Well, I must say, London is a town of extremes!

I woke that morning (Nov 6) to a wet, windy, and very cold grey morning (to my southern American bones), rising two hours early to take a required college walking tour of St Albans. I fell asleep to the strains of the LoTR soundtrack, with Brian Sibley’s new book – signed to myself – beside my bed, after devouring the contents.

And a lovely book it is, with a beautiful sequence of in-depth looks at all areas of the creation and creativity that went into making LoTR into the exquisite film it is. I HIGHLY recommend buying it.

After I escaped St Albans around 2 (no offence to anyone living there, but it was wretched) I beelined directly to Waterstones on Piccadilly street, where my aching and freezing body was welcomed in by two sensations – heat, and Howard Shore’s music. I couldn’t say which I appreciated more.

Since the highlights of the event are detailed in several places already, I simply want to add my own impressions to the mix. I missed the afternoon session with the children, dismayed to learn that I had just missed Andy Serkis. However, I did get to listen in the background during the TOR.n ‘exclusive’ private interview, which was quite enlightening!

The footage of the computer games was astonishing – well done to the artists who created that!

The figurines for the tabletop games were beautifully carved and hand-detailed, and questioning revealed that the figures had to be approved by the actors they portrayed (!) before they went into production. That is true and admirable dedication.

The books were well done – There were two childrens’ books, the first on Creatures, which had small captions on the more exotic races and animals – including a tantalizing snippet on wargs, another on the mumakil (no photos, unfortunately) and more information on the birthing of Orcs.

The other Photo Guide was a largely photo-driven and sequential treatment of the film, which offered yet more hints – the expansion of the battle of Helms’ Deep looks to be a very character-building time for Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. The stills and quotes also hinted broadly at the harsh banishment of Wormtongue, and Eowyn’s and Arwen’s expanded parts in the film.

The two focus books were also very nice – I am broke, so Sibley’s won out for sheer volume of information. It is beautifully written and illustrated by lovely stills, backstage shots, and drawings wherever (and I do mean wherever) appropriate.

The queue for the 6:30 discussion by the authors was amazing. I arrived at 5:30, and there were already six people in line. Lucky seventh! The queue got longer and longer, and discussions raged about everything Tolkien, but mostly the films – and then – DISASTER!!

The fire alarm blared, shattering nerves and ears alike, but the brave (and rather devoted) fans stayed perched in our stairwell until every hope was gone. Then all of us, speakers, techies, and fans alike, swept into the fire escape to face 6 flights of stairs down. I was behind the speakers and one gentleman that I half recognized. His face nagged at my brain, fighting the alarm-numbness.

I am ashamed to admit that I was on the second floor before my poor brain found the light – I was behind Andy Serkis. He was joking and laughing about events during filming – completely relaxed and at ease, despite the hassle.

So, I screwed my courage to the sticking place, and asked him several questions (we were on the ground by this time, and the alarm had shut off – you see how long it took me!) which he

He was extremely polite and friendly, and seemed genuinely interested in my questions. He revealed how difficult the Gollum-movements were, but commented that he didn’t have any trouble with them. Later, while waiting for the elevators, I asked him what he did now (just finished as Iago in Othello onstage) and whether he found it strange working both stage and screen. He didn’t, and commented extensively on how the two complement each other – the rehearsals needed for stage acting helped with the analysis of Tolkien’s characters, and the acting styles changed from stage to screen as well. He confirmed that most of the cast did act in both, and said that Jackson did that on purpose. He praised Jackson’s choice and was very complimentary of his fellow castmembers.

Later, during his ‘speech,’ he revealed how much he had put into his portrayal of Gollum. He had a deep understanding of the character, and his motives and emotional state, even the onset of schizophrenia. Besides all that, we were treated to a full-body recap of Gollum, as Andy showed that the amazing voice was impossible to recreate without having the posture and movements as well. The most intriguing moment was the short dialogue between Smeagol and Gollum, with changing voice and posture – we are all in for a treat in The Two Towers.

Very glad to be in London,
the ‘American lady in the robe and dress’ 🙂