Tag Archives: lotr

What Do Gandalf And Superman Have In Common?

The first teaser trailer for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, was recently released online.  My first time seeing it was at the theater for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.  I thought at the time that the music sounded suspiciously like part of the soundtrack from Lord of the Rings, a score I am very familiar with since I have seen those movies dozens of times and the complete 3-disc soundtrack was my go-to music when I would stay up all night writing research papers for school.  A quick visit to my ipod confirmed my suspicions–the music featured in the Man of Steel trailer is the last minute of a track titled The Bridge of Khazad Dum, from The Fellowhip of the Ring.  Said bridge is in the Mines of Moria, and this is the music that accompanies Gandalf’s fatal fall into the pit with the Balrog, and the Fellowship’s immediate devastation.

Watch one version of the Man of Steel trailer, (this is the one with voice-over from Clark Kent’s adoptive father; the other one is the same except the voice-over is from his biological dad Jor-El):

Now compare the music in that teaser to the last minute of The Bridge of Khazad Dum.  Skip to about the 4:40 mark:

I mean, it’s exactly the same.  It’s not “similar to” or “in the style of,” it’s actually the exact same piece of music.  It’s not unusual for trailers to feature music from other movies, or to recycle something that won’t actually be in the finished product itself.  This is, after all, a teaser trailer, so maybe they haven’t scored anything for the film itself yet.  But it’s still strange to use music from such an iconic film, that is so recognizable.  Howard Shore composed the music for Lord of the Rings, but Hans Zimmer is scoring Man of Steel, so they’re not even recycling from the same musician.

I’m sure they chose this music because it’s haunting and dark and fits (or sets) the mood of the trailer very well.  I’m sure they didn’t intend for me to start thinking about how Gandalf and Superman can be compared, if at all.  But because this music is so strongly tied to Lord of the Rings, that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Is it because both Superman and Gandalf resemble humans but are actually much more powerful and are sent to this earth for some greater purpose?  (See TolkienGateway for the origins of wizards in Middle-Earth).  Is it because they’re both kind of loners by default, having very few true peers?  Is it because they do both value the less-powerful lives of their human/hobbit/dwarf/elf friends, and that love for humanity is seen by their foes as a weakness?  Is it forshadowing that Superman will a) fight some sort of ancient evil like the Balrog, or b) sacrifice himself to save others less powerful than he?  Is Superman going to “die” and be resurrected, the way Gandalf is, and actually the way Superman Returns ended?  Is it because, right before Gandalf falls, he whispers, “Fly, you fools!” and the trailer ends with Superman flying?  (That’s my favorite theory).

“Fly, you fools!”

I’m sure none of those comparisons were intended.  But Warner Brothers underestimates the accuracy of my nerd powers of recollection if they expect me not to notice this sort of thing.  And now all I can think about is, who would win in a duel of Gandalf vs. Superman?  Vote, and give your reasoning in the comments below.

I say Gandalf, with his staff.  If Superman can take the staff away, then he’d win.

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Singing of the Dwarves (Hobbit Trailer!!!!)

ZOMG, the first trailer for The Hobbit is finally here!  I love it.

I love the singing.  The lyrics are taken from a song in the book, obviously.  There are some lines missing that leave the bit in the trailer a little nonsensical, but they always splice scenes together for trailers, and even in the movie I wouldn’t expect them to include every line from every song.  Tolkien was quite verbose.  Here’s some text from the paragraph just before the song, that I think show how well this movie is bringing the story to life:

The dark filled all the room, and the fire died down, and the shadows were lost, and still they played on.  And suddenly first one and then another began to sing as they played, deep-throated singing of the dwarves in the deep places of their ancient homes.

Musically, I think the song is reminiscent of Pippin’s song (Edge of Night) from Return of the King.  Here are the lyrics that are sung in the trailer:

Far over the misty mountain cold,

To dungeons deep and caverns old,

The pines were roaring on the height,

The winds were moaning in the night,

The fire was red, it flaming spread,

The trees like torches blazed with light.

These come from two stanzas about half-way through the song as it is included in the book, and there are two lines missing that should come after the first couplet:

We must away, ere break of day

To seek our long-forgotten gold.

Rather important syntactically, (without them it sounds like the pines were roaring to the dungeons, or something), but maybe in the full version of this scene the song will be more complete.  (The flames, by the way, are from “the dragons ire, more fierce than fire,” and there is also a stanza about goblins that was skipped over between the lines of the trailer song.)  I do love that it is a new tune, and that it continues throughout the second part of the trailer.  New music!  I mean I love the Lord of the Rings soundtracks, and they instantly increase my level of excitement when Peter Jackson includes them in his vlogs as he has been doing, but these are new films and I’m so stoked to be getting new, epic music to go with them.  (The score is by Howard Shore, who also composed the music for all three Lord of the Rings films).

The tone of this trailer is undoubtedly dark.  The song lyrics included talk about deep dark dungeons and burning landscapes, and several times Bilbo’s chances of survival are called into question, which I think is a little bit silly because we all know that this is a prequel and that he’s going to survive.  I think they could generate excitement or market this as an action adventure full of dangerous escapades without trying to make us believe that Bilbo might die, don’t you?  But they didn’t really need to work at convincing me to be excited for this movie anyway. I am duly excited.  Maybe I will re-read The Hobbit during the holiday break!

**update 12/14/12**  The full version of this Misty Mountain song, as sung in the movie and on the soundtrack, has these lyrics:

Far over the misty mountain cold,

To dungeons deep and caverns old,

We must away, ere break of day,

To find our long forgotten gold.

The pines were roaring on the height,

The winds were moaning in the night,

The fire was red, it flaming spread,

The trees like torches blazed with light.

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Filed under music, trailers