We now have our first released art for The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. Not concept art, but final stills of animation that gives us a concrete idea of the visual style and tone that Kenji Kamiyama and his team have settled on.

And I like it.

It seems to me that it hits an aesthetic that straddles the eastern and western animation.

There’s a naturalistic feel to the character designs that feels very grounded and without exaggeration. Eyes aren’t distractingly wide, chins aren’t overly pointed, limbs and heads all feel well-proportioned. The colours are solid and rich, but not distractingly glossy or saturated.

Perhaps it helps that the expressions say “serious business” (we’ll return to that, too).

Perhaps that says more about my own tastes in anime than anything else.

I’ve also seen a couple of people who were at Annecy reference Castlevania as an animation touchstone. I don’t really see it, but perhaps I need to watch more Castlevania.

So I love the character designs, but now I really want to see how they move.

Before I delve into each of the images in more detail, if you have yet to read Staffer Greendragon’s interview with Philippa Boyen’s, don’t forget!

The War of the Rohirrim animation still: Héra

HÉRA voiced by GAIA WISE in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Okay, so first because I can see the name complainers arriving en-masse already: go read my interview with Philippa Boyens – the name is “not so much based on the Greek [goddess] Hera, but a nod to the Anglo-Saxon [word].”

Héra is ourpoint-of-view character. Makes sense given everyone frigging dies. But what’s going on here? Where is it? Let’s attack that second point first.

Location

It’s a dark scene. Perhaps sometime in the evening? It must be winter (or approaching it) because of the snow. Maybe the lighting is torchlight.

There’s a ramp and a wall which makes me wonder if it could be (what shall be known in the future as) Helm’s Deep. But the rope and the wooden structure on the ramp behind Héra don’t match. PJ’s Hornburg had a gate, but not a drawbridge. PJ’s ramp/causeway was also quite steep and curved.

Ultimately, I think we can dismiss it being before the gate to the Hornburg.

Maybe it’s further out – Helm’s Dike. I think Tolkien described Helm’s Dike as a ditch and a rampart, with a breach in it for the stream and the road to pass through. There’s a map on Tolkien Gateway that shows where it would be located.

If it were Helm’s Dike that might better explain the wooden structures. And the hutlike structure behind Hera might be a guard hut on the roadside. It would actually be quite a neat (read “nerdy”) detail if it were Helm’s Dike.

However, it might also be Edoras.

PJ doesn’t give Edoras a lot of quarried stone — notably the foundation of Meduseld itself, and the base of the outer defensive fence (topped with a wooden palisade).

That makes the stone wall we can see behind a puzzle to explain.

However, from a certain angle at the top of Edoras, but just below the Hall itself, you should be able to see the valley cliffs in the distance. That fits with the transition from the wall edge to the cliff that we in our animated still. Hopefully the images below help convey that. I wasn’t able to find the exact same angle though.

But Edoras has a dirt path with concluding stairs, not a stone ramp. And the hut isn’t there on that angle. Instead, it’s a wooden lookout tower.

Architectural details might change over time though. Especially after a siege/sacking — and, spoiler, Edoras is set to cop it in WOTR. So I don’t know if these are significant objections.

But if it is just below the Golden Hall, why is the horse in the background? The stables are not directly attached to the Hall and there’s no room for additional buildings on the Hall plinth. It’s a puzzle.

It could be lower down in the town somewhere, perhaps. The outermost fence seems difficult though because I think the wall would always obscure any wide panorama that would reveal the valley cliffs.

I can’t find any image that suggests that PJ chose to place an inner wall anywhere in Edoras.

I don’t think it could possibly be either Isengard, or Dunharrow. There are probably no other options within the context of WOTR.

Action

Héra is challenging someone, but it doesn’t seem to be a life-or-death situation: the blonde fellow behind her is watching, but not alarmed. There’s a dog at the top of the ramp, but it doesn’t seem frightened either. The figures to the left do seem wary about whatever is happening, but aren’t moving to attack. The bonemasks that obscure their faces bear some resemblance of the helms of Isengard’s orc berserkers — as though they’re some primitive antecedent.

Orcs would probably be a scene of great violence, though. This seems more like a standoff/negotiation.

So perhaps they are actually Dunlendings. Yes, PJ’s Dunlending are universally bareheaded. But they’re also pretty rough and ready looking, and carry very primitive spears. I see one of our bonemask fellows bearing a similarly primitive spear.

