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January 16, 2003 - February 19, 2003


World News: Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Japan
Tehanu @ 3:45 pm EST
This was sent in by Siobhán a week or so back, and I loved the description of skulduggery in the world of Tolkien publishing:

"Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports today that a new translation of LOTR is on the way. The old one is heavily criticized. Personally my view on the old translation has been mellowed after reading how the translator, being declared persona non grata by the Tolkiens for his translation, broke into their house to get a sneak preview of the Silmarillion. Discovered by Christopher Tolkien, he was apparently kicked out.

"The new translation will be done by the the translator Erik Andersson (previous work: Zadie Smith, James Ellroy, Nick Hornby and Jeff Noon) and the poet Lotta Olsson Andersson (she´ll take care of songs and stuff). First part planned for autumn 2004."

Cecilia writes from Australia: "Sydney radio station 2dayfm has a segment called Battle of the Sexes, in which guys answer girlie related questions and vice versa, scores are kept and there is a winner at the end of the year. The girls have won for the last 3 years, but this year, they are way behind. Because of this, at the beginning of the segment they always play the words spoken by Saruman "There is a new power arising!" relating to the boys and the girls reply is the words of Gandalf and Aragorn "The defences must hold", "They will hold". It always gives me thrill when they play it each morning and my kids rush in to hear it. Anyway, what girl wouldn't want Aragorn on their side?"

Kirk writes from Wellington: "The School of Mathematical and Computing Sciences (at Victoria University of Wellington) will be hosting a seminar "Tales from Two Towers" on Wednesday 12 March 2003 presented by Weta's Milton Ngan." [More

Bruce wrote: "The Two Towers had its premier here in Japan last Saturday, the 15th. I went with my wife, sister-in-law and two friends to the third showing that day. The first two and the one that I attended were all sold out. I don't know about the final showing, however. It did not start until 9:00 p.m., and with the movie being 3 hours long, there is the question of being able to catch a train home." Bruce sent in a link to the review in an English-language Japanese paper here.


Howard Shore and the London Philharmonic
Tehanu @ 8:42 pm EST
A group of mainly British TORNadoes met up today for the concert at the Royal Festival Hall featuring Howard Shore and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the UK premiere of the Fellowship of the Ring concert suite. It was a truly memorable afternoon.

Following pizza and laughs for lunch, we made our way to the Festival Hall and took our seats (dispersed around the auditorium) for the first part of the concert, ‘The Lost Music of the Gaels’. This was a selection of pieces for string quartet, piano, and traditional Celtic instruments such as concertina, bodhran drum, and uileann pipes. The music was accompanied by a silent video film showing images of wild mountains and moorlands – very atmospheric! We all enjoyed this part of the concert, although the many children around us took some time to settle down.

The second part was Stravinsky’s ‘A Soldier’s Tale’. Here a small chamber group performed Stravinsky’s music to an animated version of the text which goes with it. The piece tells the story of a soldier who makes a bargain with the Devil, to get rich in exchange for his violin. Of course everything goes horribly wrong. The animation was well done, and the idea interesting, but none of us were particularly entranced. Perhaps we just wanted to get to Tolkien.

Following the Stravinsky came the Tannoura Troupe, musicians and dancers originating from Egypt. This was simply astounding. The musicians entered first and launched into loud, entrancing Arabic music, and were followed by three dancers carrying drums. These men began to dance around whilst playing their drums. Thirdly the first of the two Whirling Dervishes appeared, and that was when things got really interesting. Wearing layered, brightly coloured skirts over bright undergarments, and carrying four bright discs, the Dervish spun round and round and round, and round and round, without seeming to get dizzy. His skirts made beautiful patterns and round about, the original three dancers weaved with their drums. And he kept going! Towards the end he detached the topmost skirt and used it almost as a spinning top, or maybe one of those hoops children play with; passed it deftly to one of the others and proceeded to do the same with his second skirt. It was amazing. After a brief interlude with the three dancers with drums, a second Dervish came on and performed another dance, with three skirts this time. The audience loved the whole show and gave the troupe a much deserved round of applause.

