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Elijah's many faces
ambree40

Elijah Wood’s acting: My Wilfred marathon

Being a new member of the “Elijah Wood Admiration Society”, I am still amazed by how much people vary in their appreciation of Elijah’s acting. For instance, reading through the end-of-year summaries of TV critics, I found these very different opinions on his performance in Wilfred.

April MacIntyre wrote in Monster-and-Critics: “I knew Elijah Wood was exceptional and could pull off deadpan humor from his work in ‘Everything is Illuminated’, a film that makes me cry and laugh at the same time. He is beautiful in this series [Wilfred], …..”.

On the other hand, Ken Tucker wrote in Entertainment Weekly about: “….bland-faced Elijah Wood…”

Of course, I agree with the M&C review, and I was glad to see that Wilfred appeared on several “best-of-2011” lists . I wonder if the EW reviewer actually watched the series. He merely seemed to repeat a comment that some critics made in the LOTR days. This shows how hard it is to outlive/out-act such criticism. The best rebuttal I have ever seen to it is here:   http://www.frodolivesin.us/oneexpression/ (you probably all know this site but I couldn’t resist posting the link again).

Reading all these reviews had one positive effect. I decided to watch Wilfred again and I did so in a marathon, watching all 13 episodes in one afternoon and evening. As a marathon, the series had a far greater impact on me than when I watched the individual episodes. It also became clear to me why I like the series so much. I love the concept, Wilfred’s dog-isms are funny and the dialogue is entertaining but, not being American/British, I probably miss a lot of the in-jokes (I’ve never seen Lost!). For me, the series worked mainly because of Elijah’s range of facial expressions. They tell a whole story by themselves.

So, I amused myself by taking some screen-caps  from the A&F site (thanks) (http://always.ejwsites.net/wilfred.html) and trying to describe the mood/feeling that Elijah/Ryan’s face expresses in each screen-cap without referring back to the original film sequence. This is what I came up with.  Have I read him right? J

Season 1, episode 1, Happiness


Season 1, episode 13, Identity


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Great post he does have many exprecions Elijah!:D

Another one I can't see it and now when I look of this wonderful pictures I want more to see it!!!! ...I hope the will came on DVD soon!:D

Thank you so much for sharing this!!:))

*hugs*


I am so glad you liked it mumis. It was great fum to select the pictures and try to find the right word for the expression on his face.


Film critics watch tv series as a job. They don't invest any real interest into the main characters. So they watch one or two episodes and try to concentrate their impressions into an average. Maybe in the first few episodes, 90 % of the time Ryan looked dumbfounded, shocked and slightly out of it. - BAM ! Their opinion was there that that was what Ryan was supposed to look like ! So, from then on, if they actually choose to watch ALL of the episodes of the series, they ignored any exceptions from their 'rule' . . .

I don't often make my opinion after reading the reviews of professional critics. I much prefer word-of-mouth from ordinary people.

Love,

- Karin.

P.S. Great work ! Must have taken you some time . . .

Thanks for your comments Karin. I also prefer the word-of-mouth from ordinary people, and I rely on my own judgement. But I am still intrigued by the diametrically opposing opinions, not only from critics but also from ordinary viewers. Still trying to figure out what is behind it. I have some theories.... [perhaps something for another post :-)]

What a wonderful post. I could never understand some of the harsh criticism that Elijah has received and you have shown beautifully how wrong that is.

Glad you enjoyed it addie. It was fun to select the screen-caps but quite hard for me to find the correct words to describe his facial expressions. As English is not my first language I might easily get it wrong.

Elijah has one of the most expressive faces of any actor! Your screencaps prove it :-)

Yes, he has one of the most expressive faces I have ever seen. And not only when he is playing a role but also in interviews or when he is caught by paparazzi, just walking down the street.

Ah, this post makes me happy. It's very well thought out. "Seeing death?" made me laugh out loud; I love that picture and that moment in the first episode (poor Ryan!).

I remain mystified by Ken Tucker's review of Wilfred, and more specifically of Elijah's acting, and I think you must be right -- perhaps he only watched the pilot and never bothered to revisit the series. In fact I've always been bewildered by talk of "The One Expression," because I've always thought that his incredible facility for subtlety of facial expressions was one of Elijah's greatest gifts as an actor. When I had a paid account here on LJ, I had a custom mood theme that consisted of pictures of Elijah's face showing all the different possible emotions in LJ's mood list. It was fun to make. (I wonder what I did with those files....)

(Edited because, oh, right, LJ uses HTML mark-ups rather than ProBoards markups. Oops.)

Edited at 2012-01-04 08:48 pm (UTC)

Hi, newleaf, Thanks.

“I've always thought that his incredible facility for subtlety of facial expressions was one of Elijah's greatest gifts as an actor.”

Couldn't agree with you more! Actually, I think that the subtlety is lost on some people and they perceive it as blandness. Have some theories about this. Perhaps a topic for a later post.

