Chapter 50 - and it's a big'un!! This one covers the whole day of the ROTK premiere in Wellington and the next day when they flew home. This was surely the movie premiere to rule them all!!
In Frodo's story, he and Sam are led to the Dead Marshes by Gollum.
For anyone unfamiliar with my pet project, 'A Journey With Frodo' (a work in progress) is the story of Elijah Wood's experience in becoming Frodo, from back in 1998 when the LOTR movies were just a whisper up to the triumphant Oscars of Feb 2004. In reliving Elijah's journey, and mine, I am using everything I can lay my hands on - behind-the-scenes material from the various dvd's, magazine articles, books, internet sites, tv coverage, word-of-mouth info, etc. Previous chapters can be found here:
"A JOURNEY WITH FRODO"
Hope you enjoy this latest chapter
01 December 2003:
This momentous day began with a press con at Te Papa Museum:
Question: "For any one of the cast: Working with Peter Jackson, seeing so much of his country and then so many of his people, do you think Kiwi's are a little bit different?
Sean Astin: "We know they are!"
Elijah Wood: "I've certainly never met or worked with a crew of people - thousands of people on this movie - that were so devoted to their craft and to their work and to the ultimate passion of Peter Jackson and everyone involved. During the most difficult moments of our schedule the crew never lost focus and never gave up. They gave everything of themselves to see the ultimate goal. I've worked on a few movies and I've never ever seen that... that kind of devotion, that kind of passion - undying. Really extraordinary and constantly inspiring."
Question: "I'm working for ? TV in Japan. I was really moved by the friendship, between especially Sam and Frodo. I was especially so moved by Sam's unconditional love to Frodo. So Elijah, do you have a friend like Sam in your personal life?"
Elijah: "Sean and I are Frodo and Sam to a certain degree, you know. We experienced all of those things together. We spent over a year... ups and downs and the experience of working on the movies and we relied on each other, just as Frodo and Sam rely on each other. There's a massive amount of unconditional love between us. It's the truth!"
Next it was a reception at the Parliament Building attended by NZ Prime Minister, Helen Clarke.
And then – the parade for which an estimated 120,000 people turned up:
I’m not surprised the man walking behind looks worried – Elijah appears to be in danger of being pulled from the car!!
I know the quality of this pic is awful – it was taken from my tv screen! – but I wanted to include it because I love Elijah’s hand on heart gesture. Sometimes actions speak louder than words:
On the Red Carpet:
“I’ve met tourists in the city from all over the world who have literally flown here on a pilgrimage just for this premiere – it’s incredible!"
Question: "Before Peter Jackson made these films none of us had any idea what the Lord of the Rings characters look like and now we know!"
Elijah: "Yes. And now when anyone reads the books they are going to see our faces which is either a really good thing or a really bad thing! It kinda depends."
Q: "Could you get trapped in it, do you think? In the way soap stars find difficulty after they leave the soap – do you know what I mean?"
E: "I don’t think so. The movie sort of stands on its own and we have all continued to work after LOTR and we’ll continue to work. I think we will be fine."
Q: "How has your life changed? Is it crazy?"
E: "No, not really. I go about my daily life very much as I would have before.More people recognise me, I get called Frodo quite often on the streets."
Interviewer: "Believe me, you could be called worse, Elijah."
E: "This is true."
“My God, you guys!! I think there’s more than 100,000 of you here! It warms my very heart. Thank you so much for being here. It’s amazing that we can actually be in Wellington for the world premiere of this last film. It’s been a long journey and you guys have all been a part of it. Thank you so much.”
"A special party for the 2000 premiere attendees was held after the movie screening, but fans were entertained as well with a firework display and an outdoor viewing of the highlights of the day's television footage." (LOTR Fan Club Mag)
Elijah is interviewed as he arrives at the party.
"Elijah, can we have a quick word? We’re live back to the UK."
"What a day!"
E: "My God, what a day! And what a daze I am in!! Oh jeez, incredible!"
"Have you ever experienced anything like that before?"
