draft scenario for start of first episode of season one

Timdalf

Active Member
In the light of inspiration gained from the first podcast of Season 1 let me offer here a first draft of a possible scenario... To be refined, expanded, given dialogue, settings, camera moves, etc. as may emerge. This is long so bear with me. Tell me what you think...
(Surprise! the URL links I included jumped right to providing the actual YouTube videos! The marvels of a good computer program will never end!)

The Silmarillion Film Project
A possible scenario for the opening episode.


First we see Aragorn’s mother Gilraen fleeing for her life protecting her child accompanied by what is left of their forces as Arathorn II is defeated and killed in battle as was Harold Godwinson at Hastings. She flees with them to Rivendell and gives him the name Estel to hide his identity… There he grows up under the guidance of Elrond. And we see a brief montage of him as a boy taken in disguise to the great library of Minas Tirith, and to the Grey Havens where he meets Cirdan the Shipwright. There he first learns the sound of the Great Western Seas and Cirdan describes how they echo in their rolling waves a vast realm of time and beyond the world, to the far west. At last on his 20th birthday Elrond reveals to him his identity, his destiny and his lineage. He sees in the wood the first vision of Lady Arwen. But we do not now pursue the details of their meeting. His education requires more time. After serving many years against the orcs of the North and on the borders of Mordor, at age 49 he journeys to Lothlórien to meet Galadriel (and renew his bond with Lady Arwen who sojourns there). There what he has learned from the Great Writings the Lore of the Elves in Rivendell is taken beyond that history of their trials of the First Age and the history of Númenor in the Second. He is led now by Galadriel to her Mirror and she tells unto him:

You now will go beyond mind, beyond time and beyond space, to indeed before the very beginning of Arda. You will learn not from the writings, but as we all have learned, by experiencing what we all together learned to know to have happened for we have been granted by the Valar to learn of the beginning of things how all things came to be and why the things that are have become as they are.

She shows him her Ring and touches it to her mirror… it sets the waters rippling… then suddenly they become perfectly still and his consciousness passes into another greater reality.

He feels his mind and heart passing out of time and beyond space into an infinite void that contains no thing, but is filled with fields of surging energies. These seem to be the gatherings of stars like great galaxies of lights but are barely perceptible as entities but whose presence, whose perception of all things, is very palpable. They are waves of light that seem also to be like rolling waves of sound, but sounds that perceive… and it is as if he beholds the creative hands of Eru Himself Who is beyond all perception yet present and as His hands move so do the energies of light coalesce and begin to form patterns… They respond to and follow the barely perceptible hands and we sense the hands more by what they guide and move than as themselves. And the sounds rise and merge at one great command: Ea! Be! And these galaxies of light seem to be given forms of a sort and they perceive the physical world come into being.

And Aragorn thus begins to learn of the Valar who are these energies that are coalescing incandescences of light, more presences than physical, more eyes that behold than are beheld. And they join together in this great sea of sounds and begin to be the very sounds and we sense a great passage of time within an instant. And suddenly Arda appears in their midst forming itself out of the sounds, out of the Valar themselves. And so Middle-earth begins to take its shape.

Then as Arda appears we begin through their eyes to approach the emerging of Almaren, which will be a green isle in the midst of a great lake. And the Valar begin descend and appear there where what things are seen are so by means of their inner light radiating from within them until their hands hover in the form of two spheres, first one then another, to form the two Great Lamps that emerge from the spheres formed by what appear to be their hovering hands, even as the hands of Eru gently caressed the realm of Arda into being. And so the features of Almaren begin to emerge.

To understand just what the sounds might begin to be like… listen to the evolving, growing sounds of the opening passage of Wagner’s Ring, to the solemnity of the opening moments of his Parsifal, and to see how the Valar coalesce, listen to the prelude to Lohengrin which depicts in sound the vision of the crystallization of the Grail… and for the dramatic resoluteness of these events in sound listen to the opening bars of Beethoven’s first movement to his 9th Symphony.

The opening moments of Wagner’s Ring Cycle :
4:20

Parsifal prelude:
the first 9:30

Lohengrin prelude:

In 1853, Richard Wagner wrote an "Explanatory Program" for the overture to his opera, Lohengrin, which he had completed in 1848. In his program, Wagner describes a vision of the Holy Grail, guided from out of heavenly mists by a host of angels.

