It looks like audiences will get to see a film about the origins of Middle-earth in a new film called “Middle Earth.” More on the name in a moment.
The Hollywood Reporter announced this morning the film will chart “the tumultuous events” that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write “The Hobbit,” and “The Lord of the Rings,” trilogy. (Actually the article said “trilogies,” but there is only one trilogy, as you know.) It is to be directed by James Strong who might be most easily recognizable as the director of two episodes of “Downton Abbey,” with the films “United,” with episodes of “Dr. Who,” as well.
The film also pairs two of the men who played a big role in Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy with New Line Cinema Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. They were the gentlemen who helped get those movies made when most of Hollywood wouldn’t touch them. Later they had a falling out with Jackson and eventually New Line collapsed and was swallowed by Warner Bros.
Shaye and Lynee will produce the new film through their Unique Features with Rachael Horovitz. Strong is currently directing the AMC/ITV miniseries “Liar,” according to the article.
Now, about that name. J.R.R. Tolkien distinctly named his created world “Middle-earth” not “Middle Earth.” If you think that isn’t a big deal, remember he was a professor of languages and literature who worked on the dictionary and created the whole thing in the first place because he was a linguist who was inventing languages.
So while it is easy to forgive a fan using Middle-earth as two words with capital letters, not so much in movie titles. Warner Bros., for example, while taking creative license with “The Hobbit,” got it right virtually every, single, time. To Tolkien, the subject of the biography, language matters.
And, to reverse things, nobody would excuse a title about the place “San-francisco” and not find it odd.
Making a biography about Tolkien, supposedly telling the story of his life, and getting that detail wrong in the title could be a bad sign.
On the other hand, this could be just a simple oversight by The Hollywood Reporter writer, but hey, the story also included a picture of Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins instead a picture of, you know, The Professor, so a mistake sounds pretty reasonable. That and stating that Tolkien had two trilogies makes it seem as least possible as a writer’s error. However, most of the info sounds like it was taken from a press release, which would prominently feature a title.
In any case, fans have more Tolkien and more about the creation of Middle-earth to look forward to.
If you haven’t read “J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography,” by Humpfrey Carpenter, it is essential. And, “Tolkien and the Great War,” by John Garth, is also excellent and covers the ground the film will attempt to cover.
There is a lot more to come on the new Middle-earth film collection from us here at TheOneRing.net. To be honest, the greatest discussions of Tolkien happen behind the scenes with the staff via email from staffers with recognizable names and ones that get less attention but who are still wicked smart. It is all pretty interesting. There is lots of great commentary and info to come from that staff.
PARK CITY, UTAH — Viggo Mortensen is back to his ranging ways, living off the land and keeping an eye on trouble in his new film “Captain Fantastic.” TORn spoke with him on the red carpet at the film’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
Mortensen plays a father who, along with his wife, decided to raise his children off the grid — way off. He wants to raise his six children to be self reliant in a way that LOTR character Aragorn would be proud of. His offspring can stalk and kill deer with knives, they climb mountains, harvest edible food, learn to make their own clothes and are self reliant in every way. And along the way read the best books.
They are, in short, philosopher kings.
So the actor did look back at that character and filming experience on “Lord of the Rings,” with Peter Jackson?
“I thought of it,” he said. “But I also thought of my time as a father in Idaho.”
He spent time with his son there and in the film he has more, but in both he said he was teaching to be aware of nature.
Viggo Mortensen in new film Captain Fantastic
“You are only as good as the team you are working with,” said Mortensen. “It is about a family. And made by a family.”
He said the cast spent time before filming getting to know each other and learning the skills needed to be authentic on screen. They camped and learned how to grow food and skin a deer and learned to play music together, all of which were important to the film.
The children’s performances are all excellent, as is Mortensen’s. The film captivated Sundance audiences and good news for Mortensen and film fans, it was also picked up for distribution by Bleeker Street. It specializing in specialty cinema and has this year’s “Trumbo” (Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” fame as lead actor) and should hit audiences in July. UPDATE: The film is slowly rolling out in theaters across the U.S. in July.
