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There And Back Again: A Geek's Adventures in MiddleEarth! CHAPTER FOUR!!!

I awoke today after a complete day of rest and relaxation… wandering about Wellington, visiting some pubs… walking along the waterfront. Just being a regular chap in the non-Tolkien side of things down here.

After doing my morning push-ups and sit-ups and jumping jacks for 3 hours, I approached the door to my room on my way to shower. There was a pair of white envelopes alongside my morning paper… Shoved beneath my door.

"Bribes," I exclaimed.

I opened the first envelope to find a set of faxed instructions on where to go for the day’s sets. Where was Peter… where was the coronation. All of that sort thing… I started flipping through looking for the tons and tons of money… but all I had was blasted maps and instructions.

Dammit, how can I be a bloated sellout without bribes? Que sera sera…

Well I get in my cab and hand him the directions sheet. We begin our drive through Wellington, through a mountain and suddenly… I arrive at a place where I’m supposed to flash my magical necklace.

I get out and pay the chap. I now begin looking around… Hmmm, must find Stage O… well, I figure the sign saying "PRODUCTION OFFICE" with the arrow… would lead me at least in the direction of the person that would lead me in the right direction.

SO I walk in, and to my left is a bulletin board with everything from a caricature of Peter Jackson as a Hobbit, to a production person pictured with the leg of an oliphant.

Directly in front of me is a garbage can with a sign that said something like "Outdated Script Pages Here". Well, I thought, "Blimey… JACKPOT!" So there were three people in the room…. How to get rid of them all? First I ask for someone to get the Publicity lady for me, that got rid of one. The other two seemed busy… so I stumble over to the garbage can and back up against it…. Humming innocently the entire time…. Hmmmm hm hmmmmm hm hmmmmmmm…. Backing up, hands fall upon it…. Suddenly I notice the chains and the locks! Curses and crashes… The pages know the way in, then they musts knows the ways outs as welll…. Mussst gets me precioussss…

This is when Melissa, one of the on-set publicists for LORD OF THE RINGS appears with a slight exasperated look upon her lovely face. Apparently I’m not where I’m supposed to be. Somehow the Cabbie delivered me to the TOTALLY WRONG location… and that the correct location was the exact opposite direction from my hotel. Sigh…

So she calls me another cab, I hop in and begin the trek to a new location. We enter this shipping yard… a billion fallen trees litter the yard… we take a left left right straight to a concrete bunker/STAGE O.

Again, there seems to be a notable absence of cars… and as the Cabbie (Gabby 2) leaves me… I feel like I’m an extra in ON THE WATERFRONT… I’m careful not to touch or move anything, as I’ve always been told that Union Dock Workers are highly sensitive to that sort of thing. Of course that’s an American Dock Worker thing… but I don’t know… I’m awfully far away from that which I know.

I walk through this door… to my right is a large opening with stacks of lumber perhaps 25 to 30 feet high. I now pass through an area covered with tables and the beginnings of the lunch hall…. Next I stumble past a divisional section into an area that is… well, this is a knoll covered in tundra style vegetation with a huge sort of stormy quilted sky backdrop before it. The vegetation upon the knoll is a bit sparser than those hills I’ve seen upon other stages… as if this is a section that is giving way to a new form of landscape.

Next, I pass a couple of column bases that I know must be… of Minas Tirith… for they are of the same Alabaster marble that the entirety of that walled upon walled city of legend is constructed of. There is the silver (lost in space robot arm material) accordion tube of Air Conditioning piping through the room before me. I step through an area which serves as a snack farm for famished film folk.

I step around this area without so much as a nibble. I move forward into what I can only describe as being beautiful. This is an Alan Lee painting brought to life.

The floor is inlaid marble…. The hall is made of three primary colors. White, black and green. There are twelve side arches, which are made up of black onyx/marble? With malachite tops, leading into the arch with is alternating between the alabaster marble and the malachite green. Within 10 of the arches are gigantic White carved ‘Kings of Gondor?’ I believe.

This is a damn cool set. Right now as I type this, I’m in… what I believe to be Minas Tirith’s Tower Hall.

The actor, John Noble, I believe is the bordering on madness King… Faramir has just now given his report to his liege and father. Denethor is of course outraged at the turn of events, convinced that his now departed son Boromir would have brought him the ring. The shot I’m watching is the camera, solely upon Denethor.

I’ve never seen this actor playing Denethor before… But he has a look of evil and twisted humanity and sadness all about him. A look of desperate frailty… His hair long and stringy… peppered black and white. When he smiles with a mad Manson-esque look in his eyes… which quickly transforms into a snarl not unlike that of wild dog. He is, quite scary and disturbed looking.