At the beginning, the clear blue air of Heaven seems to condense into a mysterious vision, scarce traceable by the eye of supernatural yearning yet holding the enraptured gaze with a magic spell, in infinitely soft, but gradually more distinct in outline, appears the miraculous host of Angels descending slowly from ethereal heights, and bearing in its midst the sacred vessel. As the vision becomes ever more clear and clearer and hovers down towards the earthly vale, the sweetest fragrance well out from its wings: entrancing vapours stream from it in clouds of gold, seizing every sense with hallowed awe, and thrust into the beating heart’s profoundest depths. Now blissful pain, now delight awakened by the living enchantment… this feeling wakes again to the highest bliss as the holy sight draws ever nearer and when at last the chalice itself is revealed in all the wonder of reality and divine contents send forth sunbeams of sublime love like a heavenly fire, … the Grail pours out its blessing consecrating us to its knightly service; the dazzling flames soften down to a gentler glory, …then the benevolent host wings its flight back to heaven in tender joy, it has brought font of love into the world anew… in the clearest light of Heaven’s aether the radiant host melts and recedes into the distance even as it emerged before.

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony:
the first few minutes
 

Silmafilm

New Member
Here is my response to this very well written article:

Before I begin, I want to say how much I appreciate the level of effort that went into this draft. It is very well written, and at times beautiful; and the fact that you literally brought up pieces of classical music that can be used for Ainulindale (I won't bother with the dots above the e!), all of which are fitting and relevant, is pretty amazing. It's also not a bad idea to put Aragorn's story as the frame story, and use Galadriel as a narrator. The descriptions of the Ainur are also amazing; they are easy to understand for the film version, yet match what the Ainur could have looked like in the novel.

I do, however, think that there are some serious flaws with the script. The script of the Ainulindale (not Aragorn's story, the Ainulindale) that you wrote seems to have been attempting minimalism of the highest caliber; nearly all of Ainulindale has been removed to create a simpler beginning. From a pure film standpoint this is a good idea, but as a film version of the Silmarillion it is devastating.

This script included only the bear-bones minimum of Ainulindale: the creation of the Ainur, the creation of Arda, some very pretty sound, and the creation of the lamps. While this script has a beauty of it's own (as it has a lot of effort put into it) it could not work as an adaptation of Tolkien's work, and probably couldn't as a film version too.

What I mean is, you missed out on some incredibly important details that should not be ignored: The music battle of Melkor and Iluvatar; the friendship of Ulmo and Manwe; Melkor's lust for power; the words of Iluvatar; the list goes on. All of these aspects are important for the rest of the film, and help set it up. While the admittedly confusing speech of Iluvatar at some times doesn't seem very fit for film, it is important that he says these things in the movie. (Besides, the speech could be simplified a little for easier understanding. But that's anther story)

Even though the all-too-true motto of 'show, don't tell' sometimes applies here as well, most of what happens in Ainulindale is hard to understand visually (and sometimes on paper too), so explanation through words is necessary. One example of this is the part of all the Ainur that exists in the world. This would best be made as a narrative, as it is hard to show visually. I think this story would best be told as a reading of the actual text of the Silmarillion, rather than someone actually watching the events unfold. This would make more sense narration-wise.

Still, I think this is a very well made script. I'm hoping you'll attempt a new one with my words in mind, as you are very talented at this stuff. Have a good day!
 

Timdalf

Active Member
Thanks Silmafilm for your comments... In my defense, let me say this was a quick spur of the moment job. It hits only the hilights of the opening... the overall basic features. And I was mostly focused on the Aragorn frame and the transition to the main subject matter and how the music should sound and the Ainur look. I did not mean to imply this was all there would or should be in the first episode. My fault for not making that clearer. Those four elements to me are the major difficulties to be solved in this supernatural cosmogonic myth-drama. The whole drama between Melkor and the rest of the forces of light and good, of course, needs to be fitted in and developed. But that is a matter of merely working it out with some dialogue and suggestive imagery... Mainly the sonority and visual beauty of Iluvatar's creativity and the harshness and arrogance of Melkor's.
So with the ball rolling now, let's see what emerges.
 

