Frame Narrative

Phillip Menzies

Moderator
Staff member
I also like the idea of linking Celebrian's final decline with the episode where it is discovered that Melkor is behind all the strife and that he has been telling porkies to the Noldor to create division. I know that there is nothing in the lore that indicates that Celebrian had a mental decline but I think it would be an interesting way to draw out Celebrian's story so the audience doesn't work out her fate too soon. If we have her in remission so to speak and making a comeback and then a mental decline which leads to her final decision to leave for the west it adds more angst as the hope the family saw disappears. I would call the episode "Lies" and have Celebrian become paranoid about those around her giving her succour and maybe having some delusions too.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I don't really know that I want to be making out Celebrian to be a basket case and that she goes into the west because she's a danger to herself and others. I think we can demonstrate she is affected deeply by her experience without also making her paranoid. I'm inclined to think we want more of a Frodo-in-the-Shire in the years after the Quest type of vibe. Nightmares and malaise, just being unable to live contentedly in the moment because of a preoccupation with the experiences.

Edit: If we wanted to get real subtle about it, we could maybe tie the elvish tendency with "extending" the life of things beyond their natural limit with Celebrian's inability to get over her experience. This would be one of the most visibily negative examples of that elvish tendency to "maintain things as they were", which I think would be useful to us, since we really ought to be demonstrating how that elvish impulse is as good-intentioned AND wrongheaded as the Valar bringing the elves to Valinor: Celebrian gets stuck with her pain as a result of a life time of "maintaining"? She really isn't sure how else to live?
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
...so we would be giving her PTSD? That is, again, something that I think the audience can recognize and have some sympathy with, though it is a mental illness.

Also, if we want something to 'base' her experience on, the obvious choice is a survivor of torture (someone rescued from a Prisoner of War camp), but an alternative is to consider the ordeal of a rape victim. I think that choosing the experience, and then portraying the common natural consequences would be a good way to build up a psychological profile here. I mean, yes, this is a fantasy story - this isn't terribly different than 'So Gollum is a heroin addict, and the Ring is his next hit.'

But I think that approach is perhaps both more believable and more sympathetic than a 'she goes crazy and gets paranoid and can't handle reality' - though my main issue with that portrayal is that it takes the CHOICE to go to Valinor out of her hands - her caretakers would be making the choice for her! If this season is all about deciding 'should I stay or should I go?' and Arwen is contemplating her mother's choice...it changes everything if Celebrían didn't even have a choice at all!
 

Phillip Menzies

Moderator
Staff member
I wish the execs had made a bigger deal of the search for Elwe. This seems to fit so well with a part of Celebrian's story being the search for her by Eladan and Elrohir which in both cases resolves sucessfully. We could string out the search for Elwe for a whole episode having various red shirts meeting their doom and not surviving the hazards of the search. It could be done as a mystery with the searchers finding clues that slowly lead them to where he disappeared and having some ambiguity about Melian (which the execs have also squashed) as we know that he has disappeared and fallen into some time warp thingy when he sees Melian, but not the full truth of his situation.
 

Phillip Menzies

Moderator
Staff member
I'm not sure where Corey got the idea that the Gollum story was brought to Arwen by someone else possibly Gandalf? That was not part of my suggestion at all.
The way I see the Gollum story developing is that Arwen goes riding outside of LothLorien, a bit like in the Princess Bride although she is not going to be abducted. During her ride she comes across some people who live in the vale of Anduin near LothLorien (who show the required amount of superstition towards the Lady of the Golden Wood) who are in distress due to Gollum's nefarious nocturnal activities and being who she is, concerned with more than her little slice of isolation, she decides to investigate. How that investigation pans out is another matter, but the point I wanted to make is that by tying it to the Melkor being released story we get both stories dealing with something mysterious with unknown qualities that has been locked away for many years and has now been released upon the world. Thinking about it I would not include Gandalf at all, because Arwen will have no idea what she witnesses and the significance. She does not know Bilbo's story of Gollum and I think it will be important to keep her ignorant because the audience will know and will actually feel a bit superior to Arwen having knowledge that she is not privy to.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
...so we would be giving her PTSD? That is, again, something that I think the audience can recognize and have some sympathy with, though it is a mental illness.

