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October 10, 2001 - October 16, 2001

10-16-01 Latest News

Press Release: Plans for The LOTR Roleplaying Game License!
Xoanon @ 4:35 pm EST

PRESS RELEASE
DECIPHER® ROLEPLAYING GAME STUDIO

Immediate Release
Decipher Unveils Product Plans for The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game License!

(NORFOLK, Va., October 16, 2001) The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game, the first of Decipher¹s roleplaying games (RPGs) for New Line Cinema¹s epic adventure, The Lord of the Rings, will hit stores December 2001, offering both RPG and movie fans the excitement and exhilaration that Tolkien¹s Hobbits, Dwarves, and Men face as they journey through the mythic expanses of Middle-earth.

The new The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Games from Decipher transport readers and game players alike to J.R.R. Tolkien¹s wondrous world of Middle-earth for the ultimate fantasy gaming experience. Featuring in-depth information about the people, places, history, creatures, and magic of Middle-earth, combined with cutting-edge graphics and game design, these games have something to offer both gamers and Tolkien fans alike.

"The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game is intended to help gaming novices and Tolkien fans who are not gamers become familiar with the world of RPGs. It will also introduce experienced gamers to the Tolkien legacy," shares Christian Moore, head of the Decipher RPG Studio.

The Adventure Game will be followed up with a 300-page, full-color RPG core game in February 2002.

The Adventure Game includes a complete adventure narrative, Through the Mines of Moria, drawn from The Fellowship of the Ring, the first film of the trilogy. Players who choose to travel Through the Mines of Moria assume the roles of the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, and relive their dangerous and legendary adventures. Through the Mines of Moria begins at the western doors leading into Moria, takes players through several encounters with servants of the Shadow, and culminates with a climactic battle against the dreaded Balrog.

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game

When the players finally emerge through Moria¹s eastern gates, they will have fought four distinct battles, survived using their skill, wits, and teamwork in the dark caverns of Moria, and played through the most exciting action sequence ever seen in a fantasy film. Through the Mines of Moria uses rules that are easy to understand, flexible, and fun. The instructions are designed to prepare novice gamers and Tolkien fans ages 12 and up to delve into play in less than half an hour.

The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game box contains:

The 32-page Through the Mines of Moria adventure that takes players through the most stunning action sequence of the film.

Welcome to Middle-earth, a 24-page guide to the lands and peoples of Middle-earth. EUR What is Roleplaying, an explanation of the basic principles of roleplaying games.

Full-color Character Sheets that include pictures and game data describing each character. EUR Four full color Tactical Maps for use in the major action sequences of the adventure.

Cut-outs of the characters and monsters in the adventure.

A Poster Map of Middle-earth.

In addition to the roleplaying games license through New Line Cinema and Tolkien Enterprises, Decipher proudly holds international licenses for The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game and The Lord of the Rings Official Fan Club.

The Fellowship of the Ring is set for release by New Line Cinema on December 19, 2001. The other two films in the trilogy, The Two Towers and The Return of the King will premiere December 2002 and 2003, respectively.

About Decipher, Inc.

Founded in 1983 by Warren Holland, Decipher Inc. is a worldwide leader in the collectible card game industry and fan club industry. The company's Trading Card Game Studio produces Star Trek, Star Wars, Austin Powers, and The Lord of the Rings(scheduled to release on November 6, 2001) trading card games. Decipher's Fan Club Studio operates the official fan clubs for Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings which includes publishing official fan magazines and managing online stores. Decipher's RPG (roleplaying games) & Miniatures Studio is responsible for the creation of the all-new Star Trek roleplaying games and The Lord of the Rings roleplaying games. Decipher's Online Games Studio offers digital versions of its Star Trek and, soon, its The Lord of the Rings Trading Card More Æ

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game æ Three

Games. Decipher's Games Studio produces leading party, card, and board games such as How To Host A Murder®, How To Host A Teen Mystery®, Pente®, Scratchees,and more. Decipher's Boy Crazy! Studio markets the popular Boy Crazy! brand for girls which includes a magazine, web site at boycrazy.com,trading cards, and various publishing and licensing ventures (represented by the William Morris Agency).Visit decipher.com for additional information.

Founded in 1967, New Line Cinema is the entertainment industry¹s leading independent producer and distributor of theatrical motion pictures. New Line licenses its films to ancillary markets including cable and broadcast television as well as to international venues. The company, which is a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner Inc., operates several divisions including in-house theatrical distribution, marketing, home video, television, acquisitions, production, licensing and merchandising units. More information about New Line Cinema can be obtained at www.newline.com.

Germany's Kinowelt Lose Rights to Lord of the Rings
Strider @ 3:33 pm EST

From Matt:

Kinowelt is knocked out of the 'Ring'
First pic in trilogy to be released under new arrangement
Variety Magazine, October 16th

In a blow to ailing German distributor Kinowelt, Warner Bros. will immediately assume distribution of New Line Cinema features in all German-speaking territories, Eastern Europe and Russia.

While the shift was anticipated (Daily Variety, Aug. 30), Kinowelt had planned on releasing Peter Jackson's first installment of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Fellowship of the Ring," in December. That film will now be the first title under the new arrangement.

Despite its financial woes, Kinowelt has been stretching to hold on to the epic. Although the distrib recently managed to pay its last $9 million installment to New Line for the pic, there were growing doubts as to whether it could find the money for the massive P&A spend required to release it.

Kinowelt originally signed a three-year output deal with New Line running from 2001-03, but in the end the German indie could only commit to the first year of that pact.

New output agreement calls for Warners to handle theatrical distribution and marketing for all New Line titles released in the U.S. through 2003 in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Eastern Europe and Russia.

Warner Home Video and Warners International Television Distribution will handle the respective homevideo and television rights of these films in the covered territories.

Hard hit after the crash of the Neuer Markt stock exchange and its own inability to license an ambitious free TV package from Warners, Kinowelt is in the midst of a major restructuring and has already reduced its distribution apparatus from three divisions to one. Its inhouse production team also has been pinkslipped.

Warners currently distributes New Line films theatrically, on homevideo and on television in select territories in Latin America and Asia.

Other titles under the Warners output deal include the remaining two installments of "The Lord of the Rings," "Rush Hour 2," "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "Blade 2," "John Q," "Life as a House" and "I Am Sam."

Possible List of Stars at London & New York Premieres
Strider @ 3:13 pm EST

On the newly created Turkish Lord of the Rings official film site, there is a list posted here of what appears to be the list of people involved in Lord of the Rings Trilogy which will appear in New York and London days before the Fellowship of the Ring goes on release internationally. Though this hasn't yet been confirmed as a definite list, the fact that it appeared on the an official movie site itself suggests that it is very likely.

Thanks to Emre the Sorcerer for the translations.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS PRESS CONFERENCES:

17-18-19-24 September 2001 - New York
Interviews with Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen.

7-8-9 December 2001 - London
Detailed one-to-one interviews with the director, crew and cast.

10 December 2001 - WORLD PREMIERE AND MAGNIFICENT PARTY

Live Broadcast to all of the world via satellite.

