Go back to Special Reports Archives

July 21, 2005 - August 02, 2005

8-02-05 Latest News

Alan Lee at Worldcon
Xoanon @ 7:05 pm EST

David Stewart from Interaction writes: Just a note to remind you that Alan Lee will be a special guest at Interaction the World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow. The Convention runs from August 4 to 8 and Mr Lee will be present from the Friday to the Sunday of that weekend. To coincide with his appearance, Harper Collins have very kindly made available copies of his new book A Lord of the Rings Sketchbook in advance of its official publication date and Mr Lee will be signing copies on Friday August 5. [More]

Mr Lee's schedule in full (subject to change at the last minute)

Friday 4:00pm Harper Collins Pre-launch of Alan Lee's The Lord of the
Rings Sketchbook
Saturday 11:00am Future Art Media
Saturday 1:00pm Alan Lee Interview
Saturday 3:30pm What It Means to be a Concept Artist for a Movie (1.5
Sunday 1:00pm Collaborating Magic
Sunday 3:30pm Alan Lee Slideshow (1.5 hrs)

8-01-05 Latest News

Alan Lee UK Book Tour News!
Xoanon @ 1:30 pm EST

Sarah writes: To support the release of Alan Lee’s brand new project, The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook, Alan will be signing copies at these exclusive pre-publication events in August event though the book is not officially go on sale nationwide until 5th September. Firstly visitors to Worlcon in Glasgow this year will be able to meet Alan from 4-6pm on Friday 5th August at Hall 5 in the Scottish Exhibition Centre. This will be the first ever opportunity to get a copy of the book which will be on sale from 2.30 outside the hall on Friday.

Alan will also be at Tolkien 2005 at Aston University from 11-12.30 on Saturday 13th August and finally he will attend the Fellowship Festival after last year’s successful event at Wembley, the event is over 3 days (27th – 29th August) and Alan will be there for two of those days (27th and 28th).

Buy the Book

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook (Hardcover)

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook (Hardcover)

7-29-05 Latest News

ROTK DVD Wins Four VSDA Awards
Xoanon @ 2:22 pm EST

LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 28, 2005--"Spider-Man 2" last night received VSDA's 2005 DVD Technical Award for "Best Overall Presentation - Theatrical Release" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Special Extended DVD Version)" received four awards for its DVD technology: Best Audio Presentation; Best Commentary; Best Menu Features; and Best Supplementary Materials.

VSDA's 2005 DVD Technical Awards honor DVD titles that have demonstrated the most innovative and entertaining features through the use of the latest DVD technology. The awards were presented by the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) at VSDA's Home Entertainment 2005, currently taking place at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. VSDA's Home Entertainment 2005 is the annual convention of VSDA.

"The original material and technological innovations on DVDs have produced the most-creative material coming out of Hollywood today," said Bo Andersen, President of VSDA. "We take great pride that these features are unique to home video and are thrilled to recognize and celebrate some of the best use of DVD technology."

More than 150 DVD titles were submitted for award consideration. The winners were selected by a blue-ribbon panel of DVD reviewers.

Best Audio Presentation: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Special Extended DVD Edition)" (New Line Home Entertainment)
Best Commentary: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Special Extended DVD Edition)" (New Line Home Entertainment)
Best Menu Features: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Special Extended DVD Edition)" (New Line Home Entertainment)
Best Supplementary Material: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Special Extended DVD Edition)" (New Line Home Entertainment)

VSDA's Home Entertainment 2005 is organized through Home Entertainment Events, in which the Video Software Dealers Association is a partner. For more information about Home Entertainment Events and its shows, please send an e-mail to info@heeteam.com.

Established in 1981, the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) is the not-for-profit international trade association for the $24 billion home entertainment industry. VSDA represents more than 1,000 companies throughout the United States, Canada, and other nations. Its members operate more than 11,500 retail outlets in the U.S. that sell and/or rent DVDs, VHS cassettes, and console video games. Membership comprises the full spectrum of video retailers (from single-store operators to large chains), video distributors, the home video divisions of major and independent motion picture studios, and other related businesses that constitute and support the home video entertainment industry.

