Thread: Gandalf, the Balrog, and "vainly grasping"
In any case, Gandalf looked like he had a grudge with the Balrog too, and that he decided to get the Beastard on the way down .
...or they could have just had him fall and then yell "Fly, you fools!" to the Fellowship rather than whispering it. Y'know, like in the book.
And whispering works great in the books, but not in the heat of a noisy film battle full of Orc Screams, Crumbling Caverns, Pinging Arrows, and Swelling Orchestral Film Scores .
Crap, that's another thread totally derailed .
Wait, I just realized I misread your post. You said he whispered "Fly You fools in the Film...Hmmm, ooops . I guess it just didn't seem so whispery to me .
I suppose Gandalf being concerned about the Balrog is about the only viable justification, though I don't think it makes a lot of sense (meaning no offence ). The Balrog was falling already (and was far ahead of Gandalf, as TTT showed us), and despite the wings the film gave it it wasn't using them to fly.
I suppose Gandalf being concerned about the Balrog is about the only viable justification, though I don't think it makes a lot of sense (meaning no offence ). The Balrog was falling already (and was far ahead of Gandalf, as TTT showed us), and despite the wings the film gave it it wasn't using them to fly.[/quote:ygnp9qp5]
Indeed, I suppose it was a whisper... I just watched the movie last night, which is funny. Perhaps on the film it seemed like a whisper, but he was halfway across the bridge and they were on the other half, so in reality it probably was a shout, lowered down to a faint voice for dramatic effect .
I wouldn't go so far as to say a 'whisper' was an exaggeration, though.
Never fear, I have an explanation that seems most likely (and likely to keep this thread from ever being about quotes again . I'm not sure how to split threads Beren, are you up to the task? Maybe the last page or so should be moved to a "digressions part 2" thread)
Anyway, it appears that the chasm in which the balrog is falling narrows a fair bit before opening up again. In order to glide or flap ones wings one needs space, not only for the wingspan, but also space to manoeuvre enough to generate lift. I think it is made pretty clear (in the film) that the space in the cavern is just too enclosed for the Balrog to be able to generate lift. It isn't until after Gandalf and the Balrog fall into the underground lake that the balrog would have a chance to right itself. Which it clearly does. As they both end up outside battling on a snowy mountain-top where Gandalf finally slays him. Canon or not, this seems the only explanation for how a Winged Balrog can fall.
In any event, I think this is now a hijack of a hijack. Do we need to stop?
Are you saying that the visual and auditory scales were different? I hadn't thought of it that way (it seems a bit counter-intuitive to me), but I can't think of a more reasonable explanation. Thanks, Beren!
I just watched it again. It probably qualifies as a whisper, but it's a very loud whisper. The camera as about 2 ft from his face, and the fellowship is at the other end of the bridge. So it doesn't seem like they'd hear him. But they added echo and stuff which seems to suggest that his whisper carried in the cavern.
Y'know cloaked in shadow an all that ;0)
Beren - that makes sense, I suppose. Thanks for letting us know, it's been a while since I've seen the scene.
Dunadan - well, it did have a shadow, or perhaps dark aura would be more accurate, about them, and it was known to resemble wings. There's no indication that they had real wings though. (This is in the book, in the movie there were some fairly obvious [url=http://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/html/episodes/images/ttt/ttt0354.htm:27vk9lcy]wings[/url:27vk9lcy] (and what looks like a tail ). I can't think of a reason why the Balrog would have wings that don't allow it to fly though.
anyway sorry to help derail the original post but i think the question was answered fully and this is just a natural progression
Out of curiosity, why? Especially since they don't seem very useful for flight.
As for the whole not being able to fly thing. I think GB was correct in that the chasm was not wide enough. It seemed to me that its wing span was greater than the width of the chasm. Some what akin to a bird falling down a chimney.
As for Gandalf clinging to the ledge and not really putting any effort in to get back up. We have to remember that he was not only dangling above a very large chasm. But he was on a ledge so no foot holds were available to him. And he was backed by a lot of very angry goblins firing arrows in all directions. Had he not let go either he would have been promtly hit by one, or Aragorn or Boromir would have in thier inevitable attempt at rescue. As Gandalf would hae considered thier lives far more important than his, his only option was to let go and enabling the fellowship to escape.
As for his wispering, its artistic licence I guess.
I guess we can just agree to disagree then.
Tolkien used the word "Balrog" to describe an incredibly terrifying and powerful warrior he made for [u:67nqtn93]The Book of Lost Tales[/u:67nqtn93], the first story of which was written around 1916/1917.
