Peter Jackson talks ‘Hobbit: BotFA’ and all Middle-earth with TheOneRing.net
Long before the film was called “The Battle of the Five Armies,” it was obvious that there was a great, big battle in the film. Jackson, since his work on Rings, has been much copied in style and substance for his battle sequences. It isn’t a stretch to say that with “The Two Towers” and “Return of the King,” he set the standard for other would-be epic battle films to aspire to.
So a decade later, how did Jackson approach these battles?
One ability Jackson has is to give the audience a clear sense of geography, place and character during epic, action packed sequences. This is rarer than you might think. The audience understands what is going on in the big picture and where the main characters are in that landscape. Nowhere is that better handled than the siege of Helm’s Deep. To my delight, as a personal favorite, it is the first fight he mentions.
“When you think about Helms Deep, which I think has a very distinctive feel — it’s not really distinctive because there’s an Elf fighting an Orc — its distinctive because of the fortress, the valley, the rain, the lightning, the noise, the sound effects, the drums.
“You try to create a personality for a battle because at the end of the day, a battle is guys whacking each other with swords and axes,” he said.
“What’s important is the entire vibe and the buildup and the kind of the atmosphere. So the Battle of the Five Armies certainly has a very specific quality to it and a very specific buildup to it.
“The Elves and the Men are going to fight the Dwarves and you’ve suddenly got these characters and the people that you respect that you’ve followed who are going to be starting to have a crack at each other and so it will have a very different feel and personality as a battle scene than anything that we’ve done before.”
SHOOTING THE MOVIES
One thing I heard a lot of on set, from people around Jackson, was that he was in fine form. The production was in a rhythm and he was in a special place as a shooting director. Did Jackson feel that too.
He was thoughtful in his answer. “Yeah, I do. It’s been one of the most surprising things actually, because there was a certain sense of duty of how I ended up doing this movie.”
Long-time readers of TheOneRing.net will recall that there were several times when it felt like the Hobbit wouldn’t make it to the silver screen. Labor conflict, studio struggles, rights issues and eventually the loss of the man Jackson picked to direct, Guillermo del Toro. He had to drop because the production couldn’t get started.
“I just got a sense of obligation I have to say, a sense of duty. The quickest and most efficient way to move forward with this, you know if it was happening, because when Guillermo left, there was still no sense that the film was ever going to get a green light, that I should just do it. So that was my history into it.
“I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed it. I’m so incredibly pleased that I’m doing it now. Which, two years ago if you asked me that, I wouldn’t have said that but I’m happy, I’m enjoying myself. It’s fun.”
One of the mental abilities that makes Jackson different from most people is his ability to think both big and little. He can see the big picture and he can see the little details and how they will matter in a scene and how they figure in a full film or film trilogy.
But when he shoots, does the shoot feel like one big project or does he break it up mentally?
“Well, it’s always one big thing because the schedule is so mixed up. As you know, the day before yesterday we were shooting the second movie, yesterday we’re shooting first movie, today we’ve got the second film again. So, you end up not differentiating it in terms of the production.”
That is Jackson thinking and seeing the big picture. Now, here he is with the subtleties.
“But you know, I can feel in a sense a very different vibe in the movies.
“I mean, the first film is very much a road movie and adventure film as the title says – An Unexpected Journey – and it is the journey.
“Whereas in (later) movies, they’re really into a very regional situation with Lake Town and Erebor and Dale. That kind of is geographically a much smaller area and they’re just dropped right into the middle, so you’re dealing a lot more with suspense and tension and characters.”
It is the characters that drive any Jackson film and as everybody knew from the beginning, this particular film is full of them.
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