Alan Lee Book Tour!
Xoanon @ 2:08 pm EST

Houghton Mifflin will be sending Alan Lee, acclaimed LOTR illustrator and Academy Award-winning conceptual designer for the film trilogy, on a U.S. tour this October to discuss his brand-new book, THE LORD OF THE RINGS SKETCHBOOK. The book presents more than 150 of Lee's celebrated illustrations to show how his imagery for both the illustrated Lord of the Rings and the films progressed from concept to finished art. In addition, the book contains 20 full-color plates and numerous examples of the conceptual art produced for Peter Jackson's film adaptation. Lee's events will feature a slide show, a Q&A with fans, and a booksigning.

Tour Schedule:

October 22 @ 12:00 noon
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street (b/t 5th & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10011

October 24 @ 7:00 p.m.
Friends Select School
1651 Benjamin Franklin Parkway (17th & Parkway)
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-563-4184 (phone # for Joseph Fox Bookshop, which is sponsoring the

October 25 @ 7:00 p.m.
Chapter 11
Peachtree Battle Shopping Center
2345-A Peachtree Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30305

October 26 @ 7:00 p.m.
603 N. Lamar (6th & Lamar)
Austin, TX 78703

October 27 @ 7:30 p.m.
Tattered Cover
1628 16th Street
Denver, CO 80202

October 28 @ 7:00 p.m.
Borders Books
132 E. Winchester
Murray, UT 84107

October 29 @ 7:00 p.m.
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925

October 31 @ 7:00 p.m.
University Bookstore
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

7-25-05 Latest News

Red Carpet LOTR Locations Tour: Day Twelve
Xoanon @ 10:40 pm EST

Red Carpet LOTR Locations Tour: Day Twelve
Click for more images

Click here for Day 11
Click here for Day 10
Click here for Day 9
Click here for Day 8
Click here for Day 7
Click here for Day 6
Click here for Day 5
Click here for Day 4
Click here for Day 3
Click here for Day 2
Click here for Day 1

Day 12
Start: Wellington
Finish: San Francisco

Film Sites Visited: Rivendell, Anduin, Rohan

Other: Final thoughts and suggestions


Rivendell is my very favorite location in both books and film, so I couldn’t leave Middle Earth without seeing it. It is on the Red Carpet Tour agenda, but the day we went to Stansborough, Fernside, Martinborough, Harcourt Park, and Winstone Aggregates’ Dry Creek Quarry, I think we were running behind schedule and had to get to the airport for our flight to Christchurch. Not a problem, I went there on my own after returning to Wellington from Queenstown.

The Rivendell sets were located in Kaitoke Regional Park north of Upper Hutt, about an hour north of Wellington by car. There are also a number of day tours from Wellington that go there – check tourism.net.nz for a list. (if this link does not go direcly to it, you may have to navigate through from tourism.net/nz/wellington or type in by hand). I met a group from Flat Earth Tours while I was there, and the guide very kindly shared his set map and explained exactly where the sets and support tents had been.

There are signs to get to the location, and a large sign explaining where everything was. A set map is very handy though, or use Ian Brodie’s GPS coordinates in the location guide.

Standing in front of the informational sign, directly to the left you see the tree where the Orlando Bloom publicity stills were taken, of Legolas holding his bow and notching an arrow. Right behind you as you face the information sign was the porch for the Council of Elrond. On your way out at the end of the circular path, in the open area, on your left were the dressing rooms, and on the right, Frodo’s bedroom.

It is well worth taking the time to go to Rivendell and to linger there. Even though the sets are gone, the park itself, a beautiful temperate rainforest, is Rivendell come to life. I was there in the early morning, and as the sun rose and the forest warmed, the light patterns changed and I could see steam rising as dew evaporated. It’s quiet yet alive, and it feels safe and protected by Elrond’s power. The leaves rustle in the wind and you can hear the river. It’s easy to imagine there are elves nearby.