After the third and final interval, the hall filled up again and on the concert floor the orchestra set up – many percussion instruments, two harps, as well as the usual variety of symphonic instruments. The atmosphere built. The choruses came on – the London Voices and the boys from the London Oratory School. And finally the man himself, Howard Shore, given a rousing welcome. Then we were taken to Middle-earth.

Listening to the score on CD, or as the soundtrack to the film, does not really give a true impression of the layers and depth to the piece. Shore has rewritten bits of the film soundtrack and linked the separate parts together to create one seamless whole, and it works beautifully. In our minds we saw again Hobbiton, Rivendell, Moria, Lórien, and Amon Hen. Everyone found it interesting to see the odd percussion instruments used – one in particular, at the start of ‘A Journey in the Dark’, sent shivers down spines with its high-pitched squeak. The choirs add depth even in places you do not realise they are singing. There was true grief in the stunning voice of the female soloist who sang ‘Gandalf’s Lament’. Throughout, Shore managed to conduct his enormous orchestra and the three separate parts of the chorus with panache and passion. At the end, following the moving rendition of ‘In Dreams’, and the final swell of the Fellowship Theme, the audience rose to its feet. I was really proud to be a part of it, and to be there to see Shore and the musicians get the adulation and acclaim from their home crowd, and to clap as hard as I could.

The performance was without mishap – however some of us couldn’t help laughing a little at one point. They were showing some stills from the film as a backdrop to the orchestra, and the last one was one of Frodo holding out his hand to catch the Ring. With the relative silence at the beginning of ‘The Breaking of the Fellowship’, a little voice near us piped up, "That’s Frodo!" Lovely!

Afterwards some of our group went to get Howard Shore’s autograph, and came back later reporting that he signed something for every person, shook hands, and was generally a very nice man. We also had unconfirmed reports of a certain Christopher Lee hiding near the women’s chorus during the concert, but nobody saw him afterwards, so we cannot be sure!

It was a lovely afternoon, and a fantastic concert. We are all hoping there will be a repeat performance with the Two Towers music next year! Many thanks to my fellow TORNadoes for making it such fun, and of course to Howard Shore, the London Philharmonic, the London Voices, the London Oratory School, and the rest of the performers for entertaining us so well.

By Eledhwen.


Your Homework Done For You: Part ???
Tehanu @ 5:04 am EST
Miggie writes, "Today I found a LoTR Teacher's Guide at collinseducation.com, that, according to the site, is "full of great ideas for KS3 English with suggestions for reading, comprehension, discussion and essay questions, as well as vocabulary work. Also biographical information on J.R.R. Tolkien and extracts from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien on Middle Earth and its residents, providing lots of motivating material to work with in the classroom."

It's a 1.45MB download and a great resource for J.R.R. Tolkien's fans who also happen to be teachers. But also great for finding questions if you feel inclined to create a home-made LoTR Trivial Pursuit. ;) Go here and search on their 'Free Downloads' page.

Arwen As She Might Have Been.
Tehanu @ 4:43 am EST
We used to get a lot of these are the kind of spy reports that really get the rumour mill going. It's always fun to speculate on what might have been.....Bear in mind that these films are made with dozens of possibilities that are filmed, developed and discarded before the final cut. We KNOW Arwen started out at Helm's Deep....but didn't stay in the final theatrical cut. But...will she reappear in the DVD? I don't think so myself - it seems like an idea that the filmmakers toyed with and then decided, once they saw the rushes and did some of the first edits, that it really didn't work with the direction they wanted to take the characters. However, here's some evidence about some of the versions of Arwen's role that they played with in the beginning.

