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Ancient ‘hobbits’ were a unique species

- Ryan Somma, courtesy of Scientific American

– Ryan Somma, courtesy of Scientific American

Evolutionary scientists have been studying the remains of Homo floresiensis, known as the ‘hobbit,’ due to its diminutive size, since its discovery on an Indonesian island in 2003. Early speculation was that it might be a modern human with a growth disorder. However, as reported in this article by the Scientific American, recent results from studying its teeth suggest it was a separate species. Of course, this comes as little surprise to Tolkien fans.  If further research reveals that they had wooley feet, lived in holes in the ground and smoked pipes, we’ll resist the urge to say: “I told you so.” Read More…

Posted in Miscellaneous

Tolkien’s Hidden Realms and their Meaning: Part Two

The long-awaited second installment of the article about Tolkien’s special hidden realms has arrived! In Part One, which you can read here, C.E High explored the hidden realms of the First Age. In Part Two, he continues on to consider hidden realms of the Second and Third Ages. Enjoy!

In the second and third ages the devices that Tolkien uses with his realms blossom into more complex symbolism with a diversity of outcomes. As men grow and diversify, this creates new problems for the other races of Middle-earth leading to a variety of realms that grow out of need and out of want. There is also that pesky Sauron, Morgoth’s second in command in the elder days, and in the absence of his master he arguably surpasses him in malice and evil deeds in the land of Mordor.

No longer do we have three hidden elven kingdoms of a similar making, we now have a variety. Eregion and Lothlorien are, at first, settlements of the displaced Noldor, which quickly become refuges against the evil now located in the east of Middle-earth. Rivendell, and the Woodland Realm to the north of Eregion and Lothlorien, round out the retreats of elves from battles with Sauron. Last, but not least, we have the newest and most intriguing hidden realm of them all: The Shire, a realm founded in the third age.


Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Creations, Fans, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Uncategorized

The Hobbit – BOTFA SEE: International Shopping Guide

BotFA Collectors AssortmentJust in time for the release of the physical editions of the BOtFA extended edition DVDs, TORn contributor and friend, The Hutt, has provided us with another fabulous international shopping guide. Enjoy!

In mid-November, starting with the USA (Nov 17th), the physical editions of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition will start hitting the shelves of online and retail stores. Once again, there are several different editions released in different countries, which can be interesting for collectors. It is quite a feat to bring some order in this amount of different versions – so we attempted it below. The list is not sorted by countries, but by different versions which may be released to one or several different countries, starting with the (subjectively speaking) most interesting editions.


Posted in Blu-Ray, DVDs, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Sheep Farming in Hobbiton

HobbitonFor those of you who have been lucky enough to visit the Hobbiton set (like me!), you know how magical it is to wander among the well-tended gardens and Hobbit-home facades, to rest in the shade of the magnificent party tree, and to enjoy a pint at the Green Dragon Inn. However, as most of us are aware, the Hobbiton set is surrounded by a 560 hectare (approximately 1,400 acre) working sheep and cattle farm owned and operated by the Alexander family. recently recounted a bit of the history of the Hobbiton and how Hobbit holes and sheep continue to coexist nicely in a quiet corner of the New Zealand countryside:

“Right alongside the tourism business is their sheep and beef operation, on probably the country’s most-visited farm. While not many of the tourists see the whole farm, the stock is still very much in the public eye, meaning Craig [Alexander] has to be strategic in where he farms stock because of the occasional gate left open by an unsuspecting tourist. Hobbiton is also ring-fenced with paddocks for stock on either side. “If we’re driving a mob of 1500-2000 ewes down the main track and there is a [tourist] bus going through that can be pretty frustrating.”

While the farm is family-owned and operated, Hobbiton is a 50/50 partnership between the family and Peter Jackson. “Today, the tourism venture has about 70 permanent staff and twice that number over the busy summer season. It’s given the Matamata district a huge boost in earnings and the region is now thriving.”

Read the full article here.

