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December 18, 2002 - December 26, 2002

12-26-02 Latest News

Leitmotifs in Howard Shore's Soundtrack
Tehanu @ 4:16 pm EST

Simon wrote in with some thoughts on the soundtrack for the Lord of the Rings so far, which got me thinking about how Shore was approaching it as a kind of opera. I keep thinking of Wagner (not that it sounds like Wagner...not because Wagner did a Ring opera.....Look, I don't even LIKE Wagner!) but because he was one of the first composers to rely on 'leitmotifs' or little musical fragments that represent and idea or character or thought in the story. Like Wagner, Shore's music cues you in to important things in the story by the use of these motifs. Simon lists the ones he's found so far.

In Simon's words: "I was thinking about how great Howard Shore's music for The Lord of the Rings has been so far, and began to wonder just how many themes there were, and how they progress throughout the trilogy of films. This is what I've found so far, if anyone out there is interested!

1) Gondor/Men theme - 9 note minor motif heard over the title of both movies, when Boromir goes for the Ring at the council of Elrond (extended version) and when the Fellowship pass by the Argonath

2) The Ring theme #1 - minor motif heard when Gollum has the One Ring, and when Gandalf talks about the Ring

3) The Ring theme #2 - minor motif heard when Boromir and Aragorn are tempted by the One Ring, sung softly by a boy‚s choir

4) Hobbiton/Hobbit theme - heard in Hobbiton at the beginning of 'Fellowship'

5) Fellowship theme #1 - used a lot during Frodo/Sam's scenes, such as when they leave the Shire for the first time ("If I take one more step, it'll be the furthest from home I've ever been") and when Faramir lets the hobbits go at the end of 'Towers'

6) Fellowship theme #2 ˆ bombastic, heroic theme heard when other members of the Fellowship are together, such as when they leave Balin‚s tomb, and when Aragorn says "we will not abandon Merry and Pippin to torment and death", and when Legolas jumps on the shield at the battle of Helm‚s Deep; used in a minor key when, for example, Gandalf rides to Isengard

7) Isengard/Saruman/Uruk-Hai theme ˆ a 5/4 based theme in a minor key, consisting of 6 notes, heard whenever the Uruk-Hai are travelling, or when Saruman is building his army

8) Mordor/Sauron theme ˆ evil sounding theme, heard when we first see Mordor in 'Fellowship', when the different races argue at the Council of Elrond, and when Frodo and Sam first see the Black Gates

9) Ents/Treebeard theme ˆ heard when Merry and Pippin first meet Treebeard; a kind of low, slow, ominous theme, played on brass and wooden percussion

10) Gollum‚s theme ˆ a sort of eastern-flavoured theme, played on some sort of plucked string instrument; heard when we first see Gollum in 'Towers'

11) Nature vs. Industry theme? ˆ sung by a boy soprano; heard first when Gandalf whispers to the moth when imprisoned in Orthanc, then more prominently when the Ents march on Isengard

12) Rivendell theme ˆ heard when we first see Rivendell, when the members of the Fellowship arrive, then when the Elves leave Rivendell in 'Towers'

13) Lothlorien/Lorien Elves theme ˆ heard first when the Fellowship enter Lothlorien, then sung by a single female voice as a lament for Gandalf, then when Galadriel communicates with Elrond in 'Towers' then when the Lorien Elves arrive at Helm‚s Deep, then when the battle of Helm‚s Deep commences

14) Gondor theme? ˆ heard when Boromir talks about the "White Tower" to Aragorn in Lorien

15) Nazgul theme ˆ heard when the Nazgul are on screen, most prominently at Weathertop and when they break into Bree

16) Gandalf the White/Shadowfax theme ˆ triumphant theme heard when Gandalf the White rides with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas to Edoras, then when Gandalf leaves Edoras on Shadowfax, then when he returns at the battle of Helm‚s Deep with Eomer

17) Rohan theme ˆ played most prominently on a fiddle of some kind, when we see Rohan for the first time, when we see Edoras, and when Kind Theoden takes up his sword again."


Shawna sent in some additions to the list of themes or leimotifs that Simon found in the Rings soundtracks so far.

The theme he's talking about in #5 is actually more correctly thought of as "Frodo's theme," but also kind of a generic hobbits/Shire theme. Known as "The Breaking of the Fellowship" on the FOTR soundtrack, with the lovely boy soprano solo. Sam also now has his own theme: "Samwise the Brave" which is the beginning of that track on the TTT CD, before it switches over to "Frodo's theme." I suspect we'll hear both those themes interwoven, enhanced, etc. quite a bit in ROTK.

Eowyn also has her own theme, which is frequently at the beginning of the larger Rohan theme (which is played on a Norwegian Fiddle, btw). It's heard most notably when she storms out of the Hall after her confrontation with Wormtongue, and just after she and Aragorn spar. It should make a most lovely battle theme in ROTK. :)

There is also a Frodo/Bilbo theme, which is heard during their reunion in Rivendell, and during their interaction at the Party in the extended version.

There's also the Balrog theme and the Nazgul theme, and a theme for Narsil which will probably be heard in ROTK.

12-24-02 Latest News

Your Christmas LoTR TV Viewing
Demosthenes @ 5:29 pm EST

Ringer Fan Bricklayer has put together this partial guide to Tolkien/LoTR TV in the USA over the Christmas period. If anyone has more programs (from around the world) to add to this, I will try but my memory is worse than Barliman's so it's just as likely that I'll forget to!

The source for these listings is the tvguide website and the listings all in Central Standard time. As always, check your local listings!


Wed 12-25 - 6:00 AM - Saturday Night Live Marathon (with Ian McKellen) E!
Wed 12-25 - 1:00 PM - Saturday Night Live: Ian McKellen; Kylie Minogue E!

Thu 12-26 - 5:00 PM - Behind the Scenes: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers E!

Fri 12-27 - 11:30 PM - Sean Astin on Craig Kilborn CBS

Sat 12-28 - 6:00 AM - Behind the Scenes: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers E!
Sat 12-28 - 5:00 PM - National Geographic Explorer: Beyond the Movie: `Lord of the Rings'; Otter Chaos; Yukon Rush MSNBC

Sun 12-29 - 2:00 AM - Behind the Scenes: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers E!
Sun 12-29 - 4:00 AM - National Geographic Explorer: Beyond the Movie: `Lord of the Rings'; Otter Chaos; Yukon Rush MSNBC
Sun 12-29 - 6:30 AM - Behind the Scenes: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers E!
Sun 12-29 - 8:00 PM - Return to Middle-Earth WB

Mon 12-30 - 2:30 AM - Behind the Scenes: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers E!
Mon 12-30 - 6:00 PM - Saturday Night Live: Ian McKellen; Kylie Minogue E!

Tue 12-31 - 6:00 AM - Behind the Scenes: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers E!
Tue 12-31 - 12:00 PM - 2002 MTV Movie Awards MTV

Wed 1-1 - 4:00 PM - J.R.R. Tolkien OVATION

Fri 1-3 - 11:30 PM - Sean Astin on Conan O'Brien NBC


AndrewR writes: is The Master of Middle Earth is on tonight at 7:10pm (Brisbane Time) 8:10pm (Sydney, Melbourne time) on BBC World on Foxtel and Optus. It also repeats at 4:10am/5:10am.

A Response To NZ Strider
Demosthenes @ 4:32 pm EST

This response was written by EleanortheEdlest and posted on our boards. I've added it so as to give balance to the discussion on this issue - Dem.

I have just read NZ Strider’s ‘analysis’ of Faramir. I found it interesting that in this analysis he only mentions part of the time we see Faramir in "The Two Towers," and also has apparently failed to note some very specific information Tolkien gives us on him in the appendices of "Return of the King."

In the analysis we are given only the implications that Faramir’s actions are all grim & frightening related to the hobbits. Granted, they are that, but that is not all there is to Faramir’s character.

After his ‘strange, stern look’ Frodo recites the ‘Sword that was broken’ rhyme. How does Faramir respond? "In astonishment." He also openly concedes – "It is some token of your truth that you also know them."

Frodo explains the rhyme to him and, again, Faramir does not answer in a threatening, or even an interrogating, way. He responds "thoughtfully." Is he still shrewd & guarded? Yes. His astonishment is genuine, though. He has much to think about. These traits do not make him only a threatening personality but, rather, someone we are seriously interested in knowing more of.

We are also shown Mablung in only an ominous light, when this is also clearly in contradiction with the book. Frodo discovers that they speak an Elven-tongue, thus making them "Dunedain of the South." This alone would improve his opinion of them, and make them appear less evil. He engages these Rangers in conversation. The conversation is guarded, but there is no enmity such as we see in the film. Even Mablung’s "I do not think the Captain will leave you here…" is said with a laugh.

