Hey folks, Harry here... I got a ton of LORD OF THE RINGS news in the last few hours, so I figured I would just place it all here for now.
First... I had an hour long conversation with... ahem, Joseph Young of Africa last night. Now, Joe has seen the movie, however Mr Young was a fairly radically paranoid type. You see at this point only a few people that work with PETER JACKSON, a few folks at NEW LINE and a couple of DISTRIBUTOR types have seen the film thus far and he didn't want anything to go wrong... So after proving beyond any doubt that he was who he was, he began to allow me to question him about having seen the film.
First, I wanted to determine what this person's taste was. What their expectations were going into the film. What other movies are in their 'taste' area... That sort of thing.
Joseph Young is a geek. No two ways about it. At one point when we were talking about Sean Astin, he said that he always thought of Sean as Rudy, I interupted with, "What about Mikey?" And he retorted instantly with, "Well of course he'll always be a GooooooooooooNnnnniiiiieeeee!!!!" Just an instant reaction... I bopped his knee and he instantly knew how to react. He loves STAR WARS to death. Flaws and all. He can't stand Ewoks, but can't help singing along at the end of the original RETURN OF THE JEDI. He has problems with PHANTOM MENACE, but loves it because it is STAR WARS and he can't not not love it. (How's that, a triple negative!!!) But let's get into the thoughts regarding LORD OF THE RINGS.
Now he has seen it more than once. (Go ahead, It is ok to hate Joseph Young) First, in regards to the film he said, "In 1977, STAR WARS changed film. I love Star Wars. Star Wars played my town for 7 straight months and I remember as a kid going back to the theater... Finding it no longer playing and crying. I'd seen the film in theaters over 50 times. Star Wars is what made me fall in love with film. I love it warts and all. FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS avoids every mistake that STAR WARS made. The acting, the story-telling, at every turn the film is simply effortlessly perfect."
I asked, "Well how does the film play for you?"
"It starts off with a prologue. Now I know the books, so I thought this was going to be repetative, but instead it was like presenting the scope of what is to come. It took me by the hand and said, 'And this is where all of this begins'. Watching Bilbo hug Gandalf, well you've seen that in the Cannes reel, but Harry. There was something so otherworldly magical about it that I just couldn't help, but be delighted. The party scene for Bilbo's birthday plays very fast, but it is during this sequence that you really notice how much you like Elijah Wood. It was strange, it was kind of painful watching him here because he's just so innocent. Those eyes of his, so happy and filled with the simple joys of Hobbit life. I know where this is going so I just empathize with him very profoundly."
"First, I have to say that Ian McKellen is not in this film, Peter Jackson actually cast Gandalf in the film. I think that might stand in the way of Ian getting any sort of nomination out of this film, because you can't conceive of him as being anything other than Gandalf. It doesn't feel like acting. It feels like he's Gandalf. But the man who steals the movie in my opinion is CHRISTOPHER LEE. OHMYGOD. OHMYGOD, when you see him. WOW. Christopher Lee was just the shit in the film. If he doesn't get some sort of nomination at the end of the year. He's just so incredibly awesome. In his scenes with Gandalf... WOW."
At this point, award concepts came to mind, so I asked, "What sort of award potential do you see in FELLOWSHIP?"
"Score. It definitely has score wrapped up. There is so much more music than is just on the soundtrack. It is just amazing, and the way it performs with the movie. Wow. Costumes, Production Design, Effects, Cinematography. It will win Cinematography hands down. The film is just astoundingly photographed. This could have all the technical awards wrapped up. As for the others, I don't even want to pretend to guess about those. I mean writing, direction, acting and the overall film. They are all amazing, but I just fear that the Academy will see this as being so natural, so easy. I mean it feels like this is exactly the way it ought to be. I mean the characters. They are all just exactly who they are in the books. It doesn't feel like acting because THAT'S HOW THOSE CHARACTERS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE. But will they know that? I don't know. If I were voting, this would win everything."
At this point I was curious about a point and asked, "Well how does it compare to BRAVEHEART or GLADIATOR?"
