Microsoft Employees Treated to LOTR Coolness?|
Xoanon @ 3:58 pm EST
I'm not to sure about this story, but it seems cool enough to post, so there it is, perhaps some Microsoft employees want to open their Outlook(tm) and drop me of an email saying 'yay' or 'nay' on this story? Read on:
My brother just called. He had a conversation with a friend of his whose brother works for Microsoft. This friend's brother says that Microsoft employees have a company-wide special access internet where they can download mp3s and movies and other things not available to the general public. You have to have a special Microsoft password to access these.
More Comic-Con Goodness|
Xoanon @ 11:08 am EST
Ringer Spy LDC sends along some real high quality stills from the WETA/Sideshow booth (there WERE other booths there that weekend right?) Take a gander at these goodies.
Mythcon XXXII Report I|
Xoanon @ 8:28 pm EST
Just thought I’d share my thoughts on Philippa Boyens and Mythcon 32. I cruised up to Berkeley from LA this last weekend with my friend to check it out, and I must say we were not disappointed. I went to Cal for school so I thought I’d be able to get us there speedily, but I got us a bit lost and we had misread the schedule! We had thought she was going to be there at 10:00 am but she was actually scheduled for 9:00 am! We rolled in around 9:05 am. When we walked in to the convention hall it seemed like it had just started. I was surprised by how few people were there, maybe no more than 50 people. It was an intimate affair and we settled right in.
Philippa was interviewed on stage by a very good Mythcon interviewer. She asked a whole array of neat questions, and we got some very nice responses, in terms of personal anecdotes, experiences with the actors, the filmmaker’s aims, and the difficulties and triumphs of adapting and making the films. In response, Philippa touched on the mammoth difficulty of paring things down, of getting the Council of Elrond just right for example. On a cute side-note she shared with us how she once had to go-over some script changes with Sean Bean and Mortensen, and how they all ended up in her hotel room. Even then, she said that they were all so focused on making the movies that the humor of the experience didn’t occur to her until after. This experience should make many women jealous. She gave an extensive account of how Viggo Mortensen came onto the project which was exciting, you could feel the anticipation and excitement of when they finally found out that Viggo had agreed to act as Aragorn. She capped of this account with how Viggo arrived in the airport barefoot with a copy of the Volsunga Saga in his pack, straight from his own bookshelf. For those who don’t know, the story of the Volsungs was an influence on Tolkien and one of his favorite stories as a youth. She also touched on how she became involved with the project.
Besides her interesting experiences in making the films, I was most impressed with her enthusiasm for the source material, the characters, and her own personal love for Tolkien’s world and themes. I must admit that I was a little worried with all the previous talk of Viggo Mortensen’s great performances, that poor Frodo and Sam would be overshadowed in the movies. But Philippa kept returning to their importance, and referred to Frodo as the “main character.” She also praised Elijah Woods’ performances, especially for key parts or scenes in the story. Seems like a minor and obvious thing, but I think it’s still very important to hear that from one of the screenwriters. I was also impressed with her familiarity with Tolkien’s own personal writings, his letters and whatnot. And she referred to the Silmarillion a few times, mentioning Illuvatar and important deeper elements to the world of Tolkien. This was important for me because it obviously showed that she, Fran and Peter know, understand, and most importantly, love, the whole system of Tolkien’s mythology, and have a macro and micro understanding of Tolkien’s grand patterns.
After she had answered all of the interviewer’s questions in some depth, the audience was allowed to ask Philippa questions directly. A host of interesting and pointed questions were asked of her, one concerning how each film would end, one concerning the portrayal of magic, and so forth. I can’t remember all of them, because they were so many and so well thought out. I do remember that one question allowed her to enthuse about the ending of the first movie, and how Elijah’s performance is just magic, and how the whole thing with Boromir is so powerful, and everything and more than she dreamed it could be. I thought, “Wow! Yes!” because that’s definitely one of my favorite parts in the book. Boromir’s fall is such a crucial part to the emotion and themes of the book. Another good question and one everyone would love to know was, “What is your favorite theme of the book?” Philippa answered in Elvish! Which she then translated to something like, “The world is changing.” It’s definitely in my mind one of the deepest but simple truths of the book, that is of course so elegantly told and developed by Tolkien. I have a feeling that Jackson et al will be elegantly telling and developing this theme as well.
