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May 02, 2001 - May 14, 2001

5-14-01 Latest News

How Elijah got the role.
Tehanu @ 6:30 am EST

Chade sent in this nice story, which he's translated out of theSwedish paper Aftonbladet:

"A new article about LotR and more specifically about Elijah Wood at Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.se.

Elijah says "it is cool to become a doll" and that he himself collects action figures from i.e. Star Wars.

He also said that PJ wanted only Brittish actors as hobbits, but Elijah wanted this part bad, so he got himself dressed up as a Hobbit, went out in the forest and let a friend film him as he read a few parts from the books with british accent.

Christopher Lee told Eliah that after the movies have opened, he won't be able to walk on the streets, and compares it to how Paul McCartney described the hysteria about the Beatles. Then the article talks about PJ being a big Beatles-fan and how he's described the four hobbits as the members of the Beatles: Paul (Frodo), John (Merry), George (Pippin) and Ringo (Sam).
Elijah says that when PJ had his birthday the four hobbits made a picture where they posed exactly as a classic Beatles-picture (from the Ed Sullivan Show) and on the drum-set it said "The
Hobbits". :)

For the entire article (in Swedish) follow this link

5-13-01 Latest News

UK Sunday Times reviews Cannes
Tehanu @ 7:23 pm EST

Thanks to Phillip for this one, which is pretty detailed. There's a few 'neekerbreekers' - confusing Saruman and Sauron - but still worth a read. Notice the mention of the 'Bizzare fingernails' on Frodo and the fact that heads are hewed off and blood flows freely - answering the people who feared that LOTR might become too cartoon-like or Xena-like in its depiction of violence.

"See Article on LOTR and Cannes

May 13 2001 BRITAIN

An epic film has been unveiled in Cannes, writes Richard Brooks, finally pitting technology against the wizardry of Middle Earth.

THE secrecy surrounding Hollywood's version of Lord of the Rings has finally been lifted. The first footage of what will be a trilogy of films telling JRR Tolkien's epic fantasy was shown to a select audience at the Cannes film festival last week: it revealed a Middle Earth scarier and stranger than many expected.

In what must be the longest-ever trailer for a movie, three clips running to about 20 minutes were screened for the cast of the film and a few others, including a Sunday Times writer.

The scenes opened at the beginning of Tolkien's tale of the battle between good and evil; the hobbit Bilbo Baggins is at home in his house built into a hillside. There is a knock on the door and Bilbo, played by Sir Ian Holm, answers it to find Gandalf, the wizard.

Sir Ian McKellan, who plays Gandalf, is an imposing figure with a gruff voice who, thanks to clever camera angles and double-filming of scenes, appears to tower over Bilbo. "Although I was in each scene, I could not believe what I was seeing on the screen," said McKellan, who saw the results of his efforts only at the screening.

In the books, Tolkien brilliantly weaves together dangerous adventure with quirky humour, and on the evidence of the clips the film achieves the same. Though the film has been made deliberately to appeal to people who have never read Tolkien, the characterisations seem to sit well with the original. Holm displays a quaint charm fitting for Bilbo, while McKellan is majestic as Gandalf.

What will surprise many audiences is how frightening some of the scenes are. After Bilbo departs, his cousin and adopted heir, Frodo, played by 20-year-old Elijah Wood, takes over as the central hobbit character. Depicted as a small figure, with squinty eyes and bizarre fingernails, Frodo is entrusted with the Ruling Ring - the only power that can prevent the total dominion of the wizard Saruman the White, played by Christopher Lee.

Frodo sets off with a group of friends on a perilous journey to the Crack of Doom to destroy the ring forever. Trolls, orcs, dwarves and other fantastic characters crowd the story. The first clip shown last week ends with a battle against medieval warriors and other weird figures as the hobbits travel through Middle Earth. Heads are severed in the fight with swords, and blood flows freely.

Desperate adventures continued in the second clip, which showed Frodo and his group travelling through the labyrinthine Mines of Moria. There they encounter a grotesque, octopus-like colossus called The Watcher, which has one eye. There are attacks by orcs, which look as if they have been dragged from graves, and a scene in which a rock staircase collapses above a terrifying fall of hundreds of feet.

The group also has to flee Balrog, a 40ft-high winged demon whose skin crackles with fire and smoke.

In the book, Gandalf saves the hobbits but is dragged into the abyss by Balrog. The makers of the film are keeping most of their secrets for now: though it is known that Gandalf dies in the film, it was not revealed how last week. Instead, the hobbits were shown emerging from the terror of the mines at an elves' city, where they are attended by Lady Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett.

The sets are spectacular, and the technical effects are so skilful it is hard to tell where the real actors end and the computerised images begin. To press home that no expense has been spared in making the trilogy, the filmmaker, New Line Cinema, hired a chateau at Cannes and turned it into a scene from Middle Earth.

It is engaged in a battle almost as epic as those in the story. The first of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, will be released in December, a month after the first film adaptation of the Harry Potter books reaches cinemas. The other two parts are expected to be released at one-year intervals.

Filming took place in New Zealand in 1999 and last year with a cast that included Sean Bean and Liv Tyler.

Some Tolkien purists are concerned that there is more love interest in the film than in the book. "The book is essentially a Boy's Own story," said Humphrey Carpenter, the biographer of Tolkien. "There's minimal love interest. Yet I don't object to the book's filming."

