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Posted in Barliman News, Barlimans, Cannes 2001, Casting Rumors, ComicCon, Conventions, Costuming, Crew News, Director Rumors, DragonCon, Events, Fans, Fellowship of the Ring, Film Screenings, Green Books, Hall of Fire, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lectures & Education, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Cast News, LotR Movies, Make the Hobbit Happen, Meet Ups, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, MrCere in New Zealand, New Zealand, Old Cannes News, Old ComicCon News, Old DragonCon News, Old Main News, Old Oscar Party News, Old Spy Reports, Original TORn, Oscar Parties, Other Events, Other Merchandise, Other Tolkien books, Peter Jackson, PJ New Line, PJ's Other Films, Production, Return of the King, Rumors Spy News, Rumours Spy News, Studios, The Hobbit, The Two Towers, Tolkien, Tolkien Reading Day, Trailer, Wellington
If you missed the first part of my Dream, read it here:
I DREAMT OF MIDDLE-EARTH – PART II DREAMT OF MIDDLE-EARTH – PART II
But before I begin, there are some things to note about this latest description. The invitation for the party specifically said this was a time of merrymaking and not business. With this in mind, everything I heard and spoke about was off record with the cast and crew. Yes, yes, I know, it would be nice to report the funny quirks and raunchy behavior, but I’m sworn to my oath. And heck, I’m protected by the ‘off the record’ requirement. I mean, geeze, would you really want to hear about Calisuri getting so wasted he dove head first into the pool in a vain attempt to board Galadriel’s boat? Nah… I didn’t think so…
The dream continues. Myself, Amy, Maurice and Leo just finished talking to Bilbo and decided to move into the courtyard. (By the way, I have no idea why Leo and Maurice are in this dream with me. Maybe it’s because they are both about 6 foot 7 inches tall and I looked like I needed body guards or something!)
The crowd in the courtyard seems to represent all the races of Middle-earth. Hobbits are pushing through legs to get to the bar; soldiers are walking around carrying mugs of ale. I pushed through some Gondorian soldiers and found myself standing in front of Claire Raskind, the publicist for Peter Jackson. I ran into Claire earlier in the week when I passed along a hat as a present for Peter. Claire was kind of enough to deliver the present, and express Peter’s appreciation for the gift. We toasted the success of the party and the success of the footage screened days earlier. As the conversation turned to footage discussion, a member of the Middle-earth media asked me for a quote. Boy, am I bad under pressure! I think I said something like, “Peter Jackson shares the same vision as fans of Lord of the Rings. We have nothing to worry about.” Gosh, I might have even made it sound better then what I really said. But anyway, we talked for a few minutes and moved on.
The party seemed to swell every minute as more and more guests arrived in Middle-earth. When we finally squeezed our way down the cobblestone path, there were so many faces that it was hard to make out the Frodos and Sarumans of this world. The media overwhelmed the area—name a big city in the world and they had a reporter there. At one point, I ran into that sly-looking Steve Kmetko guy from E! News Daily. He was hanging near Rivendell/Lothlorien, possibly trying to get a good shot of Galadriel’s boat. Anyway, he seemed rather surprised that a web designer like myself would be so forward as to give him a card! But if they want the real scoop on LOTR, who else but TheOneRing.net to contact?
We walked back towards the chateau and noticed the party had really picked up near the stage. Orcs, hobbits, elves and men were dancing wildly to French versions of “Oh What a Night” and the latest Latin offerings. In the back of the crowd, you could see the flicker of candles as a huge cakes floated towards the front. The band began to play a rather strange/disturbing version of Happy Birthday, and Bilbo’s cake appeared before us. The cake was HUGE: 111 candles and 3 monstrous layers. We all cheered wildly and toasted our favorite hobbit.
I was slightly disappointed there were no fireworks, but Gandalf was nowhere to be seen. I almost half-expected Bilbo to give a speech and then poof! disappear. No such luck. The only thing that disappeared was Leo and Maurice.
After wishing Bilbo our best, we migrated to the back of the crowd and found ourselves standing next to Richard Taylor, the head of WETA Digital! Richard is one of the more honest, inspirational and happy people I have ever met in my life. His passion for his trade and his genuine affection for the efforts of fans like us was encouraging and well received.
While I know this is just a dream, I was disturbed by Richard’s proud display of support for the Dark Lord Sauron! He wore an Eye of Sauron pin on his chest. To think that Sauron’s servants were at this party and disguised as such wonderful people as Mr. Taylor shook me up a bit. Apparently, a lot of people where wearing these pins! Even Tania Rodger, from WETA, had a pin on! Sauron must have had his hands on the entire WETA staff! How else could they create such mastery?
Mr. Taylor offered me an Eye himself. I didn’t want to give myself away, nor did I want to show fear. I accepted the gift and Amy and I walked slowly away.
Just as we were backing off, John Howe showed up again… he had a pin too! EEK!! Run away!!!
We made our way towards the hobbit holes and Bag End. Sitting on a picnic bench talking with some fans was none other then fellow webmaster Harry Knowles from AintitCool.com. I didn’t notice Harry wearing one of these ‘Eye’ pins, so I figured it was safe to say hi. He was also very well dressed. I only met him a few days earlier and I have a feeling that seeing him in a suit was probably pretty unique. A lot of people were flocking to talk to Harry, so we casually made our way towards the Trolls that had been turned to stone.
There were quite a few famous faces hanging around these infamous landmarks from The Hobbit. We spotted Arwen talking casually with a group of important people from Middle-earth’s entertainment business. Like a streak of light, we caught a quick glimpse of Frodo as he bolted by to meet up with Samwise.
However, in this whole crowd, all eyes seem to be focusing on someone in the center. Amy and I pushed our way through the mass to discover just what attracted so much attention. And then, there he was: Peter Jackson. Peter, or should we call him the sculptor of Middle-earth, was beaming as hundreds of people complimented him on his wonderful accomplishment.
