Neben Viggo Mortensen, der seinen Waldläufermantel gegen ein prachtvolles Königsgewand eingetauscht hat, steht Liv Tyler (Arwen), vor den beiden Zauberer Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) mit der Krone von Gondor. Makeup Künstler Jose hat Viggo Mortensen einen Vollbart verpasst, das erste Zeichen von Autorität, erklärt er. Während der Drehpausen nehme Viggo Mortensen immer wieder das Drehbuch und den Roman zur Hand und diskutiere die Szene mit den Dialog Coaches und den Drehbuchautoren. Die Krönungsrede wurde schließlich in drei verschiedenen Versionen gedreht. Beim ersten Mal spricht Viggo die Rede in englisch, beim zweiten Mal in elbisch und beim dritten Mal singt er die Rede in elbisch.
Liv Tyler spielt Arwen
Die Stadt erinnere in einigen Designs an das alte Rom, beschreibt John Forde die Gebäude. "Minas Tirith ist eine der ältesten Zivilisationen in Mittelerde," erzählt Produktionsdesigner Grant Major, "Eigentlich hatten alle Gebäude eine warme Farbe, aber Peter wollte alles kälter und strenger haben." Ebenso auch bei den Gondorianern, deren Kostüme nach römischen und griechischen Motiven gestaltet wurden -- lange, fließende Togas und Mäntel in Grün, Braun, Lavendel oder einem dunklen Rosa.
A Major Event at Minas Tirith
by John Forde
LOWER HUTT, WELLINGTON--Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn stands on the steps of the massive, white-stoned Hall of Kings. Behind him are huge wooden doors, carved with figures of ancient Gondorian royalty.
The Romanesque archways and pillars of the hall are festooned with ribbons and white flowers. Below, the Fellowship, Gondorian soldiers, civilians and Elves gather on an immaculately manicured lawn and neatly brushed cobblestone pathways of the city of Minas Tirith, capital city of Gondor.
We're here for Aragorn's coronation as the first King of the Reunited Kingdom--Middle Earth's version of a Presidential inauguration (minus the recounts, naturally).
Before the scene begins, technicians hammer on the branches of a Japanese blossom tree, its roots feeding into a fountain pool. In the shade of the tree, Liv Tyler--resplendent in a lime silk-velvet gown with an intricate silver headpiece--waits for her scene with Mortensen, her onscreen husband.
"It's so cool that we get to film this scene, which is filled with happiness and beauty, in our final week," Tyler gushes.
The pointy-eared Elf princess is correct--after a mammoth 15-month shoot, director Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings has reached the end of shooting.
But for now, it's Viggo's glamour moment. After years in the wilds of Middle Earth, Aragorn is accepting his legacy as the True King. (Book Three of Tolkien's trilogy, The Return of the King, is named for him.)
For the ceremony, he has lost his straggly beard and mud-splattered clothes in favor of a suit of Gondorian armor and a rich scarlet robe, along with a fabulous long, black velvet cape.
Makeup artist Jose explains he has given Mortensen a fuller beard, as the first sign of kingly authority. It's probably the first time all year that Mortensen's had a decent shave.
Standing on the front steps with his back to the camera, Aragorn receives the crown from a regal Gandalf, then turns toward the lens. Mortensen plays three different acceptance speeches--one in Elvish, one in English and one sung (in Elvish). Ever the Method actor, Mortensen consults Tolkien's book and the scripts between takes and even discusses the scene with dialect coaches and screenplay writers by cell phone.
As he finishes, huge wind machines blow rose petals (made from paper) into the scene, and the assembled crowd cheers. (Amid the noise, we hear one distinctly un-Middle Earth "Woo-hoo!" from an overenthusiastic extra.)
The throng is comprised of fully armored Gondorian soldiers (sweating furiously in the midafternoon sun), beautifully dressed Gondorian civilians and white-clad Elves. Ngila Dickson's costume team worked through the weekend to finish the Gondorian and Elvish outfits, and the effect--set off with some striking Grecian-style jewelry and headdresses--is stunning.
To exploit the beauty of the set, cameras take a long shot (starting with Aragorn, then pulling back to show the crowds in front of the Hall of Kings), then move in for close-ups. It's everything a coronation should be--glamorous, regal and gloriously sunny.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
On the other side of the alabaster-stone town of Minas Tirith, is Hayward's Quarry. With its sloping cobblestone roofs, pillars, domes and curving arches, it feels like medieval Italy. And in the eerie midday silence, the city is a huge white mausoleum.
Walking past herb gardens and a blacksmith's forge, we turn into a quiet courtyard and discover a flower-laden balcony straight out of Romeo and Juliet's love scene.
Suddenly, 20 fully armored Gondorian warriors come charging through the gates, brandishing 12-foot spears. In trots Ian McKellen's Gandalf on his giant white horse, Shadowfax, carrying a scale double for Pippin the Hobbit. We're surrounded!
After checking our media pass cards and being warned not to take photos, we're allowed to proceed. (These LOTR folks take their jobs seriously.) We take a side pathway--past a quiet veranda where a lone extra sits, quietly reading LOTR--and go back into the main square.
The crew has returned from lunch. Beneath a giant bronzed statue of a Gondorian warrior astride a charging horse, Jackson and his crew set up the next shot--it's business as usual here in Gondor.