After Sam butts in it is almost as if Tolkien expects us to be ready for some awful response from Faramir, because he clarifies how Faramir’s response was given:

" ‘Patience!’ said Faramir, but without anger." There is no animosity.

He also continues to be fair – "Do not speak before your master, whose wit is greater than yours." The film-Faramir was anything but fair.

The analysis says that Faramir’s "response was not comic at all." No, it wasn’t – but the opposite of comic does not have to imply danger, or anger – just that Faramir is a grave man.

The analysis also makes much use of how shrewd Faramir is in interrogation techniques. He was, indeed, a wise man – but some of the interrogation techniques smack of mistruths, and we have already been told (by Faramir himself): "I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood." If he would not lay traps of mistruths with horrible enemies, then how can we think that he would be willing to do so with someone he might consider an ally? He is too just a man.

The analysis continues to press on about Faramir’s ‘interrogating’ abilities – yet obligingly skips over another area where we are given a different Faramir than that of the film.

"A shadow of sorrow passed over his face…." When talking about the dissolution of Gondor.

We are then given more about Faramir separate & apart from his interrogation - "… regarding Frodo with a new wonder in his eyes. ‘Much that was strange about you I begin now to understand…" The implication here? A ‘new wonder’ does not denote simply a keen warrior prying information out of those useful to him, it implies someone ready to listen and learn – someone who has kept parts of his soul open to wonder.

Their conversations about Boromir continue and Faramir makes an amazing declaration (even more amazing considering the knowledge we already have of him – he does not snare anybody with falsehoods):

"…Whatever befell on the North March, you, Frodo, I doubt no longer. If hard days have made me any judge of Men’s words and faces, then I may make a guess at Halflings!…" He does not doubt Frodo any more, he doubts what he, himself, should do. This is vastly different from the film, where has doubt about Frodo, and is proud & harsh long after Tolkien has him give up any worries he had on Frodo’s part.

Referring to their conversations on the way to the refuge we are once again told that Faramir uses an "interrogator’s trick." However, a trick smacks of a snare or falsehood, something Faramir will not do. We know that, if he says he stopped the conversation b/c of its touchiness then that is why he stopped it. He may be incredibly astute at understanding many things from one sentence, but this does not exclude his honesty.

Faramir, of the book, also does something that the Faramir of the movie never does at this point – he asks forgivness. Consider:

"…Frodo, I pressed you hard at first about Isildur’s Bane. Forgive me! It was unwise in such an hour and place. I had not time for thought. We had a hard fight, and there was more than enough to fill my mind." Ever & always, Faramir is honest. He did question Frodo hard. He does not think, however, that this is an area to be proud of, but rather an area where he needs to ask his ‘prisoner’s’ forgivneness.

And, then, among all this hard conversation & questioning, we get the real essence of Faramir, son of Gondor:

"But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo."

A couple comments on this area:

Faramir is honest. If he says he will not take the Ring, he will not take the Ring.

He expects Frodo to have fear, but assures him it is no longer necessary. This is not the action of a man seriously interested in taking the Ring for Gondor’s use. This is the action of a man ready to do right.

Frodo makes the, for the moment, wise decision to not elaborate any more. He really does not know this man. The analysis, however, makes it appear that this was simply a trick of Faramir’s – how so? If he has told Frodo not to fear him, he means it. If he is really interrogating him (and, apparently, using every trick in the book) then why would he tell Frodo this?

Inside the caves we are also given a brief, but vivid, glance into Faramir’s character, a glance this analysis skips. Anborn tells Faramir:

"I drew nigh and went up aloft as swift as any squirrel could. You will not have us slay wild beasts for no purpose…." What do we have here? A picture of Faramir as a kindly man. What do we have in the film? A Faramir that seems to approve of his men violently mistreating Gollum.

I also am not sure why the analysis says that Faramir’s quick glance to the hobbits shows more distrust against them. Frodo has already explained as much as is possible about Gollum. Faramir has told Frodo that he no longer has any doubts about Frodo’s being genuine. The glance is most likely a simple ‘connecting factor’ – realising that what Anborn saw is probably what Faramir has already seen, and what Frodo has given some account for.

After supper Frodo & Faramir have their discussion. No doubt about it – there is, indeed, dramatic tension in this conversation. Neither of them are being dishonest, but they are also not going to flood forth everything in their souls. There are very deft turnabouts on both sides and, if Faramir is going to be accused of being a most talented interrogator, then so must Frodo be.

Faramir’s talk is also not all about exacerbating information from Frodo. There is genuine disappointment & grief in his conversation – after talking about Boromir we find that "Faramir sighed and fell silent for a while."

If the analysis mentions that Sam notes Faramir’s quick glance in their direction after hearing of Gollum, how come it does not also mention something else Sam noticed? "He had noted that Faramir seemed to refer to Elves with reverence, and this even more than his courtesy, and his food and wine, had won’s Sam respect and quieted his suspicions."

Faramir is happy to discuss the elves, but he is also ever ready to pick up on anything relating to his brother. Apart from all the investigation tactics, is this not completely understandable? Faramir saw his brother’s faults, but he also loved him with a strong, brotherly affection.

The analysis stops before we’re even done hearing Faramir in the book. After he recites his speech about "A chance for Faramir, son of Gondor, to show his quality," he does this:

"… Faramir sat down again in his chair and began to laugh quietly, and then suddenly became grave again.

‘Alas for Boromir! It was too sore a trial… We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor. We boast seldom, and then perform, or die in the attempt. Not if I found it on the highway would I take it I said. Even if I were such a man as to desire this thing and even though I knew not clearly what this thing was when I spoke, still I should take those words as a vow and be held by them.

But I am not such a man. Or I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee. Sit at peace! And be comforted, Samwise…"

Here, then, is the answer to the question that the analsyis rudely ends with: "will Faramir take the Ring?"

Tolkien clearly tells us No. He will not. He does not desire it. He does not desire to use it, even for Gondor’s glory or his father’s respect (which are probably the same thing). He is a just and kind man. He keeps his word.

The movie, however, goes completely against the grain with these qualities of Faramir’s. He does desire the Ring. He does desire to use it. He is not a kind man. He watches with assent & approval when Gollum is flung about. He does not keep his word – he gives Frodo every reason to think he will not harm Gollum, and then stands by & lets Gollum be harmed.

I would now like to answer some very specific ‘points’ in the analysis.

Most of the complaints about the presentation of Faramir in the movie have centred on these points:

1.) He was a good guy who never threatened the Hobbits

2.) He did NOT kidnap the Hobbits

3.) He did NOT want the Ring

4.) He was different from Boromir

As far as I can see, Tolkien’s presentation on Faramir has him threatening the Hobbits and kidnapping the Hobbits; Tolkien keeps suggesting that Faramir too may try for the Ring in the same way as Boromir already had.

Complaint #1 – My complaint is that Faramir would never have threatened the Hobbits without need. In the movie he seems to take delight in threatening characters smaller and weaker than he is.

Complaint #2 – Faramir would not have kidnapped the Hobbits the way it is shown in the movie. In the book he takes them to his cave simply whilst he decides what is best to be done. Forfeiting one’s life is not something you decide on quickly. He also has a responsibility to investigate all those on his land. He does not feel he has all the information, he can see the Hobbits need a rest, it isn’t even safe for them to continue at the moment. Solution? ‘Kidnap’ them while he decides the best course. Book? He decides to let them go.

Movie? He continues to hold them in bondage, after he’s learned about the Ring and decided a plan of action. His plan of action is vastly different than what the Faramir of the book would have done.

Complaint #3 – Tolkien does, indeed, through the Hobbits’ eyes, continually suggest that Faramir might take the Ring. Of course we are to suspect this – The Ring is an item of great danger, and we’ve got the example of the 9 wraiths (once men) falling prey to its power, along with witnessing what it did to Boromir. Tolkien doesn’t stop there, however. He surprises us by showing us a man who is not lured by it. A man who does right from the start. This is not what we get in the movie. Tolkien’s suggestion that Faramir might succumb and fact that he does not, is reversed in the movie. He does succumb, and then – against all odds – he ‘reforms.’

Complaint #4 – He was different than Boromir, and I’m really not sure why the film makers decided to make them similar.

I have a few more of my own complaints to offer:

#5 – He is cruel in the movie. This is not what we have of him in the book.

#6 – He is unduly hasty & judgmental. In the book he is "thoughtful," "astonished" and "wondering" at much of what he hears. In the movie he seems willing to think the worst of everything and not give fair ‘trials’ to his ‘prisoners.’


