As we all know, J R R Tolkien was, from an early age, fascinated by myth and heroic legend, reading all he could of the romances and epics of many nations. In a letter to Milton Waldman, which appears in the Preface to the second edition of The Silmarillion, he wrote that he was ‘grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own … Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with the English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing…’
The Professor, then, had little time for the legends of King Arthur; but he did make one foray into those tales, and we are about to be able to read for ourselves the results of those labours! Tomorrow, publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt release Tolkien’s narrative poem The Fall of Arthur, edited as ever by his son Christopher. HMH’s press release tells us:
‘The Fall of Arthur, the only venture by J.R.R. Tolkien into the legends of Arthur, king of Britain, may well be regarded as his finest and most skillful achievement in the use of Old English alliterative meter, in which he brought to his transforming perceptions of the old narratives a pervasive sense of the grave and fateful nature of all that is told: of Arthur’s expedition overseas into distant heathen lands, of Guinevere’s flight from Camelot, of the great sea battle on Arthur’s return to Britain, in the portrait of the traitor Mordred, in the tormented doubts of Lancelot in his French castle.’
Alas, Tolkien never finished his poem; but amongst his manuscripts were sketches and drafts, which included ‘significant tantalizing notes. In these notes can be discerned clear if mysterious associations of the Arthurian conclusion with The Silmarillion, and the bitter ending of the love of Lancelot and Guinevere, which was never written.’
It’s a day of celebration for Tolkien fans whenever we have a chance to read more of the Professor’s work, and gain further insight into the explorations which lead to his great myth of Middle-earth. You can read Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s full information about the book here; and you can order your copy from Amazon by clicking here. The Fall of Arthur will also be available as an e-book. Happy reading!
[Order The Fall of Arthur from Amazon]
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, Headlines, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Other Tolkien books, Shop, Silmarillion, Tolkien
Our good friends over at our partner site Tolkiendrim.com reported here that shooting of pick ups for the next two Hobbit movies begins on May 15th – that’s already today in many parts of the world! And a good part of ‘today’ has already passed in New Zealand – so we’re assuming that filming is already underway. Shooting is scheduled to continue until the end of July.
Of course, the question we’re all pondering is: what scenes will be slated for this period of filming? We already know that 3 foot 7 were looking to cast extras with ‘character faces’, as described in their ad, here. Spanish Tolkien site elanillounico.com and French site Tolkiendrim.com both report that, apparently, these extras are sought for scenes which will take place in Bree; which of course does seem to fit with a need for character faces.
And this is where the wild speculation begins – get ready, because we’re guessing outside the box here! What scenes for The Hobbit movies might be set in Bree? Surely there is no need for An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition material to take us back to Bree on the journey of Bilbo and the dwarves? More interestingly, perhaps it could be a flashback to Gandalf and Thorin’s first meeting on the road, when they passed a night at Bree, as described in The Quest for Erebor? What important information might the film makers wish to disclose in such a scene – more about the back story of Azanulbizar and the disappearance of Thorin’s father, Thrain?
In their article, our French friends go even further and speculate that this may be a chance for some of the oft discussed ’bridge’ material between the stories of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Perhaps we will get to see Aragorn and Gandalf meeting in Bree, during Aragorn’s ranging days in the North, before the beginning of the hunt for Gollum. Viggo Mortensen only recently stated again, this time to Total Film magazine, that he would be keen to play a role in The Hobbit trilogy. He is reported here as having said, ‘Would I play Aragorn again? Sure, if it seemed sensible to do so. He’s not in the book of The Hobbit, but if they’re working with the appendices they may be intending to bridge the 60-year Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings gap.’ Mortensen went on to say, ‘I think I would have heard by now so I have to assume [not]… But Peter Jackson is famous for his reshoots, so you never know!’
Now that is something exciting to think about. Total idle speculation of course; we don’t even know for sure that scenes ARE being filmed in Bree. But it’s fun to dream of a little glimpse of Strider….
Thanks to our friends at Tolkiendrim.com for their report!