I got to ask my own question. I asked her if the role of night is still important in the movies as it is in the books? Many of my favorite parts of the books take place at night, and I explained how one my favorite parts in the whole book, and indeed in all of Tolkien’s mythology, is when Sam and Frodo are in the middle of the desolation of Mordor and Frodo is rather despairing and hopeless and asleep at the time. And Sam looks up at the sky and he sees the star of Earendil floating weightless above the earth, its light bringing him hope and a profound sense of peace with himself and the world, knowing that for all that he’s been through and however things will end that there are some things that are untouchable, and eternally beautiful and good. It’s just a few paragraphs, maybe half a page in the book, that could easily have been overlooked by less dedicated filmmakers, but still so so important. I think most of you know exactly what part I’m talking about.
Philippa Boyens’ response surprised me and set me in great confidence of her and the films. Her face lit-up with recognition, and she immediately talked about the importance of this scene in its relation to the back-story, the history of everything that has gone before (she was referring to the Silmarillion, and the importance of the story of the Silmarils and Earendil in their relation to the Lord of the Rings and Sam’s plight at that moment), to Sam’s character, and that yes, it was definitely filmed and would be in the movies. This was great! Then she asked me to elaborate on my question. So I clarified that I was also interested in how darkness and light are used in terms of texture and tone and mood in the films. And then I feebly tried to explain that one of the powerful things in the books to me is that not only do we experience a more primordial wilderness and nature in the books, but we experience a more primordial night and day and their rhythms through our imaginations in the book, in a way that is hard for us to experience today with all of our electricity and lights and crap. For me the balanced order of the circadian rhythms become more and more disrupted as we go further into the books, wherewith the darkness of Sauron becomes a long extended night, which throws this order out of balance, and adds a another deeper layer to the rhythms of day and night. To me this is one of the ways Tolkien achieves a mythic sense in his books, and when contrasted with the final coming of a new morning adds to the deeper joy that we feel. Of course things have passed on and it is also symbolic of the end of many things. But somehow there’s something to me that is powerful, almost unconscious, about the effect of this night/day interplay and imagery. It’s also powerfully dialectical and layered for me. Of course, again, my question didn’t make any sense in this regard, and I never got this far in my explanation, but somehow she knew what I was trying to ask. So she went into the role of the “gathering darkness” in the books and the films and added interesting anecdotes about the filming of these parts, and talked also about how sometimes the crew just relied on the natural lowlight of evening or twilight in many of the scenes. Sorry for the extended explanation, but I think it illustrates how in-deep the whole project is in Tolkien’s world and stories.
Later on, we watched some of Heavenly Creatures, which certainly relayed how Jackson can direct and how he can just suck you into a story, and fantasy. Obviously, he’s got talent. Then we watched the two LOTR trailers on VHS courtesy of New Line. Even though my friend and I were far in the back and the TV was rather small, the trailers looked brilliant. The color and sharpness of the pictures were fantastic. I’ve seen them many times on the Web and once or twice in the theater, but man, on DVD these movies are going to look so deep and dark and crisp and lush! Anyway, after this they had a panel to discuss what we might expect of the movies, and this included the interviewer, Bill Weldon, TORN’s own Tehanu and Quickbeam and the moderator. Everyone had very interesting thoughts and firsthand experiences with their involvement with the films or their experience covering their making. But the moderator kind of went a little negative, actually very negative, and harped on a lot of things he saw in the trailer. He didn’t like the shot of the army marching across Mordor, and he had a big problem with Galadriel’s line, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future…” He thought this line was too explicit in terms of the themes of the book and said the filmmakers were taking a little too much liberty with this, and parting too much from the actual book. Then everything seemed to degenerate for a long while into a needless debate between opposing camps, with the majority still trying to take a more neutral tone. Words like “dangerous” and “it has to be” and other such inflexible language were being used, and just served to point out that you can’t please every one and that there’s no point in trying to—that would be, indeed, over-compromising.
