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 Post subject: Lord of the Rings Reboot
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:41 am 
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At some point, the Lord of the Rings will be adapted again for the big screen. So why not think about how that might be done?

Two ideas to start us off, focused primarily on ways to do something new (in the context of audiences having already seen PJ's LOTR and TH trilogies). This is not a disciplined script-writing thread, however. It's simply a place to brainstorm about ideas for a new adaptation.

1. Beginning. Title card: The Lord of the Rings. Instead of a prologue describing the history of the Ring (we'll get there later in Bag End), we begin with a scene of a dark-cloaked rider on a black horse. He is riding his horse at a slow walk along dry, cracked ground. We follow behind him as he emerges from a dark gate, under the searing heat of the sun. We follow him through a montage of different landscapes. First a barren, rocky region, then a flat plain of tall grasses, then a wooded area, then along a river and around a lake with a town built upon it, and past a city on a hill at night, lit only by a few fires. Finally, we settle on one place. Seemingly, the destination of this journey. The moon's full, and it lights a dim path leading up the stony foothills of a tall and lonely mountain. The figure in the dark cloak, still on its horse, emerges from behind the camera, and gallops up the path. No music. Just the sound of a winter wind whistling, and the clop, clop, clop of the horse. The horse makes its way up and up, until it comes to a long, flat plain with a river coursing through it. There is a fog. But through it, the rider can make out a great gate, carved into the mountainside. It looms ahead of him. The silhouette of a small, armored and helmeted guard emerges from the fog, holding a spear.

"Who approaches?" the armored guard shouts, unafraid.

"I come to see your Lord," hisses the rider. And it's a voice to make the blood run cold.

The armored guard backs away into the fog, turns, and runs towards the gate.

Silence for about 10 seconds or so.

The gate slowly opens, and a small, broad, long-bearded and richly-dressed man walks along the path towards the rider, with a retinue behind him. Clearly, he is the Lord of this place. We see him walk forward in profile, watching him and his retinue from the middle distance. He halts about twenty feet from the rider, also in profile atop his horse.

Silence.

The bearded Lord breaks the silence. "Dain Ironfoot...At your service."

Silence.

Dain speaks up again. "Who are you, cloak-wearer? Why do you come to our gate under cover of darkness?"

An unsettling voice responds. It sounds distant, as if coming from deep underground. "I bring word from the Lord Sauron the Great to Lord Dain Ironfoot, King Under the Mountain."

"What word?" responds Dain, uneasily. "And what is your name?"

"The Lord Sauron wishes for your friendship. Rings he would give for it, such as he gave of old. In return, the Lord Sauron asks a small thing. News of halflings. What they are, and where they might be found. For Sauron knows that one of these was known to you on a time."

Dain's face is a mask, though his eyes betray him. He is troubled. His eyes challenge the messenger.

Rider: ‘‘This one you knew is a thief. He stole a ring that belongs to Lord Sauron. It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will. Find it, and three rings that the Dwarf-sires possessed of old shall be returned to you, and the realm of Moria shall be yours for ever. Find only news of the thief, whether he still lives and where, and you shall have great reward and lasting friendship from the Lord. Refuse, and things will not seem so well.’’

His voice ends with a hiss, and all in Dain Ironfoot's retinue shudder.

‘‘I must consider this message and what it means,’’ responds Dain.

‘‘Consider well, but not too long."

‘‘The time of my thought is my own to spend," Dain says proudly, but with an unmistakeable edge of fear in his voice.

‘‘For the present,’’ replies the dark rider, and gallops off into the darkness.

Cut to an exterior landscape shot of the Shire, and the "Fellowship of the Ring" title card. A long, slow tracking shot. The camera passes over the rolling hills, across the water, and over the hill. It settles onto the lane leading up to Bag End, and then passes over Bagshot row and settles in on a garden. A gardener is hard at work digging up potatoes. We stay with him for a bit, watching as he yanks them from the ground. The camera lingers on his face for a while, as he works. The camera then pulls up a bit and notices a small, old man, Bilbo Baggins, sitting on a chair, watching the gardener.

"I'm afraid, Sam, that we'll need more than what's in my garden. Half the Shire will be coming!" He waves a handful of envelopes in the air. As he says this, he looks down with a smile. The camera cuts to a closeup of Bilbo. He whispers to himself: "And they'll be demanding a lot more than potatoes after I've had my little joke..."

The camera closes in on his lap, and onto his open hand. On his palm sits a pale golden ring. He closes his hand into a fist, and walks into his house to prepare some tea.

There is an ominous knock at the door.