Meanwhile, just behind the camera for eyeline acting and line feeding is David Wenham as Faramir. He is out of armor…. And is now wearing his brown leather two buckled boots…. No heels, flat across the bottom… an olive green flat of cloth covering his below abdomen and legs…. He’s wearing the leather chest piece with the embossed symbol of… the tree in a used and cracked up silver lamet type deal. Though, it is well worn…. It has seen better days…. Faramir is in the absolute best of ‘olden’ times garb… not the brilliant colors of the 1950’s knights in armor…. But more muted… real colors. Everything worn, nothing new looking.

Denethor…. Well when I described his hair to you, in a way, that describes the entirety of his character look. Salt and pepper. He has the days growth peppering of stubble…. His robes a deep deep black with silver/grayish fur…. For me, I’ll call it wolf pelt, but it would probably be something a bit more… a bit of higher standing.

Meanwhile, in the 2nd Unit monitor window, I see what seems to be a coronation scene. This is, well, the coronation scene. I suppose at one level I could be on that set, but frankly… this scene is of more dramatic oomph. Besides, I’ve been curious how good this John Noble chap is. I have to say… DAAAAMMMMNNNNN, intensity is not an issue… I’ve watched 9 takes of this one scene… and everytime the look in his eye… the ferocity… followed by a look of loathing… then fatherly love… then a feigned bit of weakness as he stumbles… then finally indignation and outrage.

I never really had a iron clad mental image of Denethor… I suppose I had always imagined just a weakened old man… That is not what I’m seeing. Here is a man driven to madness by fear.

Alright, everyone has broken for lunch… I had left the computer and came running back to the beast so I would be alone in this Minas Tirith Tower Hall.

This most reminds me one of the chambers/halls of the grand cathedral in Toledo, Spain… the home of the Inquisition…. There was a hall loaded with Statues… that had the old fashioned sense of grace and beauty that this hall resonates with. All that is missing is the ceiling. And as with most sets, that is where the lights hang to light it all. But in my mind I imagine that what I’m looking at right now is merely the lower 25 feet of the room. Still large and grand… but once they tack on the above column inlaid ceiling… or the mural in the ceiling… or whatever it is they choose to go with…. That will be the final stroke of the Alan Lee brush that paints this gorgeous place.

Once back from lunch the crew begins making ready for the reverse on Faramir. Ol David Wenham has to be the son looking upon a fallen father… one that uses words to inject venom and spite into a loyal sons mind. It is a very very hard place for him to be in… but he stands to his beliefs… weathers his father’s verbal spears… and leaves a bit sad and melancholy.

After this shot is completed… I decide to ask Peter about the Scouring of the SHIRE… since this is something that you folks have been on me non-stop to get to the bottom of. Yes, it is in. We do see it, though Peter says they handle it a bit differently than in the book (no follow up on that) but that it does take place and is seen. Peter begins asking me about what other questions I get asked most… and frankly I don’t have them with me today, so I go from memory… I mean, probably the next most asked question about Peter is the ol… Is he gonna do KING KONG next? Peter sort of giggles about this, as whatever project would be coming next for Peter is so far off in his mind… You see folks, Peter will be working on THE LORD OF THE RINGS… well, it’s like this… Peter delivers RETURN OF THE KING right before TWO TOWERS is released… so that means that Peter can’t even begin to think about his next film until mid-2002… but having said that, Peter does very much want to make a smaller film… not because he hasn’t enjoyed this experience, but more or less for a change of pace. When asked about KING KONG, Peter says… ‘Depends what my status is after these,’ and that is what he’ll probably say about every film you were to ask him about.

People have been asking me to ask Peter about Treebeard… Well Treebeard is in the film… not only that, but I’ve seen Treebeard already. The other day… I was so excited in the last report to be seeing the Gates to Moria, that I plum forgot to mention that about 9 feet from the gates, behind some bluescreen was Treebeard. No action figure sculptor or paintjob will ever do this creation justice. It was, stunning. He has branches on him where he places Merry and Pippin… what I saw was the crotch up Treebeard. He had a deep dark intelligent pair of brown eyes… His beard was this… language actually fails me… it’s that mossy stuff you see on some trees… in it you can find a snail… quite a lovely shell as well… I’ve also learned that Treebeard is voiced by an actor already cast as another character…. BUT I have yet to find out who this voice/actor is. As for Sauron, well I won’t be having that question answered… I already know that much.