Silmafilm

New Member
Oh, it's alright. I'm sorry for ripping into you like that; I love the Silmarillion. I thought that you meant to make it like this, which is pretty silly when I think about it.
The frame story of Aragorn is something I am not very fond of, however. Mostly because the part with Galadriel at the mirror is all made up. I know what you're thinking, though: Wouldn't I have to make up a frame story for the Silmarillion? Well, actually, there is a way that it could be done entirely true to the book, and it's confirmed by Christopher Tolkien himself!

In the forward for The book of Lost Tales part one, Christopher Tolkien says about the three books of lore that Bilbo gave to Frodo in Rivendell, "The books of Lore that Bilbo gave to Frodo provided in the end the solution: They were the 'Silmarillion'. But apart from the evidence cited here, there is, so far as I know, no other statement on this matter anywhere else in my father's writings; and (wrongly, as I think now) I was reluctant to step in the breach and make definite what I only surmised."

Essentially Christopher Tolkien is saying that these books are very likely the Silmarillion; and it is in the hands of a main character from the Lord of the Rings! How perfect is this for a frame story? Utterly pure to the source material, connecting to the Lord of the Rings, and providing some interesting moments when Frodo reads about Sauron!

Let's not forget that the books were passed on to Sam, which means he could be reading the book himself. Sam would be an excellent narrator.

Another thing, the books of lore were eventually made into a copy of the red book in Gondor in the year 172 of the fourth age; However, Aragorn died in year 120, so unfortunately he would not be able to read it.

Anyways, I love the idea of showing the story of Aragorn, but I think making up a plot with him and Galadriel is unnecessarily deviant from the source material. Besides, Aragorn’s life could be added to the later parts of the Silmarillion movies, making it fit with the entire story.
 

Timdalf

Active Member
But unless I am mistaken the dicussions on the SilmFilm podcasts with Prof Corey, Trish and Dave have pretty well decided that the opening frame narrative is to be an Aragorn story. So what I am trying to do is work out how we get from that to the events of the Music of Creation. It was pretty well agreed that making every frame narrative a Hobbit oriented or focused one would not work.
 

MatthewW

New Member
Thanks Silmafilm for your comments... In my defense, let me say this was a quick spur of the moment job. It hits only the hilights of the opening... the overall basic features. And I was mostly focused on the Aragorn frame and the transition to the main subject matter and how the music should sound and the Ainur look. I did not mean to imply this was all there would or should be in the first episode. My fault for not making that clearer. Those four elements to me are the major difficulties to be solved in this supernatural cosmogonic myth-drama. The whole drama between Melkor and the rest of the forces of light and good, of course, needs to be fitted in and developed. But that is a matter of merely working it out with some dialogue and suggestive imagery... Mainly the sonority and visual beauty of Iluvatar's creativity and the harshness and arrogance of Melkor's.
So with the ball rolling now, let's see what emerges.
I like what you've come up with here, Timdalf! It's a good transition from the frame to the story. One thing I was thinking, was that it could be really neat to spend more time on Aragorn's childhood. This is hard if we follow your story exactly, since we have to get all of his childhood and young adulthood out of the way before we even start into the Ainulindale at all. I think it could be neat to have the arc of Aragorn's story in the first season end with him discovering his true identity. This would mean we need to find a different place to insert the Ainulindale itself...

Perhaps we could expand that "brief montage" of him visiting various places, and insert the frame there? Perhaps He could be told the story by Cirdan at the havens, or perhaps he could visit Galadriel on that tour, as a young child.
 

Silmafilm

New Member
As for the first idea,

If the show's frame story in the first season is put into so much depth, as in the overarching plot of Aragorn throughout the season, how would the second season run? Would it be showing Aragorn's journey to find Gollum?

And wouldn't the differences between the frame story and the Silmarillion itself be jarring in this scenario? How would Aragorn's story connect with the Silmarillion? Isn't it a different story altogether?

I think being told the story is a better idea. The thing is, him learning this from Galadriel or Cirdan is not a part of the book. It is, however, possible that he could be reading about it in Rivendell; that would be closest to the book, and we get Aragorn as the narrator.

Either that or have Sam or Frodo read the story.
 

MatthewW

New Member
Hey Silmafilm, just wanted to point you to the podcast episodes where the Tolkien Professor discusses the issues you are raising. If you visit this page, you can listen to the episodes, or just read the excellent episode notes if you so desire. It might help give a bit of context for this discussion, since what we're doing in these forums is pretty closely connected with the podcast. For instance, I believe Timdalf in his draft scenario was attempting to follow the decisions made in the podcast, such as the decision to use Aragorn as the frame narrative for season 1.
 