Also, if we want something to 'base' her experience on, the obvious choice is a survivor of torture (someone rescued from a Prisoner of War camp), but an alternative is to consider the ordeal of a rape victim. I think that choosing the experience, and then portraying the common natural consequences would be a good way to build up a psychological profile here. I mean, yes, this is a fantasy story - this isn't terribly different than 'So Gollum is a heroin addict, and the Ring is his next hit.'

But I think that approach is perhaps both more believable and more sympathetic than a 'she goes crazy and gets paranoid and can't handle reality' - though my main issue with that portrayal is that it takes the CHOICE to go to Valinor out of her hands - her caretakers would be making the choice for her! If this season is all about deciding 'should I stay or should I go?' and Arwen is contemplating her mother's choice...it changes everything if Celebrían didn't even have a choice at all!
Celebrian could absolutely suffer from PTSD. She doesn't have to get paranoid about those around her, although she could get irritable or on edge. Possible symtoms could include flashbacks, which we could show or not depending on our storytelling needs, but most of all I think she could become depressed, isolating herself and becoming passive and losing interest in things that she used to find joy in. That could work.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I guess I don't really think I know enough about PTSD to consider doing it justice, but I think the "being stuck" angle certainly lends itself to the few popular portrayals I've seen on screen, though I feel like I was trying to get at it being more of a function of the nature of elves rather than an actual mental illness. If that's the we we want to go, we'll need to do some research .
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
I meet people with PTSD in my work. But I think we don't have to be strict about the diagnostic criteria. She's an elf, let's give ourselves some freedom.
 

Shawn Mitchell

Active Member
I guess I don't really think I know enough about PTSD to consider doing it justice, but I think the "being stuck" angle certainly lends itself to the few popular portrayals I've seen on screen, though I feel like I was trying to get at it being more of a function of the nature of elves rather than an actual mental illness. If that's the we we want to go, we'll need to do some research .
ouzaru, I was also hoping they would keep it a bit more along the lines of "... the nature of elves ..." I'm trying to keep up, and get spun up, on the story and frame but, in my humble opinion, if this were really to be presented as an on screen work it is getting pretty complicated. The Sil, just the story as it is, is pretty hard for new people to follow. Telling the Sil story with all the blanks filled in is even more daunting. Now it seems like the frame, in which we are telling this story, is getting pretty complicated as well. I'm just saying that, as someone looking in, a person watching this unfold might feel a little overwhelmed. I am against dumbing it down BUT it's also possible to turn it into something that only "already" hard core fans can actually follow. Just two cents.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I wish the execs had made a bigger deal of the search for Elwe. This seems to fit so well with a part of Celebrian's story being the search for her by Eladan and Elrohir which in both cases resolves sucessfully. We could string out the search for Elwe for a whole episode having various red shirts meeting their doom and not surviving the hazards of the search. It could be done as a mystery with the searchers finding clues that slowly lead them to where he disappeared and having some ambiguity about Melian (which the execs have also squashed) as we know that he has disappeared and fallen into some time warp thingy when he sees Melian, but not the full truth of his situation.

Yes, this is something that I should have brought up during the Script Discussion for last episode. In all of the excitement of a "live" session and the technical difficulties, I forgot about inserting at least a scene of Beleg, Mablung, and Celeborn looking for him.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
A reminder that the discussion on the Frame Narrative will be this Saturday at the end of the Fall Fundraiser all-day web-a-thon. So, any thoughts on the frame...speak now!
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I need to go through this thread again in advance of the session this weekend, but I was thinking maybe we wanna go hard on the festival angle and have it be the main "to do" for most of the frame. I'll go through the thread tonight and see if that's useful and feasible.
 

Atanvarno

Member
A reminder that the discussion on the Frame Narrative will be this Saturday at the end of the Fall Fundraiser all-day web-a-thon. So, any thoughts on the frame...speak now!
Well, I'm glad you asked; I've prepared a few brief thoughts.