The Tolkien family, however, is concerned at the effect the films will have. "When we were growing up these were just stories we were told," said John
Tolkien, the eldest son. "When you've grown up with something you don't want someone else putting their finger on it."

Though Tolkien sold the rights to the book before his death, he appears to have doubted whether such a complex, fantastical story could be filmed.

"Tolkien himself never thought a film could be made of the books," said Richard Crawshaw, of the Tolkien Society. "We feel that no movie could ever capture the full depth and flavour of the book."

Peter Jackson, the director of the three films - which have been made as one long story - believes that cinema has now reached a stage where it can cope with Middle Earth. "It has taken all the years since Tolkien wrote his book for film-making technology to catch up with his imagination," said Jackson, whose best-known film previously was Heavenly Creatures, starring Kate Winslet.

Judged by the clips released last week, he may be right. If the rest of the films live up to the studio's promise, audiences will be left eager for more. As ever with the Lord of the Rings, hidden dangers remain. If the Hollywood marketing machine weaves too clever a spell and the films fail to live up to the hype, it will take the wizardry of Gandalf for New Line Cinema to recover. The trilogy is costing at least £200m.

Interviews: Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, John Rhys-Davies -
Xoanon @ 12:26 pm EST

Here is the first installment of our cast interviews. These interviews were conducted in a round table format with about 9 other reporters, including Harry from AintitCool. While my analog tape of this interview turned out pretty poor, I'm hopeful Harry will post his digital audio to make up for our technological downfalls!

Our first report is a discussion with Ian Mckellen, Christopher Lee and John Rhys-Davies. The conversation was one of the more exciting of the day.

***NOTE: While I attempted to get every word spoken, in some cases I had to paraphrase. A huge thanks to my friend Amy for providing some quality editing before I posted this update. ***

Reporter: How did you get cast?

Christopher Lee: I got a call from my agent saying that Peter Jackson was directing Lord Of The Rings. "Would you go and see him and talk to him? Would you do a reading? And would mind if they videotaped you during the meeting?" Well, I said, "No," because in the case of this particular story, this great epic, I was perfectly happy to go, be seen, photographed, and read... and do anything they like! Its not something one does all that often. So, I went along and saw him in a very small room in the back of a church in London. And he was sitting there with his wife (one of the producers and also one of the writers) Fran, and the British casting director. And I read something, I don't remember what it was, and then he said... well, he didn't say anything actually. But I didn't say "Well, do I do it, or whatever you want me to play?" I found out later that he had already exactly decided everyone he wanted to for each role. And he got them all.

John Rhys-Davies: What about this business of you getting down on your knees and begging?

CL: That's not on film. That.. ah... came later. He showed me, like he showed you, all these wonderful photographs of locations in New Zealand, and some of the characters John (Howe) designed. I thought, god this is going to be something unique in my life as an actor, something I always dreamed about... that this would become a film one day. Of course we say film, what one really means is the whole thing. And I always dreamed that maybe I would be in it. So occasionally dreams do come true! Not very often.

Reporter: First you wanted to be Frodo?

CL: No...Bilbo perhaps.

Reporter: Many people said you wanted to play Gandalf, years ago.

Christopher Lee: Oh, well...years ago, when the books came out! And, I was too young to play Gandalf. I was! When the books came out, somebody said to me, "Did you read these books, and do you think they will be made into a film?" And I said it'd be a wonderful thing, but I doubt it. And he said, "What would you like to play?" And, of course I said Gandalf, nothing strange about that. Who wouldn't? But now, I'm far to old to play Gandalf. And when I saw what Ian did, apart from his performance, and seeing what he had to do physically, I was extremely thankful! I was even looking at you (Ian) running through the mines yesterday (in the footage).

Ian McKellen: Well, i'm not sure that was me.

CL: I wonder if that is you?

Reporter: What do you remember of meeting Tolkien?

CL : Very little. I was up in Oxford meeting some friends, and we were in the Randolph Hotel. And someone said, "What are you doing here, this is all rather correct and proper. Lets go to a pub." This was a way long time ago. Forty-five plus years ago. And we went to this pub, it's now world famous, but I can't remember the name of it. I can't honestly remember. We were sitting there talking and drinking beer or something, and someone said, "Oh, look who walked in," it was Professor Tolkien and I nearly fell off my chair. I didn't even know he was alive. He was a benign looking man, smoking a pipe, walking in... an English countryman with earth under his feet. And he was a genius, a man of incredible intellectual knowledge. And he knew somebody in our group. He (the man in the group) said, "Oh Professor, Professor," and he came over. And each one of us, well I knelt of course, each one of us said, "How do you do?" And I just said "Ho... How... How..." I just couldn't belive it. But I'll never forget it.

IM: I think meeting writers is more special then meeting...

CL: Of course, they originate the whole thing...

IM: ... then meeting the Queen or stars. I remember being at the National Theater the year Arthur Miller sequestered. When the author of Death of a Salesman walked on the stage, I don't know! Or, when I once saw Samuel Beckett rehearsing. It's just so thrilling. CS Lewis, I used to attend his lectures at Cambridge...

CL: Well, he was a member of the same club, the Inklings, as was Tolkien at Oxford. He wrote three wonderul books.

