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There and Back Again: A Geek's Adventures in Middle-Earth conclude with CHAPTER 11!!! ARCHIVED INDEX!!!

This is the last chapter of a rather long journal I’ve kept of my adventures of the past two weeks. The trip took me on total of over Twenty-Seven Thousand Miles roughly… A great deal of flying time… and at the end of it all… A very weary Harry.

Never before have I dedicated myself to such a deadline, written so much so quickly, nor have I had as much fun with both.

At the bottom of this article will be a link adjoining a brief overview of what you’ll find at the other end. This article though has a bit more on its mind.

First, I have to say… though many of you feel you have been with me on this trip of mine… There is so much that I couldn’t put into words… not because I was sworn to secrecy, but because… while I consider myself not half bad at expressing myself… there is just something missing. Touching and seeing and smelling the world of these films… the hands that’ll create them… well, try this….

Imagine, the year is 1976… You are in Northern California at a bar. You have had 3 or 4 beers… You over hear a group of guys you’ve never seen before having a bit of an argument about which is better… DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL or FORBIDDEN PLANET.

Giggling to yourself and knowing these are people of your sort, you buy a round of beers for the table and introduce yourself as overhearing the conversation and you believe… without a doubt that FORBIDDEN PLANET is better!

About half the group laughs and invites you to take a seat, the other half smiles but with death stares. As the evening progresses, everything goes well… The folks at the table introduce themselves as Dick, Kenny, Denny, Phillip, Ralph, Benjamin, John, Richard, Joseph and George.

Over the course of the evening, you ask them how they know each other. Turns out they are working on a film called STAR WARS… They have a passion when they talk, a belief that it is going to be something unlike anything anyone has seen before. You find out that this George fella directed AMERICAN GRAFFITTI, which you really liked, but he hasn’t really done anything else… and this hyperbole with which everyone speaks… sounds like fanboy pole stroking to ya. So you say, "Best of luck, but you’ll never beat Kubrick’s 2001 or STAR TREK!"

They get a little belligerent… So you tell them to show you. To your surprise, everyone gets up… and with a few beers they take you over to a rundown warehouse… On the outside you laugh… They had finished principal photography, but there are all these miniatures… masks and props… they show you a few dailies… and as George tells you what he’s planning, your mouth drops… you begin to believe… you can’t believe that noone you know knows a thing about this. The production design isn’t like anything you’ve seen… There is this new computer controlled rig called a MOTION CONTROL CAMERA and as it is explained to you… you realize, this is a hive of genius spawned geeks. You have them sign a script page laying around… You tell all your friends about what you saw… most don’t believe you… some say the acting will suck…. And it feels like forever till the film is out… but in all that time, this has become your baby. It hits and changes things forever.

You look back at the autographs today and you now know the names and careers of everyone at that dinner… Their names were: Rick Baker, Ken Ralston, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, Ralph McQuarrie, Ben Burtt, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Joe Johnston and George Lucas… and you laugh because at the time… they were nobody. Just enthusiastic film fans trying to show the world that something new could be done with the realm of science fiction.

Alright… it’s a nice little fantasy… I’m sure you’ve often pondered a situation much like that… what it would be like…. How surreal it had to be to move past that point of introduction… How the project’s success and complete saturation of culture… well it feels like your thing. Because you knew before. You had seen things that noone else had… and you believed in the passion of the people that were making it.

Today it is easy to get cynical about the way things are… how people end up in a place at a time and see the things they see, but whether or not you believe me, well, frankly, I don’t care. I know what I have seen, read and felt. And it is my belief that these films are going to be huge in a way much like the STAR WARS series.

Why?

Well, I’ve seen some of you Talk Backers over the last 2 years talk about how "They’ll never make a movie that is better than your imagination when reading THE LORD OF THE RINGS," and ya know… you may be right. But one designer on the crew postulated, "What if we make it better than Alan Lee’s imagination?"

That is what is going on here… Take a look at the Alan Lee illustrations… the John Howe illustrations… imagine them being more faithful… imagine all the tiny details that his brush missed, but that a set dresser elaborated. You have read the book once maybe twice maybe two dozen times… But can you imagine what the Tolkien fan sitting next to you thought? Imagine being able to plug into the head of one of the most creative people in the world, and see what they see when reading these books. Imagine having $270 million dollars to realize it…. Imagine your nation’s army being at your disposal to reenact the fights in question. Imagine the greatest sculptors, leather-workers and metal smiths working to accomplish that vision. Imagine having the actors that are in this film at your disposal… Imagine having new technologies created… things like MASSIVE and a new form of RENDER software which reportedly makes RENDERMAN extinct. Imagine having one of the best cinematographers… great stuntfolks and the entire country to shoot. Lawmakers change the laws to allow you to do things the way they must be done to make it all work. Imagine having the nation’s economy at an all time low so that the money you have becomes nearly triple in value.

The above is what Peter Jackson has at his disposal right now in New Zealand. The names of the artisans, the make-up folks, many of the actors and the behind the scenes folks are anonymous to you.

By the time this is all over, their names will be legend. Names like Peter Jackson, Grant Major, Kirk Nicholls, Brigitte Wuest, Nathan Hall, Tony Marrow, Heather Kilgour, Virginia Lee, Paul Lasaine, Alan Lee, John Howe, Matthew Mellor, Andrew Lesnie, Peter Owen, Jose Perez, Jeremy Woodhead, Lenore Stewart, Kerryn Toberts, Debra Ashton, Vivienne MacGillicuddy, Margaret Aston, Alex Funke, Geof Murphy, Randy Cook, Ramon Rivero, Richard Addison Wood, Charlie McClellan, Richard Taylor, Michael Asquith, Jamie Beswarick, Shaun Bolton, Daniel Falconer, Marjorie Hamlin, Warren Many, Steve Unwin, Ben Wootten, Andy Serkis, John Noble, Karl Urban, David Wenham, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan… among many others you do already know… like Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Viggo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Mirando Otto, John Rhys Davies, Brad Dourif, Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler and many others.

The names you do not know will become known over time… Through CINEFEX and STARLOG and CINESCAPE… through sites like mine and Patrick’s and Garth’s and Nick’s.and Xoanon and the great legion of LORD OF THE RINGS sites….

At fan conventions there will be a new influx of new blood… folks not dressed like Stormtroopers or Boba Fett or Spock or Kirk or Picard… Folks that are not Jedi or Klingons or Runners or Sandmen. There is a new age of fandom on the rise, and I’ve been fortunate enough to look into the palantir that holds the vision of things to come. I have had that beer at that bar with that group. I have had the conversation about what was the best of type and how this compares… They took me to their shops, their sets and their parties… and I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Today on THEONERING, there is a shot of Stone Troll behind Aragorn. I not only know what that is, but I’ve seen the other two… and I know the correct scale of that thing. It is HUGE! The Troll could easily squish me in it’s hand. The detail is a bit fuzzy in that pic, but in the cracks plants and moss have begun to grow… They were cracked and aged by the elements of a century or so… however long it had been since flesh became stone. One is cowering low, the other turning away… one frozen while picking a dwarf by a leg and shielding his eyes from the terror of the breaking sun. I was the size of Bilbo. If you have been to the Smithsonian’s AeroSpace Museum in Washington DC… These statues could stand, barely, in there.

The most disturbing thing I’ve seen in the talkbacks recently has been the anger of STAR WARS fans that LORD OF THE RINGS somehow is going to replace STAR WARS or the place in the hearts of fans for Spielberg or Lucas.

This is absurd. The only thing that LORD OF THE RINGS threatens to do is become a new thing for us to love. When LORD OF THE RINGS comes out and we are awestruck by its sheer size and quality, we will use as our collective reference terms like… "I haven’t felt this way since I was a kid and saw Empire or Star Wars or Raiders, etc…" We use those terms because that is what so many of us know… and fans love hyperbole… "This is better than that by a mile" But the fact is… it is different.

LORD OF THE RINGS doesn’t threaten to get rid of EXCALIBUR or CONAN THE BARBARIAN or 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD or JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS… It threatens to be something new to add to that list.

It is my belief that LORD OF THE RINGS will do for Fantasy film, what STAR WARS did for Science Fiction…. Make it bankable and culturally significant on a grand scale. It will be among the rare ‘Genre’ films that gets nominated outside of the technical awards for things like screenplay, directing, picture and possibly acting awards… if the whole is on par with what I have seen.

As for the question, "Outside of Geeks nobody cares about LORD OF THE RINGS?"

