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Oct 252013

The Many Visions of Tolkien’s Lonely Mountain!

It seems Peter Jackson and his creative team had a hard time nailing down the look of the Lonely Mountain!

Over the course of the last few years we have been watching it’s gradual evolution… it now seems to be the perfect Mountain for the films!

The Lonely Mountain has undergone a lot of visual transitions, but the creative team on The Hobbit seemed to have finally locked down the proper look for the Mountain!

In this early Digital Sketch ( see the image to the right), the mountain looks a bit like Devils Mountain seen in the classic film Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Stephen Spielberg. You sort of expect to see the Mother-ship rise up behind it as John William’s version of ‘Wish Upon a Star’ plays in the background!

It looks a bit like the Lonely a Mountain, but with it’s top sheered off! I imagine they did a great many early sketches of the mountain to figure put what direction to take.

In it’s next iteration it began to look more like the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps! (see the image to the left) When The Hobbit: AUJ ‘Scroll’ premiered on the Official Hobbit Movie Website, it was an improvement over the digital sketch, but it still didn’t look like Tolkien’s version of the mountain to me. This visual take on the mountain persisted until the first of the three films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released. It also seem to have a squared off top but with a more pronounced angle. In this vision of the mountain, we are beginning to return to something that looks a little more like the mountain in Tolkien’s map.

Our next good look at the Mountain came with the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

At the very end of the film, Bilbo, Gandalf and the Company of Dwarves stand upon the bear shaped Carrock and look east to the Lonely Mountain. Then the camera zooms right up to the Mountains side and from this angle it looks very much like the mountain in the Paramount logo with stars (you can compare the two in the gallery of images below) Coincidentally the Paramount mountain looks very much like Tolkien’s Lonely Mountain in many ways, as can bee seen in his map. This would be a perfect marriage of commerce and design, if Paramount was the studio distributing the films! However, considering that this is a Warner Bros. picture, having the Lonely Mountain look almost exactly like the Paramount logo simply wouldn’t do! The film makers had to find a prefect balance of Tolkien’s vision and finding the right look for the film!

In the two Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailers we see what looks to be the final and  complete version of the Lonely Mountain. It appears to be a return to Tolkien’s vision of the Mountain in almost every respect, except for the small but pronounced cleft at it’s very top. This gives Peter Jackson’s version of the Mountain a unique and distinctive look while still residing within the boundaries so Tolkien’s vision of Middle-earth! Well done, I have to say!

If you look closely at the version of the Lonely Mountain on Tolkien’s Map in the book, you can see a small divot at the top most peak, not quite as pronounced as the one in Peter Jackson Mountain, but there non-the-less! I personally am very happy with this final look of the mountain and I’m glad that Peter Jackson’s team of conceptual artists and designers kept working on the visual design of the mountain until they got it just right!

Take a look at the selected images in the gallery below that shows the evolution of the Lonely mountains as well as the Gate of Erebor!

 October 25, 2013  Posted by at 8:47 am

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