INTO THE RING'S EVIL: STUNTS AND ACTION
"This film required actors in tremendous
physical shape, both because of the battles they go through and
the fact that the Fellowship journeys over water, under the ground
and across mountains to destroy the Ring."
-Barrie M. Osborne
The action of The Lord of the Rings also required the design of unparalleled stunts under the direction of stunt coordinator George Marshall Ruge. They not only helped to choreograph massive battle sequences filled with ancient (and newly invented) fighting techniques, but worked with cast members and stunt extras balancing on high cliffs, scaling castle walls, falling out of boats and charging through forests on horseback. The stunts for this film are unique because of the wide range of fighting styles practiced by the myriad characters. It was a challenge for the stunt department to stage battles with so many different sizes, styles and movements.
Bob Anderson, the world's top sword master who has consulted on such films as Star Wars and trained legendary film star Errol Flynn, was also brought in to train the actors in different fencing techniques. An expert in medieval arms, Anderson read the novels and then developed sparring methods based on Tolkien's descriptions of each culture. For example, he determined that the Hobbits are so small, they should fight as a team. Some, like the axe-wielding Gimli the Dwarf, use a variety of other weapons. A commando army of stunt performers was given special training to perfect the unique fighting styles of the Orcs, the Uruk-Hai, The Ringwraiths, the Elves and the other civilizations in Tolkien's universe. An expert in firing ancient English longbows was also brought in.
The stunts not only required a massive human effort but an animal one as well. The Lord of the Rings used more than 250 horses, including a corps of 70 specially trained horses. Among them are the five miniature horses used for the Hobbits, and the two proud white Andalusians used to bring Shadowfax, the wizard Gandalf's mysteriously wild and courageous steed, to life. This multi-faceted department was helmed by head animal wrangler Dave Johnson, horse coordinator Steve Old, horse technical advisors John Scott and Lyle Edge, and horse stunt coordinator Casey O' Neill.
For Peter Jackson, it was all part of an
effort to reflect the realistic pandemonium of battles-from the
adrenaline rush of the crowds and the hammering hooves of the
horses to the heart-wrenching screams and valiant cries in the
background. Despite the sophistication of the stunts and effects
throughout The Lord of the Rings, in the end Peter Jackson kept
the focus on a simple enemy: the One Ring. "What's so interesting
to me about The Lord of the Rings is that the ultimate villain
of the entire epic story isn't a fire-breathing dragon or killer
robot or massive shark. It's a tiny thing," he says. "The
evil is more psychological, intangible, something each character
encounters in his or her own way."
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