The audience at its premiere at the Eccles Theater, the largest venue Sundance offers with over 1,300 seats, responded mightily the film’s opening night. Director and writer Matt Ross, who you might know as Alby Grant from HBO’s “Big Love,” received a standing ovation, as did the children. But it was Moretensen who received the hottest reception. He is a pillar of the film. His character is sympathetic and yet outside societal norms.
Mortensen is perfect for the part and it is difficult to imagine the film working as well without him.
“Good movies ask a lot of questions but don’t necessarily answer them,” Ross told TORn just before the premiere.
In “Captain Fantastic,” Mortensen’s family must leave its forest paradise and journey into the highly-populated world with all its social expectations and demands. They all must face traditional society and family bonds and the children’s unconventional education are tested — to the limit.
“I am a dad and there is no such thing as a perfect father and mother. This character is doing the best he can,” Mortensen said.
The film wasn’t rated at Sundance but the unconventional cast isn’t afraid to use unconventional language that may earn it an R rating. And, Mortensen having a cup of coffee in his birthday suit probably erases any chance of it being anything else. Yes, Mortensen gives the film everything he has to offer.
“Captain Fantastic” is full of ideas, exploring family and fatherhood. Some parents will leaving feeling horribly inadequate but audiences will be fulfilled by the intelligent ideas and questions the film asks.
Fans of Mortensen will not want to miss yet another fascinating role in a fascinating film.
The long-rumored movie museum for Wellington took a step toward realization after the team behind the dream presented its vision to the Wellington City Council.
Fans of the cinematic versions of Middle-earth will rejoice that the team behind the proposal is led by none other than Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor. The company, The Movie Museum Limited, or TMML, hopes to bring together material from the duo’s many film projects as well as their own “world-renowned movie collections,” according to a release after the meeting this week.
“There is a vast collection of incredible material from the world-famous movies that have been worked on by the companies in Miramar,” said project director George Hickton. “What is less well-known is that Peter and Fran (Walsh), Richard and Tania (Rodger) also have their own personal collections of film and television memorabilia which is one of the best in the world.”
Richard Taylor and Peter with team on King Kong.
It is expected that the museum will offer both permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, a cafe, offices and a retail shop.
The presentation, according to the release, was part of considering a new site proposed for the museum that will also include a space for gatherings, such as conventions.
Hickton said Wellington has been known for world-class film making for two decades.
“For much of that time, the driving force behind Wellington’s success has been Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor and their partners Fran Walsh and Tania Rodger as well as the Weta Group of companies they established on the Miramar Peninsula.
“From small beginnings, Wellington is today a thriving centre of film-making creativity and excellence, creating thousands of jobs for New Zealanders and attracting major film and television productions and some of the best directors, producers, actors, artists and technicians from around the world.”
Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and their team on Heavenly Creatures
The concept means the Wellington City Council will provide TMML with a long-term lease of a building built with a museum in mind, constructed and owned by the council. The movie museum organization, if the proposal is accepted, would be responsible for setting up the museum, day-to-day operation and maintenance of the facility.
The hope would be to give Wellington a tourism draw, both to New Zealand and internationally. Readers of of TORn can probably imagine the appeal.
A three-story building is expected, with top floor dedicated to a meeting space for 1100 with the bottom two floors to house the museum with 10,000 square meters of space. The museum is near Te Papa, Wellington’s world-class museum and sit between Wakefield and Cable Streets.
More details, the release said, would be released once the council decides on the proposal and planning and construction begins.
TORn will update this story with more details as they are available. Click on any of the photos for a larger version. (Cinema fans, this is highly recommended.)
Peter Jackson’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car
Richard Taylor and Peter Jackson on Heavenly Creatures
Wellington may soon announce the often speculated-about film museum that has been in the media rumor mill for well more than a decade. Stuff.co.nz is reporting that construction will start next year on a combination museum and convention center space.
A three-story building is expected, with top floor dedicated to a meeting space for 1100 with the bottom two floors to house the museum with 10,000 square meters of space. Approval of a land purchase is expected as soon as Tuesday for the space to build the museum. It is expected to house permanent collections as well as temporary ones.
The article says the museum will be run by The Movie Museum Limited, a company formed by Sirs Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor. The two men are cinema fans and each owns a considerable film collection that will be featured in the museum.
The story also detailed that it would be across from Te Papa, Wellington’s world-class museum and sit between Wakefield and Cable Streets, the site it was rumored to be a possibility at before, at the end of Tory Street in Wellington. Construction is expected to see completion in 2018.
