I held Sting yesterday, the same Sting I’ve seen on the big screen and DVD countless amount of times. True it was the scale double, the one used by the small actor in the Frodo mask and makeup. Yet it was still Sting to me, and one of the highlights of my day.

I was loitering around one of the displays waiting for my personal tour of the exhibit when one of the art directors opened the case to re-adjust it. I aksed all the right questions and got my hands on it. It was quite lightweight and very detailed. Ironically I saw Boromir’s horn, which seemed very well used, but it was rather plain.

I made my way upstairs to the exhibit…

And suddenly I was in Middle-earth.

We are first treated to the mysterious wonders of Fangorn Forest, with its old, witherd trees and mossy underfoot, you feel smothered by the intensity of the place. There was a certain mossy smell that Billy Boyd commented to me about, and Emma, my companion through the tour, said that she felt like any one of those trees felt like they could come to life at any moment.

You had to watch your head as long, gnarling branches made their way across your path, and you can’t help but look back at one of the many waterfalls and pools of water used to make the entire environment come alive.

Theoden’s chamber at in the Golden Hall was next, with a faux open-pit fire burning we were treated to Theoden’s throne and some of the massive pillars and wall hangings used on set. There are two display cases featuring Theoden and Eomer’s swords and sheaths, the Edorian style is very evocative of the Viking culture, with the two handed double-edges swords and low sloping helmets with the nose guard down the middle.

All along the walls were amazing full color photo stills from the film, massive pictures of Eomer, Theoden, Wormtongue and Eowyn. The next room continued the Edoras theme but with different elements from the battle at Helms Eeep, Elvish armour standing alongside Easterling mail suits and display cases with Legolas’ bow and fighting knives, which were much bigger than I had expected. That room opens up to a mock-up of the Helms Deep battle! Suddenly I’m on the front likes with Orc ladders being raised and lighting flashing before me, it was so much fun to pretend we were fighting the good fight!

The next room takes us to the golden glittering caves, something I thought we had not seen, I was wrong. The scene from the trialer and in a few photos with Eowyn holding a sword and hiding from the view of an Orc is indeed from the glittering caves. This room was wonderous in it’s beauty…it was so simple yet wonderfully decorated, the cave walls themselves glittered with a shimmering light that made the room seem to glow from an unknown light source. There were costumes from the refugees of Rohan, I got the chance to feel a few of the costumes and get a sense of what it must have felt like to wear this for hours on end in the mountaintops of the Edoras set.

This led us to a dark staircase with the evil ring inscription rotating on the grownd below us…and suddenly we were in Saruman’s throne room in Orthanc…I felt the sense of evil and forboding that Gandalf must have felt when those doors closed all around him when he was betrayed. The set piece itself was expertly done, I was so impressed that I actually thought this was hauled from New Zealand in one big piece, in reality it was only a re-creation.

A winding set of stairs leads you up and over the top of the Orthanc throne and into Saruman’s book room. The light pooring in from his cross-hatched window frames immediately brought me back to the film, and indeed the detials were so intricate, down to the jar of bubbling eye balls of in the corner.
After Saruman’s throne room you have to once again descend the flight of stairs and pass his throne room again (this section is so full of character and is so creepy I felt I had to scurry past in order to avoid the soothing yet evil voice!). We are brought through the horrible and dank dungeons of the caverns of Isenguard. I can see the Uruk-Hai birthing pods…is that Lurtz coming out at me…get out of here get out!

We pass into an open area and are immediately struck by the large, open swamp lake to our right, with a massive tree in the middle and the mossy growth around it. The water is so calm and still you can almost mistake it for glass…but look again..there are bodies submerged in the water!

Yes the old ghosts from battles long past still haunt the dead marshes to this day! That a treat to see the ghosts of the white city still in their leather armour!

This is followed by the caves of Henneth Annun, and the meeting of Faramir and his men, there are small nooks and crannies that you can miss if you don’t look close enough, on my second pass through the exhibit (it was VERY late at night and I basically had the run of the place…so much fun!) I noticed a small little laneway that took us behind a large waterfall and into the caves that Faramir and his men use, where we got to see the Sam and Frodo costumes in full glory and explore a little of cave life as they may have spent it for the night they were there.

Next was the Osgilath ruins and one of the most detailed environments of the entire place. We are taken directly into this ruined tower and you can really see what they mean by ruins! There is a stairwell on the right that is completely un-usable. My imagination raced as I pictured men trying to defend this place from maurading orcs rampaging and killing in the name of The Eye. This was truly wonderfull, and off into the distace was a stone carving of the white tree, bathed in light…amazing.

The last environment in the exhibit is Arwen’s bedroom, literally…the ‘Bed of Roses’ we’ve seen in trailers for years now is seen here, as well as the dress she wears and some of the very fine nick-nacs you can only find in Rivendell, like an intracatley shaped perfume bottle (which you can open, as I demonstrated and was given a dirty look for by one of the rent-o-guards) and candle-holder. Her room was very open to nature, much like the rest of Rivendell, and was indeed full of rose petals and wonderful ornate designs.

This was the end of the exhibit. I have to say that if you are in the Toronto area between now and December 1st you really should check it out. If only for a look at what you will see in The Two Towers, December 18th can’t come fast enough!.

My next report will cover the party, which mainly consisted of great music, small orderves and John Howe and I looking for a place to sit!

Look for pictures, video and more soon!