So maybe they are accompanying Wulf/Freca to Meduseld at the beginning of the film. Perhaps the individual whom we cannot see is either Freca or Wulf, pressing an unwelcome suit before the all-important council meeting that kicks everything off?

Weapon

Finally, there’s the sword that Héra wields.

I wonder if it might be Éowyn’s sword, mostly based on the way the blade narrows from hilt to tip. Also, it just seems kinda apt. My learned colleague ( 🙂 ), Staffer Greendragon, thinks it’s Theoden’s sword — Herugrim — because of the hilt shape and the double horse motif. And it’s an heirloom sword. Both options seem possible to me in the absence of a definitive comment from production, or alternate angles to examine.

The War of the Rohirrim animation still: The Gathering in Meduseld

(L-R) HÉRA Voiced by GAIA WISE, HELM HAMMERHAND voiced by BRIAN COX, HALETH Voiced by BENJAMIN WAINWRIGHT and HAMA voiced by YAZDAN QAFOURI in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Character design observations

I suspect this one is supposed to give us a feel for character art style, as well as Helm’s family. In some ways this is all a family affair.

  • Helm is a little less grim-looking than I expected. He looks quite noble, and is powerfully built. His hands, formed into fists, could probably break Orthanc itself.
  • Haleth looks about Eomer’s (Karl Urban) age. Looks very serious.
  • Héra actually seems older than Éowyn and maybe the eldest, even. She sits at the right hand of Helm, traditionally a more important position than the left? Right-hand man and all that.
  • Hama seems a late teen. Something about his manner suggests that He’s probably the reckless one/has something to prove which explains his death during a “sortie” while Helm’s Deep is besieged.
  • Helm’s children are all older than I expected as well – except Hama, perhaps.

Action

It looks as though they are receiving an embassy. Initially I thought it might be that of Freca, but having read some reports on the content of the Annecy footage, I now wonder if it’s the emissary from Gondor that’s been mentioned in some places.

The War of the Rohirrim animation still: Wulf

WULF voiced by LUKE PASQUALINO New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Character design observation

Knowing it’s Wulf takes the fun out of guessing, but the dark hair is typical of Dunlending ancestry. I do wonder how he gained the scar over the right eye. There must be an explanation for that at some point, for sure. Who, or what, was he fighting?

Location

Stonework in the background could be Edoras, or it could be Helm’s Deep (besieging it). Really hard to say. The ropes around the wooden structure behind Wulf seem like some sort of temporary structure however. They could be siege-works. The concept art for the fall of Edoras (now well over two years old!) seems more indicative of a short, brutal siege led by the Mumakil not an extended one that requires siege-works.

Also it is winter though and it is snowing, and the siege of Helm’s Deep occurred during the Long Winter that was notably harsh.

Detail

I like the blurring on the snowflakes. It makes me wonder if they’ve filmed a snowfall and slipped that footage in – it doesn’t look like animation motions smears to me. But perhaps I’m wrong.

Today in Annecy attending press were treated to glimpses of the upcoming film The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. TORn didn’t have anyone present there, but the good folks at Warner Bros. were kind enough to share with us some of the first movie images being revealed; and we had a chance to sit down again, before Annecy, with producer Philippa Boyens, to chat some more about this hotly anticipated movie – and other returns to Middle-earth, coming in the future.

Feast your eyes on the images! And enjoy the conversation between Boyens and staffer greendragon.

GD: Hi Philippa, thanks for taking this time – and it’s very, very exciting to see some images. We all just can’t wait to see it and are excited for what’s going to be revealed at Annecy –  and these three images that we have to look at. So, I have a million questions but can we plunge straight into the images?

PB: Absolutely.

HÉRA voiced by GAIA WISE in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

GD: Great. I’m looking at the first one that was sent to me, which presumably is Hera, our heroine. And the first thing I have to ask you – and I don’t know if you’re going to be able to answer this question: is that Herugrim that we see in her hand there? Is that the 500-year-old heirloom of Rohan that ends up with Theoden?

PB: Well, given some of the concept artists that were involved in this film, I would say that’s probably a pretty good guess. You know the attention to detail that those guys go into. So people like Daniel Falconer and, of course, John Howe, Alan Lee, you know. And then the brilliant Japanese concept artists, not just animators but concept artists as well, have worked on this. We’ve just been spoiled, honestly, absolutely spoiled.