3.) The movie then plays with another option: Faramir will send Frodo (and the Ring) to Minas Tirith (present in the book as well).

Not quite sure why this is ‘another option.’ Tolkien certainly doesn’t make it an option. Faramir finds out about the Ring and sends Frodo on his way. In the very beginning he considers sending Frodo to Minas Tirith, but this is even before he knows about the Ring! The movie is playing with an option Tolkien never gave.

In closing, I’d like to share the description of Faramir that we have from the RotK appendices:

"Faramir the younger was like him [Boromir] in looks but otherwise in mind. He read the hearts of men as shrewdly as his father, but what he read moved him sooner to pity than to scorn. He was gentle in bearing, and a lover of lore and of music, and therefore by many in those days his courage was judged less than his brother’s. But it was not so, except that he did not seek glory in danger without a purpose. He welcomed Gandalf at such times as he came to the City, and he learned what he could from his wisdom; and in this as in many other matters he displeased his father…

It did not seem possible to Faramir that any one in Gondor could rival Boromir, heir of Denetho, Captain of the White Tower; and of like mind was Boromir. Yet it proved otherwise at the test."

'Rings' towers above o'seas B.O.
Xoanon @ 9:31 am EST

Sequel 37% higher than 'Fellowship,' breaks records


The second outing of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy towered above o'seas B.O. competish during its debut.

Towering B.O. o'seas

Current worldwide B.O. champ "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" has already shown serious foreign legs in its first five days, grossing $88 million, or 16% of the foreign cume for "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

"Towers," which opened in 26 territories, was 37% higher than the five-day mark for "Fellowship" and set opening-day records in many markets. Blighty led the way with $20.4 million, or 22% of the $90.2 million cume for "Fellowship" in the territory.

Germany's first five days for "Towers" hit $17 million, or 23% of the $73 million final B.O. for "Fellowship" in that market, while Spain's $7.1 million debut for "Towers" amounted to 25% of Spanish cume for "Fellowship."

Scandinavia totaled $10 million for "Towers" and France brought in $9.8 million, compared with $8.2 million for the first five days of "Fellowship." South Korean B.O. totaled $4 million.

Rolf Mittweg, New Line's worldwide marketing and distrib prexy, said the improved perf for "Towers" compared with "Fellowship" stemmed from a trio of factors:

A 15% rise in the number of playdates to more than 5,400.

Expansion of the audience through the shipping of 35 million DVD and VHS units of "Fellowship."

Pay TV bows of "Fellowship" in the United States and Korea.

"Towers" also has dominated the U.S. box office, ringing up $102 million in its first five days. Its worldwide total is already 22% of the final worldwide cume of $860 million for "Fellowship," which owns the fifth highest worldwide mark after "Titanic" at $1.8 billion; "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," $968 million; "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace," $923 million; and "Jurassic Park," $920 million.

Shooting for second

Mittweg predicted "Towers" will wind up second on the list, displacing "Sorcerer's Stone." It will open in Australia at 425 playdates on Thursday, during that territory's Boxing Day holiday, and on Friday in Brazil, followed by a Jan. 17 launch in Italy and a late February opening in Japan.

12-23-02 Latest News

The Nature of Farmir?
Demosthenes @ 5:45 pm EST

Well, the characterisation of Faramir in The Two Towers certainly has caused some contention. But, do you really understand the nature of Faramir son of Denethor? TORn discussion board regular NZ Strider presented this interesting analysis on our boards yesterday. It's well worth a read ...

Update: Well, that prompted a flood of responses.

In an attempt to present the other side of the argument, here's an extensive response from ElanortheEldest. [More]

NZ Strider's originial article is, of course, below.

Some notes on the introduction of Faramir (in the book -- not the movie)

When Faramir and his men capture Frodo and Sam, Faramir declares his identity to the two Hobbits with the following words: "'I am Faramir, Captain of Gondor,' he said. 'But there are no travellers in this land: only the servants of the Dark Tower, or of the White.'" (A minor side-note by the way: one white use this passage for an argument that the two eponymous towers are those of Barad-dûr and Ecthelion.) Faramir’s line is ominous: he knows that Frodo and Sam are not servants of Gondor, therefore they are enemies by default. Faramir goes on to ask where Sam’s and Frodo’s companion is, whom he alleges to be a 'spying breed of Orc.' The implication is obvious what Faramir thinks of those that would take up with a spying breed of Orc.

Frodo begins to explain himself and his mission; and mentions Boromir. "'Boromir son of the Lord Denethor?' said Faramir, and a strange stern look came into his face." Now, a 'strange stern look' is rarely a positive sign; and in retrospect Faramir’s distrust of the Hobbits becomes apparent through his withholding a pertinent detail, to wit that he is Boromir’s brother. Faramir will, in fact, use this against Frodo in a few moments. First, however, Frodo speaks of the riddle which both Faramir and Boromir heard in a dream -- Faramir acknowledges recognising the lines -- and then identifies Sam and himself as the 'Halflings.' Faramir shoots straight back with 'What is Isildur’s Bane?' Frodo answers evasively: 'That is hidden.' (This allows two meanings: 'I don’t know' or 'I am keeping it hidden.') It should now be said that neither side is being particularly honest with the other: both are withholding something.

Faramir must then go to the battle. Faramir has two reasons to keep Frodo and Sam alive: they know something about Boromir as well as about 'Isildur’s Bane.' Faramir places them under guard till his return. The man whom Faramir sets over the two Hobbits, Mablung, is under no illusion what Faramir means to do with the Hobbits:

Mablung: "When [Faramir] comes we shall depart swiftly."
Sam: (freely) "Try not to wake me when you do."
Mablung: "I do not think the captain will leave you here."
(I.e.: "You’re coming with us" -- the sentiment is ominous; and, as it turns out, correct.)

After the battle against the Haradrim Faramir returns for a full interrogation of Frodo:

"He had brought many men with him; indeed all the survivors of the foray were now gathered on the slope nearby, two or three hundred strong. They sat in a wide semicircle, between the arms of which Faramir was seated on the ground, while Frodo stood before him. It looked strangely like the trial of a prisoner."

The trial of a prisoner indeed! For that is what it is; Faramir has taken Frodo prisoner and is now interrogating him in a high pressure situation: behind Frodo are three hundred armed Gondorian soldiers; before him is his interrogator.

Now we have already seen that Faramir distrusts Frodo and has withheld his relationship with Boromir. Tolkien brings Faramir’s distrust straight back to our attention through Sam’s observations:

"Faramir's face... was now unmasked: it was stern and commanding, and a keen wit lay behind his searching glance. Doubt was in the grey eyes that gazed steadily at Frodo." This, of course, well befits an interrogator who thinks his prisoner is lying to him. As indeed Faramir does: "Sam soon became aware that the captain was not satisfied with Frodo's account of himself at several points: what part he had to play in the Company that set out from Rivendell; why he had left Boromir; and where he was now going. In particular he returned often to Isildur's Bane. Plainly he saw that Frodo was concealing from him some matter of great importance."

I have just remarked on the ambiguity of Frodo’s evasive answer 'it is hidden.' Faramir caught the ambiguity and returns to it: "It is hidden, you say; but is not that because you choose to hide it?" Frodo is forced to admit that he is concealing something, but counters by revealing Aragorn’s identity as Isildur’s heir. This bowls Faramir's men over completely, but Faramir himself remains 'unmoved.' But Frodo, in fact, has just bought himself some time: he's used a simple trick; he’s changed the subject. Faramir gives him his head, however; and Faramir, as we’ll see, has no intention of letting Frodo off the hook in regard to Isildur’s Bane. Frodo, having had some success by changing the subject, speaks further of Boromir as if Boromir were alive, and now Faramir moves to catch Frodo out on this subject. He asks a trick question, "Were you a friend of Boromir?"

Frodo hesitates; "Faramir's eyes watching him grew harder." "At length" Frodo answers, evasively, "Yes, I was his friend, for my part." Faramir now moves to spring the trap: "Faramir smiled grimly. 'Then you would grieve to learn that Boromir is dead?'" Frodo realises that Faramir is trying to "trap him in words" and protests.

The interrogation now takes a nastier turn:

Faramir: "As to the manner of his death, I had hoped that his friend and companion would tell me how it was." (Faramir next words will show that his use of "friend" is sarcastic -- he suspects that Frodo contributed to Boromir’s death.)
Frodo: "[Boromir] lives still for all that I know. Though surely there are many perils in the world."
Faramir: "Many indeed, and treachery not the least."

At this stage the interrogation of the prisoner has reached a high point in the tension. Frodo has found himself manoeuvred back and forth: his evasion on Isildur’s Bane has been laid bare; a desperate attempt to change the subject has seen him blunder into another trap -- and he now finds himself accused of complicity in Boromir’s death, of which, however, he knows less than Faramir; so how can he answer Faramir’s accusation?

