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Journey to the Middle Earth

Adi Bloom reports on an exhibition examining the technology used to create The Lord of the Rings

Visitors to London's Science Museum will be able to discover how full-sized actors are transformed into metre-high hobbits, in an exhibition which brings Middle Earth to Kensington.

The Lord of the Rings exhibition will open in the London museum in September. Through a series of interactive displays, the exhibition aims to demonstrate the technology behind the Oscar-winning cinema trilogy.

Sponsored by New Line Cinema, the exhibition's developers were given unique access to film props, prosthetics and scenery. Mannequins of film characters will wear costumes seen on screen. The display will also include models of Frodo and the hobbits, all just over 1m tall.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to discover the technology that allows full-size actors to appear hobbit-sized on screen, and to try shrinking to a similar size themselves.

They will also learn how actors are transformed into Middle-Earth life forms, such as the monstrous orcs, courtesy of a range of prosthetic body suits which take 11 hours to put together.

Jon Tucker, head of the Science Museum, said: "The Lord of the Rings has pushed the science of film-making to the limit.

"We hope to give a behind-the-scenes look at the science and technology that made the trilogy possible."

Many science teachers are hoping that the exhibition's connection with the award-winning films will help to generate greater classroom enthusiasm for their subject.

Derek Bell, chief executive of the Association of Science Education, said:

"We want to find innovative ways to encourage people to take an interest in science.

"Linking with something like The Lord of the Rings gets children to engage with science ideas.

"But there needs to be a balance between informal enrichment and the formal curriculum."

The exhibition at the Science Museum will run from September 16 until January 11. The final film in the trilogy, The Return of the King, will be released on December 17.

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