Frame Narrative

Shawn Mitchell

Active Member
Seems like this comes down to the audience you’re writing it for. In all reality a lot of the discussions we have here are centered on what a Tolkien fanatic (probably almost everyone who finds themselves on these boards) would love. Arwen telling the story? Every “fan” loves this … it’s just more fleshing out of characters we love. NOW, the average joe who sits down and wants to watch T.V.? At that point the Arwen “frame” is very strained. I may not be as blunt as Atanvarno was about it but I absolutely agree with the conclusion.

Again, myself (as a fan), loves anything we can do with these characters. However, if I think of this from the perspective of the average T.V. person (who hasn’t cared about Tolkien or his world in 13 years) the Arwen frame adds very little to the MAIN story and, as pointed out, probably detracts.

So if we're really writing it for "us" to enjoy then why not do the Arwen frame? If we are genuinely trying to write it for a general T.V. audience ... ummm, I think you'd lose em'.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
I don't agree with everything you say Atanvarno in the 'Bad frame'-post, but I thank you for taking time to formulate your thoughts about this. I agree that this season's frame has problems. In my mind, it can be summed up in two points: connection and threat. This season's frame hasn't got enough of those things.
Connection: I agree that we would be better off telling the story to or through a human, or possibly a hobbit. We can connect to elves, but they are supposed to be those who now have left, who are passing or gone, into the west, into legend.
Threat: Lothlorien is a safe place. There is some family dynamics but nothing's really pressing. It makes you a bit sleepy.
To change these things, I think we should leave Lothlorien. We should take Arwen somewhere else, perhaps to the Elosterion stone or the Havens, or Dol Amroth, I don't know...
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff 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.
YOU GUYS. Do you realize that in this project we can justify keeping Glorfindel at the Ford of Bruinen?! Any adapter sees his scene as a wonderful character introduction, but then....Glorfindel drops out of the story after the Council of Elrond. So, it's a 'waste' to have him there. Bakshi substituted Legolas. Jackson used Arwen. WE CAN USE GLORFINDEL, and it will be a send-off of a character we've seen over several different seasons, rather than an intro.

*happy dance*

Ahem. Carry on. Yes....frame...erudite discussion....yes.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Indeed, the strongest argument for use of the frame is, to me, the setup of characters we want to use without saying much about. Gildor, Glorfindel, Bombadil, and Prince Imrahil being among them.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
So what do we want to say about Arwen before she meets Aragorn?

We want her to have an interest in Middle Earth, and not be content to be 'closed up' in Lothlorien or Rivendell. So, that requires at least one frame where she rides out to a place outside of Lothlorien for some reason. The idea of aiding the men of the Anduin and getting a cameo by Gollum is pretty good for that.

We want to explore her background, as a daughter of High Elves who has never been to Valinor herself (and of course it's much more complicated than that).

We want to see the differences between Rivendell and Lothlorien.

We want to see Arwen's reaction to the choice of staying in Middle Earth vs going to Valinor develop over the course of the season. We need to see her interact with people who have made different choices. Her mother - Half-Noldo, Half-Sindar, born in Middle Earth, went to Valinor. Her brothers - as mixed heritage as she, and very content to stay in Middle Earth...but interested in riding out and hunting orcs and befriending Men (not content to stay in Rivendell). Her father - a 'widower' whose wife is in Valinor, but he chooses to remain in Middle Earth, and mostly stays in Rivendell. Her grandmother - a Noldo princess who fell under the Ban, but always intended to go back to Valinor...someday. Not yet. Her grandfather - a Sindarin prince who is very content to remain in Middle Earth indefinitely, and has not experienced the 'sea-longing' himself. Random elves in Lothlorien, who see no reason to ever go beyond the borders. Random elves who decide that, since the roads are safe, now is the time to make the journey to the Sea. Mortals, who have no concept of any of this, and mostly fear the elves.

We want to say a lot about the nature of elves - immortality, sadness, fading - all of that, in this Frame.
 

Ray Burns

Active Member
Here's a thought.... Isn't there a palantir in Elostirion at the Tower Hills? And doesn't this stone look only back along the Straight Road to Valinor (or at least Tol Eressea)? What if Arwen journeys to Elostirion to use the palantir and talk with an elf at Tol Eressea? This would allow us to use the Frame to relate a story as told by someone in the Undying Lands.

Imagine the rebellion of the Noldor as told by Finarfin....

Yeah, I know... this would be a scary door to open for the frame, but we could say that she got to use the stone by the grace of her father and the indulgence of Cirdan or something to explain why it can only happen once.
 

