Mortal Engines Official Teaser Trailer

Mortal Engines is director Peter Jackson’s new epic, coming to theaters December 2018.

Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.

Mortal Engines is the startling, new epic adventure directed by Oscar®-winning visual-effects artist Christian Rivers (King Kong). Joining Rivers are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies three-time Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who have penned the screenplay. The Universal and MRC adaptation is from the award-winning book series by Philip Reeve, published in 2001 by Scholastic.

 

Pixel Scroll 12/5/17 Pixels Scrolling In An Open File

(1) PETER JACKSON MUSEUM PROJECT AT RISK. The New Zealand Herald says the Wellington City Council got a long grumpygram from the famed director: “Peter Jackson threatening to pull plug on Wellington’s movie museum”. There are 55 things he’s unhappy about.

The Wellington City Council is refusing to comment on reports Sir Peter Jackson is threatening to pull the plug on the capital’s $150 million Movie Museum.

The famous director has been working with the council to create the new attraction i but a report this morning claims that relationship could be on rocky ground after Sir Peter sent an angry letter to the council.

Councillors have described it as a “divorce letter”, according to Fairfax.

Fairfax reports Jackson sent the letter out of anger over how the council has been managing the museum plans.

(2) MIRRY CHRISTMUS. Adweek tells how “Air New Zealand’s Christmas Ad Takes the Piss Out of Its Own Country’s Accent”.

Deck the halls! It’s yet another ad in which the fictional inner workings of Santa’s workshop are imagined in elaborate detail. This time around, Santa is a kind of corporate virtuoso, seated behind a desk, where he takes direct calls from kids and manages linguistic switching with finesse while a fawning elf takes notes on a tablet.

Chinese? No sweat.

Then the New Zealanders start dialing in. What kind of kid asks for a new beard, a biscuit ball or an ear plane?

 

(3) MARKET DAY. The “SFWA Market Report For December” begins with —

NEW MARKETS

Factor Four Magazine
If This Goes On
Kferrin.com
Ogrezine

(4) DON’T GET ‘LOST IN SPACE’. “This Spacesuit Comes with a “Take Me Home” Button” — a patent has been filed.

The system can operate the jet pack autonomously or give the astronaut directions with a combination of visual, auditory and sensory cues through a web of sensors and a helmet visor display. If something were to happen during a spacewalk (also known as an Extravehicular Activity, or EVA) the self-return system can be initiated by the astronaut, a space station crewmember or mission control.

Draper’s “take me home” system features options. According to the patent, the spacesuit’s sensors can be configured to monitor movement, acceleration and relative position of the crewmember to a fixed object, such as an accompanying orbiting spacecraft. The navigation, guidance and control modules can also accommodate various scenarios. For instance, the navigation module can be configured using GPS, vision-aided navigation or a star-tracker system. To improve the astronaut’s positioning and orientation, Draper has developed software that fuses data from vision-based and inertial navigation systems and benefits from the advantages of both sensing approaches.

(5) NPR PICKS. The 374 books in “NPR’s Book Concierge, Our Guide To 2017’s Great Reads” include 54 in the science fiction and fantasy category.

(6) WINTER JACKETS. Six SFF wrappers made a Bookish list of “The Best Book Covers of 2017”.

People say you shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but here at Bookish we’re not just readers—we’re cover-judging-rebels. As 2017 draws to a close, we wanted to pay homage to the incredible designs that stood out on bookstore shelves like works of art. Are you a rebel too? Let us know what your favorite covers of 2017 were!

But where are the covers from McEdifice Returns, I ask you?

(7) DID YOU HEAR THAT? As John Brunner said in The Shockwave Rider, “The Future arrived too soon and in the wrong order.” Gizmodo’s Adam Clark Estes argues “Don’t Buy Anyone an Echo”.

Let me make this point dreadfully clear, though: Your family members do not need an Amazon Echo or a Google Home or an Apple HomePod or whatever that one smart speaker that uses Cortana is called. And you don’t either. You only want one because every single gadget-slinger on the planet is marketing them to you as an all-new, life-changing device that could turn your kitchen into a futuristic voice-controlled paradise. You probably think that having an always-on microphone in your home is fine, and furthermore, tech companies only record and store snippets of your most intimate conversations. No big deal, you tell yourself.

