There And Back Again: A Geek's Adventure In Middle Earth!!! CHAPTER EIGHT!!! Now with a Pic!!!
Published at: Dec. 21, 2000, 11:58 p.m. CST by staff
Twas the morning of the last day of the shooting of the most ambitious film shoot in all of film history.
Three movies, each one larger in scope than the one preceding it. Each story greater in dramatics than the preceding… A story that though fiction has become part of history for those that read it.
This day… Friday the 22nd of December in the Year 2000… In the Tower Hall inside the Aragorn looks into the palantir and reveals himself unto the lord of Mordor… Sauron, and the chess pieces are firmly in place..
The first scene is a two shot of Gandalf and Aragorn… The scene lays out the situation… Things are dark, and the progress of Frodo and Sam are completely unknown. The feeling is that Sauron hasn’t yet captured the ring, they feel that Frodo and Sam may still have a chance, but not with an Army of orcs between Frodo and Mt Doom…. Thus the ruse is conceived by Aragorn. Gandalf says, "Sauron will suspect a trap and not take the bait." To which Aragorn says, "Oh… I think he will." I believe in this scene we Eomer, Aragorn, Legolas and Gandalf the White. Here is where much blood and the next stage of the story takes flight… the final play of events is all birthed from this moment… the last moment shot by Peter for THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
Oh what a precipice to be observing.
Watching Viggo here, I am watching a King in Strider’s clothes… You can tell there is a nobility and certainty to his movements. His lines are delivered with a purpose that only the son of Arathorn would possess. When he says, "Then we empty Sauron’s lands… gather all our strength, March on Mordor, and draw his army to the Black Gates." The look in Viggo’s eye… there is a spark, whether it be some bit of reflected light or an inherent spark from within I can not say… but I feel a shiver… That line carries much sacrifice for such a small fellow, but is the absolute necessary move in order for Frodo to succeed. At this moment, Frodo and Sam have a Smeagol/Gollum with them… and times are toughening for them. Yet here, in this clean pure hall in Minas Tirith…. This is the moment where the good of the many is placed in peril for the fewest of few… two hobbits.
I love being here… this is history, the moment of great courage and determination.
Meanwhile a documentary crew is here filming everything that is going on… hell even I am on camera… being captured behind Peter… sitting in the HARRY CHAIR typing away… The idea that a scene like this one is the last one… Oh… the joy of experience.
A really solid take has just been shot… and Peter shouts out from our location behind this statue of a King of Gondor… The direction, "Alright, let’s pick of the pace on this one… have more FUN with it… be excited by this idea!" I believe that is the perfect idea.
They nailed it….. That was the last shot of GANDALF THE WHITE….. "Sauron will suspect a trap and not take the trap!" YES! Quite a moment! This is also Legolas’ last moment before Peter’s Cameras. At this moment, two more of the Fellowship bid Peter farewell… Can you believe it… One more scene to be shot…. But for now…. LUNCH.
Lunch was an emotional time this time out. I grabbed my slice of Beef Wellington (how apropo), a tad of Salmon… roasted new potatoes and a delicious… delicious steamed tomatoes and cheese and asparagus dish that was heavenly. Certainly no set around the world has beet catering. The Award goes to these magical cooks.
Before the ‘school lunchroom’ cafeteria
Aragorn reveals his presence to Sauron… reveals Narsil reforged into Anduril before him… and inflames the anger of the dark lord through the Palantir….
Alright… on set magic here…. The Palantir is to be a black stone that begins to glow…. For the film, Viggo holds a white glowing orb… Peter tells me that the Palantir is the Black Stone as described in the book, but that for the CG artists to clearly see the outline of the globe.… it glows white here…. While watching playback, I mention to Peter….
"I bet this is where a few thousand dollars of sound effects and score come to full hilt eh?"
To which Peter smiled and said, "I do believe yer right on that one."
The look on Viggo’s face is that of one gazing upon an insanity of evil…. I do not know what he is imagining to get this expression… but whatever private demon Viggo has summoned, it looks to me as though he is staring into the flaming eye of Sauron, whether or not we ever see that.
I’ve just seen a take where Viggo hit a moment of dispair that was a GREAT shot…. After he says his peace to Sauron…. Sauron shows him… well, you know, and it strikes fear into him like nothing you can imagine… Looking into Sauron, I take it, is not a healthy move. Heh.