Heading back to Wellington from Kaitoke I stopped to see two Hutt River locations near Upper Hutt, the shore where Aragorn landed after going off the cliff and was revived by Brego, and yet another spot where elven boats sailed the Anduin (in the gallery but not easy to recognize).

Final thoughts

As Sir Ian McKellen said, “Middle Earth is a real place, and it’s New Zealand.” It’s not only possible to go there, it’s possible for YOU to go there, whatever your age or wherever you live.

There are lots of options: you can do a Lord of the Rings organized tour as I did, go totally on your own, or go partly on your own and partly with local day tours. Each has tradeoffs.

Looking back, for me one key reason for going with a specialty tour like Red Carpet was their passion for and knowledge of the trilogy, the fact that they had actually worked with the Alexander family in Matamata and encouraged them not to proceed with the removal of the rest of the Hobbiton set. So in a way, they actually helped save the Shire. Others were the opportunity to meet and talk with people actually involved with the production and whose lives and work had been changed by it, and the sense of fellowship that seems to be created, almost by magic, on each tour.

“You will come as strangers to a distant land and part as a fellowship of companions who have shared a unique experience, exploring the length and breadth of the country that became Middle Earth.” So predicts the Red Carpet website (redcarpet-tours.com), yet that was my experience and that of many people I’ve heard from. The number of people repeating the tour a second, or even a third, time, and the “reunion” tours speak powerfully to that. You can’t decide to sleep late one morning or wait ‘til the light is just perfect for your shot, but that’s part of the trade-offs.

You need never feel strange about being a Ringer in New Zealand. New Zealanders are proud of their country’s accomplishment and recognize the trilogy’s influence on decisions to visit. Bruce Lahood, Vice President for USA & Canada at Tourism New Zealand, notes, “The Lord of the Rings and other successful recent films have helped position New Zealand on the world stage as a unique destination inspired by our diverse landscape, unique culture and the creativity of our people.”

Figures from the Ministry of Tourism for the two years ending in March 2005 suggest that over 21,000 visitors were directly motivated (only or main reason) by The Lord of the Rings, and they spent over $100 million dollars on their visits, or more than $26 for each of New Zealand’s 3.8 million residents.

Not surprisingly, more than 75% of those influenced by the trilogy were inspired by the landscape of Middle Earth. Richard Taylor, who largely responsible for the inhabited Middle Earth we see on screen, has described it: “There is still an innocence within the landscape, an untouched blessed feel…this environment that feels as though mankind has not yet visited it.”

Each person has different experiences and brings back different memories. My fellowship mate Robin summed it up well: “Do you remember the scenes on the Anduin, each member of the fellowship drifting in his own sea of thought and impression? The days on the bus were like that, for me. We traveled together, but we were each insulated by our own experiences, every sense wide open, gathering in, holding onto the moments, stringing them together like pearls.”

Indeed, as in the trilogy itself, the journey is about fellowship and about memory. I’ll always have the map of our journey and my location guide, signed by Ian Brodie and decorated by Daniel Reeve, my bits of charcoal from Poolburn, my photos and stories, my memories of our weather goddess Suzanne, who blew away the fog at Edoras and brought us blue skies at Hobbiton, and our “Sam,” Robin, ready with her elven rope, her pencils, her bits of chocolate, her right answers for the trivia contests, and many others.

Fellowship mate Christie will always remember Edoras: “The whole trip was magical, but especially so on that day we climbed the mountain in the mists. Part of the magic was the mists themselves, clinging to the hillsides and mountains as we journeyed from Christchurch out into the Southern Alps. Then hiking the high country sheep pastures and fording the cold wild mountain streams in order to reach Mt. Sunday….”