Right after this Peter gets grabbed to do some more work… but I pick up a conversation with Andrew Jack, one of the Dialect & Creative Language Coaches on LORD OF THE RINGS (the other being the amazing Roisin Carty), who is so kind as to give me a language breakdown on the vocal universe of Tolkien.

Andrew Jack is an insanely perfect speaker and alongside his colleague and professional partner, Roisin Carty, in this amazing and difficult endeavor . I felt like such the lowly commoner just speaking with him. He is very very happy to finally talk about his work on the film…

"You’ve seen how detailed all the work on this film has been… through all the different aspects of production. It is very much the same on my end as well"

We begin simply, just going down the line of the different accent types...

Gondorians --- the speak with a straight English accent with an O diphthong giving them a dark Yorkshire sound.

Hobbit speech--- they sound as though they come from Gloucestershire… in the west country. Which gives them a lighter sound… more timeless… Having said this, Bilbo and Frodo are more educated than the rest and have a slightly more standard English sound. And then Merry is an oddball… coming from a different class than most of the Hobbits.

The Wizards: Gandalf and Saruman--- speak with a straight standard English accent stemming from Received Pronunciation…

Elrond and the elves… Have the same basic accent as Gandalf but there is a linguist quality to them. A highly educated studied sound… coming from the fact that the elves are experts in language. Everything is pronounced very clearly and deliberately. And their Elvish… that is handled by the Elvish expert, Roisin Carty, with the help of David Falo and Bill Welden (Two of the absolute world experts on ELVISH.)

Gollum starts with the Gloucestershire which comes from the time spent as a Hobbit, but as he makes the transition to the CG character… over those centuries… his accent degenerates into the Gollum speak we know. The other day when I had the pleasure to get drunk while everyone else remained perfectly sober… ahem…. I heard Andy’s GOLLUM voice, it is even more evil and pitiable than you have previously imagined.

Aragorn – Viggo is American and brought up in Argentina, he also is Danish in orgin and has an unique rhythm to his speech… He’s kept an R… which might sound American, but is actually an Irish R… He speaks Elvish as well, as he was brought up by elves. He starts off speaking in the dark out of the corner of his mouth… but as he continues his Vocal journey from Strider to… well, you know.

Dwarves --- Lowland Scottish, Celtic influence… has that same Irish R… That gives you an OLD feel.

Orcs and Uruk Hai have a vocal quality that is ugly and brutal… very raw and mean. If you heard those fellows you’d know that they were very crude and raw.

Rohans – these people speak a Rhotic accent… which is an accent that uses and stresses their Rs.

There is a strict rationale for all of this…. When you see a map of the Tolkien universe… they’ve mapped the language much like England and Wales.

Wormtongue is a different animal all together…he is an oddball…based on Received Pronunciation… then goes from there.

Followed the Tolkien appendix to the letter at the back of the book…. "It was a godsend really. It’s all there for how to do it, It’s almost as if Tolkien knew we were going to make a movie."

Andrew Jack (Dialogue Coach) and Roisin Carty (assistant dialect coach) though on this film they refer to themselves as Dialect and Creative Language Coaches… From all things I can tell they’ve been amazing language tag team… always picking up where the other left off.

Next up I find myself watching Faramir and Eowyn being married… Eowyn’s dress is quite literally one of the most beautiful beaded gowns I have ever seen in my life. Miranda is droolalicious here. And that David bloke now gets to flub his kiss about a 1000 times if he is smart at all. I have been volunteering to be the stand in with Miranda… and work out the angles… But noone seems to be taking me seriously… I will say this though… David has been put through the ringer of emotions today.

They shoot the first rehearsal… It’s a double kiss… they come up for air and push on through the emotion… Peter yells "Cut" and they part… All the ladies on set begin protesting that Peter should hold the shot till after they part… when they are smiling into one another’s eyes.

Upon doing a second take like that, Philippa Boyens… who is absolutely delighted to get to this scene tells Peter that it should be a single kiss, and as they come up for air to part… smiling into one another’s eyes…. They shoot it like that, but David and Miranda come back for a second kiss as well. But Peter yells cut just as their lips begin to touch… David comes away protesting… he wanted that second kiss… I’m with David, give him that second kiss!!! Or at least give me that second kiss Miranda! Hee hee.

Take 4 --- My fave… Good long kiss, wonderful post-kiss glow. The gals on set are quite pleased. Very happy.

Take 5 --- Peter’s happy….