Posted in Director news, Hobbit Movie, Locations Sets, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, Tours

Sir Ian McKellen to appear in Santa Monica in November

Ian McKellen Mr HolmesThose of you lucky enough to live in the L.A. area can catch an appearance by Sir Ian McKellen at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica on Tuesday, November 17th at 7:30 p.m. He will be appearing before a special showing of Mr Holmes, in which he portrays an aging Sherlock Holmes struggling to put closure on his last case from thirty years earlier. As we all know, our favorite wizard from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies is always entertaining and gracious to his fans, and may even discuss or take questions on his role as Gandalf, so get thee to the Aero on November 17th if you can! Tickets can be purchased here.

Posted in Events, Film Screenings, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Lectures & Education, Lord of the Rings, LotR Cast News, LotR Movies, The Hobbit, Uncategorized

Tragic hero, Kullervo, and Tolkien’s career

Ringer-friend Sampo alerted us to this well-done and informative articleKullervo, published by Finnish Broadcasting Company, about how J.R.R. Tolkien’s career started thanks, in large-part, to his interest in the tragic Finnish hero, Kullervo. “When J. R. R. Tolkien, the father of Hobbits and fantasy literature, was in his twenties, he took a keen interest in the Finnish epic poem Kalevala. So much so that he wanted to rewrite the story of Kullervo. Now, this early work of his has finally been published.”

The article goes on to compare and contrast the various characteristics of Tolkien’s Kullervo with the Kullervo of the Kalevala. A delightful aspect of the article is that it contains bits and bobs of Tolkien quotes such as: “The gem of my attempt to write legends of my own to fit my private languages was the tragic tale of the hapless Kullervo in the Finnish Kelevala.” Another great quote, of reading about Finnish grammar: “It was like discovering a complete wine-cellar filled with bottles of amazing wine of a kind and flavour never tasted before.”

Another great thing about the article is that it’s in English! So, check it out here. In the mean time, The Story of Kullervo, by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Tolkien scholar, Verlyn Flieger will be available on April 5, 2016. It’s available for pre-order from Amazon here.

Posted in Books Publications, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Tolkien

TORn Staff Reviews the BoTFA EE

Hobbit_BOTFA_Intl_posterThe day has finally come and gone when many of you were lucky enough to view The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies in theaters. TORn’s facebook page, the discussion boards and Barli’s chat are all buzzing with excited observations! Many of our staffers saw it too and, as it TORn tradition, we’ll be featuring their comments and insights here, as well as a spoilery picture or two. Speaking of spoilers, they abound in the rest of this article, so read no further if you haven’t seen the EE yet and don’t want to be spoiled until you do!





Posted in Billy Connolly, Director news, Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Graham McTavish, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Martin Freeman, Meet Ups, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, Stephen Hunter, Studios, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Uncategorized, Warner Bros., William Kircher

Hobbiton makes the list of top 16 movie locations to visit

thedoorNot surprising to Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie fans, lifestyle and travel blog, BLT, has named Hobbiton as one of its top 16 movie locations to visit. From the blog“The gardens and crops surrounding the homely Hobbiton featured in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series were actually planted a year before the filming of the first movie. Hobbiton was built and designed with the fictional landscape described by J.R.R. Tolken in the books and the set still stands today. In fact, people travel from all over the world to take a two-hour tour of the set. Hobbiton, although originally just a movie set, is now a permanent tourist attraction.”

Other locations mentioned in the blog include Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England (Harry Potter; Downton Abby), The Hawaiian island of Kauai (Jurassic Park; Raiders of the Lost Arc) and California’s Redwood National Park (Star War’s Forest Moon of Endor). While all of them would be fun to visit, we’re partial to Hobbiton not the least of which is because it’s not just a building or a landscape to look at. As the article mentions, it’s a permanent tourist attraction in beautiful New Zealand, offering excellent guided tours, a store and a pub! What’s not to love?

