Lord of the Rings
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Commentaries on this disc:
Director Gregory Hoblit, screenwriter Nicholas Kazan, and producer Charles Roven
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Reviewed by iwantmytvm on May 21st, 2020
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A nicely balanced commentary for one of my favorite films. They start in on the genesis of the project with Roven, having courted Kazan, buying the script and that Hoblit had many notes once he was attached to direct.
They were persistent in their pursuit of John Goodman, who initially passed but they sought him out in London and he agreed to do the film in a very short window he had before starting work on The Big Lebowski. The Denzel Washington character needed to be a trusting figure for the audience to bridge the journey between police procedural and supernatural thriller genres. Washington was a proudly talented basketball player and questioned a scene in which his pickup team would lose. The Embeth Davidtz character was originally two different people who they combined even if it burdened the amount of exposition she had to deliver. Elias Koteas traveled to Ohio to learn the proper pronunciation from an expert for his lines in Syrian Aramaic. The fellow was devout and would not teach Koteas any vulgarity, which they had to find elsewhere.
For the Demonvision, they used Ektachrome film stock with a Mesmerizer lens. Because the development and processing of that footage was so difficult, they also shot backup on more standard Kodak film, but they never needed it. They tried to keep a very flat and neutral color palette except for vibrant colors for wardrobe of the demons, as well as the colors used in Demonvision.
For the passing of evil between characters touched by the demon they used a choreographer who had worked for Hoblit on the show, Cop Rock.
The Rolling Stones song was always an element in the script, and there was another song featured that they excised. They like that the sound design blended with the music of Tan Dun. It was his first big film and he used unique tools as instruments, like a ruler on piano wire. A courier lost a sound reel in a taxi/train between Philadelphia and NYC. They went on the radio, took out ads, and offered a reward, but never found the reel, and were able to recover the sound from another source.
They talk about the role of Kazan as a writer on set for changes as needed. Most reworking of the script after its acquisition by Roven was in the third act of the film. They chose to keep some dialogue and slow scenes to let the film breathe. After one of the previews, in which someone slammed a door to the theatre and made the audience jump, they added a jump scare to that point in the film.
They had unexpected difficulties filming at the train station, where they avoided hazardous conditions for the cast and crew, and at the isolated hunting cabin, both for its remote location and for the weather cooperating for the snow they had to create for the scene. Shooting words on page from a book also proved more challenging than expected.
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