Timeless Halls and the Void


Staff member
Okay, so, not looking for a location here - this will definitely be a set of some sort, and will likely rely heavily on special effects. So....what do we want it to look like?

The most minimalist ideas would be 'blank white space' or 'blank dark space' - so the Void could just be pure black and the Timeless Halls can be pure white light, no structures or anything, no floor, even.

I think that would be...too minimalist. I think we need a set of some sort. So...what would it look like?

The Timeless Halls should be....Halls. So, they get some domed roof and pillars or something. I think the Timeless Halls can be very open concept, not presenting any barrier between them and the Void. Kinda like the Indoor/Outdoor sets of Rivendell in PJ's movies that way. It has also been suggested that Melkor would make Utumno as a copy of the Timeless Halls, but on a grander scale.

The Void can be smokey nebulous undefined grey, I guess, but it needs to be creepy and have some horror to it. It cannot be brightly lit.

I am imagining an 'In the beginning, it is always dark,' for the opening with the first view of Ilúvatar and the Flame Imperishable, but as he creates the Ainur, we have to have a space for people to...be.

From 'The Neverending Story':
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There are, of course, some stories that deal with creation and destruction of worlds, and some of them have been put to film in interesting ways. So, there may be examples of art or video out there that we can use. But we'd likely have to do something that has never been done before to make this really work, so...that could be a challenge.

Before I completely write off the idea of 'blank white space,' I have to point to one example where it was used well. In the manga and anime 'Fullmetal Alchemist', there is a representation of a metaphysical space. When alchemists commit the taboo of human transmutation, they pass through 'the portal of truth' - which is represented by blank white space with a giant door in it. There, they meet 'the truth', which is a blank outline of a person. This actually works quite well with very little explanation. Most of the show takes place in the real world, with just a few (quite significant) visits to this strange space.

This first example contains no real spoilers, as it is from the beginning of the show, but warning that some of the imagery is mildly disturbing - though if you find this disturbing, why are you interested in seeing the Silmarillion on film?! (Japanese with English subtitles):
Here is the same scene, with the beginning and ending included, so you can see how they transition to and from the 'blank white space' scene (English dub):

This example is from the end of the show - note that there are no human figures and almost no imagery at all, yet the scene still conveys the drama of fear and punishment. It pays to have good voice actors! (Japanese with English subtitles):
English dub of above scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PRSchbUMW4

This scene is the climax of the whole series and is a huge spoiler...the emotional impact is thus more significant if you know who these people are and what the conflict they've been working to solve is all about. But, still....it works. (English dub):

Part of why they can 'get away with' this concept is because the show is animated. Animation allows more freedom that way. They can have internal conversations with a sea of tortured souls as the backdrop, and that just....makes sense.

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So, on to examples from live-action film.

The meeting between Neo and the Architect in The Matrix sequel is meant to conjure up a feeling of a space that is outside of, well, time and space. They aren't meeting in the Real World, nor are they meeting in The Matrix. The bank of monitors certainly is thematically appropriate to the world of the Matrix, as well as the transitions to world-within-a-world, and the god-like character being dressed as a mild-mannered businessman also fits. The scene is often criticized for using the dialogue it does to explain and reveal the key plot of the film, but never mind that, I'm using this as an example of set, not script :p

I am by no means suggesting that the Timeless Halls should look like this! All the details included here are modern and technological (except for the brief glimpse of star-scape). But the round, domed space, well-lit with a white floor....just wanted to show how this can be used to invoke a feeling of timeless halls. I would vote for giving Ilúvatar no seat, having him exist in a way that is sufficient for himself. 'Throne or no throne?' is a question we will have to answer. (Again, NOT suggesting it be an office chair!) What details *can* we include that would show the type of space we would want to evoke as the home of the creator of Middle Earth?
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Single dome or more complicated structure, what do people think?




I would prefer something with lots of domes and arches, but perhaps simple is better.




Nothing ornate, so not all the details with the scrollwork on the pillars and the colorful artwork and such. Something much plainer, cleaner lines. But...still interesting in the combination of archways and domes, perhaps?
I'm thinking along similar lines as you do. I like the idea of a multitude of domes and arches. Perhaps they are not a fixed number but seem to continue changing and being created, new ones unfold etc. Kind of like a Romanesque or baroque version of the ending of Interstellar. EDIT: What do I mean by that? Well, maybe just that there would be no obvious up or down. We could have arches and domes appearing and disappearing in all directions. Ilúvatar doesn't need a floor.

I agree - no throne.
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Another idea is to somehow incorporate images that look like outer space. The look of a nebula for instance.



I'm not suggesting that we should use these pictures or any one like them, but we could use them as examples. The arches and domes could be shaped in the kind of colours that nebulae have.
Is the void going to be seen by itself, without the contrast of say, the Halls? I think that it prpbably is easiest to define the Void as something that isn't, and easiest to show as outside of something that is. Darkness. When Melkor is there, it's just him. (Well, Ungoliant might show up...)
We did want the opportunity to show Melkor in the Void looking back at the Timeless Halls, as well as Melkor in the Void looking down on Arda after its creation. So...it can be shown as blank dark contrast for those scenes, but when Melkor is out and about, searching for the Flame Imperishable....what does he find in the Void? Is it literally just blank space?

Nebulae are a good inspiration, as they would represent the birth of stars, and be an intermediary between the Void of space and creation.