Tolkien here breaks the tension by having Sam make a comic interjection -- but Faramir’s response in not comic at all: "I might have slain you long ago. For I am commanded to slay all whom I find in this land without the leave of the Lord of Gondor." In other words, Faramir holds the power of life or death over his two prisoners. The threat is palpable.

Shortly thereafter Faramir finally admits that he is Boromir’s brother. Faramir takes it easy on Frodo in the next portion of the interrogation; he lets the conversation eddy and turn from Boromir to Lórien. Frodo finally asks to be set free: "Will you not put aside your doubt of me and let me go?" That, however, Faramir will not do.

Faramir has already suggested one possible decision he might make about Frodo: obey orders and have him killed. He now considers a second: "I should now take you back to Minas Tirith to answer there to Denethor." But he has yet to make his final decision in the matter: in the meantime, "you, Frodo and Samwise, will come with me and my guards ... In the morning I will decide what is best for me to do and for you."

Frodo doesn’t exactly have a choice in this matter. "There was nothing for Frodo to do but to fall in with this request." He is Faramir’s prisoner; and Faramir is currently considering two options: to slay Frodo; or to send him to Minas Tirith. It does not look good for Frodo.

As they walk towards Henneth Annûn, Faramir speaks further with Frodo. We now learn that Faramir was aware that Frodo had changed the subject away from Isildur’s Bane: "we were drawing near to matters that were better not debated openly before many men. It was for that reason that I turned rather to the matter of my brother and let be Isildur's Bane. You were not wholly frank with me, Frodo."

Now Faramir gives out that he is returning to press that point. The interrogator’s trick he plays on Frodo is exemplary. He is turning from the matter of his brother to that of Isildur’s Bane: "'I would hazard that Isildur's Bane lay between you and was a cause of contention in your Company. Clearly it is a mighty heirloom of some sort, and such things do not breed peace among confederates, not if aught may be learned from ancient tales. Do I not hit near the mark?'

"'Near,' said Frodo, 'but not in the gold. There was no contention in our Company, though there was doubt: doubt which way we should take from the Emyn Muil. But be that as it may, ancient tales teach us also the peril of rash words concerning such things as -- heirlooms.'"

By pretending to ask about Isildur’s Bane, Faramir just got Frodo to reveal something about Boromir: "Ah, then it is as I thought: your trouble was with Boromir alone."

These things are typical of Faramir as interrogator: he is good at ostensibly asking one thing while aiming at another. Frodo is being whipsawed from one subject to the next; surrounded by armed men he has to answer -- and Faramir keeps tricking things out of him. Faramir has laid bare his evasions about Boromir and Isildur’s Bane; though he has not yet got out of Frodo the full truth concerning the latter. Now he piously begs forgiveness for having "pressed Frodo hard" -- and draws off to something else, letting Frodo relax again. Perfect interrogator’s style.

He finds a mutal topic of interest (Gandalf), on which he and Frodo can be friends. He assures Frodo that he means no harm with regard to Isildur’s Bane (and doesn’t press Frodo anymore on the subject): "What in truth this Thing is I cannot yet guess; but some heirloom of power and peril it must be. A fell weapon, perchance, devised by the Dark Lord... But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo."

The conversation thenceforward is friendly, inviting of confidence. It’s another interrogator’s trick, of course: put the prisoner at his ease; be friends with him; reassure him. (It’s the "good cop" part of the "bad cop/good cop" routine.) "So fear me not! I do not ask you to tell me more. I do not even ask you to tell me whether I now speak nearer the mark. But if you will trust me, it may be that I can advise you in your present quest, whatever that be -- yes, and even aid you."

Yet Frodo, though sorely tempted, figures this trick out: "Frodo made no answer. Almost he yielded to the desire for help and counsel, to tell this grave young man, whose words seemed so wise and fair, all that was in his mind... Better mistrust undeserved than rash words. And the memory of Boromir... was very present to his mind, when he looked at Faramir and listened to his voice." Faramir may do the same thing which Boromir tried. Boromir wanted the Ring; Faramir, his brother, may attempt to take it also.

If Frodo sees through this trick, Sam doesn’t. Faramir lets Frodo be. As they approach Henneth Annûn he has his prisoners blindfolded (but takes as much care to let them know that this is just a precaution, etc.). Once in Henneth Annûn Faramir plays the gracious host (trying to keep the Hobbits at their ease), but his words to Anborn reveal that he doesn’t yet trust the Hobbits.

Sam overhears enough of the conversation to make it clear that Faramir has not forgotten Gollum. Faramir concludes: "'We do not want the escapes of Mirkwood in Ithilien.' Sam fancied that he gave a swift glance towards the hobbits as he spoke." Faramir is clearly still deeply suspicious of the Hobbits -- the issue of Gollum is still a complicating factor; Frodo is still withholding something about Isildur’s Bane (even if he didn’t help to kill Boromir); and Faramir has, at any rate, yet to decide what to do with Frodo: kill him or send him to Minas Tirith. No other possibility has been mentioned. And Frodo, for his part, is reminded too much of Boromir to trust Faramir.

At any rate, Faramir returns to the interrogation -- as the good cop: "On your journey from Rivendell there must have been many things to tell. And you, too, would perhaps wish to learn something of us and the lands where you now are. Tell me of Boromir my brother, and of old Mithrandir, and of the fair people of Lothlórien."

Frodo is canny enough to understand: "Frodo no longer felt sleepy and he was willing to talk. But though the food and wine had put him at his ease, he had not lost all his caution."

We, as readers, by this point should also have seen through Faramir. Faramir is not going to let the matter rest until he finds out about Isildur’s Ring. He is patiently using every interrogator’s trick in the book to worm information out of his captives. He’s tried trick questions; traps, set up by withholding information; intimidation (three hundred armed men); implied threats ("I might have slain you"); reverse psychology ("I do not ask you to tell me more. I do not even ask you to tell me whether..."); the whole good-cop routine; now we’re at "have some more wine, and let’s tell each other about ourselves."

Frodo keeps his guard up; but Sam doesn’t. The dramatic tension, however, remains: will Frodo let his guard slip at last? Will Isildur’s Bane be revealed? And, if so, will Faramir react as did Boromir. Frodo suspects that he will -- and so must we. This is, of course, the most threatening aspect of the whole scene: will Faramir lunge for the Ring (as did his brother) if Frodo reveals it? The whole interrogation has seen Faramir come closer and closer to finding out about the Ring; his friendliness (as evinced by his remembering Gollum and his sharp glance towards Frodo) is clearly directed to a purpose: finding out what Isildur’s Bane is. The dramatic tension for us is, "will Frodo slip in his caution?" We are waiting for the moment; the threat which Faramir poses is perfectly clear; they are Faramir’s captives; he’s already shown himself a wily interrogator -- how long can Frodo hold out? And will Faramir then succumb as did his brother?

Finally, Sam gives away his interest in Elves. Faramir is happy to oblige Sam by talking about Elves and Lórien. Sam’s tongue is loosed:

"'It strikes me that folk takes their peril with them into Lórien, and finds it there because they've brought it. But perhaps you could call her perilous, because she's so strong in herself. You, you could dash yourself to pieces on her, like a ship on a rock; or drowned yourself, like a hobbit in a river. But neither rock nor river would be to blame. Now Boro -- ' He stopped and went red in the face.
"'Yes? Now Boromir you would say?' said Faramir. 'What would you say? He took his peril with him?'
"'Yes sir, begging your pardon, and a fine man as your brother was if I may say so. But you've been warm on the scent all along. Now I watched Boromir and listened to him, from Rivendell all down the road -- looking after my master, as you'll understand, and not meaning any harm to Boromir -- and it's my opinion that in Lórien he first saw clearly what I guessed sooner: what he wanted. From the moment he first saw it he wanted the Enemy's Ring!'"

Tolkien has brought everything to the climax: Faramir has doggedly pursued this piece of information throughout the entire interrogation with every possible trick. We’ve been wondering how long Frodo could keep his guard up; and now Sam’s blabbed: and now Sam understands the trick Faramir was using: "You've spoken very handsome all along, put me off my guard, talking of Elves and all!"

The next step is to find out whether Faramir will commit Boromir’s sin and try to seize the Ring. Tolkien moves us straight to that:

"'So it seems,' said Faramir, slowly and very softly, with a strange smile. 'So that is the answer to all the riddles! The One Ring that was thought to have perished from the world. And Boromir tried to take it by force? And you escaped? And ran all the way -- to me! And here in the wild I have you: two halflings, and a host of men at my call, and the Ring of Rings. A pretty stroke of fortune! A chance for Faramir, Captain of Gondor, to show his quality! Ha!' He stood up, very tall and stern, his grey eyes glinting.

