S04E06 Script Discussion

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Hi, Octoburn! Glad you are having the chance to dive into these scripts. We'll be discussing episodes 8 and 9 next live session.

As for the language, we're kind of 'finding a voice' this season. In seasons 1-3, there was very little attempt to turn the ideas for this show into actual dialogue (a scene here or there, but no actual scripts beyond the pilot). One goal is to 'seamlessly' make use of the dialogue in the published Silmarillion - so, a somewhat archaic style is necessary, so that a line like, "If there lay no grievance between us, lord, still the kingship would rightly come to you, the eldest here of the house of Finwë, and not the least wise," does not sound completely jarring and out of place. We want to build a way of speaking for these characters around the handful of examples in the text.

In that example, Maedhros says "you," not "thee," most likely because this is a formal setting where he is acclaiming a king, not talking privately with his father's half-brother in a friendly setting. He is attempting a reconciliation that is not yet accomplished. But obviously our show has to have a lot of private moments between people who are close family members....so....the thee/thou thing is gonna come up in some capacity.

I would not say we are wed to doing this exactly this way - we're trying it out, trying to give these characters voices, and trying to make them sound like themselves. But, this is more a 'first pass' than a set decision on how to do that, so we're certainly open to suggestions of how to make these people talk. We may be able to err on the side of more 'intimate' moments having thee/thou, while most of the public dialogue stays formal enough to avoid that.

I am eager to hear suggestions on how to handle this question, and started a thread on it here:
https://forums.signumuniversity.org/index.php?threads/modern-turns-of-phrase-and-archaic-language.3549/

I realize that on some level, it is personal taste...but if it's jarring, it's probably not quite working as-is, and there's probably a better way to handle things. I know it will take some getting used to, and for some people, reading 'The Sun Doth Still Shine' doesn't sound significantly different from 'The Sun Still Shines'. I'm not sure what a middle ground would be...perhaps 'The Sun Yet Shines'? But then you'd probably have to consider 'Shineth'.
 

Octoburn

Active Member
A. The style of dialogue has been discussed at various points, but nothing was officially decided on. When I began writing the scripts, I decided to go wit the "thees" and "thous" for two main reasons. First, I wanted to be able to lift dialogue directly from both the published Silmarillion and Tolkien's older writings without modernizing it. Second, since this project will cover thousands of years of history, we can show how the language develops over time.
See, I think we can modernize it, without going too far, and losing the archaic feel of it. Obviously, I am against going as far as talking about menus and nervous systems, but nudging it a bit farther from BoLT style and closer to LotR style.

I understand the benefit of showing the change of language over the thousands of years of Middle-earth history, but I don't know how well it would actually come off on-screen.

B. When writing the scripts, I have tried to keep in mind that there won't be any actual shooting done based on them, so I have tried to avoid making them choppy by breaking them into lots of individual shots. That said, I do tend to write with fewer large paragraph rather than more smaller paragraphs, which is something I can work to improve.
Yeah, my understanding was that style was used mostly because of the fact that this is theoretical,and therefore doesn't involve things like that. But it is a good practice.
Hi, Octoburn! Glad you are having the chance to dive into these scripts. We'll be discussing episodes 8 and 9 next live session.

As for the language, we're kind of 'finding a voice' this season. In seasons 1-3, there was very little attempt to turn the ideas for this show into actual dialogue (a scene here or there, but no actual scripts beyond the pilot). One goal is to 'seamlessly' make use of the dialogue in the published Silmarillion - so, a somewhat archaic style is necessary, so that a line like, "If there lay no grievance between us, lord, still the kingship would rightly come to you, the eldest here of the house of Finwë, and not the least wise," does not sound completely jarring and out of place. We want to build a way of speaking for these characters around the handful of examples in the text.

In that example, Maedhros says "you," not "thee," most likely because this is a formal setting where he is acclaiming a king, not talking privately with his father's half-brother in a friendly setting. He is attempting a reconciliation that is not yet accomplished. But obviously our show has to have a lot of private moments between people who are close family members....so....the thee/thou thing is gonna come up in some capacity.

I would not say we are wed to doing this exactly this way - we're trying it out, trying to give these characters voices, and trying to make them sound like themselves. But, this is more a 'first pass' than a set decision on how to do that, so we're certainly open to suggestions of how to make these people talk. We may be able to err on the side of more 'intimate' moments having thee/thou, while most of the public dialogue stays formal enough to avoid that.

