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!
 

We’re delighted to share an exclusive interview from fellow Tolkien fanatic Eirik Bull – a journalist from Norway. He recently sat down with our friend, Weta Workshop’s own Daniel Falconer.

In Eirik’s interview with Daniel they cover a lot of topics, looking at Daniel’s history in working in Tolkien’s amazing world, as seen in Sir Peter Jackson’s brilliant adaptations over 20 years ago. Eirik and our friends at Weta asked us to share this interview – and you can look forward to another interview coming soon, with Sir Richard Taylor. We all hope you enjoy this amazing look at Daniel Falconer’s journey in Middle-earth.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – time spent with Weta Workshop’s Daniel Falconer”

Our good friends at Volante Opera have been in touch with very exciting news! You may remember, in 2022 and 2023 we brought you news of their work with composer Paul Corfield Godfrey, to bring to life his operas of stories from The Silmarillion.

Godfrey had for many years been working on operatic excerpts from The Lord of the Rings – and during lockdown, he and the Volante Opera folks had even begun recording excerpts, ‘just in case’; but the Tolkien Estate had not granted permission for those works to be released.

We can now exclusively reveal that Godfrey and Volante Opera Productions have been granted permission to release recordings and scores of these works.

There are thirty ‘chapters’, intended to be performed over six evenings. The text is (of course) abridged, but uses as closely as possible Tolkien’s own words; and fans can even look forward to an appearance by that most elusive of characters in adaptations, Tom Bombadil!

The fifteen CD set should be available in 2025. Meanwhile, you can enjoy Volante’s previous recordings of Godfrey’s Silmarillion settings, available to purchase on their website; and here’s a trailer, with aural ‘glimpses’ of what treats we have in store.

Here’s the official press release from Volante Opera:

AT LAST – AN OPERATIC TREATMENT OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS

For many years the Tolkien Estate has refused to allow any musical treatment of the works of the author which employed his own words. Now they have agreed to make a concession in respect of the music of Paul Corfield Godfrey, whose cycle of “epic scenes from The Silmarillion” was finally completed in 2023 with the issue of a ten-CD series of recordings from Volante Opera and Prima Facie Records.

Ever since the 1960s the composer has been working on sketches, fragments and episodes of what was envisaged as a cycle of musical works based upon The Lord of the Rings. Following on from the success of the recordings of The Silmarillion Paul was persuaded to go back to these beginnings and fully explore, expand and complete the work which has now evolved as “musical chapters from The Lord of the Rings”. This fully operatic setting has now become a companion work on the same scale as The Silmarillion. This adaptation takes place over thirty “chapters” designed to be performed over six evenings – over fifteen hours of music.

This work is currently in the process of recording by Volante Opera and it is anticipated that Prima Facie will release a demo recording of the complete cycle, in the same manner as their Silmarillion recordings, in 2025.

Cast

The professional singers, some thirty in number, come mainly from Welsh National Opera. Returning artists from The Silmarillion include: Simon Crosby Buttle as Frodo, Julian Boyce as Sam, Philip Lloyd-Evans as Gandalf, Stephen Wells as Aragorn, Michael Clifton-Thompson as Gollum, Helen Jarmany as Éowyn, Huw Llywelyn as Bilbo, Emma Mary Llewellyn as Arwen, Laurence Cole as Boromir/Denethor, Martin Lloyd as Treebeard/Herb Master, Helen Greenaway as Lobelia/Ioreth, Rosie Hay as Gwaihir, Sophie Yelland as the Barrow-wight, Louise Ratcliffe as Lindir, with George Newton-Fitzgerald and Jasey Hall taking on a plethora of roles. Angharad Morgan will also be reprising her role as Galadriel from The Silmarillion. Our new cast members and their characters will be introduced as the recording process continues.

Those who have enjoyed the composer’s large-scale setting of The Silmarillion will be pleased to discover that the music inhabits the same musical world as before, with many ideas and themes continued and expanded into The Lord of the Rings. The “musical chapters” also incorporate other works by the composer such as his earlier Tolkien songs (already available on CD) which now assume greater significance in the course of the whole structure.

Although the text is inevitably abridged, it adheres without any but the most minor alterations to the author’s original words, and the original plot development remains unchanged – including such elements as Tom Bombadil, the Barrow-wight and the ‘scouring of the Shire’. And some other passages, such as the coronation and wedding of Aragorn, are given expanded musical treatment.

Further tales from Tolkien in music

Also coming early 2025, a complete recording of Paul Corfield Godfrey’s solo piano works played by renowned British concert pianist Duncan Honeybourne. This will include, amongst other works, the epic piano rondo Akallabêth, a solo piano version of the Wedding March from The Fall of Gondolin, and a new work composed specifically for Duncan and this album – ‘The Passing of Arwen’.