"Oh, by no means! It was kind of a once in a lifetime experience. I don’t think I will ever have anything like that in my life again. Pretty amazing!"
"And just finally, if you could sum up working with Peter Jackson on these three films, back to back, never been done before. Was it a scary thing at first?"
"I never looked back. I was always confident about my decision to be a part of it. I think I just loved the idea of going on an adventure and I trusted Peter. I was a big fan of his and I knew I was in good hands. And I was. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life."
Inside the party (from Ian M's website):
2 December 2003:
Farewell to Wellington:
"The day after the premiere, the cast had to fly on to Los Angeles for the first in a series of premiere screenings around the world, and it seemed that all of Wellington's female population had turned out to give them a send-off at the airport. Scenes resembling what more than one journalist described as "Beatlemania" were evident across the airport terminal building and its entrances. On viewing the numerous fans pressed against the long glass walls of the main terminal building from the airport tarmac, a visibly moved Wood summarized 'The Return of the King' premiere perfectly. "I have never seen anything like this", he said. "Thank you Wellington for everything you've given us." (LOTR Fan Club Mag)
My Journey continued ...
I can't remember how I came to be not working on the day of the ROTK world premiere but I think I probably did some juggling of my working days that week!! Anyway, I was determined I wasn't going to miss it and one way or another I managed to record most of the parade and interviews by switching from channel to channel. It was such an amazing day for all concerned and understandably I thought Elijah and many others often looked quite emotional, although thrilled and excited by the amazing events in Wellington. Still more than two weeks to go before we would actually get to see the film of course so I was still on tenterhooks.
One of the pics taken from my tv:
Frodo's Journey Continues: THE DEAD MARSHES
Andy: "This was the first shot I think I ever did on the movie. Up on Ruapehu."
Elijah: "There was a big blue screen behind all that, do you remember? And no Mordor in the background."
Hurry Hobbitses, hurry!
Very lucky we find you.
Dom: "As you can see, everybody’s off on their own story. Elijah and Andy and Sean spending a lot of time with each other, and then Orli and Viggo and John Rhys-Davies and then Billy and myself. Which is something that we all went through because we’d been so close to each other and working together every day that it really did affect us when we all split up."
Oh! It’s a bog!
He’s led us into a swamp!
A swamp yes, yes.
Come master, we will take you on safe paths through the mist.
PJ: "The Dead Marshes was primarily a set that we built on the parking lot of an old factory right next to a railway station and a lot of the time there would be trains rolling through the background – you could actually see on the film the trains going right past the back of shot and then later on we would paint it all out and put an extensions of the marshes in here."
I found it I did. The way through the marshes.
Orcs don't use it. Orcs don't know it. They go round for miles and miles
"It was dreary and wearisome. Cold clammy winter still held sway in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long-forgotten summers." (The Two Towers ~ The Passage of the Marshes)
[I remember Elijah asking Jay Leno if he'd noticed the two little hobbits in this shot of the marshes. I hadn't noticed them in the cinema, and I couldn't see them when I watched the dvd on my tv, but when I watched on my computer I could just make them out].
Sean: "This was filmed in a parking lot."
Elijah: "That's right! Folks, we're a little bit more low-fi than you think!"
"‘About the food’ said Sam. ‘How long’s it going to take us to do this job? And when it’s done, what are we going to do then?…. I reckon we’ve got enough to last, say, three weeks or so, and that with a tight belt and a light tooth, mind you. We’ve been a bit free with it so far’
‘I don’t know how long we shall take to – to finish,’ said Frodo. We were miserably delayed in the hills. But Samwise Gamgee, my dear hobbit – indeed, Sam my dearest hobbit, friend of friends – I do not think we need give thought to what comes after that. To do the job as you put it – what hope is there that we ever shall? And if we do, who knows what will come of that? If the One goes into the Fire, and we are at hand? I ask you, Sam, are we ever likely to need bread again? I think not.’" (The Two Towers ~ The Passage of the Marshes)
No, no birdses to eat.