Well, that is actually completely untrue. On my way back from New Zealand this Holiday season, I sat next to many anonymous strangers… on the 5 planes I occupied and the 4 airports I was trapped in. I was wearing my WETA cap with the Eye of Sauron symbol on the front… and nearly everyone would ask what a WETA was… a rock band?

I’d tell them that a WETA is a scary friggin New Zealand bug that terrorizes the nightmares of KIWI children… and that it also is the name of an effects company in Wellington, New Zealand that is currently making THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

To which the typical response was, "They’re making movies out of those?" Which I would affirm, then they would comment how they read the books in High School and liked them. It seems a whole bunch of folks have read this book… Word has it that 50 million LORD OF THE RINGS books have sold… How many have been checked out of a Library, assigned at schools… Passed on from Grandparents to Parents to kids of today? How many saw the Rankin Bass animated film for kids?

My Grandparents that I just spent Christmas with… They are not geeks, they are career military, go to church and never see movies… But they knew what LORD OF THE RINGS were.

The books are not a generation thing… they are known across generations and oceans and borders. If NEW LINE decides to follow through with their One Day One World release into 10,000 screens world wide… And if New Line lets all those people that know of the books, that read them long ago when they still dreamed of being astronauts and archeologists, know that the films are happening… WELL, this is going to be huge.

January 12th will be the first time that many ‘regular’ people will be exposed to their first glimpse of LORD OF THE RINGS. Then we have the SUPER BOWL and the OSCARS… Then we have the big event at CANNES… Then there are the new trailers… the special advance looks by critics and journalists… the covers of magazines, the inevitable tie-ins… the One Hour special "making ofs" that will be airing on one of those cable channels… the half hour special that will inevitably appear on a network broadcast near you.

NEW LINE publicity has their work cut out for them, but the best thing they can do… the best thing that Ordesky and Shaye and DeLuca can do right now is listen to Peter Jackson. They’ve seen his dailies and know that he is delivering the goods… But like George Lucas and like Emmerich & Devlin…. He knows exactly how to sell the movie too.

They should be breaking new ground with these films… Like, right now there are 12 months till the release of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. Each month have a new elegant painted poster of a scene from LORD OF THE RINGS in theaters. On top of being a cool thing to look forward to each month… They could sell the posters at their NEW LINE STORE like pancakes.

Don’t cut the trailers with a ‘Mr Voice’ narration…. Have Ian McKellen voice the trailers as Gandalf.

Nimziki (Head of Theatrical Marketing at New Line) knows what these films mean to the studio… but right now Joe should listen to Peter and work hand in hand with him on the Marketing of these films… because after LORD OF THE RINGS, Peter is going to be able to go anywhere with any of his ideas for films… and Peter is going to become one of the most recognized filmmakers in the world with these movies. New Line, having the advance look at this work should know that and make sure Peter is the happiest fellow on planet Earth with these films.

Now, there was another question that came up during the TALK BACKS that I saw that wondered if I had seen anything negative about the films while there. Well, they had these sausage rolls, but the sausage had the texture of a sponge and the taste of liverwurst… I didn’t much care for that. But seriously… in regards to the actual film itself… and what was going before cameras… No. Simply there was nothing negative to see.

Watching McKellen deliver his lines as Gandalf was perfection, but beyond his performance was the lighting by that gruff of a man named Brian Bansgrove… quite a character, "Do you want it all bright and sunny or dark and interesting?" I believe that was how he put it. "If we don’t put a light down in there it’ll be as dark as Eartha Kitt’s clacker" not that I know what a Clacker is, but my imagination believes it to be… um… politeness requires hesitation and silence. …but the lighting on his was always spot on… his robes always more than just a color. The white robes of GANDALF THE WHITE were woven in a gorgeous pattern, that only the light exposed… same with the GANDALF THE GREY robes. His costumes were perfect… His sword? Glamdring? A beautiful blade from the Goblin wars… His staffs… the first old and gnarled, the second pure white and art nouveau… but not cheesy. As Gandalf the Grey there was a weariness to Ian’s manner…. As Gandalf the White there was a strength and power to behold. The make up. His nose strong and wizardly. Perfectly blended to his own features. The beards? As White is was shorter and more firm… less wispy… as the Grey… long and wispy.

You see, this was more than JUST IAN… several departments were spot on. The same goes for everyone in this film. All the way across the board there was this sort of attention to detail. I guess I’m sorry to say I turned up no ugliness down there. Through all the time spent… looking at all the shooting on the 4 or 5 monitors a day while with Peter… watching the footage during the Bloopers… all I could say was that it all looked great. The make-up on Andy Serkis on his decent from Smeagol to Gollum was terrifyingly human and tormented. Not like things I’ve seen before. Saw a bit of Elrond on a monitor acting with Ian… but I couldn’t hear what was being said… but Mr Smith looked really cool… the footage was on the satellite monitor meaning it wasn’t running at full frame rate and video quality… unfortunately.

The weaponry was exquisite… the costumes perfect… the orcs and uruk hai and goblins? Scary and creepy and violent. Each race and creation had it’s own individual or societal look. The Rohans were different from Gondorians… as the Goblin’s armor was different from the Uruk Hai. Each had their own styles. Even the animatics that I saw… Mines of Moria and Eagles at the end… were pretty.

The greatest aspect of all though was the mental state of those making the films… there was no mental slothfulness in place here…. They knew what needed to be done and the order it needed to be accomplished in. There was good cheer, and people were not sick of each other, with a possible exception of their feelings for me… hehehe…

Now, to bring this all to a close for the time being… let me end saying this.

I’ve been a fan of film my entire life, this is well known. I love fantasy films and literature and have long wanted to see the ‘Star Wars’ of fantasy. Something that made it mainstream… that the rest of the world could latch on to. Right now in fan culture we are in a weird place. STAR TREK has been slowly dying for years now… The JAMES BOND films have become lacking in vibrance… Even EPISODE ONE divided the enormous fandom for STAR WARS into two groups… those that continue to believe (me) and those that could care less (see below)… This year we have a whole set of fantasy films… THE MUMMY RETURNS, SHREK, ATLANTIS, HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS (just off the top of my head)… and by the time it is all done, the genre should be nice and strong. Even a film like SPY KIDS has very strong fantasy leanings.

As a fan, this is a time to hold one’s breath… hope that it works, that it comes together and ends with a gigantic exclamation mark drawn by Peter Jackson.

So, for those in school realize that it is only two semesters away… For those at work, it is less than 52 weekends away… The time will fly till the final month, when suddenly the moments will tick by like geologic time. Till then though, I will be going back to New Zealand… I’m determined to do so. This was that much fun for me, and at some point I’d like to do a series of articles about the post-production process as well.

It has been my pleasure as a geek and a writer to take you there and back again, till later my friends….

THERE AND BACK AGAIN: A GEEK’S ADVENTURES IN MIDDLE EARTH




Introduction



Harry Announces His Trip and Quotes Peter Jackson’s bit about filming Helm’s Deep!




Chapter I -



Harry Arrives in New Zealand, visits Minas Tirith, meets Pippin, Gandalf and Faramir… Alongside Peter Jackson!




Chapter II



Harry’s 2nd day in Minas Tirith, Faramir goes off to battle as Gandalf warns him of the futility, learn about future website plans for Lord of the Rings, Discussion with Peter about Howard Shore, Faramir filled with arrows!




Chapter III



Harry visits BLUE SCREEN STAGE with Fangorn Forrest, Door to Moria, House of Healing… First encounter with Frodo and Sam and Legolas, the affect of the ring around Frodo’s neck, First look at Gandalf the Grey! The last time all four hobbits are together before cameras! Partying with Hobbits and Elves and Gollum!




Chapter IV



Harry accidentally visits the Production Office, STAGE O where Peter is shooting in the Tower Hall in Minas Tirith with Lord Denethor and Faramir, ‘Scouring of the Shire’ question answered, Treebeard seen, the language and accent guide to Middle Earth! Plus Faramir and Eowyn’s wedding!




Chapter V



Harry watches the filming of the last time Frodo and Sam and Elijah and Sean are in front of the cameras… Meets animation god, Randy Cook…Harry meets VELMA!!!! The motion control shrinking of Hobbits… and Harry visits the WETA WORKSHOP and learns about the WETA sculpted line of toys, miniatures and much more!




Chapter VI



Harry survives an earthquake, spills his own blood at Minas Tirith before the Tree of Gondor, Gets wasted with those crazy geniuses at Weta Workshop, Harry meets Arwen, begins to get book autographed! Plays with Anduril, holds the one true ring, meets Strider!