Posted in Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, Lord of the Rings, LotR Cast News, LotR Movies, Production, The Hobbit, Viggo Mortensen
As TORn readers will no doubt have heard by now, Ray Harryhausen, the man who pioneered stop motion photography and led the way to many of the special effects we take for granted today, died on Tuesday. He was 92. His classic films, such as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, inspired many future movie makers, with their wonderful scenes of monsters and mythical creatures, brought to life by Harryhausen’s brilliant use of stop motion technique. As a teenager, Harryhausen had himself been inspired by the 1933 King Kong; it seems fitting, then, that he in turn became a source of great inspiration for a teenage Peter Jackson, who of course made his own King Kong movie in 2005. USA Today quoted this statement from Peter Jackson: ‘The Lord of the Rings is my Ray Harryhausen movie. Without his lifelong love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made — not by me, at least.’
You can read more about Ray Harryhausen here. In 2010, BAFTA paid special tribute to Harryhausen in celebration of his 90th birthday. Peter Jackson was a surprise guest, and at the event he showed some of his earliest attempts as a teenage film maker, clearly inspired by Harryhausen’s movies. Jackson’s presentation – and those wonderful, early film clips – can be seen here.
The film industry has lost a legend; RIP Ray Harryhausen.
Posted in Director news, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Miscellaneous, Peter Jackson
Readers will already know about the hashtag war going on out there, from Rasputin the Evil Balrog’s post here and MrCere’s post here. The MTV Movie Awards are this weekend, so we have about twenty-four hours to go, to get as many #votebilbo counts out there as possible. Ringers cannot be beaten! – and here’s proof that, for amazing creativity, that’s certainly true. This brilliant video, created by Speigel Ei, shows that even Bella Swan would be won over by the genius that is Lord of the Rings. #votebilbo today!
single-bilboooo from Spiegel Ei on Vimeo.
Posted in Creations, Events, Fans, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Other Events
A story we posted a while back has recently resurfaced, and as we’re all thinking about dragons right now, it seemed worthy of a repeat visit! Forbes published a ‘rich list’ of fictional characters, and our favourite dragon, Smaug, comes out on top. Not surprising really; I’m not sure how they arrived at their figures, but $62 billion seems like a fair sum for the wealth of Erebor. Forbes suggest, however, that much of Smaug’s vast hoard comes from his work in movies and the excellent deal he negotiated to appear in The Hobbit movies! Check out the whole fictional rich list here; thanks to Ringer Eledium for the heads up!
Posted in Characters, Hobbit Book, Miscellaneous, The Hobbit
There is a buzz in Tolkiendom right now about a gold ring dating from Roman times, which may have given Tolkien a seed of an idea for his own ’One Ring’. The ancient ring, found in 1785 in a field which was a Roman archaeological site in Silchester, Hampshire, UK, was associated with a ‘curse tablet’, cursing the man whom the original owner accused of stealing the gold trinket. Archeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, investigating the wording of the curse, consulted with Tolkien about the ring in 1929; and that conversation may have been part of Tolkien’s inspiration to create his own magic ring.
The Roman artifact is now being shown in a new display at National Trust property The Vyne, also in Hampshire. The display includes a first edition of The Hobbit, and was arranged with the help of the Tolkien Trust. You can read more about this fascinating item, including an excellent explanation of the associated curse, in this article from the Guardian newspaper, here. Further articles can be found here and here.
Thanks to all who wrote in to tell us about this one ring!
Posted in Events, Exhibits, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Tolkien
This afternoon many of us spent an hour with Peter Jackson (well, virtually, anyway!) as he chatted about making The Hobbit movies, and gave us some tantalising glimpses of what may be to come in the second film, The Desolation of Smaug. We’ve already posted some detailed commentary on what was shown; here below are some of the things which made TORn staffers geek out, as they watched their computer screens – and some speculation on what these things might mean!
Greendragon: Of course I would be excited about something to do with a dragon! It seemed to me that we saw Smaug’s ‘laser eyes’ in part of the footage – a scene was shown where Martin Freeman was playing around with putting the ring on, in Smaug’s lair. The lighting was red, shining on a specific area and then moving across the pile of gold – suggesting the ‘piercing ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug’s left eye.’ It was nice to see this glimpse of the power of Smaug’s eyes – the danger of the dragon-spell!
Demosthenes: The actual extended scene we were shown from The Desolation of Smaug was of Gandalf and Radagast visiting the Nazgûl tombs. Okay, this has me excited because there’s a heap of spoiler analysis and guesswork that we can all play with. Who built the tombs? If they were built by the Dúnedain of Arnor (the selfsame Dúnedain who never make an appearance in the film of the Lord of the Rings, I might say!), then why does Radagast call the sigils on the walls foul? [In the clip, we see engraving on the walls above a door of a tomb, the bars of which have been wrenched or blasted open.] Is that an implication that they were built by the Dúnedain of Rhudaur who fell into evil with the realm of Angmar? And what do the Tengwar letters — for they are a type of Tengwar – say? Do they bind? Do they nurture? Is it a transliteration to English? Or is it in Adûnaic, Quenya or Sindarin?
