Session 4-27: Post-production Script Review, Part 3

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Which version of the scripts for Episode 9 are we using? Because @Rhiannon created two versions of Episode 9: one where Angrod survives and one where he dies.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Which version of the scripts for Episode 9 are we using? Because @Rhiannon created two versions of Episode 9: one where Angrod survives and one where he dies.
I’d like to send the hosts just the script where Angrod dies for this session. Then, if there are certain elements of it they don’t like ;), reveal that there is a much better version in which Angrod lives.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I’d like to send the hosts just the script where Angrod dies for this session. Then, if there are certain elements of it they don’t like ;), reveal that there is a much better version in which Angrod lives.
Is that the one where he's a prisoner?
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Is that the one where he's a prisoner?
In the version where Angrod dies, he is killed by a Balrog (then a mysterious Orc named Dorgna shows up in Angband).

In the version where Angrod lives, Edhellos is killed by Sauron, and Angrod is knocked unconscious as he tries to reach her.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Like these past few sessions, the notes I took have been pretty much just notes for myself about what changes I need to make to the scripts:
  • Episode 6: Thuringwethil's escape needs to be less suspicious; she leaves clothes and/or bloody knife to make it look like other Noldor killed her.
  • Episode 7: Cirdan mentions his suspicion that Gwilwileth was killed to Thingol, which makes the Noldor look even worse; Galadriel is escorted by guards not arrested, talk of meeting with Thinglol, but this is not how a meeting with the king usually goes, armed guards are rare in Doriath; Thingol's tone in his conversation with Melian needs to be different, more of a merciless judge, talks about enacting the doom of the Noldor.
Overall, this session was a bit more organized than the past two have been. We discussed the two episodes an act at a time and sometimes focused on overarching story-lines, so the script outlines pretty much describe what we talked about.

If anyone would like me to take more detailed notes for these script discussion sessions like I did for the sessions before them, please let me know.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Well, let's see... I think Corey's main argument is that Angrod serves little purpose in the narrative post the Ban, and he is unconvinced as to why the Balrogs shouldn't be at the Dagor Aglareb.

My rebuttal would be that:
  • If the Balrogs are much more powerful than Elves, why can't they beat the Elves? Gothmog personally plows through Fingon's bodyguard in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, they can take them.
  • The Dagor Aglareb doesn't sound particularly glorious when somebody relatively high in the chain of command dies, kinda like "We won gloriously and overwhelmingly... but we lost a top commander."
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
  • The Dagor Aglareb doesn't sound particularly glorious when somebody relatively high in the chain of command dies, kinda like "We won gloriously and overwhelmingly... but we lost a top commander."
To re-rebut...

"We won the battle, and out of 5,000 combatants, we only lost 3. Sure, one of them was a prince, but still, a 99.94% survival rate is pretty impressive!"
 

MithLuin

Well-Known Member
The battle ends with a rout of Morgoth's forces. We have this happen after the arrival of the Sons of Fëanor. Prior to their arrival, things were looking a little grim for the Noldor.

A victory with casualties is how most battles go. I would not want to portray battle or warfare as being without cost, and having 'only' no name grunts die is a good way to lull the audience into callously just not caring about that. So, from that perspective, I am very much okay with a named casualty or two in this battle. It can be a 'glorious battle' and still leave Orodreth an orphan.

Now, true, you can make a battle an easy victory, where you are just mowing down the enemy forces with little effort. I'm not sure that's what Tolkien intended in the Dagor Aglareb. I know he specified that Morgoth gave up on 'just orcs' after the skirmish down the coast in which he attempted to attack Vinyamar; so yes, against orcs alone, the Noldor are overwhelmingly better.

A more interesting model for a battle would be the battle of the Pelennor Fields in RotK. There, there are several moments where victory seems certain for one side or the other, and then a new factor is introduced to change that. So, there are several back-and-forth moments of changing hope and confidence. You have the beginning of the siege, the arrival of the Rohirrim, the arrival of the black ships, and the surprise when the black ships actually contain Aragorn's reinforcements rather than corsairs of Umbar.