Chapter VII



Harry returns to the Tower Hall of Minas Tirith, watches Elijah’s last Peter Jackson directed scene, Staff continuity, A conversation of Ian McKellen, Gandalf’s beard and its adventures in chocolate, a wonderful scene with Pippin and Faramir.




Chapter VIII



The last day of Shooting! Aragorn, Gandalf, Faramir and Legolas! Harry’s moment to take part! The emotional peak of the journey! "Cut… check the gate…." Cheeeeeeeeeers!!!!




Chapter IX



The Wrap Party… what a night of debauchery and celebration! The musical genius of CRUMB! The LORD OF THE RINGS Blooper Reel! Gollum/Smeagol Make up seen!




Chapter X



Harry visits Peter Jackson in his home! Holds KING KONG! Talks about BAD TASTE II and much more!




Chapter XI



Harry offers thoughts and conclusions about what he’s seen, where fandom is on the films and more of his endless ramblings!

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:19 a.m. CST

    Good one, Harry!

    by brian O' blivion

    Wow. Thanks alot for giving me a reason to live... uh, I mean... surf the net once more. I will wait in anticipation with my fellow geeks until December 2001!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:21 a.m. CST

    Cheers Mate from NZ and we can't wait to have you back!

    by lymond

    Harry, thanks for making my little Kiwi heart swell with pride each time you extolled the work ethic of the LOTR team. The culture of the LOTR cast and crew came through as a fun and family type atmosphere and this is what this little country is all about. Peter Jackson, to me, is not just a movie maker - he's now become (probably unwittingly) an ambassodor of NZ and personally I couldn't think of a better man for the job. Down to earth, humble but quietly sure of himself, sense of humour about everything and a sense of pride in everything he does. Thanks Harry for explaining it so well to the rest of the world how we all feel about this film here. Hope you keep your oath to yourself and make it back soon...maybe its time we showed you a cave Weta :)

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Amen, Harry

    by vroom socko

    Amen

  • Thanks big man, with your travels through Middle Earth you've taken us on a wild ride. The LotR is my favorite book and I have no doubt at all that PJ will do an amazing job, one more year...

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:28 a.m. CST

    Hey, I heard real estate is real cheap in Middle Earth!

    by Psyclops

    Imagine a real estate agent trying to sell some decent property in the "norman rockwell-esque" city of Minas Tirith. But seriously, how cool is Harry to bring us a behind-the-scenes look at LOTR a freaking year before it's release date? It's that geeky enthusiasm I love about that guy... it's what I love about this site! Harry is one of us, and for all those Harry-haters out there, relax and let the guy have his fun. Even if New Line did give him a free trip to the LOTR set (which they didn't), he's given us the greatest christmas present he can offer by letting us in on it. Harry... you da man!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:34 a.m. CST

    Harry is great

    by Zombie Vig

    Harry not only made most of us jealous and weep in joy but his LOTR reports is some of the coolest if not the best articles he has written. The synergy that comes from his love of the subject matter, love for movies and his incessant wit is a joy to read upon. One year from now (and the yearly intervals) onwards, we will understand what Harry felt like on the set of the massive geek event. One word will sum it all, COOL!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:35 a.m. CST

    Cool!

    by Movie Man

    I've enjoyed reading all of the articles, and I'm glad there are links to all of them so that I can read them again. Here's hoping for more.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:36 a.m. CST

    I expect to hear more as time goes on.

    by vroom socko

    Your reports have been the most fun I've had at this site. Talking about everything from King Kong to the public appeal of the book to Bored of the Rings. Many people here have said they are envious of you. For me and your fellow Screaming Retina's, however, we are thankful for you and your site. People like you are what help to make the movies great.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:49 a.m. CST

    About literature

    by Zonkk

    Also bear in mind the scale of the public who read fantasy books. I don't know what the situation is like in the USA, but here in South Africa, and in England, Terry Pratchett is massively read. His series of Discworld novels are hugeness itself. Each new book he writes basically enters the book charts at no1 and sell by the bucket load. There are graphic novels, stage plays and more based around his series. Then there is also Terry Brookes and his Shanara series, which is also hugely popular. Don't forget all those sad anoraks ;-) who spent their youth playing things like Dungeons and Dragons, and reading the fantastic books based in the Dragonlance universe. Add to that all the fantasy computer games that have been released and been very successful over the years. The most important thing is that whenever the creators of these worlds talk about their inspiration, they usually always mention J.R.R. Tolkien and his books, obviously with the emphasis on Lord Of The Rings. There is an incredibly huge amount of fantasy nutters wondering this world, wishing they were in another - and these people are not big time cinema goers either. They could be professors from Oxford to the guy who goes hiking on weekends. They are all brought together by one thing - fantasy and the world created in their minds when they read the books. They don't need to go to the cinema to get their fix. But there are so many of them, that they would flock to each and every screen where the LOTR is being shown, just to immerse themselves in that world. And that is a hell of a lot of people. Again, thanks Harry for your writing. It has been glorious.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:59 a.m. CST

    It has been said before, but i will say it again:

    by NUXX

    Kudos to ya, Harry! And THANK YOU for sharing this with us. I for one really, REALLY cant wait for these movies to come out! NUXX OUT...

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 3:19 a.m. CST

    Post production

    by maestrino

    Oh cool cool cool!! Harry if you get the chance to go back to NZ and look at the post production that would be awesome!!! IMHO it's the most interesting part of movie making. Er.. hehe.. any chance Howard Shore will be needing any assistance?? :) *** Anyway thanks again (how many times has the word thanks been used in Talkback I wonder?), your sagas have been excellent , I'm really going to miss them. Btw, you've now written 31,714 words for There and Back Again. Impressive. Most impressive.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 3:24 a.m. CST

    That Advertising Campaign

    by Bobossboy

    To Harry you listen. Have the right idea he does. Remember the campaign for Episode I? Remember how cool those trailers were? Remember how the man with the brown voice didn't get a look in? That's what I want to see for LotR. So, if there's anyone out there on the LotR marketing team reading this post, know that at least one potential fan agrees with Harry. LET JACKSON HAVE HIS WAY!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 3:28 a.m. CST

    Absolutely Right On!

    by Deano

    Harry I have read these articles with the same interest I had when I was a little kid and first started reading The Hobbit. My expectations are high but then there is a huge following in Australia of all of Peter Jackson's work. Meet the Feebles and Bad Taste were sellouts at the Valhalla in Mebourne. However P.J.'s taste in filmaking changed after Brain Dead and yet there were those of us who went along for the ride - and we still aren't disappointed. P.J. has done a lot to promote New Zealand but somehow it reflects well on Australia too - Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett are all Aussies - and i'll bet there's a fair few us in the crew as well as post production. Finally P.J. has changed the way that the world looks at movie making downunder - not some place to make comedies or historical drama - but to turn the dreams from our famous books into mind boggling realities. I know... I'm rambling on, but P.J. I salute you, you inspired me to get into filmmaking and with Harry's momentum and enthusiasm I hope that all these epic tales won't just be created in L.A. or London.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 3:55 a.m. CST

    Harry's best ever writing is in "There and Back Again"!

    by Valles Marineris

    Fan-Tastico!!! Although I've always enjoyed Harry's empassioned special features, I really think the big lug is in the best place he's ever been in with his writing. I am sooo envious of his adventures in middle Earth, but I can't think of *anyone* in the geek community who could have done such raw, passionate justice to this story the way the big guy did. This is why I come to AICN. Happy (belated)Christmas/New Year / Hanukkah / Ramadan / Millenium / Geekanukkah/BruceCambellamadan!!!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 4:15 a.m. CST

    Peter Jackson and his rise to power.

    by Psyclops

    It find it absolutely amazing that this is the same man who directed the low budget gore fests 'Bad Taste' and 'Dead Alive'! I didn't care much for that first one, but I thought 'Dead Alive' was one of the funniest horror movies ever made. There were so many clever ideas that were used in that film... remember the zombie with the lawn gnome for a head? Or the internal organs that turned against Lionel. I still can't believe this guy was able to prove himself as a 'serious' filmmaker! I love people like that-- those who can rise above the low budget doldrums and conquer the mainstream world. Hell, Sam Raimi did it to perfection with 'A Simple Plan'!! Good luck to PJ, and I hope he continues to make some kick ass films for us geeks (hopefully, a sequel to 'Dead Alive'). Oh yeah... I fucking LOVED 'The Frighteners'!! 'Nuff Said.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 5:01 a.m. CST

