Saturday, 22 July 2017

"The Antipodean Excursion" 3: There and Back Again

Bit of a mega-post, this, mostly because I haven't got round to updating anything at all over the last couple of weeks, so there's lots to catch up on.

Instalment 3 begins on the 7 July, with possibly the most exciting day on our entire trip so far (disclaimer: anyone whose interest in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and other associated Tolkien works is that of a normal person rather than an obsessive fan might want to skip this next part). It was on that day, of course, that Simon and I visited Hobbiton of the Shire, the fabled location used in Peter Jackson's film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The place itself is accessed via buses from Matamata: it's part of a huge rolling green landscape belonging to a farming family called the Alexanders. Peter Jackson discovered it in the late 90s and decided that the area was perfect for Hobbiton; their 3 main requirements in terms of the place's "look" (besides the obvious green hills and undulating scenery) were a huge tree that could represent Party Tree, a lake (with a bridge), and a big lawn in front of the tree where Bilbo's party could take place. The Alexander farm location had two of these three features - there was a swamp where the lawn should have been, but that was easily fixed. So Jackson makes The Lord of the Rings, both he and Mr Alexander make lots of money, Hobbiton gets pulled down, and everyone goes home happy. When Jackson returned to the site to film the trilogy that makes up The Hobbit, he and the Alexanders agreed to leave the set standing so fans could visit it and enjoy the experience of seeing such an iconic film location. God, I'm glad they did.