"Ok, well BRAVEHEART was basically the title. The film had so much heart and so much soul that what you were left with a very emotional film, but flawed on several different levels. I like that film quite a bit though. In GLADIATOR though. God I love that movie. GLADIATOR was just firing on all cylinders. Pardon my french, but it was just the fucking best. It was just great cinema. FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS combines the two and has that same sort of fucking best firing on all cylinders great cinema feeling, but it is also has all the heart and soul that I got out of BRAVEHEART. People so do not know what they are heading into. I walked into this thinking there was no possible way it could live up to my expectations. When I walked out that first time, all I could think was that there was no way that TWO TOWERS and RETURN OF THE KING could possibly live up to expectations. OHMYGOD. This is that new benchmark by which all others will be judged. It is perfect!!!"
At this point I was getting very excited. As I imagine you are, but the thought crossed my mind and mouth, "Well, does it have any flaws?"
"No, not really. The weakest link for me was Liv Tyler, and it wasn't that she is bad. I really think she's quite good, but I could not help but see her as Liv Tyler first, not as Arwen first. I can't say that with all the others. Every other character is the character first for me and the actor underneath second. Like Viggo Mortensen, he is Strider first. He is that character. I don't see Sallah, I see Gimli. That guy playing Legolas, where did they find him. He IS LEGOLAS. There's this one point in the woods where he's shooting orcs, and his arms are just a blur of motion and the look on his face was just so damn cool. He just moves like an Elf and I can't really describe that, but when you see him fighting, you'll know what I mean. He's an Elf."
"Coming into this that first time I was really concerned with Sean Astin. I just couldn't help but think RUDY, but he IS Samwise Gamgee! Other than Christopher Lee, Sean Astin steals the movie. I just love him in this film. And Elijah Wood, I don't think he has a clue how big and popular he's going to be out of this. He's the heart of this film."
At this point there were a couple of specific questions I had. "I heard that the last thing Peter Jackson did on this film was take every frame into a computer and bring out colors and desaturate colors at different points. What's that like?"
"Oh well it looks great. At the Mines Of Moria, it is just creepy as can be. But like at Lothlorien he's brought out the blues and yellows and it is just otherworldly. You've never seen a film that looked like this. It has a totally different feel to it."
MMMMMmmm, can't wait. Next I was curious if at this point, does NEW LINE and Peter have a trailer or a preview of TWO TOWERS and/or RETURN OF THE KING before going into credits or after them.
"No, not yet. Though personally that would be cool."
Awwwwww, come on.... NEW LINE... At the very end... after all the credits have rolled, have a "COMING CHRISTMAS 2002: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS" let that be framed center of the screen... then.... KABAM!!!! 2 minutes of TWO TOWERS coolness, followed by "COMING CHRISTMAS 2003: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING" and KABLOOIE!!!! 30 Seconds of ROTK footage! The audience en masse would stay throughout every last second of the credits... Wishing they had been one of the names in the making of the film and suddenly... CHEERS rip out of the audience as they run out of the theater to get back in line.
Ok, well that's all I have from Joseph Young right now, but I imagine he'll be back with more coolness from time to time. But for now, here's some comments from Ian McKellen.
Pendragon here -
I met Sir Ian "Gandalf" McKellen yesterday, and heard him speak about the Fellowship of the Ring. He's currently appearing in Strindberg's 'Dance of Death' on Broadway, but took time out to visit fans at a bookstore and discuss his role in the movies. He showed up in an impeccable pin-striped suit and spoke very eloquently and warmly to the crowd. The glut of reporters and photographers didn't seem to faze him at all. Here's what I gleaned:
- Sir Ian hadn't read the trilogy until he agreed to play the role of Gandalf.
- He played Gandalf the Gray and Gandalf the White as if they were two seperate characters, Gandalf the White being the younger and more warrior-like of the two.
- When he filmed the scene in Moria which pits him against the Balrog and screamed his soon-to-be-legendary line "You will not pass," he was screaming at a tennis ball mounted on a ten-foot pole. He still hasn't seen what the completed Balrog looks like on film; in fact, he hasn't seen any of the film except the dailies screened during production. Many of the cast members will see the film for the first time this Saturday in Los Angeles, and he will see it next Friday in New York. As of yesterday, according to Sir Ian, The Fellowship had ONLY been seen in its entirety by the director and one studio bigwig.