    Great times

    by EmperorCaligula

    THank a huge lot to Harry, for those excellent reports. * Well, it would be great if you could go back there and have a glimpse of post-production. Not to mention you'd have more time to _visit_ the country, which wouldn't hurt;) And if Harry goes back in, say, fall, well, it means he could be shown actual parts of the film! Gosh.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 5:10 a.m. CST

    What about the Cannes event?

    by cannes_man

    There are very few events at the film festival worth getting tickets in advance. A new Almodovar film, or perhaps Jarmusch, or the opening night hollywood film if it hasn't been released yet. This LOTR event Harry mentioned will be one of most sought after tickets this year. I've already talked with my contacts, and they don't have any details at all other than Peter Jackson has requested a slot in the festival, and the tickets assigned were snapped up faster than any event before. They haven't even tried to maintain a waiting list, there just aren't any tickets at this time. Distributors in Europe have been lining up to get a taste of the LOTR action, it is widely expected to be one of the biggest BO draws for the next few years. Met Filmexport grabbed the rights here in France. Many distis, however, are remembering how ep1:TFM didn't live up to the hype, and even though it was a big draw, the massive profits weren't there. But there is good buzz about LOTR, and I'm sure many of the distis on this side of the atlantic have been reading AICN for the last week, and hoping to see the big Cannes event. So Harry, fill us in on any details you may have heard about the Cannes event, and I'll buy you a beer if you come over again this year. Cannes Man

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 6:08 a.m. CST

    HARRY.....

    by GIANTLEO

    ...what a journey. All I can say is that it would be only fair for PJ to invite you to opening night in New Zealand. You are so correct about PJs status changing when these films hit the mainstream. He will become more than just a cult leader in films but possibly more mainstream than he would feel comfortable with. Possibly Speilberg/Lucas fame....how unfortunate. Let's hope he keeps the creativity flowing. thanks for the memories ps: DID YOU FORGET ABOUT ELIJAH'S AUTOGRAPH? WHEN ARE YOU POSTING THE CASTS' AUTOGRAPHS AND NOTES FOR ALL TO SEE!!!!!!!!! -paix

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 6:19 a.m. CST

    Harry You're SO COOL!!

    by TSColly

    My girlfriend's pointed out that I shouldn't be jealous, you've worked hard to get to be able to go on sets like PJ's. So I take back any envious feelings and thank you once again on behalf of fans of Tolkien and Peter Jackson for the insights and information you've shared with us. I must admit some of the Xenarwen rumours had me worried but I reckon that's all tosh, so I'll just tick off the days till the 12th and then December !! Cheers again!!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 6:29 a.m. CST

    Thanks Harry!

    by geekprincess

    This is my first time posting to your site, and I must say that I have enjoyed reading about your adventures in kiwiland. I was a huge fan of the LOTR books years ago, and am eagerly anticipating the first trailers. Thanks again for letting us join you on this journey to Middle Earth, and allowing us to peek into the inner belly of what could be the best Fantasy film yet. The Geek Princess

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 7:55 a.m. CST

    Agree 100% re:trailer

    by Xfonhe

    If I hear that cliche: "In a world..." 'Mr Voice' line introducing a LOTR teaser, I swear, I'll kick someone's arse at New Line!! Oh, and, thanks again Harry! :)

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 8:27 a.m. CST

    Sigh. A quibble, but

    by Jack Parsons

    Star Wars is not not not NOT science fiction. SF is defined as a genre in which the science, social or physical, is pivotal to the plot. It's speculative, but not impossible. Star Wars has ray guns and spaceships and aliens, but it doesn't have an ounce of science in its entire corpus. Star Wars is a *fantasy*! It's the old tale of knights and dragons and farmboys and princesses, with swords for cristsakes. I only say this 'cause fandom has altered the definition of SF to the point where "Red Mars" is undistinguished from "Star Wars" in the minds of nearly all. Don't get me started on the term "sci-fi"...

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Regarding critics

    by Caecus

    I feel compelled to write a quick note to Mr. Harry and thank him for an optimistic appraisal of the Lord of the Rings films. We often regard classic films as Classics because we have been told they are such. This closed set of classic films gives us a measure to judge modern movies against. And for some reason, modern movies never do quite measure up. It is the curse of nostalgia

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 9:37 a.m. CST

    Hopefully they'll be great, but...

    by Dr Benway

    ...the very fact that we've all spent the last two years tearing our pubic hair out in frenzied anticipation of these films automatically precludes their being a phenomenon like 'Star Wars'--that is, something that sneaks up on the popular culture and triumphantly conquers it. ***** Don't get me wrong--I hope these films will be wonderful, and I expect they'll do monster worldwide B.O. regardless of the reviews, but organic pop phenomenons like the original 'Star Wars' are not heavily hyped and marketed by large companies years beforehand. By definition, they hit you out of the blue. ***** The fantasy of meeting Lucas and co. in '76 is a pleasant one, but Harry's trip to NZ really isn't comparable. This trip is more like a trip to the set of 'Return of the Jedi'--magical yes, but a whole different ballgame, with the weight of expectation and hype hanging over the production like the Sword of Damocles. ***** Anyhow, thanks again for the great reports, Imperious Geek, and here's hoping they let you go back in a few months to steal some finished renderings from Weta Digital.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Just what is going on here?

    by toon_dood

    Harry - I would also like to say thanks for your input on what you saw and reported on. Excellent stuff! Your counter must be off its digits. I couldn't help but think that it was a shame that they couldn't have used you as an extra. Maybe some ex-theif who has nothing but good luck in Middle Earth and get's what he wants all the time - some sort of power that can control people to allow yourself accepted behind the enemy lines - you get the idea. Bravo!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 9:53 a.m. CST

    WOOOHOOO!

    by MR.CHRISTIAN

    I feel the same way Harry! Every actual production shot we have seen has been nothing short of perfection.... I wish I could have been at that table with the beers... That will be the BIG memory for ya!... I've never wanted a year to go by so quickly...

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 10:08 a.m. CST

    I disagree Dr Benway

    by sundown

    the reason why it is more like meeting before Star Wars then ROTJ is the aforementioned 'hype' is onlyin the hands of 1 million or so people not 30 million like the ROTJ hype or the Episode 1 hype. Jackson and his crew haven't made anything yet they aren't jaded hollywood guys plunking out a sequel for dough. They made all three at once in the seclsuion of the outback far from fans hollywood and the world at larget. they did it with creativity and love in a project that most won't have an inkling what it looks like for some time... Thereis nothing wrong with being excited about something! Just cause we are use to dissapointment doesn't mean when a once in a lifetime thing like this comes along we can't embrace it. All I'll say is enjoy it and if you are a hard ass and don't its YOUR loss and your alone!!!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Thank you

    by SThomas1

    For the coverage of the filming of "The Lord of The Rings". Unlike you, my words cannot describe how greatfull I am that you wrote as well as you did and with the style you have. I truely feel as if I was there AS you!! My deepest gratitude, Steven R. Thomas

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 11:11 a.m. CST

    LOTR RULES ALL!!!

    by IAmLegolas

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 11:33 a.m. CST

    Well said morGoth, I agree. Oh, and thank you Harry!

    by brokentusk

    I agree that no film should have actors of a certain race just to be PC. Good for Peter Jackson, if we did not read about other specific races in Middle-earth then don't put others in to try to be PC - these films should NOT be like the real world! The trailer was not even that, it was a preview - not only that, it was only for the Internet. What does that tell you?...THAT IT IS BY NO MEANS THE FINISHED PRODUCT. How the hell do any of us know what new camera techniques PJ is using for the films. We only saw 5 second glimpses of scenes in the Preview. Nothing can be established from the Preview and no-one can say that anything was wrong with the it cause it is not finished. Harry is merely commenting on what he saw and feels. I'm hoping that these films will be brilliant, but from what I've seen so far, these films will not be brilliant, they will be absolutely amazing. Thank you very much Harry for these reports. I anticipated every evening when I could come to my PC and check up on things on the LOTR front. These reports were your best writing ever (well, at least for the 2/3 years I've been visiting the site). Thank you very much, you truly feel something for these films, as do I. I will end by saying that these films WILL be amazing - why be negative until you see the final product? - be positive and maybe you'll be disappointed, maybe not.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 11:41 a.m. CST

    Oh, and...

    by brokentusk

    'Gladiator' used CGI/SFX extremely convincingly, don't you think general custer? You practically couldn't tell the difference from where the real buildings ended and the added on things began...

