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October 03, 2002 - October 10, 2002

10-10-02 Latest News

Douglas Anderson in Salt Lake City
Calisuri @ 10:53 am EST

New TheOneRing.net staffer MrCere sends in this report from Douglas Anderson's book tour in Salt Lake City, Utah:

Douglas Anderson, author of the recently re-released "The Annotated Hobbit" spent a couple of hours with me before the bookstore event to talk about his latest work and all of his works. He knows TORN and remarked how friendly the TORN staff and patrons were during his time at Comic-Con in San Diego this past August. Doubtless, he will be a friend of TORN for a long while I suspect.

Anderson is a Tolkien fan's Tolkien fan. While the staff and users of TORN are steeped in the lore and legend, Anderson has had deep, constant and scholarly study of all of the good professors works from his translations, to his art and his poetry. He also has contact with the almost legendary Tolkien estate and knows Tolkien's own children and probably they call him "friend." He enjoys the works on the level that TORNados do, but he understand them and appreciates them with a greater depth and understanding as well. Something like the good professor himself, Anderson appreciates words, and language. He applies philology to the works in order to understand what Tolkien was thinking and doing as he put words here and there or as he incorporated literary in-jokes directly into his texts.

We read a good yarn and know that it also transcends the story and delves into the power of myth and touches us in our lives but Anderson understands that Tolkien was exploring the territory of Beowulf and understands the layers of thought there that I at least, didn't know existed.

In one of my favorite revelations, Anderson talked about Tolkien's poetry. I have often heard the poetry in "Hobbit" and "Rings" criticized, and while I liked it and thought it served the story, I always felt that the literary critics knew a bit more than me and I never imagined it to be on par with Shakespeare or Donne. Anderson enlightened me.

Tolkien was writing in medieval meter and while I can know that as a fact, Anderson was kind enough to recite an example or two and explain how they worked which took me from knowing to understanding, at least a little. W.H. Auden, among the premier poets of the 20th century, adored Tolkien's poetry and really understand what he was working with. Simply, he wrote on a level that worked for his story and was understandable for his readers, but for those with eye to see and ears to hear, there are many more things happening in his poems than the casual reader, and many literary critics, understand. The professor's works were on our level and at the same time far above our depth.

"He was using medieval meter," Anderson said. "And really nobody does it any better. It was culturally modeled on modern language using an archaic mode. That isn't a talent that maybe anybody aspires to but he did it damn well."

Anderson's passion is what he called "Literary archeology." Wow.

Anderson is not at all limited to Tolkien's works but studies fantasy literature but is especially fond of discovering obscure authors. To explain his finds is more complicated than I can rip out tonight for TORN but for my newspaper I will explore this in a bit more depth. One thing that was interesting, to me at least, is that one of the authors he helped remember was a former staff writer at my paper in 1947. His book "Devil Drum" an horrorish voodoo novel is being reprinted by a small press and Anderson is writing the forward to the book.

Interesting to many TORNados is the strong belief Anderson has in the genre of fantasy as valuable literature, and not as escapist crap. (Although he admitted crap exists in fantasy as in every other written genre including realism.) He would and could go toe-to-toe with many literature folks and aggressively defend fantasy.

He explained that realism came to dominate culture around the 1920s and a generation adopted it as the only viable medium and taught others that all else was worthless. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and others obviously didn't agree. Ursula La Guin addressed this in "Language Of The Knight" should anybody care to pursue if further.

"Fantasy is liberating," Anderson said. "It allows writers to approach big questions that the very restricting realism doesn't allow. Realism came to dominate and when that generation shuffles off this mortal coil it (fantasy) will return."

I will comment that it is returning even now in popular culture, as witnessed by TORN, the internet and the changing face of Hollywood which is more and more fantasy oriented. "Geeks" are becoming so common that we are taking back society. In Anderson's words, while quoting Tennyson, "The old order changeth and giveth way to the new." He quoted that again during that night's slide show presentation answering a question about the great theme of Lord Of The Rings.

"Fantasy rates at literature, simply. If people can't see it, that is their problem. They fail to see what is grand." (I bet somebody could make that their new TORN footer.)

Yes, Virginia, there was fantasy before Tolkien. Many of the folks I meet in every day life think honestly that Tolkien invented the genre. I asked Anderson to talk about it but even a short reading in "The Annotated Hobbit" will make it obvious that Tolkien has fantasy influences all around him and even as a child enjoyed hearing Faerie stories. There is a book, I missed the author, called "Roots Of THe Mountain: Fantasy Before Tolkien."

What Tolkien did do, if I understood Anderson correctly, is help update fantasy and myth for the 20th century and leave an indelible mark on it.

OTHER QUICK NOTES: Anderson doesn't mind the movie centered people who come on board and read the books. Perhaps we should be nicer to newbies?

He did not update "The Annotated Hobbit" for the movies but the timing was fortunate.

He feels that the Tolkien family isn't from a Star Wars generation that loves movies the way "we" do and really fail to see the big deal about it all. The media (me) are like bloodhounds trying to get quotes from them and they really think it isn't their place to comment. At one point Christopher had a helicopter flying over his out to take pictures.

There is more produced by Tolkien (poetry at least) that hasn't hit the public. It might be seen "soon."

There is a strong possibility we will see "The Annotated Lord Of The Rings." (YES!) Anderson, after being asked by Christopher about it said, "They will be great." Meaning he didn't want to tackle it but looks forward to reading it someday. Christopher has very meticulously organized all his papers and eventually they will likely see the light of day. Exciting no?

QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE: Young child Q: "How do you know all this stuff?" A: "I read and read for years and years."

Q: "What about Tom Bombadil" Anderson quotes Tolkien in a radio interview, "Tom Bombadil is a very curious fellow and we will not interfere." Tolkien then changed the subject. Anderson mentioned that Tom, Christopher's doll, was flushed down the toilet, prompting Tolkien to write about him years before LOTR.

Q: World War I & Tolkien A: "The War played a very central role (in Tolkien's life.)" He has lice and trench fever and his experience was ghastly. "It was a very potent experience and I think it influenced him in a powerful manner."

I believe dear TORN friends, that that is enough. Others will fill in their reports from Seattle and Portland, but that was my lunch and evening's entertainment with Douglas Anderson, author of The Annotated Hobbit.

- MrCere

Quickbeam on the 'Jamie Kennedy Experiment' TONIGHT!
Calisuri @ 2:43 am EST

Here's a piece of news that we just HAVE to mention!

Our very own Green Books writer Quickbeam is going to appear tonight on "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment," a hidden-camera show on the WB network. Without Quickbeam knowing, the wacky Jamie Kennedy snagged him in a very elaborate stunt!

Many of you know that Quickbeam (Cliff) is not just a writer but also works in Hollywood as a voiceover actor -- he even provided the voice of Sam in the Universal Interactive "Fellowship of the Ring" video game. For the joke, Jamie Kennedy set up a fantastic "fake audition" that Cliff thought was real! As they say on the show, he was "X-ed".

The segment will be broadcast all across North America tonight, so watch if you want to see the mayhem! Here is the info:

Show: The Jamie Kennedy Experiment
Date: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2002
Time: 9:00PM (in all time zones)
Network: the WB (in the Los Angeles area, KTLA 5)

For your local listings, please click:

We guarantee it will be ABSURDLY embarrassing for old Quickie. But hey, that's the whole point. Watch if you dare.

10-09-02 Latest News

Media Watch: Disney Adventures Magazine
Xoanon @ 11:52 pm EST

Lady_Greenleaf writes: I just got a copy of Disney Adventures magazine in the mail this afternoon (they just mail it to me, I assure you I do NOT subscribe) and there's an interview with Elijah Wood and Sean Astin about The Two Towers. I sent along some scans of both pages of the interview.

AMC Theatres To Feature TTT Gift Cards
Xoanon @ 1:15 pm EST

On Wednesday October 9 the Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas) contains an article about upcoming Lord of the Rings tie-in AMC theater giftcards.

"...AMC spokesman Rick King said that to the best of his knowledge AMC is the first movie exhibition company to sell gift cards at off-site locations. Though AMC's initial retail outlets are grocery stores, King said the company is working on deals with other types of retailers...Initially, AMC gift cards have the same design, but beginning in November, 500,000 cards featuring art from "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," will be available at AMC theaters."