And for Carmen it will be about facing challenges: “if I had to choose, I would say that visiting Mt. Ruapehu on the second day is a memory I will always cherish. It was a site that I had to work for more than most given my fear of heights. Every step of the way, I was encouraged and literally given a helping-hand. Seeing what looked like an insurmountable stretch of snow and rocks, I convinced myself that I couldn’t make it. But kind words from another tour member, and yet another helping hand, made me give it a try. I am forever grateful for the kindness of our tour group. It wasn’t the only time during the two weeks that I was propelled along by their generosity and encouragement, but it was the first time I realized what a blessing it was for me to have been on this particular tour.”

What will your memory be?


Where to go for more information? A search for “Lord of the Rings” and “New Zealand” yields 307,000 hits on Google. Here are some I found interesting that give information and photos of sites, and provide a good introduction to the country:


An older site, but featuring an interactive tour narrated by Karl Urban

This site has interactive version of Daniel Reeve’s map of New Zealand as Middle Earth

Others you might want to visit are:





Thanks to TORn for running this story, to the many readers who’ve written, to all the special guests who gave of their time, to our knowledgeable and courteous Oceania bus drivers, and especially to all my fellowship mates and the Red Carpet folk.


Questions or feedback? Email me!

7-24-05 Latest News

Red Carpet LOTR Locations Tour: Day Eleven
Xoanon @ 9:51 pm EST

Red Carpet LOTR Locations Tour: Day Eleven

Click here for Day 10
Click here for Day 9
Click here for Day 8
Click here for Day 7
Click here for Day 6
Click here for Day 5
Click here for Day 4
Click here for Day 3
Click here for Day 2
Click here for Day 1

Start: Queenstown
Finish: Queenstown

Sites: Queenstown overview, the Argonath, Gladden Fields, Rohan, journey to Minas Tirith, exit from Paths of the Dead, Corsair Ships

Today was a free day in Queenstown. This allowed us to try a variety of local excursions on our own. Queenstown is a totally unique place. It has a population of about 11,000, a small town really, but it is the adventure capital of New Zealand. The streets are filled day and night with young people, and it seems like every shop in downtown is a place to book an adventure trip of some kind or to buy outdoor clothing or gear, if it’s not a restaurant or café. A new Starbucks was under construction.

Good thing we were focused on visiting Lord of the Rings locations, otherwise how would one choose among bungy jumping, hang-gliding, skiing, snow boarding, jet boating, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, trekking, sky diving, hot air ballooning, mountain biking, fishing, and river surfing? And that’s just what’s available in winter. There are also less strenuous pursuits such as visiting the area’s wineries, cheese and dairy operations, or sampling its more than 100 restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs. You can get a good overview of all that Queenstown has to offer at queenstown-nz.co.nz or zqn.co.nz or everythingqueenstown.com

Nomad Safaris Excursion

My morning excursion was with Nomad Safaris, on their Safari of the Rings tour. Nomad Safaris, with 14 vehicles, has the largest fleet of Land Rovers in the Southern Hemisphere and has won numerous New Zealand tourism awards. Each vehicle had a personalized license plate – mine was BILBOS, and driving around we also saw ELROND and ORCS. They have been doing Lord of the Rings safaris for four years, but have been in business for eight years prior to that. David Gatward-Ferguson, the head of Nomad Safaris, has met Peter Jackson.

We covered a lot of ground and a number of sites in our Land Rover. We re-visited Amon Hen and Ithilien outside Queenstown and the Ford of Bruinen in Arrowtown. Nomad Safaris can now drive right up Geary Lane into the Amon Hen site. In Arrowtown, they drive up the Arrow River to the site where the Ringwraiths stopped at the shores of the Ford of Bruinen.

Our guide Fran used to live in Masterton, where Peter Jackson’s new house is located. She has worked as a bus and ambulance driver and a farmer in addition top being a tour guide and safari driver. She’s nearly died three times, in a car accident, by drowning, and by electrocution. Nothing fazes her.

