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The Hobbit
Gandalf on Location
Bagshot Row Bulletin

Ian McKellen added to his Hobbit blog today. He gives fans a glimpse of what it has been like filming on location in New Zealand. His description of the landscape rivals Tolkien’s narratives in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. (Well… almost.) Here is a sample:

Our route is along rural roads over farmland and through the bush, not at all busy, and affording wondrous views.  Now, as spring settles in, lambs and calves galore chomp the growing green that reminds me of the Lake District, the national park back home in northwest England, where, so he told me, Edmund Hillary climbed for the first time after Everest.  The difference is that the British countryside up hill and down dale, has been ploughed over the centuries, tamed by hedges, fences, walls.  In New Zealand you can go for miles without sign of a human occupation, yet it often looks familiar, as if the props department had given a make-over to the Lakeland fells, the Welsh hills or the Scottish lowlands.

Then, round a bend in the empty road, without warning, a live volcano!  And another!  Then the curving, surfing coastline, thermal springs, the caves, the virgin forest!  God’s Own.  …much protected wilderness remains.  It’s as if New Zealand, overflowing with vegetation, looked even better for a trim.  From the air, the rolling fields of small farms (or stations, as they are called), are very beautiful, the result of laborious deforestation.

At the end of the blog entry, McKellen tells about filming in “Hobbiton,” joking about his future relationship with the tourist attraction.

Our first filming destination was Matamata, where eleven years ago Gandalf the Grey made his entrance into The Fellowship of the Ring, greeting Ian Holm’s Bilbo on the doorstep of Bag End.  The site has since been sign-posted as “Hobbiton”, where tourists in search of Middle-earth could ponder the paltry remnants of our filming, a couple of round green doors propped against the hillside.  That meant that the village had to be re-built and the gardens re-plotted for The Hobbit.

…it was nostalgic to clamber up the path that leads to Bag End where this time Martin Freeman’s Bilbo will be surprised by Gandalf. We filmed there for less than a week, this time leaving everything behind, so future visitors do not have to guess at but actually see Hobbiton in its glory.  They will even be able to get a snack at the Green Dragon.  Peter Jackson, who likes a laugh, suggested I take up residence as a tour guide in my blue pointy hat.   I’m thinking about it.

To view this blog entry in its entirety, follow this link: Moving On.


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