In response to the Host's challenge in Episode 0-2 : How to visually depict the Valar

Anastasia

Member
The Hosts said (I've cleaned the dialogue up a little, so this is not verbatim):
Corey: Here is the direct challenge then to the costuming people ... and the visual design people ... you've got to come up with visuals for all of the Valar so that we can depict them and contain in a compressed visual form so, because we're going to have no narrator explaining it, right, think about all of the things that are said about the Valar, each one of the Valar in the Valaquenta and show us how to visually (I couldn't hear this last part)"
Trish: So obviously we have some homework before season one... but not for next time... you guys have got plenty of time
Corey: You've got several weeks
Trish: We actually do have... we actually have an episode that we plan to talk about costuming and stuff like that.

~~~~~~~~~~~​

I thought we could do some brainstorming in this forum.

If you wish to share artist renderings of the Valar that you like, please remember to credit the artist.

If you have specific quotes from the Valaquenta (or other parts of the Silmarillion) that you would like to share/are using as reference, I will add them to this post so that all of the references are in the same place.

Bre has kindly shared her hard work. She has compiled a document containing all visual references in the Silmarillion, HoME #1 and H0ME #2, it is available on Google Drive. The page specifically referencing the Valar can be found HERE

Anyways, I've got lots to do this week, so unfortunately I can't contribute more that this at the moment. Have fun brainstorming!

Edit: June 27th, 2015
I added a direct link to Bre's document to his post.

Edit: March 29th, 2016
Here are the cues that the hosts provided in the first casting episode (http://silmfilm.mythgard.org/session-16-episode-14-casting/)
Melkor:
Dark hair, pale skin, physically powerful
Mairon:
Red hair, boyish
Manwe:
Older, close cropped silver hair, humble, possibly Native American casting
Varda:
Beautiful, dark hair with streaks of silver
Ulmo:
Long hair (possibly dreadlocks); short beard; sturdy build; possibly Asian, Pacific Islander, or African casting
Aule:
Big featured, ruddy, possibly Slavic casting
Yavanna:
Tree-ish, Gaia/earth mother, natural long hair, possibly West African casting
Nienna:
Pale, piercing eyes, veil, not eye-catching
Tulkas:
Burly, exuberant
Nessa:
Young, graceful/ballerina, Tan, possibly Asian or Latina casting
Orome:
Tall, lean, gruff, blond and Nordic (looks like the Rohirrim)
Vana:
Youngest, pretty, flowery, looks a little like Yavanna
Mados:
Gravitas, wise, possibly Japanese casting
Vaire:
Cold, intimidating, intense, mature
Lorien:
Monk-like, gorgeous, restful, possibly Asian casting
Este:
Beautiful, sleepy, possibly Asian casting
Osse:
Long, matted hair and beard; wild; thin
Uinen:
Longest hair, green straight smooth hair, gymnast/martial artist build
Melian:
Beautiful; raven-haired; grey-eyed; possibly Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, or gypsy casting
Olorin:
Possibly young, possibly short.
Curumo:
Tall, thin, formal
Ungoliant:
Femme fatale, Morticia Addams
Eonwe:
Young, Strapping, thin but broad shouldered, like a knight, a little like Manwe
Ilmare:
Young, echoes Varda, possibly same hair but different skin
Gothmog:
Wings, classically beautiful/angelic, blonde hair, blue eyes

Edit April 23rd 2016:
Information from the second casting episode Session 18 (http://silmfilm.mythgard.org/session-18-casting-poll-results-costuming-chat/)

-Discussion of how "weird" to make the Valar, no definite decisions made, but definitely more humanoid than elemental because it is easier to relate to humanoid beings than to elements.
Melkor: Michael Fassbender
-should look like he hoards light
-diamond and silver jewelry
-should have a circlet which gradually becomes the iron crown.
-No armour, he believes that the other Valar are the aggressors.
-He is trying to look strong and benevolent (to those that submit to his rule)
-un valiant
Mairon: Simon Woods
-costume begins simple and becomes more ornate as the season progresses to suggest Melkor's influence
-costume should look like he is a craftsman making an artwork out of himself. This can perhaps be done with jewelry and/or decorative armour.
