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The Biggest Battle of the Ring
Unique pictures from the movie “The Return of the King”
WELLINGTON. The time has come to shoot the final scenes for “The Return of the King”. Peter Jackson has once more gathered the actors and rebuilt the settings of Middle-earth. Aftonbladet is on the set, as the only Swedish newspaper. We walk from Minas Tirith to the battlefield at the Pelennor and on to Edoras. “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers” were only a practise for this, says Peter Jackson.
The Golden Hall in Edoras. It smells from sawdust in the newly built set. The extras are longhaired like hardrock fans at a festival.
Aragorn walks among the Rohan-soldiers. On to Gandalf who is watching a drinking-contest, amused. Aragorn puffs on his pipe, thoughtfully, while they talk about the others in the fellowship. What will Sauron do?
Ian McKellen misses a line and the scene is reshot. Viggo Mortensen gets help keeping the pipe from going out while the make-up artists spray his hair with water.
New shoot. Everything works out right. Peter Jackson shows thumbs up. The next scene is made ready in the studio next door.
“The third movie was always my favorite”, says Peter Jackson. “I liked it the most when we did the original shoot, it’s got the coolest action and strongest emotions. The third movie is the reason we did all this.”
“How long will the movie-version be?”
“I don’t know yet. Whatever it takes, longer than the other two,” says Peter Jackson. “But nothing silly. Not four hours”.
“What does the movie-company New Line say?”
“Before we made the first two movies we were told not to make it longer than two and a half hours, which we ignored. Now we are told to make it no longer than three hours. So we’re making progress”, says Peter Jackson and laughs.
After two episodes and six hours that have built the tension it is time for the climax. Frodo will take the ring to Mount Doom. Aragorn will decide if he dares to be the leader. Gandalf will be commander in the battles against Sauron’s forces.
There are many new settings. The battle at the Pelennor involves more than 200 000 orcs. We get to see the city Minas Tirith. Frodo and Sam meets the terrifying giant spider, Shelob. Aragorn fights dead armies.
Jackson is devoting eight weeks this summer to re-shoots. That alone costs more than an ordinary full length movie. When he made the raw cut in januari he saw what needed to be improved.
“This movie is the one I really want to feel proud about”, says Peter Jackson “The ending has to be as good as possible”.
Most of the actors return for the shoots. A few lines here and there, a close-up, some clarifications.
But it is difficult to puzzle together the schedules. Orlando Bloom, who has been shooting “Pirates of the Caribbean” during the last year and now “Troy”, did his Legolas-scenes in April.
From Aragorn to cowboy
Viggo Mortensen has been busy with the movie “Hidalgo”, set in North Africa in the 1890:s.
“Last night I actually had to do some voice-overs for “Hidalgo” here in Wellington, says Viggo Mortensen. “So in the middle of being Aragorn I had to talk like a cowboy in the 1800:s.”
What does the new scene with you and Gandalf add?”
“They try to celebrate with the others after the battle at Helm’s Deep. But they know that many new dangers await”, says Viggo Mortensen.
“Is Frodo alive? You say one thing, but think another”, says Viggo Mortensen. “Pretend to be hopeful, but is worried. Subtext is interesting, and it’s nice to do such a scene with an actor like Ian. Now I will do a scene with Legolas and he”s not here. So I will have to talk to a tennis-ball.”
“Yes, sometimes it’s a piece of plastic or a mark on the floor. I have shot scenes with a lot of tennis-balls”.
Ian McKellen has returned to New Zeeland for extra shoots every summer, 2001, 2002 and now. That makes it easy to get back into character.
“Oh, you never forget a role. Gandalf is like putting on an old coat. Before we begin we look through a lot of what’s already been shot to awake the feelings”, says Ian McKellen.
“What are you looking forward to in “The Return of the King?”
“The battle-scenes. When Gandalf crushes the sculls on orcs”, says Ian McKellen. “I have been an advocate for gay rights for years. Now I will fight for the old. I like that the movie shows an old man being a great hero on the battlefield”.