My two cents, from my vantage point now, is that the CGI shot of the marching army still looks pretty damn good to me, and I’m especially impressed with the orc who marches in the front of the shot. Also, this shot probably won’t even show until Return of the King, Weta has two more years to perfect such a shot. But maybe the moderator’s critical eye will inspire Weta to work even harder on these shots? Even so, there’s no way of avoiding the fact that some shots will obviously be CGI simply because they’d be impossible to do otherwise! If you’re not willing to accept that fact and go to the movie with an open mind in this sense, I suggest you not get your hopes up too high. It does remain to be seen if the CGI is convincing in terms of how it simply looks, but I’m sure by the second movie we’ll be used to the look and the CGI will have become a part of the storytelling and texture of the film-story, so that it will cease to be a matter of whether it looks real and more a matter of if it’s consistent and conveying something important. I don’t want to be going throughout and after the movie, “Wow that looks so amazing! I couldn’t even tell it was CGI! How did they do that!?” just as much as I don’t want to be thinking, “That looks so fake! That didn’t quite look real. ILM might have done that part better.” I mean, let’s not be so shallow about these things. The important thing is the story, n’est pas? And whether the effects support the story, not whether they look totally real and stunning? Even so, I’ll wager the overall effect will be masterful and brilliant. I’m excited about Gollum too, because unlike Jar Jar Binks, Gollum is a complex character with loads of intricate and interesting dialogue. He actually has something important to say and is a crucial character. And his facial expressions will be so key to his appearance on film that I think he’ll be, simply by necessity, the best CGI character we’ve seen yet, and may ever see, even if he doesn’t always look real. The story and Gollum demand it. Even if it’s not always “real” looking, his character will take on a life of itself, I’ll bet.
The other point I’d like to make is that Galadriel’s line may be paraphrase and a bit too explicit and so on, but hell, Elrond spells it out in even more depth and not-to-be-missed-or-confused terms in the Council of Elrond when he speaks of “small hands” turning the “wheels of the world” when the wise and strong are distracted. Also, the placement of this piece of dialogue in the trailer is very smart. It sets people up, who have no idea about the story, as to what it will be about in some way. You could easily imagine people coming to see the movie with different expectations, going, “What’s up with these stupid hobbit people!? Enough already, I want more of that Aragorn cat, he’s bad-ass and so much cooler.” Need we say more?
There were other points and criticisms but it all tumbles into a tumbleweed for me. But what was clear, despite the arguments, was that everyone had a great love for the books and for Tolkien. Some times we all just don’t see eye to eye on details, but oh well. One important thing to remember however, and which Philippa Boyens made a point of herself (personally, I think she should have been able to sit at the panel at least to defend herself and the project), was that this film is an interpretation to the best of certain person’s abilities. She read from one of Tolkien’s letters, in which indeed the man himself, understood that someday if his epic tale were to be dramatized that things would have to be changed. And being mindful of the process of mythology, as a living cultural complex that should evolve through time, he embraced the idea that it would be touched by other hands and shaped by “individual” efforts after the original storyteller is gone. Surely, Tolkien wasn’t always at ease with this, but he realized and relinquished it. He did sell the film-rights after all. It’s the struggle between identifying oneself as a mythmaker and/or a modern literary author that hordes so-called “original” ideas and intellectual property. The other thing that was apparent is that literary form is so different from dramatic form. LOTR was not conceived of as a play. Therefore, it does require major changes in its adaptation. This was, in my mind, something that was consistently misunderstood by those who opposed changes to the dialogue and whatnot. That’s not to say that they didn’t have a point, and many good ones, but this is going to be a movie. For me, there is no point in making the movie unless it’s going to be a different experience. That’s the whole point of it. Why do it otherwise? Sure, to make money, to do something fun, but come on, I don’t think we’re that cynical are we? We have the books, and the books should never be replaced by a movie—books are books for a reason and movies are movies for a reason. Let’s not forget this obvious fact. Besides, the movies will tell, not two little trailers.