More On Bombs & Games From Games Workshop
Xoanon @ 1:11 pm EST

Check out all the TTT goodness from Games Workshop! [More] [Even More]

Tim from Games Workshop writes:

I noticed the discussions about the Uruk-Hai bombs; (Read Mortor Bomb Of Saruman's? from October 8th) you can see one on the link above now actually. I'm painting up a Siege Attackers set now that includes one of them :)

Also, we'll be doing a Two Towers gaming event on the 19th:

For those on the Northern Virginia area, we're doing a big LotR event at the Tysons Corner Mall in McLean, Virginia. It will be on Saturday October 19, from 10am onwards.

We'll be fighting The Last Alliance on a 16 foot long table, along with the huge Mt Doom we had at Games Day. We'll also have several tables to demo The Two Towers, and also lots of new figures on display too. We'll also be showing a neat video all about how we made our LotR game, hosted by designer Rick Priestley.

If you can make it, it should be fun - hope to see you there! We'll be in the Fashion Court near Nordstrom's.

Jincey's Review: The Ringwraith on Steed Statue
Jincey @ 12:17 am EST

PRODUCT: The Ringwriath on Steed Statue
MANUFACTURER: Sideshow/Weta Collectibles
PRICE: $275 US

Ringwraith on Steed StatueBack in August 2001 I was checking out Sideshow-Weta's wonderful booth at Atlanta's Dragon*Con. Here they had displayed many of their items: the stone trolls, the Moria environment, and lots and lots of busts and statues. As I made my way slowly through the booth, I came to a new item that I'd not seen or heard about, and I was immediately captivated by it. The Ringwraith on Steed prototype statue was on display and I fell totally in love with the exquisite detail and beauty (yes, beauty) of the piece. You'd think that one couldn't find beauty in something representing such a malevolent character! I knew I had to have this piece.

When the statue was released this past month, I kept my word to myself and placed my order, then waited breathlessly for its arrival. When it came a few days later (in a huge box!) I carefully opened it. I must say, the folks at Sideshow-Weta have done their research when it comes to packaging. This piece arrived in absolute perfect condition. The 16"w x 15"H x 9"D statue comes with a heavy base that has a map of Middle-earth etched upon it. The polystone horse and rider are one piece and mount on the base by means of a pin protruding from the base.

The wraith sits upon his steed, turning slightly in his saddle, one hand outstretched as if he is reaching out for you. His silver hilted sword is by his side, sheathed in the silver tipped scabbard. His hands and feet are clad in armor, the scales of which appear to be a dark yet shiny metal. His robes have a coarse linen finish, and are stained at the bottom with mud, as if he's been on a long journey. The robes, though solid statue, seem to flow with movement, as if he's just reined his horse in to a full stop. There is a gaping hole of black emptiness where his head should be, though the cowl of the robe rises as if there is something there.

The solid black steed is also travel-worn. He has muddy feet and exhibits several small cuts, as if he's been ridden hard through rough terrain. His chanfron and hide are speckled with water stains. His bridle is flexible, though I don't think it is of leather. The detail on this statue is so minute that you can actually see the nail heads in the horse's hooves and the fraying at the edge of the wraith's cape.

I think what I like the most about this statue is the fluidity of movement captured in the statue. It is as if the wraith has just suddenly paused, and the motion of his hand, his robes, and the horse, have all been frozen in a malicious moment of time.

This limited edition collector's item is by no means inexpensive ($275.00 US), but is well worth the investment to anyone that is searching for a unique piece to add to their collection of Tolkien memorabilia. This is definitely an item that should be considered for its artistry and detail.


[Order at SideshowWeta.com]

Share your opinions on this product

10-08-02 Latest News

Two Towers CD Cards
Xoanon @ 4:40 pm EST

Introduces Next Installment of Popular Interactive Collectible CD Cardz Series Based on New Line Cinema’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

New York, NY (October 1, 2002) – Serious USA takes fans on an interactive adventure into the fantastical world of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers with a brand new collection of digital trading cards inspired by the characters and quests of the much-anticipated sequel to last year’s blockbuster from New Line Cinema, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. With four trading card-sized CD Cardz based on each of the four cultures of Middle Earth—Hobbits, Rohirrim, Saruman and Warriors—Serious’ new line of digital collectibles explores the worlds of twelve Lord of the Rings characters with bios, behind-the-scenes footage, photos and more!

“The depth of The Lord of the Rings storylines and cast of characters gave us a wonderful opportunity to offer fans a collection of digital collectibles rich in design and content,” said Neil Birk, Director of Sales and Marketing, Serious USA. ”The effort that the Serious team has put into recreating the magic and mystery of The Two Towers is reflected in every facet of the set, from the vibrant layout and effects of each card, to the vivid depiction of each character’s adventures.”

Echoing the ominous powers of the Ring that propel the storyline of The Lord of the Rings, fans use the magical Ring to navigate through the content of each of the CD Cardz, exploring the different featured characters’ areas of interest. Mystical sound effects and movie sound bites highlight the transition from one interactive area to the next, as the sinister burning eye of the Dark Lord Sauron appears throughout the digital journey as a frequent reminder of the evil forces that shadow The Lord of the Rings adventures. By exploring the Cardz’ map of Middle Earth, users uncover “hot spots” to download exclusive The Two Towers wallpaper and screensavers.

Serious’ new collection of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers CD Cardz will be available in November for a suggested retail price of $14.99. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

The highly-anticipated second installment of the trilogy from New Line Cinema, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, will premiere in December 2002. For more information about New Line Cinema’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, go to www.lordoftherings.net

TTT Premiere Dates?
Xoanon @ 4:28 pm EST

Jennie writes: the moderator of Billy's official site, says the TTT World Premiere is in New York on December 5th, and that the Paris premiere is December 10th and the London premiere December 11th. I don't know if you guys already have these dates, but this is straight from Billy's good friend, who will likely attend at least one if not more of these. Here's a link to the bb.net thread where he makes these announcements. [More]

The Many Faces Of Theoden
Xoanon @ 4:22 pm EST

ConfigSys.boy writes: After watching the TT Teaser and then Trailer back to back a few dozen times one thing jumped out at me as worthy of note. Within the two previews of the upcoming movie you can get a sneak peek at the amazing visual transformation worked on Theoden by the makeup and lighting crew for the film. As devout fans of the books already know Theoden transforms from an ailing old monarch to the battle-king of the Rohirrim in a matter of moments under the ministrations of the returned Gandalf, but seeing that represented in the film presents an interesting visual challenge. If this little cut and paste montage I've put together of captures from the frame by frame analyses is any indication though it appears as if WETA may have yet another Oscar nomination for makeup on their hands again this year. [More]

10-06-02 Latest News

TORN Interviews Alan Lee
Xoanon @ 7:54 pm EST

Written by: Thorongil

It was a cold and dreary full night in New York City. It had rained all day long and was still pouring when I arrived at the Clearview Chelsea West Cinemas. There were already seventy-five people inside trying to get good seats. The reason the others and I braved the elements was to attend the Alan Lee seminar: “The Lord of the Rings-Behind the Scenes with Alan Lee.” No amount of rain would have stopped me or the other die hard Tolkien fans. This was a chance to witness first hand some of Lee’s best work. As was reported earlier by others, Lee mentioned that he was not used to giving presentations. He said, “Let me know if I start to bore you.” A few minutes into his slide show the audience was captivated by the stories he was telling. I imagined myself a young Hobbit lad listening to the wonderful adventures of Bilbo, as Lee described each sketch, picture or movie frame in great detail. After an hour of one amazing slide after another, the floor was opened up to a question and answer forum. Lee thoughtfully answered well over a dozen questions, ranging from where he got his early influences to covering various aspects of LOTR movie.

Immediately following was the book signing by Lee. He signed countless books and spent at least a few minutes with each person in line. No Tolkien fan went home unhappy that night. I personally would like to thank Houghton Mifflin and especially Bridget and Megan for hosting such a great event and really helping me throughout the event.

It wasn’t until I caught up with Lee at The New York is Book Country at the Movies Reception that I was able to interview him. After spending a few hours with him, chatting and noshing on horsdouvres’, I came away thoroughly impressed with Alan Lee. He is a soft spoken, intelligent, talented and funny man. As lengthy as our interview was, I think he would have gone deep into the night if we didn’t have pressing engagements early the next morning.

