S02E03: Eurovision

In this episode:

Dr Ann-Marie Fleming and Oana-Maria Mazilu discuss Eurovision 2021 and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (David Dobkin, 2020).

  • Eurovision 2021 results
  • How Fire Saga impacted our perception of this year’s Eurovision
  • Cinematography and comedy in Fire Saga
  • The performances of Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams

If you enjoyed this, read the follow-up article, Play Ja Ja Ding Dong, and support us on Patreon for more content.

Play Ja Ja Ding Dong

By Oana-Maria Mazilu and Dr Ann-Marie Fleming

In the Eurovision episode, Maria and Ann-Marie discuss comedic elements and cinematography in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (David Dobkin, 2020). During this conversation, they stumbled on a pertinent question: are Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams shot differently?

Much like the repeated song, Ja Ja Ding Dong, the filmmakers have preferred shots, and the debaters assumed that this would be a mid-shot. However, during this same discussion, it was clear that both Ann-Marie and Maria felt more aligned and sympathetic to McAdam’s character. This raised more questions, such as: are there more close ups of McAdams and is this driving our alignment and understanding of her character’s perspective?

The contributors sat down to watch the film again, but this time counting the different shots. Parameters were set, for example, they would not count shots when the stars were on-screen together or count shot-reverse-shots. This was due to the stars sharing the screen, and thus our sole attention is not on the star and their performance. Instead, they looked at the moments where an audience’s attention would be on a singular star. Additionally, duration of shots were not counted. For example, if a McAdams shot was 30 seconds in length, but a Ferrell shot was 40 seconds in length. Overall, the contributors felt that McAdams and Ferrell’s screen time was of equal length, and thus the length of shots was not as pertinent as the type of shots. Lastly, as a disclaimer, although every effort has been made to be accurate, some scenes were edited at a quicker pace than others, so some allowance should be made for human error.

The findings were as follows:

Rachel McAdams

Close-up 141
Mid-shot 86
Wide-shot 30

Will Ferrell

Close-up 110
Mid-shot 122
Wide-shot 40

Overall, there was not a huge discrepancy between shot choices. However, the slight difference does suggest that the filming of Ferrell differs to that of McAdams.
In Writing the Comedy Movie (2015), Marc Blake asserts that the preferred shot in a comedy movie is the mid-shot, especially if the performance is a ‘comedian comedy’ (51-58). The mid-shot is chosen for comedians because comedy itself is an art form that relies on the physicality and skills of the performer. Therefore, the mid-shot acts as a way to showcase and enhance a comedic performance because it allows bodily movement, but is close enough to also highlight facial expressions. Our findings show that the mid-shot is the preferred method for the filmmakers of Fire Saga, at least when discussing Ferrell.

Whilst there are more mid-shots of Ferrell, there are more close-ups of McAdams. Close-ups are used in all films, most notably in dramas and melodramas during a highly emotive scene. This is because the shot allows for a detailed view of facial expressions to communicate a diverse array of feelings. Close-ups also allow you to feel near to a star, becoming physically closer than you would to most of your friends’ faces. Place that face on a large cinema screen so that it is larger than life or close to you in your front room, and it gives the audience a level of intimacy with the star. This intimacy, this feeling like you know or understand a star/the character, is superficially constructed, but it nevertheless helps an audience member sympathise/empathise with the character. Used often enough, an audience member may align with that character’s desires, in essence, root for them. After viewing the film, both contributors said they connected more to McAdam’s character. This may be in part that her character is far more relatable and three-dimensional, however, the cinematography would also suggest that we would feel more connected to her because of the presence of close-ups in comparison to both Ferrell and the rest of the shot choices for her character.

Another point of consideration is that McAdams is often reactionary to Ferrell. For example, he organises the set without her, she arrives and we see her reaction to it. In this way, she is passive as things are done/said to her and she reacts to them. This is historically common in comedy films, particularly with a male star (think of the films of Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell). The reactionary shot, therefore, may be better suited to a close up. Contrasting Ferrell’s outlandish behaviour with McAdam’s confusion. Indeed, Ferrell et al. would not be as funny without a reactionary shot to reflect the audience’s reaction. In this case, the close-up is functionary in that it supports the performance of Ferrell.

Overall, the analysis suggests the male and female star are filmed slightly differently. Whether this is to serve Ferrell’s performance, to connect to McAdam’s relatively sensible character, or both, is still up for debate.