The Frame: Bad and Wrong
This rant’s title is shamelessly stolen from an ethics essay. If you’re into normative moral philosophy,[1] you should check it out.[2]

Defining Some Terms or So What’s a Frame, Anyway?
The questions of what a frame is and is not, the history of the frame and the taxonomy of frames is broad and deserves a wider treatment than I will give here. For my purpose I give working definitions for two terms: frame device and frame narrative. These definitions should not be taken as definitive, that is necessary and sufficient descriptions of these terms, for all purposes and context, rather they are necessary and sufficient enough for the case at hand.

A frame device is a conceit that presents to the audience
[3] one or more narratives within a text[4] and is itself a part of the text.

A frame narrative is any frame device that is also itself a story; a story that tells stories.

By these definitions all frame narratives are frame devices but not all frame devices are frame narratives.


Fargo opens to black with the text:


This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed.
This is its frame device without being a frame narrative. It is part of the text, it is fictitious but is not in and of itself a narrative: it is not a story, it only presents a story.

Whereas, in
One Thousand and One Nights Scheherazade engages in a dangerous gambit to rehabilitate Shahrayar of his cruelty by telling Dinarzad – and thus Shahrayar – story after story. This is a narrative in itself, with all the trappings – conflict, character and plot – that also presents to the audience stories embedded within itself.

As defined here, a frame device is a presentational conceit, but what purpose does it serve? By its nature any frame device seems redundant: it could be removed entirely and its contents presented naked to the audience and be unchanged. Yet by its presence it alters the audience’s perception of the story. A frame, without altering its contained narrative’s content, serves to manipulate the audience, skew their understanding and emotional response to the story according to the author’s desire.

The direction of alteration, that is how the audience’s perception to the text is changed with the frame’s inclusion compared to its omission, can be anything. It is sufficient that the author, and to an extent the reader, judges it to enhance the text. Those frames composed with the aim of enhancement I consider purposeful or
right, those that fail are redundant or wrong.

If a frame is purposeful, right, a further evaluation is also applicable: does it, from its form and content, adequately fulfill its purpose? If a right frame achieves its purpose I consider it sufficient or good, those that fail are deficient or bad. Since wrong frames are redundant, have no purpose to fulfill, they are necessarily bad.

[1] Personally, I’m not.
[2] Brad Hooker, Moral Particularism: Bad and Wrong, pp. 1–22, Brad Hooker & Margaret Olivia Little (eds.), Moral Particularism, 2nd edition, 2003

[3] Audience here is meant in a broad sense: the encompasses equally any consumer of any medium, be they reader, listener or viewer.
[4] Text, like audience, is meant broadly to refer to any imaginative work – most relevant here are prose, screenplay and film, including television.

Tolkien Liked Frames, So We Must Too
For the Silmarillion Film Project specifically, there are two popular arguments as to why a frame is an essential part of any televisual adaption of the Silmarillion.

Firstly, Tolkien had a penchant for telling stories within a frame. The early version of the Silmarillion stories from The Book of Lost Tales are wrapped in the Eriol/Ottor Wǽfre frame narrative. The Shaping of Middle-earth stories are wrapped in the Eriol/Ælfwine frame narrative. Ælfwine then recurs through Tolkien’s various iterations of the stories. The Lord of the Rings is presented with the frame device of Red Book of Westmarch.

Secondly, Christopher Tolkien published the Silmarillion without a frame, and regretted it. This regret stems from the reasonable position that his father would have included a frame (see the first argument). Quite why that decision was made and the implications that reason has for the Silmarillion Film Project is discussed later.

Taken together, these points appear to provide a compelling case that an adaption of the Silmarillion that aims for a degree of faithfulness to the source – in this instance the wider Tolkien corpus, not just the published Silmarillion – must include a frame.

Thus we arrive at the conception of the frame for the adaption – each season is told via a Third Age frame narrative.

Season one, mapping roughly to the Ainulindalë, Valaquenta and roughly the first three chapters of the Quenta Silmarillion, is told directly through the narrative of young Aragorn’s education by Elrond. Season two, roughly chapters four to eight of the Quenta Silmarillion, is loosely told around Arwen’s grief for her mother while visiting Lothlórien.

Later seasons will follow this pattern. Season five, being the tale of Beren and Lúthien, will be framed with Aragorn and Arwen’s romance, for example.