He was very approachable as Amy and I introduced ourselves. I guess actually meeting and talking with Peter Jackson in real life, the day before, brought on this part of my dream. We drank a bit, chatting mostly about the footage. Obviously we complimented his mastery in capturing Tolkien’s vision on screen. Everything people say about this man is true. He is grounded. Really and honestly grounded. When you talk to him, he doesn’t act like someone who just spent a small fortune making what will become the largest movie franchise of all time. He acts like a friend you’ve just met in a pub and decided to drink with.
The dream gets a bit hazy at this point. I know we met a lot of other people involved with the Lord of the Rings, and talked a lot about the beautiful footage.
I can really only remember one person specifically. Amy, Maurice and I were standing talking to someone about the prospects of the Lord of the Rings DVD and what will be on it. I remember the words, ‘ground breaking’, ‘extra footage’, ’2 discs,’ ‘summer after the film’ and not much else. You see, I was on my third glass of wine at this point. Could that be why I’m hazy? Specifics are beginning to fade.
One of the biggest highlights of this dream was getting a chance to speak with Gimli and his crew. I think we spent a good hour talking with his wife, Deborah. It was very encouraging to meet someone so honest and ‘real’ in this setting. We chatted a bit about Gimli’s challenges and toils, living in Middle-earth and my second favorite subject, Apple computers! (They have computers in Middle-earth I guess…) I think I was able to provide some quality technical support, but we shall see.
Gimli’s manager (who knew dwarves had managers?!) was also very down to earth and personable. Louisa Springs came up to me during our interviews on Saturday and introduced herself. She was one of a very few ‘talent’ managers to do that. It made my day. In a place where you are next to the Rivendell Times Movie Critic and other such bigwig reporters, it’s nice to have someone recognize you and also recognize the importance of fans.
We talked with Louisa and Deborah a bit more and finally sat down with Gimli. The best thing about Gimli? He treated us like real people. While he is quite a stubborn dwarf, it is tons of fun to talk with him. At one point, he insisted that the Lord of the Rings was about the journey of a dwarf, and that’s it! And after meeting him in person, I believe it! This character was one you don’t argue with.
At this point a rumor is going around that gifts are being given out at Bilbo’s Birthday party. Woo! I bolt to find them. As I’m dragging Amy, Maurice and Leo behind me, we run into Pippin Took!
Pippin is absolutely wonderful! Yet another inhabitant of Middle-earth that has wonderful manners and greets you with the most sincere friendship. Unfortunately, our time was short. The transportation that brought to Middle-earth was leaving VERY shortly, and we didn’t get to speak much. I did get a chance to exchange a cigarette (borrowed from some other person wearing an ‘Eye’) for a signature!
The dream starts to fade now. People are slowly disappearing and the crowd is noticeably smaller.
As I look back on the dream, I think Louisa Springs (Gimli’s manager) sums it up quite well.
“The whole party invoked the spirit of LOTR. More than anything else could have done.”
Here, here, Louisa!
So the ships arrive. Great big ships with soft cushy seating and a short hobbitish man at the helm. We all walk up the ramps to leave this wonderful place, and board what looks like a ship back to the real world. The sadness hasn’t hit yet, but I’m sure it will.
As we pull away from the shore, we look back and catch a glimpse of this wonderful world. Maybe someday we can return.
The alarm goes off, and here I am, in a hotel in Nice. Its noon and I strangely still feel tired. What did I do last night? All I can think of is this wonderful dream and I’m overcome by a deep and utter sadness—the same sadness we all get at the end of LOTR. When the ships for the Grey Havens leave. When the drama, the quest, the story end. We want more, but we know there is no more.
My heart hurts. I almost have a tough time breathing from the sorrow.
But it was only a dream!
I look to my left and there is a black bag sitting next to the nightstand. I pull the strings to open it and find a horde of treasure. A replica of Sting! A pipe with some pipeweed. A special edition of LOTR and a poster!
I hurriedly ring Amy.
“Where were we last night??” I ask.
“I’m having a good dream. Go back to sleep,” she replies.
The medallion under my pillow goes unnoticed.
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Premieres
Now that I’m not paying .15¢ a minute to access the web, I figured it was a good time to write about the Cannes footage in great detail. I have to emphasis however, that I watched the footage, and didn’t get to transcribe the dialogue, etc. I’m sure you all would have done the same after you saw what I saw. I don’t think its possible to write while viewing this stuff. It was that mind-blowing. And heck, I’m a fan! I’m not a professional reporter or anything! We’ll leave the real in-depth reporting for those big news agencies that seem to always get things wrong when it comes to Lord of the Rings! Heh! So, here we go.
(NOTE: A huge thanks to our community member Rolozo Tolkien for having a lot of images available online to reference!)
———-In Depth Description of the Footage:So here I am. Peter Jackson just finished speaking and introducing the footage. Leo
are to my left, and Harry
are to my right. I’m ready to be wowed. I’m ready to have the realization of a dream come to life in front of my eyes. By the end of it all, I’m not disappointed.