Actually, it is a big deal. The newfound privacy conundrum presented by installing a device that can literally listen to everything you’re saying represents a chilling new development in the age of internet-connected things. By buying a smart speaker, you’re effectively paying money to let a huge tech company surveil you. And I don’t mean to sound overly cynical about this, either. Amazon, Google, Apple, and others say that their devices aren’t spying on unsuspecting families. The only problem is that these gadgets are both hackable and prone to bugs.

(8) DARK INSIDE, Find out more about the new Netflix Dark series, including spoilers, in Camestros Felapton’s Dark Debrief”.

I’ve finished watching the German Netflix show Dark and it was indeed Dark. I also bought and ate a Twix today without thinking. Spoilers below as this post is for me to take stock and make notes of the twisty turns – particularly if there is a second season as the ending implies.

A fold and then don’t continue unless you like spoilers or have watched it all already.

To make life easier, characters get a year after their name so you know who is when. If I’ve got names wrong please correct me!

(9) TODAY’S STAR WARS CLICKBAIT. According to CheatSheet, “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ New Trailer May Have Answered This 1 Lingering Question”.

Fans will recall that in the main trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker says, “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.” This comes after a scene in which Rey cracks the ground while training on Ahch-To, so it communicates the idea that Luke is actually scared of Rey because she is so powerful and does not want to train her.

But when Luke makes reference to seeing raw strength “once before,” who is he talking about, exactly? In the trailer itself, he doesn’t specify, and this is something fans have been in disagreement about.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 5, 1980 Flash Gordon was released

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born December 5, 1890 – Fritz Lang
  • Born December 5, 1901 – Walter Elias Disney

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) SIR PAT. Brent Lang of Variety, in “Patrick Stewart on ‘Logan,’ Harvey Weinstein and Returning to ‘Star Trek’”, learned that Sir Pat Stew was very proud of his work on Logan but “I cannot think of another chance” to play Jean-Luc Picard.

How did you prepare to play an aged Charles Xavier in “Logan”?

I lost 20 pounds. I’ve always been blessed by being able to lose weight easily, and I spread this out over the span of a few months so that it was easier to take. When I lose weight, it tends to be most noticeable in the face, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to look sick and undernourished and stressed and frail and vulnerable. Hugh had to carry me in the movie, and I assured him that I would do my damnedest to make sure I was carry-able.

Is this your last “X-Men” movie?

Oh, yes. Hugh had been on record that this would be his last time before “Logan” even started shooting. I hadn’t given it a thought until I saw the film for the first time with an audience at the Berlin Film Festival. It was Hugh and James Mangold and myself, and when it got to the last 10 minutes of the movie, it was emotional and intense, and I could feel myself getting choked up. Then I looked over at Hugh and he was wiping his eyes, and I thought if Wolverine can weep at a movie, Charles Xavier can do the same thing. Then Hugh reached over and grabbed my hand and we held hands for the rest of the movie.

(14) DYSTOPIC CHOW. An author and a chef imagine how we’ll eat if bees and fish vanish in “A Dinner at the End of Our World” at Atlas Obscura.

…The results were unfamiliar. Moss-green spirulina ice cubes kept diners’ drinks cool. Spirulina is super-nutritious microalgae that grows quickly, perfect for a food-scarce world. A soup of mussels and seaweed came with a lump of shrimp paste and encouragement to stir it in. This was intended to be a hopeful dish, symbolizing shrimp farms in small ponds that might be a vibrant future food source…

(15) PUPPY POWER. Milo Yiannopoulos is turning John C. Wright into the Hieronymous Bosch of the op-ed page at his new site Dangerous, in a biweekly feature titled Wright On What’s Wrong. The first 2,000-word opus, “This Christmas, Give Thanks or Get Stuffed”, asks —

Last week, did you notice Thanksgiving is dying?

I challenge you to find a line of thought which leads from that beginning to this sentence later in the essay: “His anus is turned inward.”

(16) EDIFICE COMPLEX. The BBC visits “The awe-inspiring buildings created as temples of tech”:

Each year, more than 100,000 visitors trek through and around a cluster of solemn, hauntingly impressive late-18th Century buildings on the hem of England’s Peak District National Park. This is Cromford Mill, Derbyshire, founded in 1771 by the entrepreneurial inventor Richard Arkwright. Here, long before Henry Ford was born, mass production began.

