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May 05, 2004 - May 13, 2004

5-13-04 Latest News

ROTK & Braindead at Oxford's Phoenix Picturehouse
weetanya @ 6:26 pm EST

Ian Collier writes: I had this info come in from the cinema manager of the Phoenix Picturehouse, and as it has all three LotR films and Braindead I thought you'd want to know about it too.

SATURDAY MAY 15th 2004

at the Phoenix Picturehouse,
57 Walton Street, OXFORD, UK
01865 512526


2.00am THE TWO TOWERS [12A]


12.30am DAWN OF THE DEAD [18]
2.30am SHAUN OF THE DEAD [15]
4.30am 28 DAYS LATER [18]
7.00am BRAINDEAD [18]

Tickets: £16 FULL / £14 CONC / £12 MEMBERS


Karl Urban Article from May Fangoria
weetanya @ 6:08 pm EST

From the latest issue of FANGORIA magazine
Submitted by Ringer Meg


"I'm getting to explore 'Macbeth' in space," Urban says with some delight during a break. He's sweating under his armor which adds an authenticity of sorts to the tension between him and Newton. "We're very conscious of taking this archetype and seeing how we can add to that dynamic, how we can raise the stakes, as it were. It's a lot of fun."

"Vaako is a commander in the Necromonger Armada," Urban continues. "He's number three in the hierarchy, next to the Lord Marshal and the Purifier, the High Priest. He is a fierce warrior and loyal in his faith. He can be sadistic and cruel, and has no mercy. He absolutely detests humans, whom he calls 'breeders'. He sees that they are in the way of Necromongerdom achieving their goals. He also has an achilles heel -- a fatal flaw, like 'Macbeth' -- and that's his woman. She's very ambitious, and she's coaxing and prodding him into committing regicide, the murder of the Lord Marshal. As a loyal Necromonger, he resists her as long as he can.

In preparation to play Vaako, Urban, with Twohy's blessing, wrote an outline of the Necromongers' history and used it as a personal backdrop against which to play his part. "On Lord of the Rings, we had the luxury of a mythology that was already established," Urban explains, "and we could reference it whenever we wanted. Quite often I'd be sitting in the makeup trailer next to Ian McKellen or Viggo Mortensen, and both of them would have a copy of the book out, reading. We don't have that luxury here. In some ways that's a blessing, because we can make it up. In other ways, it's a burden, because we have a lot to live up to."

"When I entered into this project," he continues, "I felt that it was imperative that I be as specific as I could about the history of the Necromongers, and really define where this culture came from, and where they arose. I felt their genesis was spawned from the depths of a conquered race. They were looking for salvation. The first Lord Marshal gave them the hope that they could rise. And the way they're doing that is by expanding the 'underverse,' and they way they're doing that is by collecting matter from the universe. They're slowly taking all the planets and all the lifeforms, and if they're not converting them, they're killing them."

Following up a fantasy epic like 'Lord of the Rings' with 'The Chronicles of Riddick' might strike some actors as potentially and unecessarily confining, but Urban (also seen in 'The irrefutable truth about Demons') is game about it. "I like playing with the big boys and the big toys, I guess," he laughs. "I was a fan of the original Pitch Black; I thought it was a great film. They had a limited budget, and to me it was one of the strongest sci-fi films to come out in a long time. It introduced an amazing anti-hero. Years and years ago, I could see in Pitch Black that there was enourmous potential to develop that story. So after finishing Lord of the Rings, I heard that David Twohy was doing The Chronicles of Riddick and I thought 'Wow! I've got to be in that film!' Science Fiction is Twohy's forte. Nobody does it better."

Urban even read early drafts of the script, acquiring them by "begging, borrowing, and stealing. I tracked the project and where it was going. He heard that Twohy didn't want anyone from 'Rings' due to his reluctance to borrow from another sweeping trilogy; Urban begged for a meeting with Twohy, and the audience was granted. "I said, 'look, I know you don't want to hire me, but just for shits and giggles, I wanted to come by and say hello'. We had a really lovely meeting. He had all the artwork and schematics on the walls, and it looked phenomenal."

At the end of the meeting, Twohy agreed to give Urban a shot. Three days later, he auditioned and won the role.

c. 2004 Fangoria Magazine
Purchase the article in the May issue of Fangoria.

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 5:39 pm EST

Dragons, Hobbits, Giant Spiders, Ents, elves; have you ever wondered where Tolkien got the ideas for the myriad of creatures roaming Middle-Earth? Perhaps you would like to share your ideas about the role of similar creatures in myths and stories from around the world. Where did he get his inspiration for the ents from for example? You might be surprised when you learn the answer.

