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 Ringdrotten on Thu May 08, 2014 11:49 am

"He is not even burnt!" - so now we know Gandalf's surname - Gandalf Targaryen Very Happy

Eldorion wrote:

If this thread convinces anyone to watch TTT again and give it another shot, then it will have served its purpose. Very Happy(Though I recall that Prisoner of Azkaban did not fare very well in the second chance you gave it. Razz)

I never disliked TTT, I just liked the other two better Smile

You mentioned, Petty, that Eldo being young when he watched the films played a part in this. He says it didn't, and I'd like to add that I don't necessarily thing age matters either. If anything, I'd say it plays a part in the opposite direction. When I saw the first Harry Potter film I remember being disappointed, because they hadn't included everything from the book, and it got worse with each film. When I was that young I simply couldn't understand why they made the changes they did, and it pissed me off. I hadn't read FotR before I watched it, but I read TT and RotK in time for those films to hit the theatres, and I remember having my issues with changes made there as well. Still, I won't deny that the action sequences, the badass swords and orcs and all that made me forgive a lot of things at 10-11 that I'd never have forgiven today, so in LotR, at least for my part, age played it's role.

But Like Eldo says, and I agree, it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. HP disappointed me because they shat all over everything that was good about the series, beginning from film 3 (in my unwavering opinion Wink ). As a child you are even more disappointed by changes, because you cannot understand why they were made, or why your favourite story is unrecognisable.

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

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu May 08, 2014 5:59 pm

I think bringing someones age into the question is somewhat patronizing anyway. Its like saying you were too young to really get it. I dont agree. I think younger people are even more savvy when it comes to blockbusters and are perfectly aware that theres a difference between ott spectacle in video games and a film, thats why they love LOTR and GOT because they both have character driven stories with spectacular action mingled in between.

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

Post by bungobaggins on Thu May 08, 2014 6:29 pm

I agree with Figgs and Ringo here, but there's something that bothering me.

I don't think being young when I first saw TTT mattered much (particularly because I had read the book and was aware of the changes, and wasn't too excited about all of them). But I would argue that me being young when I first saw the Phantom Menace probably made me unaware of how awful it was. So, I'm not sure where the line is.

One thing that I will argue for in favor of the entire trilogy is that they were released right when the public (mostly American public) needed them. I'm talking about right after 9/11, of course. Things were leading up to the invasion of Iraq when TTT was released, and I think it was important for a 13 year old kid to escape into a darkened theater for three hours to avoid the bombardment of fear and propaganda on television and radio. And I have to thank Peter Jackson for that.
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by azriel on Thu May 08, 2014 6:41 pm

I remember the slight delay here to show TTT as it coincided with 9/11, The title of the film actually made me sad as it was a reminder of the horror I saw on TV, I also remember thinking, "you couldnt make this up ?" how ironic ?........... the two towers ?? still has a icky connotation for me, but, it couldnt be altered could it ? The Two Towers IS the two towers, it was just SO unfortunate it coincided with a very bad time.

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

Post by David H on Thu May 08, 2014 9:25 pm

I just watched the TTT intro, both with and without commentary, and Petty's edit.  Several things of note:

1st: it seems clear to my eye that Gandalf isn't flying too his sword; he's summoning the sword to his hand as he falls.

2nd: although all of us know that Gandalf lives, and many of us knew even at our first viewing, the descent of the fiery ball into the lake seems clearly to be intended to symbolize a life snuffed out.  Rather than foreshadowing Gandalf's return, I think PJ intended to extinguish hope so that his resurrection would be all the more unexpected and miraculous. Not unlike in the books.

3rd: PJ and his cohorts agree that the original inspiration for this scene was a gaming card image of Gandalf's Fall with the Balrog by John Howe. It's interesting how many of his most dramatic scenes were first framed by other artists.

4th: Apparently the scene was storyboarded to continue after the fall to the lake, in which the Balrog is extinguished and becomes the "Slime Balrog". Fortunately for everybody they didn't have the money for the special effects for that.

5th: Petty's choice to remove the longer falling dream scene and include an abridged version at the beginning of Gandalf's tale, when he first appears to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, was effectively made for him by his greater decision to follow the books' chronology and structure. Frodo doesn't appear at all in Petty's book 3. When he's waking up from the dream at the intro to Book 4, Gandalf's survival is old news to the audience. The nightmare now serves the purpose of reminding the viewer that Sam and Frodo are cut off from all information of what's happening in the great wide world.  To show the fall that far after the fact would only be confusing.

6th: Both edits have a lot to recommend them. Both are good storytelling. Both stand far above anything we've seen in TH.  

7th: Petty needs to do an EE director's cut with crabbit commentary to accompany his edit.

