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.
To celebrate the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Australia on May 1st, Popcorn Taxi had a special showing of the film with a Q&A session with Richard Armitage. RingerSpy and long time message board member, Deleece Cook aka Elven, was lucky enough to attend and sent us the following report on the night.
Philippa Boyens. Photo: KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
At the New York Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Vulture spoke to Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson about the absence of Gandalf’s backstory from the film. In particular, they delved into why there’s no insight into why Gandalf assists the Dwarf company, and how he obtained the map and key of Thrain. Read on below the cut for some spoilery answers that hint at what we can anticipate for The Desolation of Smaug. (more…)Posted in Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, The Hobbit
Last week the filmmakers and cast of The Hobbit took over the Waldorf Astoria in New York to talk about the much-expected film. For your enjoyment, here is a selection of questions and answers from the conversation with Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri.[Portuguese Translation]
On casting Martin Freeman:
Peter Jackson: Martin was the only person we ever wanted for that role. And that was before we ever really met Martin – we knew him from “The Office” and “Hitchhikers Guide” and we just felt he had qualities that would be perfect for Bilbo. That essential kind of fussy, English, slightly repressed quality. He’s a dramatic actor, he’s not a comedian, but he’s a dramatic actor who has a very rare comedic skill.
… With the delays that happened, we couldn’t offer the role to anybody contractually. And by the time we were able to offer Martin the role, he had committed to the “Sherlock” TV series. And he shot the first season, but the second season of “Sherlock” was going to fall right into the middle of our shoot so he said “Listen, I can’t do it.” So we were in trouble. I was really panicking, we all were. … We literally couldn’t think of anyone else we thought would be as good as Martin.
I was having sleepless nights. We were probably about six weeks away from the beginning of the shoot and still hadn’t settled on anyone else. I was tormenting myself by watching “Sherlock” on an iPad at 4 o’clock in the morning. The second episode of the first season had just come out in iTunes and I downloaded it – because I love the show – and I was sitting there looking at Martin and thinking “there is nobody better, this is insane.” When I got up that morning I called Martin’s agent in London and I asked if we could find a way to accommodate Martin’s schedule would Martin be prepared to still come down to New Zealand to do Bilbo? And fortunately the answer was yes, he’d love that.
On the reasoning behind three movies:
Philippa: If we hadn’t made the “Lord of the Rings first, if this wasn’t set against that, this probably would have been a very different story. But we had. The Gandalf turning up in these films was the Gandalf portrayed in “Lord of the Rings,” but if we wanted to tell that part of Gandalf’s story, we got to bring in people as Saruman and the brilliant Cate Blanchett coming back as Galadriel.
So, as soon as we knew we would tell that part of the tale, what happens when Gandalf disappears – because we know what happens when Gandalf disappears because Professor Tolkien kept writing the Hobbit – and we made that decision to tell that part of the tale, you start to draw in that bigger mythology that this is set against.
Also, when we began to go in there… it’s so easy to forget the depth that is in the story telling and how dark this children’s book turns at the end. It doesn’t end with Smaug, when it should end, when any normal children’s story ends, and kids love it. I know I loved it when I read it, because it was unusual, it took you further.
There were strong elements of tragedy in there, revolving around a particular character, Thorin. They’re extraordinary and when you go into the appendices you realize how extraordinary and what has been placed on him.
It wasn’t hard to see what’s in there. One of the things that’s in there is greed. So as soon as you start taking on the notion of “how much wealth is too much wealth?” and “how much gold is too much gold? “ Something that is literally a sickness of the mind, a sickness of too much wealth.
The other thing is, you start to work with great actors, and great actors come to you because of the material. If you give them slight material you’re just not going to get them and we wanted to write for some of these incredible actors that we had.
On the lack of female characters in “The Hobbit”:
Philippa: You do feel the weight of it, the lack of feminine energy. And it’s interesting because Professor Tolkien actually wrote brilliantly for women. He had a real respect for women. The most powerful being in Middle Earth at this time as he wrote was Galadriel. And so, we have her story as it develops, as he wrote it. It informs “The Hobbit” – it’s actually quite powerful and it’s going to get good for the girls, I think.
On the addition of Galadriel and material from the appendices:
Peter: It goes back to the appendices. We can adapt “The Hobbit” and we can take these appendices, which appear in “Return of the King,” which has material I think he was developing as an expanded version of “The Hobbit.”