"Frodo and Sam sprang from their stools and set themselves side by side with their backs to the wall, fumbling for their sword-hilts."

Now we’re at the real threat: will Faramir take the Ring?

I’d like to capitulate several points:

1.) Faramir distrusts Frodo because he realises that Frodo is hiding a great deal from him;

2.) He takes Frodo prisoner;

3.) Faramir interrogates Frodo (both in a high pressure situation in public with lots of intimidation and in private in an attempt to put Frodo off his guard);

4.) Faramir is an extremely tricky interrogator determined to get to the bottom of the matter;

5.) Frodo fears that Faramir will take the Ring because of what his brother did;

6.) Tolkien purposefully builds Faramir’s continued interrogations up as a very real threat -- will Faramir find out what Isildur’s Bane is; and will he then attempt to seize it?

Now, my fig-leaf for posting this on "Moviediscussion" instead of in the "Readingroom": How does one do all this in a movie?

Most of the complaints about the presentation of Faramir in the movie have centred on these points:

1.) He was a good guy who never threatened the Hobbits

2.) He did NOT kidnap the Hobbits

3.) He did NOT want the Ring

4.) He was different from Boromir

As far as I can see, Tolkien’s presentation on Faramir has him threatening the Hobbits and kidnapping the Hobbits; Tolkien keeps suggesting that Faramir too may try for the Ring in the same way as Boromir already had.

Now, some positive points:

1.) Faramir is a wily interrogator in the book: the movie could not possibly give us the book’s lengthy triple-interrogation scene, with all its twists and turns. But it certainly gave us Faramir as hard-nosed interrogator.

2.) The movie shows us Faramir as threatening to the Hobbits; it makes us think that he will try to take the Ring as did his brother.

3.) The movie then plays with another option: Faramir will send Frodo (and the Ring) to Minas Tirith (present in the book as well).


Shortlist Of Deleted Scenes From TTT
Strider @ 2:36 pm EST

Since filming went underway in 2000, The Two Towers has seen its storyline changed endless times due to necessity, time constraints, negative fan feedback and even by order of New Line. Hence, a huge chunk of material was either unused in the final theatrical cut of the movie or scrapped entirely. Here is just a list of some of the scenes that may or may not feature in The Two Towers Extended Edition next year.

• Arwen running up to Elrond's veranda in Rivendell in fear, saying 'You have the gift of foresight...'
• Gandalf the White telling Aragorn at night before Helm's Deep that Sauron 'fears what you may become'
• Faramir discovering Boromir's horn cloven in two as it washes ashore
• Arwen walking up towards the shards of Narsil while wearing a cloak similar to the one which she wears while leaving Rivendell
• Further shots of Merry and Pippin being guarded by the Uruk-hai at night
• Further shots of Eowyn standing outside the Golden Hall of Edoras
• Elrond stating the alliance of Elves and Men 'is over'
• Sam making greater use of the Elven rope given to him by Galadriel while travelling to Mordor with Frodo
• Further shots of Arwen and Aragorn together in the past
• The storyline of Arwen taking part in Helm's Deep, including shots of the Rivendell Elves arriving at Lothlorien and Arwen sleeping under falling leaves, was completely scrapped
• Further shots of Eomer's travels in the hunt of orcs or after being banished from Rohan
• Bilbo discussing the departure of Rivendell with Elrond and Arwen
• Saruman claiming he will soon become 'more powerful than the Lord of the Rings himself'
• Several scenes involving the two hobbits and Treebeard, including Merry and Pippin drinking the Ent Draught
• A beautiful soliloquy from Faramir post-battle with the Haradrim, where he asks rethorically 'I wonder what his name was, where his home is, his family. Was he really evil at heart, or did the Dark Lord deceive him, as he has deceived so many others? What lies or threats led him on the long march from his home?'
updated additions:
• More scuffling amongst the Uruk-hai and Orcs whilst in possession of the Hobbits
• Faramir showing Frodo and Sam a way out of Osgiliath through the sewers
• Saruman's speech that begins 'So Gandalf Greyhame thinks...'
• Ents participating in the battle of Helm's Deep
• Flashbacks to Boromir, Faramir and Denethor together
• Further footage of Frodo's scuffle with Sam
• The Uruk-hai invasion of the caves in Helm's Deep
• Eomer pulling Theodred out of some mud post-battle
• Aragorn releasing Theodred's horse Brego, the horse that would save him later, from it's stable
• A flashback to Boromir's death in FotR
• A council of Elves debating whether or not an alliance with Men is feasible
• Legolas scolding the stupidity of the Elves not to assist the race of Men with their fight against Sauron
• Eowyn about to slay an Orc in the caves - may appear in RotK
• Gimli smoking a pipe while resting on a dead orc - may appear in RotK
updated additions:
• Further shots of Gollum travelling to Mordor with the hobbits, including him ordering not to stop on a certain road and extensions to the cooked rabbit scene
• Flashback to Smeagol killing Deagol over the One Ring while fishing on the River Anduin - will appear in RotK
• Merry and Pippin discussing what will happen to them when the Uruk-hai find out they don't bear the One Ring
• Sam discussing the changes occuring to Frodo with Gollum while the Ringbearer is asleep
• Gimli exploring the beautiful caves under Helm's Deep with Legolas
• The Orcs of Mordor joining the band of Uruk-hai
• Aragorn conversing with someone at night while lying down in a Rohan camp

Thanks to the many Ringers who mailed in with some of the above contributions. If I've missed anything, please mail in!

111st Celebrations For Tolkien
Xoanon @ 2:34 pm EST

The Mount Kisco Public Library and the North Castle Public Library will be joining forces for a special celebration of J.R.R. Tolkien's 111th birthday on January 3rd, 2003. The party, which is designed for upper elementary and middle school students, will take place at 6:00 PM in the Mount Kisco Library. Party games will include deciphering dwarvish inscriptions, battling a nazgul's "fell beast," and exploring Fangorn Forest. There will also be birthday cake and presents (ie. door prizes)!

Enrollment is limited, and registration is required.

Library contact information:

1. Mount Kisco Public Library
100 Main Street, Mount Kisco, NY
Phone: (914) 666-8041

2. North Castle Public Library
19 Whippoorwill Rd. East, Armonk, NY
Phone: (914) 273-3887

12-21-02 Latest News

The Equine Question
Xoanon @ 3:36 pm EST

Wiredkiwi sends us some additional info on the horses used for the films:

A grey Andalusian stallion named Florian was used for close up and stunt work, and his (now) owner was the riding double for Liv Tyler. Florian now gives displays at equestrian events around NZ and is standing at stud.

Strider's horse in the film is a very high profile stallion in NZ, being one of the top dressage horses in the country, owned, trained and ridden by Bill Noble. Can't remember the name of the horse for the life of me though. Rumor has it that Viggio Mortensen, who was the most enthused about horses of the 'fellowship' liked him so much he tried to by him after filming. However this was not the bay Andalusian offered for sale.

NZ Horse and Pony maazine would possibly be able to supply you with the full copy and perhaps images of the feature they did on the LOTR horses.

Box Office Reports: Netherlands
Xoanon @ 3:26 pm EST

dapascha writes:

Here's a translation of a Dutch press release by the distributor of LotR here, A-Film, about new records being set here in the Netherlands:

Amsterdam, december 19th 2002

Lord of the Rings opens with record numbers

On Wednesday december 18th The Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers opened with a record number of visitors. Over 50.000 people went to see the film on the first day and caused a record box-office opening of over 350,000 Euro. With this amount the second part of the Lord of the Rings breaks the record previously set by Spider-Man that held an opening day box-office of 259,295 Euro.

Many theaters decided to re-release the Fellowship of the Ring on the day before the premiere of the Two Towers, which caused the unique situation where two parts of one trilogy are in the Box-Office Top 10 at the same time. The Two Towers, based on Tolkiens famous novel,  plays at 148 screens in the Netherlands. The third part, The Return of the King is expected in theaters in december 2003.

Other top-films:

Harry Potter, part 1 - 259,271 euro
Harry Potter, part 2 - 214,066 euro
Jurassic Park - 114,809 euro

Gallery Exhibits Hildebrandt Art.
Tehanu @ 3:13 pm EST

A gallery in Santa Moncia, California, called "Every Picture Tells A Story... " will be hosting a new major exhibit, "The Brothers Hildebrandt: Tolkien Art"...running January 18 through February 18. Over 30 Lord of the Rings paintings will be on display, as well as over 60 rarely seen sketches, studies and prints. Greg and Tim Hildebrandt will be appearing in person on Saturday. January 18 from 2 to 4 PM at the gallery.