The first few clips are of a very old and tired looking Gandalf, riding a cart through what is obviously Hobbiton. He rides by the beautiful and innocent landscape of the hobbits. At first I thought I saw Frodo was in the cart with him, but the clips were cut in a way to show him heading towards Bag End. And yes, Bag End is Bag End. It is EXACTLY the Bag End that we have seen from John Howe and Alan Lee. I think this is one of the greatest aspects of the footage and the entire project. Through my discussion with Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor, you really get a sense that both Lee and Howe were the visionaries behind the creation of Middle-earth. And since these two artists, I think, exemplify what Middle-earth should look like, we as fans should be beaming with excitement. After each paragraph, I will be providing links to images that display what I mean. Some are official images and some are Howe or Lee paintings. [Official Image of Gandalf on Cart] [Howe's Hobbiton] [Lee's Bag End] [LA Time's Image of Bag End]
So here we have Gandalf, a very tall and imposing figure approaching Bag End and knocking on the door with the bottom of his staff. It was easier for him to tap the door with the bottom of his staff then to lean over and knock with the top of his staff. The staff is gorgeous. We got to see it at the party on Sunday in more detail. The best way I can describe it is a gnarly stick with roots extending from its knobbish, circular top. There are a few pictures online already that show the staff.[Gandalf's Staff]
Bilbo is perfect. That is the really scary thing about this footage. (I will probably emphasis this throughout this report, but honestly, its true!) Everything is exactly how I imagined it when I first read the books so many years ago. Ian Holm is honestly Bilbo. Even when we met him at the party on Sunday night, and he was out of costume, he still…was Bilbo. Oh and the feet, you honestly did not notice them anymore than you’d notice someone’s shoes on TV. Of course people who don’t know about Hobbits will probably notice them initially, but they are easily accepted as real. [Official Image of Bilbo]
To be honest, I was WAY too into viewing the clip, so I didn’t get to transcribe the dialogue! I repeat, I am a fan like you! Not a reporter! But I do remember it being very close to the book and maybe in fact verbatim. Bilbo calls from within Bag End for his visitor to go away. When he does open the door, they hug like two old friends and Gandalf says, “You haven’t aged a day.”[Lee's Gandalf at Bag End]
After Gandalf leans down dramatically to enter Bag End, Bilbo runs off to get him some tea. Gandalf attempts to straighten out, just a bit, and hits his head on a chandelier hanging from the center of the main hall. Reacting to this, he turns his head quickly to enter another room and ends up hitting his head on a banister. For our first look at the size difference between Men and Hobbits, this was perfectly played out. [Official Image of Inside Bag End]
Gandalf moves into another room where he sees a disorganized pile of old papers on a table, and among them, the map from the Hobbit! We get a close up glimpse of the map. For fans like us, this is really very cool to acknowledge the Hobbit in this way. While Gandalf is walking around the hobbit hole, we see Bilbo running here and there in the background. [Rendering of Bilbo's desk with Map]
We then cut to Bilbo’s Birthday party. We get a chance to see a bunch off hobbits partying and some really nice introductory shots of Frodo. He looks VERY young in these shots. Peter Jackson did a great job really building up the innocence of Hobbiton with this sequence. I’m sure by the end of the movie will we see a much more aged and disheveled Frodo in a sharp contrast to what we see now. There was one part of this clip that disturbed me. And I’m going to write it off to the CG not being completed. But I’m honestly surprised that no one else reported this. The fireworks look very computer generated. One shot showed a few hobbit children letting one off and it swoops over their heads towards the camera. The heads of the firework trailers formed some kind of shape, but I couldn’t make out. Maybe stars. But I do remember thinking it was pretty fake looking. Don’t get me wrong folks, I’m only trying to be honest here. I loved the footage, just saw a few flaws, which surely will be fixed up.[Official Image of Party I ] [Official Image of Party II ] [Official Image of Party III]
In the same scene we have the shot of Bilbo giving the end of his farewell speech. While its not exactly verbatim, it has the same effect. He puts on the ring and disappears. No special tricks or affects here. He just disappears. And it’s completely believable. Perfectly executed in my opinion. The image I list next is an exact shot from what we saw. [Bilbo at the Party]
We next hear Gandalf requesting that Bilbo leave the ring, a quick shot of Bilbo’s disgruntled face, and then the ring falling to the floor. We then watch as Bilbo walks off into the night. The next series of shots show the ring being forged. Pretty cool stuff. Gandalf is saying the Ring poem and we cut to a clip of Frodo who has obviously just learned of the Ring’s true power. He doesn’t seem too upset, until he asks Gandalf if Sauron knows the ring is in the Shire. Gandalf doesn’t have to answer; the look on his face and Frodo’s reaction says it all. This was yet another beautifully shot sequence.
The next shots were meant to build up the intensity, and succeeded in doing so. We see the hobbits under a tree (refer to image below), but this time, there is a Nazgul crouching over the tree roots smelling out the hobbits. (refer to the official .pdf file, page 5) We see the attack at weathertop with Aragorn defending the Hobbits. There is a shot of Strider, in the corner of the Prancing Pony. This shot was perfect. It was almost like Peter had taken that image out of my head and transcribed it to screen. Honestly folks, this is really scary how the man was able to reproduce our imagination. Its also a testament to Tolkien’s genius in providing us all with a descriptive text that we all could create a similar vision in our head. Aragorn/Strider looks very suspicious with his cloak hanging over his face, and we hear Sam telling that to Frodo. We’ve seen an image of this online before, and it works wonderfully on the screen.[Official Image of Hobbits under that Tree] [Official Image of Strider]
The next shot is of Gandalf and Saruman talking. Saruman is sitting on a throne in Orthanc, and Gandalf is directly in the front of the frame. I’ve linked to an image from the same scene, but it must be after Gandalf upsets Saruman. We also have a quick clip of Arwen being chased down by the Nazgûl as she races towards the ford. As a side note, when we interviewed Liv, she did imply that the scene leading up to the flight might be slightly different from the books and involve some kind of ‘fight.’ What that is all about, we’ll have to get back to you on. [Official Trailer Gandalf and Saruman] [Official Image of Saruman]
The next series of shots are of Rivendell and Lothlorien. We skip between shots of the Galadriel mirror scene and the Council of Elrond.
The Council is very impressive. (refer to the official .pdf file, page 16) The tension and emotion of the scene really does come through. Boromir, specifically looks extremely concerned. Now, you might say, “Of course he does!” But honestly, this sequence really shows you how well the movie is cast and filmed. Sean Bean is a quality actor and plays Boromir’s part beautifully, even if it’s just his facial expressions. The rest of the cast holds their own too, with some wonderful close-ups on Frodo, Elrond and Gandalf. We actually get to see the forming of the Fellowship and watch as Merry and Pippin burst into the council insisting on accompanying Frodo. Elrond says (maybe not verbatim), “Nine walkers to combat the nine riders.” [Council Image 1] [Council Image II] [Frodo at the Council]
Galadriel speaks to Frodo of the loneliness in bearing the ring and the great responsibility involved. We get the sense that Frodo has seen the scouring of the shire in the mirror and Galadriel is reassuring him. Once again, the acting is wonderful. I hope I’m not being too repetitive, but the emotion of all these scenes really comes through in the unspoken drama and the quality of the acting. The best examples of this will come later in the shots from The Two Towers and The Return of the King. [Official Image of Galdriel and Frodo] [Galadriel Image from Calendar] [Galadriel and Frodo at the Mirror]
We next see the walking over Caradhras sequence from the teaser trailer. However, we don’t watch the entire Fellowship cross the screen. Instead, we cut to a close-up of the Fellowship on the mountain and zoom out to show the landscape and beauty of the scene. We next see them standing before the infamous doors of Durin; the gates of Moria. The doors are open, and the Fellowship walks into complete darkness. This is the great transition into the second part of the footage: The Mines of Moria. (Oh yeah, and we don’t see the watcher in the water, but its definitely in the film)[The Fellowship Walks Over Caradhras] [Image of Moria Gates]
This part of the footage was 14 minutes of pure film. While PJ later told us that while it was not the complete scene, the majority of it was there.