Blake, Marc (2015). Writing the Comedy Movie. Bloomsbury: London.

S02E02: On-screen representations of academic education

In this episode:

Dr Zahra Tavassoli Zea discusses on-screen representations of academic education.

  • Early universities that were modelled according to a democratic system
  • The role of cinema in developing a certain “image” of universities
  • Positive depictions of students at universities
  • Representations of Human science studies

If you enjoyed this, read the follow-up article, Rope by Alfred Hitchcock: the Good, the Best and the Depraved, and support us on Patreon for more content.

Rope by Alfred Hitchcock: the Good, the Best and the Depraved

By Dr Zahra Tavassoli Zea

To make a podcast episode on academia is to question the philosophy with which we try to live our lives. Do we enter university to become better individuals, or do we enter higher education to do something good for the world we live in? Are these two avenues complementary, or do they exclude each other? What does it really mean to become the “best”; or better, what does such a notion reveal about the person, the group or the society that pursues this idea?

While I was reading Honoré de Balzac’s letters to Madame Hanska, I was struck by a short maxim, generally attributed to Voltaire: “the best is the enemy of the good” (Balzac 1876, 410). In the middle of a torrent of words, this sentence, alone, encapsulates, in my opinion, one of humanity’s most important conundrums. Either we, mortals, resign ourselves to living as ordinary biological creatures caught amongst a whole range of different species, within a dense and complex universe with powerful, all-embracing cyclical laws, or we consider ourselves as essentially superior species, separate from nature, and capable, ultimately, of transcending the realm of the finite. 

Today, I wouldn’t have any trouble saying that Balzac was well aware of his own limitations, be they of a purely economical, social, physical or even intellectual nature. He thought he wasn’t free but rather chained to his money problems, peasant roots and obsessive need to be recognised and acclaimed by the highest strata of French society. In a way, an important percentage of people could still identify themselves with Balzac’s psychological traits, notwithstanding his extraordinary drive and unrivalled work capacity. It is even highly probable that only a tiny percentage of my readers were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. In fact, aren’t we all relentlessly trying to upgrade our social status, to improve our lifestyles, to break with previous belief and behaviour models, with a view to prove to ourselves that we have freedom, after all?

Now, what happens when Alfred Hitchcock, the son of a modest food merchant, collides with wealthy American students from one of the world’s most prestigious universities? Educated in a Jesuit school, Hitchcock must have learnt lessons on Christian resignation: 

We should be resigned to the will of God when He afflicts us, because affliction is for our good (…) because at the very time that we are suffering under his hand, he has in reserve, and is preparing for us, the happiness of heaven and immortality (Thomson 2015, 423–424). 

Christianity comes with the premise that man, like all other living creatures, is bound to suffer and, in the midst of his ordeal, should find solace in his capacity to love and keep faith. This community of people, who feel accountable to the divine judgement, stands in contrast to the academic community whose principles rest on self-fulfilment, the development of a skilful individuality, the consecration of scientific minds and, occasionally, genius discovery. 

In Rope (1948), Hitchcock infiltrates the exclusive society of wealthy Harvard undergrads, whose privileged life appears to bore them to death (pun intended). In a theatrical manner, Hitchcock raises the curtains on an act of murder: Brandon and Phillip strangle their classmate David with a rope. Motive? Playfulness, plain and simple… not even fame (yawn). Naughty as ever, Hitchcock presents the strangulation like a sexual climax: 

  • Brandon, how did you feel?
  • When?
  • During it.
  • I don’t remember feeling very much of anything, until his body went limp… and I knew it was over. 
  • And then? 
  • Then I felt tremendously exhilarated. H-how did you feel? Oh, I… I… 

Inside their luxurious New York apartment, Brandon and Philip move and speak like a toxic, co-dependent couple. They also form part of the happy few, who can afford to pay the services of their maid, Mrs. Wilson, on a daily basis. Refined meals and the finest champagne are served and poured to their guests, who arrive rather quickly and cheerfully to the murder scene. In plain sight, a wooden chest that supports a couple of candlesticks, cutlery and cured meat, hides the corpse. The perversity of the little soirée, which includes David’s girlfriend and father, is revealing of Brandon’s sociopathic and narcissistic traits: he is unable to empathise with others and doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. As a matter of fact, he believes his intelligence is superior to anyone else’s: “Being weak is a mistake… because it’s being ordinary”. Later, when the guests are gone, he even slaps the drunken and emotional Phillip on the face: Brandon controls the game; he sets the rules; he is the Alpha male par excellence. 