GD: I can well imagine! Talk to me a little bit about this character Hera, because I’ve been fascinated by some of the things I’ve read that you’ve said in other interviews, about her being inspired somewhat by the Lady of the Mercians, Aethelflaed. And your talk of that reminded me also of Matilda, the daughter of Henry I, who was known as Lady of the English. So we’ve got these early medieval women who did not end up ruling, but who kept the country together in these powerful, strong ways. And clearly in this image, Hera is being very fierce. It looks like her sword is touching someone’s shoulder that we’re just seeing in the edge of the picture. Tell me a little bit about this strong female character that I’m very excited to see.

PB: Yes, she is a strong female character; but what I really love about her, she’s a very real female character – which I think is a strength of what Professor Tolkien did with the Rohirrim, and we’ve drawn on that. Eowyn was drawn so beautifully. I mean, you know, of course, with Galadriel and Arwen, you’re dealing with immortals, you’re dealing with the quality of, I was going to say the fae, but I won’t say that, but that otherworldly quality that is inherent in the elves. With Eowyn, I always felt that she was drawn in a very real way. And so we’ve kind of tried to continue in that tradition.

She’s not named in the books and we do point that out – I won’t tell you how! – but I do think it’s interesting that often women remain unnamed. There’s an unnamed daughter in Beowulf, for example. That was immediately intriguing; but what i do say is i don’t feel in any way that Professor Tolkien was slighting that character in not naming her. I  think he hadn’t gotten around to telling that part of the story; and i do believe that if he had told that part of the story, given that he was a Mercian of sorts himself, how could he not perhaps have drawn on alfred the great’s daughter? And so she felt authentic. Although, having said that, I know he also said that the Rohirrim were not pure Anglo-Saxon derivatives, you know, there’s a lot of other facets to them – including his own imagination that he drew upon.

But I’m so glad you mentioned Matilda, because I think in the same vein, you’re absolutely right, that somehow they had the facility to hold their people together without necessarily having the title of ruler. They were leaders because they showed leadership and courage when it was needed. It’s resilience, you know, often time and time again, they show something special and save their people. , I think that that was one of the things that drew us to her.

And we wanted to make sure that she was as authentically human as she could be. So she’s not without doubts. She’s not without fears. She is constrained by the strictures of the society in which she’s been brought up. She’s beloved by her father – we know that from the very beginning of the storytelling. This is what we’ve come up with, you know; because we have known brothers. We have Haleth and Hama. And we can imagine who they are. And so when it came to Hera, we thought it would be interesting that just as Théoden had that relationship with Éowyn, that kind of the interesting thing following that thread through with Helm. First he loses Haleth, he loses Hama, he loses all his sons.

And although Hera is, you know, growing up – we killed off the mother, by the way, because she’s not named either. So we imagined her growing up, raised by a warrior king, alongside two brothers who, you know, there would be a genuinely tomboyishness to her nature, that she was allowed to have a bit of a free reign when she was younger. But when it comes down to it, especially now that she’s getting older, she comes face to face with the fact that, you know what, there are strictures in this society and there are roles for women in this society that her father still expects her to fulfill.

So, sure, he let her have a bit of a free reign and she was a bit of a wild child growing up,but never once did Helm think she would do anything other than that. and fulfill her duties and so it’s really interesting that that is part of his journey of his character to sort of suddenly discover that his daughter is stronger than he knew, which is really interesting. I love the relationship between those two characters that we’ve managed to find in there.

(L-r) HÉRA Voiced by GAIA WISE, HELM HAMMERHAND voiced by BRIAN COX,
HALETH Voiced by BENJAMIN WAINWRIGHT and HAMA voiced by YAZDAN QAFOURI in New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

GD: And great actors voicing those two characters. [Brian Cox and Gaia Wise]

PB: Oh, my God, wonderful. Honestly, I don’t think anyone else genuinely could have played Hera, but Gaia Wise, she was perfect. She has all of the elements that you want. She’s got so much life in her, and she has that tomboyishness to her, but she also has a kind of, she’s full of curiosity. She’s very intelligent. She’s got a great sense of humor, and so she’s quick, and she’s got a ready laugh, and I can imagine a little bit of wildness about her, but she’s got a heart. You know, that was the thing that got her – she’s got a huge heart.