Every Picture Tells A Story, which showcases the original art and prints from illustrated books, is located at 1318 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. Phone is (310)451-2700 and online at Everypicture.com

Digital Gurus Talk TTT SFX
Xoanon @ 12:44 pm EST

Bill writes:

Jim Rygiel and Randall Cook spoke at a session at the Australian Effects and Animation Festival at the beginning of this month. During this session where they spoke to a (slightly disappointed) audience about the effects they used in FOTR, as they were unable to show any TTT footage before the release of the movie.

They mentioned that they were working on the DVD versions of TTT, and had an extra 120 shots they were working on. (I don't know if they are going to release the same type of DVDs as in FOTR: first the cinema release, then an extended release later in the year, but I would expect so.) This means devoted fans should be able to again see more of the film that was allowable by New Line in their three hour limit on the theatrical release.

Some extra information that they did have was that since every shot in the TTT movie is digitally manipulated to some extent (compared to 70% or FOTR), they have the whole movie online and will try to use this digital version to create the DVD instead of another conversion process from film.

Other pieces of information: the have about 100 Terabytes of 'near-line' (automated data tape archive) with a lot of archived early work saved, instead of just the final masters. Jim (or was it Randall) pulled out their sample shots out of this archive for their talk just before travelling to Australia. It was amazing to see how many old animation versions are stored somewhere in their systems.

Some of the material they talked about used in the official web site Effects pages, but a lot of their talk covered the FOTR Cave Troll and the Bridge scenes. Some of the scenes they were working on for TTT and ROTK were taking up to 2-3 hours per frame, and that is using about 1400 CPUs in their render farm.

12-20-02 Latest News

Sean Astin MSN Chat Transcript
Demosthenes @ 4:19 am EST

Here's a transcript of the Sean Astin MSN chat for everyone who was unable to make it. Thanks to Ringer Fan Nicole for making this available to us.

Sean_Astin_Live says: Hi! It's an exciting moment to experience the second film. It's cool!

Sean_Astin_Live says: A special hello to everyone who went to go see it!

DishDiva says: Sean, were you surprised the film made $42 million the first day?

Sean_Astin_Live says: I no longer have a guage for success. What I was surprised with, that it was 40% more than what "The Fellowship of the Rings" made last year.

HangNLBC in Onstage_1 asks: Do you still spend any time with the other cast members now that filming is finished? Hang U.S.

Sean_Astin_Live says: We continue to see each other all over the world as we promote the film. We socialize occasionally; I see Elijah and Dom lives with my brother Mackenzie. We aren't far enough away from the movie to drift apart.

HangNLBC in Onstage_1 asks: Do you consider yourself a sexy Hobbit? (I do)

Sean_Astin_Live says: Who am I to argue with you?

Sean_Astin_Live says: I had to read that question to my wife, she smiled, she had better think I was a sexy hobbit for Pete's sake.

AllegroConMoto in Onstage_1 asks: I had thought that the scene where Sam watches Frodo sleep and sees "a light shining faintly" had been filmed. Do you know why it didn't make it into the movie?

Sean_Astin_Live says: There was so much that was cut, they were desperate to get it to 3 hours. I'm sure they will be back in the DVD. The quick answer is just for time, the economics of the business is if it's over 3 hours, they don't make as much money. Those light and tender moments were the most fun to film and on the first film, it was good to see them back in the DVD.

Sanji16 in Onstage_1 asks: Hi Sean. I heard that You and the other nine members of the "fellowship" got tattoos of the elven nine where did you get yours?

Sean_Astin_Live says: Mine is on the outside of my right ankle. And let me just say, IT HURT! That's where I got mine because that's where Billy Boyd selected and it seemed most appropriate.

Needsomemoola in Onstage_1 asks: How much time did it take to get your makeup and outfits on for the film?

Sean_Astin_Live says: They would take about 1 hours and 15 minutes for the feet and 1 hour 15 minutes for the wig, ears, and makeup. So it was about 2 1/2 hours to get it all on and about 45 minutes to take it all off.

TacticalLizard in Onstage_1 asks: I hear that Elijah, Dom and Billy are huge music fans. What kind of music are you into?

Sean_Astin_Live says: Elijah is really the cutting edge music guru. He was turning me onto Moby, Beck, single syllable new artists. (laughs) I'm sort of the old nerd hobbit. My wife and I listen to James Taylor or Elton John. Everything I like Elijah hates, but the opposite is not true for me. I liked pretty much all the stuff he listened to. It was like going to another country when I would go into a CD store with Elijah. I feel that this is a generic answer because people who are really into music can get so estoric.

Sean_Astin_Live says: I used to always say my favorite was Billy Joel. I like classic rock, 70's rock, and Boston. I can get into any music that anyone listens to.

Doh99 in Onstage_1 asks: Would you say the The Lord of the Rings has been the toughest movie you have worked on?

Sean_Astin_Live says: Without question.

ResultantLil_Bit77 in Onstage_1 asks: If you could chat with anyone in the world, who would you want to talk to?

Sean_Astin_Live says: I'm really into politics, and I don't know if George W. sits around chat rooms, but I'd like to konw what's on his mind. I'm not a late night romance kind of guy, I'm more of a find out what is going on in the world, kind of guy.

Sarah Proudfoot in Onstage_1 asks: Is being sam overwhelming? I'm sure you're being approached a lot of the time from fans like.. me.. What is the wierdest fan you've encountered?

Sean_Astin_Live says: Outside of the Tonight Show where there was a lady who wanted me to pass a letter onto Elijah and I told her I couldn't because I didn't know if I could make sure he got it. I don't know if she was genuinely upset or just inappropriately intense.

DishDiva says: (Small break as Sean talks with his daughter)

Sean_Astin_Live says: When you read a book and have an emotional experience with the characters, a lot of people cry when they read books, and the same thing happens in movies, the relationship they develop with the characters. I wouldn't have it any other way, but in the real world you have to be careful of people who have intense reactions. I feel it's my job not to exacerbate the problem.

Saurcamiel in Onstage_1 asks: Hi Sean! How do you like the animations they did for Gollum, did they live up to your expectations? Saurcamiel, Sweden.

Sean_Astin_Live says: I want to send a big hello to this individual because this film has broken all sorts of records in Sweden, Holland, Norway, and Denmark, and I have a great fondness for people in that part of the world. The zeal in the journalists eyes. I think Gollum steals the movie. It absolutely lived up to my expectations. There's so much fan awareness of Gollum, he was my second favorite character, my first being Treebeard. It was very important to me that it didn't suck.

DishDiva says: Sean, you had to gain weight to play this character. Being an actor, caring about your appearance, was it hard to gain weight to play Sam?

Sean_Astin_Live says: Yes, it was incredibly hard. It wasn't hard physically to put the weight on, but to carry the weight and self image, it was physically and emotionally painful for me. I couldn't imagine that it would go away. So until I lost the weight in the last couple of months, and now I can see the screen and see the character that I created and be impressed with what I did, but it was incredibly hard.

Sean_Astin_Live says: You look at yourself, and think, "LOOK how incredibly fat I am!!"

EivindSkau in Onstage_1 asks: Are there any similarities between you and Sam when you're off the screen? Bodø, Norway

Sean_Astin_Live says: I think earnesteness, I think in life I'm an earnest fellow and I think Sam is earnest.

DuoKat in Onstage_1 asks: I heard that Orlando Was crazy from Elijah...that he was allways trying to get you guys to do stuff...What was it like working with Orlando? Did he get you do do anything "Crazy" like what he did?

Sean_Astin_Live says: Orlando and I went motorcycle riding together (laughs) and he was crazier than I. I have this self-preservation that he doesn't have. The motorcycle guide said, "Don't go up there." We go along the trail and turn and don't see Orlando, there he was at the top of the place we were specifically told not to go. (laughs)

unknown asks: What would be your most memorable experience in making the Lord of the Rings movies...like...if you could pick one moment...which would you consider to be the most memorable? Olivia, Canada.

Sean_Astin_Live says: There's several that jump to mind, one I don't want to talk about yet. One is not "The moment" but it's in the running. Where we're on the rocks outside of the mines, we flew helicopters up there. It was an emotional scene, and I rememeber going from an incredible high from flying up there in the helicopter, and then completely breaking down in the scene.

goddessofcoke in Onstage_1 asks: Hey, I'm Bkaw from NZ, was it inspiring to have so many seasoned thespians working with you on LotR?