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

Post by halfwise on Thu May 08, 2014 9:52 pm

Crabbit commentary!  cheers  (with a scottish brogue no less)

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

Post by bungobaggins on Thu May 08, 2014 9:55 pm

David H wrote:4th: Apparently the scene was storyboarded to continue after the fall to the lake, in which the Balrog is extinguished and becomes the "Slime Balrog". Fortunately for everybody they didn't have the money for the special effects for that.

I found my copy of "The Art of The Two Towers" under a pile of neglected books today. There are concept art sketches and paintings of the Slime Balrog, and we should all be thankful that they couldn't afford it. Nod
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by RA on Thu May 08, 2014 10:02 pm

The Hobbit in a nut shell...

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

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu May 08, 2014 10:08 pm

I remember being awed by watching the fall of Gandalf in the cinema all those years ago. LOTR was the very last film to actually make me feel that.  Sad  Nothing since has come anywhere near.

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

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu May 08, 2014 11:32 pm

What.
Figg you need to see better films.
I mean did you see Gravity? How is that kind of epicness not awe-inspiring!! (at least the first scene!)

Still, it was pretty darn cool. I loved the wide-angle shot of the underground lake especially.

I mean look at that. Simple and powerful, an excellent shot to include in the fall sequence:


I think, at the time, it felt like an obstruction or barrier had been removed, allowing for an expansion of what we could see on screen. Instead of showing only a small portion of the fight, or seeing an animated version of it, the audience could see these impossible views and actually believe them (in the context of the scene). This kind of shot looks far more realistic to me even now than, say, some of the cgi battle sequences. And it's far "cooler" as well. Gandalf versus a balrog has far more dramatic tension than a ridiculously-large looking ant-army exchanging penis-size measurements through their catapult volleys back and forth.
Did anyone else get really tired of seeing the soldiery of Gondor lining up for a particularly large chunk of stone to hit them, or to have the Nazgul's fell-beast drag them off a precipice?
In comparison, I have to say this Gandalf falling scene is great.

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

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri May 09, 2014 12:18 am

I did like Gravity a lot. I kept nagging Petty to go and watch it.  Mad  The special effects were vertigo vomit inducing specially that opening sequence. The music score was also excellent. But it was only 90 minutes long or something similar, its a showcase of technological wizardry imo , ok we get invested in Sandra making it, but its not LOTR.

I also loved the Nazgul doing their stuff, those Flying over Minas Tirith shots are AWESOMENESS made celluloid.  Razz 

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

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri May 09, 2014 12:35 am

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

You are still not differentiating between events and sensibilities.
The events in TH are truly awful, but its the sensibilities which are wrong in it and the LotR's- they are unchecked entirely and rampant in TH where they are less obvious and less consistent in LotR's. But the same issues underlie both films and these scenes.

"I think bringing someones age into the question is somewhat patronizing anyway"- Figg

"I don't think being young when I first saw TTT mattered much" Ringdrotten

I was not trying to patronise anyone, I was merely remembering back to my own youth and many of the things in film and TV I thought were the coolest greatest things ever, many of which now make me cringe or shake my head.
I think when you see something in your life does effect your view on it- I saw SW when I was about the age Eldo and others were for LotR's. And subjectively those films are no where near as good as my nostalgia tinged view of them makes them.
But I saw them at an age when they both meshed with the time but also sparked my childs imagination in a way which would not have occurred I doubt had I seen them first as an adult.

Dave- its very true to say that in my edit there is simply no need for that opening sequence at that point, and in fact it would not make any sense.

Forest- That shot is stunning, no denying that, which is why I preserved it in my edit, just its part of Gandalf's recap when he comes back rather than an overblown opening action scene. I did to it what I do to all PJ's OTT stuff, I edited the really stupid out of it and left the good.

And thats the annoying thing about PJ, there nearly always is some good to get too, its just surrounded by his inability to reign in his own pleasures.

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

Post by Eldorion on Fri May 09, 2014 3:58 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:You are still not differentiating between events and sensibilities.
The events in TH are truly awful, but its the sensibilities which are wrong in it and the LotR's- they are unchecked entirely and rampant in TH where they are less obvious and less consistent in LotR's. But the same issues underlie both films and these scenes.

It's not that I ignore the continuity of certain issues -- I've pointed out many times that one can track the gradual decline in PJ's self control throughout LOTR, King Kong, and The Hobbit -- but I consider the difference of degree (and, most likely, the size of the degree) to be more important than you do.  Plus The Hobbit has a lot of additional issues that make me less inclined to overlook some of the bad stuff.

I was not trying to patronise anyone, I was merely remembering back to my own youth and many of the things in film and TV I thought were the coolest greatest things ever, many of which now make me cringe or shake my head.
I think when you see something in your life does effect your view on it- I saw SW when I was about the age Eldo and others were for LotR's. And subjectively those films are no where near as good as my nostalgia tinged view of them makes them.
But I saw them at an age when they both meshed with the time but also sparked my childs imagination in a way which would not have occurred I doubt had I seen them first as an adult.