In these buildings – their floors free of partitions and with windows on all sides – water-mills powered looms that spun reams of cotton, 24 hours a day, the chattering machinery attended by children as young as seven, working 12-hour shifts. Cotton ceased spinning here in the 1840s as the great mills in and around Manchester took on the challenge of making and shipping cotton to the world. The massively ambitious Houldsworth Mill in Reddish, designed by Abraham Stott, was one of the mightiest temples yet devoted to industrial technology when it opened in 1865.

(17) SLOW VERNE. Galactic Journey’s Lorelei Marcus says your time machine can skip this first run movie: “[December 4, 1962] Like Five Weeks in a Theater (Five Weeks in Balloon)”

Everything before the balloon’s take off (the first 20 minutes or so) was funny, clever, and fast paced. The first scene, in which the professor and his inventor friend take reluctant investors on a demonstration flight, and then the next bit in which the professor prepares for the expedition and collects funds and crew, was quite fun to watch!

But once he’d picked up the American reporter, and the balloon took to the skies, the movie ground to a sudden halt. Unfortunately it never seemed to pick back up again either. The entire movie was: the balloon flies around, lands someplace; the crew gets out and gets into trouble, they run back to the balloon and fly away. There were no real conflicts, because they could always just retreat to the balloon and escape danger. Moreover, many of these scenes went on for ‘way too long. There was never any real tension through the whole movie, and without tight pacing of events, the movie felt like it was really dragging on for five weeks!

(18) DID IT HIMSELF. Move over, MIT: “Bored teen in Kentucky builds his own rollercoaster”. (Video.)

Logan Moore, 16, surprised family and neighbours when he quickly built a wooden structure in his backyard.

Chip Hitchcock comments, “I’m forgetting whether you ran the story about the MIT dorm that built a rollercoaster as part of freshman welcoming. Theirs was just a straight shot, even simpler than the one this guy built — but there are pictures of people riding the MIT coaster.”

(19) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. App calls on citizen scientists for Australia’s frog count.

Croaks and chirps. Even whistles and barks.

These are some of the sounds that Australian frogs make, and local biologists are hoping members of the public will help record them on a new app called FrogID.

It is part of a conservation effort to better track 240 frog species around Australia.

Scientists also believe the crowd-sourced mapping could lead to the detection of new species.

Australians are encouraged to record and upload the sounds of frogs they hear anywhere, from their suburban backyard to the outback.

(20)TODAY’S 10,000. Google pledges 10,000 staff to tackle extremist content.

Google will dedicate more than 10,000 staff to rooting out violent extremist content on YouTube in 2018, the video sharing website’s chief has said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Susan Wojcicki said some users were exploiting YouTube to “mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm”.

She said the website, owned by Google, had used “computer-learning” technology that could find extremist videos.

More than 150,000 of these videos have been removed since June, she said.

(21) WOLVERINE DRAMA PODCAST COMING. Marvel New Media and top podcast listening service Stitcher today announced “Wolverine: The Long Night” , the first-ever Marvel scripted podcast, launching in spring 2018.

The 10-episode series will be available exclusively on Stitcher Premium until fall 2018, when it will see a wide release across all podcast platforms….

The show’s cast includes notable actors Richard Armitage (“The Hobbit”), Scott Adsit (“30 Rock”), Bob Balaban (“Moonrise Kingdom”) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (“Mr. Robot”).

The “Wolverine: The Long Night” story is a captivating hybrid of mystery and the larger-scale fantasy of the Marvel Universe. It follows agents Sally Pierce (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Tad Marshall (Ato Essandoh) as they arrive in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, to investigate a series of murders and quickly discover the town lives in fear of a serial killer. The agents team up with deputy Bobby Reid (Andrew Keenan-Bolger) to investigate their main suspect, Logan (Richard Armitage). Their search leads them on a fox hunt through the mysterious and corrupt town….

Also cast in the series are actors Zoe Chao, Chaske Spencer, Jordan Bridges, David Call, Michael J. Burg and Lannon Killia. Chris Gethard, host of the popular “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People” podcast, also will make a cameo appearance.

(22) RENAISSANCE FARE. Zero emissions will soon be the new standard: “Electric black cabs hit London’s roads”

The cab costs £55,599 up from £45,000 for the newest petrol equivalent.

