Almost as scary as the thought of trying to film the entirety
of J.R.R. Tolkien's massive Lord of the Rings trilogy -- think of it as War and
Peace with elves and lichen -- is recalling Hollywood's brief 1980s fondness for
Tolkien lite. Remember Labyrinth? Willow? Legend (which featured Tom
Cruise in what will surely be the tweeest role of his career)?
And then there was Ralph Bakshi's dismal animated Lord of
the Rings (1978), which barely clattered its way through half the saga. So here's to
nervy co-writer and director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures), who is currently
in the midst of a 14 month long trudge, shooting The Lord of the Rings in his
native New Zealand.
The plan, following Tolkien, is to release three separate
films, possibly in a Christmas-summer-Christmas pattern beginning with the 2001 holiday
season. Digital technology will allow Jackson to portray clashing armies of hobbits,
dwarfs, elves, and other creatures without having to resort to foam rubber or sock
He also benefits from a cast that includes Elijah Wood as
hero hobbit Frodo Baggins, Ian Holm as his cousin Bilbo, Ian McKellen as the wizard
Gandalf, Cate Blanchett as elf queen Galadriel, and Liv Tyler as Arwen, an elf warrior.
New Line Cinema, the studio backing this venture, no doubt hopes the presence of two
actresses will reassure audiences that not everyone in the film will have splayed, hairy
Photograph by: Hugh Stewart
Caption: Is there a politically correct term for Hobbit? From
left, Sean Astin as Sam Gamgee, Billy Boyd as Pippin Took, Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins,
and Dominic Monaghan as Merry Brandybuck. Photographed on the set of The Lord of the
Rings, Hamilton, New Zealand, January 21, 2000.