Why are they in the high fells (of Rhudaur)? What could have possibly prompted both Gandalf and Radagast to travel back over the Misty Mountains to investigate? Lots of questions — lots of opportunity to guess stuff! Moreover, I’m buzzed that Gandalf says there are NINE tombs. It’s what I guessed when I first saw this sequence last year, and I also felt that the bars indicated that whoever was in there broke out, and that there were letters over those doorways.
Rasputin the Evil Balrog: The boat scene got me excited [where we saw the dwarves, Bilbo and Bard on a boat, together with a collection of barrels], combined with what Peter had to say about the character of Bard being enigmatic – we don’t know if he’s good or bad. It reminded me of the way they chose to create Faramir’s character in The Two Towers, giving him much more depth and motivation than I feel he has in the books. A lot of book purists disagree with me because they like the fact that Faramir is presented as the archetype of the ever-noble hero, but I thought the way they played him was much more modern and interesting. I think we’re going to see something similar with Bard. In the book, he’s set in opposition to the debauched, corrupt master of Lake-town, but it seems like Peter is implying that we’ll get a few more twists and turns to our Bard story!
Deej: In the various glimpses of scenes between Thranduil and his son Legolas, it was interesting to see that there might be a conflict between father and son regarding the way the dwarves are treated. Although he’s not in the book, I had expected Legolas to go along with his father – it would explain why he and Gimli aren’t on friendly terms when the Fellowship is first formed. Could this difference of opinion lead Legolas (and Tauriel?) to help the dwarves and Bilbo escape Mirkwood?
Grammaboodawg: To see Legolas with his father, Thranduil, is incredible! After years of imagining Legolas in Mirkwood and in a relationship with his father, this shot has had a profound impact on me. Like seeing the White Council… it’s exciting to have the imagined moments of this story finally becoming real. Also, in one of the moments where we saw Bilbo in Smaug’s lair, there was an interesting glow at Bilbo’s right hand. Could it be the Arkenstone??
Kelvarhin: The thing I was most excited about was seeing the concept drawings of Mirkwood, by WETA artist Gus Hunter. I’ve always envisaged it as being all twisted trees, dark and very menacing, and those images nailed it perfectly. Can’t wait to see the finished images on the big screen.
Demosthenes: The beautiful concept artwork by John Howe which we were shown, for the entrance to Thranduil’s realm in Mirkwood, is almost identical to Alan Lee’s painting of Menegroth – which can be seen here . This is particularly cool because, for Tolkien, Menegroth was probably a template of sorts for the Halls of the Elven King as first described in The Hobbit. I’m pretty sure that if you go back as far as the Book of Lost Tales there is some description of the halls of Tinwelint the elf/gnome king that has a similarity to The Hobbit — that bridge over the river particularly.
Kili: Glimpsing Tauriel was a pleasant surprise. She comes across as a panther whose mask of calm will shred at the slightest provocation. In comparison to fellow Elven warriors Legolas and Elrond, it was refreshing to see what a hot-blooded captain of the guard might be like. There is a lot of tension in the fandom surrounding her character, but if this glimpse is anything to go by, then she can stand proudly alongside Éowyn, Arwen, and Galadriel. Tolkien’s dearth of female characters is troublesome, and I applaud Jackson and his team for taking the risk of inventing a bold new character who not only feels authentic to her culture and circumstances, but whose ferocity will have a special resonance with her fellow woman warriors in the audience.
Quickbeam: I was completely surprised at how Peter Jackson himself appears so relaxed, playful, and at-ease. Notwithstanding all the visual surprises and exciting bits of sets/ characters/ and effects work we are treated to glimpsing, I am honestly more blown away at his casual confidence. You must understand that P.J. is under tremendous amounts of pressure and a work-load that defies description. Yet there he is, making light jokes about Colbert’s coffee cups or showing us his favorite vintage movie one-sheets as if we, the live camera, were just old friends visiting on a relaxed weekend and he has all the leisure time in the world. It’s a remarkable illusion, because he is the one man on Middle-earth who DOES NOT have leisure time or anything going “easy” for him — while juggling huge budgets, scheduling all the re-shoots, editing a movie with higher standards upon it than anything, yammering phone calls from the studio’s lawyers, incessant fans chirping and tweeting about the appropriateness of Azog, Tauriel, Nazgûl tombs, etc. etc. etc. Imagine how delightful it is for us to see this creative powerhouse of a director just as cool as a cucumber. His light-hearted spirit shines through even though he carries a special burden… and that makes me VERY confident that he’s the Master of his own Destiny like no other filmmaker, and has a good handle on everything that needs doing.