The ladies on set are delighted to finally... after what seems like years of shooting, they get their 'girly' scene. Philippa is literally coo-ing after every kiss... And I have to admit, it is beautiful on the monitors... But crikey... only 5 takes? David didn't mess up nearly as much as I would have. If memory serves he had to get dragged behind that horse stuck full of arrows about a good dozen times. Life just ain't fair at all. I will weep for the man!

Today, while Peter is directing the Faramir and Denethor scene…. 2nd Unit is handling the coronation of… well, you know. On that top monitor I can see Gandalf the White placing the crown on a bearded Viggo... but I can't make out the background all too well, this is the satellite feed monitor as it is taking place about 25km away right now. Look for coverage of this day at E! Online someday soon, as John Forde was there today!

The kiss was the wrap, and much rejoicing was to be heard as.... get this, Peter wrapped early today, which means I get this to you early today!!!!

Cheers mate!

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 17, 2000, 11:06 p.m. CST

    Cheers Mate! NZ Tradition after 5 kisses and an early wrap...

    by lymond to get down to the nearest watering hole and get a couple of Lion Reds down you. After that may I suggest to Macs Golds followed by a Speights (pride of the south for over 100 years). This will put you in a fine mood for spending the next 8 hours exploring Wellingtons night life which by this time of year should be in full Christmas swing. Another great post Harry - don't forget to check Te Papa before you go. I'm sure PJ will agree that although LOTR is the most exciting thing happening to NZ at the moment, you've come a long way to not check out the rest of the land of the long white cloud.

  • Dec. 17, 2000, 11:07 p.m. CST


    by dignin2 crotch itches. actually, kind of a burning feeling...hmmm so will the trailer also be on the net soon?

  • Dec. 17, 2000, 11:08 p.m. CST

    The Soundtrack

    by Withnail

    I know this is not the first time this has been mentioned, but i think it would be AMAZING if Loreena McKinnett were to do a song or two for the soundtrack. Who, you say? She's a Canadian Celtic Folk singer who plays a mean harp and has a very haunting voice. Feel free to flame me, but i think she'd rock!

  • Dec. 17, 2000, 11:09 p.m. CST


    by Chiz

    Harry really takes you along on his journey! Great job dude. I would kill 3 of my cousins to see this fuckin' trilogy early! Oh well...I have to drink now

  • Dec. 17, 2000, 11:31 p.m. CST


    by SCFOOL

    stay away from the Lion Red, get some real bear, Export all the way.

  • Dec. 17, 2000, 11:37 p.m. CST

    I renew my earlier demand for the voice of Treebeard.

    by MrBadExample

    Johnny Cash. No one else could do it is well. Failing The Man in Black, I would settle for Graham Greene. (Maybe best known as Leonard from Northern Exposure)

  • Dec. 17, 2000, 11:37 p.m. CST


    by MrBadExample

    In your face, Space-Coyote!

  • Dec. 17, 2000, 11:38 p.m. CST


    by CosDashit

    scouring in, but handled differently than the books? does this mean no saruman and wormtongue? i hope not. let me just state this point blank: ROTK without scouring would suck. Scouring without Saruman and Wormtongue sucks even worse--it's a half@$$ job.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 1:43 a.m. CST

    Ahh, the scouring is in...

    by sjmaatta

    ...but in what form?? Will it be shortened, removing the shirriffs bit or the fighting bits or... shock horror... will there be no Saruman??? AAGGHHHHHHGGGggghhh damn this is frustrating it's taking so long!! Keep the reports coming!!! If you keep this up I'll have to work during the holidays so I'll have the excuse to come read these reports...

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 2:19 a.m. CST

    keep of the great work, Harry

    by StarScream

    Just wanted to voice my support for this awsome undertaking.The whining bitches who don't let up about "sell-outs" are clearly just jealous and over-zealous in their anti-capitalist crusade. I don't care what anyone says about Harry's ideosyncracies, either. These LOTR reports are the best material on the web by a country mile. I rate them above the E! reports, mostly because Harry knows the books and delivers with a trying-not-to-cream-my-pants geekboy enthusiasm that I really enjoy. Once again, congratulations and keep it up Mr Knowles.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 2:20 a.m. CST

    keep up the great work, Harry

    by StarScream

    Just wanted to voice my support for this awsome undertaking.The whining bitches who don't let up about "sell-outs" are clearly just jealous and over-zealous in their anti-capitalist crusade. I don't care what anyone says about Harry's ideosyncracies, either. These LOTR reports are the best material on the web by a country mile. I rate them above the E! reports, mostly because Harry knows the books and delivers with a trying-not-to-cream-my-pants geekboy enthusiasm that I really enjoy. Once again, congratulations and keep it up Mr Knowles.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 2:43 a.m. CST

    scouring and SPOILERS

    by panpil

    SPOILERS: I wonder how they will represent the scouring of the Shire if Saruman is dead at the end of The Two Towers

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 3:47 a.m. CST

    End of Return of the King

    by AtariRiot

    Let the complaining of the "altering" of the ending of Return of the Ring commence.. Whine Whine Whine.. At least it's in there, and of course it would have to be changed somewhat, we've known to some degree that Saruman's "end" isn't the same as the book, so put 2 and 2 together folks.. Personally, I'm really excited they put in some semblance of the scouring!

