What a fun movie! Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc Brandybuck) came on board to be our wonderful narrator! Actually this film is a time capsule of many decades of pop culture history — giving us the full story on how the world has embraced Tolkien’s masterpiece THE LORD OF THE RINGS over 50 years and more!
Winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival, RINGERS was produced in association with TheOneRing.net — this remarkable little film was forged BY fans and FOR fans, just like our website, with the production/writing talent of Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway (who hosts TORn TUESDAY every week), Jeff Marchelletta, and supercool director Carlene Cordova. It was executive produced by X-Men/Transformers guru Tom DeSanto.
With a wonderful rock-driven score and detailing all the outpouring of love bestowed on Tolkien over many generations, this film is a must-have for your digital collection! Get it on iTunes now for only $9.99!
From the original Sony Press Release:
“RINGERS is comprehensive, entertaining and informative pop culture history.” – The Toronto Star
“…Will always be a salient part of ‘LORD OF THE RINGS’ history…
See it, absorb it, love it.” – FilmThreat
Winner of “Outstanding Achievement” Award at the
Newport Beach Film Festival
FASCINATING DOCUMENTARY CAPTURES THE HISTORY, INFLUENCE AND PHENOMENON THAT IS LORD OF THE RINGS
CULVER CITY, Calif. (September 12, 2005) – Sony invites you to return to the Shirewith the release of the feature-length documentary RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS,direct to DVD.In association with the popular fan-site TheOneRing.net, Carlene Cordova produced, directed and wrote this award-winning film with executive producer Tom DeSanto(X-Men, X2: X-Men United and Transformers), which charts the incredible influence and ripple-effect that Lord of the Rings has had on worldwide pop culture over the past five decades.Whether you are a fan or first timer, critics agree, RINGERS, stands as the most comprehensive film documenting the ongoing impact of J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary achievement.
Dominic Monaghan (star of ABC’s Lost and the Academy Award® winning Lord of the Rings trilogy) narrates the documentary as it looks behind the curtain between Lord of the Rings andhow it inspired so many artists of different mediums.The film moves beyond “cult classic” and through different generations unearthing the way legendary rock musicians, filmmakers, professors, actors and authors all unite under the banner of ‘Ringer.’Interviewees included in the film are Lord of the Rings trilogy filmmaker Peter Jackson as well as Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin and David Carradine.Infused with a dynamic rock-driven score, irreverent cut-out animation (á la Terry Gilliam), and a centerpiece audience sing-a-long, RINGERS is a genre-busting documentary that shows how a single literary work continues to spark the minds and hearts of millions.
RINGERS continues the momentum of the motion picture trilogy Lord of the Rings, a winner of 17 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Peter Jackson, who made history as the first person to direct three major feature films simultaneously.
From the official synopsis:
Ringers: Lord of the Fans is a feature-length documentary that reveals the ongoing cultural phenomenon created by The Lord of the Rings. Very funny and often moving, Ringers shows the hidden power behind Tolkien’s books — and how after 50 years a single literary work continues to spark the minds and hearts of millions, across cultures and across time.
Shot with groundbreaking new digital technology in 24P, Ringers explores the real foundations of Middle-earth; a community of true fans who share a common bond. Moving beyond “cult classic” and over several different generations, the film unearths academics, musicians, authors, filmmakers, and a plethora of pop junkies — the people gathered under the banner of ‘Ringer.’ From the hippie counter-culture to the electronic age; from the Bakshi animated film to Jackson’s epic trilogy; this documentary brings together extensive footage from across the globe. With units in Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Bonn, Germany, Wellington, New Zealand, and Oxford, England, our cameras capture the most fascinating “Ringers” and Lord of the Rings events.
What began as the private amusement of a tweedy Oxford professor has now become a new mythology for the 21st century. Ringers: Lord of the Fans shows how an adventure story published in 1954 has had dynamic ripple-effects through Western pop-culture. Ringers carefully pulls away the veil between Tolkien’s book and the creations of art, music, and community that have been inspired by it.
