Cannes takes peek at 'Rings'

Tolkien trilogy to start theater run in December

Sunday, May 13, 2001

— Just how did filmmaker Peter Jackson manage to put 3 1/2-foot-high hobbits alongside full-scale humans and a towering wizard for the upcoming movie trilogy "The Lord of the Rings"?

Sean Astin, who plays the hobbit Sam in the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece, has an "Alice in Wonderland" answer.

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AP Photo

The film of "The Lord of the Rings," directed by Peter Jackson of New Zealand, starring Sean Astin, left, and Elijah Wood, is previewing some scenes at the Cannes Film Festival. Jackson and cast and crew members gathered Friday at the festival to show off the first big chunk of footage from the series, one of the most eagerly awaited literary adaptations.

"Peter gave us these little blue pills he cooked up and told us to start taking them with water six weeks before we began shooting," joked Astin.

Jackson and cast and crew members gathered at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday to show off the first big chunk of footage from the trilogy, one of the most eagerly awaited literary adaptations. Part one, "The Fellowship of the Ring," hits theaters in December.

New Line Cinema figured the festival was an ideal showcase for the sneak peek at Middle-earth, the dark lord Sauron, and the band of hobbits, humans, dwarves and elves who must destroy the ring of power Sauron covets.

"It's also kind of scary, too, showing what we're showing here," Jackson said.

"It's weird, because it's not the movie. ... 'Lord of the Rings' is such a rich book with great plot machinations and characters. It's a little bit painful to just show a seven-minute kind of sketchy montage of the story."

Besides a montage from the first film, journalists were shown several minutes of material from parts two and three, due to open in theaters worldwide around Christmas 2002 and 2003.

The centerpiece of the footage was a 14-minute segment of the heroes' harrowing journey through the mines of Moria, where they face legions of fierce goblins called orcs, a giant troll and a monstrous creature known as a balrog.

The scenes included a striking tableau of the "fellowship of the ring": the hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and hobbit companions Sam, Merry and Pippin (Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd); the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen); the human warriors Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Boromir (Sean Bean); the elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom); and the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies).

The "Ring" trilogy also stars Ian Holm as hobbit Bilbo Baggins, Cate Blanchett as the elf Lady Galadriel, Liv Tyler as the elf Arwen and Christopher Lee as the dark wizard Saruman.