Chris Gubbey, boss of manufacturer the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) insists the cab will “play a major role in helping to improve air quality”.

The launch comes weeks ahead of rules requiring new cabs in the capital to be capable of emitting zero emissions.

More than 9,000 such taxis, roughly half the current black cab fleet, are expected on London’s roads by 2021.

Chip Hitchcock adds, “Did you know that the late Peter Weston’s firm (where the Hugos are made) makes the hand bars that make getting into and out of these cabs easier?”

(23) LETTER MAN. BBC meets the designer of “The typeface that helps dyslexics read”.

Dyslexie is a font that aims to overcome some of the problems that people with dyslexia can have when reading. Due to the way their brains process visual information, they will often subconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters, making it harder to recognise the characters.

It is thought that their brains start treating two-dimensional letters as three-dimensional objects that can be freely manipulated.

When this happens, the letter “b” can look like a “d”… or a “p” or a “q”. It is easy to see why this can quickly become confusing.

“Traditionally in typeface design, there are ‘rules’ that say it is best to make the letters as uniform as possible,” says Boer, now 36. “If you make the arch of an “h” the same as an “n”, it produces a typeface that is clean and quiet for ordinary readers. For me, these letters become three dimensional so you can turn them around and they begin to look alike. What I wanted to do was to slap these 3D letters flat.”

(24) JURASSIC APPETIZER. Here’s the teaser for the full trailer coming on Thursday –

(25) MORE PLAUDITS FOR MARLOWE. Francis Hamit takes another prize — “Christopher Marlowe Screenplay Wins Grand Jury Award At Sherman Oaks Film Festival”.

Francis Hamit’s “based on a true story” screenplay for the forthcoming feature film CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE has won the prestigious Grand Jury Award at the Second Annual Sherman Oaks Film Festival held in November.  This is the fourth major award for this unproduced screenplay.  Previous wins were at the GO Independent International Film Festival in Washington DC, The New Renaissance Film Festival in London, England and the 2016 Hollywood Book Festival.

The well-researched script about the Elizabethan-ere poet, playwright and secret agent for the Crown is a classic tragedy about a brilliant man undone by his own fatal flaws in the form of a spy thriller.

 

Festival director Jeff Howard and Francis Hamit.

(26) TRAVELER FROM AN ANTIC LAND.  Another testimony to TSA screening!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock (who really has something in today’s Scroll), Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

That Sweet, Little Old Gollum

Not many friends of mine would want to depend on Peter Jackson’s knowledge of Tolkien to keep them out of jail, but Deadline says Jackson has left comments on social media in an attempt to help Turkish doctor Bilgin Çiftçi avoid a prison sentence for insulting his country’s president.

As reported in December 2’s Scroll, the doctor is charged with insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by comparing him to Gollum in a set of photos posted to Facebook that showed them both expressing surprise and amazement, and eating.

Erdogan Gollum

However, when challenged by defense counsel, the judge in the case admitted he had seen only parts of the movies from which the images were taken. So the judge now has appointed five Lord of the Rings experts to figure out whether this Gollum meme is offensive, according to the Istanbul newspaper Today’s Zaman.

The court ordered that the investigation be conducted by a group composed of two academics, two behavioral scientists or psychologists and an expert on cinema and television productions.

They are due to testify about their findings when court reconvenes in February.

Meanwhile, Deadline’s post “Peter Jackson Sets Turkish Court Straight On ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Lore Error” reports that the director and his screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens deny these are pictures of Gollum at all.

The situation is exacerbated however by the fact that the two characters are quite distinct, and the court overseeing the case mistakenly believes the image to portray Gollum, not Smeagol. Now three indisputable experts on the character who weren’t summoned to Turkey have weighed in on the matter – LOTR trilogy director Peter Jackson and his LOTR screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

The three of them have issued a statement on the matter, clearing up the confusion. “If the images [in question] are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically: None of them feature the character known as Gollum. All of them are images of the character called Smeagol.”

Walsh, who is responsible for most of the scenes involving the character, went further. “Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol,” she said.

Because, of course, everyone understands Doctor Çiftçi only meant to compliment the president on his Smeagol-like instincts for ethical behavior.

No?

