Session 4.17 - Creative Content Part 3: Swords, Hands and Eagles

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I think we are fine with the Valar (in general) being taller than the Maiar (in general), and also with Morgoth taking on a 'giant' form for his 'tyrant of Angband' look (which he assumed at the Darkening of Valinor and keeps ever after).

I do know that giant humans tend to look ridiculous, but that's also possibly because of comedic associations, rather than it being impossible to make a scary (and not simply silly) 30 ft tall person (9.144 m). Does anyone recall any scenes on film with very large human-ish creatures that worked really well? By comedic, I mean the taller-than-buildings Stay-Puft marshmallow man in Ghostbusters and the 50 ft tall Calypso in Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. Clearly we don't want that! But just being big wouldn't make something automatically a joke. Game of Thrones had giants north of the Wall, and there were several fights with giants in that show.

I suppose the GoT giants are all different heights, but this particular one is about twice as tall as the humans, maybe a little taller. They don't come up to his hip. So, a 12'-15' foot giant looks something like this:


That's roughly the same scale as Last Alliance Sauron in Peter Jackson's films:



So, Season 8 Game of Thrones spoiler, but there is this fight scene between a much larger (very stupid) undead giant and a (very fearless) young girl. It's a bit one-sided, yes, but....
For reference, the two actors didn't interact with one another to shoot this scene. So, despite looking massive, the giant is played by a 7'1" actor named Ian Whyte, and the young girl is played by a 5' tall 15 year old actress named Bella Ramsay. The giant is likely meant to be...what...25-30 ft tall? I'm not quite sure.

I don't think I see the need for Morgoth to be that tall. He needs to be significantly taller than Fingolfin, clearly, but 15 ft (4.572 m) is already more than twice as tall. 24 ft (7.32 m) is 4 times as tall. So....30 ft...5x as tall is....really tall! The silmarils will look small in his crown if his head is that big. It's just...really big!
Not a GoT watcher, but man do they ever need to turn their lights on. So hard to see.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
The most important question is: What makes the Calaquendi so unstoppable in battle? Is it just their armor and weapons? Are they stronger than humans? More agile?

Human basketball players routinely "dunk" a basketball in a hoop 10 feet (3.05m) in the air. Do we think Fingolfin capable of this feat? Would he be capable of a superhuman "dunk"?

I know how folks feel about some of Legolas' feats in the Jackson films, but barring the infamous "running on falling debris" scene, do we really think the depicted feats would actually be impossible for an elf?
This is low-key one of my quiet anxieties about this whole project (the other one is DARK! before the moon rises). How to continually depict Elves as something other than humans with pointy ears. Not just when they are being heroic, it's easy to show heroic. But sitting around doing nothing. Walking across the room. Putting away the groceries. Cooking dinner. Folding laundry. Calaquendi doing these things should be just as... impressive.

Like, the schlubbiest of the exiled Noldor would be a ninja blacksmith ballerina with nine PhDs. How do you continually and always depict this? None of them would ever stub a toe, or drop a cup, or hesitate over a word, or or or... Elrond is a chump compared to these guys. Legolas is practically a human.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
This is low-key one of my quiet anxieties about this whole project (the other one is DARK! before the moon rises). How to continually depict Elves as something other than humans with pointy ears. Not just when they are being heroic, it's easy to show heroic. But sitting around doing nothing. Walking across the room. Putting away the groceries. Cooking dinner. Folding laundry. Calaquendi doing these things should be just as... impressive.

Like, the schlubbiest of the exiled Noldor would be a ninja blacksmith ballerina with nine PhDs. How do you continually and always depict this? None of them would ever stub a toe, or drop a cup, or hesitate over a word, or or or... Elrond is a chump compared to these guys. Legolas is practically a human.
I'm in love with the ninja blacksmith ballerina with 9 Ph.Ds. That is all.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
So, there are a few things to think about here. Quickly, on the note of the Silmarils, we have established that their visible size is mutable. Obviously, the one Earendil wears appears to be larger to those on the ground than something one could actually wear.

The most important question is: What makes the Calaquendi so unstoppable in battle? Is it just their armor and weapons? Are they stronger than humans? More agile?