Famous stars will dazzle:

Elijah Wood
Sean Astin
Dominic Monaghan
Billy Boyd
Viggo Mortensen
Sean Bean
Christopher Lee
Liv Tyler
Orlando Bloom
John Rhys Davies
Peter Jackson (Director)
Barrie Osborn (Producer)
Fran Walsh (Screenwriter)
Philippa Boyens (Screenwriter)
Ian McKellen
Ian Holm
Hugo Weaving
Cate Blanchett
Howard Shore (Composer)
Richard Taylor (WETA Workshop)

If there is anyone out there involved with New Line Cinema or the Trilogy who can confirm this list, please let me know!

Blanchett Steals Show In Bandits
Xoanon @ 8:32 am EST

From: The Australian Associated Press (AAP)

American critics have lavishly praised Australian Cate Blanchett for her versatile and convincing acting, and say she shines in her new film Bandits which opened in the US.

Sandwiched between Hollywood heart-throbs Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, Blanchett plays a crazed American housewife who joins a pair of bank robbers on a crime spree.

Critics say the versatile Blanchett, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Elizabeth in 1999, has delivered another scene- stealing performance.

"One of the most consistently convincing of actresses, Blanchett has chameleon-like abilities that can't help but raise a film's level by creating a challenge everyone has to rise to or look second rate," wrote Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times.

The Chicago Tribune described her as "formidably talented" and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said "Blanchett gives a delicious performance".

Blanchett was recommended for the Bandits role by Pushing Tin co-star Thornton, who also wrote the screenplay for her last movie, The Gift. "It's a tricky role, but I knew she could do anything," Thornton said during a promotional tour for Bandits.

"As an actress, she can make you believe anything. The idea of being in another movie with her made the actor in me feel like I would have no boundaries where my character was concerned."

Blanchett has parts in four more films scheduled for release before the end of the year including the epic Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Shipping News - a highly touted Oscar contender with Kevin Spacey. Critics are saying Blanchett has yet to find a role she can't play. "This Australian actress, who can play anything from an English queen to white trash, is an asset to any movie," observed Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.

News for Greek LOTR fans.
Tehanu @ 5:49 am EST

News from Circi in Greece: "The top selling Athens weekly events review "Athinorama" includes a special edition on all new films for the coming 2001/2002 season,sponsored by Village cinemas. LOTR features prominently. Frodo's huge-eyed caricature reigns on the cover over various other film characters from such films as "A.I.", "Moulin Rouge" and "Harry Potter". Then on the inside there is the famous poster of Frodo holding the Ring with the caption "History becam a Legend and the Legend became a Myth", LOTR-FOTR, December 2001. Then PJ is the only director included in an article titled "13 faces for the new year", showing him posing as a Hobbit smoking a pipe in Bag End. Here are some quotes: "Who could open the huge cultural chapter that is called "The Lord of the Rings", if not a true fan? The relatively unknown Peter Jackson from New Zealand, has taken over the responsibility of bringing to life the prolific vision of Professor Tolkien. The simoultaneous filming of all three films has taken epic proportions and many people wonder if the "brilliant lunatic" director of cult splatters like "Braindead", but also of the excelent "Heavenly Creatures" can shoulder such weight. Answers shortly at a cinema near you..." The film synopsis is full of mistakes so I wont bother translating. I just hope this means we will get to see the latest trailer at the movies soon and be part of the worldwide premiere on December 19th."

Also news from Greek Elessar: At last we have the official site in Greek!!! Everything you wish about tolkien and his work is there.(and the movies of course)

If you know Greek(or you are just curious)go there!!! [More]

10-15-01 Latest News

Media Watch: Starlog Magazine
Xoanon @ 8:03 pm EST

The latest issue of 'Starlog Magazine' has 2 articles on our very own Ian Holm (Bilbo) and Liv Tyler (Arwen), check them out!


Intelli-Blox 'Quotes'
Xoanon @ 1:41 pm EST

The "Mines of Moria" instruction booklet from Intelli-Blox, has some line speech from the movies:

Here is what I was able to read, but there's many incomplete sentenses, and certainly many errors. I'm sure someone will decipher them all !

Interactive phrases and sound effects from Middle-Earth!

Frodo : I'm alright - I'm not hurt.
Frodo : Gandalf !
Frodo : There is no other way.
Frodo : We've got to get out of here.
Frodo : What are they?
Gandalf : I have no memory of this place.
Gandalf : I think you'll find there's more in this Hobbit than ... the eye.
Gandalf : To the bridge of Khazd-Dum, go!
Gandalf : Do as I say! Swords are no ....
Gandalf : You shall not pass!
Gandalf : Fly, you fools!
Gandalf : The ring is yours now.
Gandalf : Put the ring somewhere out of light. Keep it secret, keep it safe.
Gandalf : This is the One Ring, forged by the Dark Lord in the fire of Mount Doom.
Gandalf : ..... from the Dwarves of Moria in many years.
Gandalf : There is only one Lord of the Ring, only one who can bend it to his will.
Gandalf : Get down !
Gandalf : Spies of Saruman. ..........
Gandalf : We need the strengh of all men is this fight.
Gandalf : Gimli!
Gimli : Let them come !
Gimli : ...... , mithril. You are full of surprise Mister Baggins !
Gimli : The Mines of Moria .... all of their ....
Moria Orc : Sound effect only
Sam : I think I'm getting the .......
Sam : He's alive!
Merry : Yes ......
Pippin : Nothing's happening ?
Boromir : They have a Cave Troll
Saruman : One of the Halflings carries something of great value.
Aragorn : You should be dead. ...
Ringwraith with horse : Sound effects only.
New born Uruk-Hai : Sound effects only.
Bilbo : My old ring. I should very much like to hold it again, one last time.
Lurtz : The white hand of Saruman.
Elrond : You shall be the "Fellowship of the Ring"!
Arwen : The light of the Evenstar does not ..........
Fighting Uruk-Hai : Sound effects only
Balrog : Sound effects only
Legolas [Wood Elf] : We should leave here, we must move on, we cannot fight.
Legolas [Wood Elf] : Orcs !
Orc ..... : Sound effects only
Orc ..... : Sound effects only

Globalplus Mastercard Goes LOTR
Xoanon @ 1:29 pm EST

From: Mr Tadpole

Much to my surprise, look what arrived with my Globalplus Mastercard bill today! Check out www.globalplus.co.nz/lordoftherings for more info, according to this. I've included scans of both sides of the pamphlet. Nice prizes! Tickets to the NZ premiere, chess sets, a trip to Cannes and a walk-on role in "a major Australian movie".

10-14-01 Latest News

Blanchett Interview in Carte Blanche Shop Magazine
Strider @ 5:37 pm EST

From Carte Blanche, Blanchardstown Centre Magazine

Does making a movie like 'Lord of the Rings' bring out the child in you?
I loved it all... I basically did it so that I could have the ears [laughs]. they actually made little bronze castings of my ears for me to take home. Film making, no matter what genre you're working in, you're creating fantasy for an audience. It's for someone else, it's not just for me and making 'The Lord of the Rings' was a great experience.

How difficult was it to shoot the battle scenes?
It's completely crazy, but Peter Jacson is completely crazy for the last seven months, when I got there, every Saturday was like going to a rugby match. He and Viggo would go off to battle thirty thousand Orcs, and these thirty thousand Orcs would turn up in some studio in Wellington and they would just continue the battle. They went on for well over eighteen months, I think.