- Apparently, X-MEN fans are louder and ruder than Tolkien fans.
- All the major cast members of the trilogy went to a tattoo parlor after filming ended, to have an elvish rune permanently affixed to their skin. It was supposed to be a secret, but Elijah Wood, who apparently had his tattoo placed in an "unnameable location," let friends and fans know. Sir Ian's tattoo (which he declined to show) is on his right shoulder, and is visible during performances of "Dance of Death." The one major cast member NOT to be tattooed was the actor playing Gimli (John Rhys-Davies? My apologies if I have the actor's name wrong), who sent his stunt double instead.
- Sir Ian most enjoyed acting with Ian Holm, who plays Bilbo. Whenever the two characters were to appear in a scene together, though, McKellan's 7-foot stand-in or Holm's tiny stand-in would have to be present to keep the sense of scale between the actors intact. McKellan was filmed in a small-scale set of Bag-End, to make him look taller, and Holm was filmed in a large-scale set to achieve the opposite effect.
- Tom Bombadil, as your readers may already know, has been removed from the film version of Fellowship.
McKellan raised the faint hope, however, that Peter Jackson will release a fourth film featuring characters and episodes not included in the film of the trilogy. Jackson owns the live-action film rights to The Hobbit, though McKellan made it sound unlikely that Jackson will make that film.
McKellan did say he would love to play Gandalf again if The Hobbit materializes
A "sneak peek" video that revealed very little was shown before McKellan's appearance. A crazy lady brought him cake she had baked in his honor.
All for now,
Then there was this report from Elanor
Hi Harry. Hope you are well. This is from elanor in case you want to post it like you did my last review of the Lincoln Center thing (thanks by the way)
LOTR DAY at B & N
I was pleased to see a good turnout for the event as well as some media types with heavy cameras lined up waiting for interviews with Sir Ian to follow the presentation. Dan and I took seats and looked around trying to figure out if THIS was what Tolkien Geekdom looked like (including ourselves of course). Quite a variety of both old and young, mostly tending toward the literate or bookish types but a few blue-collar folk as well.
A pleasant British lady (I think from Houghton Miflin) told us what was about to happen and I wondered if the "never before seen" footage might be what I already saw at Lincoln Center but it was different and very good. It begins with a nice interview with Raynor Unwin. It was a bit poignant as most in the room knew he had died so recently. Then came shots from the sets in which you could see the cameras and cranes as well as the action. I was worried there would be more about "how they did it" but this tape was really more flavor rather than recipe so I was happy. There was lots I have not seen and it all looked good: the Bilbo-Gandalf meeting scene, part of Sam’s poem about the late Gandalf’s fireworks and various stunning outdoor shots, especially Aragorn trudging through deep snow on a high mountainside.
There were interviews interspersed, all of which were interesting but far too short. Some of my other favorites included a short scene of Elijah (I think) in sword-fight practice, and a charming scene of Orlando enthusiastically practicing his archery. Another nice shot is one I’ve seen pieces of elsewhere but only here altogether, of the hobbits running through woods then hiding in the roots of a large tree as a Black Rider approaches. I think I counted four hobbits in the shot (instead of three) so perhaps this sequence is a substitute for their adventures in the Old Forest. The only downside was the announcer voice-over which I found immensely annoying and unsuitable. I always wonder, with the vast numbers of excellent actors available, why such an overblown, unattached-to-reality voice is chosen for ANY promotional tape, much less this particular one.
The tape includes some wonderful material about Alan Lee and his designs including that his design of Rivendell was accomplished in the actual forest location, rather than at his drafting table in his office. He said he tried to "think like an Elf" and designed in a way that incorporated as many trees and as possible in order to minimize the impact on the natural environment as much as possible, as he felt the Elves would. He was also shown on the completed set, adding detail at the last minute. When I see such attention as
this paid to a part of the set no-one may ever see, my heart just soars. The tape ends with scattered shots that are now familiar from the current trailer but I was happy to see yet again. I wish they had left the lights off as there was a bright enough spot on the podium for us to have seen Sir Ian but I suppose the camera-men asked for and got the lights restored.
