Catching up with some of our friends from New Zealand, we learned about a project that involves the efforts of a lot of Kiwis, including Sylvester McCoy of Hobbit fame and Lord of the Rings’ Alex Funke. For good measure New Zealand’s Grammy winner Kimbra (Somebody That I Used To Know) is supporting the project with her voice.
In the age of computer generated effects, the film “Birds” is a throwback. A friend to TORn, Horst Sarubin, who worked on visual effects for the three Hobbit films, is behind the project that uses puppets, shot one frame at a time with incremental movements between frames to create a motion picture. The film, about the struggles of George the bird in the primordial forests of Zealandia (pre-historic New Zealand) to carry on.
McCoy is well known for his bird whistles and humor, which Hobbit director Peter Jackson definitely brought through the former Dr. Who’s Radagast into cinematic Middle-earth. In the film’s kickstarter campaign McCoy presents those whistles and gets a little bird treat in return. In the same video Funke, who is best know for helping make the LOTR bigatures look amazing on screen, explains his role is to make the cinematography great.
The stop-motion technique is being employed to give the filmmakers a hands-on experience and a final project they claim will be alive and organic. Tying closely with the passions of Peter Jackson, these are the same techniques used by Ray Harryhausen and Willis H. O’Brien. The original King Kong movie was made in this fashion, inspiring a generation of filmmakers.
With a team of grass-roots talent with a Middle-earth cinematic legacy efforting the film and a universal appealing story, but set in the ancient human-free land that would eventually become New Zealand, TORn readers may want to know further information is available at georgethebird.com. The grass-roots effort is seeking fan support via the kickstarter campaign above.
Entertainment Weekly posted this fascinating article, giving some insight into Peter Jackson’s plans for what must surely be the epic battle to end all epic battles. Just how do you stage the fight which is the title of your final movie in Middle-earth?
“There’s a lot of logistics that have to be thought through,” says Jackson. “We have dwarves and men and elves and orcs, all with different cultures, with different weapons, and different shields and patterns and tactics.”
The EW article contains a particularly interesting ‘map’, showing the different groups and their positioning in the battle at the gate of Erebor. Exactly what/who those five armies will be in Jackson’s movie has been a subject of speculation – and if you’re avoiding spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading!
Tolkien wrote, ‘Upon one side were the Goblins and the Wild Wolves, and upon the other were Elves and Men and Dwarves.’ Readers have often wondered, however, why the Eagles don’t count as an army; Douglas A Anderson notes, in The Annotated Hobbit, that ‘in the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated television program of The Hobbit, the Five Armies specifically include the Eagles instead of the Wolves.’
Some TORn staffers have suggested that, having experienced battle in the First World War, when flight was still in its infancy and the idea of an air force was new, Tolkien perhaps didn’t consider battles as taking place in the air. It could, however, be a simple question of semantics: the word ‘army’ actually means ‘the military land forces of a nation’ (according to Collins English Dictionary). The Professor, being a stickler for precise meaning, perhaps dismissed as too clumsy ‘The Battle of Five Armies and Two Air Forces’ (if we include the ‘bat-cloud’) – so his ‘five armies’ would only refer to the land forces involved.
None of this necessarily means anything when it comes to Peter Jackson’s movie! He’s already strayed from Tolkien’s outline of the battle participants; the official synopsis for The Battle of the Five Armiesstates, ‘Sauron, the Dark Lord, has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain’. In the book it is the goblins from the Misty Mountains who instigate the war, gathering forces with their kin at Gundabad, and coming down from the North led by Bolg (Azog, his father, having been slain at the Battle of Azanulbizar) – Sauron isn’t involved at all.
The map in EW’s article shows six different colour-coded groups – goblins and wargs are one colour, with eagles, elves, men and dwarves each having a different colour. This would seem to confirm what we at TORn have speculated in our panel presentations at various conventions – that Jackson’s five armies will in fact be men, dwarves, elves, orcs and eagles, with the wolves/wargs being a part of the orc army. The sixth colour on the diagram is for Beorn and Thorin – perhaps to highlight the key players of the battle (although Bard, though having his own spot on the schematic, does not share this orange colour – and it’s interesting to note that Dain, surely a key player, is not mentioned by name on this map; nor is Azog).
There’s much food for thought in this simple diagram. It appears that Bard leads men attacking from the East (from Dale, whither Lake-town refugees have fled after Smaug’s attack?). Elves come in from the West – presumably direct from Mirkwood. Beorn is coming up from the South, and the Eagles down from the North. There are also numbers on the chart – and Jackson is quoted as saying, ‘We could then start drawing the arrows on the schematics’, suggesting this is just one of several. Perhaps these numbers indicate a sequence of events? Beorn is the highest number on this image – meaning he arrives late in the battle, as in the book?
Also in the article is a wonderful piece of artwork, showing a mighty battle outside Erebor – if you click on the image (at EW’s site), it links to a bigger version. This picture seems to include cave trolls and other strange, giant creatures – and siege towers? Is this just an artist’s vision of the battle, or does it offer more insight into what we will see on the big screen?
Questions still to be answered include: when/how does Dain arrive from the North? Will Tauriel fight with the dwarves or with her Mirkwood kin? We’ve seen, in the trailer, Legolas in Dale with Bard; will he fight alongside men? The newly released Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition contains dialogue between Thrain and Gandalf, emphasizing an alliance between Smaug and the Necromancer – is it even possible that Smaug’s death will be delayed until the start of the battle, so we see him helping the attacking orcs??
It seems that there’s some behind-the-scenes material on the Extended Edition of The Desolation of Smaug that reveals hints of battle scenes from the final films.
If you don’t have a copy yet yourself, check out the animated gifs from the Armipace Tumblr below for a bit of a taster. Also, if you missed it, you may enjoy our scene-by-scene breakdown of all the additional content in the DOS: EE. To check that out, just click here!
This adorable video makes an excellent addition to Air New Zealand’s more lighthearted and fun approach to safety videos shown at the beginning of every flight.
Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi has taken two Middle-earth fans and placed them in the middle of an Epic Journey, surrounded by Hobbits, Dwarves, Orcs and Elves, and some of them are the actual actors from the films. All the bases are covered, seat belts, electronic devices, life vests, etc, but there is a very definite Middle-earth vibe going on. (more…)
With little more than a month left before the final film in The Hobbit trilogy hits screens, we are excited to debut the fabulous cover art for The Battle of the Five Armies special edition soundtrack courtesy of our good friends at WaterTower Music.
As with the special edition soundtracks previously released for An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, this is a 2-CD set (that will, presumably, contain additional music not available on the regular edition).
Barliman’s chat op Miriel writes to tell us that tickets for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will begin in Finland on November 22.
Ready your elven cloaks and dig out your dwarven armour — it is time to lay siege of the Lonely Mountain! Or in other words, we have the date for the Finnish ticket sales to the Battle of Five Armies. (more…)
If you’re in the market for a physical (BluRay or DVD) copy of The Desolation of Smaug Special Extended Edition, we think you may appreciate this handy buyer’s guide that Ringer TheHutt has laboriously assembled. It covers a number of markets (not just the USA and Canada): United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Special Extended Edition buyer’s guide
By Ringer TheHutt
Like last year, there are a great many versions of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition out there. In the USA, there are exclusive releases (for certain chains only), whereas in Europe there are some interesting designs not released elsewhere. (more…)
Playing a bit of catch-up. This isn’t exactly new anymore, but in case you missed it, Total Film features an interview with Peter Jackson in the November issue of their magazine talking about how the The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is coming together. (more…)
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