So, nothing like the flu to make you down tools for a few days.
Better now, but still in the process of un-mushing my brain. In the absence of any more trenchant post, thought I'd pass along the news that they've just released the second fan-film by the folks behind THE HUNT FOR GOLLUM. This one, BORN OF HOPE, tells the story of Aragorn's parents. It's an hour long (though at some points it seems longer) and, simply judged as a piece of fan-fiction, is pretty impressive. The goal is clearly to look exactly like Peter Jackson's LotR films: introductory voiceover, makeup, soundtrack, and general look-and-feel are as much like Jackson's film trilogy as possible (if I read the credits right* they even got their armor from Weta Workshop). The plot of course comes from Appendix A, with the screenplay an impressive piece of pastiche -- most fan fiction doesn't really sound anything like the author being imitated, and most fan films (e.g., all but one of the Lovecraft adaptations I've seen) take over motifs from the original but fail to capture its style. Here they have the style down pat -- but it's not Tolkien's style but Jackson/Boyens/Walsh.
So, if you like this sort of thing, you'll like this example of it v. much. Production values are as high as I've ever seen in an amateur film, much of the photography is beautiful, and it might help tide film-trilogy fans over until the next dose of the real thing is available, still roughly two years off at this point.**
And for Tolkien scholars? Not much here, I'm afraid. The best character by far, and I'd also say the best performance, is the female ranger (and yes, her very presence tells you how far this is from anything Tolkien himself would have written) who in the closing credits turns out rather improbably to be named Elgarain. The story they've chosen to tell here is one Tolkien decided wasn't worth telling in full, but only in synopsis, so their challenge is to prove him wrong. That's a tall order, and I don't think they succeed. It's rather like when the great Kenneth Morris decided to tell, not the great myth of Quetzalcoatl but a story about his parents (THE CHALCHIUHITE DRAGON [circa 1930]). If not even a talent like Morris cd pull it off, I think the deck was pretty much stacked against these folks from the get-go. But it's a pretty impressive effort and, aside from the main character's death by stupidity (while acting entirely out of character, in order for things required by the plot to take place) I'd say it succeeds on its own terms.
If you're interested, here's the website and link to watch the film here:
At the v. least, I'm glad to have learned about 'West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village' near Bury St. Edmunds, a little re-creation of an Old English settlement the filmmakers used as the Dunedain's main town.
*hard to tell, since it kept quitting on me towards the end of the film.
**just today came some news that they've putting off the start of filming a bit while wrestling with the script for the second part, though they still hope to make the December 2011 release date for part one: