November 24, 2003 – Beverly Hills, California

Sir Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood and Billy Boyd inspect the Neiman Marcus Bag End window.

In sharp contrast to the skating polar bears, frolicking penguins, candy canes and dancing teddy bears one usually expects from holiday department store displays, the Neiman Marcus department store in Beverly Hills, California and New Line Cinema teamed up to create a one-of-a-kind storefront window display. It did hint at an Elvish theme – just not the kind that build toys in Santas workshop. Instead the window displays feature glorious tapestries and furniture from Rivendell. Arwen’s “mourning” dress and Aragorn’s “Strider” costume.

The TORn Digital team was on hand to witness the unveiling of these windows, designed by Oscar nominated “Rings” Art Director and Art Department Coordinator, Dan and Chris Hennah. The windows were to be unveiled by a Wizard and two Hobbits – Sir Ian McKellen, Billy Boyd and Elijah Wood. After some discussion about who would pull the rope, and how they’d actually pull the rope that would lower the large red velvet curtain hiding the windows, the responsibility was given to the wise Wizard, Sir Ian.

The curtain successfully dropped to much applause, and the stars stopped to admire the display. Bag End’s green round door and inviting round glowing windows were revealed. A “life” sized Bilbo and Frodo costume standing in front. “I hope that they have security for this – the Ring’s in there!” quipped Elijah Wood. The other windows featured the amazing chain mail, banners and costumes of Rohan, and the Gondorian costumes of Faramir, Boromir, Denethor and Pippin.

Who will pull the rope?

The stars obliged the line of press with interviews, we were able to speak to Billy and Sir Ian. Alas – Elijah was whisked away by a handler before we could speak to him. Luckily, I was able to shoot some photos of the elusive Ringbearer and his costars. I snapped some of the windows too.

As with any LOTR related event – the fans were on hand, lining up on the sidewalk in the cold. We knew some of them, some of them knew Quickbeam, and they all knew each other. Elijah and Billy signed a few autographs. Everyone seemed to be having a great time looking at the displays and catching up. And I’m sure it didn’t hurt to catch a glimpse of the stars. There was to be a reception in the store after the unveiling – but none of us seemed to be invited! Of course we were too busy snapping photos, shooting footage and speaking to the fans.

TORn Digital would like to thank Mr. Keith Stern of (Sir Ian’s Official site) for giving us the details for this event. I’m sure that they’ll have more photos of the event featured on their site.

The windows will be on display from November 24 to December 29. Neiman Marcus is located at 9700 Wilshire Blvd. in the heart of the Beverly Hills shopping district. [More Pictures]

Noro Lim!