IM: I think Tolkien has been looking down, or up, on this project. He was always there. The books were always there, just off the set in every single scene. Last minute checks... did we get it right, is that what he wanted, is that what he intended? The devotion to that man,
I think was equal to that of Peter Jackson. It was always there, it never was out.

Reporter: Like a director checking a composer?

IM: It was just like that.

Reporter: Why does he (Peter Jackson) engender such affection?

CL: He can! He is a man you come to love and respect.

JRD: He has everything a director needs. And a director needs an enormous technical facility of some sort. He knows the grammer and syntax of filmmaking. His casting is impecible. It is... present company. I never walked into a first reading of anything before and looked around and identified the characters. "That's got to be Frodo... that's got to be Legolas the elf. That's got to be Sam." I've never done that before in my life. And when I saw that, I saw that he knew. That there was a chance we would be making something big.

IM: You know when this film comes out, it's just going to say "New Line productions present 'Lord of the Rings.'" It's not going to be "A film by Peter Jackson." Wouldn't you think you'd earn the right, having brought this project to life, to have your name up there? The man you'll meet today is the man we met every day. He is always the same. He is the guy that has only got one pair of shoes. He's wearing a long pair of trousers today I have never seen him wear. He's always in shorts. He's always in the same vest, shirt. And there are other people like him in that remarkable country of New Zealand. And he generates such enthusiasum just simply by being himself. He is not a star. He is absolutely reliable. You can go to him and you'll get the answer, and his knowledge is formidable.

CL: He knows what he wants. And he will go on doing it until he gets it. You know when he says, "That's it!" then that IS it.

Reporter: What kind of impact will these films have?

JRD: These are going to be the biggest films of all time. I don't think there is any question about it. Because half the world has read Tolkien, and the other half will. I have to tell you, that line did not come from me.

CL: I didn't come from me either. It's something I read.

IM: Since it was announced these films were being made, the Tolkien estate finances in the United Kingdom alone have doubled. How do we know the film is going to be successful? Look at AintitCool News (pointing at Harry) and other sites. Look at the 400 million hits on the Lord of the Rings site. Look at the responses on my website. There are people just waiting and waiting. It will be the biggest opening of any film. The question is, will it go on then, to be bigger then that? And having seen that half an hour last night, any concerns about that have been laid to rest. It has very good appeal. And it must appeal to people who have never read the book, and will never read the books, and are just going to want to go on the journey. And I think it's going to happen.

Reporter: Then its a pretty big deal to be in it?

CL: And so it should be. Everything to an actor should be a challange. If it isn't, there is no meeaning to it for what we do. Everything is a challange. And if it comes off, its a victory.

Reporter: Could you be doubting your roles?

CL: Not amongst this cast. Not with this director.

IM: You know, we wouldn't all be here. We have all dropped everything to get here, whether we were working or not. We have to be here. The call went out, Peter said, "Would you come?" we said, "Yes, of course." Anyone who is not here is working and could not get away. It has been a very large family of friends, all of them with some particular talent, either taught themselves or been taught especially for this project... or bringing that master experience. And if nobody wanted to see our film, the experience would still have been worthwhile. But it's thrilling, the virtue on this occasion, the proper, trying to do the right thing, is going to be rewarded by people's response.

CL: I noticed last night, there was a cocktail party, I said to my wife, "... this is very interesting, because there are certain people that gravitated to certain people. And the hobbits more or less in one corner, and togther again. It shows you very much. And you know, Aragorn and Boromir are together, and they're all part of the Fellowship of course." The interesting thing for me is to see that this, this great affection amongst all of us, is still there. And believe me, after a year or more that is very, very rare. There are some people you don't want to ever see again usually.

JRD: We can't tell you any story of temperment or fights or things like that. It was a wonderfully great sense of comradship and comrodery.

Reporter: This was the first time you had all worked together?

CL: I worked with John, I had never worked with Ian.

JRD: On my honeymoon, we went to Oxford playhouse to see a brilliant young actor in a play . It was the third time i saw you (Ian McKellen). In Oxford.

IM: Tolkien must have been around then. Well it was over 40 years ago.

Reporter: You (John Rhys-Davies) have been in other action films before. Can you compare 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' with this one?

JRD: There was a wonderful sense of improvisation with the first 'Raiders of the Lost Arc.' If you read the first script, honestly, it read like a comic. This was pretty well laid out. Obviously there was fine tuning and writing going on all the time. They were both wonderful experiences. But I... you can't really compare two extraordinary opportunities of a lifetime. But, I have to carry on, not only is this going to be a big one, but i think in 10 years time, when you look back, and you compose your list of your top favorite films, I think we will find room for 'Lord Of The Rings.' It's the right marriage, only now, that the technology exists to tell the story, the way it should be told. But there is a story. It's brilliantly executed. It's so well cast, present company excepted. It is a magical tale. And it's about good and evil. I think good wins!

CL: Speaking again, quite personally in respect to this drama, I never believed that at my age, which in a couple weeks I'll be in my 80th year I hope. I don't believe in the space of a year, just over a year, I'd be working with Tim Burton, Peter Jackson and George Lucas. It's incredible. It's all absolutely wonderful in their own different ways.