In some battle descriptions, Tolkien wrote as much as One Thousand Balrogs rushing into battle as horsemen... Now you can't rightly imagine one thousand Balrog's riding on horses into battle, can you? That is because [u:67nqtn93]The Book of Lost Tales[/u:67nqtn93] was Tolkien's attempt to create a fun little story about the beginning/mythology of England, but he abandoned the whole ordeal in 1925, about the time he began work on the [u:67nqtn93]Silmarillion[/u:67nqtn93], using themes and many characters from [u:67nqtn93]The Book of Lost Tales[/u:67nqtn93].
So, moving along. Tolkien got to work on [i:67nqtn93]The Lord of the Rings[/i:67nqtn93] and totally changed the concepts on Balrog's and who they were to be and look like. He still obviously made them terrifying and powerful in every way... Here is a little excerpt from [i:67nqtn93]The Fellowship of the Ring[/i:67nqtn93] with a little commentary .
The Fellowship of the Ring, the Balrog appears "like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater". Though previously the Balrog had entered the "large square chamber" of Mazarbul (through a doorway with a stone door on hinges, which cannot have been very large), at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm it "drew itself to a great height, and its wings spread from wall to wall" in what was a vast hall.
According to that up there, the Balrog indeed does have wings in [u:67nqtn93]The Lord of the Rings[/u:67nqtn93], and it certainly adds to it fierceness, and I doubt Tolkien would be one just to throw wings on something if it could not fly somewhat.
What I imagine in the book is that Gandalf sent the Hobbits and the Men across the bridge to flee, and the Balrog is able to jump half-way across the bridge to lunge at Gandalf. I doubt, in fact I know, that the Balrog could not fly to a point where it could escape from the pit that it fell into to... I would just imagine it is sort of a macro-evolution in which it helps the Balrog out, sort of like Steroids to us . Wings gives the Balrog a great advantage, and it makes him look much stronger, but in the end he just gets caught by the cops, (Gandalf, in this case), and busted. *Plays C.O.P.S Music*.
But yes, that was a pro-longed description of why Balrog's would have wings, and what their uses would be.
"Looking cool" is not a use for Balrog wings [i:13uafx8n]for the Balrog[/i:13uafx8n]. Looking intimidating could be, but on the other hand, I think that the dark aura of a Balrog would be more intimidating than a pair of overgrown bat-wings surrounded by smoke. But when we're talking this subjectively it's kind of hard to have a debate.
[quote:13uafx8n]As for the whole not being able to fly thing. I think GB was correct in that the chasm was not wide enough. It seemed to me that its wing span was greater than the width of the chasm. Some what akin to a bird falling down a chimney.[/quote:13uafx8n]
Having seen this I decided to go back and re-watch the scene carefully. After doing so I went back and took this [url=http://i617.photobucket.com/albums/tt259/ek_lotr/Wingspan.jpg:13uafx8n]screenshot[/url:13uafx8n]. As you can see, the Balrog's wings (in the highlighted area) are nowhere near as wide as the chasm either lengthwise or across. It had plenty of room.
[quote:13uafx8n]As for Gandalf clinging to the ledge and not really putting any effort in to get back up. We have to remember that he was not only dangling above a very large chasm. But he was on a ledge so no foot holds were available to him. [/quote:13uafx8n]
He was able to drag himself forward from the very edge and get a handhold. There were more handholds directly in front, and upper body strength would be enough for him to clamber and crawl back up onto the bridge.
[quote:13uafx8n]And he was backed by a lot of very angry goblins firing arrows in all directions. Had he not let go either he would have been promtly hit by one, or Aragorn or Boromir would have in thier inevitable attempt at rescue. As Gandalf would hae considered thier lives far more important than his, his only option was to let go and enabling the fellowship to escape.[/quote:13uafx8n]
The goblins - probably shocked and dismayed by the Balrog's fall - took a while to begin firing arrows again at the Fellowship. The Fellowship also had Legolas, who had already demonstrated his skill at taking out orcs from a great distance. It was pure foolishness for Gandalf to voluntarily let the Fellowship go on their way without even making a serious effort to get back to them.
[quote:13uafx8n]As for his wispering, its artistic licence I guess.[/quote:13uafx8n]
I think Beren already resolved this.
According to that up there, the Balrog indeed does have wings in [u:26kdk1ji]The Lord of the Rings[/u:26kdk1ji], and it certainly adds to it fierceness, and I doubt Tolkien would be one just to throw wings on something if it could not fly somewhat.[/quote:26kdk1ji]
1) That quote at the end of the first paragraph - the most widely cited piece of evidence for Balrog wings - does not make sense except in the greater context of the passage. Prior to that we are told that the Balrog "halted again, facing facing him [Gandalf], [b:26kdk1ji]and the shadow reached around him like two vast wings[/b:26kdk1ji]" (my bold emphasis). This "shadow" was described earlier as part of the Balrog: "it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and go before it."
