30 November 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 153: the Dead Marshes

The Dead Marshes as seen in Peter Jackson's The Two Towers

West of Dagorlad and East of the Emyn Muil lay the Dead Marshes, which had expanded throughout the Third Age and engulfed the graves of the Men and Elves slain in the Battle of Dagorlad. These graves became the Mere of Dead Faces. Many of the Wainriders defeated in the Battle of the Camp (TA 1944) were driven into the Dead Marshes, where they perished. It was said that when the will-o’-the-wisp lights flickered over the meres at night, anyone who looked into the pools would see the phantom faces of dead warriors; subsequently, anyone who tried to touch the bodies were likely to drown and join them.

On their way to Mordor, Gollum led the Hobbits Sam and Frodo through the Dead Marshes, warning Sam about the hypnotising effects of the flickering lights. Before he could touch the waters, Frodo’s trance was broken by Sam. In Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers, Frodo fell into the water in an attempt to touch one of the bodies; it was Gollum who pulled him out of the water.  

Elijah Wood's 'Mixed' Hobbit Emotions

Elijah Wood, reprising his role as Frodo Baggins in The Hobbit, admitted he had “mixed emotions” during filming. 

"It was amazing, a mix of emotions, I think. It was slightly surreal and felt oddly normal,” he said of his return. 

"I played the character for so long and I was in the costume, in Bag-end and a lot of the same crew were there from Rings so it was as if no time had passed and suddenly we were doing another scene. It was great, felt like a family reunion, like stepping back in time."

He told HeyUGuys.co.uk that the prequel, which includes thirteen principal actors, felt very different from filming The Lord of the Rings

"Well, there are 13 dwarves! Imagine that, 13 principal actors, it's insane - all with prosthetics and it's incredible. In some ways, the scale feels larger surprisingly even though technically the scale of Lord of the Ring is more massive in terms of the storytelling.

"There's more technology, it's being shot in 3-D, more people on the set and it feels as though the 'machine' is bigger."

29 November 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 152: Aragorn

Aragorn II (TA 2931-FO 120), son of Arathorn II, was one of the Dúnedain, and the heir of Isildur. Following the death of his father, when Aragorn was only two years of age, his mother Gilraen took him to Rivendell, where he was raised in secret by Lord Elrond. He was known as Estel (‘Hope’) until he had reached twenty years of age, at which point his lineage was revealed to him and he was given the heirlooms of his line – the shards of Elendil’s sword Narsil (later reforged into Andúril) and the Ring of Barahir. He withheld from Aragorn the Sceptre of Annúminas until he had earned the right to possess it.

It was also at this time that he first beheld Elrond’s daughter, Arwen: from that moment on, he loved her. Though they plighted theirtroth upon Cerin Amroth, Elrond would not allow his daughter to marry any Man less than the King of Arnor and Gondor. 

Aragorn went off into the Wild for nearly seventy years to partake in the fight against Mordor. In disguise, he served both Thengel of Rohan and Echelion of Gondor. In the latter realm, he was known as Thorongil, due to the star of the Rangers that wore.  As a Ranger of the North, he also clad himself in simple green and brown. 

He met Gandalf in 2956, and they became close friends; for thirteen years, he pursued Gollum at Gandalf’s request, until finally apprehending him in 3017. The following year, he met the Hobbit Frodo Baggins. After leading Frodo and his companions to Rivendell, he became one of the Nine Companions, taking over leadership of the Fellowship after Gandalf fell fighting the Balrog in Khazad-dûm. 

After the Fellowship had broken, he traveled to Rohan with Legolas and Gimli. He helped lead the defense at the Battle of the Hornburg, becoming fast friends with Théoden’s nephew, Éomer. Accompanied again by Legolas and Gimli, he took the Paths of the Dead, commanding the Dead to fulfill the Oath they had sworn to Isildur (and broken) long before. With their help, the Corsairs at Pelargir were defeated and the tide was turned at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. 

After the War of the Ring, he became known as Elessar Telcontar, the first King of the Reunited Kingdom and Lord of the Western Lands (TA 3019-FO 120). He married Elrond’s daughter, Arwen Undómiel, who bore him one son, Eldarion, and a number of daughters. 

As one of the Dúnedain, Aragorn had been blessed with a lifespan thrice that of any normal Man. At the age of 210, he laid himself to rest in the House of Kings.

Other Names

Aragorn was called Elessar and Elfstone by Galadriel and the people of Gondor.

To the people of Bree, he was known as Strider.

He was also called Isildur’s Heir, the Renewer, Longshanks, and Wing-foot.  

28 November 2011

Couple Builds Hobbit Holes in Maine

Pillsbury with one of his Hobbit Holes

Melissa and Rocy Pillsbury of Unity, Maine, run a business called Wooden Wonders, where they have been custom designing and building miniature Hobbit homes for the past two and a half years.