No crunchable birdses.
We are famished!
Famished we are, precious!
Elijah: "That was a massive worm!"
Sean: "Look how fat I am."
Elijah: "Yeah, are you getting ready to put the weight back on Sean?"
Dom: "And also, Gollum looks like Frodo."
Billy:"Mmm, I love that. You kind of see what Frodo might become."
Andy: "People have said to me, 'God, Elijah looks more and more like Gollum as the film goes on' ..."
Elijah: "Oh, that's great!!"
Andy: "And also people say that I do look like an older version of you, obviously more raddled and not as handsome, but obviously there is a connection - maybe Peter somewhere saw that."
Elijah: "That's amazing. I'm so glad that that's come across."
A: "But its true – it certainly goes with the way you choose to play Frodo later on and I love – I mean, that’s really clever, I mean your choices later to bring that in."
E: "Oh, thank you."
What does it eats?
Is it tasty?
It tries to chokes us!
We can’t eats Hobbit food!
We must starve.
Well starve then and good riddance!
Oh cruel Hobbit! It does not care if we be hungry.
It does not care if we should die.
PJ: "This is one of the extra scenes that we wrote originally to begin a sort of slightly more meaningful relationship between Gollum and Frodo, didn’t we?"
PJ:" What it kind of does towards the end which is probably the most important function of the scene is to start to mirror that Gollum has shared knowledge with Frodo about what its like to carry this Ring – information that Sam can never know."
Once it takes hold of us …
… it never lets go.
Don’t touch me!
There are dead things. Dead faces in the water!
All dead. All rotten.
Elves and Men and orcses.
A great battle long ago.
Dead Marshes. Yes, yes, that is their name.
Don’t follow the lights.
Careful now, or Hobbits go down to join the dead ones.
And light little candles of their own.
Jim Rygiel: "This is the spectral corpses scene where we shot Frodo on a dry for wet set and all the ghouls and goblins were shot with high speed camera also on a dry for wet then Sony Image Works – they did all the shots in the sequence – basically the idea that Peter gave us was that these could be real or they could be just these tricks of light so you don’t know whether actually there were these ghouls coming at you or whether Frodo was just hallucinating this whole thing …"
Sean: "I can't believe how well you did that thing Elijah where you just fall, face first, because it was only about a foot and a half deep, the water, so it's possible that with that pack on your back you would have ..."
Elijah: "It was so cold."
Sean: "... bone-chillingly cold but it's possible you could have not just suffered the sting on your face from the splat on the water but that you could have actually hit the cement bedding but you just fall right over and it just looks so creepy."
PB: "A great shot of Gollum pulling Frodo out of the water which is an example of using Andy Serkis to actually just pull him out and we painted Andy out and put Gollum over the top but you get that wonderful feeling of real physical connection between the two characters."
John Howe:" The Dead Marshes is another rite of passage for the hero on his quest although its not really presented as such in the novel - the premise is a symbolic death/rebirth in Frodo’s falling into the water and being saved by Gollum and this is such a beautiful reminder that we really are in another world."
Elijah: "We originally had you [Sam] pulling me out but then we changed it to Gollum which is so much better."
Andy: "Also it's a mirror to the scene we've just seen."
Elijah: "It's establishing their connection, which I love."
Don’t follow the lights!
Phillipa Boyens: "But also that scene was meant to play very directly to when Frodo rejects Gollum and finds him disgusting and this is meant to be part of his journey towards actually seeing something else but at this moment, starting at the very beginning of finding Gollum disgusting and it was supposed to play to this moment when he almost turns the other way and Gollum almost – even though he saves Frodo – rejects him and is quite cold to him when he pulls him out and says ‘don’t follow the lights’."
Are you alright?
"... a visibly moved Wood summarized 'The Return of the King' premiere perfectly. "I have never seen anything like this", he said. "Thank you Wellington for everything you've given us."
TO BE CONTINUED
LINK TO ALL CHAPTERS:
"A JOURNEY WITH FRODO"
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