-be careful not to make him look like he is the leader and Aule is the follower.
-should have rings and a circlet
-colours, reds and Browns, getting more fiery as the season progresses.
-red hair, no glowing eyes
-Aule's followers look like art students in Browns and greys, Mairon is differentiated by the red accents in his costume
Manwe: Daniel Day Lewis
-long white or grey hair, styled so it evokes feathers
-Sapphires, sky and stormy blues, white and silver
-his Eagles should look like him.
-no crown, to emphasize his humility
Varda: Lucy Liu
-Deep sky purple with silver accents, attendants in white/silver
-Silver accents should be light, nothing heavy.
-lots of stars in her costume, stars in her hair is of particular interest for certain scenes
-Starry eyes
-no nimbus, but generalized lighting effects to evoke her purview.
Ulmo: Manu Bennett
-costume should evoke all waters, not just the sea
-greens and blues
Aule: Liev Schreiber
-unkempt, as though he is so focused on his work that he forgets to attend to his own appearance.
-Browns and greys
-costume must include a smith's apron
Yavanna: Gina Torres
Nienna: Marion Cotillard
-dark grey
-veil
Tulkas: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
-close cropped Roman blonde hair
Nessa: Summer Glau
Orome: Alexander Skarsgard
-green, but not Robin Hood, furs and fur colours too
-was Yavanna's son in an earlier version
-proto-Rohirrim
Vana: Amanda Stenberg
Mandos: Idris Elba
-dark and foreboding
Vaire: Holly Hunter
-grey hair, light costume, in contrast to Mandos
Lorien: Alexander Siddig
-middle eastern influence
Este: Lyndie Greenwood
Osse: Ben Schnetzer
-goatee
-lighter blues
-eely/slippery
Uinen: Sophia Boutella
-dancer/martial artist look
Melian: Rachel Weisz
Olorin: Gael Garcia Bernal
-the hosts do not want him to wear grey or white
-he is a follower of Nienna
(Personal note: I am not sure how we are going to make those two statements work together given the proposed framework of the followers of specific Valar keeping to the colour scheme of their associated Vala)
Curumo: Domhall Gleeson
Ungoliant: Morena Baccarin
-hosts like the short hair
Eonwe: Liam Hemsworth
Ilmare: Yoojun Kim
Gothmog: Chris Pine
 
Last edited:

Chris Durston

New Member
I don't have any sketches or anything but I was thinking about that question of how to visually differentiate the Valar from the Elves, and I think there must be ways of subtly altering their appearances through makeup or CGI just to make them look slightly alien, with some remnants of their elemental forms. I also thought, although this might be going too far: on what the visitors to Valinor would see, perhaps the Valar would be sat in elevated thrones of some sort surrounding them, just for a real cue that they aren't on the same level. For bonus points, their thrones could be visually reminiscent of their elemental attributes (Varda's is made up of plants etc). Too much?
 

Bre

Active Member
Here's a collection of fan art of various Valar for starters. Feature artists include: Gerwell , Wavesheep, Phobs , Mallow213, Juliette Brocal, Jenna Kass, Luaen, Ted Nasmith, John Howe, Monkeyelbow, r-navy, Elena Kukanova, Jian Guo, ems-uitwaaien, Aaron Diaz, Marta Milczarek; I'm collecting a ton of Silmarillion fan art HERE if you want to see more.

Additionally, we do have a work-in-progress document with a list of passages to help provide some canon visual information for the Valar HERE.

NOTE: There's an image limit so I'm going to have to divide this up into multiple posts

--------

Manwe:


Varda:
 
Last edited:

Bre

Active Member
Uinen:



Eonwe:


---------------
Sorry that some of the images were bigger than others, not all of these have made it onto my tumblr yet, so I don't have the resized link yet for those images.

I'm going to try and draw some of my own Valar art sometime within the next week, but for now the fan art of others will have to do.
