David Germain, AP, Yahoo! News, Mar. 1
LOS ANGELES — They slew beasts, toppled tyrants and destroyed a ring of ultimate evil, becoming lords of the Academy Awards (news — web sites) for their troubles.
In an all-around predictable evening at the Oscars (news — web sites), the ragtag heroes of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” hoisted the fantasy genre to a new artistic high Sunday, earning a record-tying 11 awards, taking best picture and sweeping each of its categories.
Television ratings for the show rebounded, up 17 percent from last year in Nielsen Media Research’s overnight measurement of the nation’s 55 largest markets. Last year, when “Chicago” won best picture, viewership was at an all-time low because of the Iraq (news — web sites) war.
When final ratings are in, the Oscars should have a viewership of about 42.5 million, estimated Larry Hyams, ABC research chief. That should put the show on par with 2002 (41.8 million) and 2001 (42.9 million).
“Anytime you get a 17 percent gain versus a year ago, you have to be pleased,” Hyams said.
Peter Jackson (news), who shepherded J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth saga to the screen, won the best director Oscar and shared the adapted-screenplay award with his two co-writers.
“I think the fact that we had goblins and trolls and wizards and everything else made it hard for people to take it seriously,” Jackson said backstage. “I appreciate that the academy and voters tonight have seen through all that.”
Tolkien’s themes — “forgiveness, courage, faith, friendship” — are “themes that go straight to the heart,” Jackson said.
All four acting front-runners won, each claiming their first Oscar. Sean Penn (news) took the best-actor prize as a vengeful father in “Mystic River,” and Charlize Theron (news) won for best actress as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster.”
Supporting-performance Oscars went to Tim Robbins (news) as a man emotionally hamstrung by childhood trauma in “Mystic River” and Renee Zellweger (news) as a hardy Confederate survivor in “Cold Mountain.”
Theron joked that since everyone in New Zealand — where “Lord of the Rings” was shot — had been thanked, she had to thank everyone in her home country, South Africa.
“And my mom,” said Theron, who gained 30 pounds for “Monster” and was unrecognizable behind dark contact lenses and unflattering makeup. “You have sacrificed so much for me to be able to live here and make my dreams come true, and there are no words to describe how much I love you. And I’m not going to cry.”
Penn — who has been dismissive of awards in the past but graciously accepted after skipping the Oscars the three previous times he was nominated — was taken by surprise when the audience gave him a standing ovation.
“I did arguably feel I was there to debunk the notion that it was a popularity contest,” Penn said backstage. “But they took that away from me in the room.”
Sofia Coppola (news)’s Oscar victory for original screenplay for “Lost in Translation” made her family the second clan of three-generation Oscar winners, joining Walter, John and Anjelica Huston (news). Her father is five-time winner Francis Ford Coppola (news), who was an executive producer on “Lost in Translation,” and her grandfather, Carmine Coppola, won for musical score on “The Godfather Part II.”
“I never thought my dad would be watching me get one,” Coppola said. “So it’s just a thrill.”
Oscar voters saved the best for last on “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, showering the final installment with prizes after parts 1 and 2 won only technical or music awards. The sense from the time “The Fellowship of the Ring” hit theaters in 2001, followed by “The Two Towers” a year later, was that academy members would withhold their big accolades for the concluding chapter.
“There’s a 7-year-old kid in me that used to make films in my parents’ back garden, and I never dreamt I’d be here,” Jackson, 42, said backstage alongside some of his “Lord of the Rings” collaborators.
“Return of the King” also won for song, musical score, visual effects, editing, makeup, art direction, costume design and sound mixing.
Composer Howard Shore took his second Oscar for writing “Lord of the Rings” music, having won two years ago on “Fellowship of the Ring.”
“Into the West,” the wistful tune of farewell from “Return of the King,” won the best-song Oscar. The song was written by Fran Walsh, the film’s co-screenwriter, Shore and Annie Lennox (news), who sings the tune.
Only a handful of fantasy films have been nominated for the top Oscar — “Fellowship of the Ring” and “Two Towers” among them — but none had won until now.
Jackson’s trilogy has proven to be box office gold, with global ticket sales of $2.8 billion for the three films. “Return of the King” has topped $1 billion alone, the No. 2 box-office draw behind “Titanic” at $1.8 billion.
Jackson labored for seven years to adapt Tolkien’s trilogy — first convincing Hollywood bankers to stake him to the tune of $300 million, then marshaling a cast and crew of 2,000 to shoot the three films and land them in theaters just a year apart.
The result was a 9 1/2-hour saga that seamlessly blended live action and computer animation. Real actors credibly shared the screen with flying beasts, hulking trolls, and walking, talking “tree shepherds.”
