The Elf Fantasy Fair 2001, the biggest fantasy-related event in western-Europe, took place this weekend, I got the chance to go there on both days, meet up with John Howe and take a look at some awesome new pictures from the upcoming movies! Read on for a full report, which might include several spoilers!

Wow…were to start, the entire event was amazing. The setting, a historical themeparc filled with rpg’ers pretending to be trolls, orcs, goblins, knights of the round table, etc. etc., really added to the atmosphere. The event covered a whole ranges of fantasy-streams and had lots of guests of honour for signings, lectures and to answer questions from the public, for instance people like Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, John Howe, John Avon, Brian & Wendy Froud and much, much more.

But the most interesting for us of course was the ‘Tolkien-temple’, a small building devoted to the upcoming movies. It contained a tv which played the most recent trailer non-stop (I can imagine the people at the stand really hating those lines now…), and inside were some really awesome blown up pictures with scenes on them from the movie, and a slide-show with even more new pictures! I have tried to remember them all, so I’ll try to give you an idea of what was there:

The blow up pictures to begin with, there was one of a Hobbit with some kind of torch in his hands standing outside looking at a Black Rider speeding up or down a lane I’m not sure, we’ve seen this picture before I must add, there was a close-up picture of Arwen when she’s carrying Frodo over the fords to Rivendell, there was a new picture of Frodo holding the Ring looking kinda scared, there was a picture from the Orcs from the internet preview, there was a picture from the entire Felowship walking, we’ve seen this one before as well. There was a picture which kinda reminded me of a scene from the trailer, it showed Gandalf walking through the snow, but it didn’t have any other members of the Fellowship on it, it was really beautiful, I think the scenery in this movie will blow everyone away this christmas. Let’s see, there was a picture of Legolas while he was aiming an arrow at ..errr.. well, you if you were standing before the picture, it looked really convincing and was in my opinion one of the better pictures of Orlando Bloom as Legolas I have seen so far. There was a really awesome new picture of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn which blew me away! The pic must have been taken shortly after Aragorn got out of some kind of fight, because his sword (which looked really good too) was covered in blood, and his armoury looked battered. For the record, the blood one his sword was deffinitly not red (for those who are wondering aout the pg-rating), it could have been because of the color of the entire pcture, but the blood seemed more black to me. The last picture contained some real spoilers, because it was a scene from the battle of Helms Deep. It looked like a huge chaos with a furious Gandalf the White in the midst of all this wielding his staff. The diffirence between Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey and as Gandalf the White is really amazing, I hardly recognised him on this picture, his hair and clothes were all snowwhite, and he kinda reminded me of Saruman. A bit further back you could also see Aragorn, Eomer, Legolas and Arwen (!) fighting off some Orcs. they were all on horses (which might explain why Gimli wasn’t in the picture), and you could see the road behind them running to the Gates covered with bodies of dead Orcs. The picture was really, really cool, the battle scenes are really gonna blow people away…

The slide show also contained a lot of new pictures. It had 33 slides, a few of them to promote new books that are coming out (the ones of which we have seen the covers a few days ago). Also all the pictures from the official New Line calendar were in it, so nothing new and exciting there. However, there were some slides from Hobbitton that reminded me of pictures we have seen before on, one picture from the watermill, one from some kind of marketplace which looked really convincing, it had a cow in the background so it really looked like everything on the foreground was hobbit-sized. There was a slide from the outside of Bag-End and one inside the house, the interiour looked kinda messy to me, the ground was covered with books and stuff, kinda like you would expect a Hobbit-hole to be. There was a slide of Gandalf arriving in Hobbitton on a waggon, there was also a slide with a close up on Gandalf of this picture, Ian McKellen looked really great, but I’m sure you all knew that. There was a slide which showed some houses in Bree, nothing new and exciting there. There was a slide which showed a line of soldiers from what I think was Gondor, with all kinds of colored banners on the background. It looked as if they were waiting for something so I’m guessing it’s a scene from ‘The Black Gate opens’ The only diffirence was that on a previous picture we have seen from this chapter it really looked like the soldiers from Rohan and Gondor were standing on a hill, but on this picture there only was a straight line of men and the only thing you could see behind them were the banners. The banners were very vague, I remember some yellow and blue ones, I could see no recognisable design on any of them. And last but not least there were two new slides from Rivendell that were really amazing! One of them showed Frodo lying in a bed, I presume before he regains conciousness although I couldn’t see Gandalf anywhere. Most people will remember a painting by I believe John Howe that showed Frodo waking up with Gandalf sitting next to a window, well, that won’t happen:) In this scene there was room, and I’m getting the idea that the Rivendell-set isn’t really like a house, but more like a big garden with all kinds of spaces in it, if you catch my drift. You could also see this in the pictures we have seen from the council of Elrond, it took place partly outside (like in the books) but looking at that picture and at the ones I’ve seen this weekend I’m starting to wonder as to how much of Rivendell really is like a ‘house’. Anyway, Frodo was lying in a huge bed, and there was a statue of a woman towering over him, in the background you could see some gardens which looked really beautiful, lots of light colors and ‘flowerish’ shapes. The other slide showed the four Hobbits standing in one of those gardens, probably talking about something. They all looked fresh and cleaned up, and again the forced perspective made it look really good. I think I just about covered all the new pictures that were shown…

As said before I got the chance to meet John Howe and ask him some questions. I’ll have a full interview online anytime before wednesday so keep your eyes out for that. I’ll just say here that Howe is really one of the nicest people I have met, he was very intelligent and gave some interesting answers. He also gave away some signing sessions which lasted up to an hour longer then planned because he didn’t go anyweher untill everyone had a signature or drawing in their books, posters, maps, cards and whatever the hundreds of fans carried with them to get signed. Where other signing session usually lasted untill one minute after the time set for it, and people got send away after standing in line for about an hour, John Howe worked his way down the line even if it took him an hour, which I thought was really cool.

Well, that just about covered all I was gonna say about this, I’m sorry if it turned out to be a bit long it’s just that there was so much new material, I hope I gave a good description. Keep your eyes out for more on John Howe in the next few days!