2. Main character: Sam is the main character. We even hear Gandalf tell Frodo about the origin of the Ring (after the test in the fire reveals the elvish script), and the need to leave the Shire, from Sam's perspective outside the window. It will not always be possible to view scenes from Sam's perspective, but he will definitely be perceived as the main character, with Frodo a close second. Sam is the "eyes of the audience," much as Bilbo was in the Hobbit. Frodo is far more of a cipher, though his character will still be very developed.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:11 am 
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I like the beginning very much. :) This will, of course, take only a few minutes of screen time. Does this mean, though, that you intend to reintroduce Dain at some point? (Why else go to the bother and expense of casting him? ;))

Title card: does this first episode also have a name? It needs one. ;)

What's the reasoning behind making Sam the main character? Why would Sam's POV be any more dramatic than Frodo's? Tolkien of course uses multi-perspective throughout the narrative, as do the only two adaptations I take any notice of (Brian Sibley/Michael Bakewell's and Peter Jackson's) but Frodo remains the principal hobbit POV until the latter stages of RotK. I don't see the point of changing this, dramatically and thematically, because Frodo is the Ring-bearer and the Hobbit who will have the most intense relationship with the Ring. You need to beef Frodo up, not fade him out. (Enough people in the fandom already regard Frodo as a cipher. Sigh.) Sam's strength as a character will become plain soon enough.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:40 pm 
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I didn't include it in the write-up, but Gloin and Gimli could be part of Dain's retinue that confronts the Black Rider - and they are then, of course, reintroduced at the Council. But even if that's not the case, the point of the scene is not to set up a main character. It is to immediately establish that there's a clearly powerful and frightening entity (Sauron) whose mere messengers inspire fear among great kings (in this case, a dwarf king in a great fortress under a mountain), that clearly places a very high priority on finding a "hobbit," and taking his ring. For those unfamiliar with the story, this gives enough information, IMO, to establish the wider world and context we're in, before introducing the hobbits, and to create both tension about this "Ring" from the start (as does the ominous Ring poem at the start of the book), and to economically immerse the reader in this strange world.

Of course, there's a timeline issue with showing this scene first, as it shouldn't happen until, IIRC, after Gandalf has almost completed his research on the Ring. But we don't have to assume that the opening scene happens before the cut to the Shire.

On Frodo, don't get me wrong. To me, Frodo is the main protagonist and I most identify with him. However, that's been done. I think it would be creatively fascinating to place Sam's journey (both the physical journey and character journey) at the center of the story. In some ways, he comes the farthest. Frodo was already a rather gregarious and mature hobbit at the start, while Sam starts off as a much more parochial individual, but with a hidden desire for adventure (perhaps more akin to Bilbo in the Hobbit, in a way). Three books later, he is bearing the Ring himself (rather than carrying it from the start), and saving Frodo's life. His journey from gardener to Ringbearer isn't necessarily more dynamic than Frodo's journey from curious hobbit to Ringbearer, but it does allow for an arc that is longer and perhaps more satisfying on a cinematic level. In short, Frodo starts off as a pretty mature hobbit carrying the Ring, and essentially gets worn down throughout the three books until he has no will of his own left. Sam, on the other hand, matures by leaps and bounds across the story, and becomes a Ringbearer and salvation of the quest only near the end of the third film (or sixth film, if we split this up by each "Book.") And, IMO, watching Frodo's deterioration from Sam's POV could be very effective.

This doesn't mean we wouldn't need the Frodo POV from time to time in order to tell key parts of the story in a compelling way. But for the most part, the events of the journey would be seen from Sam's perspective.

Without this alternative approach, even I would find it hard to justify the remake (outside purely artistic grounds). This offers up the potential for numerous creative differences.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:53 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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That swoony Frodo fangirl wrote:
What's the reasoning behind making Sam the main character?



Because everyone knows Sam is the swooniest! :love:

- That swoony Samwise fanboy


( ;) )

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:57 pm 
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Which is why, of course, Sam will be played by Orlando Bloom.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:15 pm 
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Oy!

