The Tolkien Professor podcast is a series of lectures, discussions, and seminars on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien by Corey Olsen, Assistant Professor of English at Washington College in Maryland. Find me on Facebook at "The Tolkien Professor," on Twitter at @tolkienprof, or at my website at www.tolkienprofessor.com. I have also begun a grand new venture: the Mythgard Institute, offering courses on Tolkien studies for credit at the MA level, or just for fun! Join us at www.mythgard.org.
May 12th, 2016
Episode 311 of 356 episodes
[button type="inverse" size="large" link="https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.podcast/TolkienProf/TolkienProf310.mp3"]Download Audio[/button] Introduction – Plot/Script Outlines Today, we have a larger cast of characters panelists than usual. Discussing actual scripts created by the Mythgard community…seeing our vision begin to be fleshed out Karita Alexander, Brian Fattorini, Nick Palazzo, Marie Prosser are our panelists Today’s episode Departures from the established “core” concepts: Stuff added was in areas where things weren’t touched on Blocking/Staging (in The Timeless Halls) was particularly difficult “People” – shaped Ainur in that scene, but where are they positioned? How terrestrial should the Valar be? Do they just pop in and out of reality? How close should their connection be to Arda? How MANY solid bodies should they have? Unless there’s a time limit, they Valar’s personalities would determine “how long” and in what way did someone move. (If Manwë wants to fly, then he does…if Aulë wants to walk across his mountains, he just does so.) They can travel at the speed of thought, and maybe they’d disembody and re-embody at will (Ulmo can speak through the waves) They would spend a lot of time admiring their own area (they’d be like tourists admiring what they see) Many questions brought up in our discussions were left unanswered by the end of our sessions, so they were starting points for new concepts Some sessions never included a frame story segment, so those were filled in What is Estel going through? What is Elrond wanting to teach him that makes the Silmarillion story come up in their discussion “What does that look like on-screen?” was a question that was often asked How does the environment influence the discussion? Thinking about the frame – thinking about Gilraen’s conflict with Elrond…Gilraen in the outlines is much more polite and much less grumpy than Corey’s vision Marie didn’t want Gilraen to come off as unsympathetic/jaded/hostile Assertive but still recognize that she’s a guest of Elrond Too easy to have Gilraen as “foolhardy”/not seeing the big picture and Elrond being the “calm parent” type who never makes mistakes Gilraen is one of few characters that can do a lot given where she is in her life at that time In a complicated place in her life. She doesn’t let anyone walk over her We want the conflict between her and Elrond, but without rehashing the same argument over and over Episode 12 is where she was able to give Elrond insight that he hadn’t realized Corey is going more for Andreth vibe (rude but still saying things that make Finrod step back and think for a moment) However, Gilraen and Elrond’s discussion is not so abstract She may seem to Elrond as impatient and impetuous, but Elrond can consider that this is an Elven viewpoint, and may not necessarily be “right” Would be refreshing to have Elrond either be mistaken in his opinion, or perhaps be enlightened by something Gilraen says. Hesitant to make Gilraen too insightful at this point, mainly b/c the stories at this point are about the Valar (as opposed to Elvish stories) Why are we spending so much time on sympathy for Melkor? Why can’t we just get to the fact that evil is terrible? Especially at moments where Estel is confused (“wait – I thought Melkor was a bad guy?”) Gilraen is extremely practical, whereas Elrond is philosophical (“How is this going to prepare my son to be a good king?”) Elrond would recognize that anyone of Estel’s genealogical line that “this might be the one to Unify Men” (one more generation to teach) while Gilraen is concerned about their people living in the wilderness RIGHT NOW and they need a Chieftain The foresight of the Dunedain – this is a recurrent thing. Perhaps Gilraen has that gift as well Episode 6 – the Lamps question (bigger vs. smaller) Attachment to idea where we want to show the Valar messing up (one of their first mistakes) – hoarding the light Instead of spreading our blessings all over Arda, we’re going to concentrate it all here in our favorite place (Almaren) (consequently leaving the rest of Arda in shadow) The idea that the Valar would have all their stuff wiped out by light bulbs on the Eiffel Tower… We want a contrast between Almaren and Valinor The lamps need to be pretty major to take angelic beings and turn them into Balrogs Mountains with giant pillars with the lamps on top Mairon came up with the idea of using