Well I got to the Lord of the Rings exhibition yesterday, and I must say it was pretty cool.
They make you earn the right to enter the exhibit by being corralled into a line area that looks like the Mines of Moria (sort of) and then someone tortures you by asking trivia questions about LOTR. These are mostly from the books so you have two kinds of people answering. There are the people who brought their Elvish dictionary to translate the inscriptions in the exhibit. These people yell out the answers before the questions are finished being asked. Then there are the people who have barely seen the films and they answer with things such as “Alec Baldwin” or “peanut butter” in an ill-fated attempt to be funny. I am neither of these types of people, so after a (long) while the question time mercifully ended, and I was allowed inside.
The exhibit is, as I say, pretty cool. There is an area for each character with costumes and props. Some really big models, and a gallery of armor and weapons. In an attempt to be somewhat educational, there are ‘interpreters’ walking around explaining about how steel and chain mail are made, what spiders are like and so on. These are disturbingly popular with people. That was one thing that annoyed me. The other is that at each ‘station’ there was a video screen basically playing some of the extra stuff from the special edition DVDs. People would stand in throngs in front of the ‘station’ and watch these things. They would do so to the point of blocking the actual costumes and props I had come to see. This really pissed me off. I mean, I didn’t pay 20 bucks to stand around and watch stuff with a bunch of people I don’t know. I came to see cool stuff from the films.
Other than those minor wrinkles the exhibit was very interesting.
However, the ‘gift shop’, how shall we say, sucked ass big-time. They had hobbit feet. To wear over your own feet. They had tins with character’s images on them attached to key chains for some inexplicable reason. They had the obligatory copies of the books, and various other roadside souvenir stand junk. Very disappointing indeed. I toyed breifly with buying the gollum mask, but then thought better of it and bought a copy of Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of Professor Tolkien (which I own, but it is in very sorry shape, and needed replacing).
So there you have it. I recommend the exhibit, just be prepared to edge around fools watching TV as coolness occurs about them. And bring some extra cash for hobbit feet and gollum masks.