[Thanks to Janice Gelb and John King Tarpinian for the links.]

The Doctor Makes A House Call

Will Peter Jackson direct an episode of Doctor Who? In a video shot at his home in New Zealand, Jackson and his daughter Katie converse about Steven Moffatt’s efforts to sign him for the series.

The byplay is described in the Guardian, including the punchline.

SPOILER WARNING

Later in the video, the Timelord himself, Peter Capaldi, appears at the door in full costume, with a sealed envelope containing a contract from Moffat and the BBC. The Doctor Who actor has just visited New Zealand as part of a series of fan events.

“I’m the Doctor,” Capaldi says in the video. “Who?” asks Jackson. “Correct,” says Capaldi, in a nod to the perennial schoolyard joke, before being chased out of the room by a Dalek.

The video puts one further tease on the table – literally – in the shape of a bashed-up copy of JRR Tolkien’s book, The Silmarillion, complete with pink Post-it notes.

Fans have long hoped that Jackson might win over the Tolkien estate for the rights to direct a film adaptation of the book

If there are fans who hope for that, they aren’t commenters at File 770, based on what I’ve been reading here…

Genre Movie Scores Dominate Annual Hall of Fame Poll

Christopher Lee as Saruman.

Christopher Lee as Saruman.

Thirty genre films made this year’s Classic fM Movie Music Hall of Fame, voted on by thousands of Britons.

The iconic music for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings has topped the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame for the sixth year in a row – narrowly beating John Williams’ score for Schindler’s List and, in third place, Hans Zimmer’s music for Gladiator.

It’s a fun list, picked by people whose musical expertise clearly does not exceed my own. I deduced this from the appearance at #66 of the score for Where Eagles Dare (Ron Goodwin). That film literally has no score between the opening credits and the final 10 minutes, impressive as those parts may be. I admit that I know this fact because I once rented the movie to show to a professional musician as an example of a strong score and totally embarrassed myself…

Here are the sf/fantasy films in the top 100:

1. The Lord of The Rings, Howard Shore
5. Star Wars, John Williams
6. Harry Potter, John Williams
9. Jurassic Park, John Williams
10. Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, Klaus Badelt
17. Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End, Klaus Badelt
23. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, John Williams
25. Superman, John Williams
26. Raiders of the Lost Ark, John Williams
33. Inception, Hans Zimmer
35. The Hobbit, Howard Shore
37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Alexandre Desplat
40. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, John Williams
41. Somewhere in Time, John Barry
43. Interstellar, Hans Zimmer
46. Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, Patrick Doyle
50. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Hans Zimmer
51. Blade Runner, Vangelis
53. War of the Worlds, John Williams
59. How to Train Your Dragon, John Powell
65. Star Trek, Michael Giacchino
68. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Jerry Goldsmith
71. Edward Scissorhands, Danny Elfman
73. The Lion King, Hans Zimmer
74. Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Michael Kamen
79. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Nicholas Hooper
82. The Adventures of Robin Hood, Erich Wolfgang Korngold
83. Avatar, James Horner
84. Back to the Future, Alan Silvestri
85. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Harry Gregson-Williams
99. Stardust, Ian Eshkeri

[Via Ansible Links.]

Pixel Scroll 10/31 Standlee’s Instant Summons

(1) The title of Jeb Kinnison’s review encapsulates his opinion — “’Tomorrowland’: Tragic Misfire”.

Having seen mixed reviews, I waited until Tomorrowland came out on cheaper streaming services. Directed and mostly written by Brad Bird, auteur of brilliant work like Iron Giant and The Incredibles, the previews looked promising — a story about the shiny visions of the technological future we had as kids in the 1960s, and a world where they actually happened.

(2) An old b&w photo of a scientist controlling waldos to diaper a baby doll is one of the relics in the Vault of the Atomic Space Age.

(3) William Shatner tells how his face was used for the mask that Halloween film franchise killer Michael Myers wore.

(4) “Jim Burns’ Halloween Reverie: Then and Now” from last year, at the local New York CBS station’s website.

Twenty-five years ago, youngsters at my door could see through the screen to a life-sized Superman and Batman that were just past me, in the living room.

On another night, every window of my home was adorned with special Halloween themed balloons, the merry Mylar reaching high into the October sky.