I am eager to hear suggestions on how to handle this question, and started a thread on it here:
https://forums.signumuniversity.org/index.php?threads/modern-turns-of-phrase-and-archaic-language.3549/

I realize that on some level, it is personal taste...but if it's jarring, it's probably not quite working as-is, and there's probably a better way to handle things. I know it will take some getting used to, and for some people, reading 'The Sun Doth Still Shine' doesn't sound significantly different from 'The Sun Still Shines'. I'm not sure what a middle ground would be...perhaps 'The Sun Yet Shines'? But then you'd probably have to consider 'Shineth'.
Your example here is a reason why I believe that we could eliminate/lessen the use of thee/thou without hurting the archaic feel we have in the dialogue provided.

I once took a lot of the Lay of Leithian that was in the rhyming style, and turned the dialogue into more presentable dialogue that wasn't rhyming. I think it worked out pretty well.

There are instances, however that I cannot imagine this being changed. Mainly, Fingolfin's challenge to Morgoth, starting with "come forth, thou coward king" I could not imagine being "come forth, you coward king."
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Hi, Octoburn! Glad you are having the chance to dive into these scripts. We'll be discussing episodes 8 and 9 next live session.

As for the language, we're kind of 'finding a voice' this season. In seasons 1-3, there was very little attempt to turn the ideas for this show into actual dialogue (a scene here or there, but no actual scripts beyond the pilot). One goal is to 'seamlessly' make use of the dialogue in the published Silmarillion - so, a somewhat archaic style is necessary, so that a line like, "If there lay no grievance between us, lord, still the kingship would rightly come to you, the eldest here of the house of Finwë, and not the least wise," does not sound completely jarring and out of place. We want to build a way of speaking for these characters around the handful of examples in the text.

In that example, Maedhros says "you," not "thee," most likely because this is a formal setting where he is acclaiming a king, not talking privately with his father's half-brother in a friendly setting. He is attempting a reconciliation that is not yet accomplished. But obviously our show has to have a lot of private moments between people who are close family members....so....the thee/thou thing is gonna come up in some capacity.

I would not say we are wed to doing this exactly this way - we're trying it out, trying to give these characters voices, and trying to make them sound like themselves. But, this is more a 'first pass' than a set decision on how to do that, so we're certainly open to suggestions of how to make these people talk. We may be able to err on the side of more 'intimate' moments having thee/thou, while most of the public dialogue stays formal enough to avoid that.

I am eager to hear suggestions on how to handle this question, and started a thread on it here:
https://forums.signumuniversity.org/index.php?threads/modern-turns-of-phrase-and-archaic-language.3549/

I realize that on some level, it is personal taste...but if it's jarring, it's probably not quite working as-is, and there's probably a better way to handle things. I know it will take some getting used to, and for some people, reading 'The Sun Doth Still Shine' doesn't sound significantly different from 'The Sun Still Shines'. I'm not sure what a middle ground would be...perhaps 'The Sun Yet Shines'? But then you'd probably have to consider 'Shineth'.
The issue for me has been less about the "thees" and "thous", which appear in Elvish Silmarillion dialogue, than about the use of "-eth" or "-est" suffixes, which generally do not. When delivered smoothly, I'm not sure how jarring the occasional 'thee' or 'thou' would be in actual dialogue.

To be fair, my every day Bible translation was made in the 17th century, so I recognize that I may not be the best test case.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
The issue for me has been less about the "thees" and "thous", which appear in Elvish Silmarillion dialogue, than about the use of "-eth" or "-est" suffixes, which generally do not. When delivered smoothly, I'm not sure how jarring the occasional 'thee' or 'thou' would be in actual dialogue.

To be fair, my every day Bible translation was made in the 17th century, so I recognize that I may not be the best test case.
Well for example, the final words of Turin Turambar are delivered with (the published Silmarillion) and without (the 2007 standalone) thees and thous.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
I don't think it would sound right for our Third-Age frame characters to sound exactly the same as the First-Age characters, so I would rather try to keep both the archaic pronouns and verb forms. They help differentiate between the two stories and make it clear that the events of The Silmarillion happened way before those of LOTR.