For my part, I don't think you were being patronizing.  You're certainly right about age and nostalgia playing a role in many things.  My love for Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean is largely grounded in nostalgia, and while I think I'd still enjoy those films if I saw them for the first time today (although it's hard to say since they played a big role in shaping my tastes, HP especially), I probably wouldn't be head-over-heels in love with them.  But the situation with the LOTR films is more complicated.  Even though I was young when I saw them, I had already read (and reread) all the books over the course of several years by then.  The books were, and still are, the main focus of my love and nostalgia for Middle-earth stuff, and I disliked many of the changes instinctively, well before I started discussing them online.

Since then, the most significant change within myself has been becoming less sensitive to the differences in the films as I've grown older.  Ringdrotten offered an interesting explanation for why this might have been the case for him as well.  I think part of what changed for me was my growing interest in film as an art form (partially spurred on by the LOTR films themselves) which made me consider it from a different perspective.  Having watched more book-to-film adaptations, especially older and/or classic films, made me realize how little I care about faithfulness in most any other context than Tolkien.  That, combined with a general mellowing out from the height of my teenager years, has made me take most of the changes a lot less seriously.
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri May 09, 2014 4:12 am

Having watched more book-to-film adaptations, especially older and/or classic films, made me realize how little I care about faithfulness in most any other context than Tolkien- Eldo

That is a fair point. My willingness to let a change go is definitely linked to the level of my personal enjoyment of the original.
Having said that though I believe PJ's scripts for LotR's, and it goes without saying for TH, are poor adaptations within the confines of book to screen adaptations.
In many respects my purist edits are a direct rebuke to the notion that how PJ made the films and used the story-lines available form the book is not in fact for the betterment of putting those stories on film, and that it was not his only option.

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

Post by Eldorion on Fri May 09, 2014 4:19 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:That is a fair point. My willingness to let a change go is definitely linked to the level of my personal enjoyment of the original.

Same here.

I've never bought the argument that it was necessary for PJ to make changes (refuting that notion was one of the big themes in the purist essays on my blog).  But what bothers me more (especially recently) is not so much the mere presence of changes but the fact that the new material is consistently shallower, more generic, and just generally worse.  Obviously PJ wasn't going to be able to capture the full breadth and depth of the story even in 12 hours of film, but there are so many changes that are just dumb and don't work, and could have been avoided so easily.

That said, there are some changes that I think do work.  Intercutting between the Frodo/Sam and everyone else plotlines, while something that Tolkien was very vocal about not wanting done, was really the only way to make the films.  Maybe if they'd done six individual films it could have worked, but that wasn't an available option at the time, so it's a moot point.  And, honestly, I think that PJ's Aragorn works on his own merits and is arguably more interesting than his book counterpart simply because he's the focus of the story.  The trade-off here is that the Hobbits are not kept front-and-center the whole time because Aragorn is basically the main character except for the very beginning and end of the trilogy. But this change was certainly not necessary and counts against PJ's faithfulness index.
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri May 09, 2014 4:41 am

I am in two minds about the intercutting. There are pro and cons.

Its not necessary to make 6 films to not intercut. My own edit can be made to fit within the running time of each of Pj's theatrical releases, so it is not an issue of time. More expectation I think.

When I first made my edits I intercut them too, I assumed that it would not work to split them as intercutting is the obvious method in film so you know what is going on on separate but connected story lines, it is in fact what intercutting is there for.

But having now split them off into the book structure I find that there is more than enough to keep the viewer going on the Aragorn/Merry/Pippin/Rohan/Gandalf/Minas Trith side which actually benefits in terms of narrative clarity and engagement by not cutting away to a separate story such as the  Frodo/Sam/Gollum one.

The other benefit is that it gives a better sense of journey particularly to the Frodo/Sam line, and a better sense of their isolation from the other events.

It also allow the books natural cliffhangers to survive- such as not knowing the fate of Frodo when the Mouth presents the mithril shirt.

The main downsides I would say are that when one line ends and it switches over to the other it creates the (artificial) impression the film is longer than it actually is.
And secondly there are one or two points where editorial it would be useful to cut away to somewhere else and come back, but that is really just an editorial problem.

It would have taken immense courage to have released the film not intercut, and I understand for that reason why they did not, but in terms of conveying the story and the effect of the two lines being separate and isolated with one not knowing what is happening on the other, not intercutting in my view works better overall.

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

Post by bungobaggins on Fri May 09, 2014 5:18 am

I really don't like Galadriel's mid-movie exposition. It feels like it was written for some bloke who walked into the theater halfway through the movie. :facepalm:
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri May 09, 2014 5:25 am

Yeah its awful, just a shoehorned in plot recap. Faramirs map is pretty bad too, where he mysteriously knows where everyone important to the plot is and what they are doing. It so obviously addresses the audience and not the characters.

