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The Lord of the Rings

Recent Essays and Editorials:
Presented in association with: Lord of the Rings News courtesy of Xenite.org
Lord of the Rings news and editorial's by Michael Martinez of Xenite.org. Includes essays published at Suite101.com.

Recent Lord of the Rings News:

Stuart Townsend says it was only work...no regrets
by Michael Martinez, Tuesday, April 16, 2002
TheOneRing.Net recently posted a link to an interview with Stuart Townsend where he talked about almost being Aragorn. We've now heard about another interview.

TORN ran this link to Entertainment Weekly last Friday. In that interview, Stuart said:

Two weeks ago I finally read an article where the filmmakers said, "We were totally wrong about Stuart and we accept that it was our fault," which was so nice because I did get shafted up the a--. I was there rehearsing and training for two months, then was fired the day before filming began. After that I was told they wouldn't pay me because I was in breach of contract due to not having worked long enough. I had been having a rough time with them, so I was almost relieved to be leaving until they told me I wouldn't be paid. I have no good feelings for those people in charge, I really don't. The director [Peter Jackson] wanted me and then apparently thought better of it because he really wanted someone 20 years older than me and completely different.

He was not quite so bitter when he spoke to The Irish Independent:

As for his replacement in the role of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings by Viggo Mortensen who is 20 years his senior, Townsend says that after two months preparation in New Zealand: "They fired me before filming even started because they said I wasn't working hard enough, which is totally ridiculous. I love to work, I'm a worker." But he says he doesn't regret it at all.

"It was only work, it was only an ego thing. I didn't get my heart broken and no-one died on me."

That said, Townsend hasn't seen or nor has he any intention of seeing whatever did happen to Frodo Baggins.

Well, we do wish him all the best, but Viggo Mortensen makes a pretty nice Aragorn....

Thanks to Aidan for the tip.

Sun Online posts pictures from 'The Two Towers'
by Michael Martinez, Saturday, April 13, 2002
We just received word that The Sun Online has some new pictures from 'The Two Towers'.

Pictures include Karl Urban as Eomer, Brad Dourif as Grima Wormtongue, and Bernard Hill as Theoden. You'll also get a first look at the "wild men" (presumably the "wild men of the hills" from Dunland).

Another picture shows a group of Rohirrim standing inside what appears to be the Hornburg. Mirando Otto (Eowyn) gazes out over Edoras from the steps of Meduseld in the lead shot.

"The Two Towers", the second installment in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, is scheduled for world-wide release on December 18, 2002.

Secret Diaries of Cassandra Claire taking Web by storm
by Michael Martinez, Saturday, April 6, 2002
A mounting crescendo of tittering laughter and giggles is spreading throughout online Tolkien fandom as word spreads about the Secret Diaries of Cassandra Claire.

The Secret Diaries are a mild example of "slash" fan fiction, an erotic literature form devoted to same-gender relationships, usually comprised of stories about famous characters in movies, television shows, and sometimes books. Slash fan fiction has been around for decades, but the Internet has made it possible for some slash authors to become minors stars on their own.

Cassandra Claire's Secret Diaries contain no sexually explicit scenes, and have been generally hailed as funny and intelligently written. They have even spawned at least one anime-style comic tribute.

Fans who may be offended by same-gender innuendo and humor may not appreciate the Secret Diaries, but Claire has a growing legion of fans who are laughing at the gentle pokes in the rib directed toward Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring". The characters of Legolas and Aragorn merit special attention from the author, and "I'm still the prettiest" may soon become a popular catch phrase on the Internet.

If you don't mind reading fan fiction which takes liberties with the characters and relationships in the movie, you definitely will want to read the Secret Diaries.

Pirate copies of Two Towers preview sneaking around the Net
by Michael Martinez, Saturday, April 6, 2002
Intrepid fans have been uploading illegal copies of the preview for "The Two Towers" all week long. At least one site has already gone down. Others may soon follow. TheOneRing.Net has provided a list of sites which purport to have the preview. Keep in mind that New Line Cinema has been known to take down Web sites with unauthorized video content. There are no guarantees these sites will last. The video quality is also usually very poor.

Boromir will return in next two films
by Michael Martinez, Saturday, April 6, 2002
Winona Kent of The Compleat Sean Bean reported England's Daily Mail had the following news item:

Sean Bean will play Macbeth for director Edward Hall in the West End this autumn. When I saw Sean in Los Angeles recently, he said he couldn't wait to get back on stage. First, though, he will travel to New Zealand to shoot additional scenes for the next two instalments of The Lord of The Rings films. He plays heroic Boromir, who was killed in the first film, but he'll be in the next two pictures in flashback scenes.

She says she has indeed confirmed that Sean will be visiting New Zealand in June to do his scenes.