Fran told us an interesting story about the Ford of Bruinen site, where Arwen’s confrontation with the Ringwraiths took place. According to Fran, a section in the river is known as Arwen’s Island. Frodo’s scale double did not want to do this scene, so the 10 year old daughter of a local resident played Frodo. It’s the following scene, where Arwen conjures the flood which swept away the Ringwraiths, that was filmed at Skipper’s Canyon, on the Shotover River outside Arrowtown. We stopped for morning tea on the riverbank, where Fran unpacked a picnic basket of tea, coffee, chocolate, and a selection of cookies.

In Arrowtown, we also visited the Gladden Fields location where Isildur was attacked by orcs and went into the river. The overhanging trees on the path that curve to the left are the best reminder of the attack scene.

We continued to the access road to Coronet Peak Ski Fields lookout, driving up for a view of the Remarkables, which were used for the Misty Mountains, Mordor, and the digital background for Minas Tirith.

One of the safari highpoints was the site of the Pillars of the Argonath. This was filmed near Chard Farm on the road toward Wanaka. Look down from Chard Farm Road, and in the middle distance, where the river widens out slightly, you will see where the elven boats went through the Argonath and where the digital pillars were placed.

From our vantage point we could see across to A.J. Hackett’s original bungy site, the first commercial bungy jump in the world, opened in 1988, on the Karawarau River. We saw someone jump but couldn’t hear them from where we stood. (Orlando Bloom and other cast and crew members jumped from Nevis Highwire, another A.J. Hackett site, which is 440 feet high.)

We returned through Frankton, near the airport, and with stops for views of Queenstown, the Remarkables, and Lake Wakatipu from Goldfield Heights. This is just one of the Safaris of the Rings – there is another half day tour that covers Glenorchy and Paradise, or you can do both in a full day.

The Nomad shop in Queenstown is well worth a visit for its wide range of Lord of the Rings collectibles, including statues, books, jewelry, stamps and coins, and numerous other items. The arrows in the display case were collected at the Ithilien site at 12 Mile Delta, after the battle between Faramir’s rangers and the Haradrim. Learn more about Nomad Safaris at nomadsafaris.co.nz.

Deer Park Heights Excursion

Following a quick lunch break, I set out on my second excursion, to Deer Park Heights.

Deer Park Scenic Tours is currently the only operator able to take buses to DPH, although the park is open to the public. To reach Deer Park Heights, head out of Queenstown toward Frankton to the access road toward Kelvin Heights, crossing the Karawarau River. The tour also stops at Goldfield Heights for photos on the way. Yes, this retraces the way Nomad Safaris returned us to Queenstown.

Deer Park Heights is a nearly 2000 acre working farm which raises red deer. There are many animals in addition to the deer in the park, and we encountered them as we drove through. They include yaks, bison, Romney sheep, goats, small fallow deer and Himalayan thar. Most are quite acclimated to visitors and usually approach the van for food, especially when the food tin is rattled. Deer Park Heights was a film set as long ago as 1986, when the Walt Disney film “The Rescue” was filmed there. The prison set from this film remains at the top of the hill near the East Lookout.

Deer Park Heights is a Lord of the Rings location hunters’ paradise. Ian Brodie calls it “one giant movie set.” A significant number of scenes were filmed here, representing Rohan, travel to Minas Tirith, the exit from the Paths of the Dead, and the view of the Corsair ships, among others, in a relatively small area. The locations are well marked with signposts, and each visitor received an identifying map at the entrance. More info at thedeerpark.co.nz.

At our first stop, at the East Summit Lookout facing the Remarkables, we saw where several publicity shots of Gandalf were taken.

One easily recognizable scene filmed here is that of the Rohan refugees walking past the lake. This is the larger of two tarns (mountain lakes excavated by glaciers) on Deer Park Heights. Also filmed near this tarn were some scenes of Gandalf riding to Minas Tirith in “Fellowship” and again with Pippin in “The Return of the King.” Nearby is the mountain wall where Aragorn exited the Paths of the Dead.

If you’ve seen the Rohan rider publicity photo from The Two Towers, that scene was filmed here as well, identifiable from the small thorny bush in the lower right of the photo. It was near here that Eowyn, Aragorn, and Gimli discussed Dwarvish women, and Gimli’s horse bolted. Gimli fell to the ground at the second, smaller tarn.