This all was great for me though. I regretted that Philippa Boyens had to hear so much of this, especially since she flew out from New Zealand and had extended her words and reputation to the audience in such good faith. (I cringe at the idea that some of the specific criticisms people made may have been decisions she made and believed in for her own good reasons.) Even so, I think she weathered the storm okay. And I think the moderator felt bad about how things so quickly went negative. I believe he apologized to her personally afterwards. I mean, we’re all just Tolkien fans after all, that should bind us not divide us. I myself, though a bit nervous, shook Philippa’s hand and thanked her for her time and efforts and for bringing such passion to the project. I assured her that I thought the movies looked like they were going to be great and that I could tell it was a labor of love. She thanked me in return and expressed that making the movies was for the fans. It was a special moment for me, from one Tolkien fan to another. And well, again, what was even more special about this, and even the somewhat nasty debate, was that it finally washed me of my own concerns and expectations. Hearing others fret and wonder, and having heard Philippa’s words and seen her there and felt her dedication, I can say that I’m finally going to be able to go into the theater with an open mind, ready for a familiar yet new experience on the big screen.
Quite honestly, I believe Philippa should be commended wholeheartedly—it’s a huge undertaking, and I bet very few could have done as good a job. I’m just happy the movies are going to be as good as they promise to be. As Quickbeam pointed out, Disney could have made an animated movie out of LOTR. Or my favorite is that, well, Michael Bay might have directed the movies! And thank god it was made in New Zealand an ocean apart from Hollywood! Even so, New Line should be commended as well! Philippa had nothing but positive things to say about the studio. I think we’ve been blessed with so many positive things that we forget how spoiled as Tolkien fans we’ve become. It’s truly rare and exceptional.
All in all it was a great afternoon.
I don’t belong to the Mythopoeic Society, but everyone was very nice. I was kind of just a tourist in their usual affairs so I thank them for letting me participate. And they were also filming the whole thing, so maybe some of you will get a chance to see the video someday. I also got a chance to introduce myself in person to Tehanu and Quickbeam. I’d like to thank them as well for being on the panel and providing a voice of enthusiasm for the films. Cool, that’s it, phew! Thanks for bearing with my convoluted account of things. Hope you enjoyed it J
Mythcon XXXII Report II|
Xoanon @ 8:27 pm EST
I had heard of the Mythopoeic Society but hadn't read their publications or attended their conference before. I was drawn to the conference because of its scholarly nature and a chance to see Philipa Boyens interviewed. I arrived early Saturday and found that the members of the Society were very nice people. The conference had a friendly and intimate atmosphere, with papers being presented in college classrooms, and attendees mingling around the halls and lawns of the campus.
The first paper I saw presented was "Battling the Woman Warrior: Gender and Combat in Tolkien and Lewis", by Sam McBride. It was very interesting, with examinations of the roles of Eowyn, Shelob, etc. in Tolkien's work, and Queen Orual among others others in Lewis'. I met up with Sam at lunch, and we ended up talking about Tolkien for so long afterwards that we both missed the next paper. He was interested in the citations on women in combat that Kyriel and Idril contributed to the notebook on Lasselanta. A book which he co-wrote will be published soon.
The second paper I heard was "The Fey and the Fantastic: Rationalizing Fantastic Occurrences in Contemporary Life", by Janice Bogstad. She discussed literature that portrayed different consensual realities interfacing with the mundane. Her anlysis was provocative, and I only wished I was more familiar with the works she used as examples, including those of Peter Beagle. Still, I was able to apply her ideas to the books of Gene Wolfe, my favorite author after Tolkien, especially his "Free Live Free" and "There Are Doors".
I attended a panel discussion titled "Charles Williams, King Arthur, and Us", with panelists David Dodds, Eric Rauscher and Alexei Kondratiev, and moderator Eleanor Farrel. I was especially interested in this topic because I think the Lord of the Rings deserves to become absorbed by our culture the way the stories of Arthur, Frankenstein and Star Wars have, and I hope the movies will help that process. I was impressed by the breadth of the panelists' knowledge of the history of the Arthurian sagas. There was some especially interesting discussion of American appropriation of Arthuriana, referencing George Washington, JFK, and the Confederacy.