Human basketball players routinely "dunk" a basketball in a hoop 10 feet (3.05m) in the air. Do we think Fingolfin capable of this feat? Would he be capable of a superhuman "dunk"?

I know how folks feel about some of Legolas' feats in the Jackson films, but barring the infamous "running on falling debris" scene, do we really think the depicted feats would actually be impossible for an elf?
I think they are stronger, faster, better reflexes, and more resilient to damage. Like, most would be able to pull off catching a cup if it falls, ie in the film Ronin when Sam (Robert De Niro) deliberately knocks a cup off a table.
 

MithLuin

Well-Known Member
Elves having more impressive dexterity than humans is acceptable. So, feats of balance or picking their way through difficult terrain easily (even at top speed) are probably acceptable.

I wasn't a fan of Legolas stabbing two urukhai through the head with one arrow, or taking down the Oliphant and trunk-surfing, nor of his shield-surfing down the stairs...but those feats aren't necessarily impossible so much as...clearly made-for-TV. If I had to pick out the part of super-action-hero Legolas that I liked best.... hmm, I'm not really sure. I don't mind things that look 'cool' just for the sake of looking cool. I just don't want anything to take me out of the idea that this is a battle, not a video game. (of which the running-on-falling-stones was the most egregious)

What really impressed me about Orlando Bloom's performance was all the 'little' minor things he did to make sure he moved like an elf, talked like an elf, etc. He was very deliberate in his motion, and I really enjoyed seeing that. He probably got direction as to what 'be an elf' should look like, but he delivered and clearly took that very seriously. Even from the first scene where he dismounts his horse in Rivendell and 'sticks the landing' in a way that is meant to be elvish rather than human. Similarly, in the TV show Sarah Connor Chronicles, actors got to go to 'Terminator boot camp' to learn how terminators move, to make sure that their performances all read as 'a terminator'.

Summer Glau describes some of her 'how to be a machine' acting choices in this video clip at the 1:08 mark:

So, yeah, I wanna send our actors to 'elf boot camp' and teach them a bunch of little things that they can all do to read as elves on screen ;) For Fingolfin's epic fight scene, we'll need a lot more - something much less subtle! But hopefully awesome in a way that doesn't make the audience say, 'aw, c'mon!'

There's a scene in Supernatural 2x04 (Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things) where they are fighting a zombie in a graveyard at night (as you do). At one point, Dean shoots her multiple times, causing her to fall back into an open grave, and then runs across the graveyard to finish her off. He falls to his knees and slides right into the grave, lands, and stabs her through the heart. So, the bit where he slides on his knees? That's the level of 'cool stunt that looks really smooth' that I'm fine with. It fits naturally into the motion. Sure, in real life, that might not work out so great (good way to faceplant right into your enemy or miss), but can be choreographed to work without someone sitting there scoffing about how ridiculous it is. And for those kinds of small, subtle actions - you need a *lot* of them to prove that elves are elves.

The scene happens at the 4:01 mark in this video. It's brief, but still noticeable (to me, anyway!)


Not a GoT watcher, but man do they ever need to turn their lights on. So hard to see.
That was the *biggest* complaint about that episode, and their response was, essentially, that people don't know how to use their TVs. Apparently, the lighting wasn't AS bad in HD. Or something.

...As we planned an entire season in darkness, lit only by starlight and lamplight, we maybe have no room to talk ;)



Edit: *crossposted with Amysrevenge*

Yes, exactly! Gotta have Calaquendi being awesome elves in all situations, not just actors with pointy ears being mostly human! :D
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Elves having more impressive dexterity than humans is acceptable. So, feats of balance or picking their way through difficult terrain easily (even at top speed) are probably acceptable.