The questions that no one seems to have asked are: Is the frame purposeful (right), and what is that purpose? Is the content effective (good) in achieving that purpose?

Purposefulness or The Frame: Right or Wrong?

Tolkien’s various frames to a greater or lesser extent all serve the same purpose, articulated in his essay On Fairy-Stories: the frame presents the fairy story as true. That is, the frame provides a bridge between the world of the audience and the events of the story, presenting the story as credible.

Eriol’s function, in his various iterations, is thus: he is a mariner from the Middle Ages (which century is variable), who comes across Eressëa, learns of the stories and returns to tell them.

Bilbo’s Red Book of Westmarch containing the history of the First to Third Ages has (through unexplained means) come down through the ages, until it becomes akin to the real Red Book of Hergest from Middle Age Wales. Thus we have knowledge of the stories.

Both provide a historical source in the real – the audience’s – world for the stories. (Why that link is to the Middle Ages should be obvious to anyone with even a passing interest in Tolkien’s life and works.)

I contend that if we are to adapt Tolkien’s stories and to have a frame for them, that frame should adopt, at the very least, the purpose of Tolkien’s frames. This position has at least two virtues: it provides a degree of faithfulness to the intent of the source; it gives our frame a well-defined purpose, allowing us to judge our frame as right.

This purpose is not the only one possible. It is merely, to my mind, the most favourable. Another intent for the frame could well be purposeful, right. We are, after all, considering adaption. When translating from on medium to another, things will be lost and a frame is one tool available to mitigate that loss.

So then, I am starting to build a hierarchy of acceptable, right, purposes that a frame for a Tolkien adaption should have: at the top is presenting the story as true in the world of the audience; beneath that is to mitigate the inherent losses, divergences and alterations to the original that are inherent and unavoidable in adaption. I would suggest a third member of this hierarchy could be to leverage the benefits of the chosen adaption medium (that is television) to benefit the audience’s engagement (aesthetic, intellectual and, dare I say, enjoyment).

Does the Silmarillion Film Project’s frame fulfill any of these purposes?

As near as I can tell, the purpose of the frame that the Silmarillion Film Project presents is to have a frame, because we as faithful Tolkien readers knew Tolkien had frames. Perhaps this is too simplistic, and we need to look more closely.

In season one, the pedagogical frame narrative serves at least one useful purpose: to explain certain things to the audience. When depicting the Timeless Halls of Ilúvatar, it is helpful to tell the audience that what is on screen is a metaphorical representation, since the actual Timeless Halls, being a world without sight until after the Music, are impossible to show; what is shown is Estel’s imaginings of Elrond’s stories. Likewise, it is helpful to explain that the Valar in early Arda probably did not look as human/elvish as depicted, they were almost certainly far stranger and more elemental when they were embodied at all – again, the audience is seeing Estel’s imagining.

This function is a useful one, and it is a good candidate for a frame: it alters the audience’s understanding of the depiction of the narrative without altering the content of the narrative itself. It also fulfils, near enough, the criteria for the second and third purposes illustrated above.

In season two however, this function evaporates. The main narrative never returns to strange outside world of the Timeless Halls, and the Valar take on more elvish forms in their dealings with the elves (and it is their dealings with the elves the narrative mostly concerns itself with).

So what end does the frame serve? It allows us to dig deeper into Tolkien’s world. The Third Age frame narrative lets us expand on things mentioned in The Lord of the Rings Appendix A, and other sources, and show them to the audience.

This is a fine ambition and I have no objection to it in principle – this entire project really is about exploring and expanding those tantalising fragments left by Tolkien alongside his fully imagined stories.

Though, I do have an objection in practice: this purpose is not a good candidate for a frame. Presenting these expanded stories do not alter the audience’s perception of the main narrative. We strive to achieve resonance between the main and frame narratives. This means drawing the audience’s attention to similarities and divergences of theme and content. However, I am not of the opinion drawing the audience’s attention to these nuances significantly alters their perception of the main narrative, let alone in such a way as to enhance it. I contend that a diligent viewer would notice and be cognisant of resonances between First and Third Age stories were they told in chronological sequence, that is seasons apart, for them making the intercut presentation redundant. A casual viewer will likely miss the resonances whether or not they were intercut or shown in sequence – this hypothetical casual viewer is (hopefully) absorbed in the main narrative, and I worry that the frame detracts from their experience of that rather than enhancing it.