Before I get into the interview I would like to thank the following people who helped supply me with questions: Htebazy Took, SamGamgee7, Jincey, Ringare, Hannah, Luhn, LadyWolf, Bekah-The-Sheep, and Leo. A special thanks also goes to Liz Bianco, a big LOTR fan who was gracious enough to allow me the use of her house to interview Alan and for throwing a great party.

Q. Most of, if not all of your work is in the Sci Fi/Fantasy genre? Why or what influenced you going into this genre?

A. “It really was a childhood love of fairy tales, mythology and certain books and film I encountered early on in childhood that set me on this path. One of the very first films I remembered seeing was “The Thief of Baghdad”. It was such a strong vivid experience watching this magical tale unfold I was hooked for life on stories with magic and fantasies from that point on. I began to discover a great love for folklore and mythology and legends from the books I found in the local library; I devoured them.”

Q. What is your favorite medium to work with?

A. “I work in watercolor and also in black and white using pencil and charcoal. I find charcoal a very satisfying and quite a rich medium. I love black and white work. Although watercolor is obviously much better for evoking delicate atmosphere, it is really the medium for children’s books. Also, I am starting to discover the wonders of computers and I am working with PhotoShop quite a lot. It’s just a much more direct way of communicating ideas which are essentially photographic and doing design for matte paintings and the effect shots in the movies. I am thoroughly enjoying that as a new medium that I have discovered fairly late in life and its opening up all new kinds of possibilities for me.”

Q. Concerning the initial contact about you working on the movies. Where you contacted or was it something you heard about first and wanted to work on?

A. “No, it came out of the blue and it was an invitation from Peter (Jackson). He sent a package with a couple of videos, one of them was “Heavenly Creatures” which I enjoyed immensely. There was also a letter outlining on what he was planning to do and inviting me to get involved. I had always loved the idea of it being a live action film and excited by the potential the modern special effects technicians can now bring to a subject like that. So I was quite excited to be involved.”

Q. Are the landscapes in your conceptual painting based on landscape that actually exists, or is it all your imagination or a combination of both?

A. “In the conceptual painting the landscapes are a synthesis between those I found in New Zealand and those we were trying to evoke as images of Middle-earth. I do a lot of direct observational drawings from nature. I also use photography a lot in my work. With the idea of New Zealand being a perfect setting, as a blank beautiful landscape to build our imaginary civilizations. It was very compelling from the beginning. I knew a little bit about New Zealand, but I don’t think I realized what a rich and beautiful country it was, and that has been one of the most pleasurable parts of the whole exercise. Getting close to the New Zealand landscape and being able to use it as a resource was quite special.”

Q. Do you feel the movie scenery looked close enough to the books?

A. “I think we found some wonderful sets that were very close to Tolkiens descriptions. Edoras, impaticular it could not have been better. It was the perfect setting, this kind of rocky knoll in the shadow of these fantastic snow cap peaks. It was quite magical. We had a lot to do to make the North Island farm to make it look like The Shire, but that was part of the fun. New Zealand has a wide variety of landscapes; marshes, almost like rainforests, glaciers and alpine scenery, it is a very rich land. If we had filmed in Europe, anywhere there are many layers of ancient habitations and many layers to the cultivation which are all very distinctive. We might have found places which were close in some ways but we always would have known that was shot in some castle in France or Scotland. It is very hard to find landscape that isn’t so distinctively of that country. It really could not have done justice to Middle Earth. Peter definitely made the right choice; he did not want to film anywhere but New Zealand. He knew of its potential and he loves the country.”

Q. Concerning LOTR movie. What was it like working with Peter Jackson, someone who knew Tolkien’s work so well and had such a clearly defined vision of Middle-earth?

A. “It was a great adventure working with Peter. He has such an extraordinary imagination. We were really there to serve his vision and to help flush it out and feed him with ideas and respond to his ideas. The revelation was what an exciting dynamic filmmaker he is. It is one thing to build an exciting set, but it is quite another to see it used in such a tremendous way and to see the flow of action. Peter is a great one at creating surprises and delights in film making.”

Q. What is it like to see your drawings and creations come to life on film?

A. “In some ways its totally amazing, you start off with a book illustration or conceptual design and then follow it through with all its details, then finally see it through to completion. It never fails to be enchanting to see it for the first time on film. I think the revelations are the way it looks when it’s lit and I think Andrew Lesnie (Cinematographer) and the lighting team just did a beautiful job on all the sets and totally transforms it. You take a forest in the studio without light. It can be a dingy place but when the lighting crew finish their work and the beams of sunlight are drifting through and everything is perfect and in its place it’s a special magic that is created. And the magic is amplified by the magic of the actors create when they move through it. It’s the skilled people down the line that produce the magic. We just provide the foundations really, and we just sit back and watch the magic happen. It’s quite lovely really.”

Q. Normally an artist would have to use his imagination to create a design. Being in beautiful New Zealand, did it make it easier to visualize your designs?

A. “Yes, I think the country side has been very inspirational. I found the whole experience of looking for locations and going on the excursions with Peter and the others a real fundamentally important part of the process and very enjoyable. I took loads of photographs. These photographs are still being used as the foundation of many of the matte paintings that are now being produced to flesh out the background of some of those scenes.”

Q. Where there any conflicts of design between you and John Howe, and if so how do you find a balance between the two inputs of design?

A. “The work that John and I did was very complimentary, we got on very well. There are some aspects that we worked on together, in the end everything was up to Peter. He would look at drawings we did and make comments on them. He was always our chief benchmark. The work divided up fairly naturally. John becoming Sauron’s chief architect. He did Barad Dur and Minas Morgul and the Black Gates and all wonderful imaginative very gothic constructions. I really enjoyed seeing him do those drawings and seeing them come to life in the movies. He also designed Bag End because he had already produced a drawing that Peter had identified as a great starting point. Also, John’s contribution to the arms and the armor and the whole look of the Orcish Armies and Sauron’s own armor. He very much was drawing on his own experience as a medieval reanactor. He arrived in New Zealand with his own armory of weapons, shields and swords. He even carried a long bow through customs. You couldn’t keep him away from the forge; he just loved it. He also did brilliant work on some of the creature design like the Fell Beast and the Balrog. The fact that we are quite different in our styles is actually appropriate. There would not have been just one architect in Middle Earth, it would have been several. I think we covered the ground between us quite well.”

Q. What do you feel is your best artwork which is most closely resembled in the film?

A. “I think it was the design of Orthanc because I had already started out with quite a detailed drawing that was used as an illustration in a book. It was a watercolor painting that showed the bottom third of Orthanc. Peter responded very strongly to that and really liked it. His brief to me was “just finish the job”. So I had to do detailed drawings of the rest of the structure and then the interior, which we wanted to reflect the look of the outside. I worked very closely with the miniature builders and with the art department providing very detailed drawings and models of Orthanc. Everything came together so beautifully. It was just one of those sets in which nothing was out of place, nothing failed to sparkle in the right way.”

Q. Is there one scene or sequence of scenes in the movie that was your favorite?

A. “I think the Edoras sets appealed to me strongly. It partly had to do with the fantastic landscapes but also the complete realization of the culture through its artifacts and buildings and the interior and exterior of the Golden Hall. It was something into which we put a lot of detail and beautiful design and prop work. Everything was very cohesive. Another set I like in a different way is Osgiliath which we see in the Two Towers. The enjoyable thing about that was we made most of it from left over sets, because it is a ruined city. We had a lot of other sets we could cannibalize to build it. Designing it was partly a combination of taking these other sets, which were little scale models made of the bits of sets that we had left over and arranging them. We created the illusion of these old crumbling ruined walls, arches and buildings. It was a very pleasurable design to be involved with and a lovely place to spend a bit of time. I really enjoyed it.”

Q. We have seen how visually stunning the sets are on film. How much did you have to do with the actual set designs? Please tell us about working with those who actually constructed the sets.

A. “I worked quite closely at all stages, from the conceptual design to working in close collaboration with Grant Major, Peter and Dan Henna. There were various compromises that would have to be made to reduce the size of the set because it was coming in at twice the budget that had been allotted. All that was an interesting part of the process, making these little changes to accommodate these needs and still keep the sets as attractive and interesting as possible. I worked closely with the draft people, providing them with architectural details. The props and the furnishing all went through the same kind of design process. Invariably questions would come up during construction and either Dan, Grant or I would be called to make some minor adjustments. I would be on hand for set dressings and preparing the set for filming. I would often place props; basically I couldn’t keep out of the whole process. I wanted to see everything though to its completion. People were very accommodating and nice and basically let me have free reign. Also just trying to make sure that Peter’s initial vision was intact. They had so many people working on the production. In the art department there were four hundred or so individuals very talented but very few who actually worked on a film project before. They were enthusiastic but also eager for any kind of input that John (Howe), I or other designers could bring to the process.”