Last night in North America marked the launch of the remarkable new nature series Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan; and he kindly agreed to give TheOneRing.net an exclusive sit-down Q&A. The British actor, best known to Ringer fans as Meriadoc Brandybuck, is already receiving rave reviews from The Hollywood Reporter and other press. His show premiered in this country on BBC America and will have a full season of eight episodes at 10:00pm Eastern, 9:00 Central.
With the very funny TORn TUESDAY webcast freshly completed, and Billy Boyd having left the Meltdown Comics studio, Dom took a more reflective moment to sit with host Cliff ‘Quickbeam’ Broadway and discuss his passion for, and desire to get closer to, those creatures least likely to inspire a kiss, yet all the more fascinating for his enthusiasm!
Quickbeam: Dominic, congratulations on the launch of your new show!
Dominic Monaghan: Well thanks. Yeah – I’m nervous about the launch, because it’s just me. You know, it’s not me being incredibly well protected and insulated by a huge trilogy of movies and a big ensemble cast. And also, it’s something that I feel very protective and precious about – you know, it’s like my little ‘precious’ One Ring. The natural world is something that I’m passionate about, and something that I want people to be compassionate about, because of the way that I feel about it … so, it’s the first time I’ve really hosted something – especially something that’s a significant portion of my life – and there’s a vulnerability attached to that. As an actor, you can always say, “Well, they didn’t like my character in Wolverine but maybe they just didn’t like Wolverine, or they didn’t like that character I played; or they didn’t like my character in The Lord of the Rings, but maybe they just didn’t like that character or they don’t like fantasy films … but with Wild Things, if someone doesn’t like it, there’s a pretty high chance that they don’t like ME. And that is something that you have to come to terms with. And you know, I’ve been an actor for twenty years now, so I’m okay with people saying anything they want about me, but it does put you in a much more vulnerable position.
Q: Well, you created this show, and the heart and the concept comes from your love of the great outdoors, and your affinity for the creatures in the natural world, with whom we share this planet. How do you feel about the state of conservation efforts, and protection of wildlife efforts?
DM: I did create the show; it’s something that I’m passionate about. I think the thing that irks me the most about where we’re at right now in our society, is … there’s an automatic rejection of anything that’s put forward as a notion in our society. So, if someone says, ‘Justin Bieber is great,’ someone will automatically say, ‘Justin Bieber is rubbish.’ And that’s just because you can’t please anyone all of the time. My issue with the conservation situation is, people say, ‘We need to change the way that we’re behaving because we’re creating global warming and we’re changing our climate.’ And then other people come out and say, ‘Climate change isn’t real, that isn’t what’s happening – we’re going through a natural change in the planet.’ My argument is, let’s say for the sake of argument, global warming ISN’T real – which I don’t necessarily believe – but let’s say it isn’t real; why wouldn’t we make positive changes to deal with our carbon footprint and how much of an impact we make on our planet? We know for a fact that we create poisons and toxins by working in our industries and by driving our cars and moving our vehicles around. If those poisons are toxic, they have to go somewhere; and even if they go somewhere that doesn’t affect us, it affects the general balance of our galaxy. We create a poison, and we go, ‘Here you go planet – or galaxy – deal with it!’ That’s a negative stance to take. So my whole idea is, you can call us liberal and you can call us mong bean salad eaters, and you can call us hippies – and we wear hemp and all that kind of thing … but what we’re trying to do is the right thing, I think. It’s the correct way to behave. Make less waste, be responsible, be positive. Treat everything living correctly.
Q: And appreciate the synergistic connections you have with other creatures on this planet.
