An Excerpt from American Savage and a Message All Straight People Need to Hear
My first thought when I saw the new Hobbit poster was "Whoa! That's a great poster! Maybe this is the one where they kick into gear and give everybody The Hobbit we thought they were going to make!" Seriously, it's that good of a poster—evocative and intriguing and moody and exciting. Bilbo's either all, "Oh, man, there's a dragon in there—better go have a riddle fight!" or he's all, "Oh sweet, the dwarves are having another cave rave! Let's do this!" Either way: good movie!
Then I remembered that 4,000 minutes of the last Hobbit movie were about this guy zooming around on a sled pulled by bunny rabbits.
For The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson & Co. had to significantly expand the role of Arwen (Liv Tyler), because otherwise, there are about as many women in Middle-earth as there are black people. For The Hobbit, Peter Jackson & Co. first significantly expanded the role of Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), but then, because seriously, you have to add a lot to stretch The Hobbit into three movies, the also decided to add a whole new lady character too! She's an elf! Played by the lady from Lost!
The elf is not in any of the books and Evangeline Lilly knows you might hate her!
“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are going to be people who will totally hate Tauriel, think that she shouldn’t be in the movie, that it’s a betrayal of Tolkien, and no matter what I do it won’t be right,” she says. “There will be everything between that and people who adore her and think it’s such a fun thing to have added to the film.” (Via.)
The elf is also a ginger!
Sorry. It's a slow movie news morning. :(
I've sat through/tried to enjoy The Hobbit twice now, because I'm an idiot. On one hand, the total experience was still 27 hours shorter than Les Miserables, but on the other hand, this is what it actually feels like to watch The Hobbit:
Via The Mary Sue.
Long ago, in the days when disco ruled the Earth and Dungeons and Dragons was in its first edition, there was a Hobbit movie. Before Harry Potter, before World of Warcraft, before Game of Thrones, before Shwarzenegger’s furry Conan Speedo, before even Hawk the Slayer, there was The Hobbit. A simpler Hobbit. A cartoon Hobbit. A Hobbit that wasn’t stretched out into a butt-numbingly long trilogy. Rankin/Bass’ 1977 TV movie version of The Hobbit is… well, we’ll get to that. But first and foremost, it was the many adult geeks, myself included, were first introduced to Middle Earth. My parents rented this on VHS, and it blew my mind when I was six.
It was, shall we say, a product of its time. Being a TV cartoon from the seventies, it looks a bit creaky nowadays, but I still find kind of charming. I was sick for the better part of two days this week, and spent a fair amount of time slurking down lemon tea and watching movies, including The Hobbit. Surprisingly, after all these years, it's not wholly awful.
More after the jump.
Peter Jackson's long-awaited The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey starts playing at midnight tomorrow night, and it's going to make 14 billion dollars because every single person on Earth is going to see it, regardless of whether or not it's any good.
Um. Here is my review.
Something I didn't mention in my review—because it's only relevant to a few of the theaters showing The Hobbit in and around Portland—is that Jackson shot these movies not only in digital 3D, but also at 48 frames-per-second (FPS). That's double the number of frames that most films are shot and projected at—and, according to Jackson, the resultant image is the future of cinema. At 48 FPS, images lack the flickering that we're used to seeing when we watch movies, and motion onscreen is significantly smoother. (For Avatar 2, 3, 4, 5, and ∞, James Cameron will be shooting at an even higher frame rate: 60 FPS.) So in order to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey the way Jackson intended, you'll need to go to one of the few theaters outfitted to flash 48 frames into your eyeballs every second, rather than regular old boring theaters that'll only give you regular old boring 24 frames every second.
But here's the thing: 48 FPS looks awful.
BAD NEWS FIRST. Are you going to see The Hobbit? Oh, okay! Hope you enjoy being complicit in THE DEATHS OF 27 ANIMALS.
NOW SOME GOOD NEWS. In the Mercury's ongoing attempts to wring as much semi-entertaining content as possible out of an exhausted-and-not-really-all-that-funny-in-the-first-place blog post, Suzette Smith has made a comic out of the Blogtown Quest to Denny's for Hobbit Breakfast! Nice work, Suzette!