Complete list of film changes updated
by Michael Martinez, Wednesday, April 3, 2002
Ancalagon the Black has updated his list of the movie departures from the book:


This list is not for the faint-of-heart.

Christopher Lee records with Tolkien Ensemble
by Michael Martinez, Wednesday, April 3, 2002
Tolkien Online reports the following news:

Mr Lee has finished his recordings on The Tolkien Ensemble's next album, 'At Dawn in Rivendell.' From Christopher Lee's Official Web Site: Christopher Lee recites about 20 poems from The Lord of the Rings, set to music by Caspar Reiff and Peter Hall and sings the character of Treebeard.

Glass Hammer video news
by Michael Martinez, Wednesday, April 3, 2002
Glass Hammer spies report that filming of the music video "MIRKWOOD" is set to begin this month at a nature preserve somewhere in the South Eastern United States. "MIRKWOOD" is a track on their popular "Middle-earth Album", and tells the story of a young girl who becomes hopelessly lost in the forest while chasing the sound of elves singing in the distance.

The "MIRKWOOD" piece will join a collection of Glass Hammer videos set for release in the summer of 2002. Included in this collection is "The Way To Her Heart" which premiered in rough form at DragonCon 2000, and included shots of Aragorn, Arwen and a party of Elven maidens in attendance.

Cinefex magazine unveils LoTR's secrets -- and we have some scans!
by Michael Martinez, Monday, April 1, 2002
Cinefex magazine recently sent us a cover scan of their April edition. Well, now we have the magazine itself, and the story behind the movie's production is a breath-taking look at New Zealand's Oscar-winning ingenuity.

Orlando Bloom's fans might be interested to know that Cinefex is also revealing the secrets behind the special effects of "Black Hawk Down", the other major motion picture in which Middle-earth's hottest Elf actor recently appeared. But Cinefex is about special effects, ladies, not actors. So, this magazine is probably one for the techno-wizards and optical effects gurus.

Our first scan is of Rivendell. Unfortunately, the two-page spread was too large for our scanner, and we're not adept enough at this to be able to take out the fold in the middle of the book-sized magazine. When Cinefex sets out to tell the story behind a movie's production, it goes all the way.
A panoramic view of the Fellowship as they leave Rivendell opens the Cinefex spread on Peter Jackson and his LoTR movie.

Gandalf the Grey arrives at Bilbo Baggins' front door after one of the more light-hearted and entertaining scenes in "The Fellowship of the Ring". Although many visual effects went into the presentation of Peter Jackson's Shire, the landscape itself proved to be magical and endearing to audiences.
Gandalf the Grey arrives at Bag End in Hobbiton just before Bilbo Baggins' birthday party.

Don't peek if you don't want to know how that spectacular battle sequence for the Last Alliance was created. In the top view we see tens of thousands of Orcs rushing toward a line of Eldarin warriors standing at the ready with their deadly blades. In the lower shot, we see there were relatively few actors involved in filming the shot, which made extensive use of computer technology to amplify the visual magnitude of the scene.
Elves stand ready to repel their ancient Orcish foes in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.  But the real magic is revealed as a handful of actors stand in for thousands.

Dawn breaks out over Minas Tirith, which is here represented by a breath-taking miniature set which is described as huge. Some of the miniature sets used in the movie were larger than houses, according to Cinefex. Throughout the 18 months camera crews worked on location, they took every opportunity to film New Zealand's legendary sunsets and skies. Many of the images were incorporated into digital footage to enhance the movie's visual beauty.
Minas Tirith stands guard on the borders of Mordor and shines in the brilliant sunlight of a still hopeful morning.

The Lord of the Nazgul is unmasked in this image of a blue-screen shot. The ghostly apparition which appears in the movie at Weathertop is revealed to be a man in costume after all. It's almost like butter. Oscar-winner Richard Taylor explains that for years Weta Workshop made many of its puppets out of hard table margarine. "We've had to learn how to make silk purses out of sows' ears," he tells the magazine. But on LoTR, they had the budget to buy enough silk for everyone.
The Lord of the Nazgul stands tall and menacing as he waits for the camera to get his best -- or worst -- side.  Those pursed lips can mean only one thing: his dentures have fallen out again!

The Nazgul were handled by more than one group. Digital Domain was given responsibility for creating the realistic flood effect in which the nine Black Riders were swept away on the outskirts of Rivendell. Recreating Tolkien's enchanted stream required numerous special effects and a real-world dam, not to mention a trip to Niagra Falls. "...it still came down to me looking through the viewfinder," Brian Van't Hul tells Cinefex. "...standing waist deep in water, a grip behind me, spotting me to push everything out of the way in case the horses got too close."