And a final thought: I was surprised to NOT see our shape-shifting ursine friend, Beorn. We see just one axe chopping a piece of wood outside Beorn’s Hall, and another shot of the Company of Dwarves running into his doorway (excellent sense of scale there between the Dwarves and Beorn’s furnishings)… but certainly no Mikael Persbrandt to be seen. That’s curious, given the recent news stories confirming his role will be expanded in The Desolation of Smaug. So we are treated to lots of Luke Evans as Bard, which is grand, but nothing of Beorn. We shall wait and see.
Garfeimao: Lake-town interests me, with the dichotomy of what appears to be close to a shanty town on the exterior, but has much richer interiors. Or maybe it’s just like that for the Master of the Lake-town and his home. Since Lake-town is on the water, the wooden buildings all have a decayed and somewhat tilting appearance to them. But the Master’s bedroom is very lush looking, with dark wood paneled floors, walls and ceilings, a four poster bed, a giant oil painting (of himself, no less) and lovely windows on both sides. And from one of the group shots of the citizens of the town, they are in dark clothing and do not appear to be richly dressed. Last year at San Diego Comic Con, the sneak peek included a scene with the Master running into a home, one I assume is his own, and throwing back a carpet and opening a trap door beneath to reveal a horde of treasure comprised of what appears to be brass, gold and silver pots, candlesticks, dishes and the like. It is clear he is wealthy, and somewhat miserly and actually has a rather smarmy, slimy appearance to him. The fact that his servant is rather Gríma like in appearance just adds to the rather distasteful vibe he gives off. I also found it interesting they decided to give Bard a bit of a duality to him as well, so that Bilbo and the dwarves are left wondering if they can trust anyone in Lake-town.
Oh, and can I get a shout out for the wicked cool War Moose-antlered Throne that Thranduil is lounging in when the Company of Dwarves, as prisoners, are brought into his Halls? The epitome of the rather haughty Elf described in the book, to be sure.
But what I most appreciated from this hour long glimpse into The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was the insight into Peter Jackson’s command of his mis-en-scène. This means his complete control of everything in front of the camera, from costumes and colors, hair and make up, set design and lighting to the angle of the cameras and the distance of the shot and the movement of the actors and props in frame. The example of the boat and the range of shots perfectly exemplifies how a storyteller can frame the action and use a variety of shots to tell the exact story they want because they truly have selected every frame you are seeing. Some of the quick sequences of shots shown at the very end only hint at the story to come, but it has intrigued me the way any good trailer grabs and audience.
Elessar: I was excited to see more of Mirkwood, Legolas, Thranduil, and Tauriel. Today’s event gave us plenty of that to look at, and while it wasn’t finished you can start to put that mental image together. I’ve had a mental image of what I thought Mirkwood looked like and what we saw felt like it was pulled directly from my brain! I loved seeing Legolas in action, and I love the look he has in this movie - mostly because it’s going to show the giant leap Legolas makes from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings. Seeing Thranduil in all his glory was fantastic, and I loved the scene of him getting in Thorin’s face, adding more to why Elves and Dwarves don’t like each other. Tauriel also looked awesome and I think I’m going to really like this character. A scene with her, Legolas, Thranduil, and an Orc looks like it will be really good. I did enjoy the Gandalf/Radagast sequence and am eager to see how the continued addition of this plot line runs. Mostly, I just loved spending an hour watching things to come. Is it December yet??
So much excitement – and we haven’t even seen a proper trailer yet!!
If you missed the Peter Jackson hosted first look at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, or just want to watch it over again, a modified version will be archived on the Trilogy’s official website: www.thehobbit.com/sneak. To access the footage, use your UltraViolet code on your copy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack or 2-Disc Special Edition DVD.