The article also said, “Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said it would be “extremely unlikely” for council to not to go ahead with the complex.”
Fans of Jackson and Taylor know the duo has a knack for presentation on screen and off with previous film exhibitions at Te Papa and even at media events for films. Taylor’s Weta Workshop has the Weta Cave in Wellington to showcase props and collectibles out of his Weta Workshop.
TORn will have the latest details as this story develops.
It is always a good day when Warner Bros. wants to share a little extra content with fans and of course we at TheOneRing are happy to pass it along.
This exclusive clip features a little bonus dialog from Dain Ironfoot and about 90 seconds of enhanced content on the Blu-ray disc of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” It features cinema but behind the scenes content as well. Consider it a fun tease.
Peter Jackson delivered the images and Howard Shore’s delivered the unforgettable musical score for “The Lord of the Rings.” Music and film lovers haven’t forgotten, voting in the favorite film score fro the sixth consecutive year at Classic FM.
The site, that calls itself the world’s biggest classical music radio station in the world, plays such music including film and video game scores. It is said to be the UK’s only 100 percent classical music radio station that includes radio on all platforms including streaming world wide on the web.
After thousands of votes, Shore’s score edged John Williams’ effort for Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” and Hans Zimmer’s music for Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator.”
Those who have been with TORn from the early days will remember that a Burger King tie-in commercial was the first time Shore’s score was heard by the masses, as the “Fellowship” theme showed off flame-broiled goodness along with the miracle of in-scale Men, Hobbits, with a pony, a Dwarf and Wizard.
The score carried themes from “Fellowship” into the following movies, earning an Academy Award for “Return of the King,” after a snub of even an nomination for “The Two Towers.”
There are many highlights, and different fans would have different favorite moments.
You can read Classic FM’s story here and find more links to more of the top 100.
Doug Adams’ book, “The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films,” stands as the definitive word on the score but is also one of the finest books written on musical scores anywhere. You can read our review of it here.
An important, and frankly amazing Tolkien document has emerged, recently discovered loose in a copy of The Lord of the Rings once owned by illustrator Pauline Baynes.
The Guardian reports that Baynes removed the map from a previous version of the novel as she was working on a then new color map for a new edition that was published in 1970.
The map then had “copious” notes made by J.R.R. Tolkien in green ink and pencil. Baynes then made her own notes on the map. It is essentially a map annotated by Tolkien himself.
Blackwell’s, which is currently exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for £60,000, called it “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least”.
Corner of Blackwell’s Tolkien map
According to Blackwell’s, it displays “the exacting nature” of the author and his creative process. He fixes names, gives additional names and reveals details such as Hobbiton “is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford,” where Tolkien was, of course, a professor.
Blackwell’s also claims that Tolkien wrote “the city of Ravenna is the inspiration behind Minas Tirith – a key location in the third book of the Lord of The Rings trilogy.” There are other real-world references as well.
“Before going on display in the shop this week, this had only ever been in private hands (Pauline Baynes’s for the majority of its existence). One of the points of interest is how much of a hand Tolkien had in the poster map; all of his suggestions, and there are many (the majority of the annotation on the map is his), are reflected in Baynes’s version,” said Henry Gott, a rare books expert at Blackwell’s.
Weta Workshop just announced that TORn friend and former General Manager of Weta Limited has passed away.
Tim was given a nice tribute from Weta that you can find here. There, Richard Taylor and his wife Tania explained who Tim was and that cancer took him.
Tim headed up Weta’s consumer products company, which handled the tourism and fans that visit the workshop from around the world and started the company’s collectibles line.
Tim was a friend to TheOneRing, setting up several party events surrounding conventions and events in the U.S. and in New Zealand. He arranged receptions and tour events with TORn staff and TORnadoes around the world.
Tim was a terrifically positive influence. It was impossible not to get swept up in his absolute enthusiasm and love for everything ‘geek’. It was a wonderful thing to see. His passing is deeply saddening, especially considering the courageous fight and victory over cancer the first time around. – Richard Taylor, CEO and Co-founder, Weta Workshop
On a personal note, Tim was a friend that I looked forward to seeing at events, meals, in emails and in offices. I know I am not the only staffer to feel that way.
