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20 Years Ago Today…

October 10, 2019 at 10:13 am by celedor  - 

Even within Tolkien’s own books, anniversaries are treated as special occasions. A chance for the characters to reflect upon the past that shaped them as they continue moving forward into the future. But for us Lord of the Rings fans, this October 11 (or October 10, if you’re in the Western world) is an anniversary of special magnificence. It was October 11, 1999 in New Zealand when principal photography commenced on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, with the main shoot encompassing The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Back at a time when the internet had no Facebook, Twitter, or Wikipedia, back when VHS tapes were the preferred way to watch home movies, and when Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin were world leaders, an 18-year-old Elijah Wood and his castmates gathered together to begin shooting three films that most of the non-Tolkien fans of the time gave little regard to.

Filmed on October 11, 1999

It’s interesting to look back at the schedule from those days because it wasn’t dictated by story or film order but by what locations were ready, who was available, and what the weather was likely to be like. In fact, while filming began with the four hobbit actors hiding from a black rider on the Wooded Road and ended 437 days later on the set of Minas Tirith, the order of what was filmed in between was more of a hodgepodge. (I’m always amused when people claim that the Grey Havens’s farewell sequence carries its emotional weight because of how much the actors bonded over the course of the project. In fact, it was shot rather early in the go, and when Ian McKellen was later asked how he kept from weeping in the scene, he replied, “This was only the second scene I filmed for the trilogy. I scarcely knew Frodo from Merry and adopted the safest course of expressing very little as I said goodbye to them.”)

“You with the dark hair, it is time to go.”

Of course, the end of principal photography itself wasn’t really the end. Pickup shots would continue for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, with the latter even having some pickup shots filmed after its theatrical release to help fill out the extended edition. Peter Jackson, after shooting the final final footage for the trilogy, a shot of a couple of skulls rolling at the Paths of the Dead, commented that it was especially bizarre to still be shooting The Return of the King in 2004 after the film had won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

By setting aside the pickup shots, weather cover days, and various bits and pieces shot by some hard-working unit while most of the actors were busy elsewhere, here’s the general schedule The Lord of the Rings followed:

1999

October

(Filming begins with Hobbit leads)
The Wooded Road
Farmer Maggot’s Field
Buckleberry Ferry
Bree Exterior
(Viggo Mortensen arrives)
Weathertop
Isengard Deforestation

November

(Sean Bean Arrives)
Anduin River
Amon Hen Battle

December

Boromir’s Death
Frodo’s escape from Boromir
Ford of Bruinen
Prancing Pony Interior
Exiting Moria
Approach to Lothlorien

2000

January

(Ian McKellen arrives)
Hobbiton Exteriors
The Grey Havens
Edoras Exteriors

February

(Ian Holm arrives)
Bag End Interior
Orthanc Interior
Helm’s Deep

March

Helm’s Deep Continues
Gandalf at Isengard
Rivendell Exteriors

April

Helm’s Deep Continues
Last Alliance (Prologue)
Aragorn and Company at the Black Gate
Caves of Orthanc
Frodo and Sam in Mordor

May

Helm’s Deep Concludes
Frodo and Sam in Mordor Concludes
Frodo and Sam at the Black Gate
Moria Interior
Rivendell Interior

June

Paths of the Dead Interior
(Cate Blanchett arrives)
Lothlorien

July

Orthanc Exteriors
Cirith Ungol

August

Anduin River
Flooded Isengard

September

Breaking of the Fellowship
Caradhas
Voice of Saruman

October

Edoras Interior
Battle of the Pelennor Fields

November

Fangorn Forest

December

Fangorn Forest Concludes
Moria Gate
Minas Tirith

Special thanks to J.W. Braun, the author of The Lord of the Films. You can visit his website at www.jwbraun.com.

Posted in LotR Movies, Uncategorized on October 10, 2019 by
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