Posted in Blu-Ray, DVDs, Events, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, John Howe, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Other Events, Production, The Hobbit
Want to relive what you saw this afternoon? Reflecting on some of the moments, and trying to remember what was what? Well, don’t forget that, if you missed the Peter Jackson hosted first look at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, or just want to watch it over again, a modified version will be archived on the Trilogy’s official website www.thehobbit.com/sneak To access the footage, use your UltraViolet code on your copy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack or 2-Disc Special Edition DVD.
Meanwhile, staffer Rasputin the Evil Balrog shares with us some commentary on the footage:
Posted in Aidan Turner, Billy Boyd, Blu-Ray, Director news, Dominic Monaghan, DVDs, Evangeline Lilly, Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Jed Brophy, Lee Pace, LotR Cast News, Luke Evans, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, Merchandise, Orlando Bloom, Other Events, Peter Jackson, Production, Richard Armitage, Stephen Fry, The Hobbit
Whilst most of us were busy being excited about Peter Jackson’s ‘sneak peek’ going on live today, over in the UK our friends at Empire were busy with their very own movie awards! The Jameson Empire Awards 2013 were held tonight at the Grosvenor House Hotel, in a cold and snowy London. These awards are voted for by movie fans themselves – and in a demonstration of the impeccable taste of fans everywhere, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was awarded Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Film. Sir Ian McKellen was there to collect the award, and he gave a shout out from the stage to his two cast mates who also attended the ceremony, Martin Freeman and Adam Brown.
Freeman soon had his own moment in the spotlight, as he beat nominees including Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln to win the award for Best Actor! In typically tongue-in-cheek style, Freeman commented, ‘I always wondered if it was possible to quantify the best actor, and now I realise that it is, and it’s me! What a load of old rubbish I was in with…’ He later went on to say, modest as ever, ’It’s possible that my performance was not the best of the year, but I’ll take it!’ What a charming chap he is; ever ready with a wink and a smile, as Empire’s picture of him shows!
Empire’s blog of the awards ceremony can be read here; check back to their homepage later for more pics and reports from the night, and to find out who the other winners were. Many congratulations on their awards, to Martin Freeman and to all our friends involved with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!
Posted in Adam Brown, Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Other Events, The Hobbit
We’re not wishing to rub salt in the wounds of those who are not yet able to get their hands on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – but for many folks, Middle-earth is coming home today! If you’re a proud owner of a Hobbit DVD or Blu-ray, and a social media user, show us your pics of you and your preciousss by using the tag #TORNDVD
Meanwhile, to distract those who are still waiting, we’ve been sharing some interviews with various cast members. You can see our chats with Richard Armitage here and with Andy Serkis here, while a conversation with Bilbo himself, Martin Freeman, can be found here.
Our final interview is with the man who brought Bofur to life, James Nesbitt. This charming fellow chatted with staffer greendragon about the delights of being made into an action figure, what he hopes to see in the Extended Edition, and why three movies just aren’t enough. He even has a word to say about TORn’s own Oscar celebrations – and how he might party with us in future!
Posted in Andy Serkis, Blu-Ray, DVDs, Events, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, James Nesbitt, Martin Freeman, Merchandise, Press Conferences, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit
Still eagerly awaiting the precioussss, aka a copy of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey of your very own? Although the release date in the USA is tomorrow, fans in other parts of the world have to wait a little longer. To help ease the wait, earlier today we shared a video of Thorin himself having a chat with a staffer from TORn. Here’s a second video from that press junket: Andy Serkis talks about what he is keen to see in the Extended Edition, what he’s working on next, and with whom he’d rather be locked in a room – Gollum or Smeagol??
James Nesbitt video coming tomorrow!
Posted in Andy Serkis, Blu-Ray, DVDs, Events, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, James Nesbitt, Merchandise, Press Conferences, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit
Exciting times for Hobbit fans! Last week the Digital Download of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey became available, and tomorrow (March 19th) is the date when American fans can take home copies of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray; plus of course we’re all eagerly awaiting Peter Jackson’s live first look at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on Sunday 24th March! To help pass the time till then, TORn has some videos to share!
Staffer greendragon was fortunate enough to meet recently with Thorin, Bofur and Gollum – also known as those charming gents Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt and Andy Serkis. They discussed topics such as how it feels to be part of a billion dollar grossing movie, what they hope to see in the Extended Editions, and what went into creating the roles they play. In the first of three videos, here’s what Richard Armitage had to say.
Posted in Andy Serkis, Blu-Ray, DVDs, Events, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, James Nesbitt, Merchandise, Press Conferences, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit