January 21, 2001
One Ring to Rule Them
WORD GOT OUT three years ago that New Line Cinema planned to film The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkiens sword-and-sorcery trilogy involving furry-footed hobbits, immortal elves, doughty dwarves, foul orcs, the dark Land of Mordor and a Ring so evil and powerful that it gives us the willies just to type the word. (One Ring to rule them all... and in the darkness bind them.) Since then Tolkien obsessives have been in a spiritual state equivalent to revving an engine in neutral. As one character in the trilogy says, The reason of my waking mind tells me a great evil has befallen... But... a hope and joy are come to me that no reason can deny. And thats why our man here, Eric Negron, 30, who works at a downtown tattoo parlor, slept in the theater lobby last night; the kindly manager let him crash on the carpet by the concession stand.
New Lines Lord of the Rings isnt the first attempt to film the trilogy. Tolkien (who died in 1973) turned down a treatment for an animated version that committed such barbarisms as referring to lembas, the elves preternaturally nutritious waybread, as food concentrate. Ralph Bakshis 1978 film combined animation with rotoscoping, in which footage of live actors was copied onto animation paper; in the words of another Tolkien character, the memory is very evil. Not even the most skeptical fan believes that Peter Jackson, director of New Lines live-action film, could do worse. And no one thinks last weeks ousting of New Line president Michael De Luca will affect the movie one way or the other.