The Byrchen Twigges - "We Stuck Pointy Ears On and Hoped For The Best"
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"We Stuck Pointy Ears On and Hoped For The Best"
I'm catsitting for some friends who are off freezing in Christchurch for a week. They have a little silver Abysinnian who is so insanely affectionate he climbed on my shoulder and licked my head. They also have huge amounts of books, so I've borrowed Fat Wars, Lily Burana's Strip City, and Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety.

And today I saw the LOTR fan documentary, "Frodo is Great...Who Is That?"

This documentary was done with hip-indie flair. Loosely, it follows Brett McKenzie, the LOTR extra catapulted to fame as Figwit, as his fellow cast members, famous and not famous, observe his phenomenon, and what happens when he goes to the Edinburgh Festival to promote his comedy troupe "Flight of the Conchords" and meet up with some Figwit fans.

Brett himself remains a bit of a mystery, observed with both reserve and tongue in cheek, even as Ian McKellan notes remembering Brett with evident relish and his fellow elf extras shake their heads in amazement. The happy-to-mug-for-camera triumverate of Billy, Elijah, and Dom were commenting, Dom saying something along the lines of, "You work so hard to be an actor and then this sort of thing happens - to somebody else!" Barrie Osborne seemed happy at the extra ka-ching and buzz Figwit had generated and was interviewed at length. When Orlando Bloom was told some said Figwit was "the thinking woman's Legolas," he replied, laughing, "I hope the thinking women enjoy him!" Peter Jackson had the completely deadpan air of a British humorist blended with an introvert who's been asked to be a People Person one too many times. He accused Figwit of ringlust and villany and then said, "The elves didn't really do it for me. We stuck pointy ears on these guys and hoped for the best. The girls seem to like them." His bandmates agreed, noting that at one concert the women had voted Brett the sexiest of everyone on stage - seeing his rather appealing bandmates, this is startling! "They voted Brett the sexiest and we were like, what, this little pixie guy?"

The fans come across very well, too, with all the Figwit devotees having a sense of humor and being charming and balanced, even when the embarrasing subject of elf porn is brought up (illustrated by a demure piece of Earendil/some redheaded dame fan art, of all things.) Extensive shots from fan web sites and pieces of fan art were incorporated into the film without being dull. Is this the future of web site documentaries? We will see. The most awkward sequence was Brett's visit to the Scottish Fellowship; it was there that the fans had the dreamy nerdiness that makes some people itch. Perhaps it was because Brett's host had almost wallpapered her living room in LOTR movie materials and was wearing elf ears. Brett is shown handling these people gently and dealing graciously overall with his somewhat awkward fame, but I've heard through the local grapevine that he's very shy and antsy when he encounters this sort of thing in Wellington, where he lives.

Overall, it was very charming - another LOTR documentary that it's a pity isn't more widely available. (Also, it turned out that the Black Seeds were playing at the Wellington ROTK premiere and I was so sunbaked and tired at that point that I wasn't paying any attention.)

The directors were there, again (go New Zealand film festival!) and answered questions. They got their entree to meet all these people because they had worked on the techincal side of the movie. There aren't any plans to take the movie to DVD immediately; the film is going to other film festivals around the world, so stay tuned; and, most interesting of all, they're talking about showing the film on TV here in NZ.
furius From: furius Date: July 24th, 2004 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was there when it happened at TORn as this lovely in-joke. It's kind of scary upon reflection....
tyellas From: tyellas Date: July 24th, 2004 11:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Erica Challis of TORN was interviewed in the movie, at two separate times. By the time the Figwit phenomenon was posted, TORN knew their in-jokes were making 95,000 people a day chortle.
lavenderfrost From: lavenderfrost Date: July 25th, 2004 12:34 am (UTC) (Link)
FIGWIT!!! EEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...*ahem* [/fangirling]

I'm quite interested in seeing that documentary. *grin*
tyellas From: tyellas Date: July 25th, 2004 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)
And lots of other background elves too!

It's a very educational experience that illustrates important points about shared communities and culture-making on the Web. I recommend it.
lavenderfrost From: lavenderfrost Date: July 25th, 2004 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG teh HOTNESS!!! *swoons*

And I've heard from others that it illustrates perfectly how unpredictable the fandom-subculture phenomena really is.

I mean, really - who could have have known that it would be "Figwit" that garnered so much attention and gained his own mini-fandom?
elenbarathi From: elenbarathi Date: July 25th, 2004 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, Figwit... *swoonTHUD!*... I love the dark-haired ones. Such a pity Elladan and Elrohir were not in the movies; I really missed them.
tyellas From: tyellas Date: July 25th, 2004 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
In one scene in the movie we got to watch Brett McKenzie go through the makeup process to be Figwit for his scene with Arwen. It was highly amusing to see this skinny Wellington hipster dude assume the airbrushed graciousness of an elf. Yes, he's handsome, but he owes that wig a good deal!
elsereg From: elsereg Date: July 25th, 2004 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am counting on you as a source of info: If this documentary ever makes it into commercial distribution, I hope you'll hear about it and let the rest of us not living in New Zealand know about it.

Sounds like you had a great time watching it. I shall admit to envy.
tyellas From: tyellas Date: July 25th, 2004 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I promise I'll keep you updated - if it does wind up on TV here I'll dust off my set and tape it.
elsereg From: elsereg Date: July 26th, 2004 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would be very happy to pay you for a tape and shipping if that occurance were to happen. And I would be a very happy person.

Thanks so much for providing your detailed review as well. I really enjoyed reading about the documentary, even if I was unable to see it.
tyellas From: tyellas Date: July 27th, 2004 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll keep my eyes open and make a tape if I'm able to. Hopefully you will see it one day!
robidougge From: robidougge Date: July 26th, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now I finally know what the hell Figwit stands for.

Now, as for the documentary (or should I say documentaries, since I will be watching for all of the ones you have mentioned so far), I'll be keeping my eyes peeled at the local art theatres around the LA/Pasadena area.
charmion From: charmion Date: July 31st, 2004 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey! I came here through someone else's friendspage, then I saw this post. There's a friend of mine in this documentary somewhere, and I know they were wondering if it would ever get made. It's great to see it was and it turned out so well, too. The whole Figwit-phenomenon... still think it's one of the funniest things in fandom, and they seem to have captured the spirit of it. 'The thinking woman's Legolas'?! That cracked me up.

I really hope to see it some day.
13 strokes of the birch or Flog away!
The Clerke
User: tyellas
Name: Tyellas
Website: Ansereg
Why Byrchen Twigges?
"I fayne would be a clerke
And yet it is a strange werke
The byrchen twigges, they be so sharpe
It mayketh me to have a faynt heart
And naught availeth me if I say nay."

14th century folk song, The Schoolboy's Lament
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