While it is rather difficult to relate to these highly entertaining main characters, I believe that Janet, David’s girlfriend, is representative of western bourgeoisie’s common understanding of what is “good”. It would be safe to say that in the early nineteenth century, the rising middle-class began associating ideas of economical and social “betterment” with the concept of “happiness”. In other words, Voltaire’s old saying was radically updated in the wake of capitalism: “the best” became the “friend” of the “good”, for the ordinary man thought that excelling at work would make him and his family happier. In Rope, Brandon becomes the classical jester, whose function is to unveil a cynical truth: he suggests that Janet is dating (the late) David because of his money, and that she secretly prefers her other admirer, the half-witted Kenneth. The spectators become Brandon and Phillip’s unwilling accomplice, as they are already aware that Janet and David’s relationship is destined to a hapless fate. However, it is with a misplaced interest that we carry on watching Janet’s delightful attempts to please the father of her dead fiancé. 

As for Brandon, we know nothing about his past – other than the fact that he grew up as a spoiled brat. Rupert Cadell, the prep-school housemaster (aka James Stewart, handsome as ever), seems to know something about Brandon that will quickly take him down a peg: “You always did stutter when you were excited”. Sure, universities can teach us to articulate properly, to control our facial expression or to improve the way we stand on our feet; postgraduate diplomas can even become a good-looking Band-Aid to cover self-esteem issues or other mental health problems… Yet, for Hitchcock and for Balzac, the denouement – in a film script, a novella or reality – systematically occurs as a result of one Christian certainty, which they assimilate to the truth. It goes along the lines of: one may look calm and brave while dying of fright inside… A stutter or a nervous twitch is nothing but the soul catching its breath. 

Works cited

Balzac, H. de (1838/1876). “À Madame Hanska, à Vierzschovnia”. In Calmann Lévy (ed.), Correspondance de H. de Balzac 1819–1850, 409–414. Paris: Librairie Nouvelle. 

Thomson, A. (2005). Sermons and Sacramental Exhortations. London: William Whyte.

Oscars 2021: Considering Collective

By Oana-Maria Mazilu

The 93rd Academy Awards this year were the first time a Romanian film was nominated at the Oscars, in not just one, but two categories. Collective (Alexander Nanau, 2019) was amongst the nominees for Best Documentary Feature and International Feature Film. Unfortunately, it did not win in either category, despite being viewed as a strong contender (my money was on Best Doc). The nominations were received with mixed feelings, while the losses did not raise much noise among film critics.

Before the results were announced, Collective’s presence at the Oscars was in itself well-received because…well it is the Oscars. Yet, beyond this initial reaction a further consideration of the film led to a ‘hold on a sec’ kind of follow-up question: Why was Collective nominated while in previous years the wealth of New Wave films storming European film festivals did not make it this far? Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills (2012), a well-known figure of the New Wave, had been selected as Romania’s entry for the Foreign Language Film category at the 85th Academy Awards but did not go beyond the January shortlist. So why was Collective more appealing on the other side of the Atlantic than previous Romanian films? Film critic Ionuț Mareș offered an interesting breakdown of the reasons behind the success of the film, as well as the reticence towards it from some members of the Romanian audience.

In his opinion piece, Mareș pointed out that Collective had a successful festival run, a powerful distributor behind it (Magnolia Pictures), and a launch in Romanian cinemas before the pandemic completely destabilised the film industry. Added to this were favourable reactions from the press, particularly the anglophone press and, as Mareș rightly notes, the fact that Barack Obama named Collective as a favourite in his list of films for 2020 also increased its popularity and positive public opinion. Yet, to dismiss Collective’s nomination at the 2021 Oscars as a mixture of good timing and luck would be incredibly unfair.