Did you use your 'Elizabeth' experience for 'Queen of the Elves'?
[Laughs] Queen of the Elves is a verry different queen to 'Elizabeth', incredibly different, you'll see; the ears for staters.

Did you enjoy being in New Zealand?
Yes, I've had such a great year. I mean, New Zealand is really the most perfect place to shoot stories.

How have you managed to stay grounded after so much success?
I just keep working really and just keep true to what interests me. After 'Elizabeth', there were a lot of offers to do the same thing over again, but without the corset and change the name, but basically the story is the same and I'm not that interested in repeating myself. I think that it's boring and dull and lazy. For me, the most interesting thing was to play different characters. Those came up as playing smaller roles in great stories and then, this year, I've been lucky that there have been a lot of projects that I have been passionate about.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring will open at UCI Blanchardstown, Ireland in December 2001

Cate Blanchett Interview in Carte Blanche Shop Magazine
Strider @ 5:05 pm EST

From Carte Blanche, Blanchardstown Centre Magazine

Does making a movie like 'Lord of the Rings' bring out the child in you?
I loved it all... I basically did it so that I could have the ears [laughs]. they actually made little bronze castings of my ears for me to take home. Film making, no matter what genre you're working in, you're creating fantasy for an audience. It's for someone else, it's not just for me and making 'The Lord of the Rings' was a great experience.

How difficult was it to shoot the battle scenes?
It's completely crazy, but Peter Jacson is completely crazy for the last seven months, when I got there, every Saturday was like going to a rugby match. He and Viggo would go off to battle thirty thousand Orcs, and these thirty thousand Orcs would turn up in some studio in Wellington and they would just continue the battle. They went on for well over eighteen months, I think.

Did you use your 'Elizabeth' experience for 'Queen of the Elves'?
[Laughs] Queen of the Elves is a verry different queen to 'Elizabeth', incredibly different, you'll see; the ears for staters.

Did you enjoy being in New Zealand?
Yes, I've had such a great year. I mean, New Zealand is really the most perfect place to shoot stories.

How have you managed to stay grounded after so much success?
I just keep working really and just keep true to what interests me. After 'Elizabeth', there were a lot of offers to do the same thing over again, but without the corset and change the name, but basically the story is the same and I'm not that interested in repeating myself. I think that it's boring and dull and lazy. For me, the most interesting thing was to play different characters. Those came up as playing smaller roles in great stories and then, this year, I've been lucky that there have been a lot of projects that I have been passionate about.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring will open at UCI Blanchardstown, Ireland in December 2001

Media Watch: The Independant
Xoanon @ 12:54 pm EST

Thanks to Paul for the article!

Lord of the Rings Country: The complete guide
Where to see the enchanted world of Middle-earth, from Hobbiton's grassy knolls to the sinister terrain of Mordor and Mount Doom, recreated by film director Peter Jackson in his native New Zealand. By Simon Cunliffe 13 October 2001 Lord of the Rings, let me see, is that the new Harry Potter story?

Where have you been? Not in Middle-earth evidently, nor in the far-flung reaches of the Antipodes. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's famous trilogy, comprising The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, was begun as a sequel to The Hobbit in 1936, but the first volume was not published until 1954.

The saga of a perilous quest by a small band of hobbits, elves, dwarves and men to save Middle-earth from dark forces may have begun with a cult following, but its subsequent trajectory is publishing history. Its evolution from fantastical fiction to postmodern cultural phenomenon – complete with merchandising – is about to be crowned with an ambitious movie trilogy filmed, at vast expense, in New Zealand.

Why New Zealand?

Putting aside the convoluted tale of Tolkien licensing rights, studio machinations, tax incentives and so on, New Zealand was chosen because the director Peter Jackson is, er, a New Zealander. In an early interview on his plans for the project, Jackson said: "New Zealand is the best country in the world to shoot this film, because of the variety of locations we have.

"A lot of our location shooting will be enhanced with a computer. We'll add a different sky to some scenes, play around with cloud formations, use rays of sunlight, do a lot of subtle tweaks on the computer to give it a magical ambience. But I want it to feel real. The ideal scenario is that you get a sense that we have gone to Middle-earth, that the castles are all still there. We have done this by taking our camera crew and extras and filmed it in the real places Tolkien wrote about.'' As Elijah Wood, who plays Frodo Baggins, says: "That's actually the first thing I thought when Peter showed me the pictures and things of the locations... This is Middle-earth. I mean, it has every sort of geographical, geological formation and landscape; it's got everything. So, it's absolutely perfect.''

Is New Zealand one big film set, then?

No, not exactly. Tracts of the trilogy were shot in miniature with models and morphed into movie reality with digital wizardry. The "real-life'' physical backdrops are there, but much of the project was filmed either on private property or Department of Conservation land, subsequently returned to its natural state. Fictional landmarks are often constructed from a number of locations, sometimes hundreds of kilometres apart. Throw in the zealous measures taken by the film company to protect its intellectual property and licensing rights, and you have to know where to look.

Lead on then, Bilbo

November is a great month to go. Besides being early summer in NZ, the leading airlines – Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Qantas – have cut London-Auckland fares to below £600. Let's assume you have flown into New Zealand's largest city with vivid cinematic images of The Fellowship of the Ring interfering with your sleep patterns, the standard guidebook in your suitcase and a loosely formed plan to head south. Let's also assume that, for economy's sake,you are equally interested in locations that are "in the can'' but will not appear in your local cinema until the release of Rings II and III, at Christmas 2002 and 2003 respectively.

Starting at Hobbiton, of course

Rent a car and head south-east to the picturesque and relaxing Coromandel Peninsula to slough off the jet lag for a day or so. Turning back inland on your quest proper, head for the grassy Waikato plains. Not exactly on the tourist route, Matamata is a small farming centre hitherto famous for the odd sporting hero, some nearby hot pools, the butterfat yields of its dairy industry and not a lot else. Still, it was in these environs that the village of Hobbiton, with its famous hobbit-hole Bag End, was built and filmed. Whether Matamata is ready for an influx of hobbit-spotters is another matter. Locals are reputedly puzzled by all the fuss. Tourism Coromandel: 00 64 7 868 5985; www.thecoromandel.com.

And then?

Head south through the Waikato towards Lake Taupo and beyond to Tongariro National Park; Destination Lake Taupo (00 64 7 376 0403, www.laketauponz.com) can help. Encompassing the mountains of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and the still-live volcano of Ruapehu, the park provided footage for Mordor, the slopes of Mount Doom and the plains of Gorgoroth.

One of New Zealand's better-known and popular day-long hikes, the Tongariro Crossing traverses the lunar landscapes, crater lakes and sulphurous geothermal crevices of the region. On an overcast day, with the mist closing in, shut your eyes and you'll smell the Black Riders at your back. Time to make tracks to the capital.

Windy Wellington?

Correct. Home of Peter Jackson's burgeoning cinematic empire, including the renowned Weta Digital effects studio, the capital city and its environs provided set and studio locations for numerous scenes in the trilogy. Outer Shire, Chetwood forest, the Weathertop hillside, Bree streets, Bree Gate, Helm's Deep, the Black Gate of Mordor and Minas Tirith; all were shot here.