Read the rest here.
At caustic's insistence, Mercury contributor and comic book artiste Suzette Smith joined our party as well, and she took notes! Will a comic result? We shall have to wait and see! (There better be one, as the Mercury totally bought her the "Hobbit-Hole Breakfast" she demanded, which she then declared to be "cold.")
So how was it? Well, Steve wouldn't shut up about his "Gandalf's Gobble Melt" ("This Gandalf Gobbler is delicious!") and I'm pretty sure he's back there right now eating another one. caustic ordered some "Pumpkin Patch Pancakes," which he informed us "did not taste like pumpkin whatsoever." I got the "Seed Cake French Toast." "You mean the poppy seed toast?" said our waitress, who was clearly already sick of all the dweebs she's been having to tolerate ever since Denny's decided to start calling itself "Middle-earth's Diner." "Yes!" I answered, and it turns out that's exactly what it was, except it also had cream cheese all over it. (Next time you read The Hobbit, keep an eye on Tolkien's captivating descriptions of the feasts held in Hobbiton and Rivendell—you'll notice that he almost always includes the phrase, "And Bilbo then declared that creamed cheese must be slathered on everything!")
Topics of conversation included Steve regaling the entire restaurant with an incredibly detailed and increasingly theatrical retelling of the entire The Lord of the Rings saga. (Note: Steve has never read any of the Lord of the Rings books, nor has he seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies.) We also discussed the sexiest kinds of short shorts and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Our waitress was glad to see us leave.
And lo, there came an excuse to affix both "The Third Age" and "United Federation of Planets" tags upon a single post:
Paramount Pictures will release the first nine minutes from J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness on 500 IMAX 3D screens beginning December 14 on runs of the Peter Jackson-directed The Hobbit. That’s way before the film’s release next May. It is the first time exclusive footage has played in IMAX 3D and only the third time a first-look will be released in IMAX. (Via.)
Doubling down on the nerds—this is like a two-fer to ensnare both fantasy and sci-fi geeks!—is pretty clever. Well done, Hollywood marketing machine! ALSO. Am I the only one hoping that the reels somehow get mixed up by a bumbling-but-loveable IMAX projectionist and Star Trek starts happening in the middle of The Hobbit? Why, that would be the second-best Lord of the Rings crossover ever!
Empire has a stream of the entire score for the first Hobbit movie:
Howard Shore is the composer here, building on his own work from The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. You'll hear very specific echoes of elements from that work throughout the whole album, giving this a clear link to our first adventures in Middle-earth, but there are new themes here for the new characters too.
Listen here, if you're so inclined; I'm going to hold off until I see the movie. I did ask Mercury Calendar Editor/movie score nerd Bobby Roberts what he thought of it, though, and he told me "It sounds like Lord of the Rings." Thanks, Bobby.
RELATED: Peter Jackson will earn 1,000,000 brownie points with me if he scraps his current plans for the end credits song and plays this instead. Good day.
P.S. Are brownie points even still a thing? I am not 100 percent sure what they are. They seem like something hobbits would like. I don't know.
Peter Jackson's been making a big deal of the fact that he shot The Hobbit films at 48 frames per second instead of the traditional 24, claiming that by getting rid of the flickering effect we associate with film, the doubled frame rate "looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3D." But a while back, when a few minutes of the film were projected at a high frame rate (HFR), the reaction was... hmm. How to put this? TERRIBLE. Apparently, what Jackson sees as "much more lifelike," everybody else sees as "like a cheap sitcom." A representative review, from Badass Digest's Devin Faraci:
It is drenched in a TV-like—specifically '70s era BBC—video look. People on Twitter have asked if it has that soap opera look you get from badly calibrated TVs at Best Buy, and the answer is an emphatic YES.
The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets. I've been on sets of movies on the scale of The Hobbit, and sets don't even look like sets when you're on them live... but these looked like sets.
The other comparison I kept coming to, as I was watching the footage, was that it all looked like behind-the-scenes video. The magical illusion of cinema is stripped away completely. (Via.)