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 11:56 a.m. CST

    Wonderful Ode to the LOTR Movie Makers

    by Josephina

    Harry, your reports have been the best, taken us further in to the inside of these movies than we could ever have hoped for. I also fully see now why you were chosen, you could be Peter Jacksons twin in many aspects. This last report is wonderful, ( not one swear word, I commend you shows how in awe you are) , A true Ode to the wonderful LOTR Movie Makers. Harry, Thank You for everything. Peter , thank you for letting Harry report to us fans. Josephina

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Eternal

    by Sir Mordred

    I hate to break this to you Mr. Custer, but Harry is a geek; geeks aren't objective. I am a geek; if you had me at pre-production for SW:TPM, I'd be saying that it was awesome. I might not know what the black guy in the mask was ding, but I'd love Neeson and McGreagor and of course Miss Portman. Harry is reporting from his point of view; as someone who knows what movies can be, and as someone who loves the IDEA of LOTR, I said idea, not story. Speaking for myself only, this is my point of view. And I believe everyone else here is of the same mindset. **As for LOTR being a new SW; I don't want that. I don't want a unrush of shitty fantasy movies that make money. I don't want a fantasy version of Wing Commander every five seconds. I want LOTR to stand alone. Not entirely alone, but I wnat it to create a new genre, Good Fantasy (for lack of a better word). Not every story is a shining gem. Only few stories can compare with LOTR; I thinking more of hsitorical fiction, set in the dark ages, or before; not fantasy with 5 million dragons. If LOTR is an unbelieveable universe; I'll be dissappointed; if everything gives the impression of reality, then I'll be estactic. (Was that maybe a run-on?) **As for Morgy, don't hate on our mistaken General, he merely wants an unbiased opinion (I only read his first two sentences). **Now for the subject of my post, Eternal. There will be some who won't be able to comprehend a relationship between Arwen and Aragorn; I guess they never read the appendex. Also, I don't think there need to be changes to appeal to the 'newbies.' The people you speak of are ones that read the book but aren't obbsessed with it; well, I believe they'll want to see it visualized, just s every other book on earth is made into a movie. Maybe you were talking about people who never read LOTR, but if that's the case, why do they need a plot twist? They've never been exposed to the story; it'll all be new. *Sourdy aboout the loong poust, but I feelt that I needed to exprees miself.* And this will be awesome for me anyway PJ wants to do it; hell, I LOVE Lynch's Dune!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 12:11 p.m. CST

    behold ol' painless - NAMEDROPPER

    by ol' painless

    Harry, said it before, will say it again - thanks a whole heap for your reports from NZ, which helped to beam some Kiwi sunshine into this miserable London winter. Oh, then name-drop thing? Juuuuust letting you know, I happened to go to Otago University with Thomas Robbins, the chap who might possibly be playing Deagol. A small part, I think they lose him after the river scene . . . . but there it is. I am not usually one to trumptet my greatness to others, lest my consumate wonderfulness create resentment among millions . . . I JUST WANNA LET EVERYONE KNOW I'M A PIECE OF THE LOTR ACTION TOO. PJ OFTEN CONSULTED WITH ME ON FILMING. So if the whole thing turns to custard . . . er . . . . blame him!! Thank you all for listening. Matron says I now have to return to the nice room with no sharp edges.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Piss off Eternal...

    by Skyway Moaters

    ...NT

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Harry's REAL reason for going back

    by Sir Mordred

    brokentusk, I thought you were being sarcastic about Gladiator's CGI. I thought it sucked. Now I hear that Oliver Reed's last scenes were filmed with trickery and computers, so maybe they did do kind of good. I read Custer's post; it does seem odd that the trailer is critized, but hey, the trailer really wasn't that great. **As for Harry's reason to go back to the promised land, well, other than to see Kong again, I think he wants to talk to that chick more. The one that talked to him at the party. I know she's reading this so you might want to think about it.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 12:24 p.m. CST

    MOOOOOOATERS

    by Sir Mordred

    Nice one, really funny. But what does NT mean? For the record, when I said that LOTR should oopen the way for Dark Age historical fiction, I meant my definitive works of Beowulf, Boudicca, Arthur, and Henneth Annuin.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 12:40 p.m. CST

    NT="No text"...

    by Skyway Moaters

    ...ye knuckleheaded nincompoop (heh). Common WWW acronym. *** Wouldn't a big screen treatment of "Gilgamesh" be something worthy of attempting as well as the others; Beowulf etc. that you mentioned? And PJ's next Project ought to be... Russell Hoban's "Riddley Walker" by Elbereth! BTW I make that same post (Piss Off) every time Eternal shows up in a LOTR TB. I don't even bother to read his post first anymore. *** Namarie, Trubba Not, pass the ale and Longbottom Leaf, New Years is nearly upon us! *** May the sun forver shine on thy station dear Harryluvatar! SM{;-0

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 1:06 p.m. CST

    You're right Eternal...

    by Skyway Moaters

    ...But at least, unlike you, I realize that I'm a "one note asshole"... ok, maybe a "two note asshole": It's Not A @&#%$* Trilogy!!!... etc. etc. Happy New Year Eternal my love...

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 1:06 p.m. CST

    Star Wars and LOTR: There's room in my heart for both!

    by guitartist

    I can remember how my life changed when, in 1977, I was introduced to Star Wars. For years I was convinced nothing could be cooler! Then, a friend badgered me until I read the Hobbit, and I needed no further badgering to read LOTR. I have since read it at least once every one or two years (this year may see two readings). To sum it all up, it is just as you said; when I was a child, I thought as a child does (my dad is bigger than yours, Star Wars is cooler than this or that, etc.). Now that I am grown, I hunger for those things that take me back to that same emotional state of excitement and wonder. I no longer am looking for the toughest or coolest, because that is a truly adolescent mind set that can never be satisfied. Instead, I now simply acknowledge all the things I love and that are dear to my heart as simply, 'cool'. For the past week, Harry, your reports from Middle Earth have brought me to tears. What an exciting time to be alive! Not only is there more Star Wars on the way, but soon, everyone will know of Middle Earth. Were I as closed minded and stringently biased as some, I wouldn't have near so much to look forward to. Thanks again Harry. Oh, and I should mention that in my youth, I was "cool" now that I am grown, I am a "geek in training".

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 1:10 p.m. CST

    I hope I don't die before this movie comes out...

    by JQuintana

    Wouldn't it be a bummer if we all died before this movie comes out? Like if a meteor struck the earth or something. Well, you know, just a thought.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 1:10 p.m. CST

    What remains to be seen...

    by EvilNight

    LOTR will definitely be a big movie. The source material is beyond reproach, and it has an almost biblical status among scifi and fantasy book fans. LOTR is the standard by which all other fantasy novels are measured in terms of greatness, much like everyone here uses Star Wars as the measure of a film's greatness. If you haven't read the books yet you can't possibly understand how perfect they are by hearing someone describe them to you. They contain one of the greatest stories ever told. Yes, there are people who dislike them, but they are as rare as drops of water in a desert. The question that we need to answer to find out how well the movies do is "How well is this adaptation being made?" If the adaptation results in movies that are as good as the books, these movies will soar to the tops of the charts instantly and they will remain there for a very long time, because people will see them over and over again much like people read the books over and over again. If they do a decent adaptation we will end up with a good bunch of fantasy movies that will be cult classics and do well at the box office but probably not top the record charts. If they botch it, well, see Dune. Everything hinges on Peter's adaptation of the story (and Howard's score, music makes the movie). From what I have seen here I think I can say that they are shaping up to be somewhere between decent and perfect, and I was disgusted at the thought of someone making these into movies when I first heard of them. Fantasy has a bad rap when it comes to movies and television for one reason: it has never been done well. Fantasy has to be taken seriously for it to be perfect. Xena/Herc are decent, but totally not serious. Willow had a more serious tone, but wasn't that great of a story. D&D was everything fantasy should NOT be... what a bomb. Peter, how are you going to treat the magic in these films? Do we expect it to be treated like every other fantasy where magic is just another scifi tool, easily mastered and controlled, or can you show us the real magic that Tolkien uses in his works? The kind that defies definition, brings hope and wonder everywhere it touches? Howard, can you write a score that will let that magic reach out of the movie and touch the hearts of the viewers? Peter already said he wants to treat this like a historical documentary rather than a fantasy film and that is exactly the treatment it needs. No one has ever made a real fantasy film before IMHO, believe me I've seen them all and nothing comes close to what fantasy is in book form. To bring that kind of imagination to life is a real challenge. We really haven't had the special effects technology to do them justice until recently anyways. What Dreams May Come was a bit of a wakeup call for fantasy, the visual effects in that show that it is becoming possible to bring fantasy worls to life. If you think LOTR will be anything like Xena, Willow, Conan, Beastmaster, Red Sonya, Time Bandits, Munchausen (sp?), Princess Bride, or anything else holywood has labelled fantasy you are in for a real treat when the movies come out. Peter just might show us something we've never seen before. Getting anything objective out of Harry's articles is sometimes tough, but I've never seen him this enthusiastic before. This, to me, is a good sign. The attitude of the cast according to Harry's articles gives the feeling that Peter is indeed making a real fantasy epic. Being part of something like this can easily change a man forever. Peter, hopefully you'll revive a Genre that's been dead in hollywood for far too long, one that never really was alive there in the first place. Lucas innovated Scifi in hollywood and got a lot of people turned on to science fiction. Tolkien did the same for fantasy, writing the definitive work. Next time you are in a bookstore, take a good look at the number of scifi books and number of fantasy books on the shelves (they'are always right next to eachother). You'll find that there are more fantasy books there. Isn't it sad that scifi gets all the recognition and so much stellar material remains untouched because nobody even really knows it is there? Here's hoping you give them a wakeup call Peter. Somebody's got to do it, hollywood's been making too much garbage lately. There are good films, but boy has the signal-to-noise ratio deteriorated...

