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Richard Armitage in The Crucible – review

Crucible_shot_10191_FZ_edit_ff_pressAs TORn’s readers know, our very own Thorin Oakenshield – actor Richard Armitage – is currently appearing as John Proctor in The Crucible at The Old Vic in London. Staffer greendragon went along to see the show, and she’s written up what she says is ‘half review, half an attempt to capture the atmosphere for those who won’t get to see this production.’ Here’s what she had to say:

(more…)

Posted in Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Richard Armitage, Stage Productions, The Hobbit

Film ‘REALITi’ with Graham McTavish to screen at Auckland and Wellington film festivals

Poster OnlineDirector Jonathan King’s new film Realiti, featuring Graham McTavish among the cast, will have its world premiere in Wellington on July 31st, with further screenings there and in Auckland in early August. Written by Chad Taylor, the film was made whilst McTavish was also busy with pickups for a certain trilogy; the director says:

“The Hobbit’s Graham McTavish plays a featured (non prosthetic  – or kilt!) role in the film, and he’s really great in it: a different tone to his fantasy-related work, but a part that really suits his authority and charisma. Graham worked on the film at the same time as he was shooting The Hobbit here and it was a thrill for us how much attention he gave to our small film at the same time as he was involved in such a big one! I think it will be great for fans to see Graham in a different kind of role.”

(more…)

Posted in Events, Film Screenings, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit

Dean O’Gorman in The Almighty Johnsons – starts in the US TONIGHT

Dean O in TAJFans of Dean O’Gorman who live in New Zealand, Australia, Canada or the UK may have already enjoyed watching him in television show The Almighty Johnsons; for fans in America, the series starts screening on Syfy this evening (Friday). Ringer Kiwifan in Germany loves the show, and wants to share her passion with you! Here’s what she had to say:

“This Friday evening, July 11, NZ tv show The Almighty Johnsons, starring Dean O’Gorman as Anders Johnson (Bragi), will have its U.S. premiere on the Syfy channel. The series, which ran for three seasons on television in New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the UK, garnered several awards and gained fans worldwide. Incidentally, the eldest Johnson brother, Mike, is played by Tim Balme who first became known for his starring role in Peter Jackson’s film Braindead (aka Dead Alive). Balme also wrote several of the episodes of The Almighty Johnsons. (more…)

Posted in Dean O'Gorman, Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, PJ's Other Films, Television, The Hobbit

Martin Freeman in Richard III – Trafalgar Studios, London

MF Rich III posterWhat a great summer of theatre this is for Hobbit fans in the London area! Not only is Richard Armitage appearing in The Crucible at The Old Vic; Middle-earth lovers can also see Bilbo himself, Martin Freeman, starring as Richard III at Trafalgar Studios. This promises to be a thrilling, visceral production; director Jamie Lloyd last year staged Macbeth (with James McAvoy), in a production which a reviewer described as ‘a gripping and genuinely startling production’. For this staging of Richard III, audience members have apparently been warned that the front rows might get splashed with blood! The official press release describes the play thus:

“In the aftermath of civil war, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, makes a hateful resolution to claw his way to political power at any cost. A master of manipulation, subtle wit and beguiling charm, he orchestrates his unlawful ascent by spinning a ruthless web of deceit and betrayal. His staunch ambition soon begins to weigh heavy, as the new ruler finds himself utterly alone and steeped in dread, forced to answer for his bloody deeds and face the horrifying consequences.”

(more…)

Posted in Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Martin Freeman, Stage Productions, The Hobbit

Richard Armitage in The Crucible at The Old Vic, London

Crucible_shot_10191_FZ_edit_ff_pressAs TORN’s readers no doubt know, Richard Armitage is currently appearing as John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s brilliant play The Crucible, which is being staged at The Old Vic in London, by director Yaёl Farber.  Previews began on 21st June; here’s what the official press release tells us:

“Yaёl Farber directs Arthur Miller’s modern American masterpiece about the Salem witch trials drawing parallels with his experience of McCarthy’s anti-communist investigations in the 1950s. The Crucible tells the story of one man’s fight to save his identity in a repressive Puritan community where intolerance collides with lust and superstition, fuelling widespread hysteria with tragic results. (more…)

