Monday, February 15, 2010

"Born of Hope" - fan-made prequel to LOTR is finally here!

I remember first hearing about this project years and years ago, back when all they had done was a few days of promotional shooting. So needless to say, I was starting to think it would never get finished!

But here it is at last - a fan-made prequel to "The Lord of the Rings." It tells the story of the parents of Aragorn, Arathorn and Gilraen, and nicely elaborates on the information Tolkien gave us in his appendixes.

For a fan-made, non-commercial production it's extremely well-done. That doesn't mean I can't pick a few bones with it - but overall I'm incredibly impressed by what they've managed to do. Cinematography and film quality especially, as well as some very good acting by most of the actors.

The bones? Well, the costumes could have been better. In particular they could have been aged better. I know it's so hard to age costumes when you've put work into making them. You desperately want to preserve every thread of them. But it's so so so so necessary to get the right look. I learned this to my cost when I did my own LOTR project half a decade ago.

Secondly - I'm not sure they made the right choice in casting their Gilraen. She had a fairly decent air, but she didn't look at all like I imagined Gilraen to be. Too old, and (though pretty) not the sort of pretty that I would expect from a mother of Aragorn. Also, they tried to make her into some sort of fighting maiden, but she couldn't really fight when it mattered, and it's like - do it all the way or not at all. If you only do it halfway, she looks silly swinging a sword and that makes her a weaker character than if she never picked up a sword at all.

Yet other than that, the film really is extremely well-made. For being an hour long it has some nice character and relationship arcs, the story moves along, and most of the VFX are fairly-well done. Let's just say, they actually made their bluescreen work. ;) (...yeah, about my experience with bluescreen...*shudders*...)

Anyhow, kudos to the team, and many thanks for captioning the film so that I could properly enjoy it!

And to my readers, if you've got good internet streaming, haste thee over to the website and prepare thyself for a goodly treat!


David said...

One thought on the portrayal of Gilraen: the way I interpreted her fighting (or lack thereof) was that she had not ever been trained to use a sword. The little that she had picked up was from watching others train in her village. During the film battle, when she picks up the sword and runs out, she thinks she might be capable of holding her own in a fight, and thus helping her husband and defending her son. In reality, of course, she's probably worse than useless, as Elgarin (sp?) is now effectively pulled out of the battle to defend her, loosing the Dunedain one fighter. So her heart's in the right place, though it's still a stupid thing to do. I thought the actress did a good job portraying someone who wanted to fight but didn't quite know how. That's how I interpreted the scene, anyway.

I agree with you completely about the clothing - it did look like they had just visited the dry cleaners. Is there any chance we might see your LOTR project?

Elenatintil said...

Well, I could have accepted that, except that in the very beginning of the movie her meeting with Arathorn sets her up as someone who can fight well enough with a sword to come to his aid in battle. So it was a set-up without any kind of pay-off which is not bad acting as much as bad writing and directing. Which is a pity, because a little tweaking could have made it much stronger. (I believe the director played Elgarin, which may be why she was a stronger character than Gilraen.)

Hmmm - probably not. I'm not sure I'd want to even put pictures up - I did this back when I was just entering high school and my filmmaking skills have improved tremendously since then.

David said...

The way I interpreted her success in the first battle was simply luck (since the orc had his back turned and was concentrating on Arathorn). I can see your point, though. Swords are probably hard enough to handle that it would be difficult for an inexperienced person to kill an enemy, even in that situation. I guess we'll just have to disagree on our takes of it!

The writing did bug me later in the movie. I would have liked Aragorn's parents to show a bit more strategic ability than having his mother who is (for whatever reason) a lackluster fighter come running out of the hut, or having his father run off into the woods (without a clear battle plan) and letting him get himself cornered by an orc. But I agree with you, overall a very well done film.