DM: Right. We have a very ‘overfaluted’ idea of what humans are, and our place on the planet. And outside of creating technology and art, we don’t really do anything special, I don’t think. And the most damaging animal on the planet, I would say, is categorically a human. And the most valuable animal on the planet is probably something like a worm, or an ant, or a small beetle. Or a parasitic fly, or something like that – because of what they do. They create fresh air, they till our soil, they pollinate our fruits and vegetables. Humans don’t even feature in the top fifty. But we walk around like we’re the bosses and like we know what’s going on … meanwhile ants, millions of them living in very confined quarters … there’s no murder, there’s no rape, everyone gets fed, they look after their kids, they don’t cause a carbon footprint, they take care of their trash. And we shun them, we throw them off our picnic table! These are important animals!
Q: Indeed. What are some of the most appealing animals you’ve encountered, during the first season of Wild Things?
DM: I really like hymenoptera. Hymenoptera’s a class in the insect species which is bees, wasps and ants; they all come from the same place. Essentially, an ant is a wingless wasp from an evolutionary point of view, and bees fit in there as well; highly social, sophisticated societies … they behave in a way that we understand, because we live in highly social, sophisticated societies. I admire the way that they organize their communities, where they don’t cause as much of a mess as we do!
I wanted to tell those stories, but also I needed to tell – and I wanted to tell – dynamic stories in the invertebrate world, and that led me to things like the world’s largest spider, the world’s most dangerous aquatic insect, the world’s most dangerous scorpion. Nowadays, you have to stick yourself on the firing line a little bit – which I was more than happy to do, because I love these animals and I wanted to tell their stories. There’s an element of shocking the audience; but what I talk about with the world’s largest spider is that, for me at least, that has the same cache as something like a great white shark or a bengal tiger. When you say to someone, ‘I went to find the world’s largest spider,’ they recoil; they go, ‘How big was it, what does it look like?!’ It’s the same feeling as a great white shark. So I wanted to show that you can go to these places. It might not be really easy to access those places; but you can go there, you can have an amazing experience with these animals; and they’re not out to get you! They don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘Where’s a human? I need a human to eat!’ Spiders don’t act like that. If you hurt them or damage them, or come into their territory, they might protect themselves; but they’re not out to get us.
Q: There’s an interesting approach to telling these animals’ stories; we anthropomorphize them. We attach certain human qualities to some of these creatures; have you noticed that, while you were making the show?
DM: Yeah, we talk about ‘nasty spiders’ or we talk about ‘vicious snakes’ or ‘man killing sharks’. These are animals that have unfortunately got themselves into a situation that they don’t want to be in, which is coming into contact with a human. Sharks do not want to go around us; they’re not interested in going around us. Not only are we not good eating, but we’re going to cause a lot of trouble for that shark; we’re probably either going to – they think – kill it, or the fishermen will come back and kill it later. And with these animals like bees and wasps, and scorpions and spiders – all these things that have venom that can hurt us – that venom is very, very important to that animal. It’s a very sophisticated amount of proteins that they create, and it takes a lot of energy for them to create that venom; so they don’t give it away cheaply. You’d have to really annoy a spider for it to envenomate you, because they use it when they really need it. So my feeling with people when they talk about, ‘Urgh, bees, they’re so scary!’ – I’m just like, look, if you get away from the hysterical four year old that’s living inside you, that was at one point stung by a bee – and generally, you know, it hurts when you’re a little kid – nowadays if you get stung by a bee, it’s annoying, it’s not your favourite part of your day, but it’s not going to ruin your day.
Q: What is the coolest, most exotic place you went to visit?
DM: Gosh … hmmm – the geographical place that sticks in my head from the first season was Laos, southeast Asia. I’ve been to Thailand a few times, loved it; I got told that Thailand was like Laos, fifty years ago. You know, not very built up; great street food; great people – they’re all Buddhist, very very chilled out, very keen to help; amazing natural flora and fauna everywhere – mountains and greenery. The main thing that really struck me about Laos was the food; when we were in Vientiane, which is the capital city, we’d wake up and go for breakfast – and you’d have really fresh, spicy fish soup for breakfast. I love spicy food! I was like, ‘Ah, this is heaven!’ The people were so friendly, they went out of their way to help you – lovely nature; they all love Manchester United, which works for me [laughs] … and you know, it’s very exotic. You’re eating stuff that you’ve never seen before – it’s all so fresh…
Q: You can’t pronounce what you’re eating!
