by Nui Te Koha
Cate Blanchett has retained her natural beauty for a role in one of the most expensive film projects in history.
Blanchett is known for her radical transformations on film, especially in the Oscar-nominated Elizabeth.
But she required little make-up to portray pointy-eared elf queen Galadriel in the $540 million Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy.
The film took almost a year to shoot in remote parts of New Zealand.
Fellowship Of The Ring, the trilogy’s first chapter to be released in late December, has rejuvenated Hollywood’s desire for big-budget, epic filmmaking.
Lord Of The Rings would stand as the most expensive movie in history if New Zealand director Peter Jackson had not channelled the money into three full-length movies, shot over 274 days.
Jackson now has the trilogy in the can, and at $180 million an episode, has delivered the project way below the $260 million average for a Hollywood blockbuster.
The director’s enthusiasm and obsessive detail in creating mystical worlds based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth fantasies have already earned him comparisons with Star Wars visionary George Lucas.
“This is a life’s work for him,” said Michael Lynne, president of New Line Cinema, the US studio backing the Lord Of The Rings project.
Blanchett said working on the movie was “like becoming part of a whole different universe”.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it before,” she said.
“By the time we started working, there was such a strong and real-life sense of the various cultures, their histories and hopes for the future.”
Blanchett said she took the role of Galadriel because the character was iconic . . . “and, yes, I have to admit, I’ve always wanted to have pointy ears.”
The film’s financial backers are counting on the international appeal of Tolkien’s work.
The three novels – Fellowship Of The Ring, Two Towers and Return Of The King – that comprise the Lord Of The Rings trilogy have sold 50 million copies worldwide, in 25 languages. Jackson’s three movies are already creating a huge buzz among Tolkien aficionados.
Fellowship‘s official website includes a detailed discussion about the hair colour on main character Frodo’s feet – in 10 different languages.