The nice British lady then introduced Sir Ian (the poor woman got very nervous and nearly all her composure at this point) and then up he strode, pausing to acknowledge our enthusiastic applause with a broad smile. He said a few words about what it was like to make this film in the beautiful land of New Zealand and then began to take questions. Twice he was told "two more" and twice he ignored it. The second person called upon was (in my view) a mildly wacko woman who began by praising him with a list of his credits that she had seen herself and then announced she had baked him a cake which she then carried over to him. I was worried for him (and the event) at that moment but Sir Ian is so gracious and composed that he took the plastic goodie bag, thanked her and got right back to business. I can’t imagine him actually eating a cake baked by a needy stranger (and presented in so public a manner), especially these days. I suppose this is a glimpse into the life of a celebrity.
Most of the following questions were fairly informed and a lot were about acting. I was about to ask the tattoo question but was not called upon and I am happy that "Jim" did. We learned that it was the elvish word for "nine", that they did not all get it placed in the same spot, that it was supposed to be a secret and that Elijah was blamed for spilling it. Sir Ian said that his was on his shoulder and was on display nightly on Broadway in "Dance of Death" (I may splurge for tickets after all!) He also joked that reading it upside down, it seems to spell "Gucci". We had an "allegory or not" question, an "exclusion of Tom Bombadil" question and "when does the second movie come out" questions. Others were more interesting (to me) about difficulties faced or favorite moments. He told us that Peter Jackson, as a director, is not a "control freak" but that he is in control. That if an actor had a question, PJ would have the answer, yet that answer could be challenged and argued and that his mind was open to suggestion all the time.
I got my nerve up and asked whether he knew if we could expect any glimpses from the First Age to be shown, specifically the tale of Beren and Luthien. Sadly, his answer was "no". Too bad but at least now I know. Dan slunk down in his chair and whispered that I had just asked the geekiest question of all. I was happy to hear several even geekier questions asked later, restoring me into Dan’s good graces. Finally Sir Ian had to give in to the publicists’ demands for interviews, answered the last question and then he kindly thanked us for coming.
There were several books for sale - the Brian Sibley and the Jude Fisher, (both hard and soft cover versions), as well as a calendar. I didn’t see the "Official Movie Guide". They gave out free refrigerator magnets (!) and "Frodo Lives" buttons. All in all, the event was low-key and dignified, and not too blatant an attempt to sell the movie tie-in books. I’m glad I went. As we left the store and walked to the subway we both said I can’t WAIT to see the movie!
And now... here's Cleolinda...
Hi. Long-time reader, first time scooper: you know the story.
In case you're interested--I'm sure you'll receive tons of reports like this--I've just gotten back from the LOTR video screening at the Books-a-Million in Birmingham, AL.
The only problem was that they wouldn't turn the lights in the magazine section off, which was a great detriment, but otherwise the video was great: a large projection screen set up in the magazine section, with about 30 chairs (about half of them filled). I had a clear view from the second row.
The video had some large streaks of book promotion (yes, Houghton Mifflin is a fine company. We know), but it opened with shots of Gandalf in his cart, Galadriel at her mirror, and Arwen riding away from the Ringwraiths (film stock, i.e. scenes from the film).
Then, an interview with Rayner Ulwin and his story of how he got The Hobbit published in 1935 by writing a book report of his for his publisher father; then, how he was responsible for dividing the book into three parts when he himself grew up to be a publisher. The video also noted that Ulwin "sadly passed away shortly after the filming of this interview."
More shots of the Ringwraiths tearing through the forest on horseback (video stock, behind the scenes).
The cheery voiceovers are terrible. But moving on: Peter Jackson talks as we see behind the scenes/video stock of the hobbit actors hiding from the Ringwraiths in the forest and some shots of armies charging. PJ observes that he now knows WHY no one has ever tried to film three movies simultaneously.
Brian Sibley, author of the Official Movie Guide that they're hawking, speaks.
