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Landscape inconsistencies in The Hobbit

Discussion in 'Film & Television' started by Svrtnsse, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I just watched The Hobbit (first one) last night with some friends. One thing that struck me (again) was how drastically the landscape was changing from scene to scene.
    Take the bit where they're getting attacked orcs. At the start they're in the forest where they've camped. They start running and then they're in a rolling grassland with a lot of rocks - the forest is nowhere to be seen. At the end of the chase they're in a similar grassland but the rocks are replaced with trees instead.

    To me it feels a bit disjointed. In my experience (I've done a lot of orienteering and cross-country running) landscape often don't change that drastically that quickly. Now I've never been to New Zealand where the film is shot (right?), but I can't imagine that even there it would change that quickly. Specifically, it wouldn't change fast enough the you run from one type of landscape to an entirely different one with warg-mounted orcs hot on your heels.

    This inconsistency has two effects on me. First, it breaks my immersion, which I guess is self-explanatory. The second effect is a bit more serious. It removes the sense of distance and size. I know they're out on a long journey, but it doesn't feel like a long journey. They just pop from one location to another and while the scenery changes vastly it doesn't make me feel the hardship of a long journey.
    The thing applies to all of the Lord of the Rings movies as well as the second Hobbit movie. Did anyone else react to this and did it bother you or did you just ignore it in favor of enjoying the movie?
     
  2. MFreako

    MFreako Troubadour

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    Never struck me as jarring. I've always thought the landscape changes to imply the passage of time and distance.
     
  3. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi, I was more concerned about the inconsistencies in the plot! :confused:
     
  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I understand the landscape changes are made to show off distance and time passed, but for me it doesn't really work. The generic travel scenes are okay, but still feel a bit off. The way it looks they're travelling distances that would take months to get by, but it just doesn't feel like that much time has passed.

    The chase scenes are the worst though. It's like in the cut between scenes they run a distance that would take half a day at least to traverse by foot. Not only that, they actually run it, at full speed, with mounted orcs on their heels. I can see how it may be something not everyone picks up on; I'm just curious if anyone else thought about it at all.

    As far as plot inconsistencies go I don't really have any issues with them. It's a movie and I'm generally pretty forgiving as far as plot-holes etc goes.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  5. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Yes, I agree that you can't read a book and then expect the film of it to be the same. I probably was too bewildered by the plot changes to notice the scenery. I know there's an inconsistency in the first Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring, where Frodo and Sam are standing in a field near a scarecrow. They are just leaving Hobbiton and they seem to pass the scarecrow and then it appears ahead of them and they have to pass it again.
     
  6. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    The first half of Fellowship is Halloween-y enough as it is, now they've got a scarecrow stalking them too?? :cool2:
     
  7. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    This is the chase scene I was having a rant about.
    When it starts out there's loads of trees around. The orcs are hunting Radagast (?) at breakneck speed. Sure, there are some cliffs and rocks around and the terrain seems to open up a little. Then Gandalf pops up behind a rock - within easy sight of the orcs - and there's not a single tree in sight, nor the huge cliff in the background. How fast are they actually running - and for how long?
    When they kill the orc on the warg there's not a tree in sight and then they start running and there are trees all over.

    Rewatching this I realize I'm probably over-thinking it a bit. It's meant as a cool and exciting action scene and I shouldn't be bothering too much about how far a gang of dwarves and a hobbit can outrun mounted cavalry. It's just, well, it's the kind of thing I notice...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
  8. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    Just like police chase scenes and slasher movies,
    they start out close, then suddenly they are far apart, then they get close again, then somehow they put distance between them again.
    People running on foot in plain sight of the enemy, are only seconds away from getting attacked by mounted enemy.
    It would seem the mounts only slow down the orcs rather then give them the speed advantage, and that the orcs would be smart to go on foot and be faster then riding the mounts.
    Of course in slasher movies, the fleeing person always finds a way for the killer to catch up, or go upstairs where there is no escape.
     
  9. Rinzei

    Rinzei Troubadour

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    No, I can definitely see what you mean, now that I've seen the scene again. I think if they had just done a few establishing shots that showed where the locations were in relation to each other, it would have removed the jarred effect - we'd already have the implication of how these locations relate to each other that way and the flow would be implied. But without some sort of establishment, it feels more like jumps from one spot to the next.

    There are a lot of little nuances like that which I feel could have really given an extra oomph to the film. Just a better sort of connection. I personally felt, for instance, that there wasn't enough show of how Bilbo lived before the journey to see how much his character actually developed/changed for me to care about him. Just a couple extra minutes of "This is how boring and tranquil Bilbo's life is. And now, the tall man in grey is here to change that..." would have shown me the person he was, in contrast to the person he would become.
     
  10. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Well, to be fair, there wasn't a lot of that in the book, either. It basically starts with an infodump of what his hobbit-hole looks like, which could have been covered in a single establishing shot of film, and then goes into his family history for a few pages before Gandalf shows up.
     
  11. stephenspower

    stephenspower Inkling

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    As I boot up Lord of the Rings Online, let me tell you that scene really bugged me too. They start in what appear to be the Lone Lands somewhere east of Weathertop, probably north of the East Road where there are trees (like where Arwen caught up with Aragorn in Fellowship), then come down towards the road, where there's dun plain. All well and good. But the secret tunnel Gandalf takes them through to Rivendell would have them travel under both the Hoarwell and the Bruinen. In addition it's 100 miles from Weathertop to the Hoarwell and another 100 from the river to Rivendell, which is also high up in the approach to the Misty Mountains. So, tunnel: impossible barring a Portal crossover scene that was cut from the movie.

    That Elrond was having some sport would suggest they were actually in the High Plains before the Gates of Imladris, but the plains look much different, at least as LOTRO pictures them, and the game's attention to detail is substantial.

    Now, my hobbit burglar has some business near the Last Bridge before dinner.
     
  12. Rinzei

    Rinzei Troubadour

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    I've not read the book in over a decade, so I couldn't remember that. :p I just kind of felt that the "beginning" of Bilbo wasn't shown enough for me to realise that his character had developed. I know through popular culture that he has developed from a humble life and content stagnation, but the movie itself didn't really show that. I can't tell if I'm explaining it well, to be honest...
     
    Ireth likes this.

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