She fell off her bike. (I hope she doesn’t mind me telling you this!) She got, because she was biking to the ADR session to do some recording, and she actually came off. She got knocked off her bike. She had a big graze on her leg, and I was appalled. I was like, oh, my God, we’ve got to do something. It was absolutely determined to just keep going because I think she was focused. Of course. She was in the zone. She felt, no, look, it’s going to be fine. I’m not, you know, nothing’s broken. And she just got straight into it, and I was just looking at her thinking. Oh my God, you are Hera. The warrior.

GD: I’m looking at the third image we saw, of Wulf outside. He certainly looks like a Dunlending, with the dark hair. I’m looking at that sort of darkness. And you were just saying before about how the Rohirrim are people, they are humans and they have a reality to them and a human quality that, of course, we don’t get in the immortals, the Maiar, the Elves. This is a tale of men.

WULF voiced by LUKE PASQUALINO New Line Cinema’s and Warner Bros. Animation’s epic anime adventure “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

PB: What’s fascinating is the choices that Wulf makes. There is a moment, I think, where he could have, you know, conquering Edoras, if he’d settled down and become a good and wise ruling king, none of this history would have been spoken of. You know, it would have been a challenge by one lord to a lord whose time had potentially passed.

And, given the culture, (which, again, we set up very early on), this is a people who, although he is a king, they are subservient to Gondor, that in itself creates certain levels of tensions; and that although he is a king, he rules by consent, not by right. And so Wulf, if he’d made the right choices, it would have been a different story.

He doesn’t. He makes other choices, and they’re very interesting choices – and where those choices come from is really fascinating. He’s one of my favourite characters ever that we’ve ever created. He and Hera are so strong. They’re wonderful.

And, of course, Brian Cox is just brilliant as Helm. I have to say, no surprise! Unsurprisingly brilliant, which is fantastic for us and for the fans. I think they’re just going to love him.

GD: So with Annecy coming up – which is very exciting… Of course, we’re all reeling with excitement of the news of the ‘Hunt for Gollum’ movie. And I see that Andy Serkis is going to be there to host a panel with you, at Annecy. I noticed looking back on last year’s Annecy that in an interview there, you said that this movie and this story, this animated film, would be ‘a good way back into’ the world of Middle-earth. Did you have an inkling then that this (The War of the Rohirrim) was, to quote Gandalf, the falling of small stones that would start an avalanche? Did you think there was going to be more coming?

PB: Yes, I did. I did. I myself personally felt up for it. It was one of those things where you go back to something that, I mean, you know, you can lose yourself sometimes in making a film. And you kind of lose, you know, I’ve always found that the books were my comfort read. They were the thing that I always had that I could fall into. And in a way, doing the films destroyed that to a certain level.  

What was interesting is going back into this and going back into a part of the story that was so fresh to me. And I think it’s going to be fresh to the audience and yet familiar, which is also brilliant. It re-energized me. I don’t know what it was, but it made me think, you know what – I do love telling stories within this world. It feels like a natural fit.  

And I love the passion of the fans. I genuinely mean that, absolutely. You can tell all the members of the Torn community of TheOneRing that they’re always sitting on my shoulder.  

GD: But in a good way! 

PB: In the best possible way. Because, you know, you’ve got to have such respect for the passion that’s involved there. And I think it’s entirely appropriate and we should be held to a really high standard. And I think Kenji Kamiyama has not only met that standard, he’s smashed it. He had the bar and then he smashed his way through it and set it somewhere even higher. So it’s fantastic. Can’t wait for you guys to see it.  

GD: We can’t wait to see it. It’s so exciting. You know, this year, TheOneRing.net is 25 years old. It’s our silver anniversary! Who would have thought we would be not only still going, but here having the chance to talk to you about new projects. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Our staffer Demosthenes [who chatted with PB before] asked me to just casually ask you, are we going to see Saruman?

PB: [laughs] I can neither confirm nor deny that! I really can’t. I think he’s, I have to tell you, he’s very acute and perceptive – and some of the things that he was supposing were very much on the money in terms of when he saw the mumaks and things like that. And I thought that was really interesting. But that one I’m not giving him. Tell him I’m sorry! 

GD: I’ll tell him! Well, it’s so great to talk, Philippa. Have a great time in Annecy, and I hope we can connect again; and we just can’t wait for everything that’s coming up.   Thank you so much.

PB: I’m always happy to talk to you guys, absolutely.

Huge thanks to Philippa Boyens, and to Warner Bros. for affording us this exclusive interview. A closer look at these first images is coming soon!
 

