Elbren took a trip up to Canada to take in the sites at Casa Loma.
I made two discoveries about myself during this little jaunt of mine from Atlanta to Middle Earth, courtesy of Casa Loma in Toronto:
I am not only a Tolkien purist, I am also a Tolkien snob. Yes, a snob. I found myself correcting people in line for the exhibits, “No, it’s Frodo, not Bilbo, who takes the Ring to Mordor”; “No, it’s Sauron who made the One Ring, not Saruman”; “Yes, Tolkien WAS British, he’s dead, and yes, he knew CS Lewis”; “No, that’s a DWARF and those are HOBBITS”. The list goes on and on.
The second discovery was that I am a definitive Tolkien nut, “nut” as in I’m seen as a little “off balance” by the non-Tolkien world. The Canadian Customs officers found it hard to believe that I was flying up from Atlanta for JUST one day, with no baggage, to see a Middle Earth exhibit in their city. I was questioned, both with humor and concern/suspicion, on the way in and out of Canada. Yes, I used a Delta Buddy Pass to get up there, (my elder brother, who introduced me to Tolkien, works for Delta), so it’s not like a bought a full priced ticket; but, I suppose the idea of being in New York City all week, coming home to Atlanta for one night, then going to Toronto for the day, does seem a bit on the unbelievable side for some folks. Oh well, I suppose that had I been a member of the Fellowship, Lady Galadriel would have given me a Mallorn nut from one of her lovely trees (if, in fact, such a thing existed) to symbolize my slightly off-balanced devotion to Middle Earth. So be it, I am Elbren, Bearer of the Mallorn Nut.
But, enough said on that. HERE are the details of the exhibit!!!!
The first room that we visited, (my father, poor soul, came with me and was my photographer: “Take a picture of that, and that, and that, and that, and that…you get the idea!), was the Bag End/Gondorian and Elven Room. We were first treated to a glass case with Bilbo’s Eleventy First Birthday invitations AND acceptance letters!
CLUE: PJ has ALL things lying about each SET as “clutter” or as evidence of “real” living going on carefully, CAREFULLY selected. They are not just pieces of paper strewn about. Trust me, wait until we get to Orthanc and see Saruman’s study!!
The script used for the invitations and acceptance letters was ornate and lovely, very Hobbitish, as was the parchment selected.
There were dry-mounted posters all over the castle of scenes from Fellowship, and the first one that I saw in this room was…..ELENDIL walking through a very foggy, battle-torn Mordor, a body lying at his feet, arrows protruding from the body’s chest, and Elendil in his Gondorian armour striding along. One gets the definite impression that he is looking for Sauron. Interesting note: at first, I thought that it was an Elven warrior for the blade was that curious Katana-like blade and the armor and helm looked like the LOTR Elven armor. Yet, the caption plate clearly said Elendil. Hmm…a mistake and perhaps it was Gil-galad or Elrond? But, then, Gil-galad was carrying a sword then, and not Aeglos….but I digress!!
Other goodies in this room:
Sauron’s banner: NINE Crowns, iron-looking, were a part of this frightening war banner.
Orc banners with the Red Eye painted (smeared) upon them.
Gondor banner, beautiful with the seven stars and white tree!!!
Witch King’s Outfit!!! I believe this was the outfit as it appears when Frodo puts on the One Ring.
Three Orc armor costumes
Gil-galad and Elrond’s armor: VERY cool!!! Exquisite armor! Gil-galad’s had his Stars upon the breast.
The Bag End portion of this room was, in a word, charming. Charming.
Charming. It had the warmth that I’ve always felt from my visions of Bag End and the little trinkets and “clutter” were ALL Bilbo Baggins. Again, there is nothing just “strewn about” to look like it’s lived in; each item was made and made to BE Hobbitish. The One Ring, with the sealed letter, was also here! The Ring was beautiful: plain, gold, on a chain, and calling to me to pick it up and put it on!!! 🙂
What we learned from this room: The Elven blades are definitely Katana style (except for the Gondolin-style blades, more about that later). The DETAIL of each of these pieces was amazing. Even the banner poles had small, carved runes upon them that I am SURE you will not see in the film, (just too small), but the care was taken nonetheless!! Authenticity!!
Next, the Tunnel leading to the Stables in the Castle. All along this tunnel were huge, dry-mounted posters of Howe and Lee’s conceptual art, including blueprints of Rivendell, Lothlorien, Moria….it was, again, exquisite!!!
Then…the Orc armory of Barad-dur, (or so said the program, I wonder if it was not Orthanc?). Again, the authenticity put forth by the detail of the hammers, the chains, the forge, the anvil…in a word, amazing. Disgusting place that no reputable Elf would want to find him or herself. I moved on…
To the GATES OF MORIA!!!!!! VERY cool lighting, (in fact, very cool lighting throughout the entire exhibit), that was time-sequenced to have the carving of Celebrimbor light up in this glowing, blue color! We took a pic of this as well, I can only hope that this turns out!!! The carving was gorgeous!!!! WOW! I felt as if I were at the gates of Moria and waiting for Gandalf to find the way to open them for us!