Shawn Mitchell

Active Member
So what do we want to say about Arwen before she meets Aragorn?

We want her to have an interest in Middle Earth, and not be content to be 'closed up' in Lothlorien or Rivendell. So, that requires at least one frame where she rides out to a place outside of Lothlorien for some reason. The idea of aiding the men of the Anduin and getting a cameo by Gollum is pretty good for that.

We want to explore her background, as a daughter of High Elves who has never been to Valinor herself (and of course it's much more complicated than that).

We want to see the differences between Rivendell and Lothlorien.

We want to see Arwen's reaction to the choice of staying in Middle Earth vs going to Valinor develop over the course of the season. We need to see her interact with people who have made different choices. Her mother - Half-Noldo, Half-Sindar, born in Middle Earth, went to Valinor. Her brothers - as mixed heritage as she, and very content to stay in Middle Earth...but interested in riding out and hunting orcs and befriending Men (not content to stay in Rivendell). Her father - a 'widower' whose wife is in Valinor, but he chooses to remain in Middle Earth, and mostly stays in Rivendell. Her grandmother - a Noldo princess who fell under the Ban, but always intended to go back to Valinor...someday. Not yet. Her grandfather - a Sindarin prince who is very content to remain in Middle Earth indefinitely, and has not experienced the 'sea-longing' himself. Random elves in Lothlorien, who see no reason to ever go beyond the borders. Random elves who decide that, since the roads are safe, now is the time to make the journey to the Sea. Mortals, who have no concept of any of this, and mostly fear the elves.

We want to say a lot about the nature of elves - immortality, sadness, fading - all of that, in this Frame.
MithLuin,

Is there an outline somewhere that points to what the frame will be doing episode to episode ... or is that the exact thing we are trying to hammer out now? I'm trying to keep up and the main narrative will be very information intensive for episodes 8, 9, and 10. It seems like we are going to use Arwen for the frame narrative and from what you've said here it looks pretty in depth ... which is fine. But are we going to try and spread it out so that it's not so overwhelming? Are we trying to pace things with the main narrative or is that not really an issue. The frame material is bit stressful haha.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
MithLuin,

Is there an outline somewhere that points to what the frame will be doing episode to episode ... or is that the exact thing we are trying to hammer out now? I'm trying to keep up and the main narrative will be very information intensive for episodes 8, 9, and 10. It seems like we are going to use Arwen for the frame narrative and from what you've said here it looks pretty in depth ... which is fine. But are we going to try and spread it out so that it's not so overwhelming? Are we trying to pace things with the main narrative or is that not really an issue. The frame material is bit stressful haha.
In a word, that's exactly right. Ok, that's three words, four if you count the contracted "is". This weekend, the hosts are getting together with us to work out the arc and outline of the frame, so we are trying to brainstorm as much as possible.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
So what do we want to say about Arwen before she meets Aragorn?

We want her to have an interest in Middle Earth, and not be content to be 'closed up' in Lothlorien or Rivendell. So, that requires at least one frame where she rides out to a place outside of Lothlorien for some reason. The idea of aiding the men of the Anduin and getting a cameo by Gollum is pretty good for that.

We want to explore her background, as a daughter of High Elves who has never been to Valinor herself (and of course it's much more complicated than that).

We want to see the differences between Rivendell and Lothlorien.

We want to see Arwen's reaction to the choice of staying in Middle Earth vs going to Valinor develop over the course of the season. We need to see her interact with people who have made different choices. Her mother - Half-Noldo, Half-Sindar, born in Middle Earth, went to Valinor. Her brothers - as mixed heritage as she, and very content to stay in Middle Earth...but interested in riding out and hunting orcs and befriending Men (not content to stay in Rivendell). Her father - a 'widower' whose wife is in Valinor, but he chooses to remain in Middle Earth, and mostly stays in Rivendell. Her grandmother - a Noldo princess who fell under the Ban, but always intended to go back to Valinor...someday. Not yet. Her grandfather - a Sindarin prince who is very content to remain in Middle Earth indefinitely, and has not experienced the 'sea-longing' himself. Random elves in Lothlorien, who see no reason to ever go beyond the borders. Random elves who decide that, since the roads are safe, now is the time to make the journey to the Sea. Mortals, who have no concept of any of this, and mostly fear the elves.