DM: Yeah, you just go [points], ‘Can I have that please?’ Yeah, great country.
I really liked Cameroon as well. Very different, Cameroon. Lots of red and brown clay everywhere, in terms of the colour scheme of the country. The people that we went to see didn’t have a lot; they lived in houses where the electricity was turned off at 9pm … they didn’t have an abundance of food or water, or even clothing – stuff like that … [but] so happy, so sweet. All the little kids just wanted to get picked up, and play, and hang out with you … I was doing silly little magic tricks that they liked … and you know, stray dogs running around everywhere… The food wasn’t fantastic in Cameroon but the spirit of the people was amazing, you know? They’re all very entrepreneurial – they genuinely are. They really have nothing, and you see them making kids’ toys out of little bits of broken wood and rubbish, you know, trash that you would throw out – and these little kids have got these little remote control cars made out of elastic bands and plastic bottles and stuff. Very, very innovative – I loved Cameroon.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you had, in creating and pitching this show?
DM: I think the biggest challenge pitching the show was convincing the people who were giving me the money that I could do the job; because I think all they’d been exposed to, as a general rule, was me in Lord of the Rings, and me in Lost, and maybe a couple of other things that they might have seen … so they’re probably sat there, being very polite, thinking, ‘OKAY, what does this English actor know about tropical species? And why are we giving him an inordinate amount of money to fly a six man crew to Vietnam or Malaysia … and he gets there and goes, “I’m not doing that, and I’m not doing that – and I’m not eating that, and it’s too hot, and where’s my hotel?” ‘ I think there was a feeling of, ‘What is this even going to be?’
So I would sit in these meetings and just talk at length about my passion about animals, and I think that opened people up a little bit; and then I went to the Malibu mountains with a friend of mine, and we shot footage of me catching lizards and catching velvet ants – this type of wingless wasp – and catching snakes, and checking out animal tracks and stuff – just to show that …
Q: You’re an outdoorsman!
DM: Yeah. I mean, I like being outside and I go to Joshua Tree a lot; spend some time out there … whenever I’m countries I tend to go into the wilderness and see what’s available. I know what to look for, where the animals are going to be – and I think people needed to be educated on that. Hopefully, now that the show is going to be available for an audience, the audience will feel the same way.
I also didn’t want to come across as a professor, because I’m not – or a learned guy, when I’m not. I’m a very, very enthusiastic animal lover – and if you put me in a biology class in university, I’ll embarrass myself! But if you put me with a group of people on the street, and they say, ‘Pick a holiday’ – you know, some people might say, ‘Go to Cabo San Lucas,’ or some people might say, ‘Go to Vegas for the weekend.’ But I would say, ‘Where’s the furthest you’ll fly me, that’s the most remote?’ I want to escape – travel for me is all about escape. I want to go somewhere where I don’t know the currency, where I don’t know the language, where I don’t know the food – and just try new stuff. I mean, any time I’m trying new stuff, I’m not bored – and I’m very susceptible to getting bored!
Q: Perhaps you’re a kindred spirit with Viggo, who is also a master outdoorsman!
DM: Yeah, he really is a very, very gifted outdoorsman, and unintimidated by being out there. A true artist. You know, I think my abiding memory – although obviously he’s still around! – but my abiding thought about Viggo is the artistry of the man. He’s obviously a very talented actor, but you know, Viggo’s an accomplished poet, a fantastic painter, a brilliant photographer; he acts in different aspects, in theatre, in film; he’s a singer, he’s a writer … I was inspired by his … almost need to get out his art. And he continues to be like that. I saw him in London, in this hotel room – and he just had stuff everywhere! Letters and posters and paint and scarves and DVDs and books – and he’s passing me this – ‘Read that! Watch that! Do this! Here’s that!’ Every time you see Viggo, you walk out with stuff; you’re like [mimes arms loaded with stuff], ‘Yeah, alright – I’ll see you in a week – I’ll check this stuff out!’ He’s an inspirational guy.