The rock where Aragorn sat when Eowyn brought him the bad tasting stew is nearby, somewhat harder to recognize (see gallery). Other Rohan scenes filmed here were the Warg attack and where Legolas vaulted up on his horse The hill from which the wargs attacked slopes to the right, but was reversed in the film. The orcs themselves were filmed against a blue screen in Queenstown, riding barrels. The spot where Aragorn was dragged off the cliff is here as well (though where he landed is up on North Island, near Upper Hutt.)

From the West Summit Lookout we saw the most spectacular and obvious location: Where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli see the corsair ships sailing up the Anduin. This shot was taken looking back towards Queenstown over Lake Wakatipu.

Our guide told us that Peter Jackson owns other land in the Queenstown area, near Arthur’s Point and Gorge Road. Look for a small white house on the left, heading north from Queenstown, with a sheep paddock on the other side of the road. He owns land on both sides of the road. Apparently there is an arrangement whereby the two people presently living there can remain for the rest of their lives.

There are many, many excellent Queenstown area excursions that visit the film locations or combine a locations visit with other activities, covering Queenstown, Arrowtown, Skippers Canyon, Glenorchy, and Paradise. You can visit the sites on horseback, by jet boat, in a canoe, on a mountain bike, by 4-wheel drive, or in a helicopter. The Everything Queenstown website at everythingqueenstown.com has a full page of Lord of the Rings excursions and I am sure there are many more.

Farewell Dinner

Our Red Carpet group tour came to an end with a farewell dinner at the Skyline restaurant atop Bob’s Peak in Queenstown, which we reached by cable car gondola. From the observation deck we viewed Jupiter near occultation with the moon. Learn more about the Skyline complex at: skyline.co.nz/index.cfm.

Questions or feedback? Email me!

Tomorrow: Back to Wellington for Rivendell and Final Thoughts

7-23-05 Latest News

Pittsburgh LOTR Symphony Report
Xoanon @ 12:23 pm EST

Pittsburgh LOTR Symphony Report
Click for more images

FredO writes: I’ve attached some photos from the post-concert reception at Heinz Hall from last night’s Lord Of The Rings concert. I am the person standing next to Billy as someone to his left is holding a tee-shirt I gave him. My wife, Sue is the woman in the next picture with Billy. The first photo is of Tom who is holding a copy of “Regional Cookbook For Middle Earth.” Standing next to Tom is the author of the cookbook, Stephanie Simmons. Stephanie worked very hard with the Pittsburgh Symphony to provide a pre-concert benefit dinner. The other photo is of a local Ringer named Bonnie in her Gladriel outfit. She is accompanied by Joe and Jen.

The concert was amazing last night. The orchestra was terrific and the atmosphere in the hall was electric. Billy performed “The Edge Of Night” with warmth and depth and amazing pacing and dynamics. For such a short work that song carries a lot of emotion. Billy’s voice was clear and strong and his performance was incredible. John Mauceri’s conducting was demonstrative as he lead the PSO through Howard Shore’s fantastic score. The whole night was like a big roller coaster ride. The audience insisted on 3 curtain calls and cheered, whistled and yelled.

Billy proved to be a most gracious celebrity at the post-concert reception. He signed programs, magazines, shirts and whatever else anyone brought to him. He received several beautiful gifts including a beautiful painting and a wonderful framed copy of the lyrics to “The Edge Of Night” done in calligraphy. There were people from as far away as Britain at the concert. It was so nice to meet Billy and get the chance to thank him for coming and making the concert so special. I had a tremendous time and blessed to be able to go back tonight and do it all again!

Tolkien Lecture in Houston
Xoanon @ 12:13 pm EST

Houston, TX -- July 23, 2005 -- Tolkien expert Michael Martinez will give a special presentation at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Tuesday, July 26 as part of their Distinguished Lecturer series. "Being Middle-earth: How Fantasy Shapes the Living World" looks at the experience of creating a modern motion picture in a world where millions of fans watch and sometimes participate in the process. The lecture is sponsored by KUHF, 88.7 FM (http://www.kuhf.org/), Houston Public Radio.