“I had a custom mood theme that consisted of pictures of Elijah's face showing all the different possible emotions in LJ's mood list. It was fun to make. (I wonder what I did with those files....)”

Those files need to be dug up!
Makes me quite envious of all you long-time fans. Everything that could be (screen-)captured and said about Elijah and LOTR has been said before. Well, I'll just say it again.

(sorry for the edits; no idea what went wrong)

Edited at 2012-01-04 09:27 pm (UTC)

I had a custom mood theme that consisted of pictures of Elijah's face showing all the different possible emotions in LJ's mood list. It was fun to make.

me too! i still have them. :)

I think mine are gone. :( I can't find the CD they were on. Sadness! Oh, well. Since I don't have a paid account anymore, I guess I couldn't use it anyway!

OMG! What a brilliant entry! Your screencaps and captions are marvelous. I have to save these ( And I see you have mastered Photobucket. :>) )

“...bland-faced Elijah Wood…”

I know Ken Tucker's work and normally respect what he writes, but I totally disagree with him on this. Only a blind person could ever call Elijah "bland-faced." Pffft!

I'm glad you liked it. And thanks to your help I got photobucket to work! BTW, the screencaps are from A&F; credit where it's due! I just selected them and added the "moods".

spot on baby... spot on! i've done a couple of these types analysis before and how some people can only detect one expression is beyond me. if elijah had an acting career in the silent movie era, he'd be one of the best around.

one of the best expressions you featured is the conflicted one. that was the point where ryan realized what he did may have actually worked and everything he had been experiencing could actually be false. all that came across and not one word was uttered by him.

glad the screen caps came in handy. it was another of my labor of loves. ♥

I'm glad you liked it. Actually, your A&F screencaps gave me the idea (plus my irritation about KT's comment).

"if elijah had an acting career in the silent movie era, he'd be one of the best around"

You know, David Zuckermann said something similar in an interview, even comparing E with Chaplin.

Elijah is the only actor i know that can express exactly what needs to be conveyed without uttering a word. He has one of the most expressive faces i've ever seen. I'm always totally dumbfounded by those who can't see it. It's what drew me to him initially in Fellowship ( the first time i ever set eyes on him) along with those mesmerising eyes. But i suppose people only see what they want to see.

Having said that .. this is one of my favourite expressions. I adore his 'pouty' look. He's just being himself and i love that.

I would say that every one of your captions is spot on and a perfect example of just how many 'faces' he has. Love it :)

Oh, and believe it or not, i'd never see the 'one expression' site before. So many lovely pictures to explore all over again.. thanks so much :)

I'm glad you liked it bellewood.

"It's what drew me to him initially in Fellowship ( the first time i ever set eyes on him) along with those mesmerising eyes."
You're taking the words right out of my mouth here!

"I adore his 'pouty' look"
To me that look says: "you can say whatever you like but I'll make my own judgements". And he had this self-reliance from very early on.

"i'd never see the 'one expression' site before"
If you have time, explore the rest of the site. T.G.Shaw's screencaps helped me to understand why Elijah is so mesmerising as Frodo. But I must warn you, the site is very addictive! :-)

'To me that look says: "you can say whatever you like but I'll make my own judgements".'

Exactly! A lot of people think that he's miserable/sad/upset when he isn't smiling, but you've hit the nail right on the head.


"If you have time, explore the rest of the site"

Oh i intend to...

" the site is very addictive! "

Ha.. that doesn't surprise me. I'll make sure i have plenty of time when i do get to go there.. thanks :)

Edited at 2012-01-06 11:25 pm (UTC)

"...people think that he's miserable/sad/upset when he isn't smiling, but..."
How about a little game? I could post a pic of Elijah (not in a role but as himself) and describe how I feel his facial expression should be interpreted. But I would hide that description behind an LJ cut. Others could then comment (without first looking behind the cut, of course). I'm not sure it'll work but it might be fun. What do you think?

I got here.. yay!

Yes, i think that would be great. Although, i'm not sure if you can comment without looking behind the cut..hmm. Someone much more knowledgeable than me would have to advise you on that. Or you could post a picture without revealing what you think and do a poll? Then when the results are in you could tell what you were thinking.

I'm going to give it a try. Perhaps something for Wooddays. :)

A wonderful post, Ambree! I discovered TG Shaw's site several years ago and loved how she was able to put into words everything I thought and felt about Elijah.

Re those who talk of 'bland' and 'one expression' - I really think that says more about them than it does about Elijah. They look but they do not see. Someone once described Elijah's acting as "a magical blend of subtlety and intensity" (it might even have been TG Shaw!). I thought that was such a perfect description:)

Ah, not_alone, what a pleasure to see you here. I have often thought about you over the last few days. Your posts on LJ have resonated with me for a long time now. And I feel exactly the same about TG Shaw's site as you do. She actually helped to understand my fascination with Frodo/Elijah, as your LJ posts have done too. It is that "magical blend of subtlety and intensity" as an actor combined with what we see of him as a human being. And that last aspect I first discovered through your posts. Once again, thank you for that.

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