Episode 45
December 5, 2022

This Film Is Choppy

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned continue our own epic trilogy with a look at our collective choice of topic: Peter Jackson’s version of The Two Towers. Turning 20 years old this month, The Two Towers built on the success of the previous year’s The Fellowship of the Ring, becoming another holiday blockbuster and continuing the overall story, as well as introducing the wider world to a variety of striking performances, among them Bernard Hill as Theoden, Miranda Otto as Eowyn and most famously and indelibly, Andy Serkis’s compelling performance as Gollum, further interpreted by the Weta digital effects team to bring the character to life as an animation. All three of us have our own distinct memories and experiences of watching it for the first time and we’ve seen it any number of times since, but returning to it as a standalone film – as with our previous Fellowship episode, we went back to the original theatrical cut – made something clear to us: it’s not all that great. Many different moments are absolutely indelible as already noted and there’s no way something like The Rings of Power can even come close to it, but compared to the absolute triumph of Jackson’s Fellowship, his Two Towers is the odd one out of the series as a whole. What about the structure of the story as adapted, filmed and edited meant that this might have always been the weak center of the sequence? What moments in particular are absolutely perfect – and what decisions are baffling then and now? Exactly how much Helm’s Deep did there have to be in the first place – and do all the decisions that go into the making of that sequence as being central rest on the best foundation? And how great does Serkis’s performance and the realization of Gollum as a character remain overall? (Answer: utterly.)

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. If that seems familiar, look back a year

Follow the HarperCollins Union Twitter feed for strike news.

Andy Serkis reading the Silmarillion? We are intrigued, we are.

Hail and farewell to Jules Bass.

We do recommend relistening to our Fellowship episode; plenty of relevant show notes too.

The Frodo Franchise is a very good read for sure.

The original teaser trailer attached to the end of The Fellowship of the Ring at the conclusion of that film’s theatrical run.

The first official trailer is good, no question, but the second one with the Requiem for a Dream music? Man oh man.

Kazaa! Ah Internet nostalgia.

Phew, that opening scene. What a way to start up again.

We do miss the Huorns, even if they showed up a little bit in the extended version – but not by name.

It’s a mix of perfect moments and ‘hmmm’ bits but the whole start to the Helm’s Deep battle definitely is key to the film.

Arwen was indeed filmed at being at Helm’s Deep and there are background images of her here and there. (Lindsay Ellis’s essay the other month has a bit more about that.)

Zulu, the British film from 1964 that inspired Jackson’s take on Helm’s Deep, is…a caution. (As stated, Zulu Dawn is more interesting in comparison.)

The look on Theoden’s face after he takes in the explosion – that’s good acting.

Edoras, an absolute triumph of set design, construction, visual effects and cinematography – so it was, so it remains. (Here’s a visit to the set area on Mt. Sunday from a couple of years ago.)

Feel free to pick up a copy of The Deadwood Bible by Matt Zoller Seitz if you like, and appreciate Oriana’s work helping make it happen!

Brad Dourif’s tear (and the scene overall). Wormtongue’s confrontation scene with Eowyn is in the Edoras clip linked above.

The Eowyn/Aragorn blade clash/confrontation scene? Good, good stuff. (The warg attack scene, less so.)

Where to begin with Gollum? Frustratingly the extended Two Towers documentary segment on Gollum doesn’t appear to be on YouTube but Serkis’s book on working on the character is easily available and a very good read.

Do you really want to know about the monkey from the 1997 Lost in Space? Do you? Fine. Enjoy a video tribute.

Now Gollum does act like a cat here, true. And the ‘yeees?!?’ moment remains awesome.

The self-confrontation scene. You know it.


The buildup to Gollum snarling “My PRECIOUS!” at Faramir is truly striking.

David Wenham dealing with Van Helsing. The film that is. (And yeah yeah 300.)

Gandalf returns and Ian McKellen’s hair levels up.

The whole “give up the weapons/wink/’I TOLD you to take the WIZARD’S STAFF’” sequence – just a treat.

The meat was always on the menu, really.

The Riders of Rohan” is one of Howard Shore’s most gripping pieces, still.

Gollum’s Song” is really good if you haven’t heard it in a bit. (Emiliana Torrini’s website will be back soon, it seems.)

Sheila Chandra = next level. As is “Breath of Life.”

Isabel Bayrakdarian = also next level, and so is “Evenstar.

The Last March of the Ents” is another remarkable moment of music. “Release the RIVER!

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