The successful production of the three "Lord of the Rings" movies spawned two miniature economies focusing on Peter Jackson's Middle-earth. The large, widespread audience for the movies has responded by creating tributes, organizations, and a vast sub-culture dedicated to sharing and nurturing the experience of being Middle-earth. Film-making has evolved into a communal experience whereby studios now develop projects under the watchful eyes of, and sometimes in conjunction with core audience groups with special knowledge and expertise in project-related topics. One insider's perspective examines how the Lord of the Rings experience introduces a new, global medium of artistic expression.

"Unlike the immensely popular Star Wars movies," Martinez says, "The Lord of the Rings was able to draw upon a well-established fan base which had a long-standing artistic tradition of interpretation of Tolkien's book. The Lord of the Rings movies were really made by fans for fans, since Peter himself is a huge Tolkien fan."

KUHF News Anchor Rod Rice is host for event. The presentation will begin with a special 10-minute video called "From Tolkien to Middle-earth". Martinez will share insights from his own experience as an organizer of fan events and Web sites, as well as a contributor to the background research for the movies, and from the experience of thousands of other fans who have shared their thoughts and feelings on the Web and through surveys and articles.

Michael Martinez (http://www.michael-martinez.com/) is the author of Visualizing Middle-earth, Parma Endorion: Essays on Middle-earth, and Understanding Middle-earth: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. He was the contributing editor for Suite101's popule Tolkien and Middle-earth topic from 1999 to 2003 and he is a featured contributor on MERP.COM. Martinez also organized the Dragon*Con Tolkien and Middle-earth fan programming track. The Houston Museum of Natural Science (http://www.hmns.org/) is located at One Hermann Circle Drive in Houston, TX. Tickets may be purchased online at the museum's Web site.

Red Carpet LOTR Locations Tour: Day Ten
Xoanon @ 11:34 am EST

Red Carpet LOTR Locations Tour: Day Ten
Click for more images

Click here for Day 9
Click here for Day 8
Click here for Day 7
Click here for Day 6
Click here for Day 5
Click here for Day 4
Click here for Day 3
Click here for Day 2
Click here for Day 1

Start: Te Anau
Finish: Queenstown
Mileage: 232 KM / 144 miles
Film Sites Visited: Ithilien, Amon Hen, the Ford of Brunien

This morning we drove from Te Anau back to Arrowtown, an old gold mining town well worth a visit. We visited a site on the river, where the Ringwraiths on horseback gathering at the Ford of Brunien (the Arrow River) were filmed You can recognize it from the shoreline and the river’s pathway. Our visit was in the morning, after an overnight frost. All the trees were covered with ice, making the setting look like a vision from the witch’s kingdom in The Chronicles of Narnia (see gallery).

In Arrowtown, we had lunch at Saffron, a lovely restaurant visited by Elijah Wood. (http://www.saffronrestaurant.co.nz/) By lunchtime it was warm enough to east outside. Near the restaurant is a small theater, Dorothy Brown’s Cinema, featuring a wine and cheese bar, a fireplace, a bookstore, and a wonderful collectibles shop inside, well stocked with Lord of the Rings merchandise. Read a feature on this wonderful little cinema from Air New Zealand’s Panorama magazine at: http://www.dorothybrowns.com/dorothywho.php. An amazing place in a town with less than 2000 people. Sam Neill, one of the pioneers of the New Zealand film industry as actor, director, and screenwriter, lives outside Arrowtown.

Arrowtown is definitely a place to linger (which sadly, we couldn’t do). The town developed almost overnight in the 1862 gold rush. A few years later, many Chinese people also came to mine gold. Today, the old main street has been restored, with lovely old buildings (post office, jail, miners’ cottages, Chinese settlement), a museum, cafes, and very much an old mining town feel. Read more at: atoz-nz.com or arrowtown.org.nz/.