Join us in #thehalloffire for a light-hearted discussion about the
mythological creatures of Middle-Earth.

upcoming topics:

weekend 220504-230504: The Hobbit - Chapter 9
weekend 290504-300504: The Hobbit - Chapter 10

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 9:30am Sunday (09:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 5:00am (05:00) Monday morning AET]

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

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at

5-11-04 Latest News

LOTR Exhibition in Singapore Report
Xoanon @ 1:31 pm EST

LOTR Exhibition in Singapore Report
Click here for more images

Stepper writes:

Thought you'd like to see some photos of what must be one of the youngest Ringers, my son Max (b. July 2003) who has now been to 'Edoras' and the LOTR exhibition in Singapore. (These are photos he is going to be very upset about when he is a teenager!!)

We are expatriate Kiwis living in HK, so at Christmastime, whilst back in NZ we went up to Mt Sunday with him - He is 5 months old in the first shot (my husband is carrying him). The river behind us was too deep to cross at that time with a baby attached, so we couldn't go up onto the mount. However we did see other people getting across - you are allowed to go there without a tour provided you respect the 'gates and cattle' rules on the land. (This is from a CD scan of a negative so quality may not be great)

Last weekend we flew to Singapore to see the Te Papa/New Line exhibition at the Science Centre. I've included a shot from outside the science centre - there were also similar banners attached to lamposts advertising the exhibition all over the main tourist areas including hundreds down Orchard Rd. The last photo is of myself and Max outside the exhibit entrance.

It is an amazing exhibition!! I know it is going on to Boston, London and Sydney and it is definitely well worth any effort expended to see it. You cannot take photos or video inside, and I don't want to spoil all the surprises if you are planning to attend and have not read other reports but I will just quickly describe some of what you can see.

You walk in to an incredibly atmospheric room with spot-lit exhibits and noise from the films all around you (from all the video replays that are in each section). There are details in the exhibits that you would never spot on film e.g the faded embroidery in the ringwraith's costumes. All the costumes are beautifully done. The armour is spectacular and you can feel examples of the chainmail and the swords in one section.

The videos are mainly footage from the extended DVDs - I didn't get to see a lot of those with the time restrictions that a baby gives you, but it looks like some of it will be items for the ROTK DVD e.g. the Shelob section.

Also there are lots of paintings from Alan Lee and John Howe (and others) including the originals of the two limited editions currently on sale at the Weta store.

Plus they have a section where they take photos of yourself and family/friends as though you are hobbit and wizard size, sitting on a replica of Gandalf's cart and adding in backgrounds of the shire! My husband, who teaches visual perception, was particularly excited by this!

The exhibition is in Singapore until June 4th.

Buena Vista Games to create Narnia for 2005
Xoanon @ 12:53 pm EST

Buena Vista Games, Inc., the global interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Company, today announced that it will publish video games based on the epic tale of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the best-selling story by C.S. Lewis and the forthcoming film by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media, for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube(TM), PC and handheld consoles in fall 2005. The action-adventure series, which will be published under the company's Disney Interactive label, will be the first multi-platform video games introduced that let gamers and Narnia fans step inside and immerse themselves in the magical world of Narnia.

"We are pleased to announce our plans to develop a full slate of video
games based on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion,The Witch and The Wardrobe film currently in production in New Zealand," said Graham Hopper, senior vice president and general manager of Buena Vista Games. "Given the truly unique, creative nature of the story, we see it as especially suited for a spectacular translation to game consoles and something that the millions of Narnia fans and gamers worldwide will love."

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is based on the first in the series of phenomenally best-selling novels by C.S. Lewis. The live-action film concerns a war between good and evil, pitting the magnificent lion Aslan against the forces of darkness in the magical world of Narnia. A White Witch has used her dark powers to keep Narnia in winter for 100 years, but it is foretold that four humans will be able to help Aslan break the spell. When the children - Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter -- discover the magic of Narnia by entering the enchanted world through a wardrobe, the stage is set for a classic battle of epic proportions. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe film, under the direction of Andrew Adamson (Shrek, Shrek 2), is scheduled for release Christmas 2005.

"The opportunity to work closely with the video game production team at the same time we're creating the film is very exciting. I'm looking forward to watching both projects come to life," said Andrew Adamson, film director, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. "Through the video game, fans will be able to re-open the wardrobe countless times to revisit the magical world of Narnia and all of its characters and environments."