JRD: Well, you figure you have done what... 240 pictures?

CL: 255... 255 I believe.

JRD: You are probably, about now, just finishing your apprenticeship.

Reporter: Ian, how strange is it for you, after so many years of being a theater actor, to be an action figure; to be in a big epic seen by younger people?

IM: The problem with doing the greatest text ever written, Shakespeare, is that you are impatient with anything that doesn't begin to match up to his imagination and his expression. So, I turned down probably more films then I should have done because I didn't think they were well enough written. But in the case of X-men, not a great text, but a great story... I mean a Shakespearian story really. And then Tolkien, who has his own imagination, which is beyond Shakespeare, something Shakespeare never really tried to do, and dialogue which is worth speaking. You haven't really seen that. You haven't seen the big scenes yet, but there, a lot of acting is required in this film which has naught to do with racing up mountains. It's simply eyeballing the actor and discovering them through conversation. Then you say Tolkien is up there with Shakespeare and... I don't feel there is a great division even though, you can catergorize them as, "Oh, here is a fantasy movie, here is an action movie..." Shakespeare hadn't a sense and anticipated both.

author's note: (I skipped a full blown discussion on Shakespeare's story orgins and the Kings of England.)

IM: I hope all this wants to make you see the film


JRD: You can imagine what the conversations were like on the set.

The End

Tomorrow I'll be heading to the party of a lifetime, so I'm not sure how much time I will have to get the next set of interviews on line, but I will try my hardest to!

Once again, sorry for the lack of images with these reports. As you know, we were not allowed to have cameras at the Chateau.

Until tomorrow!


5-11-01 Latest News

Aftonbladet's report on Cannes: The full translation.
Tehanu @ 7:14 am EST

This is from Catinyat, whom we thank for translating the complete text of the Aftonbladet report on the LOTR footage shown at Cannes.

"The Lord of the Rings" - a Real Adventure

Jens Peterson [movie critic] at Aftonbladet has taken a look at the first movie in the trilogy.
All friends of "The Fellowship of the Ring" can calm down. The movie looks fantastic. Yesterday, 26 minutes of the adventure was shown in Cannes. Thrilling, striking, impressive. Wow.
The first of the three "Lord of the Rings" movie will show up this christmas. The director Peter Jackson presented 26 minutes of filmimg.

Gandalf with a long beard
First, there were a lot of scenes describing the intrigue and showing the main characters. Here is the idyllic Shire, to where the mighty Gandalf comes with long beard and blue hat, and where Bilbo celebrates his 111th birthday with a spectacular fire works show, which looks very lively at the movie screen.
The young hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) hears about the powerful and dangerous ring. Thanks to special effects, Bilbo (Ian Holm) and the other hobbits only reach Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to the waist.
Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Boromir (Sean Bean), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) comes into the story.
Saruman (Christopher Lee), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) with his daughter Arwen (Liv Tyler) flash past.

Dangerous walk in the mountains
Then there is 14 minutes of connected filming where the heroes wanders through the mines of Moria. Instead of climbing over the dangerous mountains they walk through mines that once where a home to dwarfes.
They find only bones in the fantastic mountain halls. And new dangers.
It´s a thrilling moment, that shows how nice the special effects works. The viewers were thrilled by the story and screamed when one dreadful creature after another attacked.

Short previews of the other movies
At the end they showed a lot of short scenes from the two follow-ups, even the unravelling where an almost dying Frodo who is carried by his friend Sam, and the seductive temptation of the magical ring.
From close-ups of the ring to great battles with thousands of creatures. Horror, excitement and humor.
Judging by appearances "The Lord of the Rings" will be the thrilling spectacle all the friends of the books have hoped for. The countdown has started.

Jens Peterson
Translated by Emil Ericsson (catinyat)

Image text:(Gandalf)Thrilling Spectacle "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy looks fantastic says Jens Peterson after a showing in Cannes. The digital special effects are impressive likewise the drama. Ian McKellen plays Gandalf.

(Uruk-Hai) Uruk-Hai goes to attack in one of the many great battlescenes.

Cannes footage: Finland's "Helsingen Sanomat" talks about it
Tehanu @ 6:50 am EST

Yep, the Scandinavians are leading the pack still. Tero wrote in with his translation of a Finnish article. He says "Keep in mind that the Finnish way to tell things might sound a bit lame to you since we tend to avoid superlatives and such." Sort like Kiwis, whose highest accolade sounds a bit like 'Yeah, it was all right.'

Cannes. The first few minutes were shown from the most anticipated premiere of next Christmas season, TheLord Of the Rings, the movie directed by Peter Jackson. And it looked really promising!

The show, invitation-only for international media reporters [including the MIA Calisuri - : )], consisted of trailer, promo stuff and a special 14 minute long, edited and finalized episode of the movie. In the episode the characters Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn and others were engaging terrifying enemies in the Moria mines.

Even though this single episode was totally cut off from the complete movie and shown as separately, it had an uplifting feeling of heroic saga. The effects and the sets were fantastic and gothic and the monsters were quite terrifying.

After seeing the few selected minutes, it seemed the characters themselves will not be shadowed by the extraordinary effects and sets!

Peter Jackson introduced the movie clip and said it was funny to show material to people that will be in theaters not sooner than half a year from now. Funny or not, after the show the audience gave spontaneous furore (applauded).