For another year, a wide assortment of latex masks of classic  Hollywood monsters (a wolfman, a mummy, Planet of the Apes’ Dr. Zaius and  creatures from The Outer Limits)–an amazing collection I had somehow acquired–peered out from those portals, gazing upon a lawn filled with a virtual galaxy of giant pumpkin lawn bags!

(5) How big did you say those pumpkin bags were, Jim? A giant inflatable pumpkin got away the other day in Arizona….

Diego Ramirez captured video of the 25-foot-tall jack o’lantern blowing around in traffic after it broke free of its straps at the Peoria Sports Complex.

“I was so shocked to see that it was like bouncing like a basketball all the way down the road,” Patrick Sparkes of Big AZ Promotions, the company that owns the decoration, told KPNX-TV.

The company said the 350-pound pumpkin broke free from its straps with the help of strong winds.

“We showed up and it wasn’t there and we spent the last 40 minutes driving around looking for it,” Sparkes said.

There were no injuries from the pumpkin’s dash for freedom, but there was some damage done to streetlamps.

(6) The Addams Family: The Broadway Musical evidently has been around for years, but it’s news to me!

THE ADDAMS FAMILY features an original story, and it’s every father’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. A man her parents have never met. And if that weren’t upsetting enough, she confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before — keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents.

 

(7) The SJW viewpoint strikes again! A. J. Jacobs told NPR host Scott Simon some famous monsters aren’t as horrible as you think. I think I hear “Officer Krupke” in the background…

SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Misunderstood, misunderstood.

JACOBS: Misunderstood – that’s what I’m here to do is trying to salvage the reputation of some of these Halloween monsters. So yes, Frankenstein I think gets a really raw deal in the reputation department. We all think of Frankenstein’s monster as this monosyllabic idiot from the movies. But actually, in Mary Shelley’s original novel from 1818, Frankenstein’s monster was more of a sensitive intellectual type. He read Plutarch and Goethe. He was more Brooklyn hipster and less unfrozen caveman.

(8) A mysterious castle, a deserted village and things that go bump in the night are all in a day’s work for a TODAY team on the hunt for Dracula — “Take a Trip ‘Behind the Screams’ in Transylvania”

(9) Today In History

  • October 31, 1926Harry Houdini dies. Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital. Twelve days before, Houdini had been talking to a group of students after a lecture in Montreal when he commented on the strength of his stomach muscles and their ability to withstand hard blows. Suddenly, one of the students punched Houdini twice in the stomach. The magician hadn’t had time to prepare, and the blows ruptured his appendix. He fell ill on the train to Detroit, and, after performing one last time, was hospitalized. Doctors operated on him, but to no avail. The burst appendix poisoned his system, and on October 31 he died.
  • October 31, 2001 — Lovecraft adaptation Dagon makes its theatrical premiere in Spain.

(10) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • October 31, 1961 — Peter Jackson is born on Halloween in Wellington, New Zealand.

(11) The photo comes from “Susan Beatrice Recycles Old Watch Parts Into Intricately Detailed Steampunk Scultptures” on EarthPorm, but here full gallery is here. Amazing stuff.

recycled-watch-parts-sculptures-vintage-antique-susan-beatrice-36

Beatrice’s creations bring boring old gears and machinery to life. She has the ability to turn ratchets and other tiny technical parts into a lively mouse, seahorse or fairy. The more you look at her varied artwork the more you wonder what this woman can’t do… as it appears she can make everything out of anything.

(12) How badly do you want to be one of the first people to see the new Star Wars movie? Air France can help you out.

Lines will form at the crack of dawn on December 18 as die-hard fans set out to snag the best seats to see Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens in theaters.

But some very lucky trans-Atlantic plane passengers will get the jump on them.

In what seems like a ploy to rope super-fans into buying very expensive plane tickets, Air France will be letting passengers watch the much-anticipated flick two days before its official release, on December 16.

The French airline is teaming up with EuropaCorp CINEMAS to offer the advance screenings for passengers on four Paris-bound flights, AF083 from San Francisco to Paris, AF065 from Los Angeles, AF011 from New York and AF009 from New York.

[Thanks to James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, Soon Lee.]