Posted in Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Richard Armitage, Stage Productions, The Hobbit

Tolkien’s Beowulf – a review

BeowulfAs you know, in May this year J R R Tolkien’s translation of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf was finally published. This beautiful volume, edited by Christopher Tolkien, also includes commentary on the poem and the task of translating it (taken from the Professor’s own lectures); J R R Tolkien’s own Old English poem, ‘Sellic Spell’ (in both the Anglo Saxon and modern English); and a poem ‘The Lay of Beowulf’, again written by the Professor.

As someone who studied Old English and Middle English at University, and having read both Beowulf and Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I had long been curious about the Professor’s Beowulf translation. It’s been a long wait for this text to be published – and it doesn’t disappoint!

The first thing one notices about the book is what a lovely edition it is. A black hardback with gold lettering on the spine, the book has a paper jacket, which features three of Tolkien’s own illustrations – including on the front a beautiful green dragon, curled like knotwork and delicately coloured. This image and the lettering on the front and spine, in white and gold, are raised – a nice touch which adds to the luxurious feel of this book.  (If you want to go REALLY luxurious, Harper Collins, Tolkien’s publishers in Europe, have a special slipcase edition.  As I think this is a text to which I will want to refer again and again, I may start saving my pennies for that edition…)

As ever, Christopher Tolkien’s Preface and Notes are helpful and insightful. In the Preface, he addresses the issues of translation: how does one choose the right word to capture all the nuance and implication of a word in another language? There are always multiple options; which one gives the best ‘feel’ of the original? Judging from J R R Tolkien’s lectures, this was something he pondered – and changed his mind about! – over the years, and as such he came back to and edited his translation. Christopher has done his best to put together the ‘final’ version, but as he writes, the text is ‘in one sense complete, but at the same time evidently ‘unfinished”.  The interesting notes provided illuminate any question marks over word choices.

Christopher also points out another of the inherent difficulties in preparing such a volume for publication. In the Preface, he quotes from one of his father’s letters to Rayner Unwin, with regard to the publication of the translation of Sir Gawain:

  • ‘I am finding the selection of notes, and compressing them, and the introduction, difficult. Too much to say, and not sure of my target. The main target is, of course, the general reader of literary bent but with no knowledge of Middle English; but it cannot be doubted that the book will be ready by students, and by academic folk…’

 

This difficulty of target audience, however, turns out not to be an issue for the volume Christopher Tolkien has put together here; it is neatly arranged so as to be easy for the reader to take from it what he or she wishes.  If you are only interested in reading Beowulf in modern English, so be it; if you are curious about Tolkien’s notes, they are there for you; if you want to see how J R R Tolkien crafted a poem in Anglo-Saxon, you can read his ‘Sellic Spell’ in Old English – but it’s there in modern English, too. Thus this volume can appeal to academics and ‘lay’ readers alike.   (My only slight disappointment is that it does not include the AS Beowulf side by side with Tolkien’s translation; but that extra content would perhaps be superfluous, and certainly it would make the volume rather more weighty!)

The translation itself is in prose – but with an extraordinary sense of the rhythm and shape of the Anglo-Saxon verse. As Christopher writes (in the Introduction), ‘…my father, as it seems to me, determined to make a translation as close as he could to the exact meaning in detail of the Old English poem, far closer than could ever be attained by translation into ‘alliterative verse’, but nonetheless with some suggestion of the rhythm of the original.’  To my ear, Tolkien’s version has a strong feeling of the verse shapes; the two phrase pattern of Old English poetry seems very much to inform the structure of his sentences, and there is a beautiful musicality to the shape of the language. This occasionally means that the syntax is a little complicated, and one needs to read the line aloud to work out the exact meaning – but this is no bad thing. Beowulf is a poem which is meant to be spoken aloud – and I think this translation would be wonderful as a bedtime story!

(Tolkien’s detailed, prose translation is a great companion to Seamus Heaney’s verse translation; the two translations together shed much light on the scope, the energy and the feel of the original Anglo-Saxon poem.)