Q. Which design of the films are you most proud of and which design was the hardest or took the most work?

A. “I can’t really say which I am most proud of. There are so many elements that I really enjoyed. I think maybe Minas Tirith because it is going to be at the culmination and climax of all three films. It is probably the most exciting and satisfying part and I can’t wait to see how that is realized in the third film. We made a beautiful miniature and a fantastic set, several sets actually. Peter created some amazing set pieces in those environments. The most difficult was probably both the elven kingdoms of Lothlorien and Rivendell. I think it is just because we were very careful about trying to represent the elves in a way that would make them believable and not stray too far into fantasy. We had to create a culture that looked as though it had been on Middle-earth for thousands of years and yet have a likeness and delicacy. We were trying to evoke the atmosphere of the last days of the elves, the sense that Rivendell was at the point of being left forever. The spiritual center of Lothlorien was so vital to the books and the readers’ heart, certainly in mine.”

Q. Would you want to do more movies or would you rather stay with just illustrating?

A. “I am very keen to get back to books because they are my first love. I will always prefer books in a way; there is something special about the physical presence of a book. I am very intrigued about the idea of working more in movies and doing other projects, but it would have to be a pretty special project to follow LOTR. Perhaps it will come along. For the moment I am thinking I just want to get back to my studio and my books.”

Q. Finally, do you think the cast and crew created a Middle-earth that Professor Tolkien would be proud of?

A. “That is a very interesting question; I don’t think anyone would know what Tolkien’s reaction to the movies would be. But somehow I feel he could not be disappointed. I think there is so much of him in these films and so much magic and enjoyment. The details and the respect that has gone into ever single aspect of the production could not have failed to impress him, I don’t think. I would love to see his reaction; it would be very, very interesting indeed.”

Weekly Cast Watch
Xoanon @ 7:22 pm EST

To get more information, use the sites I use like the ones below. Simply find a movie or actor you want to see, go to one of the sites below and see if the film is playing in your area. mydigiguide.com, tv-now.com and IMDB.com

Note: These are films that are listed as being on TV THIS WEEK ONLY, this is NOT a list of all the films the cast has done

Cast List

  1. Viggo Mortensen

  2. Liv Tyler

  3. Ian Holm

  4. Sean Bean

  5. Ian Mune

  6. Martyn Sanderson

  7. David Weatherley

  8. Marton Csokas

  9. Taea Hartwell

  10. John Noble

  11. Alexandra Astin

  12. Peter McKenzie

  13. Hugo Weaving

  14. Karl Urban

  15. Miranda Otto

  16. Noel Appleby

  17. David Wenham

  18. Cameron Rhodes

  19. Elijah Wood

  20. Cate Blanchett

  21. Bruce Hopkins

  22. Ian McKellen

  23. Mark Ferguson

  24. John Rhys-Davies

  25. Andy Serkis

  26. Stephen Ure

  27. Craig Parker

  28. John Leigh

  29. Timothy Bartlett

  30. Harry Sinclair

  31. Orlando Bloom

  32. Lawrence Makoare

  33. Robbie Magasiva

  34. Ray Henwood

  35. Dominic Monaghan

  36. Robyn Malcolm

  37. Bruce Spence

  38. Megan Edwards

  39. Billy Boyd

  40. Sarah McLeod

  41. Sean Astin

  42. Christopher Lee

  43. Sala Baker

  44. Brian Sergent

  45. Bernard Hill

  46. Nathaniel Lees

  47. Brad Dourif

  48. Howard Shore

  49. Jim Rygiel

  50. Peter Jackson

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
28 Days (2000)
Perfect Murder, A (1998)
G.I. Jane (1997) Xoanon's Pick!
Daylight (1996)
Albino Alligator (1996)
Crimson Tide (1995) Xoanon's Pick!
Prophecy, The (1995)
Ruby Cairo (1993)
Young Guns II (1990) Xoanon's Pick!
Purple Rose of Cairo, The (1985)
Witness (1985)

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Liv Tyler (Arwen)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Dr. T & the Women (2000)
Plunkett & Macleane (1999)
Cookie's Fortune (1999)
Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
That Thing You Do! (1996)

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Ian Holm (Bilbo)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Bless the Child (2000)
Shergar (1999)
Match, The (1999)
Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998) (TV)
Life Less Ordinary, A (1997)
Fifth Element, The (1997) Xoanon's Pick!
Big Night (1996) Xoanon's Pick!
Madness of King George, The (1994)
Hamlet (1990)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
S.O.S. Titanic (1979) (TV)

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Sean Bean (Boromir)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Don't Say a Word (2001) Xoanon's Pick!
Essex Boys (2000)
Black Beauty (1994)
Field, The (1990)

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Ian Mune (Bounder)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Bounty, The (1984)

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Martyn Sanderson (Bree Gatekeeper)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Ned Kelly (1970)

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David Weatherly (Barliman Butterbur)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Marton Csokas (Celeborn)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Monkey's Mask, The (2000)

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Taea Hartwell (Child Hobbit)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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John Noble (Denethor)

Monkey's Mask, The (2000)
Virtual Nightmare (2000)
Airtight (1999) (TV)

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Alexandra Astin (Elanor Gamgee)

No listings this week

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Peter McKenzie (Elendil)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Hugo Weaving (Elrond)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Matrix, The (1999) Xoanon's Pick!
Strange Planet (1999)
Frauds (1993)
For Love Alone (1986)

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Karl Urban (Eomer)

Price of Milk, The (2000)

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Miranda Otto (Eowyn)

What Lies Beneath (2000) Xoanon's Pick!
Emma's War (1986)

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Noel Appleby (Everard Proudfoot)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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David Wenham (Faramir)

Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Boys, The (1997/I)

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Cameron Rhodes (Farmer Maggot)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Elijah Wood (Frodo)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Faculty, The (1998)
War, The (1994)
Adventures of Huck Finn, The (1993)
Radio Flyer (1992)
Paradise (1991)
Avalon (1990)
Internal Affairs (1990)
Back to the Future Part II (1989) Xoanon's Pick!

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Cate Blanchett (Galadriel)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Shipping News, The (2001)
Man Who Cried, The (2000)
Gift, The (2000)
Talented Mr. Ripley, The (1999)

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Bruce Hopkins (Gamling)

No listings this week

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Ian McKellen (Gandalf)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
X-Men (2000) Xoanon's Pick!
Gods and Monsters (1998) Xoanon's Pick!
Apt Pupil (1998)
Restoration (1995)
Cold Comfort Farm (1995) (TV)
Richard III (1995)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
And the Band Played On (1993) (TV)
Keep, The (1983)

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Mark Ferguson (Gil-Galad)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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John Rhhys-Davies (Gimli)

Scorcher (2002)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Secret of the Andes (1998)
Protector, The (1997/I)
Great White Hype, The (1996)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Xoanon's Pick!
Perry Mason: The Case of the Murdered Madam (1987) (TV)
Firewalker (1986)
Sadat (1983) (TV)

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Andy Serkis (Gollum)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Stephen Ure (Gorbag)

No listings this week

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Craig Parker (Haldir)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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John Leigh (Hama)

Atomic Twister (2002) (TV)

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Timothy Bartlett (Hobbit)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Harry Sinclair (Isildur)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Price of Milk, The (2000)

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Orlando Bloom (Legolas)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Lawrence Makoare (Lurtz)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Robbie Magasiva (Mahur)

No listings this week

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Ray Henwood (Man from Rivendell)

No listings this week

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Dominic Monaghan (Merry)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Robyn Malcolm (Morwen)

No listings this week

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Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron)

Queen of the Damned (2002)
Sweet Talker (1991)
Rikky and Pete (1988)

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Megan Edwards (Mrs. Proudfoot)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Billy Boyd (Pippin)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Sarah McLeod (Rosie Cotton)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Sky Is Falling, The (2000)
Icebreaker (1999)
Deterrence (1999)
Dish Dogs (1998) (V)
Harrison Bergeron (1995) (TV)
Encino Man (1992)
Toy Soldiers (1991) Xoanon's Pick!
Memphis Belle (1990) Xoanon's Pick!
White Water Summer (1987)