Check out Hobbiton and the other top 15 movie locations to visit here, and let us know which ones you’d most like to see (after Hobbiton, of course).

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production

Two Towers discussion in the “Reading Room” forum

Two Towers first editionA discussion of The Two Towers began this week in’s “Reading Room” forum. If you’ve been doing your annual re-read of The Lord of the Rings, or if you’re overdue for a re-read, join fellow fans in debating the finer points about Rohan, Saruman and Treebeard! Best of all, there are still a few chapters open for discussion leaders. If you’re interested in leading a discussion, go to the sign up thread here. Here’s more information from organizer noWizardme:

Starting next week in the Reading Room, we’re discussing The Two Towers. Everyone is welcome to join, whether you’re read it many times, or want to start reading now for the first time. How it works is that we have a volunteer ‘Chapter Leader’ for each week. He or she posts an initial post (thoughts, questions) to get the discussion started. Then discussion takes off in any and all directions. You are almost certain to get a new insight into the chapter, how ever many times you’ve read it yourself.

We work through a chapter a week. The full schedule for the exercise is given in my tasteful 1980s retro footer… (and there are still a few vacant slots for chapter leaders if anyone wants to volunteer). There are absolutely no ‘entry requirements’ to join in, beyond having read the chapter we’re discussing and ideally having some form of opinion, question or comment to contribute.

Saruman the White by John Howe.

Saruman the White by John Howe.

We each of us imagine Middle-earth inside our heads, based on when and how we read the book & what we understand from it. Also, what else we’ve read (or watched, played, written…) and what our own real-life experiences have been. So any reader might have something interesting to say. I find other peoples’ Middle-earths endlessly fascinating. So watch the Reading Room from early next week – hope to see you there!

Posted in Fans, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, The Two Towers, Tolkien

Hobbit cost New Zealand taxpayers $191m

Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, NZ

For those who are interested in the finances behind the making of The Hobbit trilogy, here’s a news story from the NZ Herald about the subsidies that Warner Brothers received (thanks to ringer Ataahua for the link):

New Zealand taxpayers put up an “extreme” amount of money to get the Hobbit films made here – and the real winner was Warner Bros, the Green Party says. The Government has defended the spending of close to $200 million as having wider benefits – including more than one in ten visitors citing the movies as a reason they became interested in visiting.

The latest statements for Warner Bros Entertainment’s New Zealand subsidiary, 3 Foot 7, show the firm received a large budget screen production grant of $38.3 million in the 12 months to March 31 this year. That adds to the $54.6 million it received in the 2014 year, $31.3 million in 2013, $46.9 million in 2012 and $20.2 million in 2011. Across the five years, production costs amounted to around $1.1 billion, meaning the Warner Bros unit has claimed about 17 per cent of total costs under the grant.

Green Party finance spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said the level of taxpayer money stumped up was “pretty extreme”. Read More…


Posted in Hobbit Movie, Studios, The Hobbit, Warner Bros.

Debut of 1978 animated LOTR score LP collector’s set & TORn Giveaway!

1978_LOTR_Soundtrack_CoverIn conjunction with our friends at Fantasy Records, is proud to present the exclusive debut of the score of the classic 1978 animated Lord of the Rings movie, directed by Ralph Bakshi and scored by Leonard Rosenman. This very special release is on vinyl and is accompanied by an amazing set of collector’s items from the beloved film. The exclusive (and very clever) video below shows everything that is included.





The set is available for purchase for $69.98 USD on Amazon here. Also, Fantasy Films has graciously donated copies to to give away to two lucky readers! The contest can be entered at the link at the bottom of the page and is available to people world-wide! The contest will run through September 19th with winners to be announced on September 20th.

Read the official press release below, and be sure to enter to win and/or order your own beautiful collector’s set today!

1978_LOTR_Soundtrack_DetailsFantasy Records presents the classic score to the 1978 animated feature J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, from Academy Award-winning composer Leonard Rosenman (East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, Barry Lyndon).  This highly collectable, vinyl box set will be a must-have for fans of the landmark film and audiophiles alike. Inside the box, there is a wealth of ephemera, including reproductions of rare items from the original Tolkien Fanclub!