Wellington fancies itself as the new home of LOTR; a big rebranding exercise around the Tolkien project has been envisaged. That initiative appears to have fallen foul of the limitless legal tentacles of the project's intellectual property right provisions. But Totally Wellington Tourism (00 64 4 916 1208; www.wellingtonnz.com) will offer pointers and anecdotes to Rings fanatics on an informal basis.

While in the capital you will want to visit Te Papa (our place), the national museum of New Zealand. Regarded, alternately, as a multi-million-dollar amusement arcade or the very model of a major postmodern museum, Te Papa is thought to be negotiating for the rights to mount a travelling Lord of the Rings exhibition. Stroll along the waterfront from Te Papa and into the heart of the city's café culture. Until recently Spot The Cast Member was a favourite sport among Wellington patrons. "Isn't that Sean Bean over there?'' "Look, there goes Liv Tyler." "No, silly, that's Cate Blanchett.''

Come December onwards you'll probably find yourself spotting fellow Rings enthusiasts contemplating their next move.

So where to now?

Pop your seasickness pills and take the ferry to the South Island. Cook Strait is not exactly the Great Sea of Middle-earth, but it can cut up pretty rough. Sometimes, though, the two to three-hour trip can be as smooth as glass. You are heading for the Nelson/Golden Bay region, but as your journey brings you to Marlborough, you should linger for a day or so among the vineyards. This is prime sauvignon blanc country, but don't pass up the chardonnays and pinot noirs by Cloudy Bay, Montana, Allan Scott, Hunters, Seresin Wine Estate, Oyster Bay and many other first-rate producers.

Nelson is no slouch in the wine department either, but to get back on the trail, you need to head for Takaka Hill and Golden Bay. This massive, mountainous outcrop topped by limestone and granite formations overlooks the Abel Tasman National Park, which offers one of the most beautiful shoreline walking tracks in New Zealand. The hill, which in less dramatic country would surely classify as a mountain, has made a name for itself with an annual New Year rave called The Gathering (more from Latitude Nelson; 00 64 3 546 6228; www.nelsonnz .com).

The road over it is sufficiently steep and winding to discourage visitors, which makes Golden Bay on the other side all the more enticing. Chetwood forest was filmed on the hill, and beyond on Mount Olympus – not easily accessible – the Eregion Hills and rough country south of Rivendell.

You could turn back from the biblically named Canaan Downs near the top, but as you have come this far it would be a shame not to explore the region further. Walk into the Mussel Inn at Onekaka, a few kilometres beyond Takaka, for instance, and you could be entering the Prancing Pony Inn at Bree. Try a home-brewed Pale Whale Ale, Golden Goose lager or Strong Dark Ox and enjoy the company of local artists, farmers, alternative lifestylers and holidaymakers, while enjoying a bowl of mussel chowder and planning the next leg.

Westward Ho!

For the purist, a trip down the rugged West Coast may be more pain than gain, and they may decided to bypass the west, head for Christchurch and take a rail trip south on the TranzAlpine Express. But they will miss out on the striking beauty of the mountain passes and wild coastlines, plus the Franz Joseph glacier area, which has a cameo in the trilogy. A visit to the glacier itself, regarded by many as a highlight of any trip to NZ, should more than make up for the paucity of hobbit sightings. Never fear, richer pickings – not to mention some hair-raising adventures – are to be had to the south-east.

Bungee jumping, sport of hobbits?

Probably not, since by repute – and contrary to the deeds of Frodo and his pals – the little people discouraged excessive or adventurous behaviour.

Nonetheless, the road south from the glaciers through the Haast Pass to the Wanaka area (home to the East Road where the Black Riders chase Frodo and Arwen), eventually brings you to Queenstown, adventure capital of the south. If hurling yourself off bridges attached to this good life only by a pair of giant rubber bands is not your thing, how about a spot of tandem parapenting (a cross between hang-gliding and parachuting)?

High above Lake Wakatipu, in the face of the Remarkables mountains, would be an excellent vantage point to spot the locations that hosted scenes from the West Road, the White Mountains, the Pillars of Argonath, Osgiliath hilltop and the Ford of Bruinen. At Glenorchy, up the lake a little, Lothlorien woods, the slopes of Amon Hen and the outskirts of Fangorn forest took celluloid shape.

At nearby Arrowtown Recreational Reserve, an old goldmining town, more footage of the Ford of Bruinen was shot, and further south near Te Anau, staging post for a trip to the famous Milford Sound, are the scenes at the Dead and Midgewater marshes. But it's time to head north again.

North by Northwest

Heading back in the direction of Christchurch, with the magnificent Alps on your left, you pass through the township of Twizel. A nearby sheep station, Ben Ohau, was the site for the battle of Pelennor Fields, one of the most important clashes in the saga of Middle-earth. The area also pops up as the foothills of the White Mountains.

Further north still, near Mount Somers in the Rangitata Valley, Edoras in Middle-earth's Rohan rose off a peak in the foothills of the range. It looked spectacular at the time, but like most other sets has since been dismantled.

Back-track across the Rangitata river, head up the valley on the south side, and you will eventually find a sheep station called Mesopotamia. This was the run founded by a young Samuel Butler in the 1860s after he arrived in the infant colony eager to seek his fortune. It was amid these spectacular backdrops that he conceived his own imaginary world of Erewhon.

Journey's end

Samuel Butler had set out from Christchurch, and although Wellington lays claim to Peter Jackson, arguably it was as much from Christchurch that the director embarked on his own quest to helm one of the most ambitious movie projects ever. Much of his critically acclaimed Heavenly Creatures (the tale of the Parker-Hulme murder that scandalised Christchurch in the 1950s, and even now makes it blush), was filmed in the vicinity of the city. And just over the sun-seared Port Hills, there's the harbour town of Lyttelton, where the colony's "first four ships'' landed in 1850. Here, in the mid-1990s, Peter Jackson produced his special effects bonanza, The Frighteners, starring Michael J Fox.

Take a stroll, or a punt, along the Avon, the shallow river that meanders through the city, step into the cathedral that dominates the central square, or wander through the Botanic Gardens . Christchurch and Canterbury Marketing (00 64 3 353 1188; www.christchurchnz.net) can help you feel at home. It's easy to imagine J R R Tolkien being comfortable here.

Was Tolkein a Kiwi?

No, I'm afraid not. South Africa can lay some claim to the young man born in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State in 1892, but that's probably as close as he came to the land of the long white cloud. The New Zealand phone books stubbornly resist blandishments to produce Tolkien heirs or relatives, the closest being one or two namesakes who turn up in Australia. Still, if atom-splitter Ernest Rutherford can be passed off as a Pom and Sir Edmund Hillary can be the figurehead of the "British" expedition that conquered Mount Everest, there will be those who are only too willing to suggest that it is merely an accident of history that Tolkien is not a Kiwi. At the very least, as The Fellowship of the Ring hits the big screen in December, and all those magnificent locations are evident for all to see, he will duly be accorded honorary Kiwi status.

Meanwhile, back in Oxford...

... where Tolkien was professor of Anglo-Saxon, the Tolkien Society (18 Howard Street, Oxford OX4 3BE, www.tolkiensociety.org) can provide background on the man who made the hobbit.

What it means for New Zealand

The filming of The Lord of the Rings and its impending release is anticipated to be the biggest thing for New Zealand since the America's Cup came to Auckland ­ "an unparallelled opportunity to promote New Zealand to the world'', in government-speak. Film New Zealand, the New Zealand Film Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tourism New Zealand, Creative New Zealand, Trade New Zealand and Investment New Zealand are all hoping to hitch a ride on Gandalf's cloak-tails.