I haven’t yet read all of the other content of this publication.  I’m excited to discover ‘Sellic Spell’: it is referred to on the book’s fly leaf as ‘a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folktale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the “historical legends” of the northern kingdoms.’   This makes me wonder if it ties in to Tolkien’s desire to create a English mythology; perhaps this is his version of a specifically English (rather than Danish or Norse) telling of the tale of Grendel and his vanquisher.

‘The Lay of Beowulf’ consists of two poems in ballad form, telling the same stories of the monster and the hero. Tolkien himself had noted, of these texts, ‘Intended to be sung’ – and charmingly, Christopher writes that he remembers ‘his singing this ballad to me when I was seven or eight years old.’  What a delight – again, these poems would make excellent bedtime reading!

I have yet to discover fully all the joys of this publication, but so far it is proving to be a magical and enthralling read. You don’t have to be an Anglo-Saxon scholar to enjoy this book (though you won’t be disappointed by it if you are!): if you’re a fan of Tolkien; if you are fascinated by Old English; if you just enjoy a good tale of monsters and battles – you should get your hands on a copy.

[J R R Tolkien Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary is published in the United States by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and in Europe by Harper CollinsYou can order it from Amazon - click here.]

Posted in Books, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Other Tolkien books, Shop, Tolkien

Where’s Bilbo? – WINNER in our photo competition

With a poster signed by Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman and Evangeline Lilly up for grabs as the prize, many of you were eager to show us your The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug DVDs and Blu-rays, in photos submitted for our #wheresbilbo competition.  We loved looking at all the entries, and as usual, it was hard to pick a winner!  Lots of people sent in images showing their extensive collections of Middle-earth collectibles, whilst many others took snaps showing their adorable pets taking care of their DVDs.  A group of staff from TORn all voted, and our final overall winner was @WadeAcuff, with his ‘sketchy’ entry:

WadeA

The staffers were impressed by the beautiful artwork shown in Wade’s photo – he’s clearly a talented fellow!

Other images we loved included @LapisLizuli’s dragon eating her DVD:

LizzieC

And @TolkienistView’s clever set of ‘polaroids’:

JamesM

@crazysirius clearly ‘treasures’ her DVD:

AprilF

@RSinsir’s dogs are doing a great job of guarding her ‘precious’:

RebeccaJ

@EmmersChau found her DVD taking a bath – complete with bearded rubber duck! Check out the details on those bottles – the body wash is ‘Elf-repelling’!

EmilyC

Finally, @I_Christina_I was lucky enough to be able to take Bilbo back to his own front door:

Christina

There were many more great entries, including some of folks in costume. Many thanks to all of you who sent in fab photos and entertained us with your creativity (and with much cuteness from various pets!) We wish we could have had more than one winner! Congratulations to Wade – the signed poster will be on its way to him very soon.

Posted in Blu-Ray, Contests, Creations, DVDs, Events, Fans, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Peter Hambleton directs play ‘Equivocation’ in Wellington

peter hambletonAs he told TheOneRing.net in his interview with us back in April, Peter Hambleton has been busy, for the first part of this year, wearing his director’s hat. His next show, at the Circa Theatre in Wellington, is Bill Cain’s fascinating play Equivocation – a piece described on the theatre’s website as an ‘explosively comedic high stakes thriller … for theatre-lovers, fashion fanatics, Game of Thrones and House of Cards fans, legal eagles, politicos – and anyone who has ever had a boss from hell.’

The plot is summarized thus:

‘London 1605. Shakespeare (Shag) is ordered to rewrite the ‘true’ story of Guy Fawkes and the treasonous Gunpowder Plot – as a crowd-pleasing play. While the plotters wait in prison, he must decide if he would rather write a lie and lose his soul, or write the truth and lose his head. He walks this dangerous tightrope with the help of his theatre troupe, his devoted daughter, and by learning the art of equivocation (the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth).’