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 4:49 a.m. CST

    The STEWARD of Gondor

    by Seepgood

    Hmmm. I dunno. Sounds a little too blatantly stark, staring mad to me. As written, Denethor is majestic, awe-inspiring and self-controlled, even terrifyingly so, until the madness building inside him finally breaks out onto the suface as the siege rages. This sounds suspiciously like the reports of the Orthanc designs - a reduction of nuance and the sense of chronological development, perhaps inevitable here and there in a contracted story told visually rather than verbally (with acknowledgements to pseudoplotinus, wherever (s)he may be), but still unfortunate. We're talking here about someone so imposing and impressive that even Gandalf the White does not overshadow him, appearing to the naked eye, whatever other senses may reveal, as "more kingly, beautiful and powerful; and older", whose impending mental collapse is so well hidden that even Gandalf does not perceive the severity of his condition. If he is shown from the outset as simply a crazy old coot the tragedy and terror of his fall is robbed of its impact.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 5:39 a.m. CST

    Denethor's madness

    by JTylor

    Seepgood, you make a good point, but Harry didn't give us any inkling of when this scene takes place. It could take place after Denethor breaks, perhaps? How can we judge when we aren't given any dialogue?

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 7:40 a.m. CST

    Denethor Madness/Wizard Wheel

    by DrLocrian

    First--Harry, THANK YOU for your very thorough documentation of your visit to the LOTR set. Your reports are better than I even hoped, and I am happy to be living vicariously through you, if only for ten minutes a day. *** Miami Mofo: unfortunately, it has been verified recently that the Spiked wheel incident does indeed take place in Isengard (go to ). Worse yet, according to the call sheet, "the Palantir drops from his hand into the water" as Saruman is turning on the wheel. Yech. Oh well: it looks like Jackson and company are doing *most* of it right (well, certainly *some* of it), and, if all else fails, the movies will at least *look* terrific. *** I must agree with Seepgood that Harry's description of Denethor is troubling; bear in mind that we know pretty much exactly when this scene takes place (somewhere near when Denethor sends Faramir away into grave danger). Denethor does NOT snap until after Faramir returns, apparently mortally wounded (comatose and feverish). And it is only after Denethor takes a last look into the Palantir and sees the black ships sailing up the Anduin that his sanity REALLY departs. Sure, he is under enormous pressure before this point, but is he evil? Manson-esque (ugh)? DEFINITELY not. Denethor should appear extremely noble in demeanor and bearing, as Seepgood pointed out; even more so than Gandalf. I didn't like the idea of an unkempt, noticeably insane, sinister Denethor with "straggly hair". But, then again, changes like this are bound to happen when interpreted into film, and I'm really quite happy with the descriptions of practically everything else Harry has mentioned. I've been and continue to be nitpicky. Keep up the fantastic work, Head Geek.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 8 a.m. CST

    Well, I'm here! Thanks for the opportunity, Harry!

    by Pallando Blue

    <Prof. journ. entry#1> Just got into NZ, and mightily looking forward to being Harry's right-hand copyeditor over the next few weeks! These reports have been FANTASTIC, the material he's getting is just phenomenal. Looking forward to visiting some of these sets myself, very exciting! (And it looks like he's already cleaning up his own copy some, so, hell, less work for me, eh?) And maybe I can get some material for myself on the side... More Q's for PJ: (1)(Major) The Istari-Rotissirie--W T F? (2)(Minor) Acquisition of Bill the Pony: does Bill Ferny get an apple to the nose on the way out of Bree? (3)(Major) "Palantir-Staff"? Explain/debunk. (4)(Major(to me)) Does ROTK end/close/go to credits/fade-out/whatever with the exact same 2 words by Samwise? Please? ....Okay, big day tomorrow, need to get some rest and dump this jetlag. Looking forward to what accommodations a guest of a guest-geek will get. Hm, my ride isn't here yet; maybe they got the flight number wrong. Ah well, everything'll get straightened out. This will be my best job yet.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 8:02 a.m. CST

