"I am interested in themes about friendship and self sacrifice. This is a story of survival and courage, about a touching last stand that paved the way for the ascent of humankind."
- Peter Jackson,
   Director of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy

November 15, 2001

This Christmas the movie the Fellowship of the Ring will be released on the big screen. The Two Towers will follow in Christmas 2002 and the Return of the King in 2003. Never before has LOTR been released as a Trilogy on either TV or in movie form. It is also the first live action movie made of the LOTR, the previous two being animated. When I first heard that LOTR was being made into a movie I was excited! Finally, my favourite book would be a movie! However, when I first saw some of the casting I began to doubt if it would live upto my expectations. Each character was slightly different from what I expected and some of the plot (heaven forbid!!) has been changed. Slowly I have come to see why some of these changes were made and seen also how much trouble has been taken to keep the feel of Tolkien. Although I don't agree with all of the movie's interpretations, this is a serious attempt to bring the essence of Tolkien to the cinema. The director, Peter Jackson, says 'The Lord of the Rings remains one of the greatest books ever written. All I am offering is an interpretation, but hopefully one that will take fantasy film to an entirely new level of adventurousness and believability'.

In these few weeks prior to the films release I would like to introduce some of the actors portraying the various characters, look at some of the making of the film and discuss the plot omissions and changes. In this first column I am going to look at two characters: Elrond and Legolas.

After reading the books, most of us have specific thoughts on how elves should look. The fairest and oldest of all the races of middle-earth, the elves possessed of great magic and ability to create things of immense beauty, craft and enchantment. I, for one, was impressed particularly with the casting of Orlando Bloom as Legolas. In mume, I play Galion, an elven scout, and Orlando Bloom look exactly the way I pictured Galion. Elrond, however, when I first looked at him looked "wrong". Impressions can change.

Orlando Bloom, who plays Legolas, is not a big name actor. He is an english actor who has performed in productions such as Peer Gynt, Twelfth Night, The Seagull and Antigone. He made his film debut in Wilde. He was still at drama school (London's Guildhall School of Drama and Music) when he originally read for the part of Boromir's brother Faramir. He was contacted 6 months later and asked to audition again for Legolas, the part which he now plays.

'When I think of Legolas,' says Orlando Bloom, 'I think of a cat. You know how a cat will hop up on a table and just suddenly stop with no forward motion, staying absolutely still and alert? Cats never look stiff or heavy, they are graceful and poised, but always switched on. That's Legolas.'

Rumour has it that Legolas is an amazing archer in the movie. His arms a blur as he unleashes arrow after arrow. There is even word that the cave troll in Moria is killed by Legolas shooting an arrow into his mouth after running deftly up the troll's arm. Interesting directing if this proves to be true...

Elrond is played by the Australian actor Hugo Weaving. Although, it was the role of the humanoid, Agent Smith, in the American/Australian special effects bonanza, The Matrix, that brought Hugo Weaving to international fame, he was already well established in his homeland, Australia, as a star of film, television and theatre. He has given award winning performances in a string of acclaimed films including Proof, The Interview and The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Incidentally, the executive producer of The Matrix, Barrie Osbourne, went on to become the producer of the LOTR trilogy. Hugo Weaving says of Elrond:
'Elrond is a fountain of knowledge and wisdom: he knows a great deal about the history of the Ring and understands not just what's has happened, but what might happen. Elrond is well aware that whether the ring is destroyed or taken by Sauron, the time of the Elves is almost at an end. Whatever the outcome, the Elves will leave middle-earth and be forgotten. There is, therefore, a sadness about Elrond which made me decide that - although he is an Elf - he also needed to have humanity, and that is what I have tried to bring to my performance.'

Did you know....

  • The New Zealand Army was set to commit a most of their soldiers to be orkish extras in the movie until the crisis in East Timor meant most of them ended up on UN peacekeeping duty
  • Gollum character (except for his voice) is completely computer generated
  • Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn ) is trilingual, being fluent in English, Danish and Spanish.
  • Christopher Lee (Saruman ) has the distinction of having the most screen credits
  • Ian Holm (Bilbo ) played Frodo Baggins in the BBC radio play of LOTR
  • It is rumoured that the original opening scene of the Last Alliance defeating Sauron has been deleted. Although it would be a safe bet you will see it on the DVD version!



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