The Two Towers Exhibit - Shaal's Excellent Adventure in Middle Earth
Back row: Shaal, jeria, donnam197, Elwe-Singollo, Speaker-To-Animals, Elbren
Front row: *E*V*E*N*S*T*A*R*, lisapizzapie, Enchantress, Katarina. (my thanks to *E* for this info!)
"The Two Towers" Exhibit
Toronto, Ontario (Nov. 2, 2002)
by Allison Durno/Shaal
I am totally, blissfully geeked-out today. Just came back a few hours ago from "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" exhibit at the Toronto Planetarium. The exhibit is a collection of costumes, props and sets from the upcoming movie version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Two Towers". John and I went to see a similar exhibit at Casa Loma last November featuring displays from "The Fellowship of The Ring", so I feel very fortunate that Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema seem so fond of Toronto! The FOTR exhibit was wonderful and I was really looking forward to seeing the second exhibit, which was promising to be even more extensive and detailed. I was also looking forward to the TT exhibit because it was going to give me a chance to meet some of the people I've been chatting with in the message boards of "Tolkien OnLine" , a major Tolkien website with a fun and supportive community (known from here on in as TORC). Plans were made in the message boards to meet up in-front of the planetarium to get to know each other and to take in the show.
Wearing my "waitingforfrodo.com" sweatshirt...
...and my Elvish brooch
John and I headed by subway down from Thornhill and walked and window shopped from Bloor over to the Royal Ontario Museum. We were meeting the other TORC folk in front of the Planetarium at 12:30. There were huge banners around advertising the exhibit and an impressive banner above the Planetarium itself. There were some people standing in line, but not as many as I would have expected. Seems having times on the tickets really did do a lot to control the traffic going into the show.
The front of the exhibit as we waited for the 1:00 p.m. show
One of several exhibit banners outside the Planetarium
As the group was meeting at the entrance to the Museum subway stop we headed there, though I realized to my chagrin that I didn't know what any of the group coming looked like so I was going to have to hope I would recognize some conversation or see a larger group start to congregate near to where I was. There were several people waiting around, too, and sure enough we eventually discovered that we all were from the same group (but not before I was tempted to yell "Anyone here from TORC???" :)). We introduced ourselves, though I fear I've forgotten several names that I will hopefully be able to attach to these photos over the next few days! The only two people I had talked to at any length in the TORC boards were Donna and Katarina, both who I had met in "The Eldars" guild, for Tolkien fans over 30.
We all talked excitedly for a few minutes and Donna told us more about her first trip to the exhibit back on Thursday. Group pictures were taken with lots of cameras :) (see photo at the top, taken by my husband, John). We eventually joined the line for the 1:00 p.m. showing and made our way into the Planetarium. Program books were passed out while we were in line (see photo below). The booklets were very nice, full of glossy photos and information about TTT, the movie and the exhibit and about twice as thick as "The Fellowship of The Ring" program guide they passed out at Casa Loma. Inside the lobby of the exhibit was a tourism table for New Zealand, wall TV screens showing trailers from TTT and a few display cases. The item that impressed me most out front was Frodo's mithril shirt, which had very detailed, delicate chainmail and was just gorgeous.
The program book given out at the door
A map inside to all the Middle-earth exhibits
The map above shows a guide to all the themed rooms you wind your way through in the planetarium. They all represent geographical locations found in "The Two Towers". You will note I didn't take any photos in the exhibit itself. Cameras weren't allowed in the exhibit, as the staff kept telling folks, but there were plenty of cameras slipping out of purses and pockets to snap photos, anyway. I was tempted, but since I knew most of these other photos will find their way on-line someplace or another (check out Tolkien OnLine and theonering.net for photos and reports) I decided just to enjoy the show. And, wow, there were amazing things to enjoy! Every geeky tendency in my Tolkien soul went into complete over-drive when surrounded by these detailed, beautiful sets, props and costumes.
The first room was a wonderful recreation of Fangorn Forest, complete with trees, river, Ent dishes and costumes for Merry and Pippin. The river went over a small waterfall and a gentle haze added atmosphere to the room. You move from there to the Golden Hall and Edoras, with its wonderful furniture, weapons and costumes of Rohan. Eowyn's white gown was particularly lovely. There was a mock-up of a wall from Helm's Deep that one could look over onto a scenic screen beyond. You moved from there into the Glittering Caves, with more costumes and props of the refugees of Rohan.
Beyond The Glittering Caves was Saruman's Chamber in Orthanc. Costumes for Saruman and Wormtongue were here as well as a cloth-covered Palantir. Here it was fun to listen to Donna talk more about the design and making of Saruman's costume, she has an interest and talent for costuming. Above this chamber were several display cases of Orc weaponry and tools. There was also a very creepy room set up as a lab or study for Saruman. Another corridor led you into a workroom and forge in the caverns underneath Orthanc. Next are the Dead Marshes, a very effective set piece showing the corpses of men and Elves drifting in a stagnant body of water. Tucked in a corner was the Henneth Annun Caves and Waterfall, complete with stores for Faramir and his men and a picturesque running falls in the background. You then move into the Osgiliath Ruins, with its crumbling staircase and arches and costumes for Faramir, Frodo and Sam. I particularly like the White Tree design on Faramir's costume.
I was pleased to come upon Arwen's room in Rivendell next, as I remembered how much I loved the Elvish displays at the Casa Loma exhibit last year and feared a "Two Towers" exhibit wouldn't feature many Elvish displays. The room contained beautiful Elvish glassware and furniture, including Arwen's couch featured in so many pictures. There were also intricate costumes for both Arwen and Elrond in the display. Coming out of the Rivendell site brings you back around to the Dead Marshes and one last display case which contains the One Ring on a chain as well as assorted props of Sam's- his knapsack, his box of salt, his Elvish rope and his water bottle. Again, it's fascinating to see how small and in scale all the hobbit props and costumes are, even the hobbit Elvish brooches, which are half the size of the brooches for any of the rest of the Fellowship. We were then led to a staircase which took us back out to the front lobby of the Planetarium.
Meeting new friends from "Tolkien OnLine" (Enchantress, Katarina, Donna, Lisapizzapie)
The line-up when we came out of the show
We kept running into assorted TORC friends as we were exploring our way through the site and it was fun to talk to them, to comment together about the different displays we saw. It was also interesting to see many artists intently drawing away in sketch pads as they stood in front of the various props and costumes. As we reached the door to the main lobby, several of the TORC people headed inside for another look around, but John and I decided it was time to go. So after watching the trailer longingly one last time (45 days and counting...) and filling out our ballot for a two week trip to New Zealand we decided to head for home.
To my new TORC friends, it was a real highlight for me today to get a chance to meet you all! I only wish we had had more time to spend together today. I hope you had a great time at your post-exhibit dinner. Maybe we can do this again for the Toronto "Return of the King" exhibit, if not sooner! :) I look forward to spending more time with you at "The Gathering of The Fellowship" convention, too.
For anyone out there considering going to "The Two Towers" exhibit at the Planetarium, I can't recommend it more highly. I'm even more excited about seeing "The Two Towers" movie now on December 18th and I didn't think that was possible :).