We want to say a lot about the nature of elves - immortality, sadness, fading - all of that, in this Frame.
See, now, THESE are the right questions to be asking. A lot of great seeds for scenes in there Marie.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Here are Phillip's suggestions for frame stories, back on page 11 of this thread:

So I have been thinking a lot more about the Arwen/Galadriel/Celeborn frame and trying to work out a coherent arc for those characters throughout Season 2. It will need some work, but I think there are some good things in there. The host are right. We can't just drop the crux of the matter on the viewers in episode 1, so it needs to be a drip feed of relevant information and revelations each episode about the events around Celebrian and how Arwen is thinking as she slowly weighs the issues in her mind. I have drawn on information from Appendix B The Tale of the Years because in a place where nothing happens you sometimes need to rely on outside events to find something that happened. So those events I have grabbed are the entry for 2944 "Gollum leaves the Mountains and begins his search for the 'thief' of the Ring" which happens two years after Bilbo returns to he Shire, and the entry for 2510, the same year that Celebrian departs over the sea, "Eorl the Young wins the victory of the Field of Celebrant". Unfinished tales tells how when they rode down the vale of the Anduin and came close to Dol Guldur, they were assisted by a gleaming mist flowing from LothLorien which drove back the glooms from Dol Guldur a sign that the powers in the forest actively assisted their passage which I think we can make a significant event for Galadriel as she has chosen Middle Earth over the risk of her daughter leaving for Valinor. I also think we can parallel the search for Celebrian by Eladan and Elrohir with the search for Elwe and the fading of Celebrian after her rescue with the fading of Miriel. There are a few places where there are gaps or I have made HUGE leaps that may not work. I think we also have to draw some conclusions from the events in the frame or the main story and get across the message that there are no right or wrong answers, there are only decisions and we have to live with them.
This also assumes that Celebrian went back to Lothlorien after she was rescued.
Let's get some discussion going on this otherwise I fear the frame will just get mishmashed about with no clear direction.

· Ep1 The waking of the elves at Cuivienen, their lives, the threat of the Dark Hunter

· Arwen and Celeborn. Opening of episode the attack on Celebrian/dream by Arwen. Arwen recollects the time of loss. Celeborn recollects that the shadow has always been with us from the first days at Cuivienen.​

· Ep 2 The elvish ambassadors go to Valinor. The Valar debate, the invitation by Orome, the time in Valinor, the centuries pass in Cuivienen.

· Arwen and Galadriel. Galadriel dispels Arwen’s musings on the shadow as she describes the light and hope of life with the Valar and as we make our own future.​

· Ep 3 The great debate among the elder, to go or to stay. Divisions arise among the kindreds. The avari stay. Introduction of individuals among the elder. Stirring words from Finwe.

· Decisions can make your destiny. The fate of the world was decided at this time and it shapes your future, so decide carefully.​

· Ep 4 The journey of the Vanyar and Noldor to Valinor. The Teleri continue their journey slowly as they linger in Middle Earth. The Nandor stay in the Anduin valley and Greenwood the Great. Elwe goes missing at end of episode falling for Melian.

· Celeborn muses over the beauty of Middle Earth and the desire to stay. Home is where your heart is and you can make your home wherever you wish.​

· Ep 5 The Sindar looking for Elwe. Cirdan and Olwe get to the coast. Their friendship with Osse. The choices of Olwe and Cirdan. Elwe is found and the Sindar decide to stay. Elwe has found what he was looking for in Melian.

· Eladan and Elrohir visit and recount their search for Celebrian and their finding of her. Relief of her being reunited with family.​

· Ep 6 The final voyage of the Teleri, the making of the swanships and the establishment of Alqualonde. Vanyar move to Taniquetil. The air of Valinor is too intense so the elves settle close to the coast. In effect the last chance to go to Valinor.

· Eladan and Elrohir inform Arwen that her mentor is leaving for the Blessed realm​

· Ep 7 Noontide of Valinor. Personal stories of Finwe and his two marriages, the fading of Miriel, the birth of Feanor, the second marriage.

· Release from angst as Arwen with Galadriel remember happy days after Celebrian had been rescued, but her happiness is marred as the poison/scars and memories from her time in captivity resurface and she starts to fade just like Miriel.​

· Ep 8 Melkor’s release.

· Rumours of Gollum in the Vale of Anduin, stealing babies etc. Arwen goes to investigate with some of the Galadhrim.​

· Ep 9 The making of the Silmarils, Feanor’s pride, Galadriel’s refusal to give hair to Feanor.

· Arwen and Galadriel. Her vow to never give her hair away to anyone.​

· Ep 10 The kinstrife, Feanor’s quarrel and banishment to Formenos.