I wasn't a fan of Legolas stabbing two urukhai through the head with one arrow, or taking down the Oliphant and trunk-surfing, nor of his shield-surfing down the stairs...but those feats aren't necessarily impossible so much as...clearly made-for-TV. If I had to pick out the part of super-action-hero Legolas that I liked best.... hmm, I'm not really sure. I don't mind things that look 'cool' just for the sake of looking cool. I just don't want anything to take me out of the idea that this is a battle, not a video game. (of which the running-on-falling-stones was the most egregious)

What really impressed me about Orlando Bloom's performance was all the 'little' minor things he did to make sure he moved like an elf, talked like an elf, etc. He was very deliberate in his motion, and I really enjoyed seeing that. He probably got direction as to what 'be an elf' should look like, but he delivered and clearly took that very seriously. Similarly, in the TV show Sarah Connor Chronicles, actors got to go to 'Terminator boot camp' to learn how terminators move, to make sure that their performances all read as 'a terminator'.

So, yeah, I wanna send our actors to 'elf boot camp' and teach them a bunch of little things that they can all do to read as elves on screen ;) For Fingolfin's epic fight scene, we'll need a lot more - something much less subtle! But hopefully awesome in a way that doesn't make the audience say, 'aw, c'mon!'

There's a scene in Supernatural 2x04 (Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things) where they are fighting a zombie in a graveyard at night (as you do). At one point, Dean shoots her multiple times, causing her to fall back into an open grave, and then runs across the graveyard to finish her off. He falls to his knees and slides right into the grave, lands, and stabs her through the heart. So, the bit where he slides on his knees? That's the level of 'cool stunt that looks really smooth' that I'm fine with. It fits naturally into the motion. Sure, in real life, that might not work out so great (good way to faceplant right into your enemy or miss), but can be choreographed to work without someone sitting there scoffing about how ridiculous it is. And for those kinds of small, subtle actions - you need a *lot* of them to prove that elves are elves.

The scene happens at the 4:01 mark in this video. It's brief, but still noticeable (to me, anyway!)




That was the *biggest* complaint about that episode, and their response was, essentially, that people don't know how to use their TVs. Apparently, the lighting wasn't AS bad in HD. Or something.

...As we planned an entire season in darkness, lit only by starlight and lamplight, we maybe have no room to talk ;)



Edit: *crossposted with Amysrevenge*

Yes, exactly! Gotta have Calaquendi being awesome elves in all situations, not just actors with pointy ears being mostly human! :D
What about greater physical strength or resilience to damage? Are we fine with that?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I think they are stronger, faster, better reflexes, and more resilient to damage. Like, most would be able to pull off catching a cup if it falls, ie in the film Ronin when Sam (Robert De Niro) deliberately knocks a cup off a table.
So if they are stronger, how much stronger? What is the range? Are the strongest Calaquendi as strong as Captain America? Colossus? Drax? Batman?

In regards to the Supernatural scene that Marie mentions, I'd just point out that most of the time (I don't recall the circumstances surrounding that particular moment), Dean Winchester is a normal human. I'd expect even more over-the-top stunts from the Calaquendi.

How about... this? Starting around the 1:15 mark.

 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Definitely above Batman, who (at least in films) is mainly very physically fit. Maybe most Elves are around Captain America levels, with typical Calaquendi around the strength of a Terminator (maybe Drax could be another comparison), and then you have Elves with extraphysical abilities like Finrod and Galadriel’s telepathy and Luthien, who has power on par with a Maia.
 

MithLuin

Well-Known Member
Captain America is a good example. He's a super hero, and he got the serum, but his ability is mostly....gymnastics. In other words, his powers don't come across as magic or even particularly inhuman so much as...enhanced. Elves as 'enhanced' humans probably isn't a bad concept.

I realize that Batman is 'just' a normal human with gizmos and too much money and some martial arts training, but...he certainly comes across as more than that, and is portrayed much more as a magical ninja who is impossibly strong and invulnerable to a lot of stuff. Because...he's batman! Even Fingolfin probably isn't Batman.

That scene where Gamora launches herself (and her sword) at the monster is very much what I was thinking about. It's a...final move, though, so Morgoth will likely end up with his foot on Fingolfin's neck when it fails to be a killing blow. The running-on-tentacles thing is the kind of scene that reads very much like the comic book film that is, and maybe wouldn't fit in a 'serious' fight scene.