After lunch we drove to Queenstown, about 25 minutes away, to visit the locations of Amon Hen and Ithilien. Amon Hen, the Site of Seeing, where Frodo and Aragorn spoke and where Aragorn battled the orcs at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, is in the neighborhood of Closeburn, just outside Queenstown.

We walked up Geary Lane from the Queenstown Road to reach the site. Amon Hen was one of the first big battle scenes filmed, late in 1999. It was very hot then, being summer in New Zealand, and the orcs and uruk-hai in their heavy costumes were weary after so many battle takes. You can easily identify the rock formation where the Amon Hen set stood, the mountains behind it, and the larch tree to the left of the set. Look also for the trees on the hill behind where the orcs entered, from the right, to engage Aragorn in combat after he waves Frodo to run away.

Interestingly, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh now own the land where the Amon Hen battle was filmed. It seems appropriate in some way that the Site of Seeing should be owned by the people who have created these astounding films, and enabled Tolkien fans around the world to “see” the world of the books.

From Amon Hen, we proceeded a little further out of Queenstown to the Twelve Mile Delta area, where a number of scenes representing Ithilien were filmed. Most easily recognized is the small plain where Faramir and his rangers battled the Haradrim. Many extras played Ithilien rangers one day and Haradrim the next! Many prop arrows made by Weta Workshop were collected from these fields – you can see some in the Nomad Safaris shop in Queenstown! Also in this area are the ledge where Sam, Frodo, and Gollum looked down on the oliphants, and where Sam and Gollum argued about recipes for coneys.

We passed the Coronet Peak Lodge: The Cirith Ungol scene where Frodo says, “Go home, Sam.” was filmed on its squash courts. The scene was actually completed with Sean Astin filmed a year later, but the hotel allowed the set to remain on the squash court. We also drove by the elegant Blanket Bay Lodge where Sir Ian McKellen stayed. No, we didn’t stay there, as rooms start at $NZ 1290.00, plus tax, but you can live vicariously at www.blanketbay.com.

On a stroll through the small downtown, we passed Wine Deli.com, where Viggo Mortensen bought wine for himself and chocolate for the hobbits.Cast and crew spent a lot of time in Queenstown, as filming spread over 14 months. The town was badly flooded in November 1999, just after filming began. Apparently, you could row a boat through downtown. Cast and crew helped out with both time and money during this difficult time.

Tomorrow: Queenstown excursions with Nomad Safaris and a visit to Deer Park Heights

7-21-05 Latest News

LOTR Trilogy Screening in San Francisco
Xoanon @ 11:20 am EST

wyvernwell writes: The complete Lord of the Rings trilogy will be shown at a charity screening taking place in San Francisco on August 18 from 11AM to midnight.

The screening will be held at the Presidio Theater, 2340 Chestnut Street in San Francisco, in the beautiful Marina District of the city.

This is a benefit for the Cure Autism Now Foundation. All proceeds will go directly to this foundation to help autistic kids and their parents by providing grants for research and support programs.

Between screenings of the features, there will be activities including raffles, door prizes, a costume contest, and intermission programming. It's rumored that John Rhys-Davies and potentially other celebs will be sending in their taped "hellos" for the event. Longtime Ringer Leah Jakusovszky's short award-winning fanfilm titled “Fellowship of the Bags” will be shown. Trailers for the long-awaited "Fellowship of the Beans" will also be screened! Prizes for the raffle and costume contest have been donated by WETA workshop and private collectors. We've just heard that Alan Lee (yes, THE Alan Lee) will be finishing up an exclusive T-shirt for this event soon.

Thursday, August 18 is a work day -- but the trilogy and all the events will last until midnight, with plenty happening after 6 p.m. You are welcome to join us at any time during the event. This is going to be a day of fun for every SF Bay Area LOTR fan. Dust off those costumes and beat the heat in cool, foggy San Francisco - for a worthy cause.

To purchase tickets, and for more details on the event, visit sftrilogy.org

Go back to Special Reports Archives