When Rocy Pillsbury, 37, a man with 17 years of carpentry experience, first began Wooden Wonders, his intent was to design and build children’s playhouses in various fantasy shapes, such as castles, towers, and fairy and mushroom houses. 

These playhouses were a huge success at many of the home shows they attended – so successful, in fact, that that many adults would try to come up with a reason to buy one of them. 

"We started with playhouses, and we expanded from there to utility uses," Melissa Pillsbury said. "We quickly discovered that folks with disposable income aren't necessarily the ones with young children."

Some of the Hobbit Holes’ utility uses include being a bus stop shelter, chicken coop, doghouse, office, garden shed, sandbox, yoga space, vegetable stand, sauna, summer sleepover spot, and lakeside cottage. According to Rocy Pillsbury, one customer bought a Hobbit Hole for the purpose of conducting child therapy sessions. 

Regardless of their use, "No two are alike,” Rocy said of his Hobbit-inspired playhouses, of which there are about 50 variations, all based on the Hobbit holes described in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, published in 1937. Some have shingled roofs, while others are covered with vegetation. And they all possess the same dome shape and round front door that is characteristic of all Hobbit holes.

The couple expects sales of their Hobbit Holes to soar after the release of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films. Wooden Wonders also has a trademark licensing agreement with Middle-earth Enterprises, a California company which has exclusive worldwide rights to motion picture, merchandising and other rights from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

"I think that we are the only company in the world that sells Hobbit Holes,” Rocy said. 

The Pillsburys' two sons, Richard and Maxximus, play inside one of the Hobbit Holes. 
Photo: David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

And one of their Hobbit Holes has recently become the home of a radio personality from Bangor, Pat LaMarche.

LaMarche, who is co-host of "The Pulse Morning Show" on WZON AM 620/FM 103.1, one of author Stephen King’s radio stations, has been living in one of these Hobbit Hole for about a week now, with a goal of staying there until $70,000 is raised by the community to aid the Help Keep ME Warm fundraiser, which offers home heating fuel assistance to low-income Mainers. 

Wooden Wonders is donating 10 percent of its sales made during the fundraiser to Help Keep ME Warm, according to Melissa Pillsbury. Additionally, Stephen King himself has offered to match up to $70,000 of the amount raised.

For anyone interested in purchasing a Hobbit Hole of their own, prices range from $999 for a chicken coop to $20,000 for an insulated cottage finished with floors, windows, and screens; Pillsbury is also trying to lower the cost to $2,000 for an entry-level playhouse. 

"Anyone who knows about carpentry knows how much work goes into them," Melissa Pillsbury said. "Aesthetically they're so wonderful. We've got a Hobbit Hole for every budget."

Visit the Wooden Wonders website for more information.

No 'Hobbit' for Viggo Mortensen

Actor Viggo Mortensen recently told Movies.com that he would not be reprising the role of Aragorn in the upcoming Hobbit films.

 “At one point, the producers asked if I would do it and I said sure, if Aragorn is supposed to be in the bridge story, because he’s not in The Hobbit,” Mortensen said. “But I’ve never been asked and they’re shooting the movie. I’m not in it unless there is some last-minute plan they have, but I thought I would have heard of it by now.”

“Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett shot something, but they’re elves and don’t change as rapidly,” he explained. “As you know, Aragorn is half elf and also lives a couple hundred years or more and he could be in a bridge, but I have to assume it isn’t going to happen.”

Other cast members who are reprising their Lord of the Rings roles include Elijah Wood, Sir Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis and Orlando Bloom.

And though he may not be reprising the role of Aragorn in The Hobbit films – which are slated for release in December 2012 and December 2013 – Mortensen is thankful for the opportunity to have played such an important character.

"That was an important period in my life. And I will always be grateful that the trilogy was so successful and gave me a lot of new opportunities. I never would have gotten A History of Violence, no matter how much David [Cronenberg] wanted me, had it not been for my newfound notoriety.”

New Photos from the 'Hobbit' Set

Source: Ain't It Cool News

Quint from Ain’t It Cool News has just posted his fourth update from the set of The Hobbit, titled: A “Palaver of Istari.” Having left Hobbiton (located in Matamata), this report comes from the small town of Te Kuiti, where the cast and crew are filming scenes in the Trollshaws in Middle-earth.  
In this update, we get our first glimpse at Sting, the Elven blade found by Bilbo, which he later passes on to his heir, Frodo, in The Lord of the Rings. We get to see "Tall Paul" Randall, Sir Ian McKellen’s stand-in, and the Dwarf Bombur, played by Stephen Hunter. And we also get our first glimpse of  Radagast (played by Sylvester McCoy), who shares a scene with Gandalf. 