He wrote “The Hobbit” in 1937 and then the “Lord of the Rings” came out in the 1950s – which was supposedly supposed to be a sequel to “The Hobbit” but obviously developed and expanded into something much much more apocalyptic and the tone was different.
So I think he was intending to go back and revise “The Hobbit” or write a companion novel that was going to sort of tie it all together. He never did publish that book or even finish it, but a lot of the material his son published in the back of “Return of the King.”
So they talk about the White Council and the Necromancer, and she’s part of the White Council and they refer to the attack on Dol Guldur, and it’s that type of plot that we’re developing. So, it’s still part of the Tolkien myth.
On reality and fantasy films:
Peter: The levels of detail in the movie are similar to “Lord of the Rings.” With the high definition cameras you see more, so you may have the sense of more detail but fortunately the team that we have in New Zealand, WETA Workshop, who design a lot of the makeup and effects, and our wardrobe department, our art department – we’ve always wanted to put a lot of detail, and a lot of details that never get seen by the cameras.
To me, fantasy should be as real as possible. I don’t subscribe to the notion that because it’s fantastical it should be unrealistic. I think you have to have a sense of belief in the world that you’re going into, and the levels of detail are very important.
On why he originally chose not to direct, but then stepping back into role:
Peter: I guess I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it is the truth, because I thought I would be competing against myself to some degree ,and that it would be interesting to have another director. …. Guillermo Del Toro was involved for a while, for over a year probably, but after he left because of the delays, it was still another six months or so before we had a green light and during that length of time I just thought, well I am actually enjoying this a lot more.
I came to realize there’s a lot of charm and humor in “The Hobbit” that the “Lord of the Rings” didn’t have. And I thought that returning to Middle Earth with a entirely different story and a different tone – I thought “this is not the Lord of the Rings” and I’m not going to try to make another film that’s exactly like that. This gives me an opportunity to do something a little different. … and the first day of shooting I was incredibly happy I was there. It was a great deal of fun to shoot.
On added or expanded scenes:
Peter: Well, one expanded, the stone giants – that’s like a paragraph in the book when they’re going through the Misty Mountains and Tolkien refers to a thunderstorm created by this fight between giants. He doesn’t really dwell on it particularly, so those sorts of things were fun, a visual scene out of the book that we could develop and expand on. So, we did sort of expand it … the Goblin tunnels?
Philippa: I love Azog, Azog the Defiler. Because we just loved that name and he is a character that we just loved that back story and thought we can’t have him be dead, we’re going to keep him alive. So we enjoyed that… bringing him back. And I think we do that quite powerfully, he’s got a good journey to go on.
On making connections between “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”
Peter: This is what made the film enjoyable for me, being able to connect little pieces from “Lord of the Rings” to “The Hobbit.” There was a scene in the “Fellowship of the Ring” when they’re stuck in the crossroads in Moria, and there’s a quiet moment between Gandalf and Frodo… and he’s talking about the events in “The Hobbit,” that the pity of Bilbo rules the fate of us all. Meaning that Bilbo had a chance to kill Gollum but he didn’t. And the fact that he didn’t is now directing the story, it’s now created the story of the “Lord of the Rings” – for good or for bad. So it was really interesting to twelve years after we shot that scene originally to come back and actually show the moment where Bilbo stays his hand.
And also, the reason why he doesn’t kill Gollum at that stage when he’s got the opportunity, when he’s invisible and standing over Gollum … and Gandalf had said to him that true courage is deciding when not to kill rather than to kill.
So, completing those little loops and circles was one of the really interesting things whilst you’re dealing with a different story, a different tone. And if we had shot the films in a different order, we might not have been able to do that as effectively. Because really, once these movies are done and have had their theatrical life, we’re really looking at a six movie set – which is the way it will exist from that point on. And so I’m very conscious and wanting to make it feel like an organic story with synergy.
It wouldn’t have been that easy if we’d shot “The Hobbit” first, because it is such a different tone of a book. We might have just leapt into that much more fairy-tale tone, which would have made the “Lord of the Rings” a much more difficult adaptation in a way, because it would have been hard for the two to talk to each other.
On the shift in Thorin’s character from bombastic to warrior, and the casting of Richard Armitage:
Philippa: That’s really simple actually. When we were writing it we understood – writing backwards – how much the audience needs to care about this character. In a way it’s almost his story – a lot of it is his story. When we were tackling this character – because he’s much older in the book – it becomes very hard to invest in a character that you want to reclaim a homeland and rebuild a city when he’s in his eighties.