The Annecy Film Festival “second look” at The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim has just concluded and reactions are starting to trickle out.

It sounds like a lot of people were quite impressed. Variety described the footage as “epic” and stated that the showing received “thunderous applause”.

Screendaily probably has the most comprehensive report so far and has the news from Philippa Boyens that Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson are on board as executive producers.

“They’ve been huge supporters of this film from the very beginning; they’ve stayed in the background a little, but I’m proud to reveal that they’ve been with us all along and are in fact our executive producers.

“They wanted to stay in the background because Peter in particular wanted to give Kenji the space to find his own way into the film,” added Boyens, who produces The War Of The Rohirrim with Joseph Chou.

Warner Bros/New Line screened 20 minutes of the film to the Annecy audience. It was followed by a panel hosted by Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in Jackson’s Rings trilogy, with Boyens, Kamiyama, Chou and executive producer Jason DeMarco present.

“We did not want to make an animated version of a Peter Jackson film,” said DeMarco. “We wanted to make a Kenji Kamiyama animated feature film that lives within that world. That’s a difficult task that requires a lot of delicate balancing between two types of filmmaking that haven’t collided like this before.”

Here’s a quick selection of instant reactions and good ol’ hot takes.

A super exciting event and incredible audience reaction. Six months to go! #waroftherohirrim @stephengallaghermusic

@Pin3hot on Instagram

By Ilúvatar, THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM looks stellar.

@RafaelMotamayor on Twitter

Seen 20 minutes of #WaOofTheRohirrim. Reservations about the animation. hot for the story. It comes out in December, the old-fashioned way.

@CloneWeb on Twitter

Had the pleasure of seeing a sneak peak of The Lords of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. Honestly it’s absolutely stunning and I can’t wait for it to be released in cinemas. #JosephatAnnecy #AnnecyFestival #LOTR #Anime

@JosephYoung on Twitter

Animation style of ‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM’ is very much like Japanese anime & ‘CASTLEVANIA.’

@NexusPointNews on Twitter

I’ll continue to update these as more information comes in.

It’s not long until Warner Bros. Animation unveils its long-awaited second look at Kenji Kamiyama’s The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim at the 2024 Annecy Film Festival.

The 90-minute presentation, hosted by Andy Serkis (Hunt for Gollum tie-in, anyone?), will feature the first 20 minutes (or so) of Kamiyama’s 130-minute-long feature anime. People with good memories will recognise how this mirrors their appearance at the same event this time last year.

Source: War of the Rohirrim Producer Jason DeMarco

It will be interesting to hear if they show it all in single sequence, or as a series of snapshots as they did last year. It will also be very interesting to hear about the progress the animation team has made on the raw, rather-unfinished footage that they screened last year.

The Annecy presentation will also finally bring some support to the lonely promotional furrow that composer Stephen Gallagher has been ploughing this year.

On our Discord channel dedicated to all things WOTR, we’ve been closely following the trail of hints he’s been leaving on his Instagram account but I’ve long thought his efforts deserve a wider audience. So I’m going to take a thousand words or so to update you all on what’s been happening on the musical front!

Gallagher, in case you’re unaware, is a New Zealand composer and award-winning music editor. He is probably best-known to Tolkien fans for his work on The Hobbit where, as well as working as music editor on all three films, he composed the songs ‘Blunt the Knives’ and ‘The Torture Song’ for An Unexpected Journey. Read up on him in our backgrounding post here.

He obliquely revealed on his Instagram account around the end of February that The War of the Rohirrim production had shifted to scoring and recording music.

On February 25 he posted a tiny snippet of score from a piece titled “2. M03 Business” with a simple caption “Time for business…”, showing parts for at least Cor Anglais (otherwise known as English Horn), bass clarinet, (probably bass) bassoon and crumhorn. Additional, unknown, instruments are obviously further down.

Despite the absence of a key signature, TORn Discord moderator Lasswen promptly placed the score snippet into notation program Musescore4 to gauge what it might sound like, working on the assumption that it was scored in concert pitch.

We’d like to emphasise that this is our approximation based on the score provided with the notation inputted into a program to recreate the sheet music we could see, then exported as an mp3 — it’s not the *actual* thing. You can have a listen below.

