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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Lord of the Rings opening altered
Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in the film
McKellen: Called back to New Zealand for extra filming
The opening sequence of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first instalment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has had to be re-shot.

Actor Sir Ian McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf, has revealed details of the film's progress on his website.

He said he was called back to New Zealand for additional filming, and that almost all of the film's dialogue has been re-recorded because the original sound studio was not sound-proof.

Trust me: it is magnificent

Sir Ian McKellen
The film - the first of three to be released over the next three years - is based on JRR Tolkien's epic novel and was filmed in New Zealand.

There will now be no prologue and it will begin the same way the book starts - with the 111th birthday of the adventurer Bilbo Baggins.

Sir Ian, who has starred in X-Men and Gods and Monsters, described the parts of the film he has seen as "magnificent".

"A prologue, with its stash of names and facts, can unnerve audiences and I am relieved that ours has gone," he wrote on his website.

"I had half-hoped to be shown the current version of The Fellowship of the Ring but there still isn't anything complete enough to be called a film.

Elijah Wood in The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring opens in December
"But it's been greatly reassuring... to be able to view the Gandalf scenes and to see how excitingly the story is being told and how movingly the characters relate to each other."

Actors Sean Bean, Ian Holm and Christopher Lee have re-recorded their dialogue in a studio in Soho, London, Sir Ian said.

Director Peter Jackson's production company Three Foot Six said "nobody really wants to talk about those things".

Sir Ian also revealed that 120 technicians are currently working on the special effects for the $90m (63.5m) film.

The only completed scene he saw was one of Sam and Frodo, played by Sean Astin and Elijah Wood, in a rowing boat.

"As the majestic Fellowship theme soared over the pictures and a plaintive flute and drums enchanted the ear, I heard and saw the first moment of completed film," he said.

"Trust me: it is magnificent."

A 25-minute clip was shown to cast members, film industry insiders and journalists at a chateau outside Cannes during the annual film festival in May.

The first completed version of the film will be ready "for inspection" by studio executives in June.

It will go on general release in December.

See also:

15 May 01 | Film
Cannes preview for Rings
11 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Online fans await Tolkien tale
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