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 1:16 p.m. CST

    General Custer and others

    by Ellindar

    You're completely off base Gen. Custer. Harry never needed to be non-biased in his reports of the film. He was taken somewhere most of us can only dream of and he was literally emersed in another world. Had that world been fake, stupid and corny, he would never have written it with the passion he did. Proving several things actually, but to sum up, that what they have done on simply the acting, costuming and production parts alone are just awesome. His passion alone should prove to the doubters out there that these films have what it takes to become legendary. Dr. Benaway, I disagree with you also. The internet alone makes it impossible for any movie or great work to 'sneak up' on the general population. Therefore, when this movie blows the population away and touches in a way that only a movie like Star Wars can, it will be realized that they are the only movies that could have done this, in spite of our already 'knowing' about it's greatness due to the internet. Making it *that* much better. Thanks Harry, for taking us along... If those people only knew how much it would mean for each of us to be there. Knowing the effort that's gone into these films alone will satifsy my movie-going experience... the rest now is just extra frosting.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 1:48 p.m. CST

    First Eternal trash

    by Sir Mordred

    On trilogies, thanks for your agreement on the novel. However, I'm taking the words out of Moaters mouth, "a trilogy is a set of three stories that are independent of each other, yet there are recurring characters." All PJ is doing is separating it up into three easily digestable parts. A good example of this is the average TV miniseries, such as Dune. It is all one interconnected story, yet it is aired in three parts. The only difference is PJ is not completely finished with all three by the time the first airs; it should take him a year to do post-production on each. One story with three parts. "It's not a #*$^&%@ TRILOGY!!!"

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 1:54 p.m. CST

    Inspiring!

    by Aignatius

    Harry, Having read your reports, having seen the photos and trailer, etc. I cannot begin to describe the feelings that you say you also have struggled to describe! It's a bit like something that cannot be found in mere words, but only felt by kindred spirits. I am drawn in by the force that seems to permeate all of the realm of Middle Earth, or perhaps... tis only the residual madness of the Ring? These are Things that I have nearly forgotten in my old age, Things that lend to it being more than just from mere imagination... Chapter eleven was the best bit of writing I've seen you do on this theme. Many thanks!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Hobbit?

    by bpcmusic

    Harry, In your conversations with Peter did he express any interest in doing the Hobbit? (I may have missed it.) Thx!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:46 p.m. CST

    Harry, Your a friend to us all!!!

    by Duty

    Tonight I will tip my beer for harry too!! You are one hell of a special geek Harry!! We love ya!!!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:50 p.m. CST

    WELL BLOODY SAID harry!

    by Dragonfire

    This was an amazing piece of writing. That part about what it would be like to meet George and co before star wars was released was damn cool. Though I wouldn't consider star wars science fiction, I agree that instead of comparing star wars and LOTR people should realize that they both help the genre fantasy. Its inevitable that people would compare the two though cause they're both fantasy trilogies that (in star wars case) had huge impact and (in the lord of the rings case) will have huge impact. You said that episode 1 devided people into those that still believe and those that could care less. If you're implying that people that disliked episode 1 no longer believe I have to disagree with you there. I disliked episode 1 but I sure as hell still believe, and its for three reasons that I'm doubtful about episode 2 1) episode 1 disappointed me 2) the stuff I've seen on ep 2 select disappoint me, though i guess that doesnt count for much 3) the fact that the lord of the rings looks so promising all my exitement is concentrated on that. but it doesn't mean I no longer like star wars. no fucking way! I worship star wars as much as I worship the lord of the rings novels, and I hope the movies will do the novels justice which is what it looks like they're going to do. I watched empire strikes back only the other day to remind myself how truly brilliant star wars is, and the thought of having another thing as brilliant (namely the LOTR movies) pleases me greatly. I was hoping the star wars prequel trilogy would be that other thing, but ep 1 disappointed me, and I truly hope ep 2 and 3 won't. Maybe you could go to the ep 2 set and write 'a geeks adventure in the star wars universe' to set our minds at ease.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 2:56 p.m. CST

    funny thought

    by Duty

    You take note that EP2 comes out 6 monthes after LOR1....Will it make EP2 look weak?? Jackson is not out to make Kiddie Friendly shit like luccas. George Wake up!!!!! .....sorry, Um...Thats it.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 3:14 p.m. CST

    LOTR

    by Eriol

    Rock on. That is all. Carry on. Later

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 4:09 p.m. CST

    The Weird Thing Is That I Was In Northern California In 1976 ...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...and while I wasn't in a bar, being only 11 years old, I did tune into a local T.V. channel in a Santa Rosa (where some of AMERICAN GRAFFITI was filmed) motel room. I saw a clip of something that at first looked like FAR OUT SPACE NUTS, then started looking a whole lot better. It had two hero types in stolen white armor pretending to bring this weird space monkey with a bandolier into a control room. They shot up the place and an old wizard guy was kind of guiding them. The local T.V. host then interviewed the young local guy who made the movie. I could not wait. As to people who are afraid one movie will conqueor another, do we really need people like that? Fortunately, they don't count anyway.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 4:46 p.m. CST

    One damn year...

    by MrCere

    I went to the dentist today to have my teeth cleaned. I had a little cavity that will be filled soon, but after the LoTR trailer is released. (Lucky for 13 Days it is attached) Then in June, I have another tooth cleaning, then in December, after Christmas. I will have yet another teeth cleaning. By then, I will personally have seen to it that every single half-intelligent person I know will have seen LoTR. I will take relatives in rest homes, my legion of nieces and nephews, my four sisters (who spawned all these relatives), many, many co-workers who take my positive review of a film as gospel and my poor, poor wife who will see this movie many times with me. Only two dentist apointments to go!

  • I bet they won't though.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 4:52 p.m. CST

    One damn year...

    by MrCere

    I went to the dentist today to have my teeth cleaned. I had a little cavity that will be filled soon, but after the LoTR trailer is released. (Lucky for 13 Days it is attached) Then in June, I have another tooth cleaning, then in December, after Christmas. I will have yet another teeth cleaning. By then, I will personally have seen to it that every single half-intelligent person I know will have seen LoTR. I will take relatives in rest homes, my legion of nieces and nephews, my four sisters (who spawned all these relatives), many, many co-workers who take my positive review of a film as gospel and my poor, poor wife who will see this movie many times with me. Only two dentist apointments to go!