2. M03 BUSINESS

Lasswen notes that

“… aside from what other instruments are in that piece, let alone missing from that sample (eg. there’s two bars after the contra bassoon that we don’t know if it’s silence or something else lower on the score is filling in), I think it’s also interesting to note that typically if piccolo, flute, oboe or trumpets were in it they would have been in that section we saw.  Most of what’s there are low bass instruments.”

We like the creepy, unsettled sound.

Now, that might indicate a monster theme since both Executive Producer Philippa Boyens and Producer DeMarco have mentioned we should expect monsters — that there are things lurking in the White Mountains.

But there are other possibilities — particularly if, as we suspect, the numbers indicate that “Business” is a piece that arrives early in the film.

The initial, fatal conflict that arises between Helm and Freca is underpinned by an enormous amount of unease. Further, Freca, is there on his own business — the business of marriage.

‘To one of these councils Freca rode with many men, and he asked the hand of Helm’s daughter for his son Wulf. But Helm said: “You have grown big since you were last here; but it is mostly fat, I guess”; and men laughed at that, for Freca was wide in the belt.

‘Then Freca fell in a rage and reviled the king, and said this at the last: “Old kings that refuse a proffered staff may fall on their knees.” Helm answered: “Come! The marriage of your son is a trifle. Let Helm and Freca deal with it later. Meanwhile the king and his council have matters of moment to consider.”

The Lord of the Rings. Appendix A: The House of Eorl.

The “business” of the title may well be the attempt to arrange a match between Wulf and Hera. It seems an excellent fit. Could it be as Freca enters the Golden Hall and approaches Helm’s throne?

The “courtly” tone of the crumhorn could be a good fit for such an event:

The seemingly extensive use of horns also makes us wonder whether, at some point we will hear the famed Horn of Helm resounding through the Deeping Valley.

Gimli blows the Horn of Helm in PJ’s The Two Towers. Watch here.

Helm had a great horn, and soon it was marked that before he sallied forth he would blow a blast upon it that echoed in the Deep; and then so great a fear fell on his enemies that instead of gathering to take him or kill him they fled away down the Coomb.

The Lord of the Rings. Appendix A: The House of Eorl.

Gallagher’s Instagram posts indicate that he spent some time in Wellington finalising the musical score at Stroma FilmWorks and has been working with noted sound producer and mixer Pin3hot who was previously Supervising Music Editor for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

In a perhaps-weird coincidence, Pin3hot’s credits also include Ultraman. Ultraman, of course, was overseen by The War of the Rohirrim director Kenji Kamiyama (alongside Shinji Aramaki), and produced by Sola Entertainment — Joseph Chou’s company that happens to be handling production and animation for The War of the Rohirrim.

As near as we can tell scoring seems to have been finalised on or around February 26.

A few days later, on March 2, Gallagher posted another snippet of score labelled “Helm Hammerhand Still Stands” with a simple message: “What a week!”.

Lasswen, on TORn’s Discord server, offered some analysis, observing that:

  • This time all the instruments were concealed.
  • Although there is no tempo or clefs, the bottom stave changes to bass clef, suggesting the others are in all treble, and that there are fewer bass instruments present than in Business.
  • Since the five visible staves are grouped together (by the bar lines extending down across them) what we can see there is probably woodwinds (unless there are no woodwinds and these are treble brass such as trumpets and french horns).
  • There might still be crumhorns, just maybe not the bass ones as in Business.
  • Business had seven woodwinds, with a lot of bass ones, so this is likely a very different piece.
  • There is only one visible note at the start, though you can see that the instrument on the second staff is also playing; and it’s a lower note than in the second bar (from the curve of the slur line), but difficult to guess precisely what it would be.
  • The dynamic markings indicate it being quiet, at least at the start, but with some swell of sound and then a fade-away.

Like with Business, Lasswen also dropped this piece into a music editor, this time using piano as a ‘neutral’ instrument, to create two versions —the first assuming all those instruments start in treble clef, and the second with the bottom-most instrument starting in alto clef (that would mean the sound is not at all discordant for the second bar).

HELM HAMMERHAND TREBLE.MP3

HELM HAMMERHAND ALTO.MP3

But what is it about?

Well, the title alone Helm Hammerhand Still Stands feels like a strong nod to what is probably the most iconic scene of the short Helm tale in Appendix A, when the Dunlending have Helm and his retainers trapped in the fortress that would later bear his name.

We think the much higher numbering (M38) also supports that it’s from somewhere far later in the film than we believe Business will be.

