Ringer fan Masahiro (Mabi) Knittel sent in this translation for the recent Newsweek Japan Article featuring Calisuri (aka Chris Pirrotta) and his trip to Cannes.

A Glimpse of the Ring: The Lord of the Rings Unveiled

Cinema: Portions of the epic fantasy film awaited by fans worldwide released at Cannes

Every year, a large number of those involved in the movie industry gather for the glamorous Cannes Film Festival. On May 11th, the third day of the festival, Chris Pirrotta, a 26 year old engineer from America, could be spotted among the throngs of reporters displaying press cards. It was a special day for Pirrotta. “I was unable to sleep from the excitement,” he said, as he strode toward the festival hall bursting with anticipation. The reason? This year’s festival was to host the first public exposition of a portion of the popularly awaited film, The Lord of The Rings, to be released this coming December, with the Japanese release date scheduled for next spring.

The film is based on the worldwide best-seller fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings [translated as The Story of the Ring in Japanese], written by J. R. R. Tolkien and first published in the United Kingdom in 1954. Set in the land of Middle Earth, where Hobbits who stand less than 1 metre tall and immortal Elves coexist with a variety of fantastic creatures, it is a story of unfolding adventures revolving around a ring which possesses incredible magical power.

It has been said that this world which overflows with creativity would be impossible to capture on film. It is for this reason that “ring fans” all over the world are watching and waiting with heated anticipation for this 270 million dollar filmproduced by New Line Cinema, the first ever live-action version of the trilogy.

The Internet trailer released last April recorded approximately 1.7 million downloads within 24 hours of its release, and fan sites are popping up all over the Internet. Pirrotta is involved with one such site, TheOneRing.net [originally TheOneRing.com in Newsweek Japan], and was invited to attend the film’s first public appearance as a representative of the website’s fans.

The 20 minutes of film shown at the festival was a digest of the first installment of the trilogy. Parts of the second and third installments, already finished with production, were also introduced. “I couldn’t help but cry,” said Pirrotta, “I was worried about whether or not the film would properly reflect the novels, but I am glad I came.” Applause also roared from festival hall, which was packed with reporters and journalists. “They really did it,” was the sentiment of Harry Knowles of AintItCoolNews.com, a popular American movie website.

Having so many fervent fans worldwide, film director Peter Jackson has said that he “tried to create the film as being true to the memories of [the trilogy’s] readers.” As such, one of his first priorities was casting actors suited to the images of the film’s characters. Actor Christopher Lee, who plays the malevolent wizard Saruman, said of the first cast meeting: “We immediately knew who would play which roles.”

Will it Become the Greatest Movie Hit?

Said to be a film project of large enough scale to bolster the GDP of the country, politicians of New Zealand, where the picture was filmed, were also helpful during its production. Six thousand soldiers of the New Zealand Army were delighted to participate as extras on the set during scenes of battle. “I told the Prime Minister when he came to visit the set that I needed soldiers, and he immediately gave us some,” said Jackson.

Even the computer graphics were produced by a SFX studio in New Zealand. Although incomplete at the time, the hoard of monstrous orcs were breathtaking to see. One movie writer agreed by saying, “It cost less than Hollywood, but it’s on the same scale as George Lucas.”

Infusing it with giant-scale funding, New Line Cinema is staking its future on this project. Production costs were reduced by taking the unique approach of filming the live-action portion of all three installments of the trilogy at once, making it difficult to implement any significant modification to the film.

New Line is releasing the first film this Christmas and plans to follow with the second film in 2002 and the third in 2003. If the first film does not top the box offices, New Line doesn’t anticipate that the second or third film will either.

However, representative fan Pirrotta feels that there is no need for concern: “It will probably be bigger than ‘Star Wars’!”

Caption of photograph on left: The cast lineup joins the party held at the old castle.

Caption of photograph on right: Peter Jackson (middle) and key actors.

Article by Naomi Saeki, originally appearing in Newsweek Japan, June 13, 2001 issue.

Translation by Masahiro (Mabi) Knittel. Square brackets mine.