Of course, I also attended the Q&A session with Philipa Boyens. She was charming and enthusiastic and obviously a Tolkien fan. First she was interviewed by Paula DiSante, and then audience members asked her questions. I'll have a transcript of this soon. A highlight of the Q&A was when she was asked what her favorite theme in the books was, and she replied with a verse in Sindarin that expressed the fading of the world.
I was also pleased when she referred to a certain change seen in the teaser (Arwen at the fords, presumably), and said that she "stood behind it completely". After her interview, some scenes from Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures" were shown, and then came the panel discussion "Reading the Tea Leaves: What Will Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Films Be Like?". Bill Weldon, Paula DiSante, Quickbeam, Tehanu and David Bratman were the panelists. Interestingly, Philipa Boyens sat in the audience, so she was there to hear both optimistic and pessimistic comments on the movies. The whole thing was also filmed for Peter Jackson, who wanted to see it, according to the camera operator.
26 Minutes Shown in OZ, Asian Release Date Pushed Back?|
Xoanon @ 8:21 pm EST
The Queensland (State of Australia) Movie convention on the Gold Coast (where all the movie dudes who own cinemas blah blah go and meet) will show a 30 minute preview of LOTR. No one knows if it is the same as Cannes but let me tell you they are being as strict as hell with who is allowed to go. It is not confirmed but the lengths being taken for security make it obvious.
As for the Japanese release of the film... some interesting news... This is only "speculation" but it is good "speculation" at that.
The Asian pirate film industry is the biggest in the world and produces copies of movies filmed by a camcorder in the cinema before the film officially opens. New Line cinema hope that a six month delay in the opening of each film will prevent the loss in income to pirate copies of the film at first release. About 90% of these pirate films are made in Asia, I guess New Line are trying something daring!
More LOTR Pics|
Xoanon @ 2:14 pm EST
Some great news LOTR pics have come out way from Ringer Spy J Dean, these have come via one of the many Cons that have been covering LOTR, check them out!
Decipher at GenCon|
Xoanon @ 10:05 am EST
I thought I'd write up this article on GenCon and the Decipher experience so you'd have some great info to post. As you know, I was sent into the horde of gamers to GenCon to find out all I could about the new LOTR card game by Decipher. I had spoken ahead of time with Karen Levy, Decipher's newest PR manager and set up an interview for Friday morning at 9am. I arrived at the Con on Thursday evening about a half an hour before the main exhibit hall closed. My friend Tom and I went as fast as we could up to the Decipher booth where I met Karen, to say the very least, they picked a perfect person and she could not have been more helpful.
We arrived Friday morning and we were *snuck* in under cover as the Main hall doesn't actually open until 10am. We were introduced to the design team who were ready for the interview. We spoke about the game mechanics and much much more. I will have the entire interview transcribed tonight and sent in by this evening or tomorrow morning at the latest. We were then introduced to one of the design team members of the LOTR Roleplaying game they will be launching so I decided to interview him also. Later that day at 3pm we were given an invitation to attend their official LOTR Preview at the Hyatt hotel. We were able to make it and were about the middle point of the line of hundreds of people. We were among the last twenty people to make it in the doors! There were so many people waiting that half of them didn't make it in. It's amazing the amount of pull LOTR has.
We sat through the preview which was really a general overview of the game. However, a suprise! We were told that the nine Nazgul had been in the room and hidden the nine rings beneath nine of the SEATS! There was a hushed silence as everyone sat there in shock for about 10 seconds. (an eternity!) Suddenly EVERYONE was on their feet throwing they're chairs over! ARGH! We didn't have one! Nine people held up their arms with a golden ring! These people were then brought to the front in which they were told that they were now official LOTR Decipher ring bearers and will receive a lifetime supply of their LOTR products!!! Every LOTR release they will be receiving! I had never seen such a promotion and everyone couldn't believe it!
Decipher is really moving in the right direction and by the way they handled the entire Con I believe they are really going to make it big. Just as a note, Decipher had to go against game giant Wizards of the Coast and beat them out for the rights to the LOTR card game! Great job Decipher! That's it for now and the interview will be coming soon!
Phlipa Boyens at Mythcon|
Xoanon @ 11:13 pm EST
Ringer Spy Gorel sends along his tale from this weekends 'Mythcon'. Check it out, and look for more news to come!