Ithil Draug wrote in: "One of my friend's cousins actually helped work on Lord of the Rings and when I saw the report on the possibility of Arwen at Helm's Deep, I told him about this and told him to ask his cousin. About a week later he told me that his cousin said Arwen was indeed at the Battle of Hornburg. Arwen was supposed to have run away with Asfaloth from the Elves going to the Havens and joined the Rohirrim riders with Gandalf. He further went on to report that New Line was going to have a scene with her riding down the hill and talk[ing] to Aragorn saying something about her "choice" or "I am with you." New Line [or Peter Jackson, perhaps - Tehanu] cut this scene out and decided to put her scene in the background in order to make it look like many riders charging down the hill.

She may be clearly visible or say the lines she says in the special edition DVD or she may have a large role to play in RotK(the battle and the mortality stuff) but don't quote me on this. My friend's cousin is a reliable source but my friend says he isn't positive about her appearing in the special edidtion or in battle scenes in RotK but at one time Arwen did have some lines and is at Helm's Deep so my friend says."

HOW good is Gollum's animation?
Tehanu @ 4:24 am EST
How good is Gollum's animation? REALLY good, according to Ringer spy Lisa, who wrote in:
"Now that my husband and I have seen the movie more than once, it occurred to me to pass on to other fans a somewhat different observation of Gollum.

As nearly everyone who has seen TTT can attest, the CGI work of Gollum is extraordinary. However, there is another aspect of that work, too. My husband has a 65% hearing loss in both ears, wears hearing aids, and does not use sign language. Instead, he reads lips. Cartoon characters and all CGI characters have always frustrated him because he has never been able to read their lips.

Until Gollum. After we saw the movie the first time, my husband said, "I have never been able to read a CGI character's lips before. Gollum's were exactly as if he were a human being." I cannot think of higher praise for all the people involved in creating Gollum than to tell them that a hearing impaired person was able to follow Gollum's speech exactly, just by lip-reading. Kudos to the dedication of the Weta staff! "

LOTR Props Tour Extends Stay, then Tours.
Tehanu @ 4:05 am EST
The Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa's LOTR props exhibition has extended its stay and is 'on track to be the single most popular exhibition.' [More] Thanks to Ataahua for the link.

Meanwhile, Ringer spy Nancy did some work to find out when and where the LOTR exhibition will go next when it leaves NZ. She wrote to Te Papa and got this reply from Te Papa staff: "The list that I have tells me that the Lord of the Rings exhibition will be on in Boston from approximately the beginning of August 2004 until the last week in October 2004. However, please don't take what I am saying as being 'official' as I'm not sure that all of the red tape has been signed off . Th exact dates of staging the exhibition will be determined by the museum in Boston, not us. It is quite possible that the museum in Boston will not be making an announcement yet. I suggest you check with them closer to the time. The current travel plan for the exhibition is, after Wellington - London, Singapore, Boston, Sydney - Boston being the only USA venue at this point in time. "

Nancy did some more detective work and found out, "The venue in Boston is the Museum of Science. In London it will be the Science Museum in South Kensington. The approximate dates I have for London are September 2003 until January 2004. The whole of the exhibition will be on tour - in fact there may be more items ( not less ) in the travelling exhibition. "

Elijah Wood Jumps Off his Pedestal....
Tehanu @ 2:31 am EST
Tanya sent us this transcript of a radio interview from a local NZ radio station ...AGES ago.... blame me [Tehanu] for losing the info about WHICH radio station. Here, Elijah Wood definitely gets down off any pedestal you want to put him on.....

Male Interviewer [M]: Hey, um, how are the fingernails?

Elijah [E]: Right into it -- look at that go.

M: We've only got like about 8 minutes, so I thought we'd... I read in a magazine that it was your New Year's resolution to stop biting your nails. Do you still bite your nails?

E: We're not at New Year's yet, so I'm still biting them.

Woman Interviewer [W]: What about your toenails? You used to bite your toenails, didn't you? Can you still do that?

M: Can you bite your toenails? Who wants a demo? Come on, Elijah --

[Sounds of Whooping -- Oh my god!]

M: Elijah Wood just put his leg over his head. Unreal!

E: I'm pretty flexible.

M: Do you bite and chew or bite and spit?

E: Chew for a bit and then spit, yeah, yeah.