After the wave of bad publicity that followed that screening, Warner Bros.—while still insisting HFR was "the most important change in exhibition, probably since the introduction of sound"—significantly downgraded their plans to release the film in HFR. A few theaters are still getting the film as Jackson wants it to be seen, though, and Regal just came out with a list—which includes the Regal Bridgeport Village in Tigard.
I'm guessing Warner Bros. won't screen The Hobbit in HFR for critics—I doubt they want to risk having a bunch of reviews that point out how cheap their super-expensive movie looks. I'm also guessing theater chains like Regal will charge more for their HFR screenings, because the few people who will know/care what HFR is are also the ones willing to pay a premium in order to complain about it. And I'm guessing this won't be the last you'll hear about any of this: James Cameron, because he is James Cameron, is planning to shoot his Avatar sequels at 60 FPS.
Wheee! I'm sick and doped up on unholy amounts of NyQuil, which means I'm doing everything super slowly and am easily confused. So the one stupid job I was supposed to do today—picking the lucky winner who gets to go to Dennys' with me and Steve and eat a Hobbit-themed breakfast—is beyond my meager capabilities.
So I'm going to make you do my job for me, because fuck it, that's why. (Also because I told Steve to do it and this is how he responded.) Below are the top three entries, and it's up to you, Blogtown readers, to pick the best—and thus pick the winner who shall get to go to Denny's with me and Steve! A reminder of the rules:
In the comments below, note which Hobbit-themed menu item you will be ordering, and why. (Last year you nerds went apeshit with the haikus for that Lord of the Rings in Concert ticket giveaway, which means I will give extra credit to any entries composed as a haiku.)
Steve and IBlogtown readers will then choose the best and/or least annoying comment and then contact that person about when we'll all be going to get second breakfast! And then... then we shall depart on a quest the likes of which has not been witnessed since the Third Age!!! To Denny's!!!
This one was selected because (A) is a haiku and (B) there's a Green Dragon reference. The Green Dragon of Portland or the Green Dragon of the Shire, you ask? Who are you to ask such things! POSSIBLY HE MEANS BOTH, you don't know how JustinPDX rolls, for all you know he rolls hardcore.
Hobbit Hole Breakfast
I'll be hungover from drinking
At the Green Dragon
This one was selected because (A) nepotism and (B) yay, comics! We could put the comic about our unexpected journey up on the blog after!
HEY ME DUH. 1.) I legitimately want to go. 2.) I adore both of you. 3.) I will make comics about it. 4.) Lonely Mountain Treasure
This one was selected because it is almost as long as The Silmarillion, but, unlike The Silmarillion, shit actually happens in it. I almost did not select it because of its libelous claim that I like Farscape (I MOST ASSUREDLY DO NOT), but then I decided to be a grown up about it.
The day broke and dawn worked its way through the mists of Jantzen Beach. Three adventurers surveyed the land before them. The ground was hard and blasted as far as the eye could see. No tree grew here, nor blade of grass. In the distance lay a great pit, the ruins of some great structure now cast down. Twisted girders poked at the sky like dark teeth, and the adventurers wondered how such a vision of Dagorlad had found its way into their world. It was a barren land, far from home, and to lay eyes on it caused the hearts of the three to go heavy.
"This quest is a fools errand," said William, eldest of the three. "We should not have come here. This cursed place will swallow us fore we find the shelter we seek."
"Not so," said Erik, the most obsessed with Farscape of their band. "We must persevere. I have heard tell that the dining halls of this place rival those of even Rivendell, and that their food is sweeter to the tongue than even the lembas of Galadriel."
"Look!" shouted me, the winner of the breakfast contest, "There, to the east!"
They raised their hands to their brows, shielding their eyes against the assault of the dawning sun. It hung just over the horizon, a half globe of yellow piercing the black and gray of the landscape that surrounded them. As they focused their vision a second object became clear, sitting just below the sun. It too was yellow, and the sight of it warmed their spirits.
"Behold," said me, "The sigil that we seek."
It was the shape of a shield, laid on its side. It sat raised above the bleak landscape atop a great pole, and while the pole was made of the black metal that marred so much of the terrain the sign itself glowed as if the light of Anor itself rested within it. It was a beacon to the weary travelers, one that spoke of a warm hearths and hearty meals. As the three adventurers walked towards the Denny's each smiled that even in a realm so blasted and desolate they might still find a place such as this, something good in the world, something worth fighting for.