One night men heard the horn blowing, but Helm did not return. In the morning there came a sun-gleam, the first for long days, and they saw a white figure standing still on the Dike, alone, for none of the Dunlendings dared come near. There stood Helm, dead as a stone, but his knees were unbent.

The Lord of the Rings. Appendix A: The House of Eorl.

Coincidentally (or not), it’s also one of only three scenes for which Warner Bros. has already revealed initial concept art.

Helm Hammerhand concept art for The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim
Concept Art for The War of the Rohirrim.

In a bit of a wrap post, Gallagher revealed that in the first week they recorded approximately 82 minutes of wind and string instruments.

About 82 minutes of winds and strings recorded this week with the amazing @stroma.ensemble featuring orchestrations by the excellent @hammckeich and @harrybrokensha , engineered by the one and only @soundjohn69 , produced by the best of the best @pin3hot , we have the splendid @janet.grab and #alanajanssen handling edits and programming as well as our wonderful intern @caoimhesadventures . We had it all super co-ordinated by the brilliant @katemulls with the lovely @_robyn_bryant_ .
Looking out for us all were the incomparable @musicgirl44 and @pbroucek , @joeyg3 , @clarknova @phobear @artypapageorgiou
It was a privilege to work with these amazing people to bring the score to life for #kenjikamiyama ‘s extraordinary film.
Surround yourself with a great team and anything is possible.

Stephen Gallagher Instagram

Kenji Kamiyama and Joseph Chou also happened to drop by and check things out.

At this point, the soundtracking relocated to London to record other instruments — particularly brass and percussion — in London’s Angel Studios and at Air Edel.

Should be able to catch up on sleep the next 24 hours of travel – when you live in London, New Zealand really is the other side of the planet. Looking forward to @stephengallaghermusic arriving this weekend for our next batch of sessions. You didn’t think it was only strings and winds did you?!

Pin3hot Instagram

As well as brass, we know that they recorded Taiko (a traditional type of Japanese drum).

On his Instagram, Pin3hot referred to it specifically as an Odaiko (listen to one here). A little research is intriguing:

The odaiko was once used as a battle signal, and now features in Kabuki theater (a popular form of theater that has evolved from 17th-century aristocratic theater), Zen Buddhist ritual, and traditional dances.

Instruments of the World

Who might use war drums? Corsairs? Haradrim, perhaps?

After that, recording shifted to Air Edel for more intriguing instruments: shawms and crumhorns, what we believe are Tibetan Singing Bowls, RAUSCHPFEIFE (Pin3hot: “all-caps to reflect its character”), and curtal.

At the beginning of May, Gallagher was back in Wellington for even more recording working with conductor Hamish McKeich (principal conductor in residence for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra).

This most recent, and perhaps last, batch of recording seems to have involved choral singing. And weeping. Whatever could that be about? A funeral, perhaps? Time will tell.

BREAKING NEWS: it seems that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Andy Serkis are all going there and back again, as Warner Bros. today issued an astonishing press release:

WARNER BROS. PICTURES AND NEW LINE CINEMA ARE SET TO REUNITE WITH THE OSCAR WINNING LORD OF THE RINGS AND THE HOBBIT TEAM PETER JACKSON, FRAN WALSH, AND PHILIPPA BOYENS FOR TWO NEW FEATURE FILMS FROM J. R. R. TOLKIEN’S MIDDLE EARTH, TWO-DECADES AFTER THE NEARLY $6 BILLION DOLLAR FILM FRANCHISE WAS FIRST INTRODUCED TO AUDIENCES

THE FIRST FILM LORD OF THE RINGSTHE HUNT FOR GOLLUM (*WT) WILL BE DIRECTED BY AND STAR LORD OF THE RINGS ALUMNI ANDY SERKIS
JACKSON, WALSH, AND BOYENS WILL PRODUCE LORD OF THE RINGSTHE HUNT FOR GOLLUM (*WT)WITH WALSH AND BOYENS SET TO WRITE THE SCREENPLAY

Burbank, CA — May 9, 2024 – Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group’s Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy announced today the Oscar-winning team behind the nearly $6 billion blockbuster Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyensare reuniting to produce two new films from Tolkien’s Middle Earth for Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

The first of the two films Lord of the RingsThe Hunt for Gollum(*WT)will be directed by and star Andy Serkis (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle), with Walsh and Boyens set to write the screenplay, along with Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou (Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim). The film will be executive produced by Ken Kamins, with Serkis and The Imaginarium’s Jonathan Cavendish.