M: Nice one.

E: Not a detail I'm sure most people want to hear... So...

W: Are you still living at home?

E: Yes... [Speaks to the woman] Do you wanna sit down sweetheart?

W: No, I just wanna lean in.

E: oh okay, Are you sure you want to lean? It's kind of uncomfortable.

W: No, no I'm fine.

E: okay...

M: Now I read on the internet --- there's so much bullshit out there -- that you drive a red Ferrari. Now is it true? Or is that just an internet thing?

E: Oh my god, no, it's so not true. Yeah I don't -- I don't know, ... nor would I ever, I would never buy a Ferrari.

M: What about the nicknames Monkey or The Funny? Are they real? Or... How'd you get those?

E: They are real. Well, Monkey kinda comes from when I was younger, I used to climb all over things, and had kinda boundless energy, so mom deemed me Monkey. And then The Funny kinda was something I created when I was a little bit younger.

M: Now you did whiz in the [Cuba Mall?] fountain, did you take a dump anywhere that we should know about?

[In background: Oh God!]

E: Ah, no.

M: Are you really going to buy houses in New Zealand? Or is that just something you've been saying to keep the New Zealand media happy...

E: Um. Aw mate, um... No, I think, yeah, I would love to buy a place here.

M: I got a little place in Palmerston North if you want to buy it off me. It's not really a booming property area, but you'd get it real cheap.

E: Well, I would love to. I've been talking about that for a while only because we've spent so much time here. We do have a natural love for the country, and specifically Wellington, because, you know, we've essentially lived here. Most of the time.

M: Tell us about the tattoo -- you've got a number nine, an Elvish nine, on your side? That your first tattoo? You gonna get another one?

E: Yeah mebbe -- tattoos I like when they're significant to an experience or a moment -- so it would have to be --

M: So did you get a dolphin tattoo after making Flipper?

E: Dude.

M: Sorry.

E: The question is good. So, all right, to answer your question because I want to answer it -- but no, nothing. No tattoo after Flipper.

W: So can we see your number nine then? If you're gonna show us how you can bite your toenails, you might as well show us your tattoo...

W: [I think she moans in appreciation]

M: Aw yeah that's cool.

W: It must have hurt!

E: **** yeah.

M: Tell us about the Oscars this year, because we'd seen you on tv and you looked bored sh*tless.


E: Tell you what man, it was nearly five hours sitting in that chair.

Five ****ing hours of that. I mean, I didn't, look. I went because you know, I wanted to be there for the movie, and that sort of opportunity doesn't come out often that you're part of a movie that gets that kind of recognition, and you want to support it. And I was so glad to be there.

But tell you what, it's so much better to watch it on television.

I nearly -- I was falling asleep too and that was terrible because they always -- because we were all sat -- the LOTR crew essentially was sat in the front and the second row from the front, so we're all in one pocket. So they had the camera there the whole time. So they had, you know, they had these guys, these little crews running around with cameras to get, like, reactions because we were there and we had tons of awards. And they wanted to get our reactions on the things, so they had the cameras right there, and I would be just sort of sitting there like you know, nodding off. Which was terrible.

Yeah, better just to watch it on television.

M: On the [Not sure what TV show] the other night, Elijah, you and Peter were quite close. He put you in a headlock and started, you know, rubbing the top of your head -- how close are you guys -- tell us about your relationship -- are you always keeping in touch, or is it just for these sorts of things that you touch base?

E: Wouldn't that be terrible if I just was like, every once in a while "Hi Pete, how are you -- let's make it seem like we're friends..."

Uh no, I love Pete, I love Pete -- he's been so busy-- and you know the thing about it, the nature of friendship is, when you're really close with someone, specially someone that you've been through an experience like that with, you don't always call and you don't always keep in touch.

And that doesn't necessarily have a bearing on the relationship or the friendship or the closeness, because no one can take that away -- you know, we had that experience, everybody did with Pete and with everybody else -- so we'll always be linked by that --

I mean I don't keep regular communication with him but he'll be in my life and the rest of my life in some way, so, you know...