Thus, while I think this purpose is not a good candidate for the frame, I think it is rather a good candidate for the main narrative.

Our frame is wrong. It is not fulfilling adequately what I identify as the most import purpose of a frame for an adaption of Tolkien – that is to adapt the purpose of Tolkien’s frame. While in season one it conveyed useful context for the main narrative to the audience, in later seasons this purpose evaporates away. The purpose it does attempt to fulfill, while worthwhile, is not suitable for a frame and could even be detrimental as one.

Content or The Frame: Good or Bad?

Let us leave aside the question of whether or not the frame is right or wrong and turn to whether or not frame is good or bad. In order to do this, I will ignore the conclusions from the previous section and assume instead that the frame is right, purposeful which gives it at least a fighting chance to be good.

The purpose of our current frame is roughly: to give the audience greater appreciation of the themes of the main narrative by elucidating resonances in Third Age stories; to help out the audience by explaining and putting into context things to do with the Ainur; and to be a vehicle for expanding selected items from Appendix A and other sources into compelling narratives of their own.

So then, does our content fulfil the needs of this purpose? In my opinion, not particularly.

I will begin with where it does fulfil the purpose: helping the audience put the Ainur narrative into an understandable context. This works and is useful, for as long as it is relevant – that is in season one.

The rest is less of a favourable picture, however.

While we (that is the Outline Fairies) do occasionally manage elucidate resonances between the frame and main narratives, it is somewhat arbitrary when we do and we always have to stretch for them. Plus, the resonances we do identify tend to be somewhat facile.

An arbitrary example from season two: Arwen’s mild culture clash with the Silvan elves of Lothlórien frames the great debate at Cuiviénen, which kind of makes sense when you’re told the main story is about how cultural differences arise (in general though – we don’t show the origin of the specific cultural differences Arwen deals with). But even when you realise that, it is perfectly natural to ask “yeah, but so what?” because the frame does not add to alter the audience’s perception of the main story.

So then, the final identified purpose: we want to expand some Third Ages stories and tell them to the audience. This is a good idea, but the actual stories we have picked are barely stories at all. To be a story, a narrative, there has to be a protagonist faced with a conflict that is resolved over the course of a plot.

In season one, the frame set up is Estel’s education. For any given episode we have the choice of one of three potential protagonists: Estel, Elrond and Gilraen. For conflict we have disagreements about the content and nature of Estel’s education. For plot resolution someone is convinced to another’s point of view, or the disagreeing parties come to a compromise. Why on earth are we telling this story? This is barely a narrative. I could imagine this being a fine frame narrative for a single episode – that is a window in Aragorn’s unusual childhood and the tension between the human and elvish outlook – told over perhaps four scenes, for up to ten minutes of screen time total. I cannot imagine this being a compelling arc told over an entire season.

And yet, the seeds were there. We open the season’s frame narrative with a flashback to the death of Arathorn and the defeat and scattering of the Dúnedain in Arnor. That is the climax of an interesting conflict-laden with plenty of pathos. So of course we cut to decade later with Gilraen feeling sad, ensconced in the safest place on the continent where she is surrounded by the good and wise.

In season two’s frame Arwen visits Lothlórien, deals with the grief of her mother leaving for the West after her torture by orcs and grapples with the question of the ultimate home and purpose of the elves. Again, a single episode could wring from this all the drama (that is interest for the audience) it has the potential for. This is not a season’s arc.

And again, why are we dealing with the aftermath of trauma on someone who wasn’t experiencing it first hand? Celebrían has a real story (that actually covers most of the interesting philosophical ground that gave the Arwen story merit in the first place), with real stakes, real conflict and real consequences.

If we are going to pick stories of the Third Age to expand and show to the audience, they ought to be ones worth telling.

Having said all this, I accept it is easy to criticise without trying to help. Unfortunately, it is in trying to help – that is work on script outlines – that I came to these opinions. I do accept that criticism without suggestions for improvement is largely useless. So I want to consider how the frame narrative could achieve its purpose and be good. I will do so only briefly, however, as established in the section above, our frame is wrong to begin with.

