Visually depicting the timeline

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
So, I've been listening to the Lord of the Rings, and just finished part one of the first appendix - the one where they give the rundown of what happens in Arnor, and then in Gondor, in the Third Age. It got me to thinking about a problem that we don't have yet, but will have later, and it might be good to work out what the solution will be now so we're prepared for later.

The issue is one of hopping around in the timeline. The way the story of the Dunedain of the Third Age is told is similar to how the Lord of the Rings story itself is told, and to how many First Age stories are told in the Silmarillion - each story is contained within itself, and not told in strictly consecutive order in the timeline.

The Arnor story runs through from Isildur through the kings and the chieftains down to Aragorn II. Then the Gondor story runs through from the line of Anarion down to Earnur down to the ruling stewards to Denethor.

I was trying to think of ways we could simply and visually show where in the timeline we are. I was thinking of it from a graphic design point of view. What if we had a sort of "progress bar" graphic as part of the opening titles, with some screenshots (either stills or videos or whataver) of previous events sort of slotting themselves into their spots in the progress bar/timeline - this would mean that the opening titles would be different all the time, as previous events are added or removed as the series progresses. And then a smaller version of that same progress bar could be shown, either periodically or continually, with an arrow indicating where in the timeline we are.

So in the above Third Age example, if we were at a point where the Arnor story has moved forward to the time of Arvedui holed up with the ice people, for instance, and then we're going to go back to Gondor and catch up to when Earnur Captain of Gondor heads up in his ships to help, but we're only at the Kinstrife in the Gondor story, we would have an opening title sequence that shows brief snippets of the events we've already shown of the Arnor storyline slotting into the progress bar, as well as Gondor stuff so far, and then an arrow a couple hundred years back to indicate where the Gondor events are in that timeline.

I think that if we worked it out, there could be a way to do this that would not be hokey or cheesy or distracting, and it would start to pay off next season when we try to show how the Sindar are getting along relative to the events in Valinor.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I agree that we're going to need some way of doing "Previously, on Silm Film..." particularly when we switch storylines or jump around in the timeline. I'm not sure what the best method is, but I do think that a visual representation of the timeline sounds quite effective (as long as it's part of the opening credits rather than the show itself).

We can put dates and place names on the screen like they do in some films, but this will not be very helpful, because the dates will be nearly meaningless to the audience. "Captain's Log, Stardate xxxxx" tells us nothing because we don't know what year/date that corresponds to, nor how it relates to the stardates in other episodes.

We do have the frame for informing the audience as well, but we can't overdo that; there needs to be a reason for that information to come up in the frame, and the frame has its own story, not just informing the audience.

I consider the scene in 'The Two Towers' where Faramir consults a map, showing where Saruman is attacking Helm's Deep (which he has no way of knowing), and then points to his own location, and inanely observes, 'The war will come to Men on both fronts'....to be a particularly wince-inducing way of keeping the audience up-to-speed. What bothers me about that scene is that the characters don't have a reason to be saying what they are saying; it is strictly for the audience. I mean, a transition on a map screen with an arrow showing the scene going from one location to another might have been cheesy, but it wouldn't have made the characters act cheesy, at least.

We will need lots of clever tie-ins of story lines to keep the audience up to speed with 'oh, we took a step back in time, because this is still going on over there.'
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
The videos would be short, like 3-5ish seconds, on a loop.

Then at any point in the episode where we are establishing a scene, briefly show the progress bar (with the looping video and everything) with an arrow indicating where in time we are.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Personally, I don't have a problem with showing stories in chronological order and cutting back and forth between storylines, as many shows do. There are some instances where we don't want to do that, for example, if we are building suspense in one storyline until certain reveals take place. But there is no real reason to focus on only one part of the story at a time other than that's what the book does.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
To an extent yes, but we're only 2 seasons in and already not doing that, in a fairly major way (what's going on back in Doriath in late S2 again?).
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Right....we also took a step back in time to show the elvish perspective at the beginning of this season, so had to make sure particular events from the war at the end of Season 1 would be recognizable to the audience on screen.

I do not want any timeline visible during the actual show - just use key events that tie storylines together.

We can open Season 3's Doriath scenes with 'real time' of what is happening concurrently with what is going on back in Valinor (and then show historical stuff via flashback) OR we can step back, and then catch them up to the Valinor storyline and show the audience that that is what we are doing. There's ways of doing stuff like that without confusing the audience too badly. We're going to need to meet the dwarves and show the building of Menegroth, and probably that and the Girdle are in direct reaction to the actions of orc raiding parties under MORGOTH....so, maybe we didn't step back in time at all, but rather moved the events in the Doriath timeline up a bit.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Haha the Prof is talking about how to depict where in the timeline we are in the session right this second.
 
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