Third Hobbit-Themed Safety Video
Takes Flight

air-nz-hobbit-hed-2014Air New Zealand, the official airline of Middle-earth, is promoting its tie-in to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies with “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made.” Corresponding to the third film in the trilogy, the four-minute video is the sequel to Air New Zealand’s “An Unexpected Briefing” (2012) and “Just Another Day in Middle-Earth” (2013).

As two passengers decked out in gear from The Hobbit hurry to make their flight they sprint past the unlikeliest tribute ever to sport fishing in New Zealand and soon are aboard a flight with Sir Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood, listening to safety instructions from a variety of Elvish and wizardly personnel.

There are cameos by Sylvester McCoy (Radagast), Dean O’Gorman (Fili), Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor, the video’s director Taika Waititi and Japanese baseball player Naoyuki Shimizu.

The new video also makes the most ambitious use of locations to date, shot all over New Zealand, including the set of Hobbiton, and it features armies of costumed and CGI orcs and elves, as well as a giant eagle.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the link.]

On Which The Movie Was Based

Is it the perfect literary gift — or the gift for a perfect illiterate?

The amount of wordage devoted in this eBay advert for an autographed paperback of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to its being the basis for Peter Jackson’s trilogy could make you suspect the latter.

TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971. Ninth printing of the one volume paperback edition. Signed by the author J.R.R. Tolkien on the title page in blue ink. This copy was signed and given to Fred Archer, one of the movers, who moved Mr. Tolkien from Bournemouth to Merton Street in March 1972, an incident recorded in Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of Tolkien. A near fine bright copy with a hint of use in printed wrappers. The basis of the film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Ian Holm, and Christopher Lee. Peter Jackson won three Oscars in 2003 for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay for the third and final film ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’. Enclosed in a custom handsome dark green leather and cloth clamshell box

That newly-discounted $20,000 asking price still sounds too high for a pre-movie-novelization. Had the seller stopped after the reference to Humphrey Carpenter’s biography who knows how much high rollers might have paid?

Jackson Tells Third Hobbit Movie Title

Peter Jackson revealed on Facebook today that the title of the third film of The Hobbit has been changed to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, superseding a couple of other titles had been registered and discussed in the media.

Green Dragon’s reaction at The One Ring gave me a laugh. He wrote:

Personally, I’m disappointed that they didn’t go for The Beorn Ultimatum…

Hobbit Twacks!

The LOTR geneology project has created a visual aid for moviegoers…

Here are some choice links to stories inspired by the imminent release of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

(1) If you’re curious about the movie’s score, listen to the closing theme, ”Song of the Lonely Mountain” by Neil Finn.

(2) Christopher Tolkien’s first-ever press interview, published in Le Monde on July 9, is available online. Christopher is not a Peter Jackson enthusiast:

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”

This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

(3) I’m betting the Tolkien estate wishes it could inflict on Jackson the same fate a court just inflicted on Global Asylum’s faux Hobbit film:

A U.S. District Court in California granted a temporary restraining order on Monday preventing a parody of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” from going on sale three days before Peter Jackson’s movie opens in theaters nationwide.

Global Asylum, a film production company that makes parodies of blockbuster films, such as “Transmorphers” in place of ‘Transformers,” has made a parody of “The Hobbit” titled “Age of the Hobbits.” It was set to go on sale on DVD, Blu-Ray and online platforms December 11.

(4) Scholars interested in The Hobbit know all roads lead to… Milwaukee? Well, if not all roads, surely a superhighway or two. That’s home to Marquette University, where Christopher Tolkien deposited many of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original manuscripts:

Yes, Tolkien fans: the stories belong to the ages, but the manuscripts belong to Marquette University. It has been so since 1957, thanks to a very smart librarian, William Ready, who had been hired the year before to help fill a then-new Memorial Library. He approached the not-yet-famous Professor Tolkien through a British rare-book seller, struck a deal for less than $5,000, and in 1957 and 1958 the boxes from Oxford arrived: “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” in longhand drafts, typewritten manuscripts and page proofs, with revisions and rejected fragments, along with minor and then-unpublished texts and other papers. After the professor died in 1973, his son Christopher sent more papers still, until Marquette came to hold the vast machinery of Middle-earth in all its original parts, along with thousands of pages of articles, commentary and fan fiction — the vast forests and foothills of secondary scholarship now girding Mount Tolkien.

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster and Andrew Porter.]