* * * .

5-10-01 Latest News

John Howe talks LOTR
Xoanon @ 10:51 am EST

Ringer Spy Armel was so kind to translate this article from 'Les nouvel obs' a french magazine. The mag recently interviewed John Howe, and they asked him about the LOTR movies, Tolkien Mania and more about a member of the Tolkien family actually having a role in the films?!

Tolkien-mania, by Dominique Gaulme

In the beginning was a nice scholar, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. He was teaching philology in Oxford university and wrote Bilbo the Hobbit, a book that Rayner, son of Stanley Unwin, an English publisher, liked a lot. His dad gave him a shilling and never regretted it since it was an absolute hit. Unwin asked for a sequel and he finally got it more than 15 years later, in 1954 and 1955, because Tolkien had made up his mind to create a whole universe. The Lord of The Ring became a myth as soon as it came out and the Tolkiens settled in France to escape from too much fame. Even today, Christopher, his son, has to take an alias when travelling to Great Britain.

Stanley Unwin guessed that the movie industry would love LoTR and decided with Tolkien to give it up for big money or glory. At the end of 1957, first offers : three US businessmen want to make a cartoon. The fact they murder the names, calling Boromir, "Borimor", that they want everybody to travel on eagle back, that the lembas turn out to be a kind of astronaut food, is ominous and the negotiations stop abruptly. But in the 70's, the taxes rise too high and Tolkien has to sell a rights portfolio to Saul Zaentz, an American producer. In the portfolio, the movie rights.

That is why Tolkien's heirs, and particularly Christopher, can object to anything but the films. They can't prevent Alan Lee and John Howe, both conceptual artists for Peter Jackson, from illustrating the famous Tolkien Calendars till 2005, but as to the film, no way ! Christopher hates the very idea whereas one of the grand-sons flew to New Zealand to play a bit-part.

At first, John Boorman is asked to make the movie even if nothing was really possible before the digital special effects. With $3 millions, he tries to work on the script, to make the story shorter, but he fails and shoots Excalibur instead. They pass the buck to Ralph Bakshi who had made Fritz the Cat, the first X-rated cartoon. In 1978, LoTR, the toon, is released. Quite predicably, hollywood declares it a financial flop and the Tolkien addicts feel sick and betrayed. Moreover, Bakshi used rotoscoping, a real shame. Everybody forgets about LoTR for years, till Peter Jackson, who had helped Miramax, is proposed to make it "We are about to lose the rights, don't you want to have a try ?". He plans two films of 2 1/2 hours. One year and $12 millions later, Miramax gives up. Okay for one 3hour film and we'll cut here and there. John Howe tells "They had already called for spin doctors to simplify the plot : "All these folks and coutries are much too complicated. Let's say that Gondor and Rohan are the same and that Sarüman is a kind of Darth Vader. It was becoming Dungeons and Dragons, a real trash ! Miramax said to Peter "If you find someone else to shoot the films and $12 millions within three weeks, it is fine with us." Fortunately, Pete found NewLine because they had begun to pack our sets for other projects."

Three years later, the film is expected by millions of fans all around the world. The trailer on internet was watched by more people than Star Wars: Episode One. As for Episode Two, the secret is deep. We know the code name : Jamboree. We heard the working atmosphere was juvenile, a gang of old kids playing giants and hobbits. It seems the book defended itself quite well. Every attempt to alter characters turned out to be a mistake. For instance, the script writers had decided that Arwen, a part played by Liv Tyler, Aerosmith singer Steve Tyler's daughter, was some kind of tough cookie, riding horses and fighting like a man to save her boy-friend Aragorn, a real he-man, not a slipper-footed dwarf. But Liv felt akward about it, even if it is the way women are shown today in the movies, and little by little came back to the real Arwen as depicted by Tolkien. Christopher Lee who plays Sarüman knows the books by heart and had been dreaming to have something to do with it since he read it.

Another one had dreamt : Sean Connery was looking forward to playing Gandalf. But Jackson chose the less conspicuous Ian McKellen. Sean never set a foot in New Zealand but everybody saw him there. Once a guy called to speak about "you know who". He had spent his afternoon at a cricket match side by side with a man he was sure to be Sean Connery. He had asked semi-naive questions such as "Are you from New Zealand ?" On hearing a "yes", he had thought it a stratage and wanted to be the actor's professional guide during the shooting period. When fiction and fantasm mix together.

The second article :

A Passion for the Middle-Ages by Dominique Gaulme

John Howe opens his door, a little dishevelled and shortsighted, looking like Gandalf's younger brother, his Gandalf, the one everybody knows. He speaks very good French with a slight Canadian accent -he was born in Vancouver-, plus the special Helvetic intonation since he has been living in Switzerland since he left the Ecole des Arts Déco in Strasbourg.

He just cannot believe someone came from Paris to meet him, moreover a journalist. Here is Howe's paradox : quite famous as an illustrator, he and Alan Lee, his alter ego, are the conceptual artists of Lord of The Rings, the movies by Peter Jackson, but the public at large doesn't know him. He feels even his job is not aknowledged. "When I am asked what is my profession, nobody understands. They think comic-strip or something like that. Sometimes I wonder wether I exist !"