Thinking about the show as a whole, the first few episodes of Season 1 (Ainulindale, etc.) are very frame-heavy, then the main story gradually becomes a larger part of the episodes. The viewers wouldn't be dumped right into archaic dialogue, and we could even have Elrond giving young Estel (and the viewers) a brief lesson on archaic grammar if we feel that's necessary.

For viewers who understand the thou/you difference, there is an added layer of depth to the dialogue. For those who do not understand it, it just contributes to the archaic feel. How well the archaic dialogue comes off depends mostly on how well the actors deliver those lines. If delivered genuinely, with the same emotion as would be behind modern dialogue, they would sound fine. If delivered pretentiously and stiffly, they would obviously sound wrong.

I am probably a bad data point like Nick, but I had never written in this kind of archaic dialogue before I started writing for Silmfilm, and I had very little trouble adjusting to it.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I don't think it would sound right for our Third-Age frame characters to sound exactly the same as the First-Age characters, so I would rather try to keep both the archaic pronouns and verb forms. They help differentiate between the two stories and make it clear that the events of The Silmarillion happened way before those of LOTR.

Thinking about the show as a whole, the first few episodes of Season 1 (Ainulindale, etc.) are very frame-heavy, then the main story gradually becomes a larger part of the episodes. The viewers wouldn't be dumped right into archaic dialogue, and we could even have Elrond giving young Estel (and the viewers) a brief lesson on archaic grammar if we feel that's necessary.

For viewers who understand the thou/you difference, there is an added layer of depth to the dialogue. For those who do not understand it, it just contributes to the archaic feel. How well the archaic dialogue comes off depends mostly on how well the actors deliver those lines. If delivered genuinely, with the same emotion as would be behind modern dialogue, they would sound fine. If delivered pretentiously and stiffly, they would obviously sound wrong.

I am probably a bad data point like Nick, but I had never written in this kind of archaic dialogue before I started writing for Silmfilm, and I had very little trouble adjusting to it.
I would just caution everyone that the way Tolkien typically does archaic language isn't through Elizabethan verb forms, but through syntax. His characters sound ancient not because they walketh down the street, but because down the street they walk.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The most 'archaic'-sounding elvish diction that we have to integrate is actually a Season 2 question, not a Season 4 question. (Whereas Men will be a Season 5 question; all I will say at this point is that Túrin should sound 'ancient' compared to Bard or Aragorn.)

Fingolfin has this to say to Finwë, right before Fëanor confronts him with a sword:
"King and Father, wilt thou not restrain the pride of our brother, Curufinwë, who is called the Spirit of Fire, all too truly? By what right does he speak for all our people, as if he were King? Thou it was who long ago spoke before the Quendi, bidding them accept the summons of the Valar to Aman. Thou it was that led the Noldor upon the long road through the perils of Middle-earth to the light of Eldamar. If thou dost not now repent of it, two sons at least thou hast to honour thy words."
If necessary, we could choose to tone that down a bit. Eliminate 'wilt,' cut his reference to both of his brother's names, etc. But it's also very possible to lean into this, and make the 'courtly' language of Tirion very formal and stilted and archaic, and then gradually move away from that as we enter Middle-earth with the Noldor in Season 3.

I agree that we want the Frame to sound different, and yet still not be modern. Hobbits are the 'most modern' characters in this story, and they're still c. 1900 (ie, 120 years ago!), not actually 'modern'. So, we have characters spanning from the depths of time (the Valar, Iluvatar, Morgoth, etc), through the First Age Elves, and into the Third Age characters, where we not only differentiate between Men and Elves, but also Dwarves and Hobbits and types of Men - Strider talks differently than Aragorn, who talks differently than the Rohirrim, etc, etc. Tolkien was very deft in creating subtle nuances in speech so that we knew who was who and how they differed from one another. Bilbo and Thorin have no trouble communicating with one another, but no one would ever mistake who said which line! Likewise, Sam Gamgee is a different class of hobbit from every other hobbit in the story, and that is made clear in his speech patterns.

So, yes, I want our First Age elves to sound Very Clearly Distinctly Different from our Frame Characters in their manner of speech. HOW we accomplish that goal is an open question. I think it is good that Rhiannon has erred on the side of Shakespearean-level archaic as a starting point, so that any attempts to mute it a bit will still preserve something of what she is going for (rather than to aim for 'subtle' and accidentally lose all distinction between elves in the Frame and Elves in the First Age!)