So when we were looking, when we began the casting process, we were looking between 45, 55. Someone who had life left in him, who could be that heroic character, who could be a great fighter. Again, harder to do with a character who, as Professor Tolkien wrote him, was an old warrior.
So we made that decision that we were going to go younger, and then from that point in terms of Richard Armitage, he was the youngest actor to audition for that role. It had nothing to do with the fact that he is gorgeous (laughs), it had to do with the fact that he did a phenomenal audition and the notion that you had this dark conflicted character, but was also quite grunty, Northern, English – like a dwarf. Strangely enough, he’s six foot four, but he’s still a dwarf. He had that whole thing of being miner, of that grittiness, gruntiness, but who probably plays a good game of rugby, which felt as Professor Tolkien described the dwarves.
On 3D and the approach to visual effects and directing
Peter: It didn’t change my style of directing, I didn’t want it to. And that was the beauty. I didn’t want to convert it, we wanted to shoot it in 3D. I think that is much more realistic. Fortunately we had great support from the companies who worked with us (on the cameras and rigs) and they made the equipment as light and as small as they possibly could. The rigs were originally made in steel, yet they made them for us out of carbon fiber so that we could put them on steady cams and use hand held cameras. Because I really wanted to be the same filmmaker going back into Middle Earth. I didn’t want to, because it was 3D, to shoot it in a different style.
I don’t believe in the concept that 3D should be shot differently. Every director has his own style, sure, but I don’t think that any of that is an issue with 3D. For me it was important to not even worry about 3D and I didn’t, I didn’t even think about it half the time. I was just directing as I would normally do and the cameras could do what they normally do. For me it was a comfortable experience.
Joe: There’s one case where it did matter, though. Back with the “Lord of the Rings,” we could do force-perspective tricks – bring Gandalf closer to the camera and put Frodo farther away, and one could look bigger and one could look smaller. When you put the glasses on you realize how far apart they are, that trick no longer works.
So we came up with this idea – especially because we wanted to keep the cameras moving – to actually synchronize two cameras together on two separate stages. So Gandalf was on one stage, the dwarves on another stage and Peter can see them both in his monitor together and direct both of them. But they both had to keep in their heads where the other virtual person was going to be that was wandering through Bag End.
You’ll see in the film, if you haven’t seen already, that there’s a minute-long shot of them walking through each other and handing things off – that was all done by the actors for the large part, just having to keep in their heads where each other was in this very cool space.
On converting “Lord of the Rings” to 3D
Peter: It’s not really a question for me because it’s a studio issue because they would have to pay for it and it’s expensive. So, I’d be happy to do it if they decide, but that’s really a marketplace thing. I think the whole idea of dimensioning older films is something that the studios are still unsure of. I know that Jim did it on “Titanic’ and it was very successful, and then George Lucas did it with “Star Wars” and it was not so successful financially.
So, I think the studios are not quite sure at the moment where that market is going to finally land. I guess as time goes on and 3D establishes itself more in people’s homes and the cost of conversion comes down, I think things have to move on but at the moment it’s not being discussed.
How did Peter Jackson turn one small book into another massive film trilogy? Simple: all it took was some imagination and a bit of help from the author of The Hobbit himself.
The director has taken heat for turning what was intended to be a two-part prequel to his Lord of the Rings series into a three-part saga, especially given that the first Hobbit film clocks in at nearly three hours. Unlike the LOTR books, The Hobbit is a thin volume written for children, leading some to accuse him of stretching out narrative and milking the franchise. Instead, Jackson contends that the brevity of the book actually helped make it possible.
“The book is written in a very brisk pace, so pretty major events in the story are covered in only two or three pages,” Jackson told reporters on Wednesday. “So once you start to develop the scenes and plus you wanted to do a little bit more character development, plus the fact that we could also adapt the appendices of Return of the King, which is 100-odd pages of material that sort of takes place around the time of The Hobbit, so we wanted to expand the story of The Hobbit a little bit more, as did Tolkien himself. So all those factors combined gave us the material to do it.”
The appendices, which were tacked onto the final book of the Lord of the Rings series, fill in many blanks that were left in The Hobbit, which co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens pointed out.
“If we hadn’t done The Lord of the Rings, we wouldn’t have had done this. But we did,” she said. “We know where Gandalf was. So as soon as we knew we were going to that part of the tale, what happens in those years, because we knows what happens because Tolkien kept writing, you start to draw in and make a mythology.”
Series newcomer Richard Armitage, who plays the lead dwarf Thorin, chalked it up to the entire saga’s deep subtext.