Paul Voigt, of Investment New Zealand, says his agency has a lead role in "developing appropriate strategies to maximise the opportunities'' arising out of the trilogy's production and release. This involves promoting the film's locations, profiling NZ talent and creativity, and media profiling of NZ globally.

To iron out potential roadblocks in this ambitious quest, Pete Hodgson, the Associate Minister of Economic Development, who also handles the portfolios of Technology and Trade, has been unofficially designated Minister for Lord of the Rings. "If this movie is going to be as big as people are saying, then presumably we have to see some marketing opportunities for New Zealand Inc,'' says a spokesman. "Mr Hodgson has simply been identified by cabinet as the person best placed to take charge of co-ordinating those efforts.''

While no one is prepared to put figures on the potential returns, tourism operatives are anticipating the film's release with a certain frustrated excitement. Tourism is one of New Zealand's biggest foreign-exchange earners. At local levels, people are already fielding interest, but find themselves hamstrung. Everyone involved in the production of the trilogy was required to sign a confidentiality form preventing them from talking to the media, or from revealing details of the film's production. A Wellington newspaper, which produced a poster of local sets to give away to readers, was prevented from doing so in the courts. The production company is evidently keeping its powder dry for a co-ordinated roll-out.

Nonetheless, excitement at the prospect of release is rising. New Zealand, which bobs about on the high seas of world economic trends, is expecting the current downturn to have an effect. It will take a magic wand to avoid a serious buffeting.

Helen Clark's Labour government, grappling with fallout from the US terrorist attacks, and having to repurchase the national airline to save it, will be hoping The Fellowship of the Ring will do the business.

10-13-01 Latest News

Exclusive Interview: Antoni Jover
Xoanon @ 12:50 pm EST

Thanks to Antoni Jover "Josef Bugman", for the exclusive interview on his Age of Kings Middle Earth Mod. To check out the amazing screen shots from his game go Here.

Q: What was your inspiration to create a Middle Earth mod within Age of Kings?

A: I suppose the main factor was the news I received about the LOTR film. First I couldn't believe my eyes, but soon I felt the necessity to make something with all that cool pics and stuff ( specially the TheOneRing.net pics of Edoras Set, to tell you the truth )....so here came the inspiration. Another decisive thing was the fact that I was making another mod based in a Tolkien-like universe, so the jump was smaller. And the last thing was the acquisition of a good 3D program....I think that's all :-)

Q: What tools have you used to build the Mod, and what will we need to purchase or download before we can play it?

A: To create the mod I'm mainly using 3D Studio MAX 3, a very powerful 3D tool that allows me to create the 95% of all the buildings you can see. Related to units, I'm going to use both 3D MAX, Paint Shop Pro 7 and last, but not least, MS Paint ( incredibly simple but useful tool ). To use this mod, you obviously need the game "Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings" and its expansion "The Conquerors", from Microsoft. Moreover you need to download a small free program, called ModPack Studio 2 Lite ( also known as MPS 2 ) that allows your system to install and uninstall automatically the mod just by double-clicking in it ( you can achieve it here: http://aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/php/getfile.php3?type=Utilities&id=147 )

Q: How many scenarios will be altered to fit within Middle Earth. What details or story line accompany these scenarios?

A: We're thinking of a release 8-10 scenario FOTR Campaign, that will include the travel from Hobbiton to Rivendell ( included Bree, maybe the Old Forest and Barrow-Downs, although I'm not sure it Tom Bombadil will appear; the Weathertop and the crossing of Bruinen River ). Once in Rivendell, that will probably have indoor scenes, a new feature in AOK mod-campaign scenarios, the Fellowship will travel across Moria ( probably with a stressing countdown chased by evil orcs ), through the magic realm of Lothlorien ( trees will be really large! ) and finally across the Anduin to Parth Galen. I can't reveal much details of scenarios because they're still not done..we only have some concept ideas. However we'll try to make the scenarios as interesting as possible without losing Tolkien storyline...that's more or less what Peter Jackson is trying to do with his amazing film!

Q: Will the scenarios be playable online, or offline only?

A: The scenarios are only thought to be played offline, mainly because all the people would need to have the mod installed to play online...moreover triggers won't work properly in a multiplayer game.
If people wanted, perhaps we could try to make a multiplayer version of the Campaign ( but that's rather unlikely )

Q: Have you any plans to expand the Mod if the first release is successful?

A: According to people's demands, I think I'll be forced to release just a "Fellowship of the Ring MOD" as soon as I can. So the rest of the mod will accompany the other 2 campaigns ( The Two Towers and The Return of the King ). I would like to release the 3 Mod-campaign packs independently from the success of the first release ( remember that I'm a crazy LOTR fan )

Q: Using the tools available, how accurate are you able to build Middle Earth scenarios within Age of Kings?

A: Well...if I had enough pics and maps, I would like to recreate almost exactly all the scenarios that people will be able to see in the film. As you have seen, the buildings are as similar as possible to the film reconstructions and Tolkien descriptions and characters will have the real actors and actresses icons. However it's obvious that AOK engine limits some features ( for example, the game has 5 sets of civs that share the same architecture, what forces me to make strange combinations to achieve as many civs as LOTR has ) ...so before people start criticizing me, they'll have to check the AOK engine to notice how limited I am. Anyway AOK Scenario Editor Triggers allow expert designers to do amazing actions and tricks...so expect anything!!

Q: Will you work alone in this huge project or will you have help?

A: Although the final team is still not created, I wouldn't like to forget about all the people that will help me ( not so much ). I'll be helped by 4 Scenario Designers and 2 or 3 temporal 3D Building and Unit creators, so I'll try to include their names as soon as possible. Anyway I still need some 3D designers to convert original AOK Units to LOTR ones, so if you are reading this and you think you'd be able to do this job, please contact me!

Media Watch: Expose Magazine
Xoanon @ 11:48 am EST

Ringer Spy Paul sends along this article from 'Expose Magazine', the article takes a look at our very own Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn).

10-12-01 Latest News

Houghton Mifflin Presents: LOTR Day!
Xoanon @ 8:53 pm EST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Celebrate The Lord of the Rings Day on November 8th!

November 8th is Lord of the Rings Day! As fans prepare for the much-anticipated release of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first film in New Line Cinema’s epic The Lord of the Rings Trilogy on December 19th, bookstores across the United States will be celebrating the publication of Houghton Mifflin’s movie tie-in books, THE LORD OF THE RINGS OFFICIAL MOVIE GUIDE by Brian Sibley and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING VISUAL COMPANION by Jude Fisher.

At 1:00 p.m. local time on November 8th, the following bookstores will host a LORD OF THE RINGS event featuring a twenty-minute video created exclusively for Houghton Mifflin. It will include the story behind the J.R.R. Tolkien publishing phenomenon; never-before-seen interviews; behind-the-scenes film footage; and conversations with director Peter Jackson, artists Alan Lee and John Howe, as well as stars from the movie, including Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, and Orlando Bloom.

The film books, along with this exclusive video event, will be a dazzling preview of one of the most eagerly awaited film projects of all time!