Eliminating all post-1920 (say) speech patterns from the dialogue is going to be a daunting task. While some things 'sound' archaic and others 'sound' modern, most people don't have an innate feel as to when and where certain turns of phrase came into use. The easiest way to pick up on it, of course, is to read something written in the time period you wish to emulate, and let that inform your choices. Or to painstakingly go through and check your work afterwards. I don't think we're quite to the stage of being ready for that thorough of a vetting (we're still confirming that the events are happening as described, for instance!), but I imagine that's going to be an ongoing process, as each person who reads a script says 'this line sounded all wrong to me and jarred me out of the rhythm of the story.'

Audiences will tolerate a lot, if you teach them to understand and write well. Historic dramas (like the Tudors or Outlander) are popular for reasons beyond their ridiculous amounts of nudity and explicit sex scenes. Modern audiences have little difficulty understanding Shakespeare when they see his works performed. Mel Gibson has made two films with R-rated graphic violence entirely in dead languages with subtitles (The Passion of the Christ and Apocolypto). A show such as Vikings uses historic languages for (some) of the dialogue at times (with subtitles).

And, of course, there are shows set in a 'historic' setting that pride themselves on updating to a more modern language. So, certainly, some audiences expect that, too. Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton makes little effort to keep the lyrics appropriate to the 1700s/early 1800s setting, with a few minor exceptions. ('I have the honour to be, your obedient servant.')

I think we would be making a mistake to cut all the thees/thous from these scripts, but it's possible we could use them differently than we are currently doing so.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
So, I generally think that "thee", "thou", "dost", "whilst", "hast", and other words like that would generally slip right by the audience without them having any trouble parsing it. I have a bit more trouble accepting the idea that they will hear characters saying, "Wishest thou I had gone before?"
 

Octoburn

Active Member
The issue for me has been less about the "thees" and "thous", which appear in Elvish Silmarillion dialogue, than about the use of "-eth" or "-est" suffixes, which generally do not. When delivered smoothly, I'm not sure how jarring the occasional 'thee' or 'thou' would be in actual dialogue.

To be fair, my every day Bible translation was made in the 17th century, so I recognize that I may not be the best test case.
Hmm. You may be onto something. My issue may not be with thee/thou, but rather with the suffixes as you described. I may try some rereading/rewriting (for my own personal ends) to see what I feel works best. Maybe leaning on one more than the other? (Thee/thou vs. walkest/shineth) Again, completely subjective and personal opinions on my end.

Maybe certain cultures lean different ways? for instance, maybe Noldor lean more towards the archaic syntax Nicholas demonstrated above, without leaning on the verb/noun forms, and Teleri could lean more towards the thee/thou stuff? Just spitballing ideas.

Oh, and one concern of mine with the overly archaic speech, is that it is much more difficult to give characters a unique voice. Once you start writing in that style, it doesn't give you much leeway to give characters that uniqueness to them.

So, I generally think that "thee", "thou", "dost", "whilst", "hast", and other words like that would generally slip right by the audience without them having any trouble parsing it. I have a bit more trouble accepting the idea that they will hear characters saying, "Wishest thou I had gone before?"
Yeah, this, basically. Slipping a word in here and there is fine, but once you start stringing them together, I believe is when it starts losing credulity for what someone would actually say.

I mean, it's all being translated from elvish anyways, wouldn't Bilbo (who compiled Translations from the Elvish) have translated it a bit less archaic than Elrond would? ;)
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Hmm. You may be onto something. My issue may not be with thee/thou, but rather with the suffixes as you described. I may try some rereading/rewriting (for my own personal ends) to see what I feel works best. Maybe leaning on one more than the other? (Thee/thou vs. walkest/shineth) Again, completely subjective and personal opinions on my end.

Maybe certain cultures lean different ways? for instance, maybe Noldor lean more towards the archaic syntax Nicholas demonstrated above, without leaning on the verb/noun forms, and Teleri could lean more towards the thee/thou stuff? Just spitballing ideas.

Oh, and one concern of mine with the overly archaic speech, is that it is much more difficult to give characters a unique voice. Once you start writing in that style, it doesn't give you much leeway to give characters that uniqueness to them.