About Buena Vista Games

Buena Vista Games, Inc. is the interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Company's Consumer Products business unit. The division publishes, markets and distributes a broad portfolio of PC and multi-platform video games worldwide. The company also licenses properties and works directly with third-party interactive game publishers to bring products for all ages to market. Titles for Buena Vista Games fall under two publishing labels: Buena Vista Interactive, which publishes high-profile, multi-platform games based on creative content from the numerous businesses within The Walt Disney Company, and Disney Interactive, which markets and distributes the company's interactive entertainment based on Disney bbranded properties.

For further information, please contact: Kehau Rodenhurst, ext. 204, or Andrea Sausedo, ext. 201, of WONGDOODY Communications, +1-310-285-0181, for Buena Vista Games, Inc.; or Angela Emery of Buena Vista Games, Inc., +1-818-553-3923.

5-09-04 Latest News

LOTR Musical Interview
Xoanon @ 10:33 am EST

PippinSparrow writes: I don't know whether or not you would be interested in reporting about the upcoming Lord of the Rings musical production, but just in case you were, here is a little tidbit about it.

Two members of the Finnish world music / etno music group Värttinä were interviewed on Finnish tv earlier this week, and the interview centered around the upcoming musical project. As you might (or might not) remember, Värttinä is the group that is responsible for composing the music for the production, together with the Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman. I transcribed the interview and translated it into English, and the translated interview can be found below.

Whatever comments I myself have made I've put in square brackets [], the words in normal brackets () are just descriptions about the interview situation. I have also included HTML coding to the Värttinä website, and one other HTML formatting for emphasis.

Värttinä Interview on a Finnish tv channel (MTV3)

In the spring of 2005, London's West End will see the premiere of the most expensive musical production ever set up there -- The Lord of the Rings musical. We have just discovered the reason why the production is so expensive: it's because part of the music is composed by the Finnish group Värttinä. [She's joking, of course.] Mari Kaasinen and Janne Lappalainen from Värttinä, welcome to the show.

Mari: Thanks.

host: How come you guys are so expensive? (laughter)

Mari: Well, I guess we thought that since we've been doing this for 21 years already, it's got to cost something. (laughter)

Janne: To tell you the truth, though, usually there are only 1 or 2 people composing the music for a musical, but for this musical they have our band, 9 people, and then the Indian composer A.R. Rahman too.

host: That sounds like a very interesting combination, an Indian composer and the Finnish Värttinä together. What exactly is Värttinä's share as far as the amount of music is concerned?

Janne: Well, I suppose you can say that it's an important part of the production. The basic idea is that we have a certain amount of music we need to compose and Rahman has his own share, and then we're also going to compose some music together.

host: Are there any specific parts of the story that will contain your music?

Mari: There will be Värttinä's music throughout the production. We're making Hobbit music, we're making Elf music. So it will be all over the place.

host: What is particularly interesting about this project is that -- and this is not to say in any way that Värttinä wouldn't be a fantastic group, we know you are -- how would a West End producer know that Värttinä is such a great band that your music is worthy of being included in a huge project like this?

Janne: It was more or less sheer luck. There were these two musical producers who basically split the world in two and went to see what kind of music there really is out there. They went through an enormous amount of albums, and by chance one of our albums, Ilmatar, happened to catch their attention... And then they just called each other and went, 'this is it, listen to this'.

host: What exactly was it in that album that stood out and caught their attention?

Mari: It was actually one song, a track called Äijö, which is a kind of a spell, an incantation for the snake. Apparently they thought there was something really scary about it, something that made them think 'hey, this is exactly what we're looking for'.

host: A creepy Finnish dimension to the story?

Mari: Yes! (laughter)

Janne: It was just one...

host: It's just one part of it. In musicals, it's interesting how they look for frightening and even threatening elements, yet they don't want it to be too clear, too evident. They don't want to go for the easiest possible solution, the horror flick soundtrack style.

Janne: Yes, that's the point. And about the music in general, these producers are aiming at creating the kind of a musical and composing the kind of music that has never been heard in West End before. Musical theatre has very strong traditions there, and all of us probably have an idea of what kind of music West End musicals traditionally contain. This particular musical aims at breaking those traditions.

host: Värttinä will also have a say in how the songs are going to be performed, which means that you will be training the performers as well. What kind of a task do you think that will be? It will probably start in the autumn, won't it...?

Mari: It will kick off in the autumn, yes. I'm sure it will take a lot of hard work, because we would like to include some of our own sound in them, and that's not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to achieve... (laughter)

host: It's certainly not your average musical sound...

Mari: Exactly. So yes, we will get to or have to train those people to sing. I'm sure it will be very interesting.

host: This whole thing is quite unbelievable, an enormous musical production in London and you people composing the music and training the singers. Do you...how do you manage to keep calm and keep your head clear? It's such a big thing...