The key is to recall our chosen medium and return to the purposes for the frame narrative. Our chosen medium is television, it is visual and episodic and tells compact stories. That is not to say it cannot tell long stories over a season or the entire series (we are in something of a renaissance when it comes to high quality serialised television, after all), but these long arcs have as their basic unit discrete stories: individual conflicts resolved in a plot that together form an arc. When identifying a frame narrative for a given season, we need to be confident that it can be broken down into a resolvable conflict (plot) for each episode. These plots do not need to have the heft and full blown content of our main narratives, since they will get at most a scene or two per act to play out, but they do need to answer some fundamentals: who do we care about, why are things bad for them, what do they do to overcome (or not) their problems?

Television as a visual medium matters. It has many strengths as a story telling vehicle, but unlike prose it cannot dwell inside it's characters psyches. Good television needs to have things happening on screen, if those things speak to the inner life of the characters then it is all to the good. Good television does not need to be all action, but it does need to express its events visually and through dialogue.

We cannot lose sight of the purpose of our frame narrative. These stories are not stories we are telling for their own sake (if they were, we would be telling them in the Third Age seasons of the show as main narratives), we tell them because doing to adds something to the audience’s perception of the main narrative. So long with answering what is the plot for a frame narrative, we need to answer what it tells the audience about the real story we are telling. If we cannot answer that satisfactorily, then the frame has no place in the episode.

But this is fixing something fundamentally wrong, so even with the above, the frame will not be good. The best it can be is better but still bad.

Execution or Alright Smartypants, So What Does a Right and Good Frame Look Like Then?
I have established that the frame at the moment is wrong and bad, so then what should the frame be like if it is to be right and good? The short answer is: I do not have a definitive answer for that. That needs to be discussed and evaluated by the hosts and in the forums. I have some ideas, but they are starting points, not end points.

Firstly, I want to return to Christopher Tolkien’s decision not to include a frame in the published Silmarillion. He even went as far as editing out references to Ælfwine in Akallabêth. Why he did this was is eminently understandable: he knew there should be a frame, he knew his father’s purpose for a frame, but was unsure what content and form that frame ought to have. The Lord of the Rings was published, so ideally the Silmarillion frame should be coherent with the Red Book of Westmarch frame device (note, device only, not narrative), yet Tolkien had not left material sufficient enough to tie this to the Silmarillion. The Eriol/Ottor Wǽfre frame narrative was superseded by the Ælfwine narrative (or device, depending on the version), but there was no way to make the Ælfwine frame consistent with the Red Book of Westmarch. Thus he arrived at the decision that no frame was better than one invented by himself or one that did not cohere with the already published material.

This is a decision we need to make: do we want a frame in the first place? The story itself does not require it – the most famous version was published without one. Though that is a source of regret for Christopher Tolkien, the story does work as presented (we are all here, afterall). So we do not need a frame, the question is: do we want a frame?

My answer is yes. We then have to determine what the frame is for. What the purpose of it is. This will define if it is right. I have already outlined above what I consider important for a Tolkien adaption frame:

It should invite the audience to consider the world of the story as linked to their own (because this was Tolkien’s purpose with a frame, so it should be ours – in his mould, we are telling fairy stories, and this part of what distinguishes a fairy story from the mere fanciful). This is essential, if we do not have this as our purpose, we would be better off doing as Christopher Tolkien did and dispensing with the frame entirely. (We may regret it though.)

If we are doing the above as a bare minimum, we can also make it useful for ourselves: It should explain to the audience things they will find strange or unfamiliar to their own experiences so that the main narrative does not have to break the fourth wall to explain itself: the nature of the Timeless Halls and Ainur, elvish psychology and the differences between mortal and immortal experience as examples.

Finally, and least importantly, it can alter the audience’s perception and understanding of the stories to highlight their depth and non-obvious philosophical and moral implications. This is entirely optional to my mind. It may not even be desirable: the stories are strong enough to need to further elucidation and we should trust our audience to be engaged enough that we need not do their rumination for them. There is a danger if we accept this as a desirable purpose that the frame becomes for us a crutch for bad storytelling.