M: Thank you very much for your time. when do you leave New Zealand? Will you be in New Zealand for Christmas?

E: No, I leave tomorrow.

M: [Something...] So you'll be in LA for Christmas?

E: That's right.

M: Have a good time.

E: Thank you mate. See you guys.


Artwork: Report from Hildebrandt Bros. Exhibition
Tehanu @ 2:07 am EST
Lonestarr here: I had an opportunity this last weekend to go the brothers Tim and Greg Hildebrandt art exhibition and signings at Every Picture Tells A Story gallery, in Santa Monica, CA. It was a lovely day (as usual), and when I arrived on Saturday with my father, who is himself an artist, the small gallery was filled wall-to-wall with their most famous ORIGINAL Tolkien/LOTR paintings from the 1970's - what a treat! They even had on display all original, rare thumbnail and pencil sketchings of pre-painting and character designs. And what nice gentlemen, giving free signings and openly talking about their work history and influences - they even said they loved the first LOTR movie: casting, direction, design, everything, but haven't had a chance to see TTT yet.

As dad and I roamed around and spoke to them in length, Greg and Tim said they like seeing other peoples' art work and asked to see my dad's paintings. We came back the next day to show them his portfolio, and they graciously commented on how much they enjoyed his work. Anyways, for those of you who aren't familiar with the Bros. Hildebrandt artwork, they helped bring Tolkien popularity to the masses around 25 years ago in books, calenders, etc. If you're in Southern California, they will still be around till the end of the week...


Japanese Fan Power Triumphs
Tehanu @ 5:49 am EST
"It's me, Bunnyfoot from Tokyo again. According to reports by two leading members of the LOTR subtitle reform activities on the Internet, the movie trilogy's Japanese distributor, Nippon Herald Films, Inc., invited them to a private screening of TTT at the comapny last week and asked their views about the subtitles. With permission from the company, the two announced on Jan. 19 on their respective Web sites what they thought about the subtitling of TTT. To our great relief, they said it was remarkably better than that of FOTR, although they made some suggestions for further improvement. The company reportedly told them that it put forward their opinions to Akiko Tanaka, co-translater of the novel, for examination.

"The two also said that the people they met at the Nippon Herald were courteous and that the company, hitherto seen by the fans as unreliable and insolent, was perhaps being just slow and naive in responding to the audience's demand.

"So, at the end of the day, there seems to be a happy solution for the problem that even involved Peter Jackson. (He made a comment about the matter on NZTV at TTT's Paris premiere, as you know), although we must still wait and see until the movie finally opens here on Feb. 22. (Media previews are scheduled for this week, and there will be special previews for fans on Feb. 15.)

"By the way, Viggo Mortensen's visit to Japan on Jan. 22 seems to be more to do with promotion of one of his books than TTT. It was the Japanese publisher of the book that invited him this time. A huge number of his female fans are expected to queue up for tickets to get his autograph."


LOTR News: Japan
Tehanu @ 3:44 am EST
Bruce writes in to tell how the buzz for LOTR is building up this time in Japan. "There is only five weeks plus until the opening of TTT in Japan! The local Warner Brothers - MyCal cinema group will have some special showings in early February (probably around the 7th, 8th and 9th). Ticket sales begin on January 25. Can't wait. On another development in Japan, a regional entertainment weekly magazine, Tokyo Walker, has a special section on The Two Towers. Included is a DVD with scenes from the movie (13 in all, including one of two new ones not seen here before), interviews with many of the lead actors, the most recent trailer, and a preview of the TTT game,
about 30 minutes in all."

There certainly seems to be a lot more awareness this time round, even if the Japanese are still having to put up with the delayed release policy.


