When I first heard that the film of The Hobbit was going ahead, I was very excited. To see another Tolkien classic brought to life! I have followed the ups and downs of the greenlighting and pre-production with bated breath. And when Peter Jackson (affectionately known by all his fans as PJ) was finally announced to be taking the reins again, I breathed a very big sigh of relief, then cheered!
But it was not until yesterday that I felt the first REAL stirrings of breathless, wriggling excitement. That was when PJ posted the first set video on his Facebook page. I raced home from work to watch all ten delicious minutes of it. From the opening words, I was entranced. I couldn't believe it when PJ said that they had first started building the Bag End set 12 years ago. Has it really been that long? But then I heard it: the hobbit theme music. Followed closely by the Rivendell music, as shots of the rebuilt sets were proudly shown. I got goosebumps. I actually teared up a little because I wasn't prepared for the emotions that it stirred in me. Howard Shore's score combined with the reality of the rebuilt world which I had loved so much – it was just amazingly beautiful.
Perhaps it is not hard for you to guess that I love The Lord of the Rings. Not in a squealing fangirly OMG-isn't-Legolas-cute kind of way (though I have been known to express similar sentiments). But in a deep, abiding, adoring way. I have loved Tolkien since I was in primary school, and my teacher set us The Hobbit as a study one term. We did activities each week. I remember very clearly getting a perfect score on a test of how many Dwarf names we could list from the book. We drew pictures of scenes like the trolls arguing in the forest, or Bard the Bowman's heroics. Only a little later was I to discover the richer, more dense, dark and wonderful journey of Frodo in Lord of the Rings.
I was a child that always asked questions. One day I asked my dad what the longest book in the world was. He said “Well, The Lord of the Rings is pretty long.”. And that was that. Of course I had to read it then. Imagine my joy when I found out it was about Bilbo's nephew! My love for Tolkien's writing grew, and I fell in love with Strider, Aragorn, Elendil's heir. I made myself a vow to read the book every year from then on, a promise I kept up until university.
During the making of the films, I enjoyed a significant and happy time as a LOTR fangirl. I frequented a messageboard, wrote fanfiction, parodies and role-plays, make wallpapers and icons, and even ended up setting up a breakaway messageboard with a couple of my fangirl buddies. It was an amazing time, when set pics would leak out at unexpected moments, but we also enjoyed some marvellous transparency from Weta Workshop and New Line. The official LOTR.net website often featured conceptual art, and would release the most beautiful desktop wallpapers and themes on a regular basis. I read everything I could about the production, and attended every Boxing Day opening of the three films with my dear fangirling friend, Nawl. It was at this time I discovered the amazing illustrations of Alan Lee and John Howe. Their amazing work on the production of the films did so much to bring Middle Earth to life, and I thank the gods that PJ was able to get them to work on the films with him. I also fell head over heels in love with Howard Shore's score - there are just no words here folks. The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack is still my hands-down favourite score of all time.
Such was the depth of my passion, I even holidayed in New Zealand with a fangirl friend I met online, and we coincided our visit with the world premiere of Return of the King in Wellington. We went to the Theonering.net Ringer party and met John Noble (Denethor). We saw Ian McKellan and Sean Astin in the flesh. We watched the big LOTR parade filled with marching Men of Rohan, Elves, Nazgul and Orcs. And waved madly at the stars as they cruised past in convertible cars like astronauts returned to earth, receiving the adoration of their enthusiastic public.
That was in December 2003. Can you believe it? It doesn't seem so long ago to me. I haven't been an active part of Tolkien fandom for many years but the love has been re-kindled and I can now officially say I am a fangirl again. And I will be dipping my toe back into fandom life again soon – perhaps I will see you there?