The Fellowship enters a great cavernous hall. Imagine a room with a ceiling about 10 stories up. Even after Gandalf uses his staff to light the way, you cannot see the end of this huge hall. Pillars are numerous and everywhere in evenly spaced columns across the room. Seeing the Fellowship walking together in this kind of setting was absolutely amazing. Once again, Peter and his team have tapped into the minds of Tolkien fans worldwide to create this vision. As evidence, this is exactly like the Alan Lee’s rendering. [Halls of Moria - Alan Lee]
As they walk through this huge cavern and Gimli notices a chamber off to the side. He runs into the room and falls to his knees before a tomb. The room is littered with Dwarf skeletons.
The rest of the Fellowship walks into the room, lead by Gandalf. Gandalf wipes away some dust on top of the tomb and reads the name of Balin. While looking around the room, Gandalf finds the diary and begins to read from its pages. The entire Fellowship is listening intently as he reads of the last days of Balin and the terror that befell them. We see Pippin backing up slowly towards a well. He is listening to what Gandalf is saying and really not paying attention to where he is going. Just as Gandalf reaches the words he cannot read, Pippin bumps into the well on which a Dwarf skeleton is seated. The skeleton’s head falls backwards down the well making a lot of noise. But the head is not all. Soon the body and some chains follow. The noise is immense. I found myself wanting to laugh, but then I had knowledge that the non-Tolkien fan did not – that this accident by Pippin was going to bring about dire consequences. [Official Image - Boromir, Legolas, Aragorn in Tomb] [Official Image - Merry, Pippin, Gimli in Tomb]
The Fellowship looks around in utter disbelief of what happened. Gandalf storms over to Pippin. “Fool of a Took,” he reprimands. Just as he begins to turn around, a scream is heard. A quick cut to Frodo as he draws Sting and it glows blue. Boromir rushes through the open door and stares into the hall. A slew of arrows just misses his head and he runs back in. Boromir, Legolas and Aragorn rush to close the door, jamming it with axes and other items found on the floor. Gimli stands on top of Balin’s tomb and faces the door. The rest of the Fellowship surrounds the tomb and gets ready to do battle as they stare at the door and listen to the sound of footsteps getting closer. [Sting Replica]
Legolas and Aragorn are at the front. Each has a bow and an arrow ready to fly.
Then it starts. Pieces of the door start to fly off as orcs attempt to bash down the entrance. One axe breaks through and creates a hole wide enough for Legolas to loose an arrow. The arrow hits its mark and we hear a squeal of pain. Another hole opens in the door, and Aragorn follows suit with an arrow. Then the door breaks from its hinges and orcs rush the room. Aragorn, Legolas, Boromir, Gandalf and Gimli charge into battle. The four hobbits hover behind the tomb. Aragorn beheads an orc, as Legolas looses a bunch of arrows, each hitting their mark. The hobbits, having initially hesitated at their first taste of real battle, charge head-first into the fray. [Official Image - Legolas aims]
Then the Cave Troll blasts into the room.
I personally have never seen anything like this on the big screen. The Cave Troll is not made of rocks or stone or anything like that. It almost looks like you could squeeze and have your hands slide right off. It has a dull grey thick skin and a huge bulbous head with eyes very spread apart. (refer to the images below) The beast is so big and powerful you immediately realize that there is no way the Fellowship can beat this thing. It’s just that unstoppable. It initially uses a huge hammer to attack. Huge chunks of floor are dislodged as he swings and misses. Legolas leaps up on to a higher ledge and fires arrows into the beast to draw its attention. The troll then grabs a chain and uses it as a whip. Legolas is too fast. Aragorn attempts to attack it and is tossed across the room. The others are still engaged with some orcs. [Preview Trailer - Cave Troll I] [Preview Trailer - Cave Troll II] [Preview Trailer - Cave Troll Face]
We then cut to a shot of Frodo hiding behind a pillar. He is sliding along the circumference as the Troll is searching for him. It’s almost like the classic cat and mouse game. As Frodo slides to the right, the Troll peers to the left and sees nothing. As the Troll peers to the right, Frodo has slid to the left. Then Frodo begins to slide back to the right and without warning the troll catches onto his game. That big bulbous head suddenly appears in front of Frodo and we all jump out of our seats. Frodo stumbles back and begins a feeble attempt to escape the Troll’s attacks. Aragorn at one point runs to Frodo’s defense, only to be knocked out of contention as he is tossed away. The Troll picks up a huge pole and slams it into Frodo. The camera is set up so that it looks like Frodo takes a direct hit in the chest. Everything slows down as Frodo reels in pain and in astonished disbelief. The entire Fellowship looks at what has just happened and scream in agony. Even the Troll has a look of surprise at the affect of what he’s done. Frodo slumps to the floor. Merry and Pippin scream madly and jump on the Troll’s back, stabbing frantically with vengeance. Aragorn picks up the pole and sticks it under the Troll’s upper right rib cage. As the Cave Troll screams in anger, at yet another small nuisance wound in his side, he opens his mouth just enough for Legolas to skillfully shoot an arrow directly into his upper palette. The assumption is that the arrow reaches his brain and kills him. The Troll falls to the crowd with a dramatic thud.
Aragorn rushes to Frodo’s side. He says something about how the pole could have skewered a boar as Frodo begins to stir. Gandalf suggests they look under his shirt, and the mithril is revealed. Gimli stares in awe. Another scream is heard and Gandalf gives the order to flee to the bridge.
