Tag Archives: The Lord of the Rings

What’s your fantasy nationality?

If I belonged to a race in Skyrim I’d be a Nord.

If I lived in Westeros I’d be from Winterfell.

And if I lived in Middle-earth I’d be from Rohan.

No, I haven’t been doing quizzes on Buzzfeed. These are references to races and places in works of fantasy that I feel I ‘fit’.

The ‘Skyrim’ reference is thanks to my boyfriend, who thinks he would be an Imperial. While I visually look like a Nord thanks to my height, blonde hair and blue eyes, he also reasons that it’s because I prefer cold weather.

Preferring the cold weather and having a penchant for medieval architecture is why I’d be from Winterfell, despite looking more like a Lannister.

I’d feel quite at home in Rohan due to my love of horses. I also feel that while Hobbiton would certainly have a jovial atmosphere and all the home comforts you could desire, Rohan has the grassland and rugged countryside that I would so love to explore with my dog.

Do you feel that there’s a particular fantasy race or place that you have an affinity for?

Diaries ready – important dates for film fans

dates

While many of us are familiar with the reasons why 1st January, 31st October and 25th December are commemorated, would you be able to tell me the significance of 4th May, 31st July or 22nd September?

These three dates are noteworthy to many film fans, especially to those who, like myself, enjoy the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

In case you weren’t sure, 4th May is Star Wars Day (say it out loud – May the 4th be with you) and is a day celebrated by Star Wars fans across the globe. It’s also a popular wedding date.

31st July is Harry Potter’s birthday, and he would have been 35 this year. J K Rowling kept his exact date and year of birth absent from the novels, but fans have established a timeline and Rowling has since confirmed the date is 31st July 1980.

22nd September has been on my calendar for many years now. It marks Hobbit Day and the date of my annual The Lord of the Rings marathon. The reason? 22nd September was Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, though several years apart, of course.

WHAT’S IN A DATE?

Star Wars, LOTR and the Harry Potter series have such devoted followings that they don’t need a specific date for fans to unify and celebrate their passion. It certainly adds to the comradery, though.

Having these dates also make the characters and their worlds more real; it’s similar to ‘Friends’ fans saying that they feel very old when they realise that baby Emma would actually be around 12-years-old now and Phoebe’s brother’s triplets would be 15.

Apart from re-watching the films, I haven’t particularly celebrated Star Wars Day or Harry’s birthday – yet. I threw a themed dinner last year for Hobbit Day, though. My friends and I dressed as Middle Earth races and enjoyed a very tasty three-course dinner together that we’d jointly prepared.

If I get married, I can’t deny that my geek side would be extremely happy if I got married on one of these three dates, the last one especially. It would also make the wedding date easier to remember…

Film-viewing Rule No 8 – You Will Not Jump Ahead

“I really want to watch the Harry Potter films again,” said my boyfriend recently.

This wasn’t what he actually meant, though. What he meant was that he wanted to watch the ‘good’ films again, starting from film three, The Prisoner of Azkaban. I agreed with him, as I’ve seen the first two films that many times and ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ was always my favourite book.

This got me thinking, though. Were we breaking some unsaid film-viewing law by jumping ahead? Should we have gritted our teeth and watched The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets? They’re not ‘bad’ films by any stretch after all.

When films are released as sequels or trilogies there is always the temptation to skip ahead, especially if you prefer one film over another.

When we rewatch The Lord of the Rings trilogy later in the year for our annual viewing around Hobbit Day, we’ll play each film, though I could start with The Two Towers as I’ve watched Fellowship more than any other film and could probably recite the whole script unprompted.

Out of all the series I can think of, I think that potentially the only series that you can dip and out of, choosing a film at random rather than in order, is James Bond.

The earlier films are especially easy to watch out of order. While the Daniel Craig-era of films carry themes over, the earlier Sean Connery and Roger Moore films introduce and close themes in just the one film. The repeated mention of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is the exception, of course.

What do you think? Are we rule breakers for skipping ahead?

Meeting Sir Ian McKellen

If, as the Mayans had predicted, the world had ended yesterday, I would have been in very good company. After all, it’s not every day that you get to spend the evening with a wizard. He may have even been able to protect us using his staff!

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Last night, on Friday 21st December, my boyfriend and I joined 38 other people at a private screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and a Q and A session with Sir Ian McKellen in London.

This exclusive event was in support of Step Forward, an an independent charity based in east London that provides free and confidential services to young people. Sir Ian has been Step Forward’s patron since 2006, and, in a bizarre coincidence, my family used to live in the Tower Hamlets area of east London in the 1850s!

My attendance was a long story that I won’t bore you with, but it was down to eBay, a pleading message on Facebook and good old fashioned luck!

My boyfriend and I arrived at London Marylebone about 5.30pm and then started our journey across London by tube to get to the Genesis Theatre in Stepney Green. We were aiming to arrive at 6.30pm, and when we got out at Stepney Green about 6.40pm, there was a fantastic firework display going on at a block of flats behind the tube station. We jokingly said to each other: “That’s Gandalf’s work, I bet!”