Mari: It is a big thing yeah. I was just thinking actually that we'll probably realise it on the opening night just how big it really is.

Janne: At the moment, the way we work is quite close to what we would be doing if we were writing music for an ordinary Värttinä album. All the different aspects of the musical, like staging, costumes and choreography, they are not part of the process yet, we're just writing music now. But once those other aspects will be included in the process, it will probably gradually dawn on us just how big this thing really is.

host: How much of your time is this Lord of the Rings musical now taking?

Mari: It's taking quite a bit of time. We started working on it in October last year, so by now we've been working on it for about six months. And we will be working on it until the opening night, there's still a lot to be done.

Janne: Actually, we'll still have to do some work with the musical even after the opening night. Once the shows start running, some of us will have to keep going back there to check that the quality of the performances will stay the same, with the changing crews and all...

host: I have to say that this is, well, absolutely fantastic. But as a Värttinä fan, I'm also getting a bit worried about whether or not you will have the time to do anything else. Will you be performing live anywhere now, and will there be any new Värttinä music now when the LotR musical is taking up all your time?

Mari: Well, yes, it is taking most of our time now, but we will be playing a couple of shows in Finland in the summer and we'll also be at a few festivals around Europe. And as soon as we have time, I'm sure we will start working on a new album as well. Many of us probably have some ideas already about what the next album should sound like.

Janne: We have written so much material for the musical, some of which will probably never be used, that we certainly don't have a shortage of ideas right now.

host: Can you reveal anything at this point about the music you've written for the musical? What kind of Hobbit music have you composed, what kind of Elf music?

Mari: I wonder whether we can say anything about it...

Janne: Well, the Hobbit music is going to be kinda down-to-earth and simple, as that's how the Hobbits themselves were portrayed in the book.

host: They were a simple folk, simple but upstanding.

Mari: Yes...upstanding, straightforward...

Janne: Cheerful.

Mari: Exactly, cheerful music.

Janne: The Karelians of Middle Earth... (laughter)

host: Well yeah, that's actually quite appropriate...

Janne: Yes.

host: After all, Hobbits love to party and hold feasts...

Mari: Yes, beer and sausages, indeed...

host: The simplest and best joys of life. But how about the Elf music then, one would think that the Elf music has to be anything but simple and down-to-earth?

Janne: Well, the Elf music has many different levels. Because the Elves are like kinda close to Men but then they also have these magical powers, so the music must have many different levels too.

host: Yes, the Elves are sort of wonderful and a wee bit scary at the same time, like Sam Gamgee says about them in the book.

Janne: Exactly.

host: Thank you Mari and Janne for coming here, this musical is such an amazing challenge for you guys. So, you think people should go to London next year then, to watch and listen to the musical?

Mari: Yes, definitely. (laughter) You're more than welcome to see the show next year.

Janne: Hopefully the musical will be carried to other places too later on, but for now we should start off from London.

5-08-04 Latest News

Shore's 'Music Fit for a King' Tribeca Report
Xoanon @ 7:35 pm EST

Howard Shore at Tribeca Film Fest
Click here for more images

Thanks to Zed Leppelin & christin for the images!

Runner writes: I thought you might like to have this report on the Howard Shore panel, Music Fit for a King, part of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. If you use it, please credit me as Runner.

I just spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon at the Tribeca Film Festival's panel Music Fit for a King with the composer Howard Shore, hosted by Doug Adams. Although the event was billed as a discussion of the music for The Return of the King, it inevitably became a discussion of the music for all three movies. Doug Adams is currently writing a book on the music of the LOTR films, which will be available sometime in the next year or so as part of a boxed set of all the music from the extended editions of the films.

One of the first questions Doug Adams asked was why Peter Jackson chose Howard Shore. Howard thought that it was because of his film scores' 'dark beauty.' He told many wonderful stories about working on the music and working with Peter Jackson. Here are just a few:

Howard had nothing but praise for Peter Jackson as a creative artist and project leader. He revealed that Peter told the people working on the movie only what they needed to know at any given time, and that was how he kept control over the project. In the battle of the Pelennor, for instance, Howard had to take it on faith when Peter told him that he had to write music for a line of twenty mumakil that would come charging at the Riders, when all that was on film was 'just a bunch of people'! Howard confessed to a slightly 'empty' feeling because he doesn't have a LOTR movie to write for this year, but is looking forward to 2005, when he will return to New Zealand and almost the same creative team for King Kong. He felt quite at home in New Zealand, which in fact reminded him of parts of Canada (specifically Saskatchewan) he had seen in his years of touring with a rock group.