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:28 pm 
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:D

PtB - it's a very strong opening, a really good introduction to the tale. It tells the audience a lot at once, in an immediate and dramatic way. Brilliant! :)

I get where you're coming from re: Sam. Sam has the greatest character development out of all the hobbits, including Bilbo. But even the canonical perspective isn't Frodo-dominated: we get to see the perspectives of the other hobbits too, and other members of the Fellowship, especially when Tolkien starts splitting the action up in TTT. My concern is that a Sam-centric perspective would be too narrow, and hem the drama in too much. Even the journey of my beloved Frodo serves the story - not the other way round. Tolkien is writing an epic saga, not a 19th century novel in which the moral and spiritual development of Mr Samwise Gamgee - or Mr Frodo Baggins - is the central thread. ;) Of course the character arcs of both Frodo and Sam are vital parts of the story! I wouldn't be without them. But I would prefer, for dramatisation purposes, the multi-perspective employed frequently by Tolkien ... and George R.R. Martin. ;)

[Another reason is that to date no definitive portrayal of Frodo has been achieved - unlike Gandalf and Sam. (Although the guy who played him in the LotR musical was very good!) And to me the definitive Samwise is Bill Nighy's. An auditory performance, because Nighy is the least hobbit-like guy you ever saw. :D But his performance as Sam in the BBC radio drama of 1981 is perfection. :love: Ian Holm's Frodo is awesome ... but sounds too old for my personal preference. :) He was, of course, a superb older Bilbo.]

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:32 pm 
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I too like the idea of dramatizing the visit of the Black Riders to Erebor, which we normally first learn about at the Council of Elrond. Were you inspired somewhat by the 1981 BBC Radio adaptation, at all, PtB? I remember how effective Sibley's decision was to inter-cut the Dwarves story with dialogue from the messenger of Mordor. The atmosphere it generates works well and gives an indication as to how they must have felt faced with such a messenger making a seemingly inoffensive request.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 7:46 pm 
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Pearl,

I think we agree. In order to tell the story in full, there would need to be varying POVs. My suggestion is to merely put Sam in a more prominent position in the narrative than either Tolkien or PJ did. This would refresh the story for audiences in some very interesting ways, including the possibility of adding a layer of character work regarding Sam's different station in life (vis-a-vis Frodo, Bilbo and the other characters who are privy to the councils of the wise). But I agree. Sometimes we will be following the other hobbits, and beginning with TTT, I would suggest following the same split that Tolkien and Jackson followed. But I'd like for it to be quite clear that Sam is driving the heart of the tale. Even if that's not my personal interpretation of the books! Especially in the scenes with just him and Frodo, I'd like for the perspective to rest with Sam. There are really infinite ways to adapt this story, and I think it would be refreshing to try something very different with the primary protagonists.

Elen,

It has been a very long time since I listened to the BBC adaptation, and I frankly do not remember the scene. I was inspired, I believe, by Gloin's account at the Council. I have felt for the longest time that the Council of Elrond, in PJ's FOTR, would have been greatly improved by a visual dramatization of Gimli's/ Gloin's and Legolas' stories. Not just to make that scene better, but to flesh out the backgrounds of these new members of the Fellowship. But I also recognize the difficulty of packing so much information into that scene. So I thought of using the visit of Sauron's emissary to Dain as an economical and effective prologue for the whole story, while also foreshadowing the need for representatives of the broader array of races across Middle Earth to combat the threat. When Gloin and Gimli appear in Rivendell, and when Gimli joins the Fellowship, it will feel far less out of the blue (and abrupt) than in PJ's FOTR. I mean, his and Legolas' decisions to join the quest so quickly have a very, very thin motivation in PJ's world, and it has always bothered me.

I suppose I'm saying that I'm motivated both by Tolkien's successes, and PJ's failures. :)

And a mind for cinema.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 2:36 am 
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I really want to read more of that, PtB! That said, I think you should clarify the length of "your" adaptation. Is it a trilogy like Peter Jackson's version? Is it a hexalogy? Or could it be a premium TV series with several seasons. Personally I would be most interested in the latter, though I could also see your aforementioned scene working in a hexalogy. I am not too sure about a trilogy.

In short: Write me a TV series worthy of Mordor!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 3:34 am 
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Beutlin, take a look at the last five threads in this forum.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:28 pm 
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nice ideas on the LOTR reboot PtB. Honestly they need to start with the Hobbit though. Introduce that story and then move on to LOTR. Once it gets to LOTR honestly I think each book should be 2 films, released 6 months apart. Not too hard since they are all filmed together, could always finish the first 2 which would then give time to catch up on post production. Just my 2 cents on it though, if anything gets rebooted start with the Hobbit and trim all the bloat and made up nonsense out and tell the story that Tolkien wrote in a more mature fashion without giving away details in LOTR. It's easy enough. I'm working on a second draft of a Hobbit script now that includes all the info from the appendices and the story in the Hobbit book while keeping to the actual story Tolkien wrote. Wrote the first draft on my own starting well before TBOFA came out and the second draft I am working with a published author revising a few things and HOPE to have a final draft later this year.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:42 pm 
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sinister71 wrote:
Once it gets to LOTR honestly I think each book should be 2 films, released 6 months apart.


So 12 films (since there are six books in LotR)?

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