Arriving at the Genesis we were given our VIP packs with our passes (above) in, a couple of postcards (which would prove very handy later!) and information about Step Forward. We then waited to be called into Studio 5, the Genesis’ deluxe screen that has a seating capacity of just 40. We settled into our seats, which were gloriously comfy armchairs with a cushion and throw each, and had a glass of bubbly, our first of two complimentary glasses.

After an introduction from Step Forward’s CEO Jennifer Fear and a video about the work that the charity does, the man himself appeared, armed with several props from the The Lord of the Rings and An Unexpected Journey. Perhaps you recognise them?

Gandalf 2After revealing that the fireworks were, sadly, not down to him, Sir Ian then launched into the Q and A session. You’ll have to forgive me because I can’t remember all his answers, but there were several that stood out. A few people asked their questions before I asked mine. Their questions were rather more serious than mine, so when Sir Ian asked for my question I started by saying: “I’ve got more of a lighthearted one for you…”.

As my boyfriend and I were sitting on the back row, Sir Ian couldn’t hear me very well so started walking towards me. Without thinking, I got out of my seat, walked to the end of the row and started walking towards him. Within seconds he was in front of me and I started my question again: “I’ve got a lighthearted question for you. Which five characters from the Middle-earth universe would you invite for dinner?” His answer? “Ah, good question. I’d invite Merry, Pippin… Frodo, my favourite dwarf and Galadriel, as long as it was Cate Blanchett who was embodying her.”

Other answers that stand out include Sir Ian’s response to what it’s like performing in front of a green screen. “It’s just like performing in a theatre. There isn’t really a castle behind you, of course, while you’re acting on stage.” That’s something I’d never thought of, but, of course, he’s completely right.

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Sir Ian also revealed how he always preferred playing Gandalf the Grey compared to Gandalf the White as Gandalf the Grey is much more humane. “Gandalf the White is a commander,” he said. “He has to save Middle-earth.” Other Gandalf-related snippets included revealing that Sean Connery and Anthony Hopkins had also been in the running to fill his boots before Sir Ian took the role. He also revealed how whenever he was late on set, which was quite rare, Peter Jackson would always say: “Where’s John Hurt got to?”

Sir Ian then spent a good half an hour taking photos with everyone. My boyfriend went first, and took the opportunity to ask his question: “Out of the props that you kept from The Lord of the Rings, which is your favourite?” He answered saying that he kept Gandalf’s hat, though he didn’t particularly want that. He also has the keys to a certain hobbit hole, though we can’t tell you which one!

Gandalf 4I then had my photo taken with Sir Ian. He held his staff and I put Gandalf’s hat on, though I wasn’t sure it’d fit! “It never really fitted me either,” Sir Ian said. Then, grinning like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, I returned to my seat.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think that my photo (pictured left) hadn’t come out that way, so my boyfriend and I then joined the photograph queue after everyone else had been to have my photo taken again and to have the postcards that were in our VIP pack signed. When I revealed why we had come back again because the photo hadn’t come out that well, Sir Ian very sweetly said: “Well, that won’t do.”

Sir Ian then bade farewell and left us to watch An Unexpected Journey. Sadly, we had to leave before the film had finished so we could get back to Marylebone and catch our train home. But, that was a small price to pay.

On behalf of my boyfriend and I, I’d like to say a big thank you to Step Forward for organising the event and to Sir Ian for attending. He truly was everything I’d hoped he would be: friendly, smiley and answering questions very thoughtfully and thoroughly. It was an absolute pleasure.

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[Trilogy Thursday] LOTR

Max and I are back with another edition of Trilogy Thursday. This week we take a look at The Lord of the Rings, which features Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn and Ian McKellen as Gandalf.

As many of you already know, The Lord of the Rings are my favourite film series. I think I saw The Fellowship of the Ring either three or four times at the cinema. It could be more, though!

Since then, watching all three films over the course of a day or a weekend has become an annual occurrence.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Claire The opening of Fellowship invites you into the glorious world of Middle-earth, which is home to all manner of fantastic races, from wizards to elves and hobbits to ents. From a rather gentle beginning where we are introduced to the world of the hobbits, the pace picks up and soon we’re accompanying the Fellowship on their quest to destroy the ring of power, a corrupt weapon created by Sauron.

After watching Fellowship I immediately started reading the books as I was dying to know what happened next. In fact, I skipped ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and went straight to ‘The Two Towers’! Fellowship was an excellent introduction to the The Lord of the Rings universe and I was completely hooked. The scenery took my breath away – I’ve been saving for a ticket to New Zealand ever since.