“Based on what I’ve seen over the last few weeks I think it’s going to be a toss up between Bombur and Radagast on who will steal the movie,” Quint reports. “Bombur is just so loveable and funny and Radagast is ridiculously endearing, an absent-minded St. Francis of Assisi.”

You can read Quint’s full report (which contains some spoilers) here.

'Hobbit' Trailer to Be Attached to 'Tintin'

Elijah Wood recently confirmed that the first US trailer for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit will debut before The Adventures of Tintin (which is being produced by Peter Jackson), opening in cinemas on December 21st of this year. And though he knows when the first trailer will be released, he admits he has not yet seen it himself.

"I have spoken to people about the trailer," he told Digital Spy. "I have a sense of what's going to be in it. I think it's going to be in front of Tintin when it's released in the States."

He also admitted that returning to New Zealand to work on The Hobbit was like a family reunion.

"So many of the crew and some of the cast who were working on Lord of the Rings are working on The Hobbit as well. In a way it feels like stepping back in time, some of the same people are there on set. It was kind of emotional, I didn't really anticipate that."

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 151: Cardolan

Weathertop, as seen in Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring

Following the death of King Eärendur in TA 861, Arnor was divided into three parts as a result of quarrels among his sons: Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan (S. ‘Land-of-Red-Hills’). Contained within Cardolan were the lands of Eriador between the rivers Baranduin and Mitheithel-Gwathló. On the border of Cardolan and Rhudaur lay the hill-tower of Amon Sûl (Weathertop), the possession of which would become a source of conflict for the two states. Arthedain, however, went from enemy to ally of Cardolan as a result of the growing threat of Angmar. 

Throughout its history, Cardolan was frequently at war with Rhudaur, which had joined forces with Angmar. In 1409, forces from Angmar and Rhudaur crossed the border into Cardolan, surrounding Amon Sûl. The Tower of Amon Sûl was burned, Arthedain forced to retreat, and the Dúnedain of Cardolan had no choice but to seek refuge in Tyrn Gorthad (the Barrow-downs) and the Old Forest. It was during this war that the last prince of Cardolan was slain. 

When Angmar was defeated by the Elves, the surviving people of Cardolan returned to their homeland. Not long after, the Great Plague struck in 1636, and the remaining population of Cardolan was lost, and the kingdom never reestablished, though there were small settlements still scattered throughout the land by the time of the War of the Ring.

27 November 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 150: Eithel Ivrin

Eithel Ivrin (also called the Falls of Ivrin and the Pools of Ivrin) was a spring located at the foot of the Ered Wethrin (Shadowy Mountains) in West Beleriand, and the source of the River Narog.

Guarded by Ulmo, the pools were filled with beautiful and pure water. It was here that the Mereth Aderthad (Feast of Reuniting) was held by the Eldar and Sindar Elves, and it was also here that Gwindor brought Túrin after he mistakenly slew his friend Beleg; the purity of the waters healed him of the madness brought about by his grief. The pools were later defiled by Glaurung as he passed through them on his way to Nargothrond, and after the War of Wrath, they were destroyed completely.

26 November 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 149: Huan

Huan's Leap; Ted Nasmith

Huan (S. ‘Mighty hound’), the Hound of Valinor, was the noblest dog to ever walk in Middle-earth.  Originally the hound of the Vala Oromë, he had been passed on to Celegorm, who brought the hound with him to Middle-earth. For hundreds of years, Huan faithfully served his master, falling under the Doom of the Noldor, which prophesied that he would die at the jaws of the mightiest wolf in Arda.

Following the imprisonment of Lúthien by Celegorm and Curufin, Huan abandoned his master and helped Lúthien to escape and make her way to Beren. In Tor-in-Gaurhoth, he slew many foes – among them the werewolves of Sauron, their leader, Drauglin, and Wolf-Sauron, who sought to fulfill the prophecy (though he was not the mightiest wolf in Arda). Beren and Lúthien returned to Doriath while Huan returned to his master, where he learned of the exile of Celegorm and Curufin from Nargothrond. When Curufin tried to kill Lúthien, Huan turned against his master, defending her and Beren.

Once Beren and Lúthien had succeeded in obtaining the Silmaril (though Beren had lost his hand to the wolf Carcharoth in the process), Huan joined with Beren, Beleg, Thingol, and Mablung in the Hunting of the Wolf, where he fought Carcharoth, the greatest Wolf of all, as prophesied; and though he slew the Wolf of Angband, Huan himself was mortally wounded in the battle.  

In his life, Huan only spoke three times: once each to Beren and Lúthien in advisement, and once more to bid farewell to Beren.