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 5:08 p.m. CST

    I hate to see these reports end.

    by swavill

    I've been hanging on every word. Fantastic job Harry. As for the critics on here. HOW IN THE BALD HEADED FUCK could anyone be objective standing in the tower hall of Minas Tirith.Give me a break. Would you really have rather had some hack New York Times film critic writing this behind the scenes coverage. I'll trust the opinion of someone who loves the source material as much as I do any day.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 5:41 p.m. CST

    Orc question--will they show the different varieties? (mountain/

    by Melkor's Brain

    Howdy folks, just a question here to Harry or anyone who might know. One thing I liked about the Bashki version is that it seemed to me they made some attempt to distinguish not just between "orcs" and "uruk hai" but among the various sorts of orcs as well: mountain/Moria/Mordor orcs. As many of you know you see some passages in Tolkien--and orc dialogue--showing some tensions between these various varieties and giving some insight into their different appearances. So, I'm hoping that Peter Jackson and company have included this variety of appearance among the various orc strains, besides the orc vs. Uruk Hai issue. And will there be differences shown between Olog Hai and the Cave Trolls? Also, are the cave trolls that are the balrog's bodyguards going to look differently than the stone trolls? Shouldn't they? Does everyone realize by the way that the voice for Legolas in the Bashki version is Anthony Daniels who was the voice for C3PO? I think a lot of folks put that film down far too much--sure there are many bits that are unfinished and unpolished, but there's a real sense of vision in that film: you feel that the film is reaching towards an epic and though the final prize isn't grasped there's still a lot of impressive scenes there. The voices are great for many characters (Aragorn, Gandalf, ring wraiths and orcs--and, in fact I think they look scarier than the ones for the Jackson film, I'm hoping I change my mind about this later) Notice also how the orcs cringe aside when the balrog arrives; hopefully that sort of touch is brought to bear in the Jackson production, though there should be more orcs in that scene as well. Anyhow, that's enough blithering. If you respond to anything in this post, at least give your thoughts (or knowlege) on distinguishing among the various orc races. And, does anyone thing Morgoth will be mentioned at all in flashbacks?

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 6:11 p.m. CST

    Wouldnt it be a great thing .....

    by AHelmer

    for the whole fantasy genre if LOTR had biggest boxoffice returns than "Titanic" ? What an incredible dream. Here's to hoping. And Thanks Harry. Ment to find out when you would hit LAX, wanted to shake your hand personally.

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 8:01 p.m. CST

    Morgy, you found your brain!

    by Sir Mordred

    I'm stealing a lot from SM. NMT (no more text).

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 8:01 p.m. CST

    Sighhhhhhhhhhhh.....! 8-)

    by Witchiepoo

    What an amazing odyssey this has all been. For some reason, the one thing that has stuck in my head is Harry getting to hold King Kong! Maybe because it was described with such tender, surreal emotion... "It was soft, like the breast feathers of a parakeet..." The whole tale is about as close as I'll ever get to living it, and it made me feel really close indeed. I like how you broke the time down... less than 52 weekends! Heehee... But me with a nearly 4 year old son -- it goes so much slower and faster at the same time... 8-) Hubby and I both love the books so, it fits in with our geekdom and live D&D selves so well... (me Hobbit, him Dwarf... heehee). It's been a long day and I'm not making any sense. Well I just want to close by saying I do hope AHelmer is right and that this will be bigger at the BO than Titanic... it deserves it so much more. Thanks again Harry for keeping us lowly schmucks up to date and helping us live out our geeky fantasies vicariously. You are one of the luckiest people in the world. ((hugs)) 8-)

  • Dec. 27, 2000, 11:04 p.m. CST

    cuthbert...

    by Eriol

    Are you nuts man??? Hasnt withstood the test of time? LOTR is the most popular book of this century. Houghton-Mifflin still makes a killing on it every year, and their sales have something like tripled this year since news about the movies have been getting out.... I think you might want to rethink that statement there.... Or not :) Later

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 1:20 a.m. CST

    HATERS

    by Sir Mordred

    Stop hatn on the SW fans, I'm one of them.

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 1:27 a.m. CST

    the word on the street

    by Isidore

    Here I am once again to tell you what the situation is like on the front lines of the LOTR countdown. So far I am still NUMBER ONE! Me and my new best friend Rusty have sitting for a little over three weeks now in front of the Chinese theater waiting for the premire. I think at this point people know that this is my turf and no longer penetrate the 3 foot forcefield that I have created in my mind to keep out the masses vying for the enviable place of number one. Seing as I have totally banned from the public library now, I have to "borrow" internet access from a nice family in hollywood who went on a cruise for the holidays. I'm sure they don't mind, after all this is the movie event of the new millenium. I have to get Harry's report's while Rusty defends my position with a coat hanger and a string of obsceneties. By the way I gained access to something that will help on one of the debates I have encountered on talkback. This debate is the one where one person uses the trilogy word, then someone bitches that it isn't a trilogy and so on. Well lying in the gutter on Hollywood Blvd. was a copy of Horatio J. Hardcore's Porno Dictionary. In it the definition of trilogy is as such, "A series of three porn films, be it hard or softcore, that are closely related, and develop one theme. ie. Fisting, nurses, or gang bangs" If I am reading this correctly this means that a trilogy can be any set of films or other works that come in three parts. Now this of course can be argued saying that LOTR is one story broken into three, or six rather, then it is not truly a trilogy. If I am reading Mr. Hardcore's interpretation correctly this means that LOTR is a trilogy in that it is separated into three volumes, but because it is not three separate dramas it is not a classic trilogy. What does all this mean? Stop bitching at eachother! Though I must say that this TB has been very good in terms of keeping it to a minimum on this subject. Oh..CRAP! I think I hear a car pulling in the driveway. Well, gotta go.

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 6:31 a.m. CST

    HATE TO INTERRUPT THIS LOVE-IN...

    by Terry Thomas

    ...but you wimped out, Knowles. You came, you saw and you ate and the big question still remains: PJ, where does your story differ from JRR's? Bring it on, McWeeny.

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Harry, did you get those autographs or not?

    by Pippin's Diamond

    I'm still waiting for the scans, big guy. Well well well... the morGoth finds his long-lost brain, SM and Eternal are at it once again (seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?), John R-D is Treebeard, Sir Mordred and Emperor Caligula are doing fine, and cuthbert51, unlike Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, *does* know what a REAL story is. Bravo, bravo I say. This hobbit is very thankful for your reports Harry, they're the next best thing to being there. BTW, Miami Mofo, can I please go with you next year to NZ? Can I? Please don't leave us behind next time, Harry!

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 7:58 a.m. CST

    Thank You Harry!

    by malanor

    Let me just start by saying "Thank You Harry!". I can hardly wait... I remember it like it was yesterday... playing MERP (Middle Earth Role Playing) in the mid 80's with a bunch of pals in a basement as dark and wet as the mines or Moria. And learning of a whole new world with a back story much older and deeper than that D&D stuff. Of course I remember the Hobbit, LOTR and Return of the King animated films from Rankin Bass, but, with the exception of the second, they just didn't do it for me. So I dug into the books like a crack fiend with a stack of five dollar bills... and revisited them every couple of years or so (which I continue to do to this day). Then comes the internet and the lure of the soon to come online game based on LOTR from Sierra. What the hell happenend??? Then I found out that a movie was in the works... and where did I find that information? From www.aintitcool.com of course! Peter Jackson, oh my! I jumped for joy and had the feeling of just escaping the darkness of a barrow outside of Bree. These past few weeks have been incredible reading your entries... I actually feel as if I might be sitting on your shoulder during the experience. Thank You Harry! for a well-written essay from a fellow geek like me. These movies may not live up to my Star Wars experience just because I was seven when all that started... but they will bring a new chapter in film making to the big screen that has a story that is closer to my heart than any other... and like many others... I can't wait... Let me just end by saying "Thank You Harry!" -Malanor

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 8:10 a.m. CST

    Piss off cuthbert51...

    by Skyway Moaters

    ... poorly disguised trolling my dear juvenile; give us a break for the sake of Gilthoniel! I can only guess what sort of books you consider to be not, "not that good"(??!!!) Stephen King? Dean Koontz? (Just a couple of guesses). How about: Heart of Darkness? Wuthering Heights? The Great Gatsby? Crime and Punishment? FYI LOTR belongs with the latter rather than the former. What? you never heard of these? I could have guessed.

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 9:34 a.m. CST

    I Hope Episode 2 Isn't TOO Serious

    by Southron

    Someone mentioned that they were expecting Lucas to darken the tone of SW: Episode 2 after seeing the fan reaction to TPM. Let me just say that I hope he doesn't overdo it. Part of what I really liked about Star Wars (A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back especially) was the balance of serious action and tongue in cheek humor. These movies are space opera not art movies and shouldn't take themselves too seriously. Two hours of relentlessly serious activity won't work, folks will start to see that the plot is really pretty simplistic and feel insulted. If you lighten it up a bit the audience plays along with you. Similarly, I think there is a place for some humor in TLOTR on film. The hobbits, especially Merry and Pippin, should ocassionally act as comic foils for all the heavies in the Fellowship to keep things from bogging down too much.