The entire Fellowship runs through the doors and into the hall. As they sprint through the cavern thousands of orcs start to amass on their heels. Orcs are coming from everywhere. Even from the ceiling as the climb down, spider man-like on the pillars. Eventually, the Fellowship has no where to go. They are trapped in the middle of the hall with tens of thousands of orcs surrounding them. We get a few great close-ups of the orcs in this scene. One had really cool yellowish cat eyes. It almost seemed like the orcs were taunting them before going in for the final kill. [Preview Trailer - An Orc]
Just as it looks like all is lost, the sound system (specially brought in by PJ) rumbles. Imagine that Jurassic Park T-Rex effect, but 20x better. The orcs begin to look at each other worriedly. The rumble gets louder. The orcs start to panic and begin to flee. Gimli laughs with temporary pride at what he believes is the orcs backing off in fear. He hasn’t seen the large red glow coming from the far end of the hall. Gandalf has. It is the Balrog and Gandalf knows it. He tells the rest of the Fellowship that this foe is too powerful for them to handle and they should all flee.
As they get to the steps, the rumbling is getting louder and louder. So loud that the walls of Moria are shaking and pieces of the hall are beginning to crumble. You get the impression that the Balrog is so huge that it wouldn’t even fit in the hall.
They run for their lives down a very narrow and rather unsafe stairway. It’s rather hard to describe the staircase. The best example I can think of is the MC Escher drawing. (reference the image below, minus all of the people and railings and stuff. Just look at the stairs) These stairs are miraculously standing on the cavern floor that never seems to end. The Fellowship encounters a break in the stairs and must leap across. Some are thrown across (the hobbits) and others jump, until Frodo and Aragorn are the only remaining Fellowship members on the far side. Just then, orcs on a ledge much farther away begin to fire arrows at them. The rumbling continues and a huge stone falls from the ceiling, taking out the stairs behind Aragorn and Frodo. They are now alone on a very unstable piece of staircase, which gets farther and farther away from the others ever second. To make matters worse, this segment begins to sway to the right, then to the left, and then back. And just when it looks like the gap between the two staircase segments will never met again, it leans forward and slams into the other segment. (refer to the official .pdf file, page 23, lower right) Frodo and Aragorn jump across and run down the rest of the stairs. As they near the bottom, they run into a dead end. Boromir almost falls off the ledge. Gandalf points to the bridge in the distance and instructs all to run to it. [M.C. Escher's Relativity]
Later, after some discussions with other people, i found out that its at this point that the footage is cut a bit. We jump to the Fellowship passing over the bridge and Gandalf turns around to face the Balrog. What does the Balrog look like? Well, as we reported earlier, it has wings and well…its John Howe’s Balrog. If you have the recent board game, it looks pretty much just like that! Gandalf says “You shall not pass!” slamming his staff down as the head of the great beast swoops through a wall of fire to reveal itself. Intense! Thats all I can say.[John Howe's Bridge of Khazad-dum]
That ends the Mines of Moria sequence. Whew…(breath…breath…)
Now the montage of the Two Towers and Return of the King begins. Something about this footage made it my favorite. There is something so real and the drama is just so honest, I was taken back. Nothing is really ordered, but we did get our first look at a few of the cast and some critical moments.
The biggest clip that sticks in my mind is a shot of Theoden as an ‘old’ and degenerate man, obviously under the control of Wormtongue. His face is so weathered it almost looks like a virus has attacked him. At first I was questioning the make-up, but after further thought, I think its perfect.
There are two beautiful shots of Miranda Otto as Eowyn. One as she rides a horse and looks back, and one that pulls away to show the landscape.
These clips were going fast, and trust me, it’s hard to remember it all with just one viewing!
Another one of my favorites was watching Wormtongue get tossed out of Edoras. We see him literally thrown down some stairs from a side perspective.
We catch a glimpse of Denethor looking quite mad and possibly looking on his pyre. I’m not real sure though.
There is a section where Sam is hovering over an exhausted and beaten Frodo in Mordor. Their faces are chapped and burned. This is the contrast I was talking about before. In Hobbiton they look so young and healthy. In Mordor they are hideously challenged and decrepit. Sam had some very painful looking sores on his mouth and face.
We have a lot of clips of battles and landscapes. It truly is amazing looking at the New Zealand landscape as Middle-earth. I guarantee we are all going to want to go there next year, if we don’t already want to! Go NZ Tourism Board! Heh…
The last clip shows Frodo at the cracks of doom. It’s that critical point where Frodo chooses not to destroy the ring. Elijah Wood plays the part perfectly as the power of the ring overcomes him and he puts it on. “I will not destroy it! The Ring is mine!”
Cut to the NEW Lord of the Rings logo.
And that’s it folks. That was the footage, and boy was it amazing. The theater erupted in applause. People hung around the place for a long time hoping for more, but were hurriedly lead to the buses for the Chateau and the interviews.
I wiped away the beginnings of tears and just stood in awe. I think I made some sarcastic comment to a New Line rep, “Oh, nah…no one’s going to like this.”
As we walked out of the theater I couldn’t help but be excited. Even though some bits of the story had changed, the changes were good. The way the story was presented on screen still preserved the original intent of Tolkien. And best of all, Peter Jackson had the same vision of Lord of the Rings that I had since I was 12. After talking with the other webmasters, I think Peter got their visions down too.
The only negatives? Well, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the score. But then again, I really didn’t pay much attention to it. The only part that stuck in my mind was the ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’ sounding portion. Or was it Xena? It was definitely one of those two. I have read that others seemed to love it. Maybe I was just over sensitive. (Some people have just written to me extremely worried about my commentary on the score. Trust me folks, its not BAD at all. To give you a better idea, here is a link to Xena’s theme song in midi format. After about nine seconds of intro, listen to the main theme. MIDI file. I’m referring to the first 7 notes. Thats the ONLY part that sounded similar to me.)
The CG, while it did need more work, was still better then what I had seen a week before in the ‘Mummy Returns’. And the fact that PJ and the WETA folks are continuously working on the footage makes me really happy.
You want to know what makes this film unique? As I mentioned before, its the realism. Its the grit and grim all over the faces of the Fellowship as they march through Moria. Its the scars and wounds on the faces of our heroes. Its the detail on the armor; The detail on the swords. The details will make the movie the best film of our generation. I know that sounds like a big stretch, but I really do believe it. And from what I’ve just seen, this films will define movie-making for years to come.