 

rebekahh

New Member
Bre, thanks so much for posting these. I've been following some of these artists on Deviant Art for a long time and they're some of my favorite representations of the Valar.
 

Anastasia

Member
Bre, Thank you for posting all of those images, I think they are all interesting variations on the idea of how to portray each of the Valar.

Chris Durston said:
I don't have any sketches or anything but I was thinking about that question of how to visually differentiate the Valar from the Elves, and I think there must be ways of subtly altering their appearances through makeup or CGI just to make them look slightly alien, with some remnants of their elemental forms. I also thought, although this might be going too far: on what the visitors to Valinor would see, perhaps the Valar would be sat in elevated thrones of some sort surrounding them, just for a real cue that they aren't on the same level. For bonus points, their thrones could be visually reminiscent of their elemental attributes (Varda's is made up of plants etc). Too much?
I think the hosts had agreed on a difference in scale as a way of differentiating the Valar from the Elves but I agree with you that there should be other physical markers. In fact, within the images that Bre posted, the ones I like most are ones where their elemental forms have melded with their physical ones. I think that the thrones could work, but only in scenes where the Valar are sitting in judgement on someone.

I'd like to touch on a few different points regarding the physicality of the Valar, and how we might achieve it.

The first point is that these are not people wearing clothes, they are divine beings who take on forms in order to better interact with the other children of Illuvatar. As such, their costumes needn't subscribe to any of the physical rules that apply to us. The costumes could extend from their bodies, rather than covering their bodies, they could clothed in shapes that for us would be impractical, the costumes could have a life of their own, subtly shifting and changing depending on what is going on in the scene.

How would we achieve these things? Well, hair, makeup and wardrobe can do a lot.
I recently watched Cloud Atlas. In it, many of the lead actors played several roles, and with the skilled use of hair, makeup and wardrobe, it was not always apparent who was who. I found a great image which highlights this fact HERE.

With regards to costume specifically, I think a good way to think about what can be achieved through costume is to look at high fashion. The selected object page for the MET's exhibit Alexander McQueen:Savage Beauty is a good example of the sculptural and imaginative shapes that can be achieved through costume alone. We can create fantasy shapes without needing to worry too much about practicality (aside from the practicality of the actor being able to move) because the Valar aren't hindered by their clothes, their clothes are part of them.

Makeup can be used to achieve a sense of otherness through the use of prosthetics (Lady Gaga, Born this way) or colour (Tilda Swinton, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) or both (Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy).

Other fantastical effects can be achieved through a collaboration between departments, Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe being a good example. To achieve his look, hair, makeup, wardrobe, and visual effects all had to work together. A video explaining the collaboration can be found HERE. I think that a similar collaboration could be used to beautiful effect with the Valar, for example, the hem of Yavanna's gown could become part of the earth, or Ulmo's robe could change colour with the ocean.
 
Last edited:

Chris Durston

New Member
Bre, Thank you for posting all of those images, I think they are all interesting variations on the idea of how to portray each of the Valar.



I think the hosts had agreed on a difference in scale as a way of differentiating the Valar from the Elves but I agree with you that there should be other physical markers. In fact, within the images that Bre posted, the ones I like most are ones where their elemental forms have melded with their physical ones. I think that the thrones could work, but only in scenes where the Valar are sitting in judgement on someone.

I'd like to touch on a few different points regarding the physicality of the Valar, and how we might achieve it.

The first point is that these are not people wearing clothes, they are divine beings who take on forms in order to better interact with the other children of Illuvatar. As such, their costumes needn't subscribe to any of the physical rules that apply to us. The costumes could extend from their bodies, rather than covering their bodies, they could clothed in shapes that for us would be impractical, the costumes could have a life of their own, subtly shifting and changing depending on what is going on in the scene.

How would we achieve these things? Well, hair, makeup and wardrobe can do a lot.
I recently watched Cloud Atlas. In it, many of the lead actors played several roles, and with the skilled use of hair, makeup and wardrobe, it was not always apparent who was who. I found a great image which highlights this fact HERE.

