The Big Think

December 19, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 5:59 pm

Countless, unseen details are often the only difference between mediocre and magnificent..

Return of the Return of the King

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:25 am

Going back to see the movie again today. This time Giles and I will probably spend more time looking at FX and watching for cameos and other filmmaker-type shots. This is the “instructive” viewing as opposed to the “let it wash over me” viewing. Should be fun.
*Update after the film* Giles and Jenn couldn’t make it, but I had a great time with Mark and Allison and Mark’s mom (and a great lunch afterwards!). The movie was fantastic – possibly even better the second time. This time I could focus on music cues, editing, and general storytelling as well as little things like costumes and makeup and overall continuity (anybody who’s been in any kind of production work soon comes to appreciate these small details). All of these items (as well as a long list of others) are essentially flawless. I can’t imagine a more perfect example of technical filmmaking, nor of good storytelling. Glad to put my $13.50 toward the opening weekend gross of this magnificent epic.
Gee, now that I’ve seen it twice, can anyone recommend a good 1000 page novel to keep me busy?
I just remembered, and I’ll go ahead and mention it here. When we got through watching the film on opening night last Wednesday, and after the obligatory silence at the end, Giles leaned over and said “It’s a good thing Lucasfilm has a 2 year head-start. They’re probably going back to the drawing board.” Well said.
Oh, and a minor soapbox: why do so many people leave before the credits are over? What does that say about audiences that they’re so willing to leave before the movie fully ends? Is it just conditioning? Or is it that most people want to live with the thought that what they’ve just seen really took place and didn’t require a gaffer, electrician, or armorer? Interestingly, when I saw Schindler’s List a few years ago in the theater, the movie ended, the lights came up, the credits rolled and…. nobody moved. So I think there’s something to this, I’m just not sure what.
But what does it say about people who are “credit-watchers”? I think people with behind-the-scenes production experience have a greater understanding of the insane amounts of work that go into a big project like this, so we’re more willing to stick around for 10 more minutes to read the names of the people responsible; a totally inadequate way to pay our respects, granted, but it’s what we can do (besides seeing the movie again). It’s funny, but after a while you start to recognize many names (JoAnne Kane music comes to mind). It’s also a good time to allow your emotions to come back into level after a particularly wrenching film, or to let your body acclimate to the fact that what you’ve been watching is, in fact, fiction. The real world is always there outside the cinema’s doors, but I always like to sit and feel the fiction for a few more minutes. Besides, if you leave before the end of some films, you miss some great stuff (Toy Story/Bugs Life, Pirates of the Caribbean, heck, even Chain Reaction had a funny tag). ROTK had the most beautiful credits I’ve ever seen, and tied the story up in a wonderfully artistic way (with the final image being the ring). From the beginning of the credits, each of the actors name was accompanied by a beautiful hand-drawn sketch of the actor in costume. It strikes me that this is the way to wrap up 10 hours of handmade medieval magnificence: with hand drawings on parchment. Perfect.
Another complaint I have with many films is that they usually support the credits with music that’s totally inappropriate for the film. In an effort to try and cross-brand the movie with a soon-to-be popular song, and thus make money on the music side of the spreadsheet, many producers dilute what could be a wonderful moment. I think I’m just particular about this because I’m a musician and hate to see the wonderful work of composers like Howard Shore be subjugated to the pop-song-of-the-month mentality. Thankfully, ROTK doesn’t commit this sin too badly. The first time I saw the film, I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t end with the Hobbit theme (I thought, “what could be more perfect”?), but with a song sung by some popular artist (can’t remember who). Watching it this time, though, I appreciated the song that they had chosen. Granted, it’s the same crossmarketing behavior that so many other films are saddled with, but this time it didn’t seem so out of place. I can still hear that beautiful song in my head, and I guess I can understand why the composer chose not to end with the Hobbit theme. By the end of film 3, the fight has become about all of Middle-Earth. The Hobbit’s still represent a main structural post to the storytelling, but others have come to share the load and responsibility as well. And the words of the song (“white gulls are calling”) speaks to endings and elves and the sea.
Can’t wait until the Extended Edition of film three comes out next year. Hope I get the extended version of FOTR:TT for Christmas. I’d also love it if these films occasionally got re-released on the big screen. This isn’t one for your mere 48″ HD screen folks. See it on the big muslin before it’s too late.

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