Construction started on Minas Tirith in June, on the site of the old Helm's Deep. (Part of that set--a grim, half-ruined fortress now empty as a cavern--remains in the distance.)
At a cost of nearly $1 million, the set was built from from an LOTR staple--polystyrene--as well as concrete and wood, with steel reinforcements. Red tape on the tops of the buildings shows where WETA Digital will add towering computer-generated heights.
Tolkien created the seven-tiered hilltop city of Minas Tirith with ancient Rome in mind. LOTR's conceptual designer Alan Lee and the art department followed Romanesque styles.
"Minas Tirith is one of the oldest civilizations in Middle Earth, and it's coming to an end," says production designer Grant Major. "The buildings were originally a warmer color, but Peter wanted to make everything colder and more severe."
As for the Gondorians themselves, their costumes feature Roman and Grecian motifs--long, flowing gowns and cloaks in greens, browns, lavender and dusky rose, with brocade ropes tying the women's bodices toga-style. Upper-class Gondorian folk wear rich gold embroidered aprons, which costume designer Ngila Dickson explains is inspired by "more decorative" Byzantine fashions.
Rain drizzles onto the set--adding a downbeat, despondent mood that suits the wartime scenes being filmed today.
Jackson instructs the 75 extras--mainly old people and women with young children--to think of the sadness of losing sons and lovers in battle. The camera pans past the crowd, which silently throws flowers into the streets, then stares mournfully into the lens.
And..."Cut!" While painters do some last-minute retouches to one of the pillars, the extras relax. A two-year-old girl decked out as a mini Gondorian produces a bright yellow Teletubbie. Dialect and creative language coach Andrew Jack--on set to monitor all dialogue--jokes that they're pronounced "Te-LEE-ta-BEE" in Gondorian.
Meanwhile, WETA technicians remove David Wenham's winged helmet to give the actor a breather between takes. The Australian star of The Boys and Better Than Sex plays Faramir, youngest son of Denethor, the ailing Steward of Gondor.
Wenham admits his scenes are difficult. "I come to work every day and get yelled at by my father," he laughs. "Faramir has the legacy of his dead brother--his father's favorite--to live up to. He gets pushed to his limits and decides to ride into battle to prove himself--even though it's a suicide mission."
That's one hell of an Oedipal complex.
John Noble, the Australian theater vet playing the father, agrees Denethor can be cruel. "But it's my job to show the humanity of the man. He's literally driven mad by grief and fear."
"We all carry our parents' history with us," Noble says. "Denethor resents never being king, and Boromir inherits that bitterness. It's what leads him [Boromir] to try to seize the Ring."
Noble's scenes are sure to be...smokin'. Thinking Faramir is dead, Denethor hurls his son's (still living) body onto a burning funeral pyre--then throws himself on. "I get to go out screaming amid burning flames. Who could ask for a more dramatic send-off?" Noble laughs.
For now, Wenham redons his helmet and walks--John Wayne-style--in his armor to film the departure scene. As Faramir leads his soldiers across Minas Tirith, Gandalf bursts through the assembled Gondorians, entreating him to stay. Jackson's fluid camera follows Faramir, then swivels to show Gandalf standing, saddened and alone, as the horsemen file past.
Wenham's delivery is quiet and somber. He seems resolved to fight, yet nervous. ("He's absolutely terrified, mate!" Wenham says with a chuckle.) He dismounts again and watches the playback with Jackson--who suggests he speak the line as if telling Gandalf to butt out of his father-son dispute.
We catch a brief chat with Jackson, beneath three giant white statues of Gondorian royalty. With raindrops dripping off his beard and glasses, Jackson reveals his biggest challenge is keeping his tired body from giving out before filming finishes on Friday. "I plan to sleep through Christmas," he jokes.
Techies pull the giant wooden gates of Minas Tirith closed to film Faramir's return to Gondor--slung over his horse filled with Orc arrows. The gates are magnificent--more than 40 feet tall and covered with intricately carved Gondorian figures. Of all the marvels on set, the doors best demonstrate the sophistication of Gondorian civilization.
And in a grim reminder of what's ahead, we're led to a battered replica of the gates--pummeled by the force of the enemy's battering ram. Like the Roman Empire, Minas Tirith, too, will fall.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Back at the Hall of Kings, an ice-cream van has driven into the set. Seventy-year-old Gondorian extras outrace riggers to grab an ice cream in the midafternoon summer sun.
Elf prince Orlando Bloom (nicknamed Armani Elf by the wardrobe department) quietly ponders the beginning of the end. "The last few weeks have been so busy that I'm almost punch-drunk. It's so sad that we're finishing after so long together, but I know I'll carry my character and this experience wherever I go."
We catch Miranda Otto (Rohan princess Eowyn) just before she's whisked away to film her wedding scene with Faramir (David Wenham). Otto says she enjoyed filming her earlier scenes. "We started in the middle of Eowyn's despair, so it has been nice to go back to the beginning, where she's established as being quite strong."
But Otto, whose story won't be seen until Movie Two is released in 2002, is also sad to leave. "It's like the characters leaving Middle Earth. I don't quite know where we'll go from here."
After a break, cast and crew filter back and film well through the evening. The buzz on set is fused with excitement about holidays and catch-ups with seldom-seen family and friends, and sadness that night will soon fall--for the last time--on Middle Earth.
[read on at E!Online]