That last entry is going to be pretty hard to beat, but if you still want to have second breakfast with me and Steve*, you have until 5 pm today to enter and/or re-enter our incredibly dumb contest. Have at, hungry nerds!
* "No one is going to want to have breakfast with you guys." —Mercury Arts Editor Alison Hallett, WHO CLEARLY DOESN'T KNOW WHAT SHE'S TALKING ABOUT
While INSANE DETAILS about Denny's Hobbit Happy Meals for grownups continue to shake the internet to its very foundations—and don't forget, one of those could be yours, and you could eat it with me and Steve right there, watching you—Peter Jackson's been telling Empire how long the first of his three Hobbit movies is going to be, and if you guessed that Jackson still has yet to find anyone who'll tell him "No," you are correct!
“It’s looking like it’s going to be about 10 minutes shorter than Fellowship was," explains Jackson. "So it’s going to be officially our shortest Middle-earth yet. I mean, Fellowship was just under three hours and this is about 2 hours 40 minutes at the moment.”
The "at the moment" refers to the fact that the credits hadn't yet been added and not all effects shots finalised when we spoke to Jackson, but it's going to be close. (Via.)
Keep in mind that The Fellowship of the Ring was a condensed adaptation of an entire novel, while The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be an adaptation of the first part of a far, far shorter novel, along with some extra stuff that was originally put in to pad the movie out to make two movies, and now is padding the movie out to three movies. By the time The Hobbit actually comes out, I'm pretty sure Jackson's going to announce it'll be better as a weekly TV show that will run from now until 2042. Each hour-long episode will consist of three minutes based on The Hobbit and 57 minutes loosely inspired by some stuff that Jackson vaguely remembers possibly reading in one of the Appendices.
Via Topless Robot comes the news that, starting November 6, Denny's—the Jantzen Beach location of which I find myself at surprisingly often—is offering a The Hobbit-themed menu. You can watch a terrible ad for it above, or head to Denny's suspiciously chatty Twitter (Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2, Exhibit 3), or you can just read the menu items below:
• Gandalf's Gobble Melt
• Hobbit Hole Breakfast
• Pumpkin Patch Pancakes
• Lonely Mountain Treasure
• Frodo's Pot Roast Skillet
• Shire Sausage
• Bilbo's Berry Smoothies
• Radagast's Red Velvet Pancake Puppies
• Seed Cake French Toast
• Build Your Own Hobbit Slam
Before one of you brainiacs points it out in the comments, I should probably note that "Gandalf's Gobble Melt," "Shire Sausage," and "Bilbo's Berry Smoothies" do not seem to be appropriate for children, and "Hobbit Hole Breakfast" is... borderline. MOVING ON.
WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY AND I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS SHIT TO START. Just as we ran to Burger King when they were selling Star Trek glasses, and just as we raced to 7-Eleven for Iron Man Slurpees, we are going to go to Denny's and eat all of those things and it is going to be glorious. (I am 99 percent sure Steve has never actually seen a Lord of the Rings movie, and I am 100 percent sure he views them with the same disdain he holds for Game of Thrones. IRRELEVANT. He really, really likes Denny's.) AND YOU CAN COME WITH US*!!! That's right... the Mercury will buy you a Hobbit-themed breakfast, AND you get to hang out with me and Steve while we talk about how much we love Lord of the Rings and/or Denny's*!!! You can even weigh in with your own opinions about Lord of the Rings, Denny's, and/or any troubles that might be on your mind*!!!
Here's all you have to do to enter to win this once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience Denny's in the exact manner that learned Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien intended:
In the comments below, note which Hobbit-themed menu item you will be ordering, and why. (Last year you nerds went apeshit with the haikus for that Lord of the Rings in Concert ticket giveaway, which means I will give extra credit to any entries composed as a haiku.) Steve** and I will then choose the best and/or least annoying comment and then contact that person about when we'll all be going to get second breakfast! And then... then we shall depart on a quest the likes of which has not been witnessed since the Third Age!!! To Denny's*!!!