People are taking turns with Anduril between takes…. Various crew members are wearing feathered boas… Cups of chips and malt vinegar… this breaded sausage thing… and the most amazing dispenser of tomato sauce (note not ketchup) and b y the time we are set to take in the shot of Viggo picking up the Palantir… then dropping it…. Well, everyone is joking about finishing on Monday (Christmas day… hehehe)….
Peter has presents from various crew members and cast…. Orlando Bloom gave him a Weta Bug preserved… others have presented him with chocolates and t-shirts… Viggo brought him a series of books he’s been hunting down here in Wellington one by one on the history of New Zealand’s activities in World War I. Peter was delighted… Then Ian gave Peter this amazing print of him and the Frankenstein Monster from GODS & MONSTER… this was a beautiful photo!
Now we are beginning the series of shots to end the principal photography… THE SHOTS ARE:
Aragorn being dressed into his Kingly armor before riding off. Viggo is in a deep rich red tunic… lovely garment… They do a rehearsal run through… Peter goading everyone the entire way… crew laughing as the two Weta Armor experts do their best to quickly get Viggo into the armor without blocking the camera…
Final make up is being down, Viggo’s hair is being straightened out… We are almost ready to shoot, when suddenly Peter says, "Harry… come my boy, your time has arrived…"
I’m like, ‘what the fuck?’
"You are to do the clacker board for the next to the last shot of principal photography… Somebody come teach Harry how to fulfill his duties!!!"
Suddenly this lovely lady wraps a pink feathered boa about my shoulders… I like the feel of it. I’m extremely nervous…. I’m shaking…. Emotionally I am not prepared for this….
I’m told… "Just say, ‘Five fifty Echo Take 1 a/b’ and on Mark… click it down."
Alright I can do this… I’m relatively intelligent…. Ohmygod, this is like so fucking cool, I mean… shit… This is … tears begin… I’m looking about… two cameras…. 10 minutes before principal photography is over… I’m like, what am I doing here… where’s Austin… Christmas… what’s that? When is it? Eeeeek, flash bulbs go off… documentary crew shooting me… Peter giggling in the sidelines… Evil devil!
Suddenly a chap says "ROLLING"
I say perfectly, "Ummm uh, Take 1 a/ um Fire thirty, Um, I mean…. Five Fifty Echo Take uh 1 a/b" and then got the hell out of dodge in my pink boa…. I see Peter… giggling into a clutched fist… I’m beaming… I did something on the film… I took part… In a cool little way, I was here, I started the shot… I was a part. I’m really really emotional about this right now back at the hotel… I have such hopes for these films… as do all of fandom… and when I clicked that clack board and moved out of the way…. When you see the shot… 3 years from now… when Aragorn, son of Arathorn… is having his chainmail skirt and armor placed on… from behind. I started that shot…. Somewhere is film footage of me…. Calling that shot into play….
I stand in the sidelines… watching the Weta folks strapping on the gauntlets of the King of Gondor… the armor, the tunic with the Tree of Gondor… Here before his white throne… in front of the black marble chair of the Lord Denethor… Steward of Minas Tirith…
The take goes smoothly… then the camera crew switches sides…. For the final shot. The last shot of LORD OF THE RINGS on Peter’s unit… and Peter takes the Pink boa… the clapper board… and does a schtick where he gets his finger caught in the board… Viggo slaps the board…. Peter asks him to do it again… and when it finally clicks….
Peter moves off…. The Weta armor guys in full Gondorian glory… dress their king from the front… and when it comes to the over-Tunic… it isn’t smooth… so Peter calls for a new final shot….
Just then…as if by fate… Sean Astin and Elijah Wood…. Sam and Frodo… arrive and take the honors… Sean has the pink boa and his daughter around his neck…. Elijah joins from the other side… they do the job, and move out of way… and the final shot is taken.
Now folks… I must go to the wrap party… I am wearing the shirt that Dorothy Parker gave me for my birthday with the special buttons she put on it for me… and I’m wearing my sparkly shoes… All in all… I’m ready to get pissed as Peter tells me.
Folks… I will write you back in the states… I will be in no shape to run a computer tonight when I get back… I promise though… there is ONE MORE REPORT! One more installment from THERE AND BACK AGAIN…. It will be delivered on Christmas Morning by Santa Claus….
Take care… be well… The shooting of principal photography is OVER… and my friends… it has been emotional. Tears flowed… Elijah shook… Orlando smiled so much tears flowed… and tonight, after 18 months of filming… the party to end all wrap parties will get underway… in about 12 minutes… I’ve got to go… sorry for the no spell check… no grammar check… I’ve got to go…
P.S. Watching Aragorn eating Cotton Candy… strange thing to see…