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

Post by bungobaggins on Fri May 09, 2014 5:31 am

And they're back-to-back in the movie. So if you were dumb enough to not understand what Galadriel was saying, here's a visual aid, you stupid popcorn munching neanderthals...I mean film-goers.
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by David H on Fri May 09, 2014 5:31 am

Eldorion wrote:

 Intercutting between the Frodo/Sam and everyone else plotlines, while something that Tolkien was very vocal about not wanting done, was really the only way to make the films.

While I understand your point, I'm  much less inclined to agree with this after watching Petty's LotR edit.  It follows Tolkien's ordering of the storylines closely, and is still very watchable. In many ways it's more watchable than the PJ EE's. Really! Nod

Edit: in case my point wasn't clear, I agree that the original theatrical edit had some extra requirements( such as time restrictions and the need to stand alone for the 12 months between parts) that may have made it more desirable to cut back and forth.

But the EE's, which were marketed for home viewing (with a pause button) by people who overwhelmingly had already seen the film, had no such restrictions, and they knew it. Look at all the stuff they added!

I'd argue that while the rapid intercutting of storylines makes a certain amount of sense in a theatrical film, in a DVD director's cut a more linear story is probably more effective. Again, I refer you to Petty's edit.

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

Post by Ringdrotten on Fri May 09, 2014 11:30 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:

"I don't think being young when I first saw TTT mattered much" Ringdrotten

I was not trying to patronise anyone

I think that phrase belongs to Eldo Smile But it could just as well have been me who said it. Like I said, I think age mattered when I saw TT (I was 10, I think), so there were things I didn't give two thoughts that I would've seen differently today. Harry Potter, on the other hand, was a complete disappointment from the third film for reasons I still hate them for today, so I don't quite understand it myself. And I never thought you meant to be patronising in any way, Petty, sorry if it came across as if I did.

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

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri May 09, 2014 6:19 pm

No worries Ringdrotten, it was not you who thought it was patronising of me to bring up the age others saw it at.

As I said there is plenty of stuff I rated highly at 10 that I do not now. But there is still some stuff that holds up too.

With SW so much of it was the time it happened at- not just my age but the wider moment in time. It was a lot of firsts to see on screen, really unlike anything else that had been before it in terms of visuals.
And like LotR's it had wider cultural resonance, words from it passed into common usage and the wider society. It was copied, parodied, found its way into comedy routines and news bulletins alike.
It felt part of something bigger.

Of course if I could see the films now for the first time I am sure I would still enjoy the invention and world building, but it would be stripped of all that context that surrounded it and influenced my view of it at the time.

I imagine with LotR's being a similar modern cinema phenomenon that it has much the same effect tagged to it.
And I found with SW that it took some considerable amount of time passing before I began to really separate out the film from the memory of the film.

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

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri May 09, 2014 10:25 pm

''No worries Ringdrotten, it was not you who thought it was patronising of me to bring up the age others saw it at''. Petty

That was me. It wasnt meant solely at Petty but generally. I still think it does younger people a disservice mentioning their age though. I remember watching films and reading books as a teenager which have become seered into my imagination or become part of who I am now, they had a great impact on me, sometimes things you see as a very young person are more vivid and clear than as an adult. Sometimes extreme youth coincides with clearer perceptions uncluttered by all that cynical world weary junk in an older persons head.

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

Post by Eldorion on Sat May 10, 2014 4:47 am

bungobaggins wrote:I really don't like Galadriel's mid-movie exposition. It feels like it was written for some bloke who walked into the theater halfway through the movie. :facepalm:

I don't think it was in there for exposition. In the commentary, PJ and Co. mention that in the earlier version of TTT where Arwen goes to Helm's Deep, she and Elrond actually traveled to Lorien and talked to Galadriel there. The telepathic conversation between Elrond and Galadriel is the legacy of that and is intended to explain the presence of Elves at Helm's Deep later in the movie. It's pretty clumsily done -- somehow the Elves that Elrond sends with tidings are actually from Lorien -- but that was it's intended purpose.

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Yeah its awful, just a shoehorned in plot recap. Faramirs map is pretty bad too, where he mysteriously knows where everyone important to the plot is and what they are doing. It so obviously addresses the audience and not the characters.

Considering the number of people (myself included) who had to consult the maps in the back of the book frequently while reading it, I don't see how showing a map for the benefit of the movie audience is at all unreasonable.
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Re: In defense of The Two Towers (which is your favorite?)

Post by Eldorion on Sat May 10, 2014 4:48 am

BTW, Petty and Dave, I'm not trying to ignore your guys' posts about the intercutting thing, I'm too tired to write a response to that right now so I'll have to revisit it tomorrow. Hopefully this post will help remind me. Razz
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