A typical score for a motion picture consists of about forty-five minutes of music, so that writing for each of the three movies was like writing the equivalent of music for three ordinary movies--and with the extended edition DVDs, writing a fourth. We were all overjoyed to hear that he finished writing the ROTK extended edition music in March--about forty-five minutes' worth.

Howard said one of the most important purposes of the score was to clarify the story, especially for those who hadn't read the book. The most practical way to help viewers keep twenty-two main characters and several major cultures straight over the course of three full-length movies was to approach the music in terms of themes that viewers would come to associate with different people or creatures, different places and different situations--and of course the Ring itself. When the time came to write for The Return of the King, nearly all the themes were familiar. He said that he approached finding the voices for the score similarly to how a director would cast actors. The soloists for FOTR were very folklike, suitable for the Shire. Those for TTT were slightly more classical, and by the time he got to ROTK, everyone wanted to be in it! He said it was wonderful to be able to ask people like the soprano Renée Fleming and the flutist James Galway to be in it--and even more wonderful that they said yes! (Renée Fleming, who sings in eight languages, now likes to boast that she sings in Elvish too!)

Howard said that the choral sections of the movie were important as a way to get Tolkien's own words into the movie and mentioned the work of Philippa Boyens in writing most of the lyrics and of the Tolkien scholar David Salo in translating them. He also spoke of his enthusiasm in general for learning about different kinds of music and how writing for the movies (and especially for LOTR) gave him the opportunity to use instruments from all over the world.

It was interesting to learn that the first music Howard wrote was the Shire themes, which are still his favorites. He said he felt great sympathy to Frodo, since he too was embarking on a long and difficult quest! He had first read the book in the 1960s and spent the first few months of the project 'reading and thinking' until he was ready to say something about it--a wonderful insight into the creative process. The first music that was recorded was for the Mines of Moria sequence, and Peter Jackson set him a special challenge by inviting him to record the music in New Zealand. Howard said the New Zealanders have been observing the rest of the world for quite a long time and were now ready to make their statement on the world stage.

He also praised the ingenuity and optimism of New Zealanders, who he said would probably 'take the stuff on this table'--two bottles of water and what looked like a small clock--and make a short-wave radio out of it! In typical fashion, the music was recorded in the Town Hall in Wellington, using mikes that had to be borrowed from all over town. This was similar to how the Pelennor scenes were filmed in that Peter Jackson simply phoned everyone who had horses to bring them on over. Quite a few of the Riders of Rohan were women!

I was surprised to hear that Howard wrote a great deal of the music away from the movie. He gave the example of the Rohan theme as we hear it when Theoden, healed by Gandalf, takes up his sword again. The music was written as a free-standing orchestral statement of the Rohan theme and then was fitted into the scene. Another fascinating insight into the creative--and collaborative--process came when Howard mentioned that he and Peter and Fran and Philippa would decide together which musical themes would be heard in which scenes, and that their goal was always to clarify the story for the viewers.

Howard recounted the famous story (on the Internet) of how Peter Jackson got to play in the orchestra. In The Two Towers, when Aragorn looks up and Edoras and sees Eowyn, then looks away, then back and she's gone, the soft gong sound was Peter's contribution. Peter returned the favor by telling Howard that he was going to be in the movie somewhere. Howard didn't think about it much until he got a phone call telling him to be at the makeup department at 5:00 a.m. the next morning. He told us to look out for his appearance as a guard in Rohan in the extended edition of ROTK!

After the main discussion, Howard took questions from the audience. He gave wonderfully articulate and interesting answers. One person noted that many of Howard's previous movies were horror pictures (The Fly, Silence of the Lambs, and so on). He laughed and noted that Peter Jackson had a similar background! After the session was over, he graciously signed autographs for those of us who crowded onto the stage.

All in all, a terrific treat!


Zed Leppelin

I just got back from the Tribeca Film Festival, where Howard Shore did a 90-minute panel entitled "Music Fit for a King." Wow, my first encounter with a LOTR movie person and my first Ringer report all on the same day! Here goes (it’s long, so please edit as you see fit):

I arrived at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Theater 2, at 320pm. It's a pretty small theater that seats probably 250. I nervously settled into a seat in the fourth row. The air was abuzz as the Fellowship soundtrack played quietly above us and the empty stage lay expectantly before us. "It's Moria. The Balrog is coming up," the lady next to me exclaimed to her friend. I cocked an ear; she was right. She then proceeded to explain that the beacons music for ROTK has different chord progressions on the CD and in the film. I was tempted to roll my eyes but was also jealous that she knew more than me. After what seemed like a very long ten minutes, the lights dimmed, and the organizer of the panel series appeared to introduce the man himself. Too bad the microphone didn't work. The audience, starting to get giddy, laughed with them as they looked for which cord or plug had gone amiss. At last, she introduced . . . (drum roll) . . . Howard Shore! And there he was, sitting about 25 feet away from me, as real as you and me. I found myself periodically just staring at him in disbelief thinking, all that music came out of this man's head!