Courtesy of Warner Bros Belgium, here is an amazing 13-minute look into The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It features behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and many, many other key cast and crew members where they discuss the inspiration for, and direction of, the story the first film reveals. Plus there’s plenty of new, previously unseen (at least by me!) sneak previews of what you’ll see on the big screen! So I guess I’ll add: spoilers! (more…)
Fans of the Lord of the Rings film know that of the three screenwriters, Fran Walsh is the one who avoids interviews and other sorts of publicity. When I was doing my research for The Frodo Franchise, I managed to talk with Peter and Philippa, but not Fran, who sent word that she was too wrapped up in working on King Kong to think back to her previous project. Fair enough, as Bilbo says in agreeing to a certain riddling game. Still, fans of the trilogy can’t help but be intrigued by this talented lady. After all, she not only helped write the LOTR scripts, but she did some directing and came up with the idea for the famous “Gollum talks to himself” scene.
But yesterday the New York Times published a substantial piece on Ms Walsh, written by Brooks Barnes, who is obviously a lucky fellow. Last summer, he says, he “largely roamed without supervision” during a two-day visit to the Hobbit set–spotting, among other things, Ian McKellen in full Gandalf mode catching a snooze between scenes.
Even so, his eventual interview with Fran had to be done via long-distance telephone. Philippa chimed in as well, which makes sense, given how closely these two collaborate on the scripts. Very closely, in fact, since they reveal that they often work in bed together in their pajamas, surrounded by dogs! (When I interviewed Philippa, she was living next door to Fran and Peter, and I suppose she still does.) It saves the trouble of commuting the short distance to the Miramar filmmaking facilities.
Ringer Mr BBi managed to record cast interviews from yesterday off the satellite for channels 7 & 9 in Australia. Cast members interviewed include Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Sir Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens. Most of the interviews are a respectable 4-5 minutes each. Check them out!
Philippa Boyens. Photo: KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
Wellington’s Philippa Boyens is one of the most successful screenwriters in the world. She’s won an Oscar, a Bafta and has been a nominee for many more, including a Writers Guild of America Award.
Boyens owes much of this to her screenwriting debut with Sir Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. She went on to co-write King Kong and The Lovely Bones with Jackson and Fran Walsh, as well as co-produce both films.
So with the fruits of her most recent labour, the US$500 million trilogy The Hobbit, soon to be revealed to the world with the release in December of An Unexpected Journey, we’d be forgiven for assuming Boyens was keen from the very beginning to return to Middle-earth.
When asked, there’s a long pause before she answers. “I loved the world. I loved [JRR] Tolkien’s writing. [But] I think there was a quality about myself where I felt like ‘I’d done it’,” she says while in Wellington.
Australians Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Barry Humphries will all attend the world premiere of the first Hobbit movie in New Zealand next week.
Warner Bros. has announced the stars who will attend the first screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in Wellington.
Filmmakers Sir Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens will also be joined by Martin Freeman, who plays the central role of Bilbo Baggins; Richard Armitage, who stars as the dwarf warrior Thorin Oakenshield; Andy Serkis who plays Gollum and Elijah Wood who plays Frodo Baggins.
There may be a nearly 10-metre statue of Gandalf the Grey above Wellington’s Embassy Theatre, but the actor who plays the character, Sir Ian McKellen, won’t be there to see it for himself.
McKellen said he was sorry he could not attend. “I know they (the cast) will have a wonderful welcome from the fans and I envy them. As ever, my heart is in Wellington, and I send my love.”
Seventeen years have passed since Peter Jackson approached Miramax about bringing one of his favorite JRR Tolkien tales The Hobbit to the big screen.
Speaking to the Dominion Post‘s Lenna Tailor Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens speculate that the delay, during which they went on to shoot three wildly successful movies based on Tolkien Lord of the Rings, might have been for the best.
Jackson: “I remember in 1995 I made the first call to [Miramax's] Harvey Weinstein and said we were interested in doing The Hobbit. The idea was, if it was successful, we would do Lord of the Rings. But Harvey said the rights were in a very complicated state — however, Lord of the Rings was potentially available. It’s strange how that call 17 years ago was the beginning of this whole process.”
“It was fate that we did Lord of the Rings first because it has made for a better Hobbit,” adds writer-producer Philippa Boyens. “It would’ve been a very different film if we’d gone the other way around. Maybe fate was also waiting for Martin [Freeman] to play Bilbo at exactly the right time and age.”
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