Storyboard Studies: Nazgul Chase

Aside from battle scenes, some of the most challenging (and also most common) scenes to visualize have to be chase scenes. The scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in which Arwen takes the wounded Frodo onto her horse and races to Rivendell is particularly thrilling. In hindsight, the chase incorporates some of the moments which have since become iconic; you’ll find that every chase scene in pretty much every modern film has a series of rushed visuals to emphasize the speed at which things are happening, and then throw in a slow- motion shot of a dangerous swerve (if it involves cars) or a cool jump (if it’s on horseback, like this scene) just to let the sequence breathe and stave off complete chaos. A little chaos, however, is exciting. As a viewer, it ups the tempo of suspense when we can’t exactly keep pace with what’s happening, when we catch only flashes of lightning quick motion, glimpses through branches and trees and behind clouds of dust or smoke. The important thing is to allow brief moments for viewers to catch up before continuing the ride.

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Visually, the Arwen and Ringwraiths chase comes to a cool conclusion when Arwen crosses the river and challenges them to come get Frodo. This side of the river, Elf- magic runs strong, tipping the scales in her favour. She summons up horses of foam that knock down the Ringwraiths and we know Frodo is now safe- but what a ride it is! Good film direction is good film direction no matter how much time has passed, and it really shines when a fantasy film from 2001 still manages to look fresh in 2018. I have had an aversion to sketching landscapes ever since I first took up the pencil twelve years ago. Yet I quite enjoyed dabbing away with a watercolour brush to convey Panel 3- it took only a few minutes to do since the landscape was so distinctive, and I didn’t bother with details. My love for details is something I’m going to have to reign in if I do go into storyboarding full time, because boards are all about rapidly conveying the shot in as little space and time as possible.

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