'Fellowship of the Ring' at Radio City Music Hall: High-class geekery

lord-of-the-rings_l1Last night, NYC’s Radio City Music Hall played host to a screening of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Which would’ve been awesome enough by itself, given that Radio City is a fantastic place to see a film, and I haven’t seen Fellowship on a big screen since its initial 2001 release. But what made it super special was that Howard Shore’s score was performed, live, by a 300-person orchestra, along with a massive choir.

The movie remains as majestic as it ever was — but watching it with a crowd who knew every beat (and some of whom were dressed as their favorite elves or wizards), applauded at every major character introduction (it was a loudness-tie between Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn and Orlando Bloom’s Legolas) and minor cameo (like Jackson’s), and knew when to laugh and then shut up was a hoot and a half. Add to that the spectacle of the live orchestra — and if you’ve never seen one, I can’t recommend it highly enough; an orchestra that knows their stuff is like a massive joy machine, one with hundreds of moving parts, all working in concert — and it was terrific night at the theater.

After the two-and-a-half hours of Fellowship came to an end and the orchestra took their final bows, composer Howard Shore walked out on stage, accompanied by two special guests: Elijah Wood and Billy Boyd. And they looked just as tickled by the evening as the rest of us. Too bad we’ve got to wait until Oct. 9, 2010 to see The Two Towers in the same fashion at Radio City.

While this wasn’t my favorite big-screen moviegoing experience — that’d be seeing Serenity at a San Diego Comic-Con screening, introduced by Joss Whedon, with an audience who sang the Firefly theme song while waiting — but it was in the top 5, for sure. What’s yours?

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  • superso

    cool! i’m so jealous! maybe i should plan a trip out to ny for “the two towers”…

    • superso

      oh! i forgot to answer the question: one of my favorite movie-going experience has to be when i saw “zoolander” at a midnight screening a couple years ago. it was so much fun to watch it with other ppl who knew most of the dialogue and to laugh hysterically together. i know, not the greatest movie, but it is one of those movies that’s best enjoyed on a random late night. it’s like it’s so bad, it’s good, you know?

  • T-rav

    -Return of the King (I love when people applause during the movie, like when Legolas killed that giant elephant)
    -Miami Vice (Saw it in Miami, go figure)
    -The Dark Knight in Imax(The second time, first time some kid had a seisure, they had to stop and re-start half-way through)
    -Star Trek (Again with the applause)
    -King Kong (I almost cried it was so perfect)

  • Dani

    I cannot WAIT until tonight. I missed FOTR on the big-screen the first time, so I fully expect to be blown away(hello, big screen plus live orchestra?) at Radio City.

  • Amelia

    I’m with you on that, superso.

    I love the score, and to hear it live along with the film would be amazing.

  • oneeyedblog.net

    I’m very jealous of you Marc. That would have been just awesome to watch. I was a manager at a local 10 screen movie theater for 6 years. I also was a theater manager at a popular film festival for two years and I have to say one of my favorite moviegoing experiences was working the opening weekend for all three LOTR films. The great part though is always being able to watch the movie the night before with friends and family at the employee screening.

  • Eve

    That sounds awesome! I would have loved to see that!

    My three best movie going experiences would have to be (in no particular order):

    -Going to see the Sing-a-long Sound of Music with my parents and my sister when I was little. My sister and I won the costume contest cause my mom found material that looked exactly like the curtains from the movie. Perfect play clothes!

    -Also Serenity. I went to it on opening night, and never before had I been in an audience with such unity as this. The gasping and laughter and cheering were all so in sync, it felt like we all had the same brain! It was so cool!

    -I went to see the 6th Harry Potter film with two of my friends. We went in full costume, including one of my friends who borrowed parts of one of my old Halloween costume to become “sexy Hedwig” and me who, as Luna Lovegood, made my own necklace out of wine corks.

  • Tegan Jovanka

    My favorite experience at the movies was seeing the extended versions of “Fellowship” and “Two Towers” and the premiere of “Return of the King” all in the same day.

    • Jackie

      I would have to say one of my favourite movie-going experiences was when the extended versions of FOTR and The Two Towers were shown for one week each leading up to the release of ROTR, at the Arclight Hollywood. I took my daughter to Fellowship as she had been a little too young to see it on the big screen the first time around. She wore her Legolas costume! Then at the showing of ROTR we had an unexpected guest introduction. Dominic Monaghan had been browsing at Omeoba Records next door and decided to ‘pop in’ to see us! Magic.

      • Jackie

        Also I love the ‘Can’t Stop the Serenity’ screenings that are organised each year to raise money for Joss’s charity of choice – Equality Now. If you’ve never been to one I would highly recommend it.

  • Ken

    I was there last night, and “a hoot and a half” is a good way to describe watching how much fun the audience had!

  • paige

    dammit i’m going to tonites show and ill be pissed if Howard Shore isnt there!

  • Moni

    of course my favorite moviegoing experience was in Lucerne, Switzerland, in the choir for FOTR and TTT!! And next February we’ll do Return of the King, that will be heaven.

  • LOTRnycfan

    I attended Friday night’s performance and was slightly disappointed. The orchestral and choir performance was exceptional, however, this still being a movie experience – the audio soundtrack failed on a certain level. I’m sure the live symphony and audio dialogue were priorities for the performance, but all other sound effects – notably during action sequences (high pitched Nazgul, troll roars, arrows whizzing) – were diminished, tarnishing the viewing experience. Apparently, some of the sound levels on certain effects were barely audible, and movie viewing lacked a certain “punch” when seen in a regular theater. The event failed in this manner, and couldve given first-time viewers (if any) a truly wonderful MOVIE experience. Anyways, for next year for the TWO TOWERS performance – I wanna HEAR the wall EXPLODE at Helms Deep as well as all those swords clashing and the wargs GROWL!

    • Sandy

      Is that possible, I also noted the decrease in sound effects and assumed it was because it had to be somewhat muted with the music, do those two tracks oc sound occupy the same part of the sound track making it impossible to mute one without the other. I have to say though it did not in any way diminish the journey back to Middle Earth.

  • DE

    How wonderful!! Is this special showing coming to the Heartland? Specifically Chicago??

    I saw “Lawrence of Arabia” in ’89 when it was re-released, and it was fabulous!

    • John

      DE: A similar concert will take place in Grand Rapids, MI next weekend. The weekend performance is shown up, but you can buy tickets to attend the rehearsal on Thursday.

  • Artemis

    I almost died when the sign for next year;s TT came out, followed by the Hobbit guests. If you haven’t been to a symphony of Shore’s LotR music (minus the movie), I recommend that, too. Both were amazing evenings for me. Best movie experience ever.

  • a person

    best movie veiwing experience was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (I was 11 and it was for my birthday party so it was pretty much the coolest thing ever), than followed by Half Blood Prince(where people performed the Misterious Ticking Noise, and everyone booed when New Moon’s trailer came on, and some random guy yelled EDWARD IS HOT! which made it very entertaining and everyone quoted the book when a certain part of the movie came on) but i wish i could’ve gone and saw the LOTR at Radio City music hall!

  • Cassie

    I go to UC Berkeley, and we have screenings of movies every Friday night or so. Last week it was Star Trek, and it was extremely entertaining. Everyone cheered when John Cho came onscreen because he is a Berkeley alum (as is Chris Pine, as it turns out, although no one seems to know that).
    Everyone roared at all the funny parts. The funniest part of all, though, was when someone thought that Nero said the f-word when he screamed, “SPOCK!” so everyone was silent and kind of excited. College students love swearing.

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