A film scene of Galadriel's kiss to Frodo, and then Cate Blanchett talks about the extraordinary love she felt on the set among the cast and crew for the books and the project.
A segment about Alan Lee and John Howe: they say that PJ and Fran Walsh wrote from an edition illustrated by Alan Lee and thus wanted to hunt him down for the project, because his illustrations showed "the bittersweetness" of the book. Cut to Alan Lee, who says he was supposed to stay for several weeks, "and that was two and half years ago."
PJ talks about John Howe's illustrations looking like a still frame from a movie: "He's very good at portraying action." So we then have several scenes showing Howe and Lee sketching Hobbiton in a farmer's field, sketching the field as if it were Bag End.
Ian McKellan pops up, describing what he saw on the set: "....and I saw the smoke coming out of holes in the ground...**and I believed.**"
More advertising of the Visual Companion book. Lee says that he sketched Rivendell not in his office but *in* the forest, "trying to think like an elf," to design the buildings "around the trees," not interfering with nature--as the elves would have, basically. PJ (or the voiceover guy, I can't remember) notes that Lee was often on set doing last minute touch-ups before the camera rolled (we see him dabbing at a Rivendell pillar with a paint brush).
On to Weta Ltd., and an interview with Richard Taylor, the president and PJ's collaborator. Orlando Bloom pops upand talks about how beautiful his weapons were (I think he was referring to a knife or a sword that his character uses, because you see engravings on a blade). They also discuss what went into the making and design of the orcs. It was very important, they reiterate, that this not feel like fantasy but like history (a point that's been brought up in Prankster's report of Casa Loma, as I remember--if you didn't print it, it was on AICN or CHUD or both).
We see video stock of Sean Astin speaking, in a scene, about Gandalf's beautiful fireworks. Then an interview with Elijah Wood, with scenes of him and Sam in Rivendell.
Next, a scene of Saruman and Gandalf speaking in Orthanc--there was some film stock, I *think*, and I know there was some behind-the-scenes video of it as well. McKellan notes that he was famous on the set for being the one with the book on hand, and how if there was a question of what to do, he'd always pull it out and say, "It's in Tolkien."
We see some battle choreography in a white-walled studio--I think we see Elijah Wood fighting an Orc, and then Orlando Bloom. It's hard to tell, because they both have dark hair at this point, but I'm almost sure I saw both of them at different points. Everyone is just wearing T-shirts and jeans or sweats, so it's really funny to see the Orc actor moving his head around like a cat and hissing. If we didn't see Bloom in the studio, we see him now outside--practicing his archery (with a full head of dark hair, by the way--no mohawk), and he's very proud of his new ability. There's a couple of wooden cows standing out in a field and they're stuck full of arrows, thick as pins in a pincushion. "Look at that one!" he whoops back to the camera. "That went right in the middle! That's some real archery right there!"
We have an interview with Viggo Mortensen, talking about how important it was to film outside, how you can really see the elements working onscreen.
The voiceover narrator (grrrrrrr) talks about how the cast and crew felt there was a parallel between the quest of the book and the quest to bring the film to life.
We see them filming the lake outside the doors of Moria, and Gandalf running his hands over the wall, searching for the door (video stock).
A bit of the party scene--and then there's an astonishing scene from the film in which Ian Holmopens the door and Ian McKellan is standing there in full wizardly regalia. "Gandalf?" he gasps, and you can see that they're filming over McKellan's shoulder, to make Holm look smaller, and it works in a really bizarre way--and then Holm runs forward and hugs McKellan, and I'll be damned if they didn't preserve the play on perspective. I think McKellan kneeled down a bitand the camera moves down with him, so it looks like he's having to reach down to hug Holm. I mean, I was able to figure out what they did after a great deal of puzzling, but the effect in the scene is absolutely flawless.
We're winding up the video now--some more voiceover narration, and we see film clips that are basically that last major trailer that came out, the one with McKellan bellowing, "YOUPASS!!!!" And with that line, they end the video. I only wish they'd turned off the lights.
I know that in Birmingham they *are* reshowing it at 7:30 pm our time; I heard some bookstores weren't doing the night show.
Also: **My full report will be online at **
(Daily Digest editor)