Now that I am done writing this blog post, I forget why Steve and I decided to bring one of you along with us. It seems weird, in retrospect. But hey, it's your lucky day, I guess, since I don't feel like rewriting this entire post. So enter away! The contest, such as it is, ends in a week, on October 31 at 5 pm. That should give you plenty of time to either write a truly phenomenal comment or come up with a dick joke about Shire sausage.
* "No one is going to want to have breakfast with you guys." —Mercury Arts Editor Alison Hallett
** "Alison is full of shit. Also, I once ate five meals at Denny's within a 24-hour period." —Mercury Editor-in-Chief Wm. Steven Humphrey
Annnd despite my constant whining about Peter Jackson's decision to bloat what's supposed to be a straightforward children's adventure story into nine hours of blockbuster, the new Hobbit trailer makes me clap my hands and squeal like a giddy halfwit moron. Apparently, despite all my self-righteous cynicism, I'm a spineless pushover when it comes to Ian McKellen being all wizardy and HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE BILBO FIGHTING WITH STING AND STING WAS GLOWING OH SHIT YES
I still can't shake the sense that with this new trilogy, Jackson might've stumbled down the path blazed by George Lucas—with no one to tell him "no," and with the means to tell a story however he decides to, without any limitations—and I'm always gonna be bummed that we'll never see what Guillermo del Toro's vision of Middle-earth was going to look like, but... yeah. Still. Spineless pushover, apparently. So now I'm all stoked. Just nobody remind me of the 3D glasses, otherwise I'll probably get all whiny again.
(Also, I am already annoyed by Bombur. Sorry Bombur! But you kind of suck.)
Novelty 3D glasses that are even stupider than normal 3D glasses are nothing new, but these—for The Hobbit, The Hobbit II: Here's Some More of That Hobbit!, and The Hobbit III: A Major Motion Picture Based on a Post-it Note We Found in One of Tolkien's Old Tweed Jackets, It Might Be a Grocery List, Give Us Your Money—take the
cake lembas bread. Boasting a "hammer-forged steel look," they continue Warner Bros.' surprisingly successful efforts to turn me against The Hobbit—a movie based on one of my favorite childhood books, a movie that follows up three of my favorite movies, a movie I should be really excited about—before it even comes out.
Clunky, blocky, faux-stone 3D glasses hewn from cheap plastic that you'll have to wear on your face for three straight hours: They're the only way to feel as if you're really in Middle-earth! And also the only way to look like you're a bad guy from a PlayStation 1 game.
Because money, that's why.
Erik posted last week that Peter Jackson was thinking of turning The Hobbit into a trilogy of films. Today, Jackson made it official. His reasoning for taking a kids' book that runs a little over 300 pages, and stretching it out to fill three films (at two-and-a-half hours apiece) is thus:
It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made,” Jackson wrote. “Recently Fran [Walsh], Phil[lippa Boyens] and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie — and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’
That sounds nice-ish. But c'mon. Warners & Jackson are taking the appendices from Return of the King, and shoving them into The Hobbit like John Madden pounds birds into other birds at Thanksgiving, and they're doing it for one reason: the one stated at the top of this post.
That doesn't necessarily mean the films will be bad. They might be great. But I've noticed that when Peter Jackson is forced to be economical with his storytelling, he can make miracles (Heavenly Creatures, The Fellowship of the Ring) and when allowed to indulge, he splashes around in emotionally sloppy puddles of cinema like King Kong, and The Lovely Bones.
Maybe he'll reverse that trend with these three films. Or maybe it'll be a 9 hour long feast of overcooked Middle Earth Turducken.
As rumored at Comic-Con, Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. are currently "exploring the logistics" of turning the two Hobbit movies into three Hobbit movies. "Exploring the logistics" is code for OF COURSE THEY ARE GOING TO DO THIS, WHAT ARE YOU, AN IDIOT? The Lord of the Rings movies made over two billion dollars; Peter Jackson could say he wants to make 10 more and shoot them all at the same time in his rec room with Werner Herzog playing all the roles (except for Channing Tatum, who would play Radagast the Brown, obviously)* and Warner Bros. would say, "Sure, Pete. But just so we don't look quite so money-grubbing about it, let's tell people we're 'exploring the logistics' while we write an obscene amount of zeros on this check."