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Christopher Lee (Saruman)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994)
Feast at Midnight, A (1994)
Howling II (1985)
Arabian Adventure (1979)
Four Musketeers, The (1974)
Death Line (1972)
Horror Express (1972)
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Cockleshell Heroes, The (1955)
Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951)
Trottie True (1949)
Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948)
My Brother's Keeper (1948)

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Sala Baker (Sauron)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Brian Sergent (Ted Sandyman)

Meet the Feebles (1989)

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Bernard Hill (Theoden)

Going Off Big Time (2000)
Loss of Sexual Innocence, The (1999)
Restless Natives (1985)
Bounty, The (1984)

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Nathaniel Lees (Ugluk)

No listings this week

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Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtounge)

Prophecy 3: The Ascent, The (2000) (V)
Death Machine (1995)
Color of Night (1994)
Amos & Andrew (1993)
Child's Play 3 (1991)
Child's Play 2 (1990)
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Heaven's Gate (1980)

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Howard Shore (Composer)

Panic Room (2002) Xoanon's Pick!
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Yards, The (2000)
Cell, The (2000) Xoanon's Pick!
High Fidelity (2000) Xoanon's Pick!
Cop Land (1997)
That Thing You Do! (1996)
Before and After (1996)
White Man's Burden (1995)
Ed Wood (1994)
Philadelphia (1993) Xoanon's Pick!
Sliver (1993) Xoanon's Pick!
Guilty as Sin (1993)
Prelude to a Kiss (1992)
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991) Xoanon's Pick!
Postcards from the Edge (1990)
Signs of Life (1989)
Innocent Man, An (1989)
She-Devil (1989)
Big (1988)
Moving (1988)
Videodrome (1983)
Scanners (1981)

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Jim Rygiel (SFX)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
102 Dalmatians (2000)
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Multiplicity (1996) Xoanon's Pick!
Outbreak (1995)
Last of the Mohicans, The (1992)
Batman Returns (1992) Xoanon's Pick!
Ghost (1990) Xoanon's Pick!
2010 (1984) Xoanon's Pick!
Last Starfighter, The (1984)

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Peter Jackson

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Meet the Feebles (1989)

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Lord Of The Screen
Xoanon @ 6:50 pm EST

With nearly two dozen feature films already to his credit, it's no surprise that 21-year-old Elijah Wood landed his first movie role at the age of 8.

That bit part--as a boy playing a video game in "Back to the Future II"--was hardly an indicator of what was to come. Wood quickly established himself as a go-to child actor in films such as "Avalon," "Radio Flyer," and "North," the latter of which garnered the young thespian critical praise despite being a box-office flop.

Though Wood was keeping himself busy as a teen actor with parts in "The Faculty" and "Sudden Impact" in the late '90s, when he heard about plans to make live-action features of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy trilogy "Lord of the Rings," he actively lobbied for the part of Frodo Baggins. It worked.

"Elijah instinctively understands how to act for the screen," "Rings" director Peter Jackson told Premiere last year. "It's quite humbling to see so much talent in someone so young."

With the second and third parts of the trilogy due in 2002 and 2003, Wood will continue to enjoy the fruits of Middle Earth for a long time. But the seasoned actor is quick to point out that as far as life in Hollywood is concerned, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality.

"I simply want to carry on doing what I am doing for as long as I can, and I don't want to take advantage of a specific moment and burn out really quickly," he told Premiere. "Believe me, the world does not revolve around movies. Mine certainly doesn't."

Media Watch: U. Magazine
Xoanon @ 6:14 pm EST

Elissa sends along these scans from U. Magazine, a college mag seen around North America. Take a look!

10-05-02 Latest News

Previews Talks TTT Magazines
Xoanon @ 10:46 am EST

From: Irascian

Previews October 2002, the comic shop’s catalog on sale at all good comic book stores, has details of a couple of forthcoming publications that TTT fans will want to get their hands on!

Previews has the following to say:

“Cinefex #92. Featuring The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers! New Zealand director Peter Jackson returns with the second film instalment in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic trilogy about a fellowship of hobbits, wizards, dwarfs, elves and men who battle the forces of darkness to destroy the One Ring and preserve Middle Earth. Weta Digital, which won the visual effects oscar for the first film, turns its attention to creating the epic-scale battle of Helm’s Deep, the assault on the fortress Isengard by the Ent tree beings, and an all-digital character of great dramatic range, Gollum. Magazine. $9.50”.

“Memorabilia #8. If you want it come and get it! The Lord of the Rings merchandise is set to become the hottest thing in collecting. This issue shows you the coolest Two Towers gear. Magazine (Lord of the Rings photo cover). 84pg. $5.99”

“Inquest Gamer #93. Get exclusive Lord of the Rings coverage in our Two Towers Big Movie issue. Our ultimate “Lord of the Rings Nitpicker’s Guide” covers both the films along with the Decipher card game. Learn why Sauron orcs won’t be in “The Two Towers”. Review specific details in the films like Legolas’ walk above the snow in Caradhras scene and how the Cave Troll was different from the book. We run through everything and point out all the hings you might have missed. Magazine (Lord of the Rings photo cover) $4.99”

Hall of Fire Chats for October 5 & 6
Demosthenes @ 5:03 am EST

Ithilien is the new battleground between the forces of Sauron and those of Gondor, and Frodo, Sam and Gollum soon find themselves enmeshed in greater events.

Book IV, Chpater 4: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

Sam decides stewed rabbit is in order for dinner, and convinces Gollum to help out. Later, Gollum, less than happy about the idea of a fire, stalks off and disappears. His warnings prove correct, and Frodo and Sam are captured by none other than Faramir, brother of Boromir.

Faramir's questioning is only interrupted by impending battle, but what do these Men of Gondor intend?

Join us this weekend for what should be a great discussion as the countdown to The Two Towers continues! And don't forget your Oliphaunts!

Upcoming topics:

Oct 12&13
Two Towers trailer discussion

Oct 19&20
TTT Ch 5 The Window on the West

Oct 26&27
TTT Ch 6 The Forbidden Pool

#thehalloffire on theonering.net server; come to theonering.net's chat room Barliman's and then type /join #thehalloffire .

Saturday Chat: 5:30 pm ET (17:30) [also 11:30 pm (23:30) CET and 7:30 am Sunday (07:30) AET]

Sunday Chat: 7:00 pm (19:00) CET [also 1:00 pm (13:00) ET and 4:00 am (04:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe

Got a topic? E-mail us at halloffire@theonering.net

10-04-02 Latest News

What's the Story with Shelob?
Demosthenes @ 4:38 am EST

In the wake of the recent release of the Two Towers full trailer, many questions have emerged among the aficionados of the films. One of the most popular seems to be "Will we see Shelob in The Two Towers?"

This question, is in fact easily answered, largely because Peter Jackson himself answered it for us all several months ago. At a Barnes and Noble Q&A session all the way back in March, Jackson said that "If we started Return of the King after Shelob - the way the books do - there'd be very little for Frodo and Sam to do."

If you haven't read it previously, the old AICN (March 22) report is here. Naturally, major spoiler warnings for both Two Towers and Return of the King apply!

Considering that, in RoTK, the journey of Frodo and Sam to Mount Doom amount only to three chapters, this decision makes sense. (No, I'm not saying that the film will finish there.)

It also helps match up the action chronologically. The scene with Shelob happens much later in relation to the activities of the others of the fellowship during the Two Towers. If you delve deeply into the book, the events of Shelob's lair occur on March 13. At the same time the Pelennor Fields are being overrun by thousands of orcs, and Minas Tirith is besieged - events that are several chapters into the Return of the King.

Universal's Xbox FOTR Game Review
Xoanon @ 12:10 am EST


Publisher: Black Label Games, a studio of Vivendi Universal Games

Pricing and Availability: $50.00 USD, currently available (see link below to purchase)

ESRB Rating: Teen (Blood, Violence)

Click here to see over 20 screenshots from the game!

Review by Pipesmoke: Many of us have been waiting for years to see a decent Lord of the Rings game. With the release of Universal Interactive's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on XBox, that has finally happened. However, the key word is "decent." This game is most certainly a mixed bag, if there ever was one. The title is marred by several technical issues, which stop it short of greatness (far short of it in fact.) Nonetheless, if you're a die-hard Tolkien fan like I am... and you have ANY interest in video games whatsoever, this game is most certainly worth checking out.