John Howe does exist in his own universe, with bluish skyline, misty contours and haze he likes especially "because that is easier. It is so much more difficult when you have to draw everything". Is he lazy ? Certainly not, he rarely leaves his working table and his inks because Tolkien is only a part of his work. We are expecting La Ville Abandonnée (The Deserted Town) with Claude Clément, and another book picturing the Haut-Konigsbourg fortress in Alsace. But, true enough, he doesn't care for sandy beaches and palm-trees, he prefers green, moist places where to find mosses and lichens, where the impressive roots of his trees look like Art Nouveau wrought iron, where the cliffs turn into castles, where the willows never weep "I hate those trees, I cannot draw them!". He loved New Zealand nature "the trees look normal but, in fact, when you examine them, they are bizarre. It is exactly what we needed for Middle-Earth." Although he hates everything clean and modern, he sometimes illustrates science-fiction, but in his own way with medieval touches. As to the women, even if he admires Frazetta's sexy heroins, he prefers scaly monsters springing out of the waves and when he has to draw a lady, he often asks his wife, Fataneh, to do it. In fact, we envy John Howe, he gave up none of his dreams and he gets money with them.

So, don't ask him to change anything : his life turned upside down when he first came to Strasbourg. He would only know trappers'log-cabins and he discovered the sandstone laces of one of the most beautiful gothic cathedral in Europe. An actual cultural revolution which led him to make a book where gargoyles are real dragons. Since that day, John Howe is convinced the most perfect period of European history took place in the XVth century and more precesely during its last thirty years. "Everything is beautiful, the shoes, the socks, the castles, the caldrons, the lanterns, the windows. eveything but plague and poverty ".

He even made himself a nice rocking backed bench. Among the things that irritate him, the widespread commonplaces about the Middle-Ages : people were much shorter than today, they didn't know how to make left and right shoes. "They were too busy building cathedrals, I guess!" When he has a little time, John Howe publishes a fanzine for XVth century lovers. Dragon is a mine of informations about lanterns, swords, measures, machicolations. So when it came to details during the shooting of Lord of the Rings, the team saw clearly it wasn't going to be easy. He was adamant about Aragorn's sword, it wasn't to be molded in plastic like Conan the Barbarian's ! He and Alan Lee took also a very special special care not to mix with Tolkien's universe, ninjas, Bruce Lee, kickboxing and samurai. In fact, every two years, John Howe and his friends organize real medieval fights in armours in Haut-Konigsbourg castle in Alsace, so there is no way of cheating !

5-07-01 Latest News

Weekly Cast Watch
Xoanon @ 11:41 pm EST

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn)

28 Days (2000)
Psycho (1998) UK
Thin Red Line, The (1998) UK
Perfect Murder, A (1998) UK
Portrait of a Lady, The (1996)
Passion of Darkly Noon, The (1995)
Prophecy, The (1995)
Young Guns II (1990)
Witness (1985)

Liv Tyler (Arwen)

Dr. T and the Women (2000)
Cookie's Fortune (1999) UK
Plunkett & Macleane (1999) UK
Can't Hardly Wait (1998) UK

Ian Holm (Bilbo)

Bless the Child (2000)
Last of the Blonde Bombshells, The (2000) (TV)
eXistenZ (1999) UK
Alice Through the Looking Glass (1999) (TV)
Simon Magus (1999/I) UK
Fifth Element, The (1997) UK
Hamlet (1990) UK
Brazil (1985) UK
Return of the Soldier, The (1982)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
S.O.S. Titanic (1979) (TV)
Juggernaut (1974)
Severed Head, A (1971) UK
Bofors Gun, The (1968) UK
Fixer, The (1968) UK

Sean Bean (Boromir)

Black Beauty (1994) UK

Marton Csokas (Celeborn)

Halifax f.p: Swimming with Sharks (1999) (TV)

Hugo Weaving (Elrond)

Matrix, The (1999) UK
Interview, The (1998)
Babe: Pig in the City (1998) UK
Babe (1995) UK
Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The (1994)

Miranda Otto (Eowyn)

What Lies Beneath (2000)
Jack Bull, The (1999) (TV) UK
Thin Red Line, The (1998) UK

Elijah Wood (Frodo)

Bumblebee Flies Anyway, The (2000)
Faculty, The (1998) UK
Flipper (1996)
Good Son, The (1993)
Forever Young (1992) UK
Paradise (1991)
Avalon (1990) UK
Internal Affairs (1990)

Cate Blanchett (Galadriel)

Ideal Husband, An (1999) UK
Pushing Tin (1999) UK
Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997) UK

Ian McKellen (Gandalf)

Apt Pupil (1998) UK
Restoration (1995)
I'll Do Anything (1994)
Scandal (1989)
Plenty (1985) UK
Touch of Love, A (1969) UK

John Rhys-Davies (Gimli)

Au Pair (1999) (TV)
Secret of the Andes (1998) UK
Great White Hype, The (1996) UK
Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996) (V)
Cyborg Cop (1994)
Sunset Grill (1993)
Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Framing (1992) (TV)
Nairobi Affair (1984) (TV) UK
Victor/Victoria (1982)

Andy Serkis (Gollum)

Among Giants (1998) UK
Stella Does Tricks (1997)
Mojo (1997) UK

Harry Sinclair (Isildur)