There may be further options for the frame’s purpose that discussion opens up. I look forward to hearing them.

Now we have established roughly what the frame ought to do – we are confident that our frame is right – what is its form and content, how do we make it good?

This I have no firm conclusions about and want there to be as much discussion as possible regarding, so we end up with the best choice of options.

Should the frame device necessarily be a narrative? Fargo achieved a right and good frame with three sentences on a black screen. The stories we have to tell are strong, do they need supplementing with additional stories? There is a whole spectrum of middle ground between a full narrative frame (one with its own conflicts and resolutions) and a bare bones text-on-black device. The Odyssey is framed as Odysseus’ recollections, so while the frame has characters, and in our milieu screentime, there is no narrative as such.

I do think that whatever device, narrative or otherwise, is picked it should be from a human perspective – we are telling the stories to humans so it makes sense to me that we should frame them (largely) elvish stories told to humans and understood from a mortal point of view.

All else being equal, I personally would opt for a minimalist frame device (rather than narrative), using some version Ælfwine to retain the connection to real world history and the Anglo-Saxon in particular

Too Long; Didn't Read
We jumped into having a frame narrative without properly thinking through what purpose it serves, what form it should take and what content is should have. The frame is bad: the hosts procrastinate discussing specific details of it; the Outline Fairies get miserable when they have to deal with it – these are signs that something is really wrong.

Rather than keep on doing something bad, I think we should take a bit of time to revisit the whole idea of the frame: work out if we really want it and if so what we want it for (and what we don't). Once we've established that, we can come up with a frame designed to meet those goals that might even be good.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
The purpose it serves is to provide context for the stories, give us some freedom to jump around through time without over-relying on subtitles, and allow us to further develop underdeveloped characters, like Arwen, that the majority of viewers will already be familiar with when they come to the series, as well asWhile it is true that this season we have avoided discussion of it over the past few weeks, this was not the case in the first season. It was a far more integral part of every session, and performed, in my opinion, quite beautifully for our needs.

Like, if it is not immediately clear to you what the frame is for, I'm sorely tempted to suggest you haven't been doing your homework on the first season. Better maybe to first ask if anyone else is this confused about why we have a frame and what we're trying to do with it? Because that giant wall of text seems to me to have "personal problem" stamped all over it, but if I'm the only one rolling my eyes at 95% of the issues Atanvaro is claiming the frame has, then we've got a pretty huge problem and definitely need to discuss at least some of what he's bringing up there.

Edit: Also, it is perfectly fine to identify problems with the project as you see them, but maybe cool it with the premise that the frame is "bad", either in principle or execution. You can be critical of specifics without painting it with such a blanket oversimplification.
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I think that what Atanvarno is giving us here is his full reasoning behind his disdain for the frame narrative.


It is not inaccurate to say that the frame in season 1 had some difficult, and possibly even weak, moments (looking at you episodes 5 and 6). Season 2's frame is a scriptwriter's nightmare. I think if anything, we will see very little of it.

The biggest thing to remember, though is that our frame, in addition to augmenting the main story in this season, is laying groundwork for later seasons. We don't need a Jacksonianly weak Aragorn, since we've developed his character by then, and he can maintain his mythic status. We don't need to insert Arwen where she doesn't belong just to get the audience to relate to her (and not root for Eowyn, which I did when first reading LoTR) because we already know and understand her character.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
We're not inserting Arwen anywhere, we are formulating a plausible narrative describing a piece of character development that must needs have taken place for the Arwen that exists in the Lord of the Rings to be present as and where she is.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
We're not inserting Arwen anywhere, we are formulating a plausible narrative describing a piece of character development that must needs have taken place for the Arwen that exists in the Lord of the Rings to be present as and where she is.
So we are in complete agreement on this point, then.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
What I said was that we "don't have to" do that. As in. We don't have to have her save Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen because we will already have developed her character.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
What I said was that we "don't have to" do that. As in. We don't have to have her save Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen because we will already have developed her character.
I see your point now, and I agree, one of the other benefits of having the frame, and this frame in particular, is what extra time it gives us with characters that seem much flatter in the published material.
 
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