    Good points about subtlties seepgood...

    by Skyway Moaters

    ... I'll even go you one better. In my opinion Denethor does not completely succumb to madness until the very end upon the pyre. He has been driven to despair by what the Palantir has shown him, but he is still a man of great lineage, wisdom, power, and majesty right to the very last minutes of his life. Of course the act of immolating himself and Faramir can only be described as insane, but to show him as starkers earlier on is just a codescending cop-out that say's "ooh we have to paint this in broader strokes or the poor audience won't get it." This has repercussions for some of the subtle ironic twists of the tale as well. Because Denethor misinterprets the nature of the "Black Fleet" he depairs and decides to cremate himself and his dying son. Because Gandalf has to go to the aid of Faramir, "where no other help could come", Theoden is slain nad the destruction of the Witch King is accomplished. It might very well have fallen out differently had Gandalf ridden to war as was his intent, instead of returning to the tower to rescue the last steward of Gondor. These beautiful ironic twists and turns are diminished if not obliterated by a stark raving depiction of Denethor SM {;-0

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 8:07 a.m. CST

    Jtylor, we can determine that this scene...

    by Skyway Moaters ealier on because Faramir is dressed in Ranger garb which means he has just returned from Ithilien, has not yet gone back to the "Battle of the Causeway Forts" where he will recieve his wounds while marshalling a retreat.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 8:19 a.m. CST

    Denethor, bonkers or what?

    by Rosie Lass

    Joining in the great "at what point did Denethor lose it?" debate. I think that by the time we see Denethor in the book he is already well on the way to madness but still managing to keep his grip. Tolkien said at one point that Denethor was actually stronger than Saruman because he used the palantir but never submitted to Sauron. He only really snaps when he thinks that his son is dying and his city is lost but the roots of his madness go much further back. I can't wait to see the character interpreted on film. I think that the actor has a really good face for the part, as long as he dosen't go over the top. Looking forward to seeing Faramir too, a very under-rated character.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 8:30 a.m. CST

    The Fate of Saruman (BEWARE of some Spoilers for those who haven

    by Mac an Cheanna

    No matter how good the three Lord of The Rings turn out to be, part of me will be greatly disappointed if it turns that Saruman and Wormtongue won't be in The Scoring of The Shire scene. I accept that some changes in the films are acceptable, such as leaving out stupid old Tom Bombadil and his nonsensical ramblings, and moving "The Departure of Boromir" forward to the end of The Fellowship of The Ring, but I hope and pray that PJ isn't going to kill off Saruman at the end of The Two Towers, which would really piss me off. One of the most memorable scenes in The Return of The King is when the Hobbits discover the true identity of "Sharkey" and suddenly realise that they were foolish in taking so long to return home. Wormtongue's final outburst of rage at being treated like shit by Saruman for so long is also a brilliant conclusion to their stortyline.. and if Saruman "falls out the window of Orthanc" as rumours have suggested, Tolkienites everywhere will feel betrayed...

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Harry the Hobbit

    by kevsnyde

    You know, Harry kind of reminds me of a Hobbit. I mean, he's travelled from his distand home, kinda like his Shire, into a strange world unknown to him. and while he is a large man the differences end there, I'll let the physical similarities speak for themselves! He sure does Eat and Drink like one. Not to mention the hair, man, the hair.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 8:37 a.m. CST

    By the Way...

    by kevsnyde

    Harry, What size shoe do you wear?

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Mac is right...

    by Dave_F

    The final fate of Saruman is a sharp, subversive conclusion to the saga, appropriately suggesting the far-reaching effects of even distant warfare. Sure, the name "Sharkey" might call to mind images of Burt Reynolds gunning a coked up Henry Silva out of an office high-rise (and for the record, "Sharky's Machine is an underrated thriller - cool cast of character actors, twisty crime plot, some smart dialogue, decent emotional underscoring, and one of the all-time best end shoot-outs), but y'know, it's an important scene. Tolkien didn't tack it on for a last-minute "Fatal Attraction" oh-my-god-she's-still-alive scare. Much of "Lord of the Rings" showcases the perils of inaction, and Saruman's vengeful play for the Shire brings those themes to their most resonant setting - home. It's also interesting to see the once-mighty Saruman reduced to such petty vengeance, and as Mac noted, Wormtongue's bitter final outburst is a fine moment. Ehh...would the Tolkien purists beat me silly if I suggested changing "Sharkey" to something that sounds a little less silly to modern ears? Surely a minor concession to insure that the scenes come across appropriately.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Peter Jackson - Screw doing "King Kong", do "The Hobbit"!!!