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron)

Sweet Talker (1991)
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Sean Astin (Sam)

Kimberly (1999)
Bulworth (1998)
Long Way Home, The (1997) UK
Safe Passage (1994) UK
Where the Day Takes You (1992)
Encino Man (1992) UK
Memphis Belle (1990) UK
War of the Roses, The (1989)
Staying Together (1989) UK
White Water Summer (1987) UK
Goonies, The (1985)

Christopher Lee (Saruman)

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Jinnah (1998) UK
Tale of the Mummy (1998) UK
Odyssey, The (1997) (TV) UK
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Mio min Mio (1987) UK
Safari 3000 (1982)
1941 (1979) UK
Return from Witch Mountain (1978)
Creeping Flesh, The (1973)
Horror Express (1972)
Nothing But the Night (1972)
Scream and Scream Again (1969)
Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968) UK
Gorgon, The (1964) UK
Mummy, The (1959)
Crimson Pirate, The (1952)
My Brother's Keeper (1948) UK

Bernard Hill (Theoden)

Criminal, The (2000) UK
Midsummer Night's Dream, A (1999) UK
True Crime (1999) UK
Wind in the Willows, The (1996/I) UK
Mountains of the Moon (1990) UK
Shirley Valentine (1989)
Gandhi (1982) UK

Brad Dourif (Wormtongue)

Shadow Hours (2000)
Prophecy 3: The Ascent, The (2000) (V)
Color of Night (1994) UK
Trauma (1993)
Body Parts (1991) UK
Cerro Torre: Schrei aus Stein (1991)
Child's Play 2 (1990) UK
Exorcist III, The (1990)
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Fatal Beauty (1987)
Dune (1984) Uk
Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) UK

Jim Rygiel (SFX)

Anna and the King (1999)
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) UK
Multiplicity (1996) UK
Batman Returns (1992)
Alien³ (1992) UK
Last of the Mohicans, The (1992)
Ghost (1990)
2010 (1984) UK

Howard Shore (Composer)

Cell, The (2000)
eXistenZ (1999) UK
Analyze This (1999) UK
Gloria (1999)
Striptease (1996) UK
White Man's Burden (1995) UK
Se7en (1995)
Single White Female (1992) UK
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
Postcards from the Edge (1990)
She-Devil (1989)
Dead Ringers (1988) UK
Big (1988)
Moving (1988)
Fly, The (1986)
Places in the Heart (1984) UK
Videodrome (1983)

Peter Jackson (Director)

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

To get more information, use the sites I use like:

mydigiguide.com, tv-now.com and IMDB.com

Weekend Round-up
Xoanon @ 10:47 am EST

This weekends headlines, just in case you missed it:

MORE INFO!! NEW FOTR Trailer Coming Soon?!

John Rhys-Davies' Birthday

TORN is TWO Today!

Worldwide Fan Search Continues......

TRAILER 2: New Confirmation?

Casting: Ian Mune is Farmer Maggot?

A Journey in the Dark, Part 3

Coolio AIM Icons for your enjoyment

Media Watch: TDC Magasinet talks LOTR
Xoanon @ 10:10 am EST

From: Claus O

Are you still interested in stuff about LotR being mentioned in papers and such? (of course! - Xo) Well, here's a small article from the May issue of "TDC Magasinet" on page 34 (a small magazine published by Danish tele-company TDC (Tele Danmark Communications). The article reads as follows (English Translation):

Hobbits hits on the Net

The internet has been a part of creating an enormous advance interest in the coming three movies based on the fantasy novels about the hobbits, Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings."

The first one premieres in December, but just an early trailer for the movie garnered enormous attention. I the span of the first 24 hours it was downloaded almost two million times on the internet, which is an unofficial world record.

And that's even in spite of he company behind the movies has shrouding the filming in mystery. But from first go the Tolkien-fans around the world has had a encompassing network on the internet where even the smallest tidbit of news from the filming on New Zealand has been passed on and discussed. There has even been an exchange of spy photos from the filming and a couple of satellite pictures [???].

The great advance interest has had some unexpected side effects. A few dishonest souls on the production crew has stolen items from the movies and put them up for sale on internet auctions, where e.g. swords from the filming has been sold for a small fortune.

The official English page is at this address:

5-04-01 Latest News

CANNES: Swedish Website Contest Winner
Xoanon @ 11:24 am EST

From: Peter B

The winner of the Swedish contest concerning a trip to cannes and a pass to the castle in wich the lord of the rings party will be, has been decided.

The winner is Johanna Enhörning, by the way her last name translated into english is unicorn. She and a friend will fly down to cannes and attend a party with the cast and crew of the movies.

She answed all the qustions correctly, of course, and on the last "question", on Wich character she would like to play and why, she wrote:

- In this beutiful fantasy world
There is one that has known it all,
Whos power in talkt of everywere
and desired a thousen times.
- In many hands im an undescribeble danger,
although the fate that me awaits
I am the one ring.

It sounds better in swedish because it rhymes:

I denna vakra sagovärld
finns en som upplevt allt,
vars makt är onämd
vida kring och åtrådd
I mångas händer kan jag bli
en obeskrivlig fara, trots ödet
som mig väntar vill jag
härskarringen vara.

Grattis Johanna vi lär nog ses på premiären i götet.

