I saw a fire moon once. It rose over the pass near Dunland. Huge. Red and gold it was. It filled the sky. We were an escort for some merchants from Ered Luin. They were trading in silverwork for furs. We took the Greenway south keeping the mountain to our left. And then it appeared. This huge fire moon lighting our path. I wish i could show you the caverns.
It is our fight. It will not end here. With every victory this evil will grow. If your father has his way, we will do nothing. We will hide within our walls, live our lives away from the light and let darkness descend. Are we not part of this world? Tell me, Mellon. When did we let evil become stronger than us?
…I’ll be the first to admit my photoshop skills are very far from perfect, but I think it gets the idea across and in my defense it is very hard to get these stills to look like anything resembling reality
(Yaaaay! You’re welcome! Off to The Hobbit we go!)
LOTR used stylized shots for magic/epic scenes but let its death scenes serve as a “return to reality”: think Theoden’s charge vs Theoden’s death. Dream-like mythological imagery, then tragic gritty reality
But The Hobbit uses stylized “The Rohirrim-have-Arrived” type shots for its epic scenes and for its death/grieving scenes
That’s why the Hobbit films have many of the Exact Same tragic emotional beats as LOTR but the tone feels so different …It’s really not just the writing: it really is the visuals more than anything else
It’s easier to -see- what I mean so let’s contrast similar scenes from both films! It’s interesting to look at how both films handle practically the same situations. Imagine how differently these scenes would feel if everything, every line, was the same…. except their backgrounds were swapped
A person opens up about the loss of a family member in LOTR vs The Hobbit:
A person not used to dealing with grief loses someone they care about in LOTR vs the Hobbit
A warrior who’s spent their film dry-eyed and stoic finally lets themselves break into tears, and gives their fallen loved one a kiss…in LOTR vs the Hobbit (really though think about how the feel of both scenes would change drastically if their backgrounds were swapped):
After a great battle is finally over, a scene of wordless grief where a secondary character finds that someone they love has fallen, in LOTR vs the Hobbit:
A person rushes to their dying friend’s side, their voice breaking as they say “lie still” …that person desperately tries to save their dying friend, and reaches forward to tend the wound in their chest, but their friend realizes it’s hopeless. Their friend apologizes for being blind, and begs for their forgiveness, while the other reassures them that no, you didn’t fail, it’s been an honor to know you …
in LOTR vs the Hobbit
I think it’s interesting that here’s a moment in both scenes where Aragorn/Bilbo reaches towards the wound in their friend’s chest, desperate to believe they can save them
And FOTR cuts to this closeup, emphasizing the moment when Aragorn reaches for the arrow-wound, and Boromir grasps his hand as he tells him to stop
But The Hobbit cuts to a wider shot that puts more emphasis on the gorgeous background with the glowing white sky, while the later moment when Bilbo takes hold of Thorin’s hand is easy to miss
And that kinda summarizes the difference between the way both trilogies approach death scenes: LOTR looked for emotional shots, The Hobbit for beautiful ones. LOTR asked: how can we make this as soul-destroying as possible? The Hobbit asked: how can we make this look as beautiful as possible?
And this isn’t a criticism of The Hobbit films! Some people like that constantly gorgeous-storybook aesthetic a lot better. And if you had no prior knowledge of either trilogy, and someone asked you which scenes looked more beautiful, you’d probably pick the ones from The Hobbit. Because they do–the Hobbit’s death scenes look a lot more beautiful! But…
I do wonder if the grief hurts “because it was real” line would have been more powerful if the scene itself had looked less beautiful and more real?