Q: One of the animals that you encountered in the preview [for Wild Things] was the monocle cobra. It was surprising that you were looking for some other creatures, and accidentally stumbled across this deadly snake! Unexpected… and you had a six-man crew with you. Did anybody encounter any bites; what danger was your crew in?
DM: We were lucky enough to not get tagged by the monocle cobra! I think what happened was, we were in the paddy field looking for this giant water bug, and I noticed when we were in the paddy field that we were rustling mice and rats out of the paddy field … because they sleep there in the daytime. They’re nocturnal species, obviously. And I noticed a little [makes rustling noise] moving in the paddy grass, the paddy rice – and I thought, ‘What’s going on there? Oh, that’s probably a mouse – and that’s probably a rat…’ And it happened two or three times … and we were flushing – we were walking, and we were flushing these mice out of this field as we were spreading apart … and what happened was, when we got to part of the end of the field, this snake was coming into the field, thinking, ‘What is going on here?’ There’s three or four mice running around in the middle of the day – and that’s unusual. You’ll hear me, at the start of that scene – I say to the cameraman, ‘Go that way, go that way, go that way!’ And that’s me saying to my entire crew – who were all behind the cameraman – ‘Spread out! Go FAR that way!’ – because it was a venomous snake, and I knew it was a cobra. And as soon as the crew is safe, and my only concern now is protecting me, then I can attempt to control the situation – but I can’t control five other grown men, you know! So you’ll hear me in the show going, ‘Move back move back move back!’ – and that’s me talking to the crew all the time!
No-one got hit by the snake, but my medic, who’s an ex-military guy and has been in a few combat situations, was stung by a bullet ant when we were in Ecuador, and they’re aptly named, because it’s supposed to feel like you’ve been shot by a bullet – and he spent two days in bed! He got stung about 11am, left that day – he was like, ‘I feel awful, I’m going to have to go and take care of this’ – and we didn’t see him until a day later; so all that day he slept, the next day he was in bed sleeping, and then we saw him the day after that! We were like, ‘Are you ok?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I spent two days essentially feeling like my thumb was being constantly hit by a hammer, just pounding, pounding…’ And he took a fair amount of anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines, and it didn’t do any good to him!
Q: I’ve never heard of this creature!
DM: The bullet ant! It is a formidable looking ant! It’s big, it’s scary looking – they’ll come at you! I have one on a stick in the Ecuador episode, and they’ll jump as well – so I’m constantly looking at the camera, looking at the ant, looking at the camera, looking at the ant… [laughs]
Q: Here in America, I grew up watching a show called Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. And Wild Kingdom was THE thing to watch, when you were a kid in the Seventies; we didn’t have any other nature documentaries. There were no other shows covering the natural world. It was fascinating! Even though they covered the basics – you know, the great mammals of the Serengeti – things that we’ve seen over and over again since then; but it created in me a lifelong fascination and affinity for the beasts and the birds and the natural world. And I think that’s why a lot of us Ringer fans feel so much towards Radagast; as we feel connected to those descriptions of the natural world in the books.
DM: Yeah, you and I have had almost the same journey with our natural history. When I was younger, I was brought up on David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau – it was the same. There was a very small amount of nature shows being made, and the ones that were being made were high quality – but it was maybe once every couple of months you’d see something. There’s much more around nowadays. The interesting thing about the ‘good guys’ in The Lord of the Rings – certainly the Fellowship, everyone associated with the Fellowship, everyone associated with the alliance against Sauron and Saruman – they’re all connected to the earth. Hobbits are very connected to the earth; men are; wizards are; elves are; dwarves are. Dwarves are probably the least so, but even dwarves have a connection with the rock and the stone and the mountain; elves love forests; humans spend a lot of time … I mean, Aragorn obviously lives in the forest, he’s an outcast. Arwen controls water; the hobbits know where to find stuff in the forest, and how to eat off the land. And obviously, the relationship with Treebeard is significant. So, I think Tolkien saw that there is a real positive, good element to being connected to your world, to knowing about your local environment – you know, the trees and the plants and the animals and the birds, and how it all works.