    by IAmLegolas

    I mean, damn. They have the sets and locations for most of Middle Earth already sent up, and you got your Gandalf and Bilbo and Gollum... HEY NEWLINE, keep P.J. down in N.Z. and keep shooting. You already know the LOTR is going to make you bank! Bring on "The Hobbit"!! I want to see Smaug and Thorin(sp?). I want Mirkwood and the spiders!!! Make it so.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 10:43 a.m. CST


    by Bergil

    Thanks God, the "Scouring" is in! I had more or less resigned myself to this part of the story being dumped for the film. There are so many good reasons (in film terms) for doing so: running time, the natural climax coming with the fall of Sauron, etc. But upon re-reading the book, I realized how vital this episode is. So much is lost without it: the "maturing" of the Shire inhabitatnts, the chance for Merry and Pippin and Sam to "come into their own;" the transmission of Galadriel's blessing and power, in a sense, from Lorien to the Shire; Frodo's suffering and sacrifice. Oh, no: this section of the story is absolutely necessary for the tale to have it's proper "pay-off." PJ says it is handled "somewhat differently." Well, that is to be expected. Condensation of this area is inevitable if the ending of the film isn't going to seem endlessly drawn-out. But it is a relief to see that he is at least going attempt to include it, that he sees the dramatic import of this chapter.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 10:57 a.m. CST

    critical people

    by Climacus

    geez, people, let's be a little more critical about how an actor and director interpret a work. what are we, strict constructionists unable to see the range of possibilities a text allows, because we're so locked into the original intent of an author we've deified? *** scouring: clearly, with the way ted sandyman's cast announcement was handled, his role was always going to be bulked up. i'm fairly certain that he'll have a (much?) larger role in the scouring. my major question remains -- how will the role of Men in the scouring be handled? the conflict between races is loaded with possibilities, if jackson dares to tackle it. *** denethor: i'll wait to see him on the screen, and not through harry's writing, to criticize or praise our director for HIS character (NOT papa tolkien's). *** keep it up, harry: this is great stuff.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 12:25 p.m. CST


    by MCVamp

    It's funny that people talk about spoilers for a story that's been around for half a century. Maybe if there are significant story changes I'd understand, but honestly, the people who haven't already read these books, or at least the Hobbit,are probably people who won't give two squirts of monkey piss about these movies anyway, or won't understand them. Maybe not in the way DUNE confused the feebles, but you get my meaning?

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 1:54 p.m. CST

    I demand that Harry gets a bit part in TLOTR!

    by JQuintana

    Harry should have a walk on part in TLOTR, just like in The Faculty! Perhaps a sureal comedy bit. As the party walk through the streets of Hobitton perhaps we could see Harry in the background juggling apples and reciting apt biblical passages. I am CONVINCED that this is a REALLY REALLY REALLY good idea. I have never been so sure of anything in my life. It would be a GREAT and very BRAVE decision by Peter. Even the diehard Tolkien fans who are sending Peter death threats because Tom Bombardil gor cut out of the film would really really appreciate this sight gag! IT IS A REALLY GOOD IDEA.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 2:09 p.m. CST

    Sauron's voice? Umm...

    by Cassius the Evil

    Okay, so we're not actually supposed to hear Sauron talk... oh, well. Hopefully they'll get the same guy who did Kosh and Ulkesh's voice on Babylon 5... Ulkesh creeped me out a *lot*.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 3 p.m. CST

    Bad start, hopes still high

    by Pallando Blue

    <Prof. journal entry #2> Okay, finally got to the hotel. Walked. I was told this trip was on expenses, and so had no cash for a cab. ATMs didn't accept a damn thing of mine. But all checked in now! And seems Harry was thoughtful enough to get us adjoining rooms, but I still haven't been able to contact him. Probably still having fun with the cast & crew! Can't wait to join the lucky dog, this is so exciting. Anyway, I'm exhausted from the walk, and the jetlag, and I'm going to crash for the night, get going bright and early. Hold on, someone's at the door. ...Bellman. Gave me the finger when I had no cash, and dropped the shoebox on the floor spilling Harry's notes for me all over the place. No rest for the wizard, looks like I start tonight!

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Sounds good Harry Keep it up

    by Elros20

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Does my R's look big in this?

    by Monty Python

    Christmas is almost upon us and I tell you man, it is *impossible* to go sneaker shopping for a Hobbit. Vans only go up as far as gargoyle size..Pffft..