Lord of Racism Article - One Easterling's Experience
Xoanon @ 7:10 pm EST
TK writes:

I've just finished reading the "Lord of Racism" article on the TheOneRing.net site. Interesting stuff. I was lucky enough to work as an extra (attached to Unit 2A) for Three Foot Six. I started off an as Uruk Hai, but most of the work I did was as an Easterling. Were most of the Easterling extras "non-Europeans?" Yes - almost without exception, except for guys who had to "loiter" in the back of shot was taking place. Were we ever told that we, as Easterlings, were the "evil" bad guys? No.

Here's a bit of background guff on my experience as an Easterling:

I went to the last open casting call for extras held at the NZ School of Dance in Wellington after an injury brought my Rugby season to a premature end (my Mum spotted the ad in "The Evening Post", a local newspaper and basically told me to go). I queued up, signed the forms, had my measurements and photos taken, and was then taken an office to meet the extras casting director who then asked me if I could work the next day. I was surprised, because I had no experience and didn't expect to be offered anything at all, after seeing a whole lot of other potential extras with all kinds of previous experience being turned away.

Anyway, I got to know a few of the Assistant Directors (ADs) well enough to ask them a few questions about what would be happening, as far as film extra work went, with the film, so I could organise time off work, etc. During one of these conversations, I learnt a bit about what kind of things the ADs would be looking for in an Easterling.

Easterling extras needed to be tall (180cm+) with an athletic-to-large (not overweight) build. They absolutely needed to have brown eyes of a certain shape - somewhere in between round and slanted (when I first saw the costume, I realised why). Easterling extras also needed a darkish skin complexion, similar to a deep tan - but not dark brown or black. Based on these requirements, I immediately thought "most of these guys are going to be either Maori or Polynesian". Months later, my initial thought on the ethnic background of the Easterling extras was to be proved correct, although there were also Asians (mostly Thai/Cambodians or lighter skinned Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankans) and the odd darker skinned European (a good friend of mine, originally from Southern Italy, played an Easterling). Towards the end, there were a few fair skinned Easterlings, but they tended to be hidden at the back of the shot.

On set, the ADs tried to help us (extras) get into character by explaining what the Easterlings were and why we (as Easterlings) were involved. Regardless of which AD was giving "the speech", they all seemed to focus on the same themes, which were:

- "...the Easterlings are proud, noble warriors."

- "...when you move, move smoothly, move as if you own the ground you stand on."

- "...feel the pride of the Easterling people, you are their finest soldiers."

Basically, they wanted us to look smooth, controlled and intimidating, but they didn't want us to look like a bunch of thugs stomping down Courtenay Place, looking for a couple of pints and a whole lot of trouble :^) One AD commented that she liked working with the Easterlings because there were so many beautiful men (ha ha, *grin*). Most of the guys really got into the role, even though we were only extras. We were never given explicit instructions to be "evil" - mostly we were told that we were proud warriors.

The Easterling costume was one of the more comfortable costumes I wore, apart from the "Mk. 1" breastplates which had a sharp point at the end which could be hazardous if you sat down too quickly. "Mk. 2" breastplates changed this so that the sharp point was "hinged" on a piece of leather. The costume was loose and layered, so it kept you cool when it was hot and warm when it was cold. The helmet provided good visibility, and was much better than the Uruk Hai mask/helmet setup, which was terrible - you could only see directly in front of you as an Uruk Hai. The armour moved freely and provided good protection (getting hit with prop weapons hurts :^P). It was also very easy to eat in (or go to the toilet in). This was very important - as far as extras were concerned :^D (The food was always excellent and the toilets were always cramped.)

In the scene where the Easterlings march through the Black Gate (which was shot at Dry Creek Quarry) you may have noticed that some of the Easterlings appear to be "goose stepping" towards the end of the scene. There were a lot of large rocks lying on the ground in that scene and we had to step over them to avoid tripping over :^D I appear earlier in that scene in a close-up shot of the front ranks. I am second from the front, closest to the camera. I've seen the movie twice and in that scene my eyes flick down to the ground briefly. I laughed when I saw this, because I was looking out for rocks to step over during filming.

Working as an extra on LotR was one of the coolest things I've ever done and if it wasn't for an untimely Rugby injury, it would never have happened.

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