Look for Part II of “I dreamed I was in Middle-earth” tomorrow sometime.
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News
New Line Cinema passed out these 20 images to press at the Cannes 2001 event. If you haven’t seen them already, you will see most of these in papers in the coming weeks. !SPOILERS! [More]
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Premieres
As you can well imagine, 30 hours of travelling really takes it out of you! I’ve spent the majority of today putting together my next report (up later tonight) and taking these pictures. Check out the latest gallery of Cannes 2001 Party favors. [More]
Posted in Cannes 2001, Collectibles, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Premieres
While at Cannes, a lot of questions were answered concerning a wide variety of subjects. One of the more interesting pieces of information that came to light was the Stuart Townsend drama.
Let me give a quick background. Stuart was cast in the role of Aragorn but departed the production a mere 3 days after filming started. Initial reports through our spies had suggested that Stuart was hard to work with and there was a lot of friction on the set.
So why was Stuart replaced?
Well, at the Press Conference last friday, Peter Jackson spoke a bit about the situation. As it turns out, Stuart is an extraordinary actor. Jackson and others were impressed with his abilities, however as time moved on, it became apparent that he was too young for the role. As Peter put it, even Stuart, a big fan of the books, insisted he was too young for the role.
When Viggo Mortensen was cast, both Peter Jackson and Barrie Osborne gave the news to Stuart. They parted on good terms and in agreement.
So basically, Stuart was too young. There was no tension or friction between Townsend and Jackson as was previously reported.
PJ did go on to say that the day Viggo joined the team must have been fate, because there could not have been a better person cast in the role. He is Aragorn.
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Other Cast, Peter Jackson, Premieres, Viggo Mortensen
I mentioned in my first report from Cannes this year, that Harry from AintitCool, was really looking forward to our first taste of the Howard Shore score in the screened footage. He’s had a chance to collect his ideas and even talk to Howard Shore himself. [More]
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, Howard Shore, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Premieres, Production
NZ’s TV show “Holmes” showed a few minutes of interviews in Cannes, including one with Peter Jackson and some of the cast. There’s almost-clear shots of the Cannes party set-up with actors and musicians. Go here and look in the archive for May 14.
The sound kind of goes splah in the last minutes, but thanks to Ringer spy Nigel we have a transcript of the last part:
“Reporter: Its said you’ve made the biggest film project ever. How big is big?
Peter Jackson: Well it is the biggest ever. I mean really its 3 movies which is obviously one of the factors. But its 15 months of shooting continuously, nobody has ever shot a movie for 15 months before.
Reporter: This is a huge step, would you have ever dreamt when you were making all those splatter movies like Braindead that one day you would be producing something like this?
Peter Jackson: No. I’m just very lucky because I’m doing what I want to do. Everyday that I’m working on this project I just feel incredibly lucky.
Reporter: You’re a happy man?
Peter Jackson: Yeah. I love directing movies and I’m directing Lord of the Rings. Its the ultimate.
[Cut to Liv Tyler and Orlando Bloom]
Reporter: Liv when they told you were gonna make a blockbuster right at the bottom of the world what was your reaction?
Liv Tyler: I think that more than even anything was my first kind of *high sigh* cause I was incredibly excited about the project and I didn’t have any concerns about being away from my career for a year. But personally being away from my family and stuff I just thought ‘oh my god can I handle that?’ you know. But it was great and I did and I just thought ‘you know what? It’s a year out of my life and I can handle it,’ and it was such a beautiful wonderful place and I tended to get home sick something the boys didn’t as much as me..
Orlando Bloom: We made the most of the surf and bungie, and skydiving.
Reporter: What was Peter like to work with Liv?
Liv Tyler: Peter’s amazing. He cares so much about this book and about this story. I think he’s a Hobbit but there is some part of each character inside of him and I could really see it come alive, his imagination is enormous and just full of so much passion for the project.
[Cut to Sean Aston] Peter Jackson is a great actor . He could do the hobbits to us and I could see him turn and do Aragorn, do the human hero and he changed! I learned a lot about acting just watching him direct.
[Cut to Sir Ian Holme] In a word genius. Forthright, patient, focussed ..a kiwi.
[Cut to Sir Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee]
Sir Ian McKellan: I’ve never worked with a director who has only one pair of shoes *laughter* and doesn’t wear them very often.
Christopher Lee: I’ve never worked with a director myself, for the first time 2 days ago wearing long trousers *more laughter*
[Cut to Dominic Monaghen] We’re all hoping that Peter will now be recognized as one of the greatest film makers alive today and that he will be given the opportunity to make the movies that he wants to make.”
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Peter Jackson, Premieres
Empire talks about stuff we’ve mostly heard, and has a nice pic. of Frodo and a good description of the ‘salivating throng’ in the audience for the screenings. [More}
The BBC has a bit more from their arts correspondent, which is quite nice. You can tell that Sir Ian Mckellen wears great scarves (Like the real Gandalf?) and that Liv Tyler looks cute even when caught yawning. [More]
Thanks to Strider for the alert.
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Premieres
I dreamt last night I was in Middle-earth. I visited Bilbo in Bag End and watched as hobbits celebrated his 111th birthday. I stood before the bar in the town of Bree. I saw riding Nazgul and Orcs in full armour. I saw Men of Gondor standing guard to the gates of Minas Tirith. I walked through the Golden Hall and knelt before the thrown of Theoden. I WAS in Middle-earth. Or so it seems. When I wake from these kinds of dreams, I can usually only remember bits and pieces. For your sake, I will try and relate the events, people, and atmosphere of this dream for all to understand.
The dream begins…
Here I am walking up a cobblestone hill with three of my good friends, Amy, Leo, and Maurice. The sounds of music intermingle with the ear-piercing shrills of a Nazgul in the distance. Leo and Maurice run ahead to talk to some fellow Dutchman, as Amy and I continue up the hill lined with candles. In the haziness ahead, I can make out two giagantic horses with riders dressed in dark black robes. As we get closer, I realize that the Nazgul are approaching us. You haven’t really felt fear until you stare down the nose of a Nazgul’s black steed in full armour. Surpisingly, Amy reaches out and touches this foul beast. We continue on.
