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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 2:51 am 
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The age of New Zealand as Middle-earth is coming to an end. For more than fifteen years those far distant islands in the South Pacific were home to Tolkien’s world. The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy contained countless of beautiful landscape shots and even the “Hobbit” films managed to bring Middle-earth to life that way.

Strangely enough, German-French TV channel “Arte” released a five-part documentary about New Zealand this year, containing countless of hauntingly beautiful landscape shots. I especially recommend parts two and four of the series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Frajso0lrns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrXHnmUKAqU

The whole series is called “Neuseeland von oben” – New Zealand from above. Normally I would post the English version but for once I find the English narrator very annoying.

(Apologies, if this does not warrant a new threat)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 6:39 am 
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Of course it warrants a new thread! Thank you for posting those links, Beutlin.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:55 pm 
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Very nice! Many of the shots are far more beautiful than the ones in the films, actually. ;)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:51 pm 
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Passdagas the Brown wrote:
Very nice! Many of the shots are far more beautiful than the ones in the films, actually. ;)


I think that especially applies to the “Hobbit” films although even those two movies contained a couple of very effective landscape shots. The “Lord of the Rings” effectively used the landscape of New Zealand to bring Middle-Earth to life. I think Jackson missed the opportunity in the “Hobbit” films to expand on that. Take for example the stone-giants-scene.

Nevertheless, I will still congratulate Jackson on his ability to create countless of wonderful shots. Another filmmaker who is very good at “nature shots” is Scottish director Kevin Macdonald. He used to make several documentaries in the 90s and early 00s. His 2011 film “The Eagle” is great in that sense. While one might criticize the script (and possibly acting) of said film, Macdonald manages to create several shots which transport you back into time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbBVbxYbzVE

(The clip is dubbed in Italian. I could not find the original version.)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:09 am 
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LOTR was much better, in that respect, but even in those films I never got the sense that Peter really thought a lot about how to shoot nature. His swooping helicopter shots, for example, often made the landscapes seem smaller and less majestic, because we were viewing them from the air, and moving at high speed. These also gave the impression of a fast-moving helicopter POV, which always took me out of the films. I think filmmakers like Terrence Malick, David Lean and Akira Kurosawa really know/ knew how to film nature in a way that captured its beauty. PJ, IMO, was mostly just lucky to be filming in a beautiful place (though I give him credit for great shots in Rohan, Gondor and Mordor, and a few moments around Beorn's House and the slopes of the Lonely Mountain),


Last edited by Passdagas the Brown on Fri Nov 21, 2014 6:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:51 am 
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Or, PJ's filmmaking style isn't to your taste, but still is very good. The beacons scene, for instance, is a brilliant, beautifully shot scene regardless of the fact that it is not your cup of tea.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 6:06 am 
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I love the beacons scene. That scene is one of my above-mentioned "great shots" in Rohan and Gondor. But IMO, the great landscape shots were outnumbered by uninspired ones.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:04 pm 
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I'm pretty sure you have criticized the beacons scene before because of its use of overhead helicopter shots and its "overbearing" music. But maybe I'm thinking of different curmudgeon. ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:23 pm 
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Passdagas the Brown wrote:
...though I give him credit for great shots in Rohan, Gondor and Mordor...



So, like, about half the trilogy then. Gotcha. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 4:56 am 
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yov,

Some great shots in those places. :)

But even if I thought half the trilogy was shot well, that leaves a whole five hours' worth of it that I thought sucked. ;)

V-man,

That wasn't me. The helicopter shots were OK in that scene, because they didn't speed along at the pace of a jet-plane, and the lighting was gorgeous. I do think the music could have been more subdued, but I certainly didn't hate it. I've occasionally posted lists of a few of my favorite scenes from LOTR (which is a lot longer than some might think), and that one always makes the list. I'll also remind you that some of my favorite shots in cinema can be found in the LOTR films. But some great shots do not great films make, IMO.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 5:12 am 
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Well, I criticized it because I refuse to believe that it was impossible to have sweeping, gorgeous landscapes where it actually makes sense to place a beacon. :3face:

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‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 5:24 am 
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Yes, the above the cloud cover issue. :) But I can forgive that logical problem because of the sheer beauty of those shots. Plus, there's something strangely wonderful about those beacons being up that high, with people manning them day and night. Loved the little touch of the stone huts.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:22 am 
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Eh, if I had the set of mind that allowed me to enjoy pretty pictures that don't make sense, I would have ended up in a different career. And probably with a different attitude toward mind-altering substances other than books. :pancake:

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‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:33 am 
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In the arts, "logic" is not the most important ingredient, IMO.