Said De Luca and Abdy, “For over two-decades, moviegoers have embraced the Lord of the Rings film trilogy because of the undeniable devotion Peter, Fran and Philippa have shown towards protecting the legacy of Tolkien’s works, and to ensure audiences could experience the incredible world he created in a way that honors his literary vision. We are honored they have agreed be our partners on these two new films. With Andy coming aboard to direct Lord of the RingsThe Hunt for Gollum(*WT), we continue an important commitment to excellence that is a true hallmark of how we all want to venture ahead and further contribute to the Lord of the Rings cinematic history.”

Said Jackson, Walsh and Boyens, “It is an honour and a privilege to travel back to Middle-earth with our good friend and collaborator, Andy Serkis, who has unfinished business with that Stinker – Gollum! As life long fans of Professor Tolkien’s vast mythology, we are proud to be working with Mike De Luca, Pam Abdy and the entire team at Warner Bros. on another epic adventure!”

Said Serkis, ““Yesssss, Precious. The time has come once more to venture into the unknown with my dear friends, the extraordinary and incomparable guardians of Middle Earth Peter, Fran and Philippa,” said Serkis.  “With Mike and Pam, and the Warner Bros team on the quest as well, alongside WETA and our film making family in New Zealand, it’s just all too delicious…”.   

The announcement of the new films follows the previously announced New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Animation’s anime feature film Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim opening this Christmas. Directed by Award winning filmmaker Kenji Kamiyama (Blade Runner: Black Lotus and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series), the film is produced by Boyens, Joseph Chou (Blade Runner: Black Lotus), and Jason DeMarco.

The writing team of Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou penned the Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim screenplay based on a script from Jeffrey Addiss & Will Matthews. The Lord of the Rings returning creative team also includes Oscar winners Alan Lee and Richard Taylor, along with esteemed Tolkien illustrator John Howe.

In an unexpected journey that rivals Bilbo’s own, TheOneRing.net is thrilled to announce the launch of its very own food truck, bringing the flavors of Middle-earth to the world – well, a portion of the world! Aptly named ‘Middle-earth on Wheels’, the plan is for the food truck to visit conventions and geeky gatherings across America, serving a delectable array of Tolkien-themed treats. Our truck will first appear at NYCC 2024.

The Menu

Inspired by the diverse experiences and tastes of our staff, the menu will vary, with various themes planned, including the seasons in the Shire, spicy dishes of Mordor, and the sumptuous feasts of Rivendell, offering an Elvish twist on classic flavors. The menu to appear at NYCC will include a chicken dish “Amon Hen”; “Salmon Frodo“; “Isengard Unquiched,” “One-ion Rings” (Of course!); and a variety of artisanal bread, so fans can ‘share the loaf.’

Our very own Happy Hobbits, known for their culinary magic making (Check out their YouTube!), will bake fresh bread for each appearance.

But that’s not all – in a revelation as surprising as Gandalf’s fireworks, we can reveal that TORn co-founder Xoanon is not only a master of Middle-earth lore but also a pastry chef extraordinaire, holding the world record for the tallest croquembouche, eerily resembling Barad-dûr, complete with the Lidless Eye, and almost mirroring the height of Weta’s Minas Tirith bigature.

Special Menus and Events

But what of Second Breakfast, you ask? On select days, Middle-earth on Wheels will honor every crucial Hobbit mealtime—Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, and Supper—throughout all-day festivals and events. Whether you crave the sweet simplicity of Seedcake for Second Breakfast or the hearty richness of a Minas Tirith Meat Pie for Supper, TORn will have you covered. Dates for these special events will be announced at a later time.

On Tuesdays when Middle-earth on Wheels is on the move, don’t miss Tolkien Taco Tuesday—every purchase of a taco gets you another one on the house!

Why a Food Truck?

Why this culinary quest, you ask? It’s all in an effort to combat the ever-mounting Google Business Apps bill! Yup, they raised their prices…again! As a not-for-profit site powered by volunteer staff, TheOneRing.net relies on the generosity of its community and, perhaps now, the proceeds from its gastronomic ventures.

Don’t miss this chance to feast like a Dwarf, snack like a Hobbit, and dine with the elegance of the Elves. The Middle-earth on Wheels food truck is coming to a location near you. Follow the journey on TheOneRing.net and our social media channels.

Because in the world of Tolkien, even the smallest meal can change the world.