As the name indicates, this game covers the first book, and so naturally it begins in the Shire. I really can't say enough good things about the Shire segment of the game... I found it to be very enjoyable, and filled with things to do and see. During this first portion of the game, you really feel like you are in the Shire. I daresay, Frodo as portrayed in this game seems to me to be more accurate to the books than Elijah Wood's portrayal in the film. We see here a more courageous Frodo, more mature and self-reliant. While in Hobbiton, the player has the opportunity to meet and converse with several inhabitants. Many of you will recognize names pulled from the book which have been over looked in the past by the various film versions of the story. The visual aesthetic and design of the Shire, and indeed every portion of the game... is spot on in my opinion (or at least well within the reasonable interpretations possible from the source material.) The number of civilian Hobbits you can interact with is really great, and nearly every one of them has some sort of errand or favor to ask of you. This may seem annoying, but due to the fact that these are entirely optional side-quests, they do nothing but add depth and fun to the game. Much needed depth and fun, I might add... because even if you do choose to perform all of these tasks, you will still find this to be a fairly short game - depending on your pace of course, so it is best to squeeze every drop of play time out that you can.

The overall presentation of the game is very well done, the menus look good... and the player is provided with several sub-screens which range from the obligatory (inventory) to the surprisingly cool (the Fellowship and world map screens.) The Fellowship screen, for instance... provides you with a rundown of everyone who has joined the group thus far, and a bio for each of them... accompanied by their picture and statistics which vary from person to person. The developers could've easily left this out, but it is a nice touch that I was glad to see. The world map is well designed, and right from the start you can use it to focus on any of the game's eight locations and see a description of it. Looking at this map, one can't help but feel a little excited at the prospect of one day seeing the same map with more locations added, for a Two Towers game. Even the load screen is pretty cool, with the familiar elvish ring verse in fiery lettering scrolling past.

The quest log, which can either be accessed along side these other menus, or opened directly with the "back" button during gameplay, gives you a list of all tasks you have adopted, and whether or not you have completed them. This too, is done well and looks good. Although, once you're out of the Shire it becomes fairly obsolete. Still on the topic of presentation, a word on the cinematics... they're very good. They probably won't be the best you've ever seen, and the handful of them in the game are fairly short, but they look nice and they do a good job of conveying scenes which the in-game cutscenes would've had a hard time showing. Speaking of the in-game cutscenes, they are fairly good but occasionally contain some weird teleportations of characters and such... due to a lack of situation-specific animations.

Let me touch on sound related issues, first off the music... it is excellent! It may not be anything you'll be humming as you drive in your car, like Howard Shore's score. Nonetheless, it is all very good... and captures the tone of each locale you are visiting at the time perfectly. The sound effects are a combination of original work, and some of the old battle standards which you can find in many games and films. Things such as a chest or door opening, you may find yourself recognizing the sounds for, but... how many ways can a door opening really sound? I didn't find this annoying as I have in some other games. Also, the vast majority of the effects seem to be original, and whether original or sampled... all of them sound good. The final point on sound to mention, is the voice acting. The voice work in this title is almost uniformly excellent, and each actor portrays their character very well. I particularly liked Frodo's voice. Our own Quickbeam voiced Samwise Gamgee, and he does a great job too. Again, everyone does a great job. Although, if I were to point out one possible negative in this area... it is that it is a very strange experience to hear Buttercup of the Powerpuff Girls voicing Arwen!

As far as the graphics are concerned, they range from mediocre to great. Being that this is an XBox title, you may find that this game does not push the power of the system quite as much as you might have hoped, but it certainly doesn't look bad by any means. On occasion, it looks excellent. Intermittent use of bump-mapping does a lot to make a few choice areas or objects (like water) look a cut above the rest. In some of the caves you'll find, this technique has been employed to great effect on the walls to make them look very convincing. If a sequel is ever made, the team behind this game will clearly have no problem making The Glittering Caves of Helm's Deep convincing and beautiful.

Lighting effects, such as what you will see from Gandalf's glowing staff in Moria, or one of his fireballs... are very nice too. The design of the characters and locations is typically excellent. The character models certainly could've been more detailed and used more polygons, but they get the job done nicely and look good enough by any reasonable standard. The entire fellowship is rendered convincingly, and no character interpretations are going to clash with anyone's imagination at all. Although, I found myself wondering why Gandalf seemed to have already made his transition to "The White" from the look of his outfit. Enemies and secondary characters are all also well done, and there is a nice amount of variety (about as much as could be drawn from the book.)

If there is a truly weak point to the graphics, it would have to be the animations. They aren't terrible, by any means... but in certain cases (such as Aragorn or Gandalf swinging their swords while running) they can appear very stilted and robotic... this is definitely an area in the game where a lot more polish could've helped. The entire game really could've used a few more months of development time, to work out some of the kinks. As of yet, I haven't mentioned that many of the kinks... as they are mostly contained in the most important topic of all: gameplay.

The play mechanics in this game, leave a lot to be desired. You'll typically end up feeling like you're battling your own character as much as you're battling the current crop of orcs you're up against, or what have you. It becomes a real chore to engage in combat, and once the game becomes mainly combat... I'm afraid it begins to fall apart. One of the biggest mistakes, in my opinion... was making it so that in several instances, you would have to wait for one sword swing to complete to begin another. I don't know or care if this is realistic, all I know is that when you prevent the player from beginning a new action, whether it be another sword swing or movement... or whatever, until the current one is finished, you really begin to erode the feeling of freedom and control which is crucial to a fun experience.

Given enough time, you can learn to get somewhat used to the fighting system and some of these quirks... but make no mistake, we're talking about a lack of polish and playtesting here, not a valid combat system choice. One positive thing I can point out about this though, is that the end result (combined also with how much damage enemies do and other factors like that...) is that you actually feel like you're in real danger when you're going up against orcs, wargs... trolls or whatever. One thing this game does very well is make you feel like it's a serious thing, to have an arrow fly at you. Many games you would shrug such a thing off... but not this one. There is a palpable fear brought on by an arrow streaking toward you, which is a nice thing.

Thankfully the game keeps you in the style you've become accustomed to, as far as plenty of health and ammunition... considering this fact and the length of the game, it really doesn't pay off to horde your items. If you do, you'll most likely regret not using them. Speaking of the items... there is a nice variety, and Tolkien items are implemented convincingly. Hobbits munch mushrooms for health, King's Foil is used to cure poison, lembas restores full health... cram restores partial health... miruvar restores "spirit" (mana) for Gandalf... etc. So, as I said... Tolkien-specific items we all recognize are put into the mix very nicely. One Tolkien name-dropping which is not done as well as that, or as well as it was done in the film... is the mentioning of chapter names. In Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring the sparing use of chapter names, adapted as necessary for the moment, seemed clever and cool - here it's more cheesy and embarrassing.

A nice thing for those of you who wept at the loss of Tom Bombadil in the film, is the opportunity to meet him in this game. Yes, good old Tom is here in all his dancing and singing glory. Unfortunately his house looks a little bit too commonplace, and seems more befitting of Beorn from The Hobbit. I'll touch more on this when I talk about the different locations you visit.

As you may have already caught on to, in this game you switch between Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf. It is not cut into three distinct sections, one after the other... rather, you might find yourself playing as any of these characters several times and switching when you least expect it. There is a method to the madness though, and it basically consists of the developers asking themselves "Who would it be most cool to be playing as at this particular part of the book?" and their decision is usually a good one. They also do a good job of making each of the three playable characters feel distinct from one another. You won't end up feeling like they're all the same guy with a different skin. They posses unique strengths and weaknesses, which are basically what you'd expect from what we all know of the characters. It's pretty fun to play as any of the three also. Another negative thing though, is that Aragorn and Gandalf seem unreasonably easy to knock down. You may find yourself on the floor a lot more often than you'd expect. This is one of the factors which adds to the frustration of combat. The best way to handle a foe is to either hang back and let them come at you, or just go stark raving mad on him. Anything in between those two extremes, and you're in trouble.