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a filmmaker, so what better film to work on than `The Lord of the Rings?’ It was a privilege every day. It nearly killed me, but right now it feels absolutely fine,” said Jackson, whose next project is a “King Kong” remake.
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, etc: “Anti-Racists” Say Lord of the Rings too “Eurocentric”
Sam Francis, VDare.com, Feb. 19
[See also: Today’s Letter: Gimli Agrees With “British Reader”]
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a self-appointed “watchdog” organization in Montgomery, Alabama that purports to keep a sharp eye out for “racism” and “hate.”
Despite its name, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with either the South or the law, let alone poverty, other than avoiding the latter for its own officers, most of whom reportedly pull down six-figure salaries for themselves.
But this week its well-paid but merciless eye fell upon a target not usually associated with “hate” — the immensely popular and widely praised epic film series “Lord of the Rings,” the last installment of which is now showing at your local Bijou and has been nominated for no fewer than 11 Academy Awards.
The SPLC’s website, tolerance.org, last week reprinted an op-ed from Pacific News Service by Andrea Lewis, a San Francisco based writer who has discovered that at least the current film in Peter Jackson’s stunning cinematic version of the three-volume novel by J.R.R. Tolkien should really have been named “The Return of the Patriarchy.”
There just aren’t enough fighting females in the movie for Miss Lewis, but she also doesn’t like it because “Almost all of the heroes of the series are manly men who are whiter than white” and “exude a heavenly aura of all that is Eurocentric and good. Who but these courageous Anglo-Saxon souls can save Middle Earth from the dark and evil forces of the world?”
Perhaps you begin to catch her drift. [’Lord of the Rings’ vs. ‘Matrix’: Patriarchy vs. the Rainbow Coalition, Jan 05, 2004]
Miss Lewis thinks “Lord of the Rings” is bad because it reflects white racial and patriarchal stereotypes, and as a matter of fact, it probably does.
That’s because those “stereotypes” are integral to the complex tale of civilizational struggle that Tolkien was telling, a tale that thoroughly modern multiculturalists would prefer had never seen cold print because it also happens to be the tale of our real civilization.
It’s the tale of our real civilization because the kings, warriors and heroes who led us have always been manly men who really were whiter than white, and that just might have had something to do with why they won the struggle against their civilization’s enemies, medieval and modern, at all.
That, of course, is what Miss Lewis and her pals at the SPLC don’t like.
What they do like is “The Matrix,” the endless, tedious and incomprehensible special effects film series for teeny boppers that features the non-white and mixed race heroes Miss Lewis and her multiculturalist friends demand. As she writes in comparing the two films:
“Neo, the [Matrix] trilogy’s central figure, is played by mixed-race actor Keanu Reeves. His savior and mentor is Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), a powerful leader who also happens to be a black man. The wisest figure in ’The Matrix’ is the Oracle, a warm and witty African American woman.
“The films also are infused with a strong sense of Asian style and culture, exemplified by the character Seraph (Collin Chou) who is both a martial arts expert and Buddhist meditation practitioner.”
Perhaps here too you catch her drift.
The drift is that what Miss Lewis and the SPLC boys who chose to reprint her article like is not “tolerance” and what they oppose is not “hate.”
What they oppose is any positive portrayal of white people.
What they like is any production that writes whites out of the picture.
Well, not entirely. Another reason Miss Lewis likes “The Matrix” is that it depicts whites as villains.
“Most of the really bad guys in ’The Matrix’,” she gloats, “are Euro,” including a Frenchman, two British albino twins [Peter and John Brimelow write: hey!] and “a rather stuffy and pompous white guy with white beard and white suit who reeks of imperialism.”
What she really approves of is any production that not only demotes whites from heroic roles but serves to demonize them in new anti-white stereotypes. Nothing more clearly exposes the SPLC’s real anti-white agenda than Miss Lewis’ silly article. The “multiculturalism” that obsesses her and the SPLC is just as steeped in hate — of whites — as any of the goof balls they “investigate” (and maybe a good deal more). It’s just hate of a different hue.
The fact is that “Lord of the Rings” is an important, beautiful and entirely healthy movie, more or less faithfully based on an important, beautiful and entirely healthy book, which itself draws from some of the deepest springs of Western culture — the myths and folklore of Northern Europe — and tells an important, beautiful and entirely healthy story that white Western men need to hear.
That story is about how the enemies of their civilization were crushed by manly men (and hobbits) who had the strength and courage to fight back.
I understand why people like Miss Lewis and the SPLC don’t much care for it.
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