Both quotes mentioning wings - one of which is an explicit metaphor and one of which is not - are about this "shadow", this dark aura (if you will) that surrounds the Balrog. In the first quote we are told that the shadow spreads out like wings. In the second quote the metaphor is furthered to show that the shadow has no spread fully from one wall to the other. At no point is there an indication that these are actual wings.
2) I agree with you that Tolkien would not just give the Balrog wings if they were useless for flying, but what evidence is there that they can be used for flying?
[quote:26kdk1ji]I doubt, in fact I know, that the Balrog could not fly to a point where it could escape from the pit that it fell into to... I would just imagine it is sort of a macro-evolution in which it helps the Balrog out, sort of like Steroids to us . Wings gives the Balrog a great advantage, and it makes him look much stronger[/quote:26kdk1ji]
Evolution has nothing to do with Balrogs, because Balrogs did not evolve. They were Ainu spirits from before the beginning of Time, and they took their shape either of their own choice or at the direction of Melkor/Morgoth. There is no reason why anyone would [i:26kdk1ji]choose[/i:26kdk1ji] wings that are not good at flying.
[quote:26kdk1ji]But yes, that was a pro-longed description of why Balrog's would have wings, and what their uses would be. [/quote:26kdk1ji]
So the Great Balrog Wing Debate (book version) has come to the Hobbit Movie Forum....
I thought that you were providing "a pro-longed description of why Balrog's would have wings, and what their uses would be." In any event, if you don't want to discuss it and would prefer to continue with your pre-conceived notions, that is entirely your prerogative.
So, the filmmakers decided to give it real wings. But they ran into the problem of: if the Balrog had wings, why didn't it fly out of the chasm? I think it was basically their desire to stick with Tolkien. They, for the viewers' sake and for money's sake, decided to give the Balrog real wings. But they didn't want to drastically change the story and make the Balrog fly out of the chasm. So they stuck with Tolkien and made him fall. I don't think they thought of a detailed explanation of why he didn't fly out. That's left to us. So who knows? Perhaps the Balrog could originally fly, but because of crawling around in caverns all of its life it had damaged them and knocked holes in them. We don't know. But the filmmakers did the best they could with what they had.
In that line of thought, I think the billowing smokey cloud the filmmakers gave the Balrog could have served as the aura of darkness. Not knowing much about the technology of filmmaking I don't know if they could have digitally darkened an area around the Balrog, but if so that would have worked too. In any event, the physical wings they gave it were unnecessary.
[quote:3gqhusmy]But they ran into the problem of: if the Balrog had wings, why didn't it fly out of the chasm? I think it was basically their desire to stick with Tolkien. They, for the viewers' sake and for money's sake, decided to give the Balrog real wings. But they didn't want to drastically change the story and make the Balrog fly out of the chasm. So they stuck with Tolkien and made him fall.[/quote:3gqhusmy]
That seems to be a fairly common issue with the films: they change one aspect but then have to make convoluted explanations (or more changes) to keep the story from going completely crazy. For instance, why did the Witch-king not kill Gandalf at Minas Tirith? In the book it was because he had no time for a fight, but in the movie he had Gandalf all but beat and was already moving in for the coup de grace. Quite simply, it was foolish of the Witch-king to leave Gandalf there.
P.S. 100th post!
I hope I'm making sense here....... tell me if I'm clueless, PLEASE.
Well, I am definitely on the "Pro Winged Balrog" team. And others (thanks Durin and Gingray) are coming up with some decent evidence that Tolkien actually intended wings. Though I concur with Eldorion that using "wings" metaphorically in one sentence does muddle the issue a bit.
But back to the the movie version, which I have been watching tonight backing it up, and repeating in slow-motion and with the commentary on. That shot you linked to does indicate a large Cavern above the bridge of Khazad Dum Eldorion. But there is a narrow chasm immediately under the bridge. If the Balrog had charged Gandalf by flying at him, then he would not have fallen. However, in the film it's more of a lunge. He strikes at Gandalf with his flaming sword and Gandalf blocks it with a "force field". Then Gandalf shouts "You shall not pass" and strikes the bridge with his staff as the Balrog whirls his whip. The Balrog stomps out further onto the narrowest part of the bridge with a giant cloven hoof. The bridge crumbles under his weight, the Balrog falls [i:3b5q53vb][b:3b5q53vb]backwards[/b:3b5q53vb][/i:3b5q53vb] into the chasm below. There is no way at this point for the Balrog to generate lift with his wings as they are facing the wrong direction. And the chasm only gets narrower preventing the Balrog from righting itself. So Jackson covered his bases with this one.
And of course the wings look awesome [i:3b5q53vb][b:3b5q53vb]and[/b:3b5q53vb][/i:3b5q53vb] intimidating.
In the commentary, Jackson states that he, like millions of other Tolkien fans (including me ), "I read the book...and I imagine Tolkien as describing wings. I don't know what all the big fuss is about."