The film’s subject matter resonated globally, I would argue in particular with the U.S. audiences.  Collective deals with the aftermath of the Colectiv night club fire, corruption in the national health system, those who exposed it and those who wanted to do something about it. In the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all much more interested in how health systems function nationally and collaborate internationally, and this would be the global resonance of the film. However, I believe that the themes of integrity, ethics and bravery in journalism were particularly relevant in the U.S. political scene. After four years during which legitimate press outlets were dismissed as fake news and manic rants were presented as facts by the Donald Trump administration, Cătalin Tolontan’s words that ‘when the press bows before authorities, the authorities will behave badly towards the people’ likely resonated with U.S. viewers. In this sense, the film reinforced the importance of the press in holding authorities to account and questioning political decisions. It is not surprising then, that Eric Kohn writing for IndieWire noted it as ‘One of the greatest movies about journalism and the dark forces it confronts’, a quote which also dawns the film’s poster.

The structure and pacing Collective also made it easier to follow by international viewers, adopting a Hollywood film type of narrative structure, although much more subtle than Chuck Norris vs Communism, which I previously discussed on Spot On, Doc. To put it simply, the first half of the film presents the journalistic investigation conducted by Gazeta Sportului (The Sports Gazette) led by Tolontan on the dilution of disinfectants used in hospitals which resulted in unsanitary conditions and further deaths after the nightclub fire. It was a difficult time as families tried to move their loved, burn victims of the Colectiv fire, from the Romanian hospitals in which they were infected with bacteria, to hospitals in other states of the European Union.  International aid came in the form of foreign hospitals accepting to receive these victims. The Romanian diaspora also mobilised to provide local support by speaking to authorities in destination countries and housing the Romanian families travelling with the burn victims. In this sense, it is the first half of the film which has the greatest emotional impact. The Colectiv fire is a tragedy still fresh in the minds of Romanians, and the Gazeta Sportului investigation brings back those memories. The film opens with visceral footage from inside the club at the moment that it caught fire. Arguably, it is the scene with the highest emotional impact for any viewer and it is shown in the first seven minutes of the film. Yes, Collective hits you from the start but it also ensures that you are emotionally invested and following the meticulous journalistic investigation that dominates this first half. In its second half, the film turns to focus on the political, and more specifically the actions taken by Vlad Voiculescu, then newly appointed minister of health, in trying to untangle the corruption in the ministry and health system. It was this second half that some Romanian viewers took issue with. Some considered it propaganda for Vlad Voiculescu, others disliked the fact that any politician would be portrayed as a hero in a film, and ultimately political stances and personal opinions on public figures shaped Romanian audiences’ perception of the film. On my part, I stand by what I said in the episode. I did not feel that the film was propaganda for Voiculescu, instead, I believe he became a narrative device that voiced audience thoughts on-screen, particularly those around the lines of ‘how the hell do you even begin to tackle this corruption’. 

The ending of the film may have also caused issues for Collective in terms of the Romanian audience, international audiences and the Oscars nomination. The film ends with the 2016 elections which saw the return to power of the Social Democrat Party. Romanians would argue that it was not a sufficiently detailed consideration of that context, while for international viewers it was not the happy ending that one is primed to expect from a Hollywood type of narrative structure. In terms of the Oscars, Variety predicted the win for My Octopus Teacher (Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed, 2020) with the commentary that it was ‘the feel-good film of the bunch’ in the Best Documentary Feature category. I am bitter, but without meaning to throw My Octopus Teacher under the bus, I do feel that Collective was more worthy of the win because of the debate and reflection that it sparks. We shouldn’t avoid these just because we need a feel-good film in the time of the pandemic. Quite the contrary, as mentally exhausting as it is, it is in such times of crisis that we need to be vigilant in following political decisions and question them when necessary. Still, Obama liked Collective. Thanks Obama! 


Davis, C., 2021. 2021 Oscars Best Documentary Feature Predictions – Variety. [online] Variety.com. Available at: <https://variety.com/feature/2021-oscars-best-documentary-feature-predictions-1234784896/&gt;

Kohn, E., 2021. ‘Collective’ Review: One of the Greatest Movies About Journalism and the Dark Forces It Confronts. [online] IndieWire. Available at: <https://www.indiewire.com/2020/11/collective-review-alexander-nanau-1234599567/&gt;

Mareș, I., 2021. De ce deranjează documentarul „colectiv” – Ziarul Metropolis | Ziarul Metropolis. [online] Ziarul Metropolis. Available at: https://www.ziarulmetropolis.ro/de-ce-deranjeaza-documentarul-colectiv/

S02E01: The Oscars

In this episode:

Oana-Maria Mazilu discusses the Oscars with an in-depth analysis of Colectiv (Alexander Nanau, 2019).