This modern play was described by Variety as, ‘One of the most bracingly intelligent, sizzlingly theatrical American plays in a decade’. If you’re lucky enough to be in Wellington between May 24th and June 21st, you can get tickets for this exciting production by visiting Circa Theatre’s website, here – and don’t forget to write and tell us about it!

 

Posted in Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Peter Hambleton, Stage Productions, The Hobbit

Viggo Mortensen on Classic FM, Sunday 18th May

viggo-mortensen-charlotte-greenAragorn is an elusive man, who can avoid being seen if he wishes… For those of you who can’t get enough of actor Viggo Mortensen, you can at least hear him this weekend! This coming Sunday, Mortensen will be a guest on the show ‘Culture Club’ on Classic FM radio. According to Classic FM’s website, you can hear him talking about ‘his varied film roles – from the Lord of the Rings trilogy to his acclaimed new crime movie The Two Faces of January.’

The show airs 3-5pm BST (British Summer Time), and Mortensen joins fellow guest, composer Karl Jenkins. You can also listen to the show on the internet, with past shows available as podcasts.

Thanks to Ringer Huan for letting us know! [Check out Classic FM's website here]

Posted in Events, Lord of the Rings, LotR Cast News, LotR Movies, Radio, Viggo Mortensen

Animation students at Dundee University create ‘Concerning Dragons’

Middle-earth fan Kieran contacted us recently to say:

“I’m an animation student at Dundee University, and we’ve just finished a 12 week project which I think you guys will appreciate! We’re massive fans of Tolkien, and we’re really pleased with our short animation… ”

So of course we went over to vimeo to check it out – and we were impressed! The vimeo page tells us, ‘An MSc Animation class project, in association with Axis Animation, to provide an unofficial short animation to tie in with the release of The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug. The project took 13 weeks and explores the mysterious origins of the dragons of Middle Earth. ‘

We thought our readers would enjoy it too – so here it is!

Concerning Dragons from Kieran Duncan on Vimeo.

Thanks also to Lilly for letting us know about this.

 

Posted in Creations, Fans, Hobbit Book, Miscellaneous, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Enter our Where’s Bilbo? Contest and win a signed The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug poster

DoS poster prizeAs part of our fifteenth birthday celebrations this weekend, we have an exciting competition for you all — and a stunning prize!

We will be awarding one clever, imaginative Ringer, a The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug poster — signed by Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman and Evangeline Lilly (see the photo of it just to the right). (more…)

Posted in Benedict Cumberbatch, Blu-Ray, Contests, DVDs, Evangeline Lilly, Events, Hobbit Movie, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman, Merchandise, Posters Prints, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Calgary EXPO hosts a night to remember; and two more days of fun remain

Calgary tshirtLast night was indeed a night of special magnificence here in Calgary! Calgary EXPO threw the event ‘Middle-earth EXPOsed’ – and what an extraordinary event it was. Sir Richard Taylor turned one lucky fan into an orc, applying his make-up on stage whilst the rest of the event took place. Host Mark Ferguson (Gil-galad) led conversations with actors Billy Boyd, Sean Astin, Craig Parker, Jed Brophy, Sadwyn Brophy (Eldarion), Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow and Manu Bennett; special video messages came from Sir Peter Jackson and Richard Armitage; swordmaster Steven McMichael appeared on stage to fight with the gathered cast; songs were sung, hilarious improv acted out, and the audience were treated to two and a half hours of entertainment and laughter.

The fun continues in Calgary today and tomorrow! Don’t forget to stop by booth 2007 to say hi to the folks from TheOneRing.net, or to buy one of our con exclusive shirts. Staffer deej hosts a panel today in the Boyce Theatre, at 11.45, with Billy Boyd and Sean Astin; greendragon hosts panels on Sunday at 12noon and 2pm, with Sean Astin and later with the Hobbit cast members.  Hope to see you there!

Posted in Billy Boyd, Calgary Expo, Conventions, Craig Parker, Dean O'Gorman, Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Jed Brophy, Lord of the Rings, LotR Cast News, LotR Movies, Mark Hadlow, Other Cast, Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, Richard Taylor, Sean Astin, The Hobbit