This has been a year of challenges and loss. Our collective experience of a global pandemic was peppered with losses in our intimate Tolkien community as well.
Today, on this last day of the year, we wish to take a moment to remember just a few of those in our community who left this earthly realm, and have found a far green country under a swift sunrise. Whether it was the patriarch of the entirety of Tolkien’s legacy, or the artist who created infamous cover art, they will all be missed – along with so many others who sailed into the West this year. We honour them all. Fare thee well!
Looking for that perfect holiday gift for your favorite fan of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies? Look no further! Monday, December 16 could be your lucky day. That’s the day Julien’s Auctions, known for their auctions packed with Hollywood collectibles, will be auctioning off one of the original tobacco pipes used by Sir Ian Holm in his role as Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring! The pipe will come fully documented for authenticity by both Peter Jackson and Animation Designer and Supervisor, Randall William Cook.
According to the Julien’s Auctions website: Jackson personally gifted this production artifact to animation supervisor Randall William Cook in celebration of Cook’s 50th birthday during the making of the film. Included with the prop is the original birthday card from Jackson to Cook when the gift was presented to Cook on his birthday as well as a letter of authenticity from Cook.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks… Since March 19, characters from Middle-earth, and other roles played by the same actors, have been battling it out to claim the title Champion of Middle-earth March Madness 2018. We started with four brackets comprising roles from The Lord of the Rings movies, other roles by those same actors, roles from The Hobbit movies, and alter-egos for those cast members. The brackets were mixed, to give actors a chance of coming up against ‘themselves’ – and indeed in Round 3 we did see Christopher Lee’s Saruman go up against his Count Dooku, and Lee Pace’s Ronan face his majestically-eyebrowed Thranduil.
Boromir fell in the first round, defeated by Gimli, but Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark did make it all the way to Round 3, where he was conquered by eventual semi-finalist Samwise Gamgee. Sam made it the furthest of all the hobbits; Merry and Pippin both went out in Round 1, and Frodo fell to Aragorn in Round 2. Both Martin Freeman’s and Ian Holm’s Bilbos were knocked out back in Round 1; they had tough battles, being drawn against Gandalf and Faramir respectively.
The elves fared rather better, with Galadriel, Elrond and Thranduil all getting through to the Elite Eight (though Legolas, alas, could not get past Aragorn in Round 1). Wizards Saruman and Gandalf joined the elves in Round 4; but poor Radagast was beaten by Dwalin way back in the first round. In the world of men, only Aragorn managed to get as far as the Elite Eight; Dr John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy, Rudy, and Carl from Van Helsing all joined Eddard Stark in being vanquished in the Sweet Sixteen round.
Just two rounds remain in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness – we’re down to the final four, facing off against each other in the Semi-Finals! Who has the strength to rule over all?
Let’s take a look back at the Quarter Finals – where none of the battles was as tight as might have been predicted. In a pairing which presented voters with a tough choice, the stout-hearted hobbit overcame his long-shanked foe; Aragorn was defeated by Samwise, with the Ranger unable to claim much more than a third of the vote. This result may surprise some, but then, Master Gamgee has always proved to have hidden strengths and depths.
Division II saw Galadriel going nuclear on Gollum, but still losing to the tricksssy one! Who would have thought that one of the River-folk could overcome a high elf, and a margin of two thirds to one third?
The mighty Maiar match was also not the closely fought duel one might have expected; it must indeed have been Gandalf the White who entered the lists, as he thrashed Saruman, taking over 85% of the vote!
Finally, in Division IV two elves faced off; a high (but half) elf against a woodland dweller. Thranduil may have ridden in on his war moose, but in the end, it was Elrond who came out victorious, claiming about three quarters of the vote.
And now we are down to just FOUR. Samwise vs Gollum – there’s no love lost between these two! Will the faithful gardener be able to overcome ‘Stinker’, or if he lets his guard down, will Gollum defeat the ‘stupid, fat hobbit’? Will it just devolve into a contest of name calling?! You decide!
Gandalf vs Elrond – will the wizard finally teach Half-elven a lesson, for failing to throw Isildur and the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom at the end of the Second Age? Or does Rivendell’s ruler have a trick or two up his voluminous sleeves? It’s up to you – VOTE NOW!
And then there were eight… It’s Quarter Finals time in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness – and Round 3 was a decisive round indeed. The people have spoken, and made it clear that alter-ego interlopers shall go no further; every duel in the last round was won easily by the Professor’s creations.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock) put up the best fight, taking a third of the vote against Elrond. Only two other non-Tolkien characters managed to climb over 20%: Karl Urban’s Leonard McCoy (Star Trek) fought hard but was no real competition for Galadriel, with the high elf in the end claiming more than three quarters of the vote. Alas, another Sean Bean character bites the dust prematurely; Eddard Stark (Game of Thrones) clawed his way to almost 29%, but could not hope to defeat the valiant Samwise Gamgee.
