Legolas, You're Just So Darn...CUTE!
When I first saw Orlando Bloom dressed as Legolas, I said to myself right then and there, "That is the DEFINITIVE Legolas." A lot of people complained about the blond hair. Why is he blond? Almost overnight, the Great Hair Color Debate raged across the Internet. What color should Legolas' hair be?
The book doesn't say and, quite frankly, I never really cared that much, although I always pictured him as being dark-haired myself. Why? No idea. That's just the way I saw him...until Orlando Bloom (who is himself dark-haired) stepped into the pointy shoes of nearly every Tolkien fan's favorite Elf (in the movies).
Luthien has always been my favorite Elf, but I liked Beleg, too. Of course, my favorite Tolkien story is the tale of Luthien and Beren. But Legolas is an enigma. A lot of people have devoted a great deal of time to trying to figure him out. The color of his hair isn't the only question people have asked about him. How old is he? Is he married? Does he have any brothers or sisters? Was he at the Battle of Five Armies?
The answers to all these questions are: Don't know. What do you think? and Whatever you want the answer to be.
Tolkien at one point said of Legolas that, of all the members of the Fellowship, the Elf had achieved the least. Many people have disagreed with Tolkien about that assessment. After all, Gimli didn't bring down any flying Nazgul. Nor, for that matter, did Aragorn or Boromir. Even Meriadoc only earned honorable mention for sneaking up behind the Lord of the Nazgul and stabbing him in the rear of the leg. Of course, Legolas didn't kill the Nazgul (he was dead already) -- just the flying steed.
Now, as a Liv Tyler fan, I often imagined she would steal the movie, even if she was in it for only a few minutes. Reading the critical reviews of her performance over the past few weeks, I think Liv has done as well as anyone other than Orlando Bloom. She surprised a lot of people. But though my Liv Tyler page is Xenite.Org's busiest 1-page site (and is probably the second busiest Tolkien site on Xenite.Org), I had no idea of what to expect from Orlando Bloom's fandom.
Well, I knew they were trying to start an official fan club. And I had visited the Bloomin' Marvellous fan site before Angelfire shut it down for using too much bandwidth. Orly's fans are quite devoted. (NOTE: Bloomin' Marvellous is now located at www.crosswinds.net/~orlandobloomfans.)
When I wrote my review of the movie last month, I heard from a couple of flamers, as I expected, over the tobacco comment I included. But if they were hoping for a long, drawn-out exchange, they were sadly disappointed. I think I responded to one, and had to let his last message go without further reply. You see, I was too busy reassuring anxious young maidens that their beloved Elf warrior would indeed return in the next two installments of the Orlando Bloom Saga.
What, exactly, is it about Legolas which sparked such intense interest? I've thought about starting a poll, but I'm not sure the server has been built which could handle the traffic. Xenite.Org's traffic tripled in December. I have no idea of where the bandwidth will stop flowing for January, but my Web-hosting ISP has already informed me that I won't be renewing on my current contract when it runs out in February.
And I don't even have much Legolas content. I've thought about creating some. But I'm not sure I could afford the hosting fees if I did that. Legolas is an incredible phenomenon. If you visit our Lord of the Rings movie news site, you'll see in the left-hand margin a box with images of posters from the movie.
These images are randomly rotated. Fortunately for me, they are also served by AllPosters. That means they have to pay for the bandwidth the images use. Now, in about two weeks (after the movie started), we generated over 5,000 click-throughs on those banner images. If you know anything about Internet advertising, then you know those 5,000+ click-throughs were just a tiny fraction of the traffic we got on those LoTR pages. Nonetheless, 40% of them were for one poster: Legolas.
If AllPosters could have kept Legolas in stock, I could have set up a dedicated server on January 1 just for Legolas. Regrettably, the poster kept selling out. It continues to sell out. I suspect it sells out faster than anything else in their inventory, or close to that. I finally told AllPosters to just order a truckload of the posters -- I'll find a way to sell them.
While I was soothing adolescent nerves and pleading with AllPosters to restock Legolas so we could all make millions of dollars, the two people who oversee Xenite.Org's forums (which are now SF-FANDOM) politely informed the Xenite.Org administrators list that, oh yes, we now have an Orlando Bloom forum. It seems the young ladies had hijacked our Lord of the Rings movie forum and were squeezing out all the other discussion.
And that's a pretty active forum even without Orly threads.
The Orlando Bloom movie, "The Fellowship of the Ring", is a classic example of the "If we had only known" kind of marketing disaster that companies dread. No one, and I mean no one, had any idea of how popular this character would become. I'm not sure we'll have any clear idea for several months. Is it just Orlando-as-Legolas or will "Black Hawk Down" sell out week-after-week simply because Elf-boy is in it?
I mean no disrespect to either Orlando or his multitudes of fans. I wish I could satisfy all the requests for more information about both Legolas and Orlando Bloom. Well, actually, I do have some information about the lad.
Is there an official Web site yet? Not that I have found (although I did confuse Orlando with Billy Boyd on one occasion -- but I've learned my lesson). Billy Boyd has his own Web site, not Orlando. Mea Culpa.