And if you look closely at the left-most cloud in the shot of the third beacon, you will note a strange resemblance to a pancake-helmeted bunny. And the whole sequence syncs up perfectly with the third track of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 4:45 pm 
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The pancake helmet is the only redeeming feature of that scene. :P

Speaking in general, though - I agree with you that logic is not a required element of art. But I do insist on making sense, within itself, which is less of an imposed order and more of... a skeleton. Logic is not necessarily sensible. It's a process that can start with snails in mailboxes and end with putting in mongooses to attack snakes you put in to eat the frogs you put in to get rid of snails, step by logical step. (Going Postal, Pratchett) And it makes perfect sense for the character in question to be that logical.

Come to think, maybe it does make sense for the Gondorians to make a useless beacon like that, given that they are consistently shown to have the intelligence and initiative of a felt boot.

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‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 4:55 pm 
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Haha! Agreed. Though I felt the Gondorians seemed to be as bright as wet toiler paper, which is less generous than "a felt boot."

In general, I agree with you. Especially when you are creating a mythical world. Internal consistency is important, as is verisimilitude. In that sense, I really hate the gravity-defying dwarves of the Hobbit films. But beacons above cloud cover is not physically impossible, so it doesn't take me out of the film. It's simply not a very logical place to put beacons. And as you say, the Gondorians are all a bunch of felt boots, so what do they know?

But of course, the beacon system seems to have worked...Perhaps their keepers have magical powers, and can see through thick clouds?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 5:41 pm 
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Climate change had simply altered weather patterns since the time of its construction and heavy clouds and fogs had become more frequent occurrences than in the Numenorian heyday.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 5:45 pm 
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Good point. Lots of erupting volcanoes in Middle Earth, it seems, so that could have contributed to the changing climate. And perhaps Sandyman's mill emitted more carbon pollution than has been previously reported.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:26 am 
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Reading about the lighting of the beacons - one of my favourite scenes, which invariably inspires the old longing - has determined me to watch the films again. I'm going to do that during my holidays, I'm going to dedicated a whole day to watching the extended edition trilogy. I'm excited about it already!

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:46 pm 
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It's a sad news but I think this thread is the most appropriate to post about it.

Dave Cromer, the location scout for LotR and TH films has passed away.
A note's been published on PJ's fb page.

Quote:
Dave was in love with New Zealand and it’s wild and beautiful landscape. He cared greatly for the natural environment and would always ensure that film crews would leave a location in the same pristine state as the day itwas found.For both The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit trilogies, Dave found locations as diverse as Mordor (Central Plateau), Lothlórien Woods (Paradise), the Argonath (Shotover River), Rohan (Poolburn Lakes) and Edoras (Mt Cook). But it is Hobbiton above all else, that will remain his legacy.Anyone who has seen Hobbiton (from viewing the movies or visiting the location) will know how perfect it is. There’s a small lake with an ideal spot for a bridge and inn. A ready made Hobbit party field with a real “Party Tree”, which has been standing there since about the time Tolkien’s novel was first published, 77 years ago. Lookup and there’s the ideal spot for Bag End embedded in what is described as “The Hill” in the books. Looking down from a helicopter in 1998, it looked nothing like that. The Alexander Farm was typically scrappy Kiwi farm land in the hill country near Matamata. That was Dave Comer’s genius. He could see a fairly unremarkable landscape, and imagine in his mind’s eye what it could look like on film. Such a rare talent. Dave had studied The Lord of the Rings, had a quick chat with me about how the movie version of Hobbiton should look, then set about choppering the length and breadth of New Zealandto hunt out the perfect location. He espied the Alexander’s Farm from the air, landed beside the farmhouse and rang the doorbell. When the rather irritated farmer swung the door open, Dave was quick to introduced himself as WingNut Film’s location scout - and drop “The Lord of the Rings” title as fast as he could. “Never heard of it!”, was the reply, “And you’ve got a bloody cheek interrupting us in the middle of the All Blacks match!”.Dave was a lovely, gentle, patient man - and this quality was often put to the test in his job. It’s a testament to Dave’s obvious decency that once the game finished, and he was invited inside and won the trust of the family - enough to allow us to move 500 people onto their property, cut roads across the land and cover the hillsides in hobbit holes. That afternoon over 16 years ago, Dave found Hobbiton and his legacy continues to this day when tourists and fans walk around the set with tears in their eyes.Dave was loved andrespected by those who were fortunate enough to work with him in the film industry. But more than this we will remember him as a loving father to his daughter Billie and much loved partner of Peta. He was above allelse, a kind and gracious man who connected to the spirit fo the land and it's people.Rest in peace, Dave. He rau aroha mōu, te rangatira kua whetūrangitia, moe mai rāA loving memory for you, the chief whohas become one with the stars and sleeps forever!

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