  • The Oscars in 2021.
  • An in-depth analysis of Colectiv.
  • A discussion about Soul (Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, 2020).
  • Why some films are chosen for the Oscars.

If you enjoyed this, read the follow-up article, Oscars 2021: Considering Collective, and support us on Patreon for more content.

SO1E10: Christmas Special

In this episode:

Ann-Marie, Kat, Maria, and Zahra discuss the adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens with an in-depth discussion of The Muppets Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992).

  • Summary of A Christmas Carol (Note: visited by his dead friend not friends. Too busy thinking about The Muppets Christmas Carol!)
  • Victorian London and the inspiration for the novel.
  • Christmas horror films with a focus on Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Jalmari Helander, 2010) and Krampus (Michael Dougherty, 2015).
  • British broadcast history at Christmas since the 1970s.
  • English ghost stories and periodical literature.
  • Victorian print culture at Christmas.
  • Why the story of Scrooge is so appealing to filmmakers.
  • How Dickens’ writing is cinematic.
  • Social class and the French New Wave.
  • How Scrooge’s experience is like cinema viewership.
  • The history of The Muppets.
  • The Muppets as stars.
  • A discussion on The Muppets and Disney.
  • An in-depth discussion of The Muppets Christmas Carol.

If you enjoyed this, support us on Patreon for more content.

Goldie Hawn: Performing Dumb and Acting Smart

An analysis to accompany SO1EO9 by Dr Ann-Marie Fleming

Cultural assumptions about a performer are based on cultural stereotypes and performance signs which are formed, at least in part, by the cultural context in which the performer is situated. Performance signs such as facial expressions, voice, gestures, body posture and body movements, as Richard Dyer notes in his seminal work Stars, have no ‘meaning of itself, but only by virtue of its cultural context’ (Dyer, 1979: 133). Goldie Hawn, as a rising star in the 1960s, adopts the coded behaviour and movements of the time, as best shown in the bikini dance scenes of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (1967-1973). Hawn’s body movements and posture is most noticeably derived from her background as a Go Go dancer, a popular dance craze of the era. However, the facial expressions, voice, and gestures are formed from cultural stereotypes about blonde women. Hawn’s role in Laugh-In, once more, is integral to this formation. Cast as the dumb blonde, Hawn would perform with a high-pitched voice and would regularly appear unaware with wide eyes and open mouth. Hawn’s performance signs, then, are dictated by both a cultural trend of which she was a part, and a sexist assumption about women.

A star, as shown above, is a product of the cultural context in which they rise to fame. From this rise, an idiolect forms and creates certain expectations about both the performance and the star. Due to this, a performer may find it difficult to remove oneself from earlier expectations as it was here that a fan base was formed. Equally, ‘because stars are always appearing in different stories and settings, they must stay basically the same in order to permit recognition and identification.’ (Dyer, 1979: 98).

Throughout her career Hawn did not rid herself of her dumb blonde associations. Instead, she provided a type of resistance to it through the actions of her characters. This play against expectation, however, did not harm the star’s career because Hawn would continue to use earlier performance signs, therefore performing dumb, whilst the characters would push gender boundaries or come up with unexpected ideas and comebacks.

The dichotomy between the exterior performance and the interior performance shifted Hawn to a not-so-dumb blonde. More importantly, it gave her an added comic genius. The roles were not superficial and the characters had a complex interiority, which combined with Hawn’s timing and dialogue delivery, provide fascinating examples of female comedy at a time when few were given the opportunity to shine.


Dyer, Richard (1979). Stars. London: BFI

SO1EO9: Goldie Hawn: The Not-So-Dumb Blonde

In this episode:

Dr Ann-Marie Fleming discusses the star image of Goldie Hawn with an in-depth analysis of The Christmas Chronicles 2 (Chris Columbus, 2020).

  • How to approach stardom and Richard Dyer’s seminal text.
  • Goldie Hawn’s career.
  • Goldie Hawn’s early star image.
  • The way a star image can alter over time.
  • Narrative tropes.
  • The star’s image in the early 21st century.
  • An in-depth analysis of The Christmas Chronicles 2.

If you enjoyed this, read the follow-up article, Goldie Hawn: Performing Dumb and Acting Smart, and support us on Patreon for more content.