For more information about the work please visit: www.paulcorfieldgodfrey.co.uk
For more information about the recording by Volante Opera Productions please visit: www.volanteopera.wales
Updates about the recording process will be posted to our social media feeds:
DISCORD: https://discord.gg/J6bQFHygr7
FACEBOOK: Volante Opera Productions, The Music of Paul Corfield Godfrey
INSTAGRAM/THREADS: @volanteopera
TWITTER/X: @OperaVolante, @TheCorfield
Recordings and scores of Epic Scenes from The Silmarillion and Akallabêth and other Tolkien Works are available from Volante Opera Productions’ website.

Check out Volante’s website for lots more information, including more details on casting/characters, chapter breakdown, and synopsis. So much to look forward to; we can’t wait to hear these pieces in full. Now we hope they may be brought to the stage one day… Meanwhile here’s Godfrey’s ‘Lament for Boromir’ – enjoy!

Texts by J.R.R. Tolkien from The Lord of the Rings and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by permission of the Estate of the author, HarperCollins Publishers and Middle-earth Enterprises.

The awesome folks at Diamond Select Toys have even more awesome Middle-earth collectibles for those of us who collect their sweet pieces.

If you’re like me, and are collecting the Deluxe Action Figure line, you can now pre-order Merry and Pippin. Both of these figures are priced at $29.99 for a single figure or you can grab both in a set for $59.98 with the figures due to ship in quarter 3 of this year.

If you’re a fan of their Gallery Diorama series you can now add the Cave Troll to that collection. The Cave Troll comes in with a price tag of $125 and will be shipping in quarter 2 of this year.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Diamond Select: Merry, Pippin Deluxe Action Figures and Cave Troll Diorama”

Last Thursday our friends at Weta Workshop revealed one of their most beautiful environments, The Grey Havens is up for order. This piece captures the beauty and emotion of the Grey Havens perfectly.

Like all previous limited edition pieces, fans have a two-week window to place their order, with pre-orders closing on February 8th at 4 PM PST. The Grey Havens piece is available via pre-order for $799, and it is expected to ship at the end of this year.

Two further pieces Weta Workshop announced are for all fans of The Return of the King coronation sequence. From Weta Workshops classic series, representing that beautiful scene from the film, fans can now pre-order the awesome-looking King Aragorn and the stunning Coronation Arwen right now for $399 each.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Grey Havens, King Aragorn, and Coronation Arwen”

Tolkien fans may have been aware of an odd case going through the courts. In 2022, a writer named Demetrious Polychron self-published a book called The Fellowship of the King, claiming it was the ‘pitch-perfect sequel to The Lord of the Rings‘.

In April of this year, Polychron attempted to sue the Tolkien Estate and Amazon (for $250 million!), claiming that The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power TV series infringed copyright on his book. (This court document reveals letters Polychron wrote to Simon Tolkien – it makes for fascinating reading.) This case was dismissed by a judge – but Polychron had been unwise to draw such attention to his writing. The Tolkien Estate in turn filed a lawsuit to prevent distribution of Polychron’s derivative book, and the six sequels he had planned. Here’s what the Estate’s official press release tells us, about the conclusion of this extraordinary tale:

TOLKIEN ESTATE SUCCESSFUL IN COPYRIGHT CLAIMS OVER INFRINGING LORD OF THE RINGS ‘SEQUEL’

The Estate of JRR Tolkien has been successful in two lawsuits concerning a book named The Fellowship of the King by US-based author Demetrious Polychron.

Polychron published and commercially promoted the book, which he claimed to be “the pitch-perfect sequel to The Lord of the Rings.”

Polychron then commenced a lawsuit against the Tolkien Estate and Amazon in April of this year, claiming that Amazon’s TV series The Rings of Power infringed the copyright in his book. The US District Court summarily dismissed that case, finding that Polychron’s own book was infringing and could not be used as the basis for a claim.

The Tolkien Estate filed a separate lawsuit against Polychron for an injunction to prevent The Fellowship of the King from being further distributed.

In Judgments issued by Judge Steven V. Wilson on December 14, the Court awarded the Tolkien Estate summary judgment on its claim, granting a permanent injunction which prevents Polychron from ever distributing any further copies of The Fellowship of the King, his planned sequels to that book, or any other derivative work based on the books of JRR Tolkien. He is also required to destroy all physical and electronic copies of his book and to file a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that he has complied.

The Court also awarded attorney’s fees totalling $134,000 to the Tolkien Estate and Amazon in connection with Polychron’s lawsuit, which the Court found to have been frivolously and unreasonably filed.

Lance Koonce and Gili Karev of Klaris Law, New York, represented the Tolkien Estate.

The Estate’s UK solicitor, Steven Maier of Maier Blackburn, commented: “This is an important success for the Tolkien Estate, which will not permit unauthorized authors and publishers to monetize JRR Tolkien’s much-loved works in this way. This case involved a serious infringement of The Lord of the Rings copyright, undertaken on a commercial basis, and the Estate hopes that the award of a permanent injunction and attorneys’ fees will be sufficient to dissuade others who may have similar intentions.”