Martin Freeman’s John Watson (Sherlock) was thrashed by Gandalf, and David Wenham’s Carl (Van Helsing) received a similar humiliation at the hands of Gollum. At least, however, they made it into double figures; poor Rudy (Sean Astin) could only manage 7.13% against Gondor’s king. Aragorn’s triumph in that pairing will come as no surprise to anyone.
It was perhaps the ‘schizophrenic’ contests which were most interesting in this round; Christopher Lee faced himself as both Saruman and Count Dooku (Revenge of the Sith), and we wondered which way Lee Pace fans would vote, when having to choose between Thranduil and Ronan (Guardians of the Galaxy). Once again, the Middle-earth characters reigned supreme; Count Dooku couldn’t even manage to wrestle 9% of the votes away from Saruman.
So here we are at Round 4 – denizens of Tolkien’s realm all the way! The choices are tougher now; does Sam stand a chance against Strider? Will Gandalf and Saruman throw some break-dance moves in their fight, and will Saruman come out victorious? (Is he facing Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White? – you decide!) In the mighty battle of the elves, can Thranduil of the woodland realm possibly pose a threat to Elrond Half-elven? And is there anything the tricksssy Gollum can do, to give him a chance against Galadriel?
Quarter Final voting is open NOW, and runs until 10pm EST on Saturday 31st March. The Semi Finals will then start on Sunday 1st April. You can also take part in the ‘exit polls’ on Facebook, if you want a second chance to voice your opinion! Who looks set to take the ultimate crown this year…? VOTE NOW![Elite Eight] [Round 3 Bracket] [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]
Sweet Sixteen – the lucky few who have made it through Round 2, to fight again in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness. Let’s take a look at how things stand, as you get ready to vote in Round 3…
Division I has had more than its share of tough choices, with beloved characters facing each other. Round 2 saw Samwise defeat Gimli, Aragorn thrash Frodo with over three quarters of the vote, and Sean Astin’s Rudy beat Dominic Monaghan’s Charlie Pace (from Lost). The big news is that a Sean Bean character still lives! Eddard Stark (Game of Thrones) beat Viggo Mortensen’s Frank Hopkins (Hidalgo), and now faces none other than Master Samwise in Round 3. How to choose?! Do you want to see Eddard Stark make it all the way to the final? Or are you hoping to see Sam face Rudy in Round 4 (assuming that Rudy can get past Aragorn, that is)? Tough decisions to be made…
In Division II, Galadriel soundly defeated Faramir, but Cate Blanchett’s Hela (Thor: Ragnarok) is out! Karl Urban’s Dr McCoy must have had the backing of USS Enterprise to help him come through, in a narrow victory (51.67% to 48.33%). (Hmm, I wonder what would have happened if Hela had been facing Karl Urban as Skurge – also Thor: Ragnarok – instead?) Gollum didn’t have too much trouble against King Theodon; David Wenham’s Carl (Van Helsing) vanquished Miranda Otto’s Mary Ann (War of the Worlds), and now needs to be on his guard against the tricksssy Gollum in Round 3.
The most overwhelming victory came in Division III, with poor Dwalin no match for Mithrandir – Gandalf took over 90% of the vote in that duel! But perhaps shockingly, Martin Freeman’s John Watson (Sherlock) was able to outwit the mighty Magneto, winning by a margin of less than 1%; and this, in spite of our Facebook ‘exit poll’ suggesting that Magneto would win 60-40! No chance, then, of Sir Ian’s two characters meeting in a later round; Christopher Lee, on the other hand, is throwing down against himself in Round 3, with both his Saruman and his Count Dooku (Revenge of the Sith) having been victorious in Round 2. Does a Sith Lord stand a chance against one of the Maiar? They’re both pretty treacherous, having both turned against their original allies and beliefs; but is a lightsaber a match for a wizard’s staff? You decide – vote now!
Finally, Division IV – where Hobbit elves and villains reside with their alter-egos. As expected, Tauriel was no match for Elrond, and was defeated by almost 64%. Hugo Weaving’s other character Agent Smith (The Matrix), however, was unable to stand up to the brainpower of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes. Will Sherlock take over Rivendell in Round 3, to make it the Last Holmely House? (Sorry – couldn’t resist…)
Lee Pace has to fight himself in Round 3, with his Thranduil and his Ronan (Guardians of the Galaxy) both winning their Round 2 battles with ease. Pace fans (is there a name for the Pace Army?), whom will you choose??
Round 3 voting is open NOW, and goes until 10pm EST on Wednesday 28th March. Round 4 will then be launched on Thursday 29th. Don’t forget to check out the ‘exit polls’ on Facebook, to see how the duels might play out. And let us know who you’re hoping will become ultimate champion this year, in the comments below! VOTE NOW! [Round 3 Bracket] [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]