Audience and Deforestation in the Two Towers

An analysis to accompany SO1EO8 by Will Sherwood

The last march of the Ents is a momentous, pivotal moment in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (1954) and Peter Jackson’s adaption (2002). The plot that leads up to this moment however is presented as strikingly different because of the mediums of novel and film. Here I will briefly outline how Tolkien and Jackson work up to the march in order to engage the reader and audience most effectively in the story and emotions of the characters.

In the novel, Treebeard has ‘often wondered . . . what [he] should do about Saruman’ (Tolkien, 2007, p. 473). He is fully aware of Fangorn’s deforestation but has not decided what to do about the wizard. He blames himself and his heated speech changes from complex to anaphora marked simple sentences: ‘I have been idle. I have let things slip. It must stop!’ (ibid, p. 474). His fury starts to build and an Entmoot is called to decide what must be done. The meeting lasts for several days and Merry, Pippin, and the reader are not privy to its contents. Without any warning, the march suddenly begins with a ‘crash’ and a rallying marching song whose internal rhyme, anaphora, repetition, assonance, alliteration, use of Entish, exclamation marks, and short clauses strongly conveys the bubbling wrath of the Ents (ibid, p. 484):

We come, we come with roll of drum: ta-runda runda runda rom!
We come, we come with horn and drum: ta-rūna rūna rūna rom!
To Isengard! Though Isengard be ringed and barred with doors of stone;
Though Isengard be strong and hard, as cold as stone and bare as bone,
We go, we go, we go to war, to hew the stone and break the door;
For bole and bough are burning now, the furnace roars – we go to war!
To land of gloom with tramp of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come;
          To Isengard with doom we come!
          With doom we come, with doom we come! (ibid, pp. 484 – 485).

In the novel the events take time and gradually grow in a truly Entish fashion. The reader is not included in the decision making, they are swept up in the momentum and carried along with Merry and Pippin, we are powerless to stall the ‘avalanche’ and feel a wave of sublimity and excitement (ibid, p. 496).

Jackson’s reframing of the march is dramatically different as it deliberately reveals information in a way that forces a twenty-first century audience to empathise with Treebeard. In Jackson’s adaption, Treebeard does not encounter the deforestation until after the Entmoot where it is decided that the Ents will not fight in the War of the Ring as it is ‘not [their] war’ (Jackson, 2003). When he does encounter the scars left by Saruman’s Orcs, Treebeard’s immediate horror is accentuated by the sudden fading of Howard Shore’s score and the Ent stopping mid-sentence. The camera pans out to survey the bleak, grey, dead desolation that stretches the entire valley before zooming back in to witness the sorrow that animates his face. Now, this is the first time in the theatrical cut of The Two Towers when the audience is privy to the deforestation of Fangorn which magnifies our horror. In the Extended Edition (2003), a scene is included earlier where Saruman demands an Orc burn the forest because there is not ‘enough fuel to feed the fires’ (2003). Inevitably this softens the impact of the scene with Treebeard.

To an early twenty-first century audience, this scene followed a decade of peak deforestation. The Amazon had undergone significant scarring in the 1990s where ‘over 10,000 square miles of forest could be cut down in a year’ and the National Curriculum sought to highlight the horrors of the decade (Borunda, 2019). The audience mourns with Treebeard and in turn feels his fury when the lets out a great cry across the forest, rallying Ents to his cause. Jackson makes us feel that we are a part of Treebeard’s decision making, we yearn for the Ents to enact revenge on Saruman for the abuse he has inflicted on the natural world.

Jackson utilises the visual aspect of film that Tolkien ultimately lacked to hammer home the catastrophes of deforestation. By shifting Treebeard’s revelation to within the told story, the audience connects with the Ent more deeply, becoming supporters in the campaign to stop deforestation for good. Whether Tolkien would have appreciated the adaption is up for debate but it was certainly enough to reignite a fondness for nature in many new viewers, particularly those of a younger and far more impressionable age.


The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. 2003. [DVD] Directed by P. Jackson. New Zealand: New Line Cinema.

Tolkien, J. R. R. (2007). The Lord of the Rings. London: HarperCollins.Borunda, A. (2019). See How Much Of The Amazon Is Burning. How It Compares To Others Years. [online] National Geographic. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/08/amazon-fires-cause-deforestation-graphic-map/#:~:text=Amazon%20deforestation%20peaked%20in%20late%201990s%20and%20early,to%20cropland%20for%20soy%20or%20grazing%20for%20cattle (Accessed 8 November 2020].