The moderator was Doug Adams, a Chicago-based musician and writer who is 3/4 of the way through writing the book, The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films, which chronicles the creation of the score we so love. Mr. Adams started to introduce Howard Shore, and Howard Shore generously introduced Mr. Adams right back. He noted that Mr. Adams's book may come out with the box set! Ah, another thing to look forward to.

Onto the meat of the panel. I didn’t write everything down, so forgive me if the details seem a little random, and I can only write so fast between awe-filled staring at Howard, so forgive any inaccuracies.

Howard Shore just finished recording ROTK EE in March, which brings his total to 3 years 9 months (June or July, 2000 to March, 2004), during which time he worked fairly constantly on the score while finding time to score a few other films during the process. PJ apparently chose him on the basis of his work on Dark Beauty as well as The Fly and Silence of the Lambs. Howard describes PJ/Fran (and New Zealanders in general) as observing the rest of the world, absorbing the cultures of the world, and waiting. As he says, "It's really this little island on the opposite corner of the world. Next stop Antarctica." (laughter)

In response to a question on approaching Tolkien: “At first the density and complexity of the books was daunting, but then it became a gift. It has all these layers and reveals itself to you as you work on it, and keeps revealing itself to you, so that I still find it very exciting.”

As he reminisced on the working on the project: “I have an empty feeling this year because we aren’t working on another Lord of the Rings movie. [Quiet laughter from the crowd. Believe us, Mr. Shore, we feel your pain!] I want to call all of my people.”

On the role of the score: “They wanted clarity. In a movie with 22 main characters and all these cultures, music was a way to express the clarity of the different cultures, so the audience could understand the difference between Rohan and Gondor and the difference between Rivendell and Lothlorien.”

On the working relationship. It took a while to build up the trust and relationship. PJ doesn’t give anyone the whole plan, but rather gives out information as needed. He likes to hold the cards tight. For example, the first part Howard scored was Moria. He described the process as “very linear, step-by-step. As the fellowship went through Moria, Peter was holding the lantern, and the composer was following behind him.” The process got easier as they went, “Now we have this intuitive understanding between us. I had to understand Peter and Fran and the intellect and heart they put into it all, and understand their gestures.” Howard adds that he composed the Shire and Fellowship themes before embarking on scoring actual parts of the movie. In fact, he spent 4-5 months reading and thinking, with Philippa teaching him about the languages and Nordic and Icelandic myths before feeling confident enough to put it all aside and compose.

Apparently the Moria segment was played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Howard describes it as a matter of pride, that since New Zealand has this fine orchestra, they should record the score in New Zealand. Howard likens New Zealand to Canada, his own homeland. They are both near large cultures (Australia and U.S.), they’re both commonwealths, and they were both begun as agricultural states. He says that the first time he arrived in Wellington, he felt immediately at home: “Ah, this is Saskatchewan.” He likens NZ to midwest Canada, where he toured for 4 years in a band a many years ago. He believes that the similarities between Canada and New Zealand are the reason it was possible for him to be the only person working on the production who was not in New Zealand. He wonders whether PJ, Fran, and Philippa ever realized this added element.

Howard was very complimentary to New Zealanders. He says that Viggo says (we giggle giddily that someone in the same room as us mentions Viggo so casually) that because it is so remote, they have to rely on each other. Howard calls them ingenious, then says it again. “For example, Shelob is a spider Peter met at age 8 under his parents’s porch. These people could take what’s on this table [he gestures to two water bottles and a clock] and make a shortwave radio! They brought out borrowed microphones from home for the recording session. It was the same with horses. They just called up everyone they knew and said, ‘Bring your horse.’ And they’d all come and ride through a field somewhere.” On WETA: “A lot of the buildings were rented. They went from one computer at the end of Frighteners to having one of the biggest supercomputers in the world . . . . You walk in through this auto body shop and go upstairs to the 2nd floor, and you’re in this room filled with technology, soundproof, with wall-to-wall computers.”

