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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Lord of the Rings Comes to Boston

Traveling across the Atlantic from the Science Museum of London, The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy–The Exhibition landed at the Museum of Science in Boston on August 1. Containing actual items from the films, this exhibit will show eager fans techniques creators used to make the trilogy’s special effects, a showcase of armor the Orcs wore during battle and, interestingly, how costume designers avoided a black market of used hobbit feet.

Upon entering the exhibit, visitors will find themselves under an enormous door intended to simulate the Mines of Moria from The Fellowship of the Ring. A life-size version of the cave troll from The Fellowship greeted guests as they await their excursion through the curious world of hobbits and wizards.

Once inside the gallery, however, one may feel as though they are walking through a museum of Middle-earth, where most of the props and trinkets from the trilogy are presented in display cases. Additional video presentations explaining the behind-the-scenes footage were available for viewing next to some of the exhibits. Zealous fans may have been disappointed since the video presentations seem to have been taken from the extended edition DVDs.

For those who haven’t seen the extended edition DVDs, the behind-the-scenes footage explaining the use of prosthetics fit quite nicely next to a plastic case of seemingly hundreds of hobbit feet. With a closer look, guests would have noticed yak hair sprouting from the hobbit toes. Over 2000 pairs of foam latex hobbit feet were used in the making of the films. Not to mention the amount of time designers spent punching yak hair through the feet with a barbed needle.

Why so many feet? Cast members arrived one hour early every morning to have their feet applied because they were shredded at the end of a days work. “The idea was to prevent a black market of hobbit feet,” read the description under the display. Go figure.

However fascinated or disappointed visitors may have been with the exhibit, some dedicated fans spoke of their experience. Tim O’Connor, a self-confessed Lord of the Rings geek, said of the exhibit, “I thought it was fascinating because it was like stepping back into a history of a world that may have been, but never was.” Two young girls slipped into a fantasy gazing at Galadriel’s shimmering white dress and said, “Look at that dress, wouldn’t you love to wear it?”

Although Middle-earth may have been a world that never was, several items in the exhibit, such as the showcase of armor and swords, were real-world inspired. The armor and swords from the trilogy were reshaped by the creativity of 21st century artists with knowledge of medieval crafts.

One of the most impressive pieces of the exhibit was the mannequin of Boromir lying dead in a boat, although the boat could have been mistaken for an open casket at a funeral. Evidently, Boromir was made of wax, but he eerily resembled the finished product of a mortician’s hand.

Other stops at the exhibition allowed visitors to try out techniques filmmakers used to create the trilogy’s special effects, such as three-dimensional image scanning. 3-D scanning was used with a handheld laser scanner. Originating from New Zealand’s sheep meat industry, inspectors utilized the laser scanner to check for shrinkage in the meat. The device allowed the film team to create digital versions of the lead characters and generate entire digital environments, such as the battlefield in the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring. Visitors were able to use a 3-D scanner to record the contours of their face and display the resulting wire frame animation onscreen.

The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy–The Exhibition will be residing at the Museum of Science in Boston until October 24. Starting on September 7, exhibition hours will be Saturday through Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.