I have a Lord of the Rings keychain (LADIES) and I'm currently wearing this shirt, so clearly, as soon as I see a trailer for The Hobbit: Part III—Bungo Baggins' Lament, all my self-righteous and irrelevant grumbling will suddenly, miraculously cease. I just wish they'd be honest about this shit, that's all. Like Twilight and Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, this isn't about telling stories any better, it's about milking a fan base for all they're worth. Which is totally their prerogative—it'd just be nice if they'd come out and admit it, instead of trying to convince everyone that some warg who was mentioned in a footnote of one of Tolkien's long-forgotten appendices suddenly needs to have his tale told onscreen.
Anyway I'm going to future-proof this post by saying there will be six Hobbit movies instead of three, just so next year when Jackson decides again that he needs to "tell more of the incredible tale with the cast we have assembled," I won't have to write another post. Here, let's watch Channing Tatum's audition tape for Radagast.
*this is actually a pretty good idea, Peter Jackson please make this happen
I still have the battered paperback copy of The Hobbit that my aunt gave me when I was nine or ten—the edition that was lushly illustrated by Michael Hague, with my particular copy inscribed at the front by my aunt in blue ink: "I hope you enjoy your trip to Middle-earth. Happy birthday." I read that book so many times—and studied its illustrations so intently—that I've probably got it memorized.
So it took me a minute or two, watching this trailer, for it to hit me that, holy shit, after the years of talk and all the legal and financial back-and-forth and the switching of directors and etc., The Hobbit is actually a real movie that's going to come out and I will watch it. That is—for me, at least, and for a lot of other people whose aunts or uncles or parents or friends gave them copies of The Hobbit when they were young and impressionable and the perfect age for a first expedition to Middle-earth—kind of an amazing thing. I guess what I'm saying is that when this thing went online last night, I watched it about 20 times, and then I sent the link to my aunt.
Your time to craft a beautiful, heartrending poem in order to try to win those Lord of the Rings in Concert tickets is running out. Fly, you fools.
Those hobbit-loving nerds at Ain't It Cool have the news:
New Line, MGM, and Warner Brothers have announced that Peter Jackson's Hobbit films are titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, to be released December 14, 2012, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, to be released December 13, 2013.
The titles are very much from the books, and appropriate for the films, I'd say. So much of the cast from The Lord of the Rings is returning—some of them who weren't in The Hobbit originally, but I trust Peter Jackson and I think he'll make the characters work in these films.
I trusted Peter Jackson before The Lovely Bones made me want to shout "FIRE!" in the theater, preferably after starting an actual fire so that the print of Lovely Bones would be destroyed. It doesn't help that despite my deep, deep Lord of the Rings nerdiness, I can't shake the feeling that this second Hobbit movie—which is supposed to bridge the time between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings—is gonna be nothing than a bland cash-in ("And then Aragorn... y'know... strode around for... a while."). Well, that, and the versions Guillermo Del Toro was working on before he left the project sounded awesome. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it'll be magical. Or maybe it'll be a mystery. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH!
I've already made my shameless man-crush on Guillermo del Toro abundantly clear, but Daniel Zalewski's New Yorker profile of the guy kicks it up another notch. Del Toro talks about his childhood, long-gestating projects like At the Mountains of Madness, his mansion-sized office/museum, Bleak House ("It was as if the 40-Year-Old Virgin had been handed a three-million-dollar decorating budget," Zalewski writes), and more:
“Some of the most immortal things in our glossary of images come from movies with not necessarily the greatest screenplays.” [Del Toro] refers to a script as a “libretto”; horror, he said, is special because it “excites a nonverbal part of us.” He mentioned Kubrick’s The Shining: “You’re reading, ‘Danny rides his tricycle through the corridors.’ You just don’t get it—how lonely they are, the rhythm of the prrr, the change of frequency in the wheels, the pattern in the carpet going frh, frh, frh, the lens enhancing the field and the perspective, and the moment he turns the corner the twins being there. You can’t explain that in words.” Del Toro often spends months planting “visual rhymes” in his movies; the tunnels that Ofelia travels through in Pan’s Labyrinth, for example, all have “feminine apertures.” What others call eye candy del Toro calls “eye protein.”