· Celeborn and Galadriel quarrel.​

· Ep 11 Rumours in Valinor. The Valar finally track the strife back to Melkor’s lies spread throughout the Noldor. Feanor slams the door in Melkor’s face.

· Celeborn recounts how Celebrian became paranoid in her final days in Lothlorien, believing that family were lying to her and keeping her captive, losing her grip on reality. No healing can be found in Middle Earth.​

· Ep 12 The hunt for Melkor, Melkor flees and ends up in Ungoliant’s lair.

· Galadriel recounts how in the face of her daughter declining she actively aided Eorl the Young and the ancestors of the Rohirrim on their ride to the Field of Celebrant.​

· Ep 13 The darkening of Valinor. The death of the trees through to the death of Finwë, thieves quarrel, Melkor’s rescue by Balrogs.

· Galadriel and Celeborn recount the leaving of Celebrian for the West (Middle Earth became too dark for her), Arwen ponders her fate when her time comes. Will it be the same as her mentor or does she have a different fate?
I think rather than coming to a definite conclusion about Arwen's fate we just have to say that she has considered it and thought about the consequences of going as opposed to staying as her final decision is made in the context of Aragorn many years later. In addition I feel that Galariel at this time should cast her lot with Middle Earth and feels that the ban of the Valar still applies to her, one of the last remaining Noldor and has come to terms with the fact that she will be in exile for her entire life.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
Here's a thought.... Isn't there a palantir in Elostirion at the Tower Hills? And doesn't this stone look only back along the Straight Road to Valinor (or at least Tol Eressea)? What if Arwen journeys to Elostirion to use the palantir and talk with an elf at Tol Eressea? This would allow us to use the Frame to relate a story as told by someone in the Undying Lands.

Imagine the rebellion of the Noldor as told by Finarfin....

Yeah, I know... this would be a scary door to open for the frame, but we could say that she got to use the stone by the grace of her father and the indulgence of Cirdan or something to explain why it can only happen once.
This idea is tantilizing, Ray, but I think this season may not be the time to use it. I think I'd like to stay in Middle Earth. One of the things we decided not to do was over-rely on eye-witness accounts. Unless we specifically want to write some voice-over dialogue for the narrator while the scene is running, and paint it as how they remember it in a very explicit way, we've already sort of decided to fudge things they may not have know and include them in the main narrative as long as thematically it makes sense for them to be telling the story. For the themes here, I don't know that Finarfin's perspective is the right one for the telling of the rebellion. Our whole angle has been trying to understand elves returning to Valinor from the perspective of elves who are still in Middle Earth. A Noldo who never left would certainly have a unique perspective on the Flight of the Noldor, but I'm thinking that it's the wrong one for our purposes in this season.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
And my notes on frame ideas for the first 6 episodes, based on the script discussions, can be found on page 12 of this thread.

So, to update [my version - the Hosts will revisit the Frame at a later time]:

Episode 1 - Arwen remembers her mother being captured by orcs, and talks to Celeborn who tells her that fear and loss was always there, from the beginning. They discuss making decisions in the face of fear.

Episode 2 - Arwen greets Galadriel for a festival of the stars in Lothlorien, but the festival is different from the one Arwen remembers from Rivendell - there is no reference to Elbereth in the songs of the elves of Lorien. Arwen discusses her surprise with Celeborn and Galadriel. Arwen's friend and companion is introduced.

Episode 3 - Arwen and her friend discuss the friend's reasons for leaving Middle Earth, and they say their goodbyes.

Episode 4 - Arwen looks into the Mirror of Galadriel and witnesses the rescue of her mother by her brothers. She tells Celeborn that the knowledge doesn't help as much as she thought it would.

Episode 5 - Arwen's brothers Elladan and Elrohir come to visit, and they discuss their reasons for delaying their departure from Middle Earth. (They stick around for multiple episodes.)

Episode 6 - Celebrían's lingering sickness and decision to depart Middle Earth is shown in parallel to Míriel fading after the birth of Fëanor. Flashback of Elrond treating the wounded Celebrían in Rivendell. We will hear Galadriel's perspective.

(Also incorporate):
A visitor to Lothlorien (Gandalf? Radagast?) alerts the elves to a menace faced by the Men along the River. Arwen rides out to give them aid and help them conquer their fear.