We have attempted to do that by having the initial force besiege Minas Tirith (on Tol Sirion...other Minas Tirith!), and then have the siege broken by the arrival of Fingolfin and Angrod's forces. As they are pursuing them north, a second, larger army from Angband attacks, putting the Noldor on the defensive and having the battle not go well for them. On top of that, they find out that Turgon isn't coming (trouble back in Vinyamar), the Sindar never responded to the call for aid, and the messenger they sent to the Fëanoreans was stopped. So...they think there is no help coming. [This is the part where they suffer significant casualties.] And then, surprise! the Fëanoreans show up anyway without need of a messenger, and they break the second army from Angband because they have cavalry. Then rout. The Noldor win this battle. Minas Tirith is defended and does not fall. Vinyamar is defended and does not fall. Morgoth's armies are chased back to Angband.

Angrod being a casualty or not does not have any affect on the outcome of the battle. Angband loses; the elves win. It is a victory for the Noldor regardless.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
The battle ends with a rout of Morgoth's forces. We have this happen after the arrival of the Sons of Fëanor. Prior to their arrival, things were looking a little grim for the Noldor.

A victory with casualties is how most battles go. I would not want to portray battle or warfare as being without cost, and having 'only' no name grunts die is a good way to lull the audience into callously just not caring about that. So, from that perspective, I am very much okay with a named casualty or two in this battle. It can be a 'glorious battle' and still leave Orodreth an orphan.

Now, true, you can make a battle an easy victory, where you are just mowing down the enemy forces with little effort. I'm not sure that's what Tolkien intended in the Dagor Aglareb. I know he specified that Morgoth gave up on 'just orcs' after the skirmish down the coast in which he attempted to attack Vinyamar; so yes, against orcs alone, the Noldor are overwhelmingly better.

A more interesting model for a battle would be the battle of the Pelennor Fields in RotK. There, there are several moments where victory seems certain for one side or the other, and then a new factor is introduced to change that. So, there are several back-and-forth moments of changing hope and confidence. You have the beginning of the siege, the arrival of the Rohirrim, the arrival of the black ships, and the surprise when the black ships actually contain Aragorn's reinforcements rather than corsairs of Umbar.

We have attempted to do that by having the initial force besiege Minas Tirith (on Tol Sirion...other Minas Tirith!), and then have the siege broken by the arrival of Fingolfin and Angrod's forces. As they are pursuing them north, a second, larger army from Angband attacks, putting the Noldor on the defensive and having the battle not go well for them. On top of that, they find out that Turgon isn't coming (trouble back in Vinyamar), the Sindar never responded to the call for aid, and the messenger they sent to the Fëanoreans was stopped. So...they think there is no help coming. [This is the part where they suffer significant casualties.] And then, surprise! the Fëanoreans show up anyway without need of a messenger, and they break the second army from Angband because they have cavalry. Then rout. The Noldor win this battle. Minas Tirith is defended and does not fall. Vinyamar is defended and does not fall. Morgoth's armies are chased back to Angband.

Angrod being a casualty or not does not have any affect on the outcome of the battle. Angband loses; the elves win. It is a victory for the Noldor regardless.
I'm convinced.

What I'm going to need convincing on is how the Noldor win at Dagor Aglareb if the Balrogs are present.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I'm convinced.

What I'm going to need convincing on is how the Noldor win at Dagor Aglareb if the Balrogs are present.

Because the reality is that the balrogs are not actually invincible. We know that, they know that, and there's a good chance the Elves know that. They are forced to flee the field when the Elves start cutting down their Troll support.
 

MithLuin

Well-Known Member
For purposes of Drama and Coolness, every balrog death we show will be a one-on-one fight with a particular hero character. Gothmog is killed by Ecthelion (and a fall into a fountain). Random other balrog is killed by Glorfindel (and a fall to his death). Durin's bane is killed by Gandalf. Any other balrog deaths we include in the War of Wrath will likely follow a similar pattern. And, yes, we will have some character deaths where the balrogs kill elves without being harmed themselves - death of Fëanor, potentially the death of Aegnor in the Dagor Bragollach (though this is not yet decided), death of Fingon.