25 November 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 148: Saruman

Christopher Lee as Saruman in Peter Jackson's films
Saruman the White was one of the Istari, and the greatest of their Order. He possessed much power over the minds of Men, and was knowledgeable in the lore of the Elven-rings of power. He became head of the White Council in TA 2463. 

It was his drive for power which led him to settle in Isengard, where one of the seeing-stones was kept; and it was also the reason for his urging the White Council not to drive the Necromancer out of Dol Guldur, as he believed that the One Ring would reveal itself in searching for its master.

In 2953, Saruman fortified Isengard, gathering Orcs and Dunlendings, whom he enlisted to harass his neighbours in Rohan and Fangorn. Initially, Saruman had been a true friend of Rohan, but as his desire for power (chiefly the One Ring) grew, so did the hostilities between them.  Additionally, Saruman kept agents in Bree and the Shire in order to spy on Gandalf.

In 3000, he was ensnared by Sauron after using the Palantír of Orthanc. His pride grew even faster than his power, and by the time of the War of the Ring, he had begun calling himself Saruman the Many-Coloured. By 3010, he had taken hold of King Théoden of Rohan, causing him to deteriorate (though he was revived by Gandalf by 3019). 

After unleashing a band of Orcs against the Fellowship of the Ring, Saruman set into motion several events which would ultimately bring about his own demise: the Hobbits Merry and Pippin were captured, and later escaped into Fangorn, where they aroused the anger of the Ents, who then led an attack against Isengard. While imprisoned in his own fortress, he was cast out of the Order by Gandalf. Upon his release from Isengard, he went with his faithful servant, Gríma Wormtongue, to the Shire, where he was cast out by Frodo Baggins, and later slain by Gríma.

Other Names

He was called Saruman the Wise by the Men in the north, Curunír by the Elves, and Sharkey by the Orcs of Isengard and his Men in the Shire

24 November 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 147: Noegyth Nibin

The Noegyth Nibin (S. ‘Lesser [petty]-Dwarves’) was a group of Dwarves who had been exiled from their homes during the Peace of Arda, and were the first Dwarves to enter Beleriand. 

Their stunted appearance and harsh speech made them strange and unlikable to the Sindar and Green-Elves inhabiting Beleriand; the Elves, who saw them as pests, persecuted them and hunted them for sport, driving the Dwarves into hiding.  

The Noegyth Nibin made their dwellings at Amon Rûdh and Nulukkizdîn (Nargothrond). After other Dwarves began appearing in East Beleriand, the Elves began to cease their persecution – but by then, the Noegyth Nibin’s numbers had dwindled, and by the 5th Century (FA), only Mîm and his two sons remained of that group.

When Túrin and his men attacked the remaining Noegyth Nibin, believing them to be Orcs or small animals, one of Mîm’s sons was slain by an arrow; the other was later slain by Orcs. Mîm, then the last of his race, was slain by Húrin of Dor-lómin.

A Message of Thanks…

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would take the time to express my gratitude…

I began Tweeting and blogging in late June of this year, and honestly, I never thought I’d make it to where I am today : I’ve almost reached the 500 follower mark on Twitter, which in itself is something I never thought I could achieve. But even more remarkable than that are all of the opportunities with which I’ve been presented over the span of just five months, all the new friends I’ve made, and all the support and encouragement I’ve received from my friends and followers. It is an honour to be a part of the Tolkien Community, and an even greater honour to have “met” (virtually) and befriended so many of my fellow scholars, movie buffs, and gamers. I am also honoured to be a writer for the Middle-earth News, a fantastic network run by an amazing group of hard-working and dedicated individuals.

I am so grateful to have finally been given an opportunity to become actively involved within the Tolkien Community; from the moment I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I knew that one day I wanted to end up where I am now. At the age of ten or eleven, it seemed like a far-off goal, and now that I’ve begun to dip my feet in the water, it seems almost surreal. I’ve still a long way to go – many papers to write and hopefully publish, and many other projects to tackle – but I am so thrilled to be on my way with so many wonderful people backing me.

That being said, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to everyone reading this. I thank you for following me on Twitter and Facebook and for reading/sharing my blog – and for taking the first step and just looking at my pages.

You guys are the best, and I wish everyone a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


23 November 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 146: the Halls of Mandos

The Houses of the Dead (also called the Halls of (A)waiting), located in the Uttermost West of Valinor on the shores of Ekkaia, was the place of Awaiting after Death, where the spirits of the deceased go and sit in meditation, reflecting on their past lives before being released. Its keeper (and also the judge) was the Doomsman of the Valar, Námo (Mandos).

The souls of the earth-bound Elves would awaken in the Blessed Realm, while the souls of Men passed on and away from Arda, until they were ultimately gathered into the Thought of Ilúvatar. Their true fate was only truly understood by Mandos and Manwë.