The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages reports that in the past two years 16 sets of parents in this state have chosen Arwen as a first or second name. In the same period – just in NSW – there have also been three Elanors, one Eowyn and one Aragorn, all of whom will be coming soon to a day-care centre near you.
The coronation of Aragorn should have marked the beginning of the end for this marketing triumph, but there’s a remarkable lack of wrist-slashing out there in fanland. Some are just looking forward to the prospect of a quieter life but most, it seems, are holding out hopes that Peter Jackson will make The Hobbit – Tolkien’s forerunner to LOTR.
Sydney fan Kylie Williams, 23, says she can’t wait to see “what [Jackson] can do with the story of Bilbo”, while Jonathan Watson, webmaster of Tolkien Online, a US fan site, “can’t imagine” the team from LOTR not taking it on.
“I hope that we’ll see The Hobbit coming out sometime in the next five years,” he says. “[Tolkien’s work] has such an emotional reaction with the audience that I think they just want to tap into that as much as they can.”
Watson, who first read the trilogy in year 7, started his website shortly after the plan to make the films became public.
He wanted, he says, to “bring people together” who had Tolkien as their common interest and that’s certainly worked.
His site now has 35,000 regular users around the world, and 20,000 to 30,000 visitors a day. The section devoted to fan literature (run by an Australian dubbed “Lady Coralie”) has received 5000 stories and poems in the past two years, and receives about 30 submissions a day.
Although Watson expects interest in the site to drop by 75 per cent in the next 18 months, he is confident it will not die.
“It’s something that I plan on doing for the rest of my life, whether we have 100 people or 1000 people a day,” he says.
“It lends a lot of joy to my life … there’s a lot of community. We’ve got six or seven Tolkien Online babies and at least half a dozen marriages from people who’ve met on the site. We also help people who are down on their luck … it’s become a very good place, a safe place, for people and that’s always been our intention.”
Although diehard fans will miss the thrills of anticipation that the films provided, there are always the original books to reread.
Kylie Williams, who has watched the films “so many times I can quote them”, carries one of Tolkien’s volumes with her wherever she goes. She began reading them, at her husband’s suggestion, while the films were being made and hasn’t stopped.
“I ended up reading The Return of the King [the first time] in a day,” she says. “I couldn’t put it down. We were on holidays … and my husband said ‘Are you going to come out and do anything? I’m going to the beach.’ I wasn’t very helpful on that holiday at all.”
While Williams is “pretty disappointed that there’ll be no more waiting”, she says “we’ll have the books and the DVDs for the rest of our lives. I’ll be watching [the films] probably once a week. I’ll have my fix.”
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