With regards to costume specifically, I think a good way to think about what can be achieved through costume is to look at high fashion. The selected object page for the MET's exhibit Alexander McQueen:Savage Beauty is a good example of the sculptural and imaginative shapes that can be achieved through costume alone. We can create fantasy shapes without needing to worry too much about practicality (aside from the practicality of the actor being able to move) because the Valar aren't hindered by their clothes, their clothes are part of them.

Makeup can be used to achieve a sense of otherness through the use of prosthetics (Lady Gaga, Born this way) or colour (Tilda Swinton, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) or both (Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy).

Other fantastical effects can be achieved through a collaboration between departments, Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe being a good example. To achieve his look, hair, makeup, wardrobe, and visual effects all had to work together. A video explaining the collaboration can be found HERE. I think that a similar collaboration could be used to beautiful effect with the Valar, for example, the hem of Yavanna's gown could become part of the earth, or Ulmo's robe could change colour with the ocean.
My thing with the scale idea is that I think it's probably necessary for the Valar to be larger than the Elves, and be able to change their shape and size, but I don't think it's sufficient. As Corey pointed out, the difference between Elves and Valar is one of fundamental kind, not scale or magnitude. So I think that the Valar certainly should be of a larger scale, but the visual effect of a few people talking to a few people who are larger than them but otherwise visually similar doesn't seem to be enough to show that the difference is of kind.

I really like the idea of having their costumes be a bit otherworldly/ impractical for those of us bound by mortal physical laws; I think that, perhaps combined with a slight colour shift effect, along with the scale difference, would go a long way to showing just how different Valar are to Elves.
 
What if, whatever costume design the Valar take, it is constantly subtly shifting. So however Ulmo, for example, is clothed, the shades and hues of the blue are always changing, like the tides going in and out. Varda could be forever twinkling, Yevanna could change hues like Spring and Autumn.

The nearest analogue for this is the superhero Rorshack in the film "Watchmen." His face is a perpetually changing ink-blot.
 

Chris Durston

New Member
What if, whatever costume design the Valar take, it is constantly subtly shifting. So however Ulmo, for example, is clothed, the shades and hues of the blue are always changing, like the tides going in and out. Varda could be forever twinkling, Yevanna could change hues like Spring and Autumn.

The nearest analogue for this is the superhero Rorshack in the film "Watchmen." His face is a perpetually changing ink-blot.
I really like this idea as a way of showing just how much of a different level these things are on. I was thinking maybe they could even be filmed at a different frame rate (see Quicksilver in Days of Future Past) or have some sort of colour shift applied, just to keep a constant visual difference.
 

Rowen

New Member
I do say I'm glad to see images of Melkor and Sauron that are not Big Evil Black Armor, and I hope that, from a visual and costuming standpoint, that that's not the route that's chosen, especially since both are described as, at some point, being able to take on an attractive visage (I also don't view Angband as being COMPLETELY dark and evil. Maybe utilitarian and austere).
 

Cheryl Cardoza

New Member
First off, I like Bre's suggestion way back that the Valar are connected to their element whatever that might be. I also like the idea of subtle color shifting suggested by Morgan. A higher frame rate is a great idea for capturing that otherness, Chris.

The main thing I want to see is that we remember that the Valar wear their appearances as clothes to make the children of Iluvatar comfortable around them. For me, that means they are shape shifters who can change these clothes at will and for different purposes. For example, when Ulmo speaks to Tuor when we get to the Fall of Gondolin, does he rise from the ocean like Poseidon complete with trident (ala Xena)? I think not. It makes more sense for him to be an unfamiliar grizzled fisherman that speaks to Tuor, but he shifts subtly in color and speed as suggested before, so Tuor catches on, or Ulmo reveals who he is. At first Tuor will not believe him, but we can establish rules of magic or otherness that help to distinguish the character. Or he simply walks into the ocean before Tuor's eyes. Same with Melkor/Morgoth. How does he appear before the elves he leads into corruption? Rowen is right to say we shouldn't just put him in a bad guy costume with obvious black armor etc. He would have seemed beautiful and compelling to those he led astray. He would appear as they wanted to see him, not as he was at the core. But there would be an elemental core that would emanate that darkness, a hint that would flash at the audience at key moments.