If only he were reading this forum .
I hope I'm making sense here....... tell me if I'm clueless, PLEASE.[/quote:3fiph5lc]
I don't think you're clueless, but I disagree with your interpretation of the quote. For one, flight (and by extension "passing over" is repeatedly used as a metaphor for quick speed, even when there is clearly no actual flying occurring. Eomer refers to Aragorn as "Wingfoot", and as the Balrog falls Gandalf tells the Fellowship to "Fly". Clearly they did not just sprout wings. In the absence of other evidence (and I don't think there is, see the previous post) we can't just assume that Balrogs could literally fly either.
Fair enough, I think you've got me on this one. The chasm does narrow rather quickly, so I suppose it's plausible that the movie-Balrog would not have righted itself in time. Although, could the Balrog have possibly have used its wings over the giant lake, after the chasm opens up. It depends on whether it could right itself I suppose....
[quote:24qnht3k]In the commentary, Jackson states that he, like millions of other Tolkien fans (including me ), "I read the book...and I imagine Tolkien as describing wings. I don't know what all the big fuss is about."
If only he were reading this forum . [/quote:24qnht3k]
I don't think of it as a fuss, just a fan topic to discuss and debate. Then again, I like discussing a lot of things.
The "fuss" he is talking about is mainly on the more popular forums and blogs. It has always been a huge debate about the Balrog's wings, and I think that is what he means by "fuss". Debate.
I'm aware of the debate, I just wouldn't call it a fuss, personally. That's all my point was.
Oh, ok. We're on the same page now.
[quote="Gandalfs Beard":3n7n6swz]I think that Jackson was referring more to the Die-Hards for which Balrogs with wings are simply unacceptable..[/quote:3n7n6swz]
Yes. A lot of people who wanted a word-for-word adaptation got really ticked off.
Out of curiosity, have you ever actually seen someone (or "seen" on the internet) who wanted a literal word-for-word adaptation of the films? I ask because while I've seen the phrase tossed around a fair deal, I've never seen such a person myself, though I have seen a number who wanted either (a) closer adaptations or (b) no adaptations at all.
Also, I don't think one needs to be a literalist to want the design to reflect Tolkien's descriptions.
But, as GB said, NarniaWeb is full of them. I think that GB and I (and most everyone on this forum) has the philosophy of glumPuddle (http://www.youtube.com/user/GPuddle), but when he tries to explain his (and our) position on adaptation, people totally try to shoot him down. They aren't as accepting of the fact that movies aren't the same as books.
The films were already incredibly long (especially the EEs), but I think that if PJ had left out some of his personal additions and super-sized battles there would have been room.
[quote="GlumPuddle's YouTube profile":wz1fhsu9]Most people would probably call me a Narnia purist. I have loved these books (by CS Lewis) for a long time, and it's extremely important to me that the movies be as faithful as possible. I try not to sugar-coat anything, but say it exactly like it is, good or bad. I don't consider myself a pessimist; I just think optimism is something that has to be earned.[/quote:wz1fhsu9]
That sounds very reasonable to me and quite applicable to LOTR.
Every major battle was taken straight from the book. They were the BIGGEST battles of Middle-Earth. They ranked up with the Battled of Unnumbered Tears and the Fall of Gondolin. They were extremely important historical events, and could not be treated lightly or passed over in 10 minutes.
Any other additions were added (or changed) to make the story fit the medium of film.
Helm's Deep. J.R.R. Tolkien thought it was expendable in an adaptation, and should be cut in favor of the more important sacking of Isengard by the Ents (Letter 210). Peter Jackson thought it was the climax of the second film in a manner similar to the film [i:cq71c4qt]Zulu[/i:cq71c4qt]. I don't think I need to explain why this, one of the two biggest battles of the films, is not taken straight from the book.
[quote:cq71c4qt]Any other additions were added (or changed) to make the story fit the medium of film.[/quote:cq71c4qt]
If so, please explain why the following changes made the story fit the medium of film, as opposed to fitting the personal preferences of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens. (in no particular order.)
[list:cq71c4qt]Aragorn became a reluctant heir in deliberate exile.
Frodo succumbed to the power of the Ring much quicker, even trying to give it away to a Nazgul in Osgiliath.
For that matter, the entire Osgiliath trip.
Frodo sending Sam away.
The Battle of the Hornburg.
Having the Army of the Dead go all the way to the Pelennor and wipe out the enemy in a giant wave of green goo (as opposed to having the battle continue for some time after Aragorn's arrival).
Making Denethor a (literally!) drooling madman as opposed to a noble but proud leader who organized the defense of his city.[/list:u:cq71c4qt]
I could go on but I really don't feel like it. Personally I do not see how these changes were made because of the necessities of adapting the story to film.