Sean_Astin_Live says: Every single day it seemed an incredible talent walking on the set. For me, trying to absorb from other's talents, it was great for me. Ian McKellen, and John Rys Davies, I had been a fan of his since Indiana Jones.

evil_cobra_lady in Onstage_1 asks: Mr. Astin, I would like to, someday, pursue in the acting career. What advice can you give to beginning actors like me? And what is your favorite thing about being an actor? Thanks a bunch! Serena

Sean_Astin_Live says: There's a lot of ways to get a great experience. Getting involved in drama and the best way to learn is by doing.

Sean_Astin_Live says: The second is reading a lot. There are some great books out there. It can be a great tradition, that goes back thousands of years, telling stories to each other around the campfire. It's important to be pragmatic, make sure you can feed yourself. I like to encourage people to follow your heart. I wish I knew the secret, steps to have a successful career. You just need to have a passion, that's what has allowed Elijah to be where he is. For me, I never give up.

Sean_Astin_Live says: Doing work is the best way to do it.

WiZaRdWaNnAbE97 in Onstage_1 asks: I heard that you were going to be directing an episode of Angel (my favorite show), are you a fan of the show? If so, what about Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Sean_Astin_Live says: I've seen a couple of episodes of "Buffy" directed by Josh Wheaton that I think were amazing. I became a fan of "Angel" and wanted to direct the show. I watched all of the last season's episodes. I think David Boreanaz is great.

hobbiton33 in Onstage_1 asks: I've heard that your daughter, Alex, will be in the Return of the King, is that true?

Sean_Astin_Live says: I'm not sure yet, I haven't seen the final movie, we'll wait and see.

DishDiva says: Sean thanks so much for taking the time to talk with your fans from around the world.

DishDiva says: Continued success with the rest of this weekend! Happiest of holidays from all of your fans!

Sean_Astin_Live says: I'm genuinely appreciative of the energy that people are putting into the movies and giving me a great deal of pride and happiness, so wonderful holiday greetings to everyone.

12-19-02 Latest News

Towers Posts a Towering Opening Day
Demosthenes @ 6:54 pm EST

Central film in LoTR takes $26 million domestically and $16 million internationally, breaking records in eight territories.

Film also receives 2 Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture and Best Director.

Los Angeles, CA, December 19, 2002

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers stormed the global box office on its first day in theaters taking an estimated $42 million (US dollars) worldwide — up almost 45% on last year’s day one takings of $29 million for FoTR.

Two Towers took $26 million in the USA alone, and an additional $16 million outside the US.

The film broke all single day records in Denmark, and opening day records in seven other international territories, New Line Cinema president Rolf Mittweg announced.

In the USA, the film surpassed the opening day receipts of its predecessor by 44% (last year, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring opened at $18 million).

Fans lined up as early as Tuesday night for sold-out midnight showings at 3,622 theaters across the US. Opening to critical acclaim, it has become the second highest Wednesday opener — only surpassed by 1999’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace at $28.5M).

Internationally, the film posted a $16 million gross, up 45% from last year (Fellowship bowed to an $11 million overall opening day internationally). The film is playing on nearly 12,000 screens worldwide, 6,633 screens domestic and 5,000 internationally.

"This powerful response … illustrates the true universality of Tolkien’s themes and the broad reach of Jackson’s vision," Mittweg said.

"We're astounded at these numbers. For a three-hour film that is central in a trilogy to open this way is energizing and tremendously exciting."

Opening day-and-date in countries, the film broke all single day records in Denmark, and marked the highest opening day ever in Germany, Austria, Finland, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden and Norway. Further, the film posted increases from last year’s opening day of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in all territories, up as high as 98% in Belgium.

Country - Gross -Increase
Austria - 523K - 69%
Belgium - 300K - 98%
Denmark - 830K - 66%
Finland - 240K - 38%
France - 1.93M - 21%
Germany - 3.95M - 36%
Greece - 218K - 51%
Holland - 350K - 85%
Norway - 790K - 65%
South Africa - 156K - 39%
Spain - 1.08M - 40%
Sweden - 950K - 38%
Switzerland - 350K - 63%
UK - 3.9M - 28%

The film open in six more countries (including New Zealand, South Korea) on Thursday, and another six on Friday (including Mexico).

Irvine Line Party Goes Into Overdrive
Demosthenes @ 4:04 pm EST

Garfemiao writes:

OK, the Two Towers is out, and most of us went to see it at our local Line Party events on Tuesday at midnight, so what's next? Well, in Los Angeles, the Irvine Line Party is having a second day of activities this Saturday, December 21, including a Blood Drive.

We will be having a full schedule of events such as a costume contest, gaming demos, children's activities and a combat recreation group, along with the Blood Drive. There will be prizes for many of these events, so come on down and partake of the Line Party experience. The events will be from 10am until 4pm, and Two Towers is playing on 4 separate screens, so there will be plenty of showtimes to choose from. Check out the Irvine Line party page for more details, or email me at Garfeimao@yahoo.com.

This is a critical time of year for our blood supply, so please consider coming down and donating. Everyone who signs up recieves a free Red Cross shirt, a coupon for 6 Krispy Kreme donuts, and a raffle ticket for some other prizes. This will be held at the Irvine Spectrum in the lobby of the Edwards cinema, located at the junction of the 5 and 405 freeways in Irvine. Give the Gift of Life this Holiday season.

You can read all the details here.

12-18-02 Latest News

The Morning After.
Tehanu @ 11:40 pm EST

It’s the morning after the night when many Tolkien fans throughout the world lined up for our first look at The Two Towers. So how are we all feeling?
Relief. What a relief. We’ve seen it, at last, after so many months and years of waiting, and generally the impression I’m getting is that people are very happy with the movie, and it was worth the wait. People are shaken and moved by it – it’s not a happy movie, but it’s done with a passionate sense of purpose and dedication. Whatever quibbles we might have with some details, the overall sense is that it is a great work. ‘Overall sense’ is right, because most people are saying that they have to see it again, they need time to digest it and understand it. I think that FOTR taught us that we have to see Peter Jackson’s Rings movies in a new way. You don’t swallow them at a gulp. I doubt many people could get much out of seeing TTT if they hadn’t seen FOTR and didn’t know the books at all. It demands your concentration. I’m reminded of Wagner’s Ring cycle, not because it’s about a Ring nor because the story takes place over 4 operas, but because the story is told in such a complex, layered way, relying on words, on melody, on leitmotifs that you must memorise and on action. Most Wagner opera buffs do a great deal of background reading and listening so that when they finally see it staged, they’ll appreciate the totality of it. Peter Jackson’s Rings movies are like that. We won’t know how we feel about TTT until we’ve seen it a few more times and thought about it some more. Interestingly enough, there were many scenes in TTT where I found myself thinking 'oh, this is a bit rushed but I bet it'll all come clear in the extended DVD.' So we've learned to wait and trust a little more, since last year, because it turned out that there was so much more of the story that we KNEW, waiting for us on the extended DVD.

I’m churning my way through the reviews that are being sent in to the site – part of a long process that will go on for months. Hundreds have come in so far and the response is very positive. People are excited and awed, and list dozens of scenes that they thought were perfect or amazing. There’s a lot of agreement that the changes to Faramir’s character don’t really appeal though, and the scenes with the Ents seem rushed so that their story with Merry and Pippin doesn’t develop in a realistic way. Other changes such as the scenes with Arwen have been widely accepted and enjoyed. Almost everyone raves about Gollum and the battle of Helm’s Deep, and they love all the things they loved about the last movie – the epic sweep, the grand landscapes and so on.

This morning the website seems to have closed shop after posting a bunch of reviews and an update – we’re all presumably catching up on sleep or wading through today’s email, which has doubled from the usual spate into something that feels like one of those flattening waves known as ‘dumpers.’ I feel we owe our readers and our correspondents an apology. We used to pride ourselves on answering every single email, even if it was just a simple thank-you note. Now it just isn’t always possible, though we continue to try. So I apologise to any of you that the pressure of time has forced us to neglect.

It has been a great pleasure to share the long wait for these movies with so many ardent fans. I hope we have a great time waiting for the last movie, and that we have much to celebrate in the year to come.

Two Towers Premiere: Boston, USA
Xoanon @ 12:20 pm EST

Math P writes:

Well, here is my Boston LP report. I just got home, and it's around 6.30am Dec 18. Like last year's LP, it was a huge success! Thanks to my members, TORN, and TORN's sponsor (Badali Jewelry). The Boston LP started around 7pm. We have our 3 maidens of Rohan (Amy, Maria, and Laura) who were the life of the party. Neat costumes! All 3 women of course brought home the prices for best costume.

