Location Scouting for Middle Earth: The Hobbit Blog part 2

I’ve been covering the production of The Hobbit filmed by Peter Jackson as an example of something that is of quality observed before its actual creation, the evidence of that quality can be seen clearly in the web blog below. For a review of the previous posting (CLICK HERE). In this episode Jackson has finished his first block of shooting and the cast is being allowed to break while the crew continues on with their tasks. What is particularly interesting in this episode is again the relaxed manner of the production and extreme efficiency. Many people do not realize how much effort goes into location scouting. After the crew leaves on their respective vacations Jackson and the rest of the crew grab some helicopters and head off to scout out the second block of shooting. This is an ominous task in a remote location such as New Zealand because as Jackson states, they will have to supply trailers, restrooms, catering tents and other none shooting items that will fill two football fields with crew and other personnel.

This is a wonderful video that once again shows why Peter Jackson is currently the best in the business. All this behind the scenes stuff will do nothing to harm the final impression of the film, because the goal of the production is to shoot scenes that hide everything shown in these video clips with the content of the story. It is hard to see an endless supply of mountain ranges and pick the proper shots that fit perfectly into the context of a story created by J.R.R. Tolkien many years ago, yet the crew is doing just that with great attention to detail.

I cover extensively at this site films that are literary adaptations, and they are hard to translate. I have openly supported the film version of Atlas Shrugged which can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

Also we have covered A Brave New World which can be seen by CLICKING HERE. (The whole movie can actually be seen at this link)

Both of those film adaptations suffer greatly by the weight of the mighty books. Great works of literature such as those are very, very difficult to translate into film. The film versions leave something to be desired because in the mind of the reader, it is very difficult to capture the essence of what images are painted across the mind conjured up by the words. Even the Harry Potter films suffered from this to some extent even with the big budget attempt. Brave New World and Atlas Shrugged have so many characters and the scope of the work is so vast that the production value comes across almost like a television show. The essence of the story still gets conveyed, but the theater experience as a separate entity does suffer.

In Tolkien’s work, which I find particularly attractive, the characters are smart. The wizards are wise, they read big ancient books, and the hobbits are cultured. So the detail to capture on film requires literally thousands upon thousands of craftsman to supply that added texture which Jackson effortlessly incorporates into his film version. The ability to juggle all these tasks while flying in a helicopter and finding just the right shots to reflect what Tolkien intended in literature, which will be ridiculed by a loving public all of whom interpreted the information independently, and is a truly laborious task. But as seen in that clip, Jackson is on top of every aspect of the production like a man who has already been there and done it. Yet he is doing it in the present.

It’s the mind of Jackson that makes this adaption of The Hobbit head and shoulders above similar attempts. I enjoy the effort that goes into just about any film, but one of such quality like The Hobbit begin and end on the set with the smallest detail and being at the front of the train in thinking.

Another interesting fragment to be taken from this short clip is the crew who left for vacation. One of the reasons that those who work in the film business tend to not be much grounded in a political philosophy is because they do travel the world so much and touch so many cultures while shooting on location. They are not particularly in love with capitalism or socialism or any variation in between. They just want to know when they get paid, and if they can get in and out of an airport. Political philosophy is up to “other people.” It works well for their nomadic lifestyles but caution should be used when listening to these actors when they give interviews and they are asked political questions. Chances are they don’t know much about politics. They might know something about Obama because they were invited to a fund raiser and had the opportunity to meet him, so in relation to other politicians, they probably don’t know much about what’s going on and will support Obama—because they shook his hand. Actors tend to become absorbed in whatever project they are working on, so the outside world gets lost to them.

Personally, I find these little breaks into the world of Peter Jackson’s production of The Hobbit to be welcome voyages into a land I wish so much the rest of the world could conceive. In films the cast and crew work so hard to make an idea come to life. The idea might be a fantasy about Hobbits, Wizards and dragons, but the reality is a group of individuals who make those ideas into a story that reflects the vision. Films—particularly ones adapted from classic literature are about big ideas that must be turned from a fantasy into a reality by minds that have so much vision that they can spot the elements in the randomness of the living world. And that is a talent worth celebrating as the quest for revisiting the wonders of Middle-Earth presses upon us in the months to come.

Rich Hoffman


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