I remember conversations with him about work and life and how much he enjoyed the film and fantasy environment. I also recall conversations about his family and his wife and children. Tim was willing to do hard things to achieve success and was honest and open, often explaining what he couldn’t be honest and open about. His loss is felt across the oceans and he will be remembered. Thank you Tim Launder for your kindness, courtesy and friendship.
Josh of Collecting The Precious adds:
It’s not very often as a collector that you truly feel your opinion is valued. Those of us collectors who knew Tim never felt that way. We always knew if we made a comment in person at a convention or on a message board Tim truly valued those comments. He let us know they played a part in the pecking order of what wonderful Middle-earth pieces were made.
As a collector I can’t put into words how awesome that is. For me personally he made doing the Collecting the Precious columns easier. At events like Comic-Con he would allow me to have special access cases being lifted to take pictures or video. Tim would allow me to pick his brain about what might be coming, and allow little teases I could pass on. When he left Weta it made me sad because a friendship had developed and I knew that would wain with him not being there.
Tonight, I find out that he has passed away. Sailing into the West and hopefully pain free. The collecting world lost a good friend tonight but the world lost a great guy. Thanks Tim for all the kindness you showed me and all the Middle-earth collectors.
Salt Lake City – Many years ago when TheOneRing.net was in its infancy, the concept of Line Party events were a big part of TORn. For one of the last times, this opportunity for fans to get together and enjoy the films together is upon us. This applies everywhere, but Salt Lake City had gigantic turn out for those early days line party events. The times we get to experience fellowship in theaters is now rare.
In Salt Lake City tonight, and twice after, we have the chance to gather again and watch Peter Jackson’s translation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth on the big screen. THere are several places to watch, but TORn in Utah has long had a semi-formal engagement with a small (but much bigger now) chain of independent theaters called the Megaplex Theaters.
TORn will unofficially be watching at these theaters, depending on work schedules and such. If you want to join us we would love to see you! Many of you are friends to come say hello to staff and remember the good old days of line party fun.
If not for work schedules, we would be running a trivia contest and such at these showings, but Jordan Commons has served as geek central for Salt Lake City since it was built and The District is a great destination as well. Again, if you can, say hello and wherever you go ENJOY!
Note: TheOneRing and its staffers are NOT being compensated in any way for this and are not affiliated with Megaplex.
George R.R. Martin, writer with a series of #1 bestellers, a hit HBO show and a measure of celebrity few writers ever achieve, has given a pretty substantial signal about the how the tone of his series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” will end and he credits J.R.R. Tolkien. Martin has long praised Tolkien and credited him with influencing him and most every other fantasy writer.
“I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet. I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory.”
Martin also talked about the golden age of television and mentioned some great shows that not everybody is watching, but he wasn’t done with praising Tolkien.
“Frodo is never whole again,” he said.
Martin is of course known for writing giant volumes and killing favorite characters. The joke goes that Martin isn’t on Twitter because he already killed 140 characters and the fear is that by the end of the final book, Martin may write something of an apocalypse, which is why his Tolkien comparisons are so welcome for fans.
But he also praised a portion of Tolkien’s writings that filmmaker Peter Jackson left out of his movies, save for a brief glimpse as part of another scene. Martin loves the Scouring of the Shire chapter.
“And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn’t understand when I was 13 years old: “Why is this here? The story’s over?” But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more. All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for.”
Martin is writing the sixth book in his series, “The Winds of Winter.”
A group, that displays one man with 500+ Facebook friends, has started a GoFundMe page to build a 1 to 1 scale replica “of Peter Jackson’s depiction of Minas Tirith, as seen in his Lord of the Rings films.”
For American readers, if my pounds to dollars calculator is working right, that is about $2.8 billion, an ambitious amount to raise on IndieGoGo, or really any crowd funding site, or really, by any method. Still, the project would be a dream to visit and would create an economy all its own and would provide years of good media material as the world watched its progress.
“We aim to create both residential and commercial properties, allowing for sustainable growth and a high quality of life,” Jonathan Wilson says on his intro page. He also breaks down the cost, a little bit, to say, “The vast majority of this expense will cover building costs – £15m for land, £188m for labour and £1.4bn for material.”
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