Contents include:

-Two 180-gram vinyl LPs, housed in a reproduction of the original gatefold jacket

-24” x 36” theatrical poster, featuring Gandalf

-12” x 8.5” map of Middle-earth

-Lobby card, reproduced from the original theatrical release


-Replica Production cel, suitable for framing

-16-page illustrated booklet, featuring behind-the-scenes photos, a new Leonard Rosenman appreciation by Jon Burlingame, the nation’s leading writer on the subject of music for films and television, plus liner notes by Tolkien Enterprises’ Laurie Battle. Also in the booklet is a backstage look at the making of the film by music historian and reissue producer Bill Belmont.

Click here to enter

Posted in Collectibles, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Music, Other Merchandise, Posters Prints, Tolkien, Uncategorized

Battle of the Five Armies EE DVDs now available for pre-order

The extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies DVDs are now available for pre-order in the U.S. from Amazon. Formats include DVD, Blu-ray, and 3-D/Blu-ray and range in price from $34.99 for the DVD to $54.98 for the 3-D/Blu-ray version. The extras appear to be the same with all three, described as “hours of fascinating, in-depth looks at the production,” including:

– Commentary with Peter Jackson, Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Philippa Boyens, Co-Producer/Screenwriter

– The Appendices – The Appendices Parts XI and XII showcase a chronological history of the filming of The Battle of the Five Armies, documenting the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects

– New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth – Part 3

Digital HD UltraViolet is also available which must be redeemed by November 17, 2018.

The cover art on Amazon’s site differs for each version. Following is a discussion of each, and links at which you can pre-order your copy.

DVD (price: $34.99. Pre-order here)

BotFA DVD CoverThe DVD version cover features Bilbo (Martin Freeman) with Sting drawn, overlooking the evil armies amassing, and the battle raging below him.  The border, which is the same for all three formats, is a steel-gray color with a design reminiscent of dwarf-runes seemingly carved into it which adds a nice touch to these last extended  editions of the series. One of the carved dwarven sentinels of Erebor watches over all on the right while the ramparts of Erebor and the burning remnants of Lake-town are visible in the background on the left.





Blu-ray (price: $35.99. Pre-order here)

BotFA Blu-ray CoverThe Blu-ray cover is more character-centric than the DVD cover. Our hero Bilbo is front and center, again with Sting drawn. A thoughtful, but stern, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) is on Bilbo’s right, while a very stubborn, impatient and disturbed-looking Thorin (Richard Armitage) is on his left. The Elves are well-represented on this cover with three of the four smaller figures in front of Bilbo being comprised of Thranduil (Lee Pace), Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom). Last, but not least, stands Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) with the glow of the fire of Smaug and the burning Lake-town behind him.






3-D/Blu-ray (price: $54.98. Pre-order here)

BotFA 3-D CoverThe 3-D/Blu-ray cover is striking, with just the characters of Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) standing behind him protectively. As with the DVD cover, the sentinel of Dale is just off to the right, only this time with a great battle-troll below, and the ramparts of Erebor and vestiges of a burning Lake-town are off the the left, with the battle raging behind all. As if to emphasize that this is *the* battle, Bilbo again has Sting drawn and ready to do battle with the enemies. A nice touch with this cover is that Bilbo’s mithril shirt is clearly visible underneath his plainer clothes.





Definitely stay tuned, as we will bring  you more BotFA analysis as details become available (e.g., releases in other countries, releases in other retail outlets, special incentives). Note that we did check Amazon’s sites for other countries but didn’t find the EE available yet. If you don’t live in the U.S., definitely let us know if and when it becomes available in your corner of the world and whether the amenities are the same, and we’ll add it to future updates.

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVDs, Evangeline Lilly, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman, Merchandise, Other Merchandise, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit