City Voice
November 5, 1998

Personal Hobbits
Bernie Napp

Peter Jackson says of filming J.R.R. Tolkien's classic trilogy, "It can only be my personal interpretation of The Lord of the Rings." A ring of power is entrusted to a small furry "hobbit" to save Middle-Earth from the forces of evil, in a tale of kings and wizards, elves and dwarves, goblins and other demons. Tolkien's "epic fantasy" has captured the imagination of children and adults world wide. How is Jackson going to turn the books into film without losing their magic? "I cannot possibly attempt to second guess how millions of readers perceive the world of middle earth," replies Jackson." I am a Lord of the Rings reader who has been lucky enough to to get the opportunity to make the movies and in all respects these movies will be personal to me."

The main characters are hobbits Frodo and Sam, Gandalf the wizard and Aragorn, his partner against dark forces Sauron and Saruman. Critics of The Lord of the Rings note the low profile of women. "We are working on ways to enhance the roles that Arwen (elven princess) and Eowyn (warrior princess) play in the story," says Jackson, "however, we will not be adding any new female characters." On the master/servant relationship between Frodo and Sam, Jackson says, "We don't have an interest in being too politically correct or revisionist with any aspect of Lord of the Rings." Jackson on film locations: "I'm sure New Zealanders will recognize the distinct landscape."

Real forests combined with computer-generated trees will create the magical forests of Tolkien's world. The search for suitable forests is still on. Filming will take 13 months. The three movies will be shown five-six months apart. Total viewing time will exceed six hours.