The Lord of the Rings - Cannes Coverage


Last Update: 12 May 2001


Toronto Sun

12 May 2001

Cannes Rings up winner

By BRUCE KIRKLAND -- Toronto Sun
CANNES -- The Lord Of The Rings has become the overnight sensation
at the 54th Cannes Film Festival, and none of the three films in the trilogy
is even finished yet.

Nor does New Zealand director Peter Jackson's $270-million fantasy
trilogy have anything to do with the official Cannes filmfest. By making the
move here at Cannes, this is a bold case of stealing thunder, all carefully
orchestrated by the American mini-major New Line Cinema to turn the
Tolkien legacy into a franchise.

Capitalizing on the phenomenal success of its hype Web site, New Line
yesterday paraded Jackson and all of the key cast members out for the
press after screening 26 minutes of thrilling footage that had even
hardened cynics cheering.

Not surprisingly, the actors, most of whom spent 15 months of their lives
working on the three films all at once, were also bubbling afterwards.

"I was completely blown away," a chain-smoking Liv Tyler -- who plays the
romantic Elf Arwen in all three movies -- said of the scenes, which were
screened to gasping and clapping. "I was scared, actually, and I screamed
like two times.

"And I was so impressed with the cave Troll. What I particularly really
loved about it was that even it (the Troll), which was completely computer
driven, had emotions somehow. It had a spirit. That is one of the great
things about this piece. Everything matters. Everything has emotions.
Everything has a strong character, even if they're enhanced digitally."

The cave Troll is at the climax of a 14-minute scene set in the mines of
Moria where the nine heroes of the piece have to fight nasty Orcs, and
finally the monster, to escape alive and continue their mission of honour.
Other scenes shown included the reunion of the Wizard Gandalf (played
by Ian McKellan) and the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm).

"It was exhausting to watch it, actually," English actor Orlando Bloom, who
plays the heroic Elf Legolas in the films, said of the preview footage. "It's
because there were so many heightened moments in that 26 minutes. And
it was only like a tiny taste of what is to come!"

The Lords Of The Rings is based on the famous and beloved 1950s
books by English author and teacher J.R.R. Tolkien, who created a
fantastic world of Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, Wizards, Ringwraiths, Ents,
Orcs and other incredible creatures. As movies, New Line plans to release
the first instalment in December, followed by one each of the following two
Decembers. For the first time ever, three films of a series were shot
simultaneously.

Kiwi director Jackson, whose best-known film to date is the modest drama
Heavenly Creatures starring a then-unknown and young Kate Winslet,
admitted yesterday there is pressure for a filmmaker to be handling a
$270-million project.

"I'd be very flippant if I said it wasn't a pressure, but I have a job to to and the
job I have to do is to make the best film that I can. There are people
paid to stress about the budget."

One of them is New Line executive and Lord Of The Rings executive
producer Mark Ordesky, who claimed the total budget is not out of line
considering that the studio will end up with three movies to release along
with enormous possibilities for merchandizing tie-ins.

"If you look at it in the context of a Hollywood event movie, it is not a
particularly huge sum," he said of the $270 million total, which works out to
$90 million per episode, all in U.S. dollars. "We really see this essentially
as launching a brand, launching a franchise."

As for the movies themselves, Jackson struggled with the idea that The
Lords Of The Rings is a pop culture icon. Which means there is keen
interest in the movies.

"It is both the joy and the curse," he said. "I mean, I guess it was a
philosophical thing. I just felt that the most responsible thing that I could
do, as a fan of the books myself, was to make the interpretation of The
Lord Of The Rings that I would enjoy seeing.

"So, in a way, it was ultimately a very selfish thing. To try to make
something that would please millions of fans is obviously an impossibility
and it would have been a mistake to second guess what the people would
want and expect. So I just seem to be lucky to be the person who kind of
gets their vision put onto film."

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