The Lord of the Rings - Cannes Coverage


Last Update: 13 May 2001


Premiere (French version)

11 May 2001

VENDREDI 11 MAI A 17:02

Cannes, May 10, 2001, 5.00 pm: The Olympia Theater screening room is almost full with journalists from all over the world. Before Sunday s big party, the huge worldwide publicity campaign is just starting here.

Bob Shaye, New Line s boss, takes the microphone to announce that the images we are about to see are fresh out from the studio and have never been screened anywhere else before. Peter Jackson briefly explains that these 20 minutes of film introduce the main characters in one full 14 minutes sequence edited and completed from the first episode, then a 6 minutes epilogue should give an idea of what the second and third episodes are about. Their choice is quite smart. Right from the beginning we feel it is going to be huge. Star-Wars look like pale TV series compared to that.

We first meet Gandalf (Ian McKellen) on a location in the mood of Wizard of Oz or Babe s countryside. Gandalf meets Bilbo (Ian Holm) in his curvy house made of tunnels dug for his small size. Bilbo looks like a dwarf next to the magician thanks to subtile mixes of editing with double exposures and forced perspectives. We meet again with Peter Jackson s playfull wit enjoying itself in creating illusions with late Meliés tricks as well as with the latest digital technology. The introduction of the characters reveals one precise and pertinent casting (Viggo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean). Christopher Lee is terrifying as Saruman. Elijah Wood is OK as Frodo.

The real excitement starts with one sequence of Gandalf leading his troop across hostile mountains before escaping into rocky tunnels. Here we feel Howard Shore s deep sonorous orchestral score with the brass and strings. Beside this, the score is actually temporary, right out from Last of the Mohicans and others.

A negligence get them noticed and soon attacked by agressive underground residents.

Frodo almost dies in a thrilling fight against a Green Giant. The deeper they crawl down through the mountain, the stronger tension rises. Each step of a gigantic stairway collapses one after the other behind them before they meet the abyss keeper, a spider devil. This staggering sequence offers us new sensations we didn t think possible anymore in cinema.

The last minutes from episodes 2 and 3 emphasize the size of the production with great battles in gigantic and dreamlike locations. And that is exactly the idea this preview screening left in us : size. Even if we knew it beforehand, we still get blasted by the scope of the finished work. Peter Jackson gave forms to Tolkien's world with a stunning vigour.

The other good news is Peter Jackson's style we still find in every shot. As surely as we recognize a Tim Burton skeleton, every single monster, every knight, every detail here is the result of an evolution we can trace back in every movie of this author. That is not that surprising when you see him. He looks exactly the same mischievous way he did when he came over here to present Bad Taste 15 years ago. Nothing compared to all the weeks we will have to wait before we see the first episode of the Trilogy in December 2001.

Gérard Delorme
translation : Jacques-André Bondy

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