Which means...one heroic character can single-handedly kill a balrog at times. What do you think would happen to a balrog who is surrounded by an army of heroic characters? We are never going to show a mob of elves surround a balrog and take it down with brute force, because that would not make for a good show, but to pretend it couldn't happen and have balrogs stand around on a field of battle and let that happen without any reaction doesn't make sense either. And so, the balrogs have a guard of trolls, and their participation in battles happens with the trolls' support. In confrontations between elves and balrogs, it's the elves who are scared for their lives. Always. But that doesn't mean that Gothmog can just go around knocking on Noldor fortresses and wiping them all out single-handedly, either. We certainly aren't going to have him act that way (Glaurung does...not balrogs).

The reality is that the balrogs are very dangerous and deadly in battle, and can take out elves...but they are not so invincible so as to face no risk to their persons when confronting an army of Noldor. The balrogs retreated in the face of Fëanor's sons arriving to support their father - they did not stick around to finish off Fëanor. Similarly, when the Sons of Fëanor arrive with cavalry at the Dagor Aglareb, the balrogs opt to retreat.

Certainly, one can argue that what will make the Dagor Bragollach particularly scary is that everything is on fire, and there's a dragon, and there's a bunch of balrogs. One could opt for 'no balrogs yet' in this particular battle. But to pretend that the presence of the balrogs means automatic defeat for the Noldor is stretching things a bit. It's more accurate to say that the body count would be higher, which it is in the portion of the battle that contains balrogs (balrogs are currently only in the second army coming from Angband - the army that pins down Fingolfin and Angrod in the Fens of Serech; the original siege of Minas Tirith and the attack on Vinyamar are both balrog-free as written.)
 

MithLuin

Well-Known Member
Here is the downside of having a completely invincible fighter:

Hela takes out Asgard's army single-handedly:

She casually defeats flying ships and kills an entire army. Is this...interesting to watch? Not particularly. There's nothing happening here. Hela is taking over Asgard, and we're meant to see that she's not to be messed with. But really, nothing has changed and nothing really matters in this fight scene. There is one named character in the opposing army (the guy with lines whose face you can see, naturally), but the audience would be hard-pressed to actually name him. He isn't named on screen, and they are being asked to remember that he's one of the Warriors Three from a prior film. (Again...doubt the average viewer knew that much, let alone his name.) No effort was made to make the audience see his viewpoint outside of this scene.

Her actual antangonist - Thor - isn't even on the planet at the time, so he has nothing to do with this.

The same film does a much better job with the Hela vs Valkyries scene. It's just as much a one-sided bloodbath, but it's shot in an artistic style with the focus on the pain and loss of the sole survivor, rather than on how cool of a fighter Hela is.


For a less heavy-handed version of 'invincible fighter', you have Sauron in the Last Alliance in the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring. Here, the battle is made to be interesting even if you don't know the names of anyone in it. Elendil, Isildur, Gil-galad, and Elrond all appear, though the camera only focuses any attention on Elrond prior to Elendil's death. But the scene where Sauron is knocking down his opponents like bowling pins? There's nothing tense or tragic or interesting about that shot. It's nearly comical. The 2 minute battle is saved because that is only a small part of it.


In other words...it's really tough to craft a battle scene that the audience gets invested in if your battle consists of 'invincible fighter mops the floor with everyone and cannot be stopped.' We want our balrogs to be scary - not comical, and not boring.

So, apparently, the solution is to not cast Cate Blanchett as a balrog nor let her narrate your battle sequences. ;)
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I can get behind this. I wanted reasoning as to why the Balrogs, with all their power, weren’t able to just steamroll over the Noldor.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
The best analogue I can think of involves naval warfare. A destroyer is no real threat to a battleship (I would consider the gap even greater than that between Elves and Balrogs). But battleships still don't and never have plied the seas alone. They always have supporting fleets of cruisers, destroyers and other vessels to help keep them from being overwhelmed and sunk. This doesn't mean the battleships are in any way fragile, otherwise they would not have been used.
 
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