Frodo leans more toward the stealth style of play... with The One Ring at his disposal for invisibility, you can simply avoid enemies altogether easily enough, and it's probably a good idea. I know I found myself booking past enemies an awful lot, because eventually you figure out that it's just not worth the amount of health you tend to lose in a fight. Frodo can also do the more traditional method of sneaking... walking slow. You have an indicator in the top left of the screen, along with the health bar (and purity bar, if you're Frodo... or Spirit bar, if you're Gandalf) and item/weapon indicators. This is basically a dot which will show green if you're successfully being stealthy... yellow if the enemy is partially alerted, and red if they are totally onto you. On the topic of the whole onscreen display, I have to say that this is one part of the presentation which could've been done better. For one thing it looks kind of cheesy, but also I found myself frustrated often times with getting the item I wanted, or weapon I wanted. It does get the job done though.

On the subject of The One Ring, which you will scroll threw such pedestrian items as chicken eggs and honeycomb to reach in your inventory (kinda funny to see it next to stuff like that) - It is executed fairly well. I mentioned Frodo's purity meter, and outside of some strange religious games, the purity bar may be making it's first appearance in a game here. Basically, the more you do good deeds the higher it will go... the more you wear the ring or do bad deeds (like stealing stuff from Sam's house) - the lower it will go. If you run out of purity, you're done using the ring until you can get more. Unless you'd like to be a pint sized servant of Sauron! I found that other than in the Shire, the game was sparse on opportunities to stock up on purity. Other than avoiding enemies, the ring also has the purpose of revealing secret hidden areas. These tend to be caves full of rats... and once you've killed the roughly four hundred rats (exaggeration) to be found in one of them, you'll probably find that you lost far more health than you found in the cave. So, all in all these are kind of pointless but... it's an extra and it's kind of neat to see. When you approach a secret area the ring icon in your inventory will spin faster and faster the closer you get.

Frodo starts out using a weak walking stick as his weapon, and also has an unlimited supply of stones to throw at enemies or objects too. These stones aren't of very much use, but you can get improved versions of them later called "Dwarf Shot" and "Elf Shot" - I presume these are meant to be bullets? Kinda strange. I would've preferred some buck shot. Frodo has the opportunity, after helping Fatty Bolger get some ingredients for a pie... to receive a slightly less weak walking stick, or "Fatty's ointment" - I chose the walking stick out of pure fear for the other option. Eventually you'll acquire Sting, but you'll still have a heck of a time defeating an enemy as Frodo, in most cases.

As Aragorn your main weapon will be your sword, at first just a generic sword and later Anduril... either way, the sword is weaker than you'd expect. You'll want to keep an eye out for "Beryl Jewels" which temporarily increase the strength of your sword, and create a green magical effect on the blade. Aragorn also has a bow at his disposal, and there are several types of arrows for you to find throughout the game. As mentioned earlier, sword combat as Aragorn (or Gandalf for that matter) can be pretty frustrating... but once you get the hang of it it's not too bad.

Playing as Aragorn will be good practice for playing as Gandalf... if you aren't much of a magic user, they play almost identically. However, Gandalf does have several spells at his disposal. I was very surprised to see just how many, in fact. All of them are pretty standard stuff, but the effects are done well and they're fun to use. We certainly get to see a more magical Gandalf than in the books or films, but that is a necessary consequence of implementing such a character in a game... subtlety is fine in a book, but you have to deal out some death in a game! Gandalf does a good job of this.

A word on the camera... it's kind of flakey. Thankfully, the developers realized they couldn't get the camera to be perfect (or even good for that matter) so they gave the player the option to use the right control stick to adjust the camera in any way you see fit. This is a nice feature, for sure. You can tilt or pan the camera in any which way, and for the most part it'll stay how you set it. Clicking down on the right control stick will put you into a first person mode, but you are immobile while in this. This is used for more accurate aiming of Frodo's pebbles, Aragorn's arrows, and Gandalf's magic. Or you can just use it to look around at the cool environments. The left control stick, apart from being how you move your character around... also has a camera function. If you press it down, it will center the camera behind your back. This is a common feature nowadays, and I'm glad it is in here because you definitely need it. So, if you leave the camera to it's own devices you're in for some headaches... but if you take the reigns and control it yourself, which isn't too terribly hard to do... you'll find that it's not so bad.

Something which needs to be pointed out, is that although you do end up having all nine members of the Fellowship, usually you'll only be seeing the one playable character you're controlling. You basically find yourself needing to pretend that the other eight are right behind you... because, they only appear when a cutscene or camping takes place. Speaking of the camping sessions, they are a neat touch... because each time you can go around and talk to each of the Fellowship members and hear them comment on the current situation. I found myself enjoying these moments. One might lament the fact that you can't have all the other members of the Fellowship running around with you at all times, but then one realizes that it's a pretty good be that the amount of pathfinding headaches and people getting stuck... etc, would really make it more of a curse than a blessing. Also, if you had that much backup the game might have become a little too easy.

Another thing which bears mentioning, is that the game is very linear... this isn't an uncommon thing, and considering that it's based on a story like this, it's not surprising. However, one way in which it is sort of annoying is the fact that if you see say... a small river or creek, you simply cannot walk into it. Same with most cliff edges, there will just be an invisible barrier there impeding your progress. Now, most times you'd probably die if you could do this... but I'm a big believer in giving the player a lot of freedom. If I want to be an idiot and drown, or throw myself off a cliff... let me! There was one moment in Bree when I thought there was a cool fork in the road, as far as what could happen... but then I learned that the outcome was the same with either choice I made. That was a little disappointing.

Speaking of Bree, and the other locations... as I said earlier they are all done well. Moria feels like Moria, the Shire feels like the Shire. They're all very nicely put together and they give you the right feeling. The music for each of them is appropriate, and sometimes appropriately freaky. They also do a good job of drawing them out a bit... Moria is quite long, and the Old Forest is too. Each location gets a nice showing and you don't feel like you've rushed through any of them. Unfortunately the end result is still a short game, but this is more the fault of the book than the game. They did as best as they could on this count, I think.

The developers did an admirable job at the unenviable task of coming up with plenty of fights, where there might not have been any in the book. The need for "boss" monsters has also been effectively done. None of it seems too terribly cheesy, or disrespectful to the books. You might be scratching your head as to why the trolls are so small, though. They certainly don't force combat into areas where it would make no sense, like Rivendell or Lothlorien. They do it tastefully and only when necessary. Playing through this game you get to see all the locations the book covers, and that is definitely nice.

Another note on play mechanics: One touch I found to be cool was the use of "enemy spawn points" and to clarify what I mean... an example is these cave openings which you'll find on walls where orcs trickle out periodically. You can destroy the cave opening to stop the flow of orcs, and it's usually wise to go after these spawn points before anything else. This is used for a few other enemies as well, and I thought it was a nice touch. It added just a touch more strategy to the combat with monsters.

Some of you may have heard the reports of glitches in this game, and I'm sorry to say I did run into a few. My game locked up three times, twice during boss battles and once when I simply stood on a switch. This speaks to the overall lack of polish in the title, and makes you wish that more time had been devoted to the game. The game definitely feels a bit rushed and it's unfortunate because it could've been a lot better with some more time devoted to it. Thankfully none of these bugs were total show stoppers, and restarting the XBox did the trick. You'll be wise to save often though. Though not exactly glitches, there are also some things like unnecessary slowdown... sometimes it'll get just a little choppy, but for the most part it runs smoothly throughout. Some people have complained about the way that you might open a door to a new area to find only blackness, because the next area is still loading. This definitely is weird, but I suppose it was either that or take you out of the game again to a load screen... same thing either way, you're waiting. I think I prefer to stay in the game for it, so it's not too terrible.

The final verdict on this game, is that if you are looking to experience The Lord of the Rings first hand, and you are willing to put up with some frustration to do that... you should probably pick this one up, or at least rent it. I would even go so far as to say that any Tolkien fan who has any sort of interest in gaming, should definitely play this game. You might end up happier waiting for the PlayStation 2 or PC version due out later this month though, because there is reason to believe those versions will end up being superior, and more stable. In the end, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a game which manages to be charming and fun, despite it's many drawbacks.

-Brian McGuire

[Score: 7.5/10] = Good

Click here to order your copy of the Xbox 'Fellowship' Game on Amazon.com

10-03-02 Latest News

Live In NZ? Wanna Meet Daniel Falconer?
Xoanon @ 11:50 pm EST

From: Linuxelf

Lotr fans have a chance to meet Daniel Falconer a design artist for lotr film trilogy and many other series including Xena and Hercules right here in the sunny Hawkes Bay! read on..