On ROTK as the culmination of the trilogy: “When we looked, we could see it was the best one. But no one would look. It was just Peter and me. We couldn’t get anyone to come to the screenings. They were afraid to come. They’d say they were busy doing Fellowship, and then they were busy working on Two Towers and didn’t want to get distracted. So Peter and I would look. We had to see where we were going.”

On PJ: “We worked gesture by gesture, phrase by phrase, motif by motif. But Peter knew the whole thing. It was all in his head . . . . Like the Mumakil scene where Theoden and his men think that they’ve won and then they look up and see these twenty elephants coming at them. . . . Peter would hold these things in his head and hope there would be time to make it.” Mr. Adams ask how, then, would Howard compose when all he had to work with was a field and some men on it. “Peter would tell me about it. He’d act it out.”

On visits to NZ: “I worked a lot in New Zealand. I’d rent a house, and Peter and Fran would have a house down the street, and Philippa would be next door to them. They were really cottages actually, at the inlet of the sea. I’d see whales and porpoises. It was really wonderful.”

And on that lovely note, I’m overdue for a date with my books. Part 2 will follow.

5-07-04 Latest News

Makoare Signing Session in London
Xoanon @ 12:16 pm EST

Matthew Meakins writes: I am writing to you from Fraser's Autographs, the UK's leading dealer in Autographed material. Fraser's will be holding a star signing in our London Gallery with Lawrence Makoare, who played 'Lurtz' in The Fellowship of the Ring, and 'Gothmog' and the 'Witch King' in The Return of the King

Lawrence will be meeting and greeting fans, and signing autographs, on the 14th May 2004, from 11 am until 2pm, for a small fee of £15.00 per signed photograph. Fans are welcome to bring their own material to be signed, but a similar fee will apply. For those who are unable to attend the signing, pre-orders are available, with or without Dedications or inscriptions, please call 0207 557 4407 to pre-order. (payment must be received before the signing)

All are welcome to attend, at:

Fraser's Autographs,
1st Floor, Stanley Gibbons,
399 Strand,

The One-Man Lord of the Rings Trilogy Review
Xoanon @ 12:04 pm EST

Courtney writes: I just got home from seeing the world premier of "The One-Man Lord of the Rings Trilogy," at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island (Vancouver, BC), and thought my fellow Ringers might be interested in a report.

The actor who was performing was Charles Ross, best known for his one-man Star Wars show. All I can say is that it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. He did all the characters, special effects, and music himself. The voices he did for all the characters were spot-on (especially wonderful were his Samwise and his Denethor); and he worked the most clever jokes in ("Saurman: Do you know how the orcs were first brought into being? Read 'The Silmarillion'!"). At the end, everyone cheered like mad and gave him a standing ovation.

He's performing one more show of the LOTR Trilogy on the 13th; he will do several more shows of the Star Wars Trilogy. I got my tickets off festivalboxoffice.com; only slight service charges! I strongly recommend to everyone in the Vancouver area that they go. He said he would be performing the LOTR show again at the Vancouver Fringe Festival (which I think might be in early June), so if anyone misses him this time around he'll be back soon.

5-06-04 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 5:52 pm EST

The Hobbit Chapter 8 - Flies and spiders

The Company march single file into the gloom of Mirkwood. They find that a myriad of animals make sleeping hard and their provisions diminish so that they eventually make the move off the road in search of food. Bombur falls into poisoned water and goes into an unnatural stupor, and a mystical mirage appears causing the companions to get separated from eachother. Lost in the dark Bilbo is attacked by a giant spider.

What kind of place is Mirkwood? Who causes the mirage to appear and why? And what happens to Thorin? Moreover Bilbo finds both his sword and his newfound Ring more than useful. Is he developing into a true hero now, leaving the anti-here more and more behind the further east they get?

upcoming topics:

weekend 150504-160504: Mythological Creatures in Tolkien.
weekend 220504-230504: The Hobbit - Chapter 9
weekend 290504-300504: The Hobbit - Chapter 10

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 9:30am Sunday (09:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 5:00am (05:00) Monday morning AET]

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

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at

Special 'Gettin' Square' Screening Report
Xoanon @ 12:42 pm EST

Our good friend Rebecca writes: I was a guest last night for the screening of a new Australian film called 'Gettin' Square' with David Wenham at the Harmony Gold Theatre. The criminal underworld story is set in the Gold Coast of Australia and it is in the same style of 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' and 'Snatch'. David plays heroin junkie Johnny 'Spit' Spitieri, a hopeless criminal set on setting his life straight along with his friend Barry Wirsh, played by Sam Worthington. Johnny, with his greasy mullet hairdo, has a penchant for tight blue nylon shorts and flip flops. The courtroom scene where he is cross examined by the prosecutor is hilarious!