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 3:53 p.m. CST

    Harry's alltime favourite beaded gowns...

    by Kieran

    I can just imagine Harry sitting there, hunched over his laptop in some forgotten corner of the production office, anguishing over his reaction to the droolalicious Miranda's beaded gown. Well it was clearly more beautiful than that blonde beauty queen aspirant's beaded gown, when she was collecting for charity at the Mall the weekend before he flew out. But was it really better than the beaded gown worn by that hooker in El Paso in '97? Could he really call Eowyn

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 4:13 p.m. CST


    by Wilbur

  • Or maybe not. Hey, Harry's doing bang-up coverage of the film, and Jackson is certainly benefiting from a bit of free publicity, but this paint fume-induced notion of giving Harry a walk-on needs to be shot down posthaste. The fact that even *two* Talkbackers have suggested it is scary enough as is...

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 5:21 p.m. CST

    Accents are being used as Tolkien intended

    by Will Collier

    I'm very heartened by Harry's run-down of the accents being used in the films. When Tolkien himself was asked what his characters should sound like (for a BBC radio adaption in the 1950's--not the magnificent 1981 version with Ian Holm, mind you), he counselled, "Minas Tirith is at the source of C[ommon] Speech. It is to C.S. as London is to modern English, and the standard of comparison." Tolkien also noted, "[A]ll users of the C. Speech would reveal themselves by their accent, differing in place, people, and rank..." which is apparently precisely the tack the filmmakers are taking today. (Another Tolkien quote of note, "You will, I supposed, have to use such means [here meaning 'vulgar' pronuciations] to make Orcs sound nasty!") As somebody who still shudders at on-the-set reports with phrases like, "And then Arwen dropped her sword..." (!?!?!), reading Harry's account was quite comforting. (All above quotes are from "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, page 254.)

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 7:32 p.m. CST

    Tolkien on Dwarves

    by m2298

    I don't think Tolkien meant to compare Jews with Dwarves because they are "secretive and hoarding vast amounts of precious metals". Rather I beleve he simply meant to compare two peoples maintaining their own distinct and insular culture (e.g. language) within a larger one.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 8:12 p.m. CST

    Tolkien's veiled Anti-Semitism, RE:dwarves

    by Darth_Inedible

    Oh you knobs... Yes Tolkien once compaired the Dwarves lot to the plight of biblical jews (ie: old OLD testament jews). And NO, Tolkien never said "yes I modeled my fictional race of small hairy men and their gold hoarding tendacies after jews, like the damn greedy kikes who stole my poor grandmother's farm". What Tolkien was refering to was the dwarve's lost homeland, their seven wandering tribes and their being both native and alien to their country, etc. CAN WE STOP THE FUCKING LEFTIST AGITPROP IN A LOTR TALKBACK FOR ONCE PLEASE OH PLEASE?

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 9:36 p.m. CST

    The Scouring

    by Aeolia

    If Saruman doesn't survive past the 2nd movie, then how is the scouring going to take place in a way that makes any sense? Saruman's power is in manipulating people, which is what he does in the Shire. I don't see any way that the situation in the Shire could have happened without his outside help. I can't imagine any of the hobbits inviting a bunch of men into the Shire, or causing the destruction of their own home. I don't think that any of the "bad" hobbits like Lotho or Ted Sandyman had the imagination or power over other people to control things the way Saruman did. So maybe a bunch of men just showed up and started running things. But I'd think they'd need some kind of leader for the organized destruction in the Shire to take place. So are we talking a new character or something? Or would Wormtounge or someone take Saruman's place? Or maybe the whole Saruman's death thing is a hoax and I'm getting all worked up over nothing. Probably some cast or crew member will be having a good laugh at my expense in a little while. Dammit! I thought knowing more information was supposed to make me feel better, not worse! Stupid 2003 release date!! If only I was in Harry's place, I'm sure I could wring some answers out of some unsuspecting crew member...

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 9:58 p.m. CST


    by CosDashit

    For those of you concerned about Denethor, I suggest that you recheck the second Q&A set where I ask PJ about Denethor--he said Denethor would not be portrayed as a madman, but rather as a tragic character.

  • Dec. 18, 2000, 11:57 p.m. CST

    i'm truly excited for you guys

    by HeywoodFloyd

    all of this hype must mean that you don't just read books with pictures in them.

  • Dec. 19, 2000, 7:53 a.m. CST

    a hoax! my kingdom for a hoax!

    by sjmaatta

    My optimism is reaching a feverish point again, I'm actually letting myself think that the wizardkebab is a hoax... oh please let it be!!!! Let Saruman end his days as was intended!!! You hear me PJ?