Finally, we came back up some stairs to….
Having selected Lothlorien as my Alliance here at TORC, you can imagine my excitement! (Have I mentioned that my heart rate, I am sure, was never below 120 or so during the entire three hours?)
The first thing to catch my eye in this room was the glass cases, forming an inner square, in this room. Elven artifacts galore!!
Galadriel’s Ring, Nenya: BEAUTIFUL!! Interesting that the diamond stone was covered with a delicate silver leaf atop it so that the stone was JUST visible beneath.
Galadriel’s VIAL: I am SURE that they got this wrong; it was, I feel, Galadriel’s PHIAL. Delicately shaped and filled with blue liquid, it is in the shape of a rounded V and looks more like a liquid-holding magickal device than a crystal or solid object.
Galadriel’s Mirror and Pouring Vessel: Another Tolkien nut and I were discussing the huge silver bowl and the tall, slender pouring vessel when I noticed the movie pic behind all of these items in this case. Yes, Galadriel is pouring the water into the bowl, which it NOT a permanent part of the Mirror. Evidently, it is placed into the Mirror, (which looks like an exquisite bird bath).
There was a picture of Celeborn and Galadriel near their costumes, (again, exquisite detail!!), and I am willing to bet my last Lothlorien silver coin that this is when they are told of Gandalf’s fall: Celeborn looks angry while Galadriel looks horror-stricken and heart-broken. Excellent picture!!
Elven boat! Yes, an Elven boat and the caption said it was Aragorn, Frodo, and Sam’s boat. LOVELY! I’d say it was 9 feet long or so, slender, and it did look, (I have to agree with Sam), as if balance was the key to staying in this thing and not turning it over!!
Elven glassware: Yes, Elven glassware. Lots of it. Authentic detail folks, get used to it, I’ll say that a lot!
As I stood there looking at the Elven glassware, I suddenly realized that I was aglow in some kind of fiery red light. Looking down, I was!!! In fact, I was aglow in the fiery, red light of the RING SCRIPT!!! I was in the center of a circle of red light of ONE RING SCRIPT! EEEKK!!! Actually, it was VERY cool! They had, as I said, very good lighting for the entire exhibit!
I must move on…
Celeborn and Elrond’s chairs: Ornately carved, nothing less than what you would imagine.
Legolas’s bow and arrow: HUGE quiver and HUGE bow…the Bow of Galadriel? I think it was, for it looked a lot like Haldir’s bow in the upcoming room.
MALLORN LEAVES AND LEMBAS!!!! Yes, m’preciousss!! I kid you not! They looked very much like HUGE Maple leaves, golden of course, and the lembas looked like…well, leather. (I know, how odd!)
Elven horn: smaller than Boromir’s but similar style, actually.
Celeborn’s neckpiece: He wears no crown, but his neckpiece is very much like Galadriel, Gil-galad, and Elrond’s crowns.
A picture of Aragorn praying, (kneeling with hands put together in that fashion, at any rate), in front of a female statue, (Elbereth?), at Rivendell, I believe, since this was in the Rivendell section.
Arwen’s saddle: HUGE and again….authentic detail. Took a pic of this!
A picture of Arwen mounting Asfaloth with the caption as “Arwen in the Trollshaws”…so, is Arwen with them earlier than Glorfindel’s arrival in Fellowship?
ELVEN SUNDIAL! VERY cool, (and I want one!!) HUGE device that, I would guess, actually works!
Boromir’s outfit: Beautiful!!
Elven hammers from Rivendell forge: Even the hammers have ornate script! If you saw these things in Home Depot, they would clearly be marked as “Elvish
Strider’s bow and arrow: Strider also had an Elven hunting knife in the glass case, so I’m guessing that Strider carries a bow and arrow, (Elven), along with an Elven hunting knife before they reach Rivendell.
Hobbit Swords: INTERESTING here. I was looking to see if Merry’s sword had any sort of cool script. NADA. In fact, all of the Hobbit swords looked weather beaten and….well….a bit worn. I wonder, do they get these at Weathertop amidst the ruins? That’s what they looked like!!
Elrond’s Healing Herbs and Tools: Mortars and pestles, herbs, sharp-looking tools…authentic detail!!!
Gandalf’s Hat: Need I say more? VERY VERY cool!!! Greyish-blue, tall, and BOY did I want to put it on!!!
THE RED BOOK! Yes, part of the Rivendell room was Bilbo’s book!
Haldir’s BOW: Yes, Haldir’s bow (and his sword, too, actually): HUGE BOW, and I mean HUGE! The sword is Katana style 🙂
Elven Cutlery: For Enquiring minds that want to know, Elves have three pronged forks and very long and very curved knives. 🙂
Aragorn’s Hunting Knife: Slightly curved, about 16 inches long, ornately carved with Elven design.
Glamdring: NOT Katana style, bluish script and blue pommel. Blue sheath. GORGEOUS!!
Anduril!!!!!!! Beautiful and slender, like Glamdring. The sheath was NOT the one described as the gift from Galadriel, or, at least it was not made to the details of the description in Fellowship. NO Elvish script or gems.
