forget Gandalf he is important and will back later. And it tells the viewer this because they are so slavishly sticking to film making convention that we also know this convention and read it as such.
If you are going to adapt Tolkien you need someone brave enough to do on film what Tolkien did on the page to conventions, which was to ignore them.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu May 08, 2014 12:25 am

Eldorion wrote:I'm no English major, but the only difference in Tolkien's description and the film's is that the Balrog was not constantly holding Gandalf against him.  And even then, I think that "ever he clutched me" is vague enough to allow some artistic interpretation.  If that means the characters fall apart briefly before coming back together to keep fighting ("hewing"), so be it.

Any action sequence can be "cheesy", but in this case, it's extremely close to Tolkien's own description.  And since the movies are a visual medium, of course they're going to show it.  Although I suppose some people might have preferred a static shot of Gandalf describing his epic battle with an ancient demon (I say "epic battle" because Gandalf himself, in the book, though it was amazing enough that people would have written songs about it if there had been any witnesses).

  I know that, you know that, why cant Petty understand that?  Shrugging 
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu May 08, 2014 12:32 am

Because saying its a visual medium is no excuse for the content. It no more justifies superman Gandalf than it does Legolas shield surfing.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 12:33 am

Well I knew that if I said "ramped-up action" it would trigger the memory of all the pathetic action films of the past. Obviously I do not enjoy the sillier action sequences of The Two Towers. I simply mean that the scale of Helm's Deep in terms of combatants and visual spread is much larger than anything in FotR.
Then again, the opening of FotR was more massive than anything we see in the rest of the series, so, there's that.

"Tolkien ignoring conventions."
Well, sure, but then again, Tolkien's work has become the convention for fantasy.

Yeah I really don't see that going anywhere. "Convention" is simply a word stuck in here to imply "film-making gimmicks." I don't see the beginning of Two Towers as a regular gimmick at all, and I don't think using convention to also include the literary standards of Tolkien's time is going to be leading to any kind of clearly understood debate.

What film examples are we thinking of when we say that Peter Jackson's use of altered-flashback to suggest future reappearance of a character is a tired gimmick?
Disregarding the fact that "reminds" and "says don't forget 'cause he is important" are the exact same thing, the function of the scene is multi-purposed and interesting, not simple-minded and slavish to convention.

It's a minor point, but Frodo's reaction to the dream only explains that it is disturbing and concerns Gandalf. The actual content is not described at all in the scene. In response to Sam's query as to what has disturbed him, Frodo simply replies, "Nothing."


Last edited by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 12:34 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 12:34 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Because saying its a visual medium is no excuse for the content. It no more justifies superman Gandalf than it does Legolas shield surfing.
Interesting you should bring up Superman Gandalf.  Razz 
http://pagelady.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/what-do-gandalf-and-superman-have-in-common/


Last edited by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 12:35 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu May 08, 2014 12:35 am

Forest Shepherd wrote:
Pettytyrant101 wrote:Die Hard comes to mind - Eldo

James Bond, Doctor Who, there are loads of places where over the top, impossible stunts are fine, and to be expected and are part of the expected experience of such films. But it is just as out of place in LotR's as it is in the goblin town sequence in TH. Whats the difference?
Really? Really?
Well let's see!
1. We care about Gandalf deeply. His fall at the end of FotR is played as a real loss. He is arguably the most widely liked character (outside of the female Viggo fanatic group) in all LotR movie fandom.
   As compared to: We know that all the dwarves, and the hobbit, and the wizard get out of Goblin-Town just fine. In addition, the comical approach to the entire situations removes any real threat against their lives.

2. Cinematically, the extended fall of Gandalf was edited better, did not feel utterly ridiculous, had zero laugh gags, and most importantly, was short and effective unlike its bloated counterpart.

3. The stunts in question are more believable in LotR. The manner in which the dwarves bounce about like rubber toys is silly and results in no physical harm to them. Gandalf effectively dies after his ordeal with the Balrog.

I mean c'mon, these are things YOU yourself have pointed out. Petty and crabbit is well and good. But acting in a stubborn irrational way by putting out flippant statements like yours above is nothing short of TORN behaviour!  Mad 

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
I would think its pretty obvious the opening of TT is a set up scene Eldo.
And future audiences will not have walked past anything to see it, or looked at the posters or probably anything else to do with its marketing at the time- they will just watch the films.
As I have argued before, I think the opening sequence effectively immerses the viewer back into the story after the break from the last film. I do not think it necessarily suggests that Gandalf lives, and I do not think it necessarily relates to anything that comes after (apart, of course, as a dream of Frodo's). This is similar to the prologue of RotK, which has no direct bearing on the events of the film, and is merely an opportunity to fill out more fully Gollum's character.


P.S.
On further meditation of the subject, I believe the comparison made above is comparable to contrasting Tennant's Doctor Who scene involving the destruction of the Racnoss children with Smith's "defiance of the Daleks" rooftop scene at the end of Time of the Doctor.
One is an emotionally charged scene which explores the Doctor's darker side. The other is a, supposedly, feel-good scene involving much noise and little actual content.

I agree with all your points.  Nod 
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu May 08, 2014 12:37 am

Forest- the viewer does not need to know the exact content of the dream- only that it was about Gandalf (thus reminding the viewer of that character in a more subtle fashion) and that Frodo's reaction to it was one of anguish and pain (indicating to the viewer is sense of pain and loss still for Gandalf and that he is no longer about to be Frodo's guide).

None of that requires us to see a dream in which Gandalf fights the Balrog. The content is irrelevant.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 12:51 am

Agreed! As a character study (the best kind of movies!), the film could explore Frodo's state of mind without actually showing any of the content in his dream.
But in defence of The Two Towers, the stunts involved in showing Gandalf's descent into the depths of Moria are utilized in a far superior way to similar stunts in the Goblin-town scene of AUJ.