Q: Fantastic! I wish you huge success with the North American launch of your show.
DM: Oh thank you. Me too!
Q: I’m really excited to see some of the places that are way off the beaten path – as you described – because of the discovery of something new, that you don’t have every day in your life. Many people go through life in the drudgery of the same routine, without ever discovering new things; it is so uplifting, it will raise your consciousness of the world you’re in – and I applaud you on that.
DM: I appreciate that alot. And thanks for giving me your time. I think that, nowadays, it’s very hard to – not necessarily shock people – but to wake people up out of that feeling that they’re in; nothing is that interesting anymore, and nothing is that shocking, because they’ve seen everything on google, and they can access everything so quickly. And I think we’re losing that almost childlike enthusiasm about things that genuinely awesome. You know, we bandy around the word ‘awesome’ a lot – a hotdog is awesome, or my trousers are awesome or my shoes are awesome – but the natural world, the way that our planet works, the way that our universe slots into place so beautifully — that is genuinely awesome. And I’m hoping that if people watch the show, and they explore around, they’ll find things like a spider’s eye awesome; or that fact that a bumblebee can fly. Awesome.
Q: Thank you Dominic. We’ll see you on the show – BBC America, 10pm Eastern, 9pm Central, Tuesday – Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan.
DM: One episode a week for eight weeks – and then we’re in talks right now to do the second season… and I’ll bring Billy Boyd with me for the second season! [laughs] I don’t think we’d get much work done to be honest…
“I can avoid being seen if I wish; but to disappear entirely, that is a rare gift.”
-Strider to Frodo while at The Prancing Pony in Bree
Continuing the trend of fantastic mini-statues from The Lord of the Rings, the artists at Weta have created a great version of Strider. This is the third statue in a beautiful line, which includes Gandalf The Grey and Gollum. This version of Strider captures the character as we first meet him in Bree, sitting by himself, watching the comings and goings of those at The Prancing Pony.
The graphics on the front of the box for Strider have the same elegant look we’ve come to know from the collectibles Weta has created for The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings logo appears in the upper left hand corner, while a screen capture of Strider from The Fellowship of the Ring is in the upper right hand corner. In the center of the box you have a great picture of the piece itself, with the name of the collectible under the screen capture of Strider. On one side of the box there is a further picture of Strider, while the other contains multiple images of items that you can find on Weta’s website. The back of the box has one final image of Strider, with a bit more information on the collectible and the sculptor.
Sculptor Steven Saunders created the Gandalf in this line of statues, as well as the Gandalf from The Hobbit line of statues; so we’ve seen his skills in being able to deliver a great collectible. The likeness to Viggo Mortensen is really well done, especially for a small statue with a head that has to fit in a hood. The texture of the cloak in which Strider has concealed himself is astonishing, giving a real look of draped cloth. We also get a great little sculpted pipe, which we see Strider smoking as he surveys The Prancing Pony. The extraordinary detail of this statue is continued in the bench Strider is sitting on; the natural lines and markings of the wood are perfectly captured.
The paintwork on Strider is as good as the sculpting. The greens of Strider’s outfit match exactly what we saw on screen in Bree. The skin tone once again shows that Weta can get it done when it comes to making skin look very natural. One would expect the eyes on this statue, being small, to be an issue – but the painters did a fantastic job capturing Viggo’s eyes. Strider’s beard has the proper, worn look you would expect on a guy who lives out in the wild!
Strider costs $75 retail via Weta’s website, which is a steal for something as superb as this collectible. So do yourself a favor and hop over to Weta’s site and place your order now for a fantastic Strider statue!