THE LORD OF THE RINGS DAY – NOVEMBER 8th
THE LORD OF THE RINGS OFFICIAL MOVIE GUIDE by Brian Sibley
ISBN 0-618-15403-5, $14.95 pb; 0-618-15402-7, $24.95 hardcover
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING VISUAL COMPANION by Jude Fisher ISBN 0-618-15401-9, $19.95 hardcover

**SEE THE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO AT THESE STORES!**
NOVEMBER 8th, 1:00 p.m. local time

ALASKA
Anchorage -- Barnes & Noble, 200 East Northern Lights Boulevard

ALABAMA
Birmingham -- Books-A-Million, Hoover Commons, 1615 Montgomery Highway, Suite 120

ARIZONA
Mesa -- Borders, 1361 S. Alma School Road

ARKANSAS
Little Rock -- Barnes & Noble, 11500 Financial Center Parkway

CALIFORNIA
Berkeley -- Cody’s Books, 2454 Telegraph Avenue
Huntington Beach -- Barnes & Noble, 7777 Edinger Avenue
Los Angeles -- Brentano’s, 8500 Beverly Boulevard
Manhattan Beach -- Barnes & Noble, 1800 Rosecrans Avenue, Building B
Palo Alto -- Borders, 456 University Avenue
San Rafael --Borders, 588 Francisco Boulevard West

COLORADO
Boulder -- Barnes & Noble, 2915 Pearl Street
Colorado Springs -- Media Play, 651 North Academy Boulevard
Glendale -- Barnes & Noble, 960 S. Colorado Boulevard
Northglenn -- Borders, 241 W. 104th Street

CONNECTICUT
Waterford -- Waldenbooks, Crystal Mall, 850 Hartford Turnpike

DELAWARE
Newark -- Waldenbooks, 123 Christiana Mall

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Georgetown -- Barnes & Noble, 3040 M Street NW

FLORIDA
Miami -- Barnes & Noble, 12405 North Kendall Drive
Orlando -- Barnes & Noble, 2418 East Colonial Drive
Pensacola -- Books-A-Million, Pensacola Square, 6235 North Davis Highway
Sarasota -- Sarasota News and Books, 1341 Main Street
Tampa -- University of Southern Florida Bookstore, 4202 East Fowler Avenue
Vero Beach -- Vero Beach Book Center, 2145 Indian River Boulevard

GEORGIA
Alpharetta -- Barnes & Noble, 7660 North Point Parkway, Suite 200

IOWA
Des Moines -- Barnes & Noble, 4550 University Avenue

IDAHO
Boise -- Barnes & Noble, 1315 North Milwaukee

ILLINOIS
Oak Park -- Barbara’s Bookstore, 1100 West Lake Street
Rockford -- Waldenbooks, The Mall at Cherryvale

INDIANA
Fort Wayne -- Little Professor Book Company, 6360 W. Jefferson Boulevard
Indianapolis -- Borders, 5612 Castelton Corner Lane
South Bend -- Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, Eck Center
Val Paraiso -- The Book Bag, 1817 Calumet Avenue

KANSAS
Lawrence -- Hastings, 1900 W. 23rd Southwest Plaza

KENTUCKY
Lexington -- Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 161 Lexington Green Circle
Louisville -- Hawley-Cooke Booksellers, 27 Shelbyville Road Plaza

LOUISIANA
Baton Rouge -- Barnes & Noble, 2590 CitiPlace Court

MASSACHUSETTS
Boston -- Barnes & Noble, Downtown Crossing, 395 Washington Street
Newburyport -- Jabberwocky, The Tannery, 50 Water Street
Worcester -- Tatnuck Bookseller, 335 Chandler Street

MAINE
South Portland -- Waldenbooks, 323 Maine Mall

MICHIGAN
Flint -- Borders, 4135 Miller Road

MINNESOTA
Minneapolis -- Sam Goody Central, Mall of America
Roseville -- Barnes & Noble, 2100 North Snelling Avenue

MISSOURI
Brentwood -- Borders, 1519 Brentwood Boulevard
Columbia -- Columbia Books, 22 South Ninth Street

MONTANA
Bozeman -- Hastings, 1601 W. Main, Hastings Shopping Center

NEBRASKA
Omaha -- Barnes & Noble, 3333 Oakview Drive

NEVADA
Reno -- Barnes & Noble, 5555 South Virginia Street

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Nashua -- Barnes & Noble, 235 Daniel Webster Highway

NEW JERSEY
Paramus -- Barnes & Noble, 765 Route 17 South

NEW MEXICO
Albuquerque -- Page One Books, 11018 Montgomery Northeast

NEW YORK
Farmingdale -- Borders, 231 Airport Place
Hamburg -- Media Play, 3701 McKinley Mall Parkway
New York City -- Barnes & Noble, 33 East 17th Street
Syracuse -- Barnes & Noble, 3454 Erie Boulevard East

NORTH CAROLINA
Fayetteville -- Waldenbooks, 438 Cross Creek Mall

OHIO
Cincinnati -- Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Road
Cleveland -- Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 13217 Shaker Square
Columbus -- Media Play, New Market Mall, 7690 New Market Center Way
Dayton -- Books and Co., Dayton Town & Country, 350 East Stroop Road

OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma City -- Barnes & Noble, 6100 North May Avenue

OREGON
Ashland -- Bloomsbury Books, 290 East Main Street
Salem -- Borders, 2235 Lancaster Drive, Northeast

PENNSYLVANIA
Philadelphia -- Barnes & Noble, 1805 Walnut Street
West Chester -- Chester County Book Co., 975 Paoli Pike

RHODE ISLAND
Warwick -- Barnes & Noble, 1441 Bald Hill Road

SOUTH CAROLINA
Greenville -- Barnes & Noble, 735 Haywood Road

TENNESSEE
Chattanooga -- Waldenbooks, 2100 Hamilton Place Blvd.
Nashville -- Davis-Kidd Booksellers, 4007 Hillsboro Road

TEXAS
Amarillo -- Hastings, 4301 SW 45th Street
Austin -- Bookpeople, 603 North Lamar
Beaumont -- Books-A-Million, Parkdale Mall, 6155 Eastex Freeway, Suite C324
Fort Worth -- Borders, 4601 West Freeway
Longview -- Barron’s Bookstore, 405 W. Loop 281
McAllen -- Hastings, 4500 N. Tenth Street, Suite 400
San Antonio -- Borders, 255 E. Basse Road

SOUTH CAROLINA
Greenville -- Barnes & Noble, 735 Haywood Road

UTAH
Orem -- Media Play, 130 East University Parkway
Salt Lake City -- Borders, Crossroads Mall, 50 S. Main Street

VIRGINIA
Richmond -- Borders, 9750 West Broad Street
Virginia Beach -- Borders, 1744 Laskin Road

VERMONT
Manchester Center -- Northshire Bookstore, 4869 Main Street

WASHINGTON
Seattle -- Barnes & Noble, 2700 Northeast University Village
Spokane -- Hastings, 7706 N. Division Street
Tacoma -- University Bookstore, 1754 Pacific Avenue

WEST VIRGINIA
Charleston -- Books-A-Million, Dudley Farms Plaza, 212 RHL Boulevard

Lord of the Rings Merchandise in UK Stores
Strider @ 6:46 pm EST

From Gothmog & Wife:

The tie-in products for WH Smiths are coming in-store between now and early November. A member of staff kindly showed us the store guide to up coming products due in before Xmas. They look marvellous! As for the mo' they have various versions of the books and the John Howe illustrated board game, an alternate version of the movies 16 month calendar and the famed BBC radio play in 13 parts on CD. Games workshop now have an in-store flyer for their product range due out on the 3rd and 4th of November. They'll also be having an in-store 'Bilbo's Birthday' weekend to celebrate/promote the range of goods, with demonstrations of the battle game throughout.

