The Ring Goes South

Indulge me a little.

It was this time many many years ago that the Fellowship of the Ring set out from the Last Homely House.

In honour of that anniversary - I'm a little behind on this, but I only recently discovered that Ian McKellen was blogging during the filming of The Lord of the Rings - I'd like to quote a little of Ian McKellen on the nature of Gandalf:

"I have never felt that these commercialisations of his image impinged on Gandalf himself. When I'm asked to sign Gandalf as well as my own name by importunate autograph hunters, I explain that Gandalf doesn't give autographs and I remember how Alistair Sim always refused, often really upsetting the juvenile with her album. If anyone persists I also explain that Gandalf isn't here with us. Last week I went on to say that Gandalf doesn't exist! Although of course he does.

Gandalf is a spirit, laid down in Tolkien's novels with love and respect. The wizard and his creator had more in common than a bowl of weed. Isn't Gandalf the old man that Tolkien (and many more of us) would like to be? I wouldn't mind having a few tricks like his up my sleeve and I would be pleased to have a life as active and fulfilled as Gandalf's. Is that why he is so beloved and respected by the readers and now the filmgoers?

I like him for his sense of humour and sense of occasion. I like his independence and need for company. Kids, some as young as five, look wonderingly up as their grandparents introduce us, searching for Gandalf in my face. I hope they feel as I did aged three sitting on Father Christmas's knee in the grotto of our local store in Wigan. I could see it was a cotton-wool beard and it didn't fit. This wasn't the real Santa Claus. He was elsewhere preparing my stocking. The real Gandalf is elsewhere and I bet those kids know it because they trust him and love him like their grandad." —Ian McKellen, October 2003

Now there's a character that lives on.


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