Ahead is a bluish light illuminating a gazebo, masterfully hand carved. Inside are two elves, dancing and singing merily to a haunting theme. The lights of the candles dance wildly with the movement of the elves.
Leo and Maurice catch up to us again as we near a gate. Nothing exceptionally special about this gate except the eight or ten strongmen surrounding it. Beyond the gate, we can see a horde of cameras and reporters that seem trapped behind a fence. As we pass through the gate, by benefit of our medallions, the magic really begins.
A red carpet, scattered with rose petals, is laid at our feet. On a hill to our left is a castle. At its gates are two Men of Gondor with pikes double their size. They are dressed in full armour with an emblem of a white tree on their chest. Their helms have plumes of white sprouting out from boths sides of their head. As we look closer, the same emblem seen on the warriors, adorns the castle wall.
To our right is a sea of reporters and tv crews. One by one they pull Samwise and Boromir and others into their web of questions. Behind the sea are a few hobbit holes with rather unique signs on the doors. One looks like a universal symbol for a man, the other, looks to be the universal symbol for woman. Indeed, these are the bathrooms!
As we walk over the carpet, we immediately are greeted by two hobbits inviting us into what looks to be Bag End. These hobbits, with rather realistic looking hairy feet and traditional old english dress, request we duck down as we enter this subterreanian home.
But right before we enter through the round door of the Baggin’s household, guess who comes out the front door! Gandalf himeself! Gandalf was very well dressed, not in his typical costume, and rather happy to be at a party. He was kind enough to talk a few minutes with us and compliment TheOneRing.net. I made doubly sure, that he knew, we ‘the fans’ loved what we saw of the screening.
We said our pleasant goodbyes and entered Bag End. As I look up and around, I see the same hobbit hole that I had seen days earlier in movie footage. Here is the chandelier where Gandalf bumps his head. Oh, look, there is the map from the Hobbit! And yes, of course there are pipes and presents and many other hobbit like things in this hole. This is definitely Bilbo Baggins’ home, but where is he? I was quite surprised when Aragorn walked down the hall with as much interest as I had for this place. We all followed him out the back entrance and were immediately greeted by…
A Troll! It was one of the Trolls that had been turned to stone by the sun so many years ago after attempting to eat Bilbo and company. This hideous creature had one arm resting while the other seemed to be reaching out towards us. Two more hobbits where camping in front of this aboinmation, as if they were tempting fate. It also could have been a result of the fully stocked bar that just so happened to be right next to them.
After escaping the view of the Troll, we walked through a small hobbit market with food and wares for all to enjoy. At the end of this market were stairs to what looked like a hazy pond. The blue glow and the haze made it hard to see what was below, so we decided to descend the staircase and have a look for ourselves.
Behold! Elves were singing and dancing around another gazebo. An arcade of simliar hand crafted construction was on one side of a pool that stretches the entire area. In this pool, you could see the Lady Galadriel’s swan ship floating softly on the water. While Galadriel was not there herself, the ten or so elves more then covered the required atmosphere. At the far end of the pool was a cookery where roast pig, salmon and fish were cooked for all to have. And of course, another bar.
As we climbed out, of what was Rivendell and Lothlorien at the same time, we ran smack into Saruman himself. The man was intimidating and had a large group of people around him. We tried to sneak into the conversation, but failed miserably, as the crowd was too big. The tone and demenor of this man was too attractive for anyone to resist. He managed to demand your gaze and attention with much ease, and we could see how a multi-colored wizard could cause some problems. Thanks to Amy, who wanted to look around more, we managed to pull away and continue on.
We walked passed a live band playing Frank Sinatra and proceeded to near the original entrance. We must have missed these fellows before, but now, standing directly on the side of the castle, were 3 fully garbed orcs. They were VERY ugly. The armour they wore looked extremely disorganized and disheveled, but definitely functional. I approached one and asked if I could touch his shirt. He obliged. I was happy to see that this armour was in fact rubbery to the touch and probably could not withstand a blow from a Gondorian pike.
The orcs were standing next to two sets of pillars. The first set had four sides, each with a vulture skeleton at the top, hideous claws in the middle, and deep gauges at the base. The second set was much more intimidating, with an evil creature’s foul face protruding from the front. The chin jutted out with an wicked gotee, and horns adorned its head. We quickly moved away from this area.
Now it was time to enter Minas Tirith and see what treasures were held inside. As we passed by the two Gondorian guards, I could swear one of them grunted something in French, but I wasn’t sure.
In the main hall were two large cases and a series of chairs, each with a framed image above. As it looked, everyone from Lord of the Rings was pictured above these chairs in beautifully photographed poses. The cases held treasures of middle-earth that anybody would love to get their hands on. There was a Wraith’s blade, Galadriel’s vial, Haldir’s sword, and Gandalf’s staff, just to name a few. Many people crowded around these cases staring at the craftmanship and detail these objects displayed.
Four very well armoured men guarded the next room. To our surprise, we were standing in the Golden Hall! You ask, How can we tell? Intricately designed and decorated horses adorned everything, from horse framed paintings to horse heads atop the room’s pillars. Even the armour of the men in this room had the horse image on it. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the front of the hall where shields and swords surrounded an imposing throne. While Theoden was not seated in the thrown himself, there were two long haired bearded men standing guard at its sides. This time, when I asked to feel the armour, it was real. The chain metal skirt that they wore undearneath the breastplate would be useful in battle. The orcs don’t have a chance.
We exited the great hall and found ourselves in a small courtyard. This area was also decorated with colorful banners and flags, but from what looked to be places all over middle-earth. We stopped at the bar here to get some wine, and moved on down a very unstable cobbelstone walkway that wrapped around the back of the castle. And voila, we were back near the band.
It was at this point, that we finally decided to get something to eat. The roast pig, fish, fresh side dishes, and drink were just too much to resist. To avoid the lines, we travelled back down to Rivendell and Lothlorien to join the shorter lines. I feasted on skewered lamb shesh-ka-bob , scalloped potatoes, and some bread, while Amy ate salmon shese-ka-bob. We both drank some fine wine. Leo and Maurice also shared in the food and we all sat near the arcade of Rivendell.