Strider is an open edition. The specifications for Strider are as follows: 5.3″ x 4.3″ x 4.1″ (H x W x D) 13.5 cm x 11 cm x 10.5 cm
Welcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week. If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights. Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards. Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join in the fun!
This week on LOTR Movie board we’re discussing Aragorn’s American Accent. Did you notice it appearing and disappearing during his first scenes of FOTR? Or were you too caught up in the magic of it all, join us here and share your views.
Over in Off Topic, Ufthak shared this video from youtube, “Wizard Gandalf Style”, what more can I say? 😀
We’ll share more topics next week and hope you can join in on the conversation! Don’t forget, TheOneRing.net’s message boards have over 8,200 registered Tolkien fans, just like yourself. Let your voice be heard!
Forbes writer Geoff Loftus writes about ‘4 Leadership Lessons from Aragorn‘, saying leadership lessons can be gleaned from Aragorn’s actions throughout The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
For example, he compares Aragorn’s unwavering focus on the need to destroy The One Ring to Apple‘s never wavering focus on delivering a high-quality, well-designed customer experience with every product.
Tonight, the artisans from Weta released the latest statue in their mini-statue line. The character chosen to join the line-up, accompanying Gollum and Gandalf the Grey, is none other than the future King of Gondor, Strider. This adaptation of the character, features Strider as we first see him in Bree. This is the first time we’ve seen Strider captured in this pose and looks to be a must own The Lord of the Rings collectible. This statue will cost $75 and will be shipping sometime in September/October.
Apologies for the delay in this post; it took longer than expected to wrestle my thoughts into (hopefully!) coherent form! It’s not easy to craft a post – without writing an entire book (and this isn’t far off)! – which captures the essence of all that Viggo Mortensen had to say when he attended the Coolidge Award here in Boston. In this final part of the write-up, I wanted to try to capture Mortensen’s philosophy of life, as revealed through remarks he made during the various gatherings at the Coolidge Theatre. In the three sessions at the Coolidge – press Q&A, questions after the Eastern Promises screening, and the evening discussion with WBUR’s Robin Young – Mortensen was asked many questions, and his thoughtful way of looking at the world, (and at the art he wishes to create in that world), was revealed in the answers he gave.
Mortensen is often referred to as a ‘Renaissance man’, because of his seeming ability to turn his hand to all manner of talents. He has written poetry, exhibited photography and paintings, even composed music. He told the audience at the Coolidge, ‘I might like to try directing at some point.’ He is an excellent horseman and was praised by the late swordmaster Bob Anderson (in the Two Towers DVD extras) as being ‘the best swordsman I’ve ever trained’. On top of all that, he’s a rather good actor…. In spite of all this ability, Mortensen continues to be known as ‘No ego Viggo’; how is it that he stays so humble? And what drives him to try his hand in so many different fields?
On Monday 5th March The Coolidge Theatre in Boston honoured Viggo Mortensen with their Coolidge Award. (More information about the award, and the prestigious list of former winners, can be found here.)
The first event of the day was a press Q&A, which TheOneRing.net attended. There were about twenty reporters in the room, from publications ranging from student magazines to Boston newspapers, and the sound of cameras clicking was constant throughout the session. Mortensen was charming, easy-going and friendly; he began the session by commenting on the stage set up – ‘Nice flowers!’ – and ended, as reported here last week, with a teasing joke to the organisers.
When the floor was opened to questions, there was the usual hesitation whilst everyone wonders who will be brave and go first. A dragon is never afraid, so TORn’s own greendragon – ’tis I! – raised her hand. Of course I wanted to ask Mortensen something to do with Middle-earth! As you will recall, when the two Hobbit movies were first being discussed, there was talk of the second movie being a ‘bridge’ movie, telling the tale of events between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In a 2006 interview with Ain’t it cool News, Peter Jackson said that he hoped to include ‘Aragorn protecting The Shire. [I’d]… love to work with Viggo again.’ I asked Mortensen about this, and if he would like to have gone back to Middle-earth; he responded with some surprise, (‘Did he say that?!’) and said, ‘It sounds like a lot of fun but I never heard from Peter!’ He added that he loves to go back to the ‘beautiful country’ New Zealand when he can, and that he also is looking forward to seeing how The Hobbit will be adapted for the big screen.