Does Orlando have a girlfriend? Yes. And if she doesn't appreciate what she's got, well, Orly, I think I can introduce you to a lot of eager young ladies.
Do people recognize him on the street? Apparently not. In a recent interview, Mr. Bloom said that, without his blond wig, he's apparently just another young guy walking down the street. People don't notice him. Well, I don't think that will last long. Orlando Bloom will probably be the Tom Cruise of the early 21st century.
Does Legolas die in the next movie? No. Why would anyone think that? So, those of you who saw the movie ten times the first weekend, you'd better start saving up for next December. And he'll be in the third movie, too.
Does Legolas get to do more in the next two movies? Well, I certainly hope so. Frankly, from what I hear, the "Fellowship of the Ring" DvD will have about 4-1/2 hours of footage. If the people at New Line Cinema have any marketing savvy at all, they'll be on the phone to Peter Jackson demanding that he release four more movies (instead of just two) and ensure that Legolas appears in all of them. They have the footage. They have the Elf. They have NO EXCUSES, and they'll please a lot of people while making twice as much money as they had anticipated.
Can devoted fans write to Orlando? So I'm told, but I make no guarantees. Try these two addresses:
Orlando Bloom c/o ICM Oxford House 76 Oxford Street London W1N 0AX England
Orlando Bloom c/o Artists Management Group 9465 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills CA 90212 USA
I don't know if you can ask for autographed photos. Nor do I know if it's okay to send Orlando pictures of yourselves. You have to be brave, ladies, and just do what your heart tells you. I hope he is ready for the stampede, because it's well underway.
And what did Orlando do before they gave him his own fantasy movie trilogy? Well, according to the Official Movie Guide, when he was sixteen, he spent two seasons at the National Youth Theater (in the UK) and then moved on to London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He appeared in several plays there, then got a brief role in the movie "Wilde" (about 19th century writer Oscar Wilde's public disgrace), and finally moved on to a television show called Midsomer Murders.
Finally, what was Orlando's favorite passtime while he was filming "The Lord of the Rings"? From what I hear, bungee jumping. I've thrown myself off a tower, too. It can be a very unnerving experience. E! Online's Force of Hobbit says Orlando couldn't stay away from the ropes. He's a man's Elf.
And that is all I know about Orlando Bloom, give or take an idle fact or two I may have forgotten. I really do know more about Legolas than about Orlando, but I've already written as much about Legolas as I know, too.
And speaking of Legolas...oh, yes. Orlando plays a character named Legolas in these movies Peter Jackson put together for him. How much like Tolkien's Legolas is Peter Jackson's Legolas? I've been asked that, actually. I noted in my review how spectacular Sir Ian McKellen is as Gandalf. I think he's absolutely fantastic as Gandalf. Well, I can honestly say the same thing about Orlando Bloom. He's absolutely fantastic as Legolas.
I think he comes as close to portraying a Tolkien Legolas as any actor alive today would be capable of doing. Are there differences between the film character and the book? Yes. Legolas in the movie is not quite as reserved as Legolas in the book. The Legolas in the book is a bit playful and mischievous. The whole quest thing is almost like a holiday for him.
The movie Legolas is so darned serious. I can see why all the girls like him. They want to soothe his brow, massage his shoulders, help him relax. And yet, he moves with the grace of a cat. And that walk is something Orlando says he practiced. He put a lot of time and thought into figuring out what Legolas' movement should be like. It was time well-spent.
But let's not forget that Legolas is strong, loyal, dedicated, and he kills Orcs really, really fast.
Legolas is a very violent character in the movie. He's deadly, cold, and calculating when he confronts Orcs. But he also has some interesting reactions. One of the odder parts of the movie occurs in the council of Elrond, when all the Elves and Dwarves start yelling at each other. There is nothing like this in the book. No Tolkien Elf or Dwarf would behave that way. Not under such circumstances.
But when that little guy steps forward and offers to accompany Legolas on his heroic journey (or was it the other way around?), Gimli offers his axe. And just a that moment, you see the Look on Legolas' face. He realizes that this really isn't HIS movie. He actually seems to panic for the briefest moment.
Well, people thought it was a funny look, and obviously all the shouting was intended to give Orlando an opportunity to ham it up in his movie. I think he did a good job.
That scene, by the way, is the one I referred to when I said that Legolas gave Gimli a priceless look. I've been asked about that comment quite a bit.
I wish I did know how old Legolas was supposed to be. For the movie, they decided he was 2931 years old. Where did they come up with that age? No idea. It has no relevance to any published Tolkien text of which I am aware.
But, I doubt anyone will care much. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to answer some email.
Michael Martinez is the author of Visualizing Middle-earth, which may be purchased directly from Xlibris Corp. or through any online bookstore. You may also special order it from your local bookstore. The ISBN is 0-7388-3408-4.
And be sure to download your free copy of Parma Endorion: Essays on Middle-earth, 3rd edition at Free-eBooks.Net!