The Q & A afterwards included David, the director Jonathan Teplitzky, and the writer, Chris Nyst who himself is a criminal barrister. Most of the questions were directed towards the director and writer, but David was asked a few questions:

On accepting the role of Johnny he said " I picked the role of Johhny because I saw the potential to create something memorable'. On the courtroom scene, which they did not rehearse beforehand, he responded 'We did absolultely no rehearsal on this scene, we just let the surprise occur on the day". He went on to say he was taking a much needed holiday back in Australia as he just finished three Australian projects back to back.

The movie was filmed before he got on board with LOTR and Van Helsing and no questions were asked about either of these films. Afterwards I got to chat with him a little more about 'The Boys' - my favorite of his roles, and being in producer mode, I headed straight to the director and producers to talk about filming. Sorry no cameras were allowed in the theatre although a few people took pictures in the lobby with David on their picture phones;) The organizers (Aus Trade Commission) did get a group shot for their website, so as soon as it is updated I can send you a link.

I am not sure if this film will be getting a wide release distribution deal, so I guess just keep your eyes open in case it ends up at arthouse theatre.

Another Supanova Expo Report
Xoanon @ 12:27 pm EST

Merry in Oz and Thaliswen write: We went to the Supanova Expo on Sunday and had a great time!

We were lurking around the WETA booth when Richard Taylor arrived with his suitcases. He had a Rohan helmet, Gordorian breastplate, Pippin's feet, a Hobbit stage double ears, an orc face and leg prosthetics--very cool! He gave us a WETA publicity pack and Eye of Sauron pin (I think just to give him time to unpack!!) and was incredibly friendly and chatty. Poor guy--I don't think he stopped talking or signing autographs for over 2 hours! He was unassuming and relaxed and made a point of taking 'funny' photos with anyone who asked!

We also had a chat to partner Tanya and son Sam as they went off to explore Sydney. She mentioned how overwhelming and glamourous it was at the Academy Awards.

John Noble was great--very responsive to the crowd and thoughtful in his answers. He praised David Wenham and seemed very excited about the extended ROTK DVD which he has seen. It was lovely how he credited Billy Boyd's song with being the most moving part of the filming.

Richard Taylor gave away more of his WETA goodies at the Q & A time. I always wondered how they kept on keeping on during the long shoot, but seeing him--he seemed tireless.

Stephen Ure was bubbly and keen to share his LOTR stories. Poor guy had the 4pm time slot, but was still enthusiatic. He gave his "What about their legs? They don't need them' line which was great. He also admitted to NOT having watched the extended DVD of TTT, but said he would! We will have to ask him if he kept his promise when we see him in Canberra!

We are getting addicted to these conventions!!

5-05-04 Latest News

Charity Reading at Borders Cambridge
Xoanon @ 1:34 pm EST

Anna Slack writing On Behalf of the Cambridge Tolkien Society sends this in: Just a quick email on behalf of the Events Committee of the Cambridge Tolkien Society (UK), to alert you to a project we'll be running soon, for which we'd love to garner some support from fans worldwide, if that's okay!

On Saturday 19th June, 2004, members of the Cambridge Tolkien Society will be performing a continuous 13-hour read-through of the BBC's excellent radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, in Borders Cambridge, with the kind permission of Brian Sibley, Michael Bakewell, and the Tolkien Estate.

This is a charity event, and every penny that we raise will be going to the National Trust, to help in projects such as the Snowdonia and Coastline appeals. We'll be joined on the day by Brian Sibley, and possibly Michael Bakewell!

We've just posted a website up with more information on it (www.holbytlas.net), and it would be great if you could put us up as an announcement on the news part of TOR.n.

Many thanks!

Anna Slack
Keeper of the Book of Westmarch
On Behalf of the Cambridge Tolkien Society

LOTR TV Series?
Xoanon @ 1:27 pm EST

Take this report from SFcrowsnest.com with a 20 pound bag of salt: We've been tipped off that the legal and ownership issues which surround the Lord of the Rings have come under an intense round of negotiation as a significant unnamed party - said not to be Peter Jackson in this instance - work towards a new multi-million dollar per episode television series set in Tolkien's Middle Earth. The working name of the project is TOME - Tales of Middle Earth - and the proposed timeline is the years following the events in The Hobbit, but prior to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. One of the main points that need resolution is whether Peter Jackson should get first dibs on a movie adaption of The Hobbit, or whether the TOME project should be allowed to develop the children's book as a movie prior to the launch of any television series set in Middle Earth.

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