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Lord of the Rings Fans Rejoice in Anticipation of “The Hobbit” Movie

Stephanie DePrez | Monday, March 23, 2009

Five years ago, I sat weeping in front of the television watching Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh kiss as they both held their Oscars aloft, having finally achieved the greatest honor filmmakers can receive, at the 76th Academy Awards. It was the culmination of a three year journey for me, going from complete Tolkien ignorance in the seventh grade to full-blown obsession in the ninth. At that point in time I was a movie-quoting, elvish-speaking Ringer with a full class presentation on the history of Arda under my belt. (Convincing my Honors Brit Lit teacher that the formation of Middle-earth was relevant to “Jane Eyre” was an achievement unto itself.) As the years passed, the glory began to fade. Other movies became popular. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” joined “The Return of the King” (and “Titanic”) in the grossed-over-a-billion category. The second “Spider Man” and the third “Star Wars” fed the geek void. Conventions lost their Frodo-driven frenzy, and the trivia I had amassed over three years was no longer cool or interesting to the common man (which, I would venture, became a problem for the poor chaps sitting next to me on airplanes). Alas, I moved on. I let myself become obsessed with other things, like Joss Whedon (“Buffy,” “Firefly,” the current “Dollhouse”). I still entered Notre Dame as a freshman full force, touting LOTR posters and pin-ups, nearly drowning my roommates in epic late-night rants about how terrible it is when I meet people who have never seen the Extended Editions. But the sparkle was gone. I had to admit it – I felt like a Trekkie.All this ended, though, when on Friday I walked into the bookstore looking for some light weekend reading and ran into an England-imported issue of “Empire Magazine.” On the cover was – I did a double take – yep, Gollum. My Gollum. My Andy-Serkis-jumpsuit-wearing Gollum. With a breath of fresh air I realized my era wasn’t over – “The Hobbit” goes into production in New Zealand this summer. Gone are the days of Jackson-New Line-MGM struggles over money and rights. Done are the quibbles over who will direct and who will have control. I can finally take off that metaphorical pin I have been wearing for two years with the slogan “No Jackson, No Hobbit.” So please forgive me if I geek out here a bit, relaying the information I have garnered in the past few days regarding the adaptation of the prequel to “The Lord of the Rings.”Unfortunately, Peter Jackson won’t be directing. He feels he has put everything into “Lord of the Rings,” so he isn’t interested into venturing back into Middle-earth to compete with his own work. That task now lies with Guillermo del Toro, the director of “Pan’s Labyrinth.” This Catholic Filmmaker from Mexico (who was recently featured at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center for being just that) is known for his creepy visual effects and twisted storytelling. Loosely translated, this means he is a perfect candidate to pick up where post-“Braindead”-Jackson left off. Other interesting similarities happen to be del Toro’s chubby stature, hairy appearance and self-proclaimed “funny accent.” I fully endorse him as my new captain, leading me into the visual story of Bilbo Baggins and his journey to the Lonely Mountain.Other news: Jackson may not be directing, but he is the Executive Producer, so we can hope to see Weta Workshop doing most of the visual effects. Ian McKellen is confirmed to play Gandalf, though he has yet to sign anything. Andy Serkis is interested in being Gollum. Ian Holm is probably too old to be Bilbo, though he may appear a few times as the aged Bilbo and provide voice-overs. TheOneRing.net’s top choice to play Bilbo is closet-nerd James McAvoy, who aside from being an “Atonement” hottie played Mr. Tumnus in the first “Narnia” film. Other possible cameos: Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Christopher Lee as Saruman (who has said he is very interested in returning to Middle-earth, his insulting cut out of “The Return of the King” aside) and even Orlando Bloom, whose Legolas is the son of Thranduil, the King of the Elves in Mirkwood. The film is slated to open Christmas 2011. The last piece of juicy gossip: There will be a second film made, tying together “The Hobbit” and “The Fellowship of the Ring.” It will center around the interim between the two stories, based on the actions of characters as reported in the Appendices and what can be surmised occurred when they weren’t directly involved in the action (such as, where did Gandalf go?). This film will open in 2012. So rejoice, all ye who worship at the temple of Tolkien. Our cinematic day is hardly past. New Zealand will once again be home to our obsession and new trivia will arise. As my Assistant Rector put it: Like the Ring, I have lay dormant, but will now re-awaken.