Season 2 Dean Winchester is very much a normal human. But that is a smooth move ;). I brought that up not as an example of things to include in epic fight scenes (I agree, we'd typically want more), but of the types of subtle dexterous actions that you work in to show that elves are elves. The brothers in Supernatural are human (most of the time), but even so, are frequently tossing each other things without looking to demonstrate how completely in sync they are with one another. In real life, that doesn't work. On a set, you usually have to have a lot of takes to make such an exchange happen as 'smoothly' as the scene calls for.

Here's a highlight reel of these two being in sync. The tossing-each-other-things is 5:16-5:45:
The gag reels have a lot of outtakes of the actors being...not quite so in sync. So, yeah, it's a normal human thing, except...it's not. Normal humans can't quite so effortlessly be in sync. You have to plan/choreograph these things to make them happen (most of the time).

Our goal with the elves isn't to show them in sync, per se, but to show them 'effortlessly' doing things that would probably take a lot of takes to get right......

Here's Dean Winchester with some 'enhanced' abilities......
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
That scene where Gamora launches herself (and her sword) at the monster is very much what I was thinking about. It's a...final move, though, so Morgoth will likely end up with his foot on Fingolfin's neck when it fails to be a killing blow. The running-on-tentacles thing is the kind of scene that reads very much like the comic book film that is, and maybe wouldn't fit in a 'serious' fight.
See, this is my source of confusion. Would Fingolfin not be able to leap up on Morgoth's knee and attack him much as Gamora did the Abilisk? Is the sequence silly because it couldn't happen or is it silly based on execution? For example, I think we agree that Legolas shield-skating looks silly, but is it implausible that Legolas could do that?
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
See, this is my source of confusion. Would Fingolfin not be able to leap up on Morgoth's knee and attack him much as Gamora did the Abilisk? Is the sequence silly because it couldn't happen or is it silly based on execution? For example, I think we agree that Legolas shield-skating looks silly, but is it implausible that Legolas could do that?
Perhaps not implausible that Legolas could surf on a shield. I've wondered if Fingolfin would be able to hit more vital areas on Morgoth, but due to armor or the fact that Morgoth cannot be killed by Elves he can't actually strike a mortal blow?
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Maedhros' stump
I can also imagine a small part of a scene, where a meeting starts getting out of control, and Maedhros slams his stump down on the table to shut everyone up.
Still having trouble picturing that, what with all the shocks that would go up one's arm from doing that as opposed to a fist. When one slams a fist down on a table, the knuckles usually absorb the blow, but here, there's nothing protecting the arm from breakage.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Still having trouble picturing that, what with all the shocks that would go up one's arm from doing that as opposed to a fist. When one slams a fist down on a table, the knuckles usually absorb the blow, but here, there's nothing protecting the arm from breakage.
Just Elven awesomeness.
 

Rhiannon

New Member
Perhaps not implausible that Legolas could surf on a shield. I've wondered if Fingolfin would be able to hit more vital areas on Morgoth, but due to armor or the fact that Morgoth cannot be killed by Elves he can't actually strike a mortal blow?
The first messenger from Manwe did say to Feanor, "... none of the Valar canst thou overcome now or ever within the halls of Ea, not though Eru whom thou namest had made the thrice greater than thou art." If Feanor could not kill Morgoth, there's no way Fingolfin would be able to. I think it would require at least the power of an Ainu, which is of a different level and kind than that of the elves. Luthien was able to overcome Morgoth and put him to sleep because she was half-Maia. While it's true that Morgoth was scarred and always pained by the wounds he received in the duel, he did still heal from them to some degree, so even wounds that would have been fatal to another being might not have been fatal to him.

Also, depending on the design of Grond, Morgoth may also have to bend over slightly when he swings at Fingolfin, which might put his arms and upper body within Fingolfin's reach.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
General Creative Content: How will the Noldor communicate with each other at long distances, ie to coordinate the Union of Maedhros in the years between Beren and Luthien and the Nirnaeth Arnoediad? Horseback? Raven?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
General Creative Content: How will the Noldor communicate with each other at long distances, ie to coordinate the Union of Maedhros in the years between Beren and Luthien and the Nirnaeth Arnoediad? Horseback? Raven?

Pony express seems to be the safest method. Any nonverbal method has the risk of the message being intercepted and read. At least a messenger who has memorized the message will have to be captured alive and tortured for the message to be taken by the Enemy.
 
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