I'm not sure what I think about making the Timeless Halls one step short of an MC Escher painting - changeless seems to be an important aspect of the Timeless Halls. They are....not exactly static, but they don't age, so......
I'm not sure what I think about making the Timeless Halls one step short of an MC Escher painting - changeless seems to be an important aspect of the Timeless Halls. They are....not exactly static, but they don't age, so......
Perhaps if they change in a way that is repetitive or cyclic, like a complex rythm that is repeating itself, but it takes a while to realize it. Or maybe like a mandelbrot fractal.

So...it can be shown as blank dark contrast for those scenes, but when Melkor is out and about, searching for the Flame Imperishable....what does he find in the Void? Is it literally just blank space?
I can't remember what we've said about how the Valar are supposed to look like in these environments but... Suppose that the Void is just dark. Maybe it does something to those being in it. Maybe Melkor's shape or colour or light or something changes while in that darkness. Maybe he gets more and more blurred around the edges....
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Okay, fractals are good. There is something endlessly repeating there, but not changing, so...that fits. Not sure how we incorporate that into an actual 'structure', but I think it's good inspiration.

I don't want to go too vague and abstract with all this. Sure, it should look otherworldly and not like a building you could just build and walk into. But it shouldn't be...not a Hall. So, I'm fine with nebulae and fractals as part of the inspiration, but I probably want some classical architecture with domes and arches to be the other part. I think we do need a floor, though it needn't have much substance, and the whole thing can be floating in space.

Another question is Doors/Gates/Portals.....there is a strong motif with those in any story trying to incorporate a space like this, but our Ainur live there, so maybe don't have to focus so much on entering/leaving the Timeless Halls. We can have archways just opening onto the Void, and....no door to stop someone from passing to and fro.

Or we could make it so the Ainur have to pass through a particular archway when they decide to enter into Arda, so....there could be some door/gateway thing going on there. (I'm not sure we're incorporating that scene visually anyway, but in case we ever wanted a flashback/glimpse of one of the Ainur entering Arda, it would be good to have the set ready to accommodate that.)
Different doors leading to different worlds? I'm thinking there isn't much at all except the Halls, and then Arda. Well, and the Void. Which, strictly speaking, isn't. Or maybe it does exist...sorry, let's leave that.
So Arda is created outside of the Halls? That means there is one more environment. Outside of the Halls by not the Void.
After the Music, the Ainur see a vision of Arda hanging in the Void. So, yeah....that does have to happen. But....it doesn't have to have anything to do with the Void.

And, right, no, we don't need doors leading to different worlds, because there *aren't* other worlds... But think about how important doors and gates are in any story dealing with entering the realm of Fairy or any other world, and well, they might be conspicuous in their absence here. That's all I'm saying.
I'm not visualising the Halls as having a lot of doors but then again I see the structure as fairly open, with rows of arched windows. Maybe the windows are just openings. In fact, that would be logical.

If the windows are large they could be used as doors.
It might be strange to have a very open space with lots of arched windows...opening onto the Void. Especially since, other than Melkor, no one has any interest in the Void. A completely closed in space feels wrong to me, though. So....I'm not sure what I want. How does Melkor move between the Timeless Halls and the Void? Does he just....wander out into it?
If the Halls are spacious, beautiful and full of light, no one will really care about the darkness beyond. Well, except Melkor.

Yes, I can see him just wandering, or floating out into it.
There's really only two ways to do it; either there's no discernible border and the light of the Halls of Iluvatar sort of fades into grey and then blackness, or there's a distinct border. Giving it a border makes it feel smaller and contained, which I suppose from a classical and theological point of view, it is. Making it a nothing that sort of recedes into the distance makes it a much bigger thing, and probably more easily understood as a tantalizing frontier from our real human actor's perspective on screen.

Maybe we could kind of do both and represent it as a vast, dark ocean of nothing lapping against the shores of the Eruvian lands? It would be kind of a neat visual metaphor and gesture in the direction of Ulmo's Outer Seas.
Maybe we could kind of do both and represent it as a vast, dark ocean of nothing lapping against the shores of the Eruvian lands? It would be kind of a neat visual metaphor and gesture in the direction of Ulmo's Outer Seas.
Interesting...the nothing would be a something? I see it more like light stretching out into the void, getting thinner and thinner.
Well, that's not unlike being deep underwater, where the light is filtered out, so using the deep ocean as an inspiration for the Void may not be too far off.

But I do not think we want to make the Void an ocean, either. It should be extremely intangible.
For something simpler, less ornate, I offer the old Market Hall at Chipping Campden:




Obviously, the scale is way too small, but I wanted something plain/simple to contrast with the extremely ornate halls I showed above.
And I have to admit that this talk of a 'dark ocean of nothing' could not help but remind me of The Pirates of Dark Water, a kids' cartoon from the early 90s:

Dark Water is an extremely dangerous substance that destroys everything it touches. I forget what the premise was or if they ever explained where it came from beyond 'magic.' The Dark Water sometimes looked like oil mixed in water, sometimes it was sticky like tar....and sometimes it would drip like water. Completely depended on what it was needed for at the time ;).

But....the concept of the Void being a substance rather than an absence of anything would be rather...different. Not sure we can pull that off. The Nothing of the Neverending Story is present in what it destroys...but we don't have anything for the Void to devour, really....
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