Swarm Characters: The Principle of Distinctness in the Character Analysis


To create scenes like battles with thousands of soldiers means to create thousands of different and individual soldiers. For instance, when Gandalf is riding down the hill towards to the army of millions of Uruk-hai during the battle of Helm’s Deep in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings (Part 2: The Two Towers) the fighting, dying and escaping Uruk-hai should act in an optical consequent way. Thus, every Uruk-hai of the army had to be programmed individual. But in spite of their individual properties and individual behaviours, they are not individual characters. According to the actions, all Uruk-hai are indistinguishable. Like extras every single Uruk-hai disappears in the background. They do not carry any significance in terms of characters in themselves, but in some movies crowds are important vehicles of the story. Therefore, the term “swarm characters” will be introduced and defined as fictional crowds in which the single being has no relevance for the story. But as a whole the crowd can be regarded as a single and discrete character. Using the example of the two movies “For the Birds” by Ralph Egglestone and “Balance” by Wolfgang und Christoph Lauenstein, swarm characters are analysed with help of Eder's basic model “clock of character” to verify them as equal characters in the plot of the stories.