I think holding to shape shifting ideas will help us weave more of the Valar and Maiar into the stories too. This would be in response to the notion that the Valar seem to abandon Middle Earth and helping its inhabitants. There are only a few key moments that are mentioned in Tolkien's work of the Valar stepping up and helping out, but what if they are there, only disguised in ways that people don't always see them or understand who they really are. A handmaiden brings a character something important, but as she leaves the room, we catch a glimpse of the elemental that is Varda or Nienna, and with a knowing smile she leaves the characters to their fate. What if Yavanna disguised as an entwife leads them to better lands? What if Aule in dwarf guise aids in a battle to save his people?

We would want to be subtle about how these characters shift their guises and appear different from others. My suggestion is that this is done with peaks into that otherness as opposed to an overall glow or filter that makes them other. There would be times, in my opinion, when their guises would be very convincing, and their otherness concealed at least partially.

Anyway... A long ramble after the last silmfilm podcast. Sorry it's taken me so long to jot these out to you all.
Cheryl
 

MattDBA

New Member
For example, when Ulmo speaks to Tuor when we get to the Fall of Gondolin, does he rise from the ocean like Poseidon complete with trident (ala Xena)? I think not.
Cheryl
Actually that's exactly how Tolkien depicted it (perhaps sans trident, I don't remember) when he came to write it. It's the very first story in Unfinished Tales. Which is not to say that must be how we do it, but that's how it was done when it was done.
 

Bre

Active Member
Actually that's exactly how Tolkien depicted it (perhaps sans trident, I don't remember) when he came to write it. It's the very first story in Unfinished Tales. Which is not to say that must be how we do it, but that's how it was done when it was done.
I think everyone assumes a trident but there isn't ever one actually mentioned. There's mention (looking across all versions and drafts) of a great conch/horn, a fishy cart, a silver crown, long hair, a grey mantle of mist, a gleaming coat of mail like fish scales, and a deep green tunic. I haven't finished going through all the drafts yet in my search for these types of details, so it's possible it will turn up, but I think we can all blame Poseidon, King Trident,and John Howe and Ted Nasmith's art for us all imagining Ulmo having a Trident.

But whatever, the Trident is cool, and Manwe gets to have his sapphire scepter, so why not let Ulmo also have something.

And for fun, here's the passage from Unfinished Tales (aka the most canon version of this particular part of the story):

Now Tuor felt his feet drawn to the sea-strand, and he went down by long stairs to a wide shore upon
the north side of Taras-ness; and as he went he saw that the sun was sinking low into a great black cloud that
came up over the rim of the darkening sea; and it grew cold, and there was a stirring and murmur as of a
storm to come. And Tuor stood upon the shore, and the sun was like a smoky fire behind the menace of the
sky; and it seemed to him that a great wave rose far off and rolled towards the land, but wonder held him,
and he remained there unmoved. And the wave came towards him, and upon it lay a mist of shadow. Then
suddenly as it drew near it curled, and broke, and rushed forward in long arms of foam; but where it had
broken there stood dark against the rising storm a living shape of great height and majesty.

Then Tuor bowed in reverence, for it seemed to him that he beheld a mighty king. A tall crown he
wore like silver, from which his long hair fell down as foam glimmering in the dusk and as he cast back the
grey mantle that hung about him like a mist, behold! he was clad in a gleaming coat, close-fitted as the mail
of mighty fish, and in a kirtle of deep green that flashed and flickered with sea-fire as he strode slowly
towards the land. In this manner the Dweller of the Deep, whom the Noldor name Ulmo, Lord of Waters,
showed himself to Tuor son of Huor of the House of Hador beneath Vinyamar.

He set no foot upon the shore, but standing knee-deep in the shadowy sea he spoke to Tuor, and then
for the light of his eyes and for the sound of his deep voice that came as it seemed from the foundations of
the world, fear fell upon Tuor and he cast himself down upon the sand.
 
Top