It’s been just over a week and I’ve finally been able to gather my thoughts enough to bring you a full write-up of all the fun and games which happened at the Coolidge Theatre in Boston, when Viggo Mortensen came to town! We have three parts of TORn’s write-up to bring you, plus links to some wonderful footage from other sources. If you’re a Viggo fan, you’re in for a treat!
To begin with, on Sunday 4th March The Coolidge hosted a screening of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As fans know, it is always special when you get to see these films on the big screen, surrounded by fellow geeks; and there are few better cinemas for atmosphere than The Coolidge. It is an independent movie house which is everything a cinema should be – wonderful, knowledgeable staff, beautiful decor, comfy seats and wide-ranging programming. Whenever they can, the folks at The Coolidge show movies on 35mm film – they still have actual projectionists working away to bring you what you see on the big screen! (This meant that, whilst we saw the extended editions of Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers, Return of the King was the theatrical edition. The 35mm prints of the extended editions for the first two movies were made for ‘Trilogy Tuesday’ in 2003, when Return of the King was released; so there are no 35mm prints of the RotK EE in existence.)
Following the release of the blu-rays last December, we have started to get used to seeing these movies in crystal clear, vibrant hi-def. For me, however, the original prints have a richness and softness which is lacking in the sharpness of high-definition. 35mm offers a depth of vision, an almost golden or sepia warmth, which seems appropriate for Middle-earth. The Coolidge’s main theatre also has wonderful sound, so my seat vibrated as the balrog roared and I felt the need to cover my ears at the Witch King’s piercing shriek – perfect! The sold-out house of fans – almost 450 of us! – all seemed to enjoy revisiting these old friends as much as I did.
Wow. What a guy. You know, I’ve always admired Viggo Mortensen as an actor, and I do think he makes a wonderful Aragorn, but in terms of crushes I was always more of a Faramir sort of gal. Until now… Mortensen is charming, funny, humble, laid back, erudite, fascinating – oh, and did I mention, very handsome? During the various events at the Coolidge Theatre, Mortensen showed himself to be worthy of every bit of praise you’ve ever read about him. The internet is buzzing with excitement following his appearances in Boston; and here at TORn we’ll be bringing you a three-part report on all the fun. (This is a man who has A LOT to say!) Meanwhile, here’s a video of the moment when he actually received the award (the best I could get in a crowded room of excited folks!)
The excitement never stops – at any rate, not when Aragorn is in town! Today Viggo Mortensen was back at the Coolidge Theatre in Boston, and at a Q&A session following a screening of Eastern Promises, he decided that rather than just sing Aragorn’s coronation song, he would teach it to the packed theatre. So here’s your chance to sing along:
There is much more to tell and report – Mortensen is a fascinating speaker – and there’s another event this evening! Read all about it here at TORn – as soon as I can get it written up!
It’s all happening here in Boston! Yesterday the Coolidge Theatre hosted a trilogy screening, in honour of Viggo Mortensen – to whom they are today giving the Coolidge Award. It’s always fabulous to see the Lord of the Rings films on the big screen, and to enjoy them with an army of fellow fans. The 442 seat theatre was sold out – and everyone who secured a ticket was in for a treat indeed!
Jesse Hassinger and Mark Anastasio, the Program Manager and Program Coordinator at the Coolidge, welcomed us all before we settled in to watch Fellowship of the Ring. Between that and Two Towers, TORn staffer greendragon (that’s me!) had a chance to say hi to the crowd and to remind them all (as if we could forget!) that The Hobbit is coming! Then, just as we were settling again for Return of the King, Denise Kasell, the Coolidge’s Director, told us all that they had a ‘little surprise’ for us – and in walked the king himself, Viggo Mortensen! (More text after the video)
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