Anyway, the wait was almost unbearable, but thanks to the lively chat and humor of every members, the painstaking hours of waiting quickly waned. More and more people have arrived by 10pm. Loews decided to let us in early, and so we were all seating nice and comfy inside the theater by 10.30pm. When midnight came, we were treated with a kind of more previews than one would expect (though it seemed eternity, it's probably just standard length of time for previews). Needless to say, the crowd just got more excited waiting for TTT to start. Alas, TTT was finally shown! It's definitely an Oscar contender (notwithstanding the beaurocrats and politics involved in this award). But then again, we're probably biased.

Everyone just loved the film. That's all I can hear people say after the show. The rest of the gang went to the Blue Diner (last year's post-show hang out), and had very interesting discussion about the film (while eating our breakfast). Needless to say, we'll all gonna be back to see the film, the 2nd, 3rd,...Nth-time before 2002 ends with a bang! Looking forward to "The Return of the King." Cheers everyone, Math

As Dark As Hell
Xoanon @ 11:33 am EST

A sense of imminent apocalypse permeates the stunning second part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sukhdev Sandhu reports

Splat. There goes somebody's ear. The Lord of the Rings is back, and it's dark as hell. Actually, it's an atrocity exhibition, a Bayeux Tapestry of gore and dismemberment, as strung-out and infernal a piece of kiddie cinema as can ever have been made.


Like a certain chocolate bar, it's probably "not for girls", but it's still very good, infinitely better than Harry Potter and, let's not be bashful here, the collected oeuvres of Oliver Stone and Terrence Malick.

The first part of Tolkien's trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, was a rare triumph of magic over marketing. It tapped into the dreadful, uncanny recesses of children's imaginations, locating terror in gothic mountains, wild horses and huge forests, rather than in the prosaic world of the school playground or the town centre car park.

It also avoided the icky cuteness and razzle-dazzle joyrides of most American teen movies. The last hour of Peter Jackson's film was one of the slowest and most emotionally exhausting stretches of cinema I've ever sat through, like watching Tarkovsky direct Ben-Hur.

The Two Towers is equally desolate. It's an Anglo-Saxon epic poem in the fashion of The Seafarer, in which the journey and its attendant struggles are as important as the actual completion of the quest. Frodo (played by Elijah Wood) is making his way towards Mordor, where he hopes to throw the accursed Ring into a volcano.

He's helped out by Gollum (Andy Serkis), a hobbit gone bad, a monstrous hybrid halfway between a spasming Caliban and a vein-mangled, Bobby Charlton-haired crack addict from an Aphex Twin video.

His body is contorted with pain; his mind is pretty ugly too, tortured by the knowledge that he killed his own cousin in order to get the Ring. Shady and duplicitous, he tries to win the trust of Frodo and Sam, but his overtures are about as sweet as disinfectant.

Elsewhere on Middle-Earth, the none-so-solid crew of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), his comically blond Elf-archer pal Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and plucky little dwarf fellow Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) are trying to help the people of the besieged Rohan kingdom fend off the armies sent by Saruman (a wonderfully crazed Christopher Lee).

Their efforts, while slightly impeded by Aragorn's growing affection for a Rohan princess (Miranda Otto), are at least more efficacious than those of Merry and Pippin (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd), who have managed to get themselves captured by Treebeard, a very old and very slow-talking tree, many of whose arboreal colleagues have been chopped down by ecocidal Saruman.

The Two Towers is grimmer than The Fellowship of the Ring. It lacks the hey-nonny-no bucolics of that film's early parts, and, from the opening scene onwards, feels oppressively heavy, as if the sky is about to fall down. Jokes are few and far between. The characters, taciturn and engloomed, resemble pack horses forced to trudge through swampland for centuries on end. Even the forests are full of memories and anger.

The blighted landscapes and feeling of imminent apocalypse that permeate The Two Towers remind us that Tolkien served as a junior officer in the trenches during the First World War. The battle scenes, bloody and remorselessly protracted, recall the killing fields of the Somme and Passchendaele.

Such ghostly echoes may lead us to speculate that The Lord of the Rings, far from being merely mythological, or an ageless story about the battle between good and evil, speaks very forcefully to many of the conflicts and catastrophes that were destroying Europe in the middle of the last century.

Peter Jackson doesn't exaggerate the extent to which the story may be read as a political allegory, but he does wrench The Lord of the Rings from the sweaty-palmed clutches of its core audience of misfit male adolescents.

Instead, his version harks back to that moment in the late Sixties when the trilogy was commonly found next to tomes by Wilhelm Reich and Carlos Castaneda on the bookshelves of beatniks and counter culturalists.

Frodo sees the Ring's destructive powers as confirming the adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Saruman, meanwhile, is The Man, a power-crazed fundamentalist and authoritarian. He mistreats the environment and cares not a jot for those weaker than him.

The shots of Sauron's fortress within Mordor are perhaps the most terrifying in the film: tens of thousands of midget workers, hunched in servitude and drudgery, looking like a cross between the mechanical toilers in Fritz Lang's Metropolis and the huge colonies of granite-cliff labourers in a Sebastiao Salgado photograph.

Fear is the key to the success of The Two Towers. It's much more scary than the average thriller or teen slasher movie. The Berzerker Uruk-Hai are as frightening as anyone since the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Archers aim for the heads of those rushing at them. The bodies of the slain drip with pus and gore.

All the while, the cameras, swooping and dancing with abandon, make the carnage seem wholly exhilarating. Jackson, for all the multi-million-dollar budgets at his disposal these days, is still pretty much the same guy he was when shooting such splatter-fests as Bad Taste in the 1980s.

It should be admitted that the film sags and drifts for long stretches. Those scenes starring Elijah Wood are especially wearisome. He's supposed to be a hero for our times, weighed down by destiny; instead, he looks like a pop-eyed homunculus whose range of gestures alternates between perplexed and confused.

By contrast, Andy Serkis is superbly slithery as Gollum, a major achievement given that he performed wearing a motion-sensor suit, and then had his own body parts masked out in favour of computer-generated images.

It's crucial that the film, like the journeys it narrates, is straggly. I spent the duller sections thinking about how flaxen-haired Legolas looks like a Milky Bar hippy as he pings his egg-slicer-strong arrows at the barbarous monsters. I also drifted off looking at Viggo Mortensen: has a more virile, dynamic actor ever appeared on the silver screen?

The Two Towers is as epic as mainstream cinema gets these days. We should count our blessings. It has the courage to be gloomy and feral and despairing. Slow and magisterial, it never chivvies along the action just to placate ADD-stricken kids.

It also feels like a romance, reminding us of the sheer thrill of sitting in a packed cinema with a thousand strangers, getting lost in storytelling, and transported to lands more far-flung and fantastic than we can imagine. "Do you think people will ever talk about us or tell stories about us?" asks a character at one point. Were the same question to be asked of The Two Towers, the answer would be an enormous yes.

Tow Towers Premiere: New Zealand
Xoanon @ 11:18 am EST

Ringer Spy Matthew C sends in these great pics from the Wellington Premiere of TTT!

Billy, Dom, Karl Urban, Elijah, PJ and many more were on hand (including a MASSIVE Gollum creeping over the cinema). Take a look!

Kiwi News Roundup From The Embassy
Demosthenes @ 4:00 am EST

Well, New Zealand's media was out in force at the Wellington premiere of The Two Towers at the Embassy Theatre.

The unveiling of the menacing Gollum was one of the highlights. All I had was the Middle Earth Cam video feed, and I thought it looked quite spectacular!

As Ringer Fan Richard first reported, the other was confirmation of the persistent rumour that the world premiere for Return of the King would be in Wellington next year.

Before an audience of thousands of (undoubtedly parochial) onlookers, Jackson made New Line Executive Mark Ordesky promise that the debut for RoTK would be in Wellington.

Very cool stuff. And nice for all the antipodeans to finally get a piece of the action. :)

Also, Ringer Fan Telkemeniel reports that all the announced cast were there: Billy Boyd, Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Peter Jackson & Richard Taylor, Lawrence Makaore, Karl Urban. The latter two stayed with the crowd for a long time!

As I mentioned, the Kiwi media was there in force, here's a roundup of stories (and pictures) from them:

NZoom -- [More]

The NZ Herald -- [More]

Stuff.co.nz (check out Gollum looming over Embassy theatregoers!) -- [More]

Scoop.co.nz (great shot of the red carpet ... and the banners!) -- [More]

And just a reminder from Ringer Fan Willomere: An exhibition of the WETA workshop wonders seen in FOTR and TTT will be on display at the Te Papa in Wellington. A wealth of items including backdrops, costumes, weapons, and models -- not the least of which is Saruman's tower Orthanc -- will be on view from December 19, 2002 through February 28, 2003. [More]

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