Before Elrond could settle down for a long age in his quiet mountain retreat, someone had to build it. Since the Elves weren't around to advise the Weta technicians on how to recreate a traditional Elvish cottage community, they took a few liberties, starting out with a large model. Built in modular fashion, the Rivendell model could be disassembled and its parts moved around on rollers to allow different camera angles. Sometimes the model was photographed in layers.
Rivendell stands revealed as a multi-part model which was disassembled for special photography as required.

Look closely! Is that really Sir Ian McKellen, or a cleverly disguised double standing in for him? The Mines of Moria were created through the magic of movie illusions. Doubles for the principal actors sometimes stood in for them, and a full-size set was digitally blended with a miniature set in the background. The result was a painstakingly detailed underworld such as movie fans have seldom seen before.
Gandalf leads the Fellowship through Moria's underground maze.  But in reality, some of the actors were stand-ins, and much of the underworld of Moria was carefully blended mixture of full-sized sets and miniatures.

Get ready to be shocked. Sometimes, those stand-ins for the principal actors were...digital images! That's right, the actors were scanned and digitized (shades of Captain Power!). Samwise Gamgee and Gimli demonstrate just how detailed the digital imaging could be. In one scene, a digital Merry and Pippin leaped onto a troll while a real-life Legolas (Orlando Bloom) aimed his deadly bow at the creature -- which was itself digitally imagined.
Samwise Gamgee and Gimli son of Gloin stand ready for their closeups Mr. DeMille.  That's not Gimli and Sam!  Those are digital images of them!

Got a Balrog on your tail? Better keep your trusty wizard handy just in case. Balrogs favor dark places under the Earth, delight in fire, and cast long shadows. Oh, yes, they have wings...sort of (or, is that, soot of?). But are these real actors or just another dab of margarine splattered across a miniature set? You make the call, and then pick up a copy of Cinefex magazine to see what a big budget film has to resort to when bluescreen footage doesn't work out.
Gandalf and the Fellowship flee from the local Balrog in this stunning footage of the famous flight through the underground passages of Moria.

Lothlorien glimmers in the imagination of Weta's magic-makers as "a city atop the trees." Paul Lasaine tells the magazine that "Lothlorien was like the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, combined with a grove of sequoias, combined with the Ewok village." Hm. Some members of the audience were more reminded of the famous Gunga City under the waters of Naboo. All that was missing as Celeborn and Galadriel came down the steps to greet their guests was Captain Tarpals buzzing Jar Jar Binks. How wude!
Lothlorien lights up and gives the Fellowship a much-deserved break.  Peter Jackson told his workers that he wanted Lothlorien to seem like heaven.

Isengard may have been one of the most ambitious and complex locations to film. Saruman's successors refused to admit camera crews to the fortress, which is now in ruins, so Peter Jackson's trusty handymen built several miniatures, including a massive 60-foot diameter set, complete with miniature trees and digital skies and mountains for the background. Hoom, how did they get those crows down into the caverns beneath Isengard? We'll never tell, but Cinefex reveals it all.
Isengard stands forlorn and weary, stripped of all its beautiful trees as Saruman prepares for war.  Someone is going to pay for this!

Have foot, will stand for thousands of years. This statue of an ancient Gondorian king little resembles Viggo Mortensen. But that's okay. Aragorn admitted, in the book, that he didn't much resemble Isildur and Anarion. The two statues of the kings were real. They just weren't quite as large as the movie makes them out to be. The eight-foot statues were made from black urethane. The rocks behind the statues were real, too. And the actors we see paddling their canoe past the massive movie statues were the real actors, too. Special effects make it all work so smoothly, one forgets the actors didn't really have to worry about going over those falls.
Keep an eye out for that guy on the right.  He doesn't look like he'll be standing for another thousand years at all!  The Fellowship paddle their canoes past gigantic statues of Elendil and Isildur.

Thanks to Cinefex Magazine for the heads up on a great issue! They also cover the visual effects of "The Time Machine" and "Black Hawk Down".

Psst! Don't forget to click on the images!

A review of the "Two Towers" preview
by Michael Martinez, Friday, March 29, 2002
I have posted a review of the 'Two Towers' preview in Xenite.Org's essay section.

There are movies where you come out of the theater saying, "The trailers were the best part of the show." Nonetheless, how often do we go see a three-hour movie just to catch a trailer? All right, I did it. So did about 50 other people.
It didn't hurt to sit through "The Fellowship of the Ring" one more time, except for the minor dent the evening put into my wallet. I can never just sit in a movie theater. I have to have my junk food, and we all know that is where the theater makes its money. But munching out on hot dogs and nachos is part of the experience, and one should live life to the fullest.

So, I sat through the first "Lord of the Rings" movie once again and couldn't help but notice a few things. For example, a certain "movie goofs" Web site claims there is a continuity error near the end of "Fellowship", when Frodo saves Sam from drowning. Well, either they went back and re-edited that scene, or a lot of fans have gotten it all wrong.

Read the full essay here.



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