Galadriel (in flashback) aiding the Rohirrim.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
Here are Phillip's suggestions for frame stories, back on page 11 of this thread:
Have some points about some of those, but largely the character beats that Phillip outlined there make a fairly solid arc. He has a couple spots where Arwen drops out too much, but I don't think it'll be a tremendous amount
of work for us to come up with appropriate responses from her that inform her final decision to stay in Middle Earth. I think the back drop of al of this ought to be the festival we added back in Episode.... 3? 4? I think it's a particularly convenient excuse for Arwen's trip and for the appearance of Elladan and Elrohir, the family squabbling, and Arwen's interaction with so many people even though she's ostensibly still mourning her mother and now the departure of her mentor. It might even be a sore spot that the mentor chose to leave around the time of the festival.

Edit: I like some of the more concrete action you've laid out up there too, Marie, I think all that dovetails really nicely.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
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.
Those are fighting words, you realize? Corey Olsen has *clearly* given a good deal of thought to whether or not this story should have a frame narrative. It was one of the first issues he raised with the announcement of the SilmFilm project at MythMoot III, and his interest in the Eriol and Aelfwine frames created by Tolkien is clear. It was one of the topics of Season 0 to sort out prior to beginning Season 1. As for what form it should take, there was talk of a variety of different options, from the idea of three main narratives that would frame each season, and then repeat, to one single Frame for the entire show, to what we landed on, which is rotating frames in roughly chronological order through the 3rd Age.

Sure, we don't always like the choices that are made. I would have preferred to follow Bilbo home from Rivendell and have a Shire-based frame for Season 2. OR keep the Frame always in Rivendell, so it can serve as the House of Lore that it is clearly meant to be. Or....

But there is a difference between 'I don't like these choices' and 'Clearly, no one thought about this.' If this were a rancorous over-budget work meeting, you'd get a nasty e-mail in reply to this. Luckily, we are a (largely) academic project without a budget, so there's no worry of that.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I mean, I think it would be fair to characterize some of my responses so far as "nasty".

At the very least, "exhasperated".
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I hesitate to say this should be a rule, but generally speaking I feel like the person listening to the story in the frame should be hearing it for the first time; sort of an audience surrogate-type.

I feel like everybody already being in the know really changes the context of the story in a way that feels wrong.
This is the main reason I feel the 'storytelling' element had to drop out of this frame. We didn't have an in-frame listener who doesn't know these stories, so people in the frame bringing up or alluding to past events without breaking into full-on storyteller mode seems to be the way to go.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I do find the idea of getting Finarfin's point of view very attractive, but I think I'd rather get the episode following the Kinslaying through his eyes.

My main concern is maintaining a direction in the frame without rehashing the same conflict over and over again. That was one of the dangers we faced in Season 1 with the Gilraen v Elrond arc. We managed, I think, to find some creative ways around that, and I am hoping we can do the same here.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Collecting old posts that are still relevant:

One thing I want to consider is what information we plan to share with the audience when. The frame story is stretched out over 13 episodes in small doses, so it has to build to some reveals and new insights. Here are some details that should come out, and probably not all in the first episode:
  1. Arwen is Elrond's daughter.
  2. Galadriel and Celeborn are Arwen's (maternal) grandparents.
  3. Arwen is several thousand years old (so, an adult). She is unmarried.
  4. Arwen's mother is not around.
  5. Arwen's mother Celebrían was attacked by orcs in the Misty Mountains.
  6. Celebrían did not die in the attack, but chose to depart overseas to Valinor.
  7. Arwen's choice, as the daughter of Elrond Halfelven?
We don't want to drag things out too long; if the audience figures things out long before we 'reveal' them, they'll be bored. But I think there can be an element of mystery in a gradual reveal. We should show the audience that Celebrían is missing before we show WHY. Obviously, Celeborn, Arwen and Galadriel all know what happened to her, so it's not like a secret or anything. But the audience can assume early in the season that she is dead, and only learn later that her being missing is something else. That should make the story more interesting to watch.

Some things should definitely be revealed in the first episode - Arwen's relationship to Celeborn and Galadriel, for instance. And we shouldn't drag on giving the audience other details. Just...not reveal too much up front, either, if there is a more gradual organic way of presenting the pertinent information.

Part of what this season is doing is revealing to the audience that Elrond does in fact share Gilraen's loss and grief in a very personal way. He never mentioned it in Season 1, but when we return to Rivendell in Season 3, we'll KNOW that about him now. It will change how the audience sees his interactions with her. So, including him in this first episode frame may be helpful, even if we won't see him for the rest of the season.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, the Elostirion stone! It's risky doing it, but I think it could be used. I mentioned it only yesterday but also back in May...
 
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