SCEPTRE OF ANNUMINAS: YES!!! Indeed, here it is, folks, THE Sceptre of Annuminas! Beautiful and royal!!! Over two feet long and looking very much like a royal ornament. GORGEOUS!!
Barahir’s Ring: Couldn’t see what type of stone it was, but beautiful, although, I did not see the detail of the descriptions given in The Silmarillion when the ring was given to Barahir. 🙁
Evenstar: Necklace with inch or so long silver design and diamond-like stone in the center.
Haldir’s Sword: Katana style 🙂
Gil-galad’s Crown and Banner: Very akin to Elrond and Galadriel’s crown. Exquisite!!
Elrond’s Crown: See above 🙂
Boromir’s shield, sword, and horn: Took a pic of this. The shield looks very Anglo-Saxon and the horn was very large and very….Viking looking!
On to the Room at Bree:
Torn, tiny beds with a Nazgul in the center! EEEK!!! Witch King Crown!!!! Tall, menacing, and COLD looking!! Hobbit bags, Sam’s notably with pans attached to it!
Okay, this whole time of being in the Lothlorien and Rivendell rooms, I am hearing this horrid noise that, to be honest, is rather unnerving. Was it a Balrog? An orc? It would screech and moan and BREATHE very loudly!
Going into the Orthanc section….
Orthanc chair: tall, menacing, carved with sharp lines that made it intimidating. Again, authentic detail!!!
Saruman’s outfit: Actually, very nice and very “pretty”. Just what you’ve seen in the movie pics.
Orthanc Candleabra: Again, tall and menacing and sharp lines.
Othanc Incenseburner: Tall and menacing…are we seeing a pattern here?
ORC SOUNDS!! There went that dratted and unnerving howling and breathing again! Turning around, nothing there, though…hmmm….must be orc sounds, eh? Since we’re in Orthanc?
Orthanc “GLOBE” is what the caption said. THIS is where the screeching was coming from. The Palantir? I’m not sure. The caption said GLOBE, but it LOOKED like a Palantir housed in a tall, menacing, and sharp-lined object.
Saruman’s Study: YUCK! Nasty things in jars of foul looking liquid along with a desk that had, amongst its “clutter”, a text about Ar-Pharazon. Yes, the text was clearly writtten and titled as Ar-Pharazon. Authentic detail, folks!!
Upstairs now to the Black and White photo gallery: Rather “low key” after all of the other exquisite items! All pics were very nice, though, and the pics of Galadriel and Merry were especially entertaining…their expressions WERE Merry and Galadriel!!
MINES OF MORIA!
Geez, after a hellish climb up many stairs into a very hot and very crowded and SMALL Mines of Moria room. I found myself, again, aglow with the Rings Script! Run away!!
Dwarven Mining Tools: typical hammers, sledges, and digging items. VERY Dwarven looking 🙂
Balin’s Tomb: A feeling of sadness came over me at this section. Poor Balin…he only wanted some more Mithril!!!
Gimli’s helmet, boots, and some of his, apparently many, axes: I took a pic of this, but it was in a glasscase 🙁 VERY detailed and leathery looking.
Dwarvish chest: Hmm, just a really big wooden chest. Have no idea what was in it or supposed to be in it.
Balin’s book: VERY cool! Leather, dusty, cracked!!
Rune Wall: HUGE!! Long-running Dwarven Runes about 7 or 8 feet tall and probably 5 feet wide. Line after line of Dwarven Runes. Took a pic, hope it turns out!!
Another Gimli’s axe: Very nice axe, actually, the one that he has, I think, in Rivendell.
Dwarven skeleton: Nasty looking remains of a poor, dead Dwarf. Yuck!!
BREE and HOBBITON ROOM:
This was a mixture of Green Dragon Inn and Prancing Pony items.
Prancing Pony Register: I looked for Mr. Underhill but didn’t see it amongst the many scrawled names. Mr. Butterburr should REALLY clean up his register! Very messy!!
Pipes: Several Bree pipes!!
Tankards, dishes, etc: You get the picture; more authentic detail!!!
Green Dragon Inn weather vane? Iron looking Dragon peering downwards… captioned with Green Dragon Inn name. Hmmm…
Dwarvish bucket and chain: More authentic detail for Moria, I presume.
Dwarvish pottery with runes upon them: More authentic detail for Moria, I presume 🙂
Dwarvish books: More than just Balin’s Book in Moria?
Well, mellyn, that is where my notes come to an end. It was WELL worth the journey from Atlanta to Toronto!! I will proudly call myself a Tolkien Mallorn Nut, thank you, and I would do it all again given the opportunity!!
If you are in Toronto, you have NO excuse NOT to see this!!! Go and immerse yourself in the detail that PJ has given to LOTR and gain some appreciation BEYOND the movie pics we’ve seen for what this man has added to Tolkien’s world. Or, rather, what this man has brought forth from Middle Earth to OUR world!!
Your madly roving reporter and Mallorn Nut, Elbren the Traveller