Max Frodo Baggins lives an insular life. While he loves the adventures of his Uncle Bilbo and the wizard Gandolf, he never imagines that adventure would find him in the shire. Then one day his uncle’s prized procession, his golden ring, gets passed to Frodo and begins a tireless journey to secure the safety of the entire world. Fellowship of the Ring is the beginning of one of the best trilogies of all time and it helps that this chapter is the strongest. It’s able to focus on a single storyline since the characters are in a fellowship for most of the film. There’s also the dramatic death of one of the fellowship that had me shocked. I had never read the books, so everything was new to me.

I only decided to see the film on opening night due to the buzz. I had been disappointed by too many fantasy movies in the past. This film changed all that and proved that fantasy could be done right if it was the hands of a capable and loving director. I’m not certain any other director could’ve brought this vision to the big screen other than Peter Jackson. He put everything into this trilogy and shows because the work before it and after it hasn’t come close to approaching this story.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Claire The Two Towers picks up right where Fellowship left off, and the split story telling really comes into its own. The Fellowship has become separated and we now see the quest through several people’s eyes. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are together and on the hunt for the kidnapped hobbits, Merry and Pippin, while Frodo and Sam edge ever closer to Mordor.

As we are introduced to more characters, namely King Théoden, Éomer, Éoywn and Faramir, I became even more in awe of JRR Tolkien’s rich Middle-earth and Peter Jackson’s fantastic interpretation. After reading the books I knew what would happen, but seeing it on screen was every bit as awesome as I expected. I don’t use the term ‘awesome’ lightly either – the battle of Helm’s Deep is one of the finest battle sequences ever captured on screen, and a shiver runs over me whenever I watch it or hear the music played during the scenes.

Max Frodo and Sam continue their journey to destroy the one ring in the heart of Mount Doom. Now joined by one of the most impressive CG companions in Gollum, their bond will be called into question as the perilous quest continues. The fellowship has disbanded and the other hobbits, humans, elves, and dwarfs must unite to fight the enemy. The Two Towers has the unfortunate task of being the middle chapter. While some trilogies have proven that the second film can be the strongest, it was already determined that The Two Towers would neither have a beginning nor an end. What I remember most from The Two Towers is of course the siege on Helm’s Deep. The scope of the battle had never been seen before as thousands of computer generated characters raided the stronghold. It also features the return of a character that was thought to be loss from the earlier chapter. The Two Towers was amazingly able to replicate the strong storytelling and pace of the original, without sacrificing much.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Claire The quest reaches its epic conclusion and evil has, once again, been destroyed. The lives of several characters are changed forever and, for some, it will not be as easy to adapt to their previous lives. Our heroes, particularly the hobbits, have experienced something utterly life changing. We experience yet more of JRR Tolkien’s mysterious and magical world, and the true horror of Mordor is revealed.

As I said earlier, the battle for Helm’s Deep is incredibly atmospheric. Though I don’t feel the same high emotion as when I watch Helm’s Deep, the final battle in Return is pretty spectacular. Helm’s Deep has every key ingredient to get your heart racing: it’s the classic David vs Goliath tale that takes place over a dark night drenched in rain. Return on the other hand offers all the bizarre creatures that Middle-earth has to offer, from the gigantic oliphant to the hideous flying fell beasts.

Max The finale of The Lord of the Rings saga has always been questioned for having one too many endings. While it was written that way in the book, maybe it didn’t work right for the theatrical version of the film. Part of me thinks they could’ve been left on the cutting room floor until the Extended cuts came out. That being said… Return of the King follows the end of Frodo’s adventure to destroy the one ring. Some of the material from The Two Towers was moved over for to this film and it plays better because of it. Otherwise the audience would be waiting for the epic fight sequences that occur 2/3’s into the film for some action. At the heart of The Lord of the Rings is determination and friendship. Those are the elements that help defeat the evil that plagues Middle-Earth.

Final thoughts

Claire Though it is incredibly hard to choose, my order of preference would be 2, 1, 3. The Two Towers features some of my favourite scenes and favourite characters. I remember seeing Rohan for the first time and thinking how beautiful it looked. The music that accompanies it – a very poignant sounding fiddle – adds to this medieval ambience and, though an elf at heart, I would love to live there.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy deserved every Oscar that it was nominated for. It is a visual masterpiece that is pure escapism, and I adore it.

Max I’m not going to shy away from the reality here. The Lord of the Rings is one of the finest movie trilogies ever made. While the second and third parts have their points of weakness, all three movies are incredible. The Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite film of the franchise and one of the only films I’ve seen in theaters three times during its theatrical run. For the record I believe both the theatrical and extended versions of the films have their merits. While some scenes should never have been cut, sometimes the shorter run time helps the flow of the films. It goes without saying that if you haven’t watched and fallen in love with The Lord of the Rings, what are you waiting for?

Films featured in the Trilogy Thursday series so far:

Toy Story 1, 2 and 3
The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum
Back to the Future 1, 2 and 3
The original Star Wars trilogy
American Pie
Indiana Jones