I got back from Mythcon a little while ago and wanted to drop you a quick story about Phlipa Boyens which others might enjoy. She sat in the audience during the panel discussion on the movies (after her interview). I was sitting behind her, and it was interesting to watch her shake her head or nod as people made various comments. I got out my Letters with the intent of quoting one of them. I was surprised to see her pull out her own dog-eared copy, raise her hand, and cite exactly what I had intended to:
"Final query: can a tale not conceived dramatically but (for lack of a more precise term) epically, be dramatized - unless the dramatizer is given or takes liberties, as an independent person?" - Letter 195
After the panel I told her what had happened and asked her to sign my copy of the Letters. She politely declined, saying she didn't like to sign Tolkien's work. Then she looked around in her purse and found a pad of paper with a LOTR logo, and gave me a nice autograph. She was a gracious person whose respect for Tolkien was evident.
Yet More Comic-Con Pics|
Xoanon @ 5:00 pm EST
Ringer Spy Carl sends along more pics from the Sideshow/Weta booth at comic-con 2001. Take a look at these great pics!
Be sure to check out the WETA/Sideshow website and order all your goodies today! [More]
More Comic-Con Goodness|
Xoanon @ 10:32 am EST
Ringer Spy Derek sent along these great pics from various vendors around Comic-Con, mainly our good friends at the WETA/Sideshow booth. Check them out!
4 LOTR Trailers?|
Xoanon @ 5:22 pm EST
Ringer Spy Mike sends along some very interesting news regarding a possible 3rd and 4th LOTR trailers! None of this can be confirmed at the moment, but take a look and get ready to dance!
As you probably know by now, I live in *snip* and I've been busy these past couple of days e-mailing a Marketing Director at *snip* DISTRIBUTION (the distribution place for one of the biggest cinema chains in *snip*).
I asked her all these questions about the current trailer and what films it is gonna be placed with etc. but, in her e-mail yesterday she added something very strange, she said that 'The Lord of the Rings' will have four trailers before its world wide release in December (the first trailer being the Theatrical Teaser with Galadriel talking and all that).
I e-mailed her last night and asked how it would be possible to release four trailers before December because the third one is due to come out in September sometime (when would the fourth trailer come out?). She e-mailed me back (I got the message about fifteen minutes ago) and this is what she said:
"You are quite correct in that the third trailer will be released mid September, this in essence is a final trailer for the film and we will look to attach it to one of the biggest films being release at that time. We have not finalised this as yet. With regards to the fourth trailer, this is a 60 second trailer which is slightly longer than the third and will be attached internationally to 'Harry Potter', which is being released in *snip* on 23 November, one week after the US."
So there you have it, there will be a 60 second trailer with 'Harry Potter' all over the world.
Another thing she added (under the heading of 'further updates') was:
"We have received a non-final second poster concept which we anticipate will be in cinemas the first week of September and I must say it looks absolutely stunning. All other materials are currently being finalised in the US and notification of these availabilities will be made soon."
New Line Suits see FOTR Rough Cut?|
Xoanon @ 11:13 am EST
Dunno if this is news or not, but I have it on good authority that New Line execs have seen a 3.5 hour director's cut of Fellowship. Word is that it's being pared down to 3 hours. I was only expecting 2.5, so that's good news as far as I'm concerned.
My source says that an exec was enthusiastic about the movie. He has apparently read the books and approves of what PJ has done. He specifically mentioned the scenery, the acting, and the effects as being magnificent.
Amazing WETA/Sideshow Pics|
Xoanon @ 11:08 am EST
Ringer Spy Carl sends along these great pics from the WETA/Sideshow booth at Comic-Con! Check these out!
New LOTR Sword Pics!|
Xoanon @ 8:22 pm EST
Check out these amazing pics from my insider at United Cutlery! These things look amazing! I cannot wait to have Sting hanging from my wall!
Riskbreaker here with late-breaking news. I have included pictures of the new United Cutlery replicas out this fall. Much thanks to my friend on the inside. These are STING, GLAMDRING and the SWORD OF THE WITCH KING. And yes, they all rhyme.