Yeah, this, basically. Slipping a word in here and there is fine, but once you start stringing them together, I believe is when it starts losing credulity for what someone would actually say.

I mean, it's all being translated from elvish anyways, wouldn't Bilbo (who compiled Translations from the Elvish) have translated it a bit less archaic than Elrond would? ;)

Given that we have made the occasional change, my head-canon has always been that while the Red Book is one of our sources, we have others available to us (some of which are completely imaginary). :)
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Given that we have made the occasional change, my head-canon has always been that while the Red Book is one of our sources, we have others available to us (some of which are completely imaginary). :)
Perhaps we can give some nods to these in the coming seasons, ie how were the exploits of Beren and Luthien recorded, particularly before Beren’s arrival in Doriath?
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Perhaps we can give some nods to these in the coming seasons, ie how were the exploits of Beren and Luthien recorded, particularly before Beren’s arrival in Doriath?
I had young Pengolodh appear in the beginning of Episode 13, and I plan for him to appear as an adult in the montage at the end. Is there anything particular we want him to be working on?
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I had young Pengolodh appear in the beginning of Episode 13, and I plan for him to appear as an adult in the montage at the end. Is there anything particular we want him to be working on?
I don’t know what he’d be working on yet...
 

Octoburn

Active Member
I had young Pengolodh appear in the beginning of Episode 13, and I plan for him to appear as an adult in the montage at the end. Is there anything particular we want him to be working on?
It may be a stretch but: Pengolodh was from Turgon's host, no? Gilfanon, who some suggest took Pengolodh's place as the writing went further, was the teller of the tale of the sun and moon.

(Does Turgon have a closeness with Ulmo prior to his vision? I don't recall any interaction between the two in Valinor.)

Perhaps, Turgon was told of the actual nature of the sun and moon by Ulmo (they really have no clue where they came from), and is dictating it to Pengolodh to record?

Again, I know it's a stretch, but, it's a suggestion...
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
It may be a stretch but: Pengolodh was from Turgon's host, no? Gilfanon, who some suggest took Pengolodh's place as the writing went further, was the teller of the tale of the sun and moon.

(Does Turgon have a closeness with Ulmo prior to his vision? I don't recall any interaction between the two in Valinor.)

Perhaps, Turgon was told of the actual nature of the sun and moon by Ulmo (they really have no clue where they came from), and is dictating it to Pengolodh to record?

Again, I know it's a stretch, but, it's a suggestion...
Well, what he's writing doesn't have to be clearly defined. There's just a shot of him working on an illuminated manuscript in a montage, so the only hint the viewer will have will be whatever there is a picture of on the page.

I like the suggestion of the Tale of the Sun and Moon. I have Thingol talking to Melian about the Sun just a little later in the montage.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
After listening to the podcast i realised that i had not read this episode through yet...
i totally love it! Especially the dwarves meet the noldor, and the thuringwethil cirdan dialogue and the final scene with morgoth in Hildorien and the bombadil cameo...

But i had to wonder: how does he refer to himself as Tom? I know Tom Bombadil is likely a Hobbit name the shirefolk gave him, he cannot have been called iarwain-ben-adar at that point because that name is sindarin, he cannot have been called orald or forn, because both names are likely northron... i wonder,did he at this point have a name at all?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
After listening to the podcast i realised that i had not read this episode through yet...
i totally love it! Especially the dwarves meet the noldor, and the thuringwethil cirdan dialogue and the final scene with morgoth in Hildorien and the bombadil cameo...

But i had to wonder: how does he refer to himself as Tom? I know Tom Bombadil is likely a Hobbit name the shirefolk gave him, he cannot have been called iarwain-ben-adar at that point because that name is sindarin, he cannot have been called orald or forn, because both names are likely northron... i wonder,did he at this point have a name at all?
Probably the same way that our main characters have had their Sindarin names this whole time. :) To prevent confusion for the viewer.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Yeah sure. THEN I request we call him "Yare" in the special extended edition, where all dialogue is untranslated.Yare was a discarded Quenya name for him JRRT used in early drafts of the lotr.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Oooh, nice, I didn't know that! (I've never read the HoME volumes devoted to the history of LotR)
 
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