metal to make things taller Discussion with Aulë The first 3 episodes are really hard to make interesting All dialogue As soon as Melkor shows up, the story really takes off (Episode 4) There may be a fundamental flaw in how we’re visualizing, as there’s no dramatic movement Ainulindalë – this could be focused on the frame, but talking about the Silmarillion story Episode 3 is a flashback episode to the Void (and Melkor talking to (and being rejected by Varda) Starting Episode 1 with the Death of Arathorn can give us dramatic tension Elrond would be like “Let’s talk about the origin of conflict and why things are they way they are now” (and Gilraen would be impatient) Rivendell is not a dramatically tense environment…so the grief and urgency from Gilraen being in the outside world would be appropriate if we start with Arathorn’s death Starting the episode with Arathorn’s battle, and then Estel might see a tapestry (of Episode 13 events) and starts re-enacting it The Ainulindalë doesn’t need to take up a lot of time, and we can spend more time in the frame The audio we hear may be from Episode 13’s battles to flash forward Heroic glimpses of Tulkas and Oromë (and running behind it is Melkor’s discord theme) Young Estel might think that the battle is the awesome part, but Elrond would seek to help Estel understand it all, and understand Manwë’s tears But as much as this battle is terrible, Tulkas would have never been brave, or Manwë would have never been a strong leader, and perhaps the Children would have been destroyed. “It could have been different, but it couldn’t have been better.” Opening up with something more “human” would show why such an abstract story as the Ainulindalë is so important The Ainulindalë should be depicted very differently – the rest of the season is the story of Arda We can do a sort of conceptual art segment with music only (occasional voiceover) for the Ainulindalë, so that we have a shift in the depiction of the world. The final chord shifts to Melkor’s conflict with Eru If the frame is dominating the episode and the music segment is only a few minutes, we can be more abstract/conceptual with it if we set up in context Not everyone knows who Estel is, so some of that story would help give Gilraen more sympathy (and thus can get away with being a little more snippy) Make a connection with the audience that both Elrond and Gilraen have lost loved ones, and come from a similar tragedy Gilraen: “What have you ever lost?” The long years that Elrond has lived after his tragedy hasn’t dulled his own sense of loss She can’t even conceptualize living that long Episode 3: cinematography would be different…it could reflect Melkor’s increasing self-absorption (it would almost look like Melkor’s personal video blog) The camera would cut between extreme close-ups and his viewpoint “The misunderstood hero” – we wouldn’t want him to appear to be a buffoon. We don’t people to just laugh at him Episode 4 onward would then be “third person” (just the facts) Episode 2 was a difficult one as well…Arda before conflict There’s a series of problems for the Valar to solve but no actual tension May make this episode frame-heavy as well The Valar are learning to work together and learning to harmonize (which culminates outwardly in the creation of Almaren) “But things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to.” Short vignettes – “This is the story of Aulë and Ulmo and why mountains aren’t perfect conical shapes” o The Valar’s conflict can parallel Gilraen’ “WTF-moment” Episode 1 is grandiose, huge, over-arching, abstract, so it would be nice to have these folklorish, short sketches as a different way of storytelling A lot of “frontloading” with Gilraen early on, and then reference later on But we don’t want it to be like “Oh here comes Gilraen the Buzzkill again” Maybe she starts to “get it” after a while Some of the other stories could be handled the same way Maybe further down the line reminiscing about how awkward this time period is and reflecting on how Estel’s education has turned out Ungoliant’s mysterious origins…she’s there from the beginning but doesn’t fit comfortably Episode 3 in the Void kinda makes her bigger than she is…Tolkien didn’t work it out, so it’s up to us to decide between the 2 camps: Definitely a Maia vs. Super-mysterious and unknown origins Based on our cast picks, Inara (Ungoliant) would be telling River (Nessa) she couldn’t leave –Firefly fanservice! Tom Bombadil cameo in every season (the running joke being he could be doing the same thing, looking the same, even while all the world keeps changing) Do we have a nod to Tevildo, Prince of Cats? Why not? We want to develop some sub-villains (not the same as Book of Lost Tales) Next session: May 20th We begin Season 2 in 2 weeks Preproduction discussions: Overview of the plot for the season Picking up from where we left off up to the Darkening of Valinor Read the next few chapters (We’re looking to cover Chapters 3-8 for Season 2)