MediaWatch: Austrailian PC Authority Magazine
Calisuri @ 9:27 am EST

Ringer Joel B was kind enough to send us some excerpts from a recent article in the Austrailian PC Authority Magazine:


I'm just writing to let you know that in this month's Australian PC Authority magazine, there's a long feature on animation techniques in film. LOTR is mentioned several times. They have a website which is utterly devoid of content, so I've written out the LOTR bit for your convenience :) Some good technical detail about WETA and so forth.

"One of the most talked-about movies in the animation world is the upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy, expected to be the most costly film ever produced outside the US - a film with the potential to push animation still further.

Using a low-tech derived process known as rotoscoping, the trilogy originates on film, although CGI plays an integral role in the movie (how else do you create several thousand beasties). All the landscapes of Middle Earth - enough images to cover hundreds of thousands of frames - are first shot on 'Super 35' film before being digitised to allow each frame to be enhanced or altered to make the weather fit the scene. We're already talking serious bytes. This framework is fleshout with the beasts and characters - both real actors and pure CGI - before interaction, movement and complex lighting are thrown into the pot.

Such complex imagery moving independently and in three dimensions takes serious rendering, the term given to the process by which the algorithms describing an animated 3D image are transformed into that image either on screen or disk. Rendering has long been the bane of the animator's life, at least those that don't want endless coffee breaks. While much of the production work has been accelerated through the advances in technology, rendering continues to frustrate animators.

The Lord of the Rings, using a network based around some 80 SGI Octane and Unix O2 workstations and another 25 high-end processors behind the scenes, found the daily rendering requirements stored up for the nightshift began to take their toll. There are now dedicated Linux farms in place for the rendering process, an ongoing response to days when staff were turning up for work only to find the processors still doing the rendering from the previous day's work.

By the time the first film went into production, New Zealand-based producer Weta was working from a wall of rendering-dedicated, dual-processor SGI 1200 servers running Red Hat's Linux. The film's technical guru Jon Labrie expects the number of rendering servers to reach a peak of 200.

The ongoing processing purchasing may sound like a problem, but herein is a piece of purchasing nous. With the final part of the trilogy not expected until 2003, the Weta team has time on its side. Labrie knows the company will need more machines as the work goes into the final stages of production, but he's not buying all the machines just yet. 'The price is coming down and the processors are getting faster,' he believes, preferring to wait until he can buy more bang for his buck.

He's preparing for the possibility that director Peter Jackson may call for up to a million CGI combatants in the final battle scenes, a stunning number and one so data-intensive that Labrie will call for all the processing power his budget allows."

The article goes on to talk about different ways of rendering and so forth. Hope this is of use to you!

5-02-01 Latest News

Tehanu @ 7:07 pm EST

The image-flood continues, and this time the Realm of the Ring has Eomer [Karl Urban] in battle. At last we can see one of the great captains of Rohan in detail. [More] Notice the horsetail plume on his helmet, and the way the nosepiece is moulded into the shape of a horse's head. This is absolutely what you would expect from a culture who made the horse central to their existence.

It looks like he's wearing a chainmail shirt and over that what could be a leather cuirass, gilded and embossed with that slightly celtic-looking spiral pattern. Boiled leather was sometimes used as a hard, lightweight armour well-suited to riders, I believe.

Here in another shot we can see more men of Rohan - possibly Eomer again - posted on guard. The rough massive stonework of the stairway they guard looks like Helm's Deep, so this could be a shot of the long tense buildup to the attack of Saruman's army. [More]

Battle Scenes.
Tehanu @ 6:53 pm EST

These could get your heart racing. Realm of the Ring has some battle scenes posted as well. [here] and [here]
You can see a different armour with a high helm and interesting slatted armour. Could this be the defence of Minas Tirith? Lots of pennons flying around - so many you wonder how anyone can fight [here]
I was talking to somebody recently who'd seen the rushes for the battle scenes. He wasn't able to tell me much apart from that they looked awesome. I pressed him further: "What made them look more amazing than other similar battlescenes - say Braveheart for instance?"
He replied that it was the camerawork, which is amazingly fluid, panning over the vast armies, diving and zooming to get right amongst the action. That fluid, dynamic camerawork something about PJ's style that's been a feature since his early splatter films, where film critics noted that he was able to make very complex action look exciting while keeping it very clear what is happening.

CANNES: Swedish Website Contest Questions
Xoanon @ 4:19 pm EST

From: Sergio L

Following April 12th news about Swedish Contest to CANNES, here is a translation of contest's questions:

A. The young hobbit Frodo has been adopted. By whom?

1. Bilbo Baggins
2. Gandalf
3. Aragorn

B. Who and what was Legolas?

1. A human raised by elves and the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor.
2. A brave Elf
3. A temperamental hobbit and Frodo's friend since long.

C. Who is the ancient languages teacher on LOTR set?
1. Barrie Osborne
2. Peter Jackson
3. Andrew Jack

D. Who was the brother of Faramir?
1. Denethor
2. Boromir
3. Celeborn

E. Who is portraited in (the picture provided)?

1. Gollum
2. Gimli
3. Elrond

Final question:

Maximum 40 word who you have liked to be in "Rings' Saga" and why.

Winners will be contacted within May 4th

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