Not only this, but I would argue that the stunts themselves are more believable in TTT than in AUJ.
Not only that, but the actual effect of opening the film with the falling sequence is better filmmaking, and a better adaptation of Tolkien, than the entirety of AUJ.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu May 08, 2014 12:58 am

Well yes, but comparing it to TH, thats not really saying much now is it?!

It is fine filmmaking- if you want to make a film that wont frighten anyone and make them feel immediately comfortable and in a film type they recognise.
I suppose I would just have liked to have seen someone more concerned with character study than PJ doing it.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 1:06 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
But it is just as out of place in LotR's as it is in the goblin town sequence in TH. Whats the difference?

Forest Shepherd wrote:
But in defence of The Two Towers, the stunts involved in showing Gandalf's descent into the depths of Moria are utilized in a far superior way to similar stunts in the Goblin-town scene of AUJ.

Not only this, but I would argue that the stunts themselves are more believable in TTT than in AUJ.
Not only that, but the actual effect of opening the film with the falling sequence is better filmmaking, and a better adaptation of Tolkien, than the entirety of AUJ.

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Well yes, but comparing it to TH, thats not really saying much now is it?!

It is fine filmmaking- if you want to make a film that wont frighten anyone and make them feel immediately comfortable and in a film type they recognise.
I suppose I would just have liked to have seen someone more concerned with character study than PJ doing it.

I rest my case.   Very Happy
Film fans: 1
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu May 08, 2014 1:08 am

ok ok let me settle this once and for all.  Rolling Eyes 

TTT is fantastic
TH is crap

 :prof: 
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 1:11 am

Weeell..
More like The Two Towers is very good, with some flaws.
The Hobbit is awful, with many dispiriting and infuriating elements.

The whole point of this discussion, however, was working out which film elements of The Two Towers actually were flaws.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu May 08, 2014 1:19 am

1. Aragorn snogging Brego the wonderhorse
2. Faramir being a dick for a bit
3. Legolas does a bungee backflip (but I forgive him)

everything else is top notch. nuff said.
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 1:22 am

Mrs Figg wrote:1. Aragorn snogging Brego the wonderhorse
2. Faramir being a dick for a bit
3. Legolas does a bungee backflip (but I forgive him)

everything else is top notch. nuff said.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves...
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Eldorion on Thu May 08, 2014 2:11 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Well yes, but comparing it to TH, thats not really saying much now is it?!

That's not the claim you made earlier, though, as Forest pointed out.

It is fine filmmaking- if you want to make a film that wont frighten anyone and make them feel immediately comfortable and in a film type they recognise.
I suppose I would just have liked to have seen someone more concerned with character study than PJ doing it.

I do actually understand where you're coming from, because I used to argue from a somewhat similar position myself.  But at this point I just don't see the point in holding the movie's blockbuster ambitions against it.  It's arguable that they never would have been able to make the film otherwise, because the cost involved in creating a film of this scale and detail meant that it had to be viable in the commercial mainstream to have a chance at making its budget back.  But beyond that, PJ set out to create a big action-adventure movie, not a character-driven drama.  Is his film shallower than the book?  Absolutely.  But I'm more interested in whether or not the film succeeded by the standards of the genre it was trying to operate in.

I know it's fashionable in certain film fan circles to shit on blockbusters -- and there are definitely a lot of really crappy ones that get churned out every year -- but there are good and bad action-adventure movies, just as there are in any other genres.  It's also the genre with perhaps the greatest worldwide popularity, which puts successful action-adventure blockbusters in a unique position to influence global popular culture.  You can see this with LOTR, which along with Harry Potter spawned a wave of sci-fi/fantasy novels aimed at young people, which has in turn spilled over into adult literature as these people grow up.  It's like Star Wars (which is another movie series with many, many flaws that can be picked apart by those who are so inclined) in its significance to people and affect on culture in general.  And within this realm, LOTR excels like very few film series other than Star Wars.

Furthermore, I would argue that LOTR has appealed to so many people because it is very well-made (much more so than most of its imitators), though obviously popularity is not always indicative of quality.
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by bungobaggins on Thu May 08, 2014 2:27 am

As much as most of us have been lauding the TT prologue, I will say this against it: I hate the "it was all a dream!" cliche. When Frodo wakes up and screams, "Gandalf!" it's just...ugh.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by halfwise on Thu May 08, 2014 2:38 am

I took it as one of Frodo's real dreams, like he had in Bombadil's house. As Ring Bearer he was more sensitive. Probably too subtle for the general audience though.

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by bungobaggins on Thu May 08, 2014 2:40 am

I think that would be too subtle for Peter Jackson. Rolling Eyes

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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Eldorion on Thu May 08, 2014 2:50 am

Yeah, I got the sense that it was something that was really happening and Frodo just happened to see it.  Then again, I made that assumption in part because the scene follows the description that, in the book, is given by Gandalf himself.  It's possible that PJ meant something different, but I think it works as a "real dream", like Halfy says.

It's nice to see that Frodo still thinks about the rest of the Fellowship, too, since they're otherwise totally isolated in TTT.
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by David H on Thu May 08, 2014 5:37 am

After this discussion I guess I've got to watch it.... Mad

I seem to remember watching it the first time in the theater and thinking the scene was a sort of a Buttercup-marries-Humperdink-BOOOOO!!!!! moment. As a dream that wasn't telegraphed as a dream so as to suck the audience in assuming its real, but then with the waking throwing everything into doubt. I kind of like that ambiguity.

For me, I thought the scene was particularly effective when watched a year after FotR, but when watched back to back, it's overkill. For watching back to back, Petty's continuous edit wins hands down IMO.

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