Attached is a newspaper article which appeared in Central Hawkes Bay Mail..also here is some more information from a pamphlet in regards to when are where Daniel Falconer will be.

Hawke's Bay Bookfest Friday 11 to Sunday 13 October 2002

Friday 11th October:

Meet Daniel Falconer, Design Artist for Lord of the Rings and find out about the creative development of the "Fellowship of the Ring" at Hastings Central Library.

Be in the lucky seat to WIN a Lord of the Rings book.

7:00pm Gold Coin Donation.

A Trained illustrator, Daniel Falconer is a Conceptual
designer at Weta Workshop, one of a team of five full time design specialists based in the facility. Daniel has been with Weta now for six years. Over that time he has been involved in design work for a variety of different projects including creatures for television shows like William Tell, Hercules, Xena and Young Hercules, and most notably, designing creatures, armour, weaponry, props and costumes for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. A long time of J.R.R Tolkien's writing, the opportunity to be so intimately involved in bringing Middle-earth to the screen was a fulfillment of a childhood dream for Daniel and continues to be his 'dream job'.

Saturday 12th October:

Meet Daniel Falconer, Design artist for Lord of the Rings and find out about "The Habits of Hobbits" at Napier Library. Enter the competition for the Best Dressed Hobbit and be in to WIN a Lord of the Rings book.

10:00am - 11:30am : Gold Coin Donation.

A final Chance to meet Daniel Falconer, Design artist for Lord of the Rings and find out about "The Habits of Hobbits" at Waipawa Library. Enter the competition for the Best Dressed Hobbit and be in to WIN a Lord of the Rings book.

1:00pm - 2:30pm : Gold coin Donation.

Interesting Insight Into UK Film Classifications
Xoanon @ 12:18 pm EST

Ben writes:

Why Lord of the Rings was a 'PG' and Spiderman was rated '12' in the UK

A few weeks ago I sent along a small email to the BBFC asking why Spiderman was rated '12' and Rings was rated 'PG'. The Latter (in the opinions of most being tamer). Below is the BBFC's responce and reading it kinda makes some sense.

Dear Ben

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the classification of the film Spider-Man. As one of the BBFC examiners responsible for the classification of this film I have been asked to reply to you.

In classifying any work BBFC examiners are required to be mindful both of government legislation and of BBFC guidelines for the various classification categories. These guidelines refer to the various issues that are considered before a classification is awarded to any film, video or digital media work and classification issues include language, sex/sexual references, violence, drugs use and horror. Examiners also take into account elements such as the general tone of each work. Spider-Man was found to contain scenes of personalised violence with elements of detail which are not containable at the PG classification according to current classification guidelines.

The current classification guidelines were launched in September 2000 after a considerable period of consultation and research (which featured a major national opinion poll, extended focus groups and public road shows). The Board therefore has considerable confidence that its classification decisions comply with public expectations of what may be included at the various classifications.

The key classification issue for Spider-Man is violence and current guidelines for the 'PG' classification indicate that "Moderate violence, without detail, may be allowed - if justified by its setting (e.g. historic, comedy or fantasy)". The violence in Spider-Man is strong and highly personalised and there was never any question that the film would be given a 'PG' classification without cuts. In fact some of the violence borders on the sort which is usually only containable at a '15' classification.

The Lord Of The Rings was not the first time that the BBFC passed a scary film at PG with a warning to parents. Both 'Jurassic Park' and 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park II' were dealt with in the same way. Unlike The Lord of the Rings, the dinosaur films placed modern day human children in mortal peril, although the fantasy context was similarly clear. Other fantasy adventures passed PG over many years, such as 'Willow' and 'Legend', although different in many respects, have also included comparable sequences of violence and horror.

For classification purposes, fantasy settings are specifically cited as a mitigating factor for prolonged or intense frightening sequences. Our judgement in respect to The Lord Of The Rings was that most children aged 8 and above would find it an exciting and exhilarating experience and would understand that the scary and violent sequences were fantasy rather than real. Although the violence is impactful at times, no individual act is dwelt on and there is little or no sight of blood. Most children enjoy intense feelings of excitement as anyone who has been to a theme park is aware, and most are very well aware of the possibilities of special effects in films.

Spider-Man uses imitable street violence in a modern, urban setting. Much of the violence in Spider-Man is personalised one-on-one violence when Peter Parker is himself, not Spider-Man. He uses his new found strength to wreak retribution against people who have hurt him and his family sending the message that violence is the way to solve problems. Even the final showdown with the Green Goblin is too strong for a 'PG'. The Board did not consider that this level and type of violence was suitable for very young children.

It is unfortunate that the marketing for Spider-man has been aimed at young children when the film itself is not (from a BBFC point of view) suitable for them. The BBFC is not alone in Europe in being concerned enough about the violence in the film to give it a classification that prevents very young children from seeing it. The classification in Germany, for example, prevents children under 12 from seeing the film. The 'PG' classification in the UK would allow unaccompanied children of any age to see the film. It would be completely inappropriate for the BBFC to classify films based on commercial pressures.

The '12' cinema classification only restricted children under 12 from seeing a '12' classification film at a cinema. Obviously in the home the decision to allow children to see a film lies with the parents. The '12' classification (and now, the 12A) informs parents that the BBFC has concerns about young children seeing this film.

At the end of August 2002 the BBFC launched a new classification. The 12A is an advisory classification which allows younger children to view a film if accompanied by an adult and provided there is Consumer Advice available on publicity and advertising for the film, including listings in local newspapers. This classification was launched following evaluation of the results of a national survey, talking to the distributors and exhibitors about the provision of consumer advice and piloting of the classification in Norwich. A new orange '12A' symbol has been introduced for cinema films, with the old '12' symbol remaining for video. There will continue to be films in the cinema with the old '12' certificate, which were classified before today's announcement. But all '12' films, as well as newly-rated '12A' films, will be open to children under 12 accompanied by an adult. The Board will use the same Guidelines to classify '12A' films as have been used to classify '12' films and videos.

As a parent of a six year old son who was extremely keen to see Spider-Man and greatly miffed that his dad was one of the people responsible for the '12' classification I more than understand parents, carers and children who are upset about the fact that the decision as to whether or not children view this film has been taken out of their hands and anticipate that the 12A classification will be a be a welcome response to their concerns. On the other hand I wish to point out that each new film is released into a context of viewing habits and expectations which are also shaped by existing classification categories and the BBFC recognises that viewers expect consistent guidance as to the content of a film and the suitability of that film for young cinema viewers.

Yours sincerely

Rana Johal
Film and Video Examiner

Salt Lake Prepares For Doug Anderson
Xoanon @ 12:09 pm EST

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, September 13, 2002 -- Borders Books & Music in the Crossroads Mall is proud to welcome leading American Tolkien scholar Douglas A. Anderson, author of the newly revised and expanded edition of The Annotated Hobbit (Houghton Mifflin).  He will be presenting a slide show and discussion of Tolkien's work at the downtown Borders on Tuesday, October 8 at 7pm, upstairs in the cafe.

Widely acknowledged as the worldwide expert on the textual history of Tolkien's classic novel The Hobbit, the tale of Bilbo Baggins and precursor to The Lord of the Rings, Anderson has contributed notes for all Houghton Mifflin Tolkien editions for more than a decade.  This newly expanded, revised, and completely redesigned edition of The Annotated Hobbit is the authoritative explication of the sources, references, characters, places and things of the timeless novel.  The many new annotations in this edition reflect more than a decade's additional scholarship on the history and evolution of the book, showing how Tolkien worked as a writer, what his interests and inspirations were (literary, linguistic, and otherwise), and how these pertain to the fascinating particulars of Middle-earth.

Integrated with Anderson's notes and placed alongside the fully restored and corrected text of the original story are more than 150 lavish illustrations from all over the world.  This artwork displays vivid visual interpretations of The Hobbit specific to each of the cultures-- from Japan to Estonia, Finland to Romania-- that have embraced Middle-earth.  Many of Tolkien's original line drawings, maps, diagrams, and color paintings are also included.  Douglas Anderson's presentation is entitled "Annotating and Illustrating The Hobbit," demonstrating how the book has been professionally illustrated over the years and covers the background of J. R. R. Tolkien and his writings.

With the current resurgence of interest in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the large fan base in the Salt Lake area, this author presentation is sure to be a big hit.

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