SPOILER: In the News: Ogonyuk - $190,000,000 given to Tolkienists

The orignal article appeared in a Russian newspaper called Ogonyok and Ain't it Cool News has a copy of it translated into English. Also included in the article are 4 photos of the Hobbiton set.

$190,000,000 given to Tolkienists

It's hard to say what exactly was so compelling about a simple tale told by J.R.R. Tolkien, but it is precisely that book that is considered the foundation of the cult genre of Fantasy. Fairytale epic trilogy "The Lord Of The Rings" was first published in 1954 and immediately became a bestseller. That book beget the movement sometimes referred to as Tolkienism. After almost 5 decades, "Lord Of The Rings" remains the Holy Book for millions of Fantasy fans.

When this entire tale started, nobody knows for sure. The most literate say that it began 45 years ago, when Tolkien wrote his trilogy. Tolkien himself, on the other hand, mainained that the story that he related is at least 7,000 years old. Anyway, the creations of his imagination - little hairy-footed creatures, hole-dwelling hobbits - have long since found their place in many a mind. Along with stupid goblins, beautiful elves and other inhabitants of magical worlds created by the English writer and philologist.

Six months ago a score of workers came to New Zealand dunes. They dug immense burrows, paved long corridors with green tiles and rugs and hung doors opening to the inside. In short, they built real hobbit dwellings. Don't think, though, that those were some deranged Tolkien fanatics. On the contrary, they were absolutely pragmatic people, with perfect understanding of ends, ways and means. And the means they had in abundance. All the construction is for the shooting of the new super-blockbuster, which is designed to lay waste to Lucas's "Star Wars" with the greatest of ease, according to its creators.

Indeed, the budget for the screen version of the famous trilogy is huge, almost unprecedented: $190 million! Only "Titanic" cost more. It looks like the investors' expectations will be fulfilled in spades, though - the shooting is overseen by a renowned producer, Oscar winner Saul ("One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest", "Amadeus") Zaentz. A man like him doesn't usually waste money.

The filming has started two weeks ago. It will be a trilogy, just as the book itself. Of course, to spend this much money one needs a lot of time, so by the Hollywood's standards the movie will be slow coming - the first installment is expected only by 2001.

So for now, we'll just reread the old man Tolkien, sharpen our wooden swords and wait until the make-believe holes and props become available after the filming, so we can maybe inhabit them and continue the great Battle - the Battle of Good vs. Evil, which, as they say, began over 7,000 years ago.

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