Also, I bought a desk top calendar at HMV with many many lovely pics, info snippets and a movie tie-in quiz-all for £6.99.

To Stay Alive, Snipe, Snipe
Xoanon @ 1:42 pm EST

THEATER REVIEW 'DANCE OF DEATH' By BEN BRANTLEY

Before the dance, there is the walk.

It is not a graceful walk, at least not by conventional standards, that is being practiced by Ian McKellen in the revival of Strindberg's "Dance of Death" that opened on Broadway last night. His legs stiffen and stray; his basic navigational instincts betray him.

But his posture is as arrogantly erect as pain allows. And when a footstool intrudes itself into his path, as it will keep doing, Mr. McKellen kicks it away as if it were some importunate, helpless little animal. And he keeps walking. That's the important thing: he keeps walking.

Lumbering across the long stage of the Broadhurst Theater, Mr. McKellen brings something frightening and majestic to the act of putting one wayward foot before the other. As Edgar, the infirm army captain living in spiteful and isolated wedlock in a dank island outpost, Mr. McKellen projects an aggressive arrogance that doesn't so much conquer decay as ignore it. Every willed gesture, no matter how sloppy, becomes a death-defying act.

Watching Mr. McKellen's captain shooting sparks in the dark mouth of mortality is about as thrilling as theater gets. Too long absent from New York's stages, this English actor, much celebrated here for his Tony- winning performance in "Amadeus" 20 years ago, returns to Broadway to serve up an Elysian concoction we get to sample too little these days: a mixture of heroic stage presence, actorly intelligence and rarefied theatrical technique.

Those who know Mr. McKellen only from his recent eccentric film roles (he's the Hobbit-advising wizard in the forthcoming "Lord of the Rings") can't begin to appreciate his reputation as the greatest living actor of the English-speaking stage. Mr. McKellen needs the space, the amplitude that theater allows. Even playing small and inward, as he did in the title role of "Uncle Vanya" a decade ago, he projects big.

Too big, some critics have argued. But in an age dominated by the pocket Adonises of the screen, there's rich satisfaction in seeing a performer who combines intellectual integrity with an emotional reach that hugs the very last rows in the balcony. And when you have an actress of comparable fire power, the throaty siren known as Helen Mirren, playing the captain's adversarial helpmate, Alice . . . well, your only choice is to join the line for tickets.

That said, it must be admitted that this "Dance of Death," which has been directed by Sean Mathias, doesn't entirely live up to its leading man. There is for starters the crucial question of the third member of the play's triangle of shifting power. That's Alice's cousin, Kurt, who is portrayed by David Strathairn, an excellent American actor, who here takes his character's passivity well past the vanishing point.

There are also chafing discrepancies in tone. In its portrait of marriage as a torture chamber, Strindberg's turn-of-the-century masterpiece presents an obvious temptation to go Gothic, with vampire versus vampire squaring off in the marital ring. To some degree, this product cultivates an aura of Transylvanian kitsch.

Don't forget that Mr. Mathias's last Broadway success was his rollicking production of Cocteau's "Indiscretions" ("Les Parents Terribles"), which was staged as an outlandish Symbolist romp. Here, Santo Loquasto's set exudes a similar, if more cluttered, look of diabolical whimsy, turning the captain's island fortress into a haunted house jointly designed by Dali and Disney.

And the music and sound design by Dan Moses Schreier sometimes seems borrowed from "Dark Shadows," the vampire soap opera. Ditto Natasha Katz's artful but lurid lighting. When the two combine to underscore the ominous visit of a beggar woman (Anne Pitoniak), you feel you've wandered into an old Christopher Lee movie.

This is all, in truth, kind of a hoot. But what Ms. Mirren and especially Mr. McKellen are doing is much more devious and ultimately far more interesting. Working from the playwright Richard Greenberg's astutely loosened up adaptation and benefiting from Mr. Mathias's obviously affectionate direction, these performers elicit the Every Marriage aspect in the captain and Alice's relationship, especially in the first act.

This marriage may be a sort of hell on earth, yes. But is it really so different from that of many couples who have lived long and claustrophobically in each other's presence, the tics and habits of each tattooed into the mind of the other? What's shocking about the opening scenes of this "Dance" isn't the eye-popping open- walled castle of a set; it's the feeling that you've dropped in on a couple that you usually take pains to avoid visiting.

For there is Ms. Mirren, hunkered into her shawl on one side, her voice aquiver with fretfulness and a resentment of such long standing that it has worn at the edges. And there, oh so homey on the opposite side of the stage, is Mr. McKellen's captain, with an almost pleasant, rectangular smile revealing teeth to watch out for.

As they bicker and snipe, momentarily falling into nasty collusion over the failings of their distant neighbors, you know this is their everyday fare. They must long ago have settled into this acrimonious ritual, from which they clearly draw at least minor pleasure. Their defense of their respective (and hefty) egos is what keeps their blood circulating.

"I suppose you're attractive . . . to other people, when it suits you," he says to her, savoring each pause like old brandy. After a minor dispute on how to handle the servant question (a serious one in their case, since no one stays for long), she tells him, "You are a despot with the character of a slave."

How's that for a description for an actor to live up to? Yet Mr. McKellen miraculously does, giving credence to the idea that one may smile and smile, however humbly, and still be a tyrant. He is unfailingly polite, jocular and often soft-spoken. Yet there is a demure threat poised behind every courteous gesture.

Notice the captain's ostensibly loving physical contacts with Alice's cousin Kurt, who reappears in their lives after a long absence. Edgar clutches Kurt to his chest while pressing a cane or rifle horizontally against Kurt's back. When Mr. McKellen places his hands on Kurt's shoulders, you understand the look of slight, panicked nausea on Mr. Strathairn's face.

It is Kurt's mere presence, of course, that alters the routine chemistry between Alice and the captain. Now they have an audience and potentially an accomplice. Or is it a victim? In any case, their litany of reciprocal grievances turns into an operatic war that may be either the real thing or merely another diverting military exercise. Kurt may not altogether appreciate their vitriolic performance, but we sure do.

For this is when Ms. Mirren bursts into glorious artificial flower. This actress, known to Americans as the sublimely weary crime solver of "Prime Suspect," takes her cues from our knowledge that Alice was herself an actress. She has been waiting for a comeback as eagerly and as long as Norma Desmond.

With Kurt to observe her, Alice's face floods with light; her voice acquires ringing bell tones; anticipating her husband's imminent death, she sheds her at-home drudgery clothes in two witty variations on dressing to kill. Alice's seduction of her cousin, as she rocks fervidly from foot to foot, is scary, funny and sexual at once. And just wait till she (literally) lets her hair down.