Silmafilm

New Member
Thanks a lot mate.

I'm sorry for being such an idiot, but I cannot find the podcasts anywhere on The Tolkien Professor. Can you drop a link for me?
 

MatthewW

New Member
Thanks a lot mate.

I'm sorry for being such an idiot, but I cannot find the podcasts anywhere on The Tolkien Professor. Can you drop a link for me?
Try silmfilm.mythgard.org. You should be able to access all of the podcasts from there, along with the episode notes in text form.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I think we're getting way, way ahead of ourselves doing any kind of blocking or scene setting. I appreciate that you have a vision, but as I'm reading your post, Timdalf, I have absolutely no idea what the thematic thrust of the episode is supposed to be. I had a whole post typed up here about my preference for en medias rez over a montage-esque rundown of every important moment in Aragorn's early history and other various nit-picking critiques, but I realized that the heart of the problem that I have with what you've written is that it was all about communicating information rather than communicating character: and there's nothing more difficult and tedious to watch than exposition.

Without necessarily saying yay or nay to any of the set pieces, characters, or events you've described, let's slow down and start with what we want the Season 1 frame narrative to communicate about Estel. For me, the earliest part of his life is essentially a fish-out-of-water tale, a refugee, an immigrant and furthermore, an orphan. To that end, I think most of his scenes need to be with his surrogate father, Elrond, and how their relationship develops. Does that follow for everybody else? If so, I'm of the opinion we should keep the list of characters outside of Elrond to a minimum unless there's something that Elrond absolutely can't supply, both for helping us limit the amount of time actually spent in the frame narrative so we have enough time to do what we need to do with the scenes of the Silmarillion itself, and so that we don't have a ton of characters in different time periods we have to remember, and so we don't blow our "oh snap, that's so-and-so from LOTR" budget in the first 15 minutes. I would even be delighted if the audience didn't realize that Estel IS Aragorn until the final episode of the season!

Relevant questions: What are we trying to do with the character of Estel in Season 1's frame narrative? What's his character arc- where does he begin, how do we leave him, and what are the choices he makes or things he learns (or both) that get him from A to B?

Once we know what we're beginning with and where we're trying to get to it will be a lot easier to start figuring out what the scenes actually look like to do that work for us.

Edit: And with this post my domination of the Front Page "Latest Discussions" feed is complete, muahahahahaaaaaaaaa

Edit the 2nd: It occurs to me that Gilraen's relationship with Elrond is also a question, though it is discussed at length in Episode 1-3. We should make that a point of discussion.
 
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Timdalf

Active Member
All good points ouzaru, but we need our "PJ" (aka CO) and his co-writers "Philippa" and "Fran" (Trish and Dave) to tell us who their Aragorn is... Is he PJ's, JRRT's or another? Asfor hiding who is from the audience... Not sure that is possible. We mention Elrond or Gilraen and his "cover" is blown instantly and how can we not mention them. And isn't the whole point of using him as frame to get the audience involved BECAUSE of who he is KNOWN to be?
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
Right you are, good sir! I'm working through the back log of episodes listening for that, but I think the discussion of Estel and Gilraen in episode 1.3 gives us some place to start. I know for a fact the Big Three don't plan to keep Aragorn's identity secret for long, they brought that up in the referred to episode, so that's out. There was talk of it being a bit of a reveal in the first episode, but you're quite right that we ought to be using him (and Elrond in particular) as a way to get the audience invested.

Does anyone else who's been keeping up with the podcasts better than I wanna weigh in on Aragorn's and Elrond? It seems like Elrond's main conflict would be external, with Gilraen, which shouldn't be too difficult. What about Aragorn's? Does he try to fit in and fail? Is he beleaguered on both sides by his mother's disapproval for elvenesse and the other children rejecting him? Extension, are all our elves they haughty grumpy sort in the vein of Jackson's Elrond?

I've got a bunch of ideas about what we could do in these spaces, but I'm posting from my phone right now and this post is already getting long. I would love it if we could come up with character and episode outlines by the end of the season, if we can, so the Script department has got a deliverable to kick upstairs and have critiqued! Let's get cracking!
 
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