Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oaken's Twelve: Moria Cutaway

Perhaps it’s because of the stuttered way I first read The Lord of the Rings, or maybe it’s the Ralph Bakshi movie which left its retelling of the book unfinished, but for childhood and adolescent me the two big and most evocative episodes of the entire story take place within a pretty small geographic area: they are the battle of Helm’s Deep and the Fellowship’s travel through the Dwarven stronghold of Khazad-Dum, the Mines of Moria. Moria especially lingers long in my subconscious because for me, as much for many RPG players of my generation I’d say, it is the quintessential D&D set-up, a party of mixed races and classes groping their way through dark and long-abandoned tunnels rich in history, rumouring untold treasures and teeming with goblins, orcs and worse besides. Within and at the heart of the mines is the chamber of Mazarbul, the records of the various Dwarves who dwelled there, from the great Durin to – most excitingly – the ill-fated expedition of Balin son of Fundin. Its entries describing the gradual but certain annihilation of its last Dwarven residents is riveting stuff, especially in book form, and to lesser degrees with each movie version. What the movies do have that the book doesn’t of course is the visual element, and that’s where my interest was engaged once more, in seeing Moria recreated in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring.
So here’s a model I made perhaps six or seven years ago while I was still painting GW miniatures and waiting for a decent release of dwarves to tackle. The tableau’s straight from the movie rather than the book, with Balin’s crypt surrounded by the detritus of battle, and the Book of Mazarbul stuck within the dead grip of, it’s assumed, its last chronicler Ori. Games Workshop did eventually provide their own version of this scene, though simplified and a little less cluttered, for their first plastic-only table-top scenario The Mines of Moria, In mine the scale is out a little – the tomb’s a bit too large, but that’s a movie concern rather than a book one anyway (there is no elevated sarcophagus in the book, just a space on the floor where the crypt lies, nor is Ori to be found.) If memory serves then Ori here is made from plastic scrap and green stuff, the model has a card base with model bits to decorate, and if the first appearance of some actually utilised Suburban Archaeology – the sarcophagus being a plastic box I’d found under our house in Dunedin, and a small sliver of rounded shield likely kept inside by whoever the ex-resident RPG player was at the time. The other item contained in the box is still in my Bitz Box and can be see here.

I think I might revisit this model in time, updating the colour of the cover stone (it should be whiter), re-doing the Book and furnishing the inside of the sarcophagus itself, maybe even attempting Balin lying in state. Games Workshop did actually tackle Balin in figure form for their LotR line – a trifle cheeky, perhaps, but theirs is the empowered King of Moria version rather than Ken Stott’s stooping genial version in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (great casting too, I think.) As indicated earlier, I rather think Adam Brown’s version of Ori in the same movie has been retrospectively modeled on the elements of this image, and fair enough. My version is, too, in a way, although quite a different thing from the cinematic Ori. Ah, poor Ori…

No comments:

Post a Comment