This is also, unfortunately, where Mr. Strathairn's performance runs aground. In the earlier scenes with the couple, the actor's air of quiet uneasiness works fine, as he becomes both target and confessor to the ailing captain. The role is partly a stand-in for Strindberg, and it's tough to pull off. But at some point, Kurt has to be transformed into a monster on the level of his hosts, and Mr. Strathairn is unwilling to make that leap. He disappears when he should be most visible.This sense of a vacuum detracts from "Dance" as a study of a marriage. We need that third point in the temporary triangle to make full sense of the dynamic that keeps Alice and the captain together. The emphasis instead shifts to another relationship, that of the captain with death. And if this makes the play a tad lopsided, it also allows Mr. McKellen to give a performance that will become a touchstone for anyone else playing the part.

I can't think of a more profound or unsettling study in denial from my theater-going experience. The first thing you have to know about Mr. McKellen's captain is that he is indeed dying; the second thing is that he intends to treat death as he has all things that contradict his wishes and beliefs, by pretending it doesn't exist.

There's fierceness in his decrepitude. If he can't manage the stairs, he'll slide down the banister. Though his head falls regularly to one side and his eyes will sometimes go dead and absent, he insists on ordering chateaubriand for breakfast in a voice that suggests God as a gourmand. There are also the cruel moments of recognition: of fear and acceptance, when he wraps his arms around himself and suddenly looks small and very cold. By the end, these accumulate into something like an epiphany.

Yet these scenes don't erase the memory of the dance of the boyars that the captain performs for Kurt, as Alice plays the piano. It's a furious, flustered performance, both heroic and pathetic, in which the captain seems to kick and punch at every dismal phantom in pursuit of him. These are not rehearsed steps. He's making it up as he goes along, with all the vitality that's left him. He is, to put it simply, staying alive.

DANCE OF DEATH
By August Strindberg; in a new version by Richard Greenberg; directed by Sean Mathias; sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto; lighting by Natasha Katz; original music and sound by Dan Moses Schreier; technical supervisor, O'Donovan and Bradford; production stage manager, Arthur Gaffin; general management, Stuart Thompson. Presented by the Shubert Organization, Roger Berlind, USA Ostar Theatricals and Chase Mishkin. At the Broadhurst Theater, 235 West 44th Street, Manhattan.

WITH: Ian McKellen (Edgar), Helen Mirren (Alice), David Strathairn (Kurt), Anne Pitoniak (Maja), Keira Naughton (Jenny) and Eric Martin Brown (Sentry).

Holm's 'Homecoming'
Xoanon @ 1:33 pm EST

From: Etched Chaos

I recently went to see the Homecoming at the London Comedy Theatre of which stars good old Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). I managed to get a programme and it has a small section on Ian stating his theatre background and movies of which he has starred in. So i thought I'd send what it says to you;

Ian Holm most recently appeared in this production of the Homecoming at the Gate Theatre in dublin which opened in June of this year before transferring to New York as part of the Harold pinter Festival at the Lincoln Centre. He has previously worked with the Gate in the theatre's first Harold Pinter festival in 1994 as andy in Moonlight and Duff in Landscape. He worked extensively at Stratford-on-Avon from 1954 to 1967, where roles included puck in A Midsummer's Night Dream, Lorenzo in the Merchant of Venice, Prince Hal in Henry IV (parts 1 and 2), the title roles in Henry V and Richard III and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. Other Theatre Work includes Lenny in the Homecoming at the Aldwych and in New York, astrov in Uncle Vanya at Hampstead and King Lear at the Royal National Theatre.

Television work includes jesus of Nazareth, the Lost Boys, Uncle Vanya, the Misanthrope, We the Accused, the Last Romantics, The Browning Version, Game Set and Match, The Borrowers, and the Last of the Brown Bombshells.

Film work includes Joe Gould in Joe Gould's Secret, The Homecoming, Alien, Chariots of Fire, Greystroke, Henry V, Hamlet, The Naked Lunch, Frankenstein, The Madness of King George (small piece of trivia I come from the same town as Nigel Hawthorne who take the leading role in the Madness of King George), Big Night, The Sweet Hereafter, Fifth Element, A Life Less Ordinary, Existenz, LORD OF THE RINGS, From Hell, and the Emperor's New Clothes.

Now a small tidbit for those who are adamant on trying to compare The Lord of the Rings with Harry Potter. Another of the stars in the Homecoming was one Ian Hart whom is starring in the new Harry potter Film as Professor Quirrell. From watching the performance I can say that ian Holm's performance was priceless and the Harry potter film will benefit with Ian Hart's presence. However I couldn't compare the two films simply through these two...

10-11-01 Latest News

Head For Head...They're Pretty Good!
Xoanon @ 2:57 pm EST

From: Old Took

Being old enough to remember collecting the original star-wars figures first time round, the thing that really amazed me on eagerly ripping open the delivery containing my first batch of purchases, was the amount of detail that has gone into the faces on the figures.I'm sure you agree that to quite a high degree of accuracy, the figures really do look like their real-life actor counterparts. I've scanned in some really close-up face shots of my collection to demonstrate.


Sublime To The Ridiculous Part II
Xoanon @ 10:47 am EST

LOTR Cookies?...

From: Nayru

This morning I was having breakfast and I realized that I was eating biscuits of LOTR!! I haven't noticed before! This biscuits often have pictures of films but I didn't expect the ones of LOTR coming so soon! The biscuits are called: Tosta Rica de Cuétara. I went to look inside the box and I found a LOTR card. I send you the some scans.

(Cookies??? -Xo)

(cookies????? -Xo)

More Toy Biz Goodies!
Xoanon @ 10:30 am EST

Ringer Spy Ed sends along more pics from his ever growing LOTR collection! I personally bought a Wraith with his horse last night and was REALLY impressed, these things are amazing! Great detail, and they don't feel like they'll fall apart by just looking at them, very cool indeed!


10-10-01 Latest News

Media Watch: Barnes & Noble's 'Explorations'
Xoanon @ 4:51 pm EST

Thanks to Anne for these great scans! Check out the PJ interview!!


Media Watch: 'Library Journal'
Xoanon @ 1:34 pm EST

Library Journal, October 1, 2001.

A Fantasy Come true: Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Comes to Film

Rings, Kings and Evil Things by Michael Rogers

The buzz over director Peter Jackson’s feature film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy hit fever pitch in 2000 when the simply stunning early footage was previewed via the modern wizardry of the Internet, leaving fans gawking at their PCs. To give an idea of how wildly this film has been anticipated, that teaser trailer was downloaded 1.7 million times – the first day! The film of the Fellowship of the Ring – the first leg of the LOTR trilogy – does not open in theatres until December 19, but fans have their fingers and furry little tows crossed that it will do the book justice. Tolkien’s volumes have enjoyed continued popularity, and most libraries sport copies of The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy, but the Oxford don wrote numerous volumes himself – this list is not all-inclusive – and is the subject of many others. The film no doubt will spark a huge interest in all things Tolkien, so stock up early.

Tolkien Online: On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a hobbit. Though New Line Cinema has created an official movie site (www.lordoftherings.net), the best web page hands down is theonering.net, which offers daily updates of anything and everything Tolkien. For diehards wanting a replica of Sauron’s Ring, there’s www.badalijewelry.com/tolkien.htm offering Tolkien inspired jewelry. Houghton Mifflin, publisher of the books, also has a Tolkien page at www.lordofthe-ringstrilogy.com.


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