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 12:29 p.m. CST

    Cutbert and Custer

    by EmperorCaligula

    CUthbert51: I assume you mean 1,3 billion for the 3 movies, COuld be, I think 400 mio$ for each is probable, more is possible. I jsut think they will do more than 300 mio in USA; even the biggest Hollywood hits abroad make only twice the US budget. And each movie doing only 100 mio in US is too low for me. Then, the 1 billion abroad is perhaps a bit too high for conservative estimations, so let's say 600 mio in USA and 700/900 abroad. Though they could make 2 billions together. * Now, about LOTR: you're joking. I don't really bother with popularity of books, as people are mostly morons as we see every election (or when they go massively see crap like Scary Movie). The fact is LOTR is one of the best english novels of 20th century, without any doubt. You could put Joyce first, of course; you could put Shakespeare first, or Dickens. Clear. However, LOTR has this epic feeling in it, the kind we see in Iliad or Gilgamesh, which are the finest examples and stand the test of time, as you could know since you're claiming such stuff. I won't comment on any work, book, music, picture, that isn't 50-y old or more, as it's too young to really judge it and put it in comparison. However LOTR passes the test for me, clearly. Like Proust, like Tolstoy, like Goethe, like Dante, like Chr

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 2:16 p.m. CST

    Well Done

    by FilmHobbit

    Harry, I don't always agree with everything you say, but you deserve a job well done on your LOTR piece. Reminded me just how much I badly want to see this film, and gave all of us something to long for. I sincerely hope it turns out as well as we all think it deserves to. -The Film Hobbit http://www.batcave.net/moviereviews/

  • Dec. 28, 2000, 2:30 p.m. CST

    custer......

    by FilmHobbit

    I think you are being a little hard on Harry. It sounds like you expect that he should be able to find something negative in EVERYTHING. Can't you perhaps consider the idea that he just didn't see anything negative at all? Being critical of something doesn't mean you always have to find something bad about it. I found his report to be genuinely honest and insightful and there is little reason to think anything else. The Film Hobbit (my god am I defending Harry??) http://www.batcave.net/moviereviews/

  • Dec. 29, 2000, midnight CST

    two LOTR TBs

    by Sir Mordred

    its weird. Dont post here anymore, go to treebeard. Morgy, where's my dinner?

  • Dec. 29, 2000, 10:05 p.m. CST

    a rather long eleven days(+)

    by kojiro

    ...but not in a bad way at all. Good times Harry, good times.

  • Jan. 2, 2001, 4:13 p.m. CST

    Thank you

    by judgejaba

    Cheers Harry, As an avid reader of Lord of the Rings since I first picked it up 12 years ago I must confess to a certain amount of nerves in regard to how it would be portrayed on screen. Your reports have done a lot to reassure me that they will be excellent and I have already found myself in arguments with other people about whether LOTR or Star wars will be better. No prizes for guessing where my vote lies (though my talkback name reveals a certain fondness for Star Wars I admit). Anyway keep up the good work and if you get a chance to visit the post-production then keep us informed. all the best Judgejaba.

  • Jan. 4, 2001, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Know how you feel, Harry...

    by batjack

    Harry, that little bit you put in the opening about going in a bar and talking down those guys and then discovering that they're the guys behind Star wars.. Well, almost been there, almost did that. Let me explain. Nowadays,I'm a 45 year old journo / consultant but back in 1975-78 I was an art student doing my thesis on sci-fi in the movies. Yes, I'm British, or more accurately, Welsh. Through a brazen phonecall and a lot of nerve I was invited to Pinewood Studios by John Barry who was then production designer on 'Superman'. I am a comic and sci fi freak. Always have been; always will. Long story short:standing on the moon surface and seeing Superman flying over my head; watching Brando exile the criminals (reading it all off a series of idiot boards); observing Gene Hackman doing a scene in the Fortress of Solitude - not in the finished film - with Brando's head - the glassine structure that is never explained in either film, being told by Richard Donner about the planned end of Superman 1. The idea was that Luthor's missile would break the Phantom Zone, freeing the Kryptonian villains, and at the very end as Superman flew off into space past us with that big grin, they would smack into the big blue guy, to be cut off by a caption 'coming soon - Superman 2'. Ah. What could have been. It turns out, from talking to John later, that they weren't sure if they'd even finish the second one, so they left it like that. That's why there's two nuclear explosions in two films. Also, getting Chris Reeve's autograph and being told that it was the first one he'd ever given as Superman. And him remebering me at the Worldcon in Brighton in '79. But I digress. Anyway, John Barry took me over to this crate and said have a look at this. It was C-3PO. He explained that they'd done some extra scenes for a little film he'd been working on. Star Wars. I'd never heard of it. So he sat me down and explained it. We sat in his little office (while I played with the space helmets from Supes 2). We were surrounded by Superman production drawings while he took me though the film. At the end I couldn't wait. he gave me some original stills(and no, they're not for sale ever!!!) and we went back to watch the filming. He offered me a few Star wars storyboard scraps that were just lying around in his stuff and like a fool I said no, preferring to see the Superman stuff. ..... Anyway, we had to wait nearly a year over here in the UK after Star wars opened in the US, and by then the hysteria whipped up by news reports was at fever pitch. I ended up seeing it on the opening day, a sunday afternoon, in a cinema in Cardiff. (Yes Dave and Paul, this is who you think it is.) And I loved it. It's one of my fondest memories, and as I sit here typing, I know how you must feel now, Harry, that little tick of a heartbeat that's always there, in that little part of you that's still a 12 year old, waiting for the film to open, praying it'll be good, praying that it'll be as good as you hope. .... Here's to you, Harry, and here's to the late, great, John Barry, who took time out to help a student from Wales. Nos da.

  • Jan. 8, 2001, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Tolkienitis

    by Elwing

    Many sincere thanks to Peter Jackson- because without him I would have never gotten the 'bug'!! Although I am an avid reader, I had never picked up LOTR (yikes!) (Well, it was probably because I was turned off by that 'cartoon' Ach! that music!!) But since September, I have read The Silmarillion twice, The hobbit 3 times and I am on my 2nd reading of LOTR. I JUST CAN'T STOP MYSELF! This is absolutely amazing!! Why did I never read it before, WHAT WAS I THINKING?? (I even received a great boxed set of Christopher Tolkien's The History of LOTR 1-4..for Christmas. Yippee!I am so excited!) Now Harry, I have to thank YOU for taking us along on this amazing and most enviable adventure!Your writing is so honest and so full of passion that you just sucked me right in. I started to hide myself in the computer room whenever I read your entry- It was getting hard to explain to my children why Mommy was 'tearing up' when she got on the computer! As a fan- but mostly as an actor(I live in NYC-what else would I be!)I have loved the behind-the scenes details.. LOTR is like an actors dream come true! WhAT BETTER MATERIAL could you ask for? Plus an incredible director, great casting,from what you have said-a fabulous crew and the location! To die for! But most especially - the dedication and enthusiasim that everyone seems to share for this project.. I think that the Fellowship's tatoos speak volumes!It will make it all the more enjoyable to watch in December knowing how the people felt when they made this. This is what REAL filmaking is all about! True Dedication! Screw the awards!!! (though I am sure they will get loads!) It is about the commitment! It's about being 'present' in your work - for the sake of the work. I tell ya, if Peter Jackson ever does "The Hobbit" - I would work my butt off to be the best HAIR on a leg of one of the spiders!! The movie will never be the BOOK -But it will be just as brilliant in it's own right..As an amazing turning point in filmaking! I can't wait! Well, that's enough out of me. I am starting to get carried away. Keep up the good work - Oh and by the way..loved the pink boa!You devil!

  • Dec. 26, 2001, 2:08 a.m. CST

    Test

    by Sir Mordred

    NT

  • Feb. 16, 2002, 2:15 a.m. CST

    This is Harry's Best Article

    by exPFCWintergreen

    Seriously. And I didn't even end up liking Fellowship of the Ring.... Actually, who the fuck am I trying to kid? The movie fucking rocked. Harry the prophet.

  • March 31, 2002, 2:58 a.m. CST

    This is why I love this site!!!!!

    by GalvinBaer

    These articles of Harry's adventures in NZ is why I started comming to this site in the first place. The passion Harry has shown in these articles for LOTR and the envy I have for the big guy for being able to see the sites he has during the last few days of LOTR production is why over a year later I come to this site on a regular basis for any LOTR information. This is your best writing Harry and I only wish we could read more well written articles like these as opposed to the sick crap that was your Blade 2 review. By the way FOTR is the best film I have seen in years and I can't wait for the rest of Peter Jackson and Tolkiens Masterpiece.