The piece is also moderately heartbreaking for anyone who had been looking forward to del Toro's adaptation of The Hobbit. Brace yourselves, nerds:
The most difficult part, [del Toro] said, was “making peace with the fact that somebody else is going to have control of your creatures, your wardrobe, and change it, or discard it, or use it. All options are equally painful.” He added, “The stuff I left behind is absolutely gorgeous. I’m absolutely in love with it.” He suddenly became animated, waving his hands in the air like a conductor navigating a treacherous passage of Mahler. “We created a big exhibit in the last few weeks, in preparation for a studio visit. I had color-coded the movie: there was a green passage, a blue passage, a crimson passage, a golden passage. In Tolkien, there is a clear season for autumn, winter, summer, spring in the journey. And I thought, I cannot just stay in four movements in two movies. It will become monotonous. So I thought of organizing the movie so you have the feeling of going into eight seasons. So a certain area of the movie was coded black and green, a certain area was crimson and gold, and when we laid out the movie in a big room, we had all the wardrobe, all the props, all the color-coded key art. When you looked and saw that beautiful rainbow, you could comprehend that there was a beautiful passage.” His scheme would probably be abandoned, he said later: “Not much is going to make it. That’s my feeling.” Would his art be returned to him? “I hope to get maquette visitation rights.” But he was grateful not to have them already at Bleak House; they would be a torment.
There's more: Descriptions of del Toro's designs for The Hobbit's Smaug; a visit to del Toro's favorite special effects house to work on a sculpture for a potential Frankenstein film; and the word "uxoriousness," just in case you forgot you were reading the New Yorker for a minute. Read the whole thing here. Thanks to Grant for the heads up!
Getting excited for Guillermo del Toro's upcoming appearance in Portland? Details for that are here (and watch for a review of del Toro's new book, The Fall, in our September 23 issue), but in the meantime, check out this great interview del Toro did with Deadline New York, in which he talks about his passion for producing pictures that otherwise wouldn't get seen (like Splice, The Orphanage, and the upcoming Biutiful and Julia’s Eyes), the sorry state of studios today, walking away from The Hobbit, and his upcoming project with James Cameron—the long-gestating, epic adaptation of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.
DEL TORO: The way the creatures are rendered and done is going to bring forth an aspect of Lovecraft that has not been done on live action films. Part of my speech was, I’m putting all the chips I have accumulated in 20 years as a director, betting them on a single number. This is not just a movie and then move on to the next. It’s do or die time for me. Cameron does his movies like that every time and I find it surprising the way people judge success in retrospect, like, of course, I would have done that. Avatar was the largest gamble, again, so were Titanic and Terminator 2. I love that type of filmmaker, with those gigantic stainless steel balls, Alec Baldwin-style in Glengarry Glen Ross, fucking clanking together. You can’t explain success in retrospect. The moment you leap into the void, that moment is impossible to negate, after success. He leaped into the void. Peter Jackson leaped into the void with The Lord or the Rings. George Lucas did with Star Wars.
DEADLINE NEW YORK: Universal is turning Stephen King’s The Dark Tower into three movies, with TV series in, something Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and Brian Grazer have to figure out. Maybe boldness isn't dead?
DEL TORO: I’ll tell you. This is the time to be bold. There is a saying in Spanish, "The raging river is a fisherman’s gain." Which means, when the river is raging, few people jump in, but they bring out a lot of fish. This is the time to be bold. If we are not, the self fulfilling prophecy is dying. I love that Chris Nolan did Inception. He did it because he can, but I assure you, this was not easy to push through. Whether bold movies succeed or fail, they don’t go unnoticed. Movies that are timid definitely are not succeeding in this time. The problem we have as a craft and artistry medium, we can only hope to be defined by our hearts. This industry gets defined weekend by fucking weekend, and that is as impossible as chronicling your autobiography day by day. You assume certain people in the industry will be lemmings, but the one who has my sympathy is the lemming who steps back and says, "Oh, fuck you all, I’m going to do this other thing."
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