On October 9 and 10, 2009, Radio City Music Hall screened The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with live orchestral and vocal accompaniment. Live accompaniment allowed the audience to experience Peter Jackson’s work in a whole new way. The soundtrack felt brand new, the film pristine, the resultant experience a marriage of the immediacy of theater and the technical capabilities of cinema.
The event was a huge technical undertaking. The 21st Century Orchestra, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the Collegiate Chorale and soloist Kaitlyn Lusk had to coordinate their playing and singing precisely with the film projected behind them. The live music resonated in the cavernous hall of Radio City, rendering the film’s huge battle scenes more visceral and terrifying. Similarly, the film’s quiet moments were made all the more poignant for the clear voice of the two boy soloists, and the strong performance of Ms. Lusk, who wore an orange dress and sang in a clear, pure soprano.
The intensity of Howard Shore’s magnificent score almost overpowered the movie dialogue. As a remedy, the film was shown with subtitles, at times distracting but generally harmless. In fact, like reading song lyrics for the first time, the subtitles actually allowed the viewer to recognize bits of dialogue never heard properly before.
The audience, almost all fans who know the film, was enthusiastic to a fault, cheering and clapping, and even preempting many of the jokes. Applause erupted at the arrival of each beloved character and each pivotal moment in the film, infusing the evening with an intensity not to be found in any commonplace movie theater.
Elijah Wood and Howard Shore made surprise on-stage appearances on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, to the great joy of the crowd. Even better, though, was the image that appeared on the screen at the end of the performance:
I already have my tickets.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers will be performed at Radio City Music Hall on October 8 & 9, 2010. Tickets are on sale now at http://www.theradiocitylotrconcert.com.