What happened next is unclear. All at once, I was overcome by a sense that something great was near us. Something that could control the vision and style of middle-earth with a stroke of his hand, and there he was, John Howe. Leo had interviewd Mr. Howe at a conference in the Netherlends, but nothing had prepared us for meeting one of the great Tolkien artists ever, here, in Middle-earth. Equipped with an ‘eye of sauron’ pin and his sketchpad, we politely called out his name and said Hello. John was a great person and very fun to talk to. He loved the footage we had seen as much as we did, and couldn’t wait to see the rest. I mentioned how the Balrog seemed to be similar to the one he drew for the recent board game, and he nodded. He expressed his honor in seeing his creations on paper come to life on the big screen. After talking with John, and finishing our meals, we decided to head back to the castle to look around more.
Just as we walked through the front gates of Minas Tirith again, guess who we saw! Bilbo Baggins and his daughter! Bilbo was much shorter then I had imagined, but seemed genuinely happy to be at this occasion. After all, there was a huge sign hanging on a wall outside wishing him Happy Birthday! He was very pleasant, but had never seen TheOneRing.net. His daughter had, however, and we talked briefly about how wonderful his work was in the footage, and how we can’t wait to see the final product.
We moved again into the courtyard…
Thus ends part one of my Middle-earth dream. The next installment involves meeting a bunch of people from Middle-earth, the visionary behind the entire process, and a wonderful time with the dwarf that the whole movie is based on. Gimli of course. (Or so he likes to say!)
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Premieres
Calisuri called me a few times during the LOTR party, literally…I think he wanted to taunt me.
He called to tell us all about the experience of being there! He said that there was a full Hobbit hole set re-constructed! walk past that and there were Dark Riders! mounted! Actual horses and swords and everything! He also said there were massive pillars with bird-like skeletal features on them.
He mentioned that many many people were walking around in costune, hobbits and orcs and all types of men from different lands. He tried to make the Men of Gondor and a band of Orcs fight, but they weren’t into it (I do think the champagne was free and flowing quite a bit…if only you could hear his excitement).
He spoke with many LOTR cast and crew members, including Clair Raskind, Richard Taylor, PJ, and more. He said there were fireworks going off outside the castle and everyone was having a marvelous time!
He will have something up for you to read soon.
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Premieres
“An exclusive group of affluent film-merchants got to see 20 minutes of very temporary and incoherent footage from Peter Jackson’s filming of Tolkien’s trilogy LOTR at last years filmfestival in Cannes. More hasn’t been leaked from the topsecret project until last thursday night, when New Line Cinema invited the world press and showed 25 incredible minutes from the coming 3 movies – each lasting 2-3 hours.
Here, my ladies and gentlemen, were the otherwise so blasé filmjournalists given such a treazt that you have to go back to Star Wars times for a parallel. Many even thought that George Lucas might as well sénd Han Solo, Anakin Skywalker, R2D2, and the rest on retirement, and forget everything about competing with LOTR – so much do the hobbits, elves, and dwarves kick ass!
The records do cling to this monster of a filmproduction. Roads have been constructed and demolished again, along with houses, cave systems, and castles. Adding to the production budget of 2,5 billion kroner, the company plans on spending 400 million kr. – or what equals the production of approximately 50 dogma-movies – to market the trilogy.
But much is also at stake. Even though Mark Ordesky from New Line, who also was involved in Lars von Triers “Dancer In The Dark”, claims that the 34 yr. old company will survive a flop, he looks very pale by the thought of it. Earlier this year New Line had to sack one fifth of their staff, and therefore many argues that the company’s very existence directly depends on the trilogy’s succes.
Peter Jackson: “Hollywood – in this case Miramax – would compress the trilogy into only one movie, but from the beginning I told them that it would be impossible. Surely, from a novel of 1000 pages you can’t bring everything on to the screen, but we really have tried to include all of the most important characters and events. you can say this is not solely a film FOR Tolkien-fans, it’s a film made BY Tolkien-fans,” says PJ, who has spent 7 yrs. of his life on the project.
Most of the starcast attend the several days lasting press offensive that almost can be compared to a military operation. Among others the Danish American Viggo Mortensen who plays Aragorn.
“Viggo was the last actor to be hired for the movie. We were lacking the perfect Aragorn, when a colleague asked me to re-watch some of the films he had done. And there he suddenly was as large as life in front of me. Viggo has during the shooting been completely synonymous with Aragorn, to such an extent that it’s hard to see him as Viggo again and not Aragorn. I have never ever witnessed an actor enter into the spirit of a role the way he did,” Peter Jackson says, and adds: “Even though the 3 movies first and foremost are the result of a supreme teamwork, I’m certain that Viggo Mortensen will be a world-famous star already from film no. 1. He has exactly what will make most people see him as the great hero.”
As for himself, Viggo Mortensen, who has a Danish father and who speaks a perfect Danish, says to Politiken:
“I don’t really know exactly what happened myself, but I lost myself completely in the role of Aragorn. I am a man who likes to withdraw myself into solitude, and walk long hikes in the woods and in the mountains. So is Aragorn. We just fit perfectly together.”
The Danish distributor is careful not to market the movie too massively in Denmark: “I don’t think we Danes are into that kind of overfeeding. I know from myself, if I hear and see too much of a certain thing in too short a time, I instinctively turn against it. We wouldn’t wnat that to happen in this case. Of course we will have a gala opening a week before the official release, where we will invite members of the royal family – as you know, Queen Margaret herself has illustrated Tolkien’s works – and I sincerely hope that we will get Viggo Mortensen to Denmark to promote each movie.”
“The first two movies end with a cliffhanger, followed by an appetizer for the next to come,” Peter Jackson explains.
As for the merchandise, Mark Ordesky says: “The actors have the right of veto against every single toy; if Elijah Wood doesn’t like a particular Frodo-figure, it just has to be made all over again. I think that’s the first time in movie history that such is the case”
Posted in Cannes 2001, Events, Film Screenings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Old Cannes News, Premieres