Ok here goes trying to dredge from my holiday season alcohol soaked brain the memory of the Lord of the Rings Wrap Party….
Actually its not that hard to remember given that I was on Cloud Nine from when I received the tickets until days after the party ended.
Party night arrived and a friend (who had managed to hike up from Christchurch; not a bad feat two days from christmas) and I dressed and ambled down to the Wellington Waterfront. We debated whether or not to take a camera and risk getting it confiscated, but in the end we bought a cheap disposable on the off chance that we would be allowed to use it (we were, and we both have photos which I’d share but for the lack of a scanner).
But eventually we arrived and tried to look inconspicuous among the slowly gathering throng. Doors (really they were chain link gates) were set to open at 9pm but 9 rolled by withut a movement from the large securty throng. People stood and chatted and it was obvious they were well into the process of remembering good times over the shooting period, and promising not to loose touch over the coming years. Then without the clap of thunder or the shining light from the clouds that (for me anyway) the moment deserved, the gates opened and we started to enter.
We got through the security check, and quickly walked through the venue so that we knew the locations of all the places and things that needed to be checked out. The main building was essentially a waterside wharehouse with huge shed doors spaced along its side. one door led to the food tent where great food (you already have the menu) was served all night. Others led to the toilets, and a coffee cart that saw many people (including me ) exceed the recommended lifetime intake for caffine in a single night).
Mind you that sought of self abuse did not come before we took total stock of the bar facilities. Now if memory serves there were…22 Bar staff on the main bar which occupied the middle of the warehouse, and at least four or five staff on the smaller bar which occupied the end of the mezinine floor reached by too large scaffolding stairwells. Alcohol for a party of this magnatude wass free and consumed with much vigour).
As I have read other accounts of the event I cannot fail to mention the other two features that dominated the warehouse. One was the stage at the far end of the warehouse, where the live acts played all night, The other was the number ( I recall at least three) of large projector screens that during downtime played slide shows of the production process, and at other times played live footage from the stage.
So far this has been a bit of a clinical account but I’m trying to prioritise my memories in order of least to best. (Now for a bit of emotion)
I would not have been suprised to learn that some gas had been released inside the venue (I mean I’m sure that many substnaces were circulating in the shadows) but seriously one thing that immediately struck me even before we got through the gates was the enourmous feeling of empathy and togetherness which was just awesome. These were a huge group of people who had worked on a project that they all believed in. That sence of achievement which was there throughout the nightwill be with me always.
Who did I see?
Well there were heaps of faces I recognised etc. And I won’t list all the cast the were present and who I saw from a distance or close up etc. But I’ll simply say that the highlight of the night for me, in terms of people, was meeting Orlando Bloom, seeing the tattoo (awesome) and having my photo taken with him. Since I’ve had it developed I show people who lack my sence of attention to the production thus far, and they say “who’s he?” and I say ” that’s Legolas” and they reply as comprehension dawns on their faces “cool”. Yep it was cool. Other words will not express it better.
What did I see?
Well a hell of a lot….but the highlight would be:
The Blooper Real – 10-15 minutes of fantastic footage including wonderful shots from Meduseld, Minas Tirith, Moria, Bag End, The scene of the Long Expected Party, Weatertop, Lorien, Fangorn and wonderful shots of Gandalf, Treebeard, The Nazgul singing “You make me feel like a natural Woman”, Helms Deep and massive charges of Orcs and wildermen and the battle for the Hornburg, Gandalf admonishing Sam for listening to his conversation with Frodo at Bag End, Wonderful shots of the Fellowship travelling up Carhadras, etc. Truely I wish I could remember it all but al that needs to be said is that all of this was good. Perfect even, except for the somewhat confusing shots of Arwen atempting to fire her bow (and failing almost as many times as Legolas) at what apeared to be Helm’s Deep. I’ve paid attention to the talk of changes to the book, and was most pleased to hea that Arwen would not be changed much…I do not know however that this change is a good one. But on the weight of the rest of the footage I am fully prepared to bow down in front of PJ and the crew and say “well done, it could not be better”.
And now I put on my nationalist hat and say my proudest three moments in the next three years have already been heralded, and I belive when they come I may even cry. They will be at Christmas 2001, 2002, and 2003 when as the credits role at the conclusion of each film, I sit and see the words “Filmed entirely on location in New Zealand”. For the little that I have been privileged enough to see has utterly convinced me that PJ and his team has worked creative magic truely worthy of Eru.
I left the party after all the major acts had played, about 2/3 of the guests had left, and 90% of the alcohol had been drunk. Truely a worthy party for what I am now wholly conviced will be a worthy adaption of a masterpiece of fiction.