I was wondering recently when the last time was that I bought a physical CD for myself. I think it was well over a year ago. I don’t generally download music either but I do use free music streaming which I think is a fabulous idea.
I then went on to think that I cannot recall buying a paperback book for a number of years now. I do rent them from the library occasionally. The Kindle is a great device at what it does.
I do occasionally buy films on Blu-Ray or DVD and do rent them from a video store (yes, they still have those in NZ). I have yet to use something like Netflix.
In some ways I think it is great that less non-renewable raw materials are used in manufacturing of such things because they now exist as files on a computer but in other ways it perhaps cheapens the experience of “owning” something or in the way we interact with various forms of art as you become detached from it in many ways due to the ease of which you can delete a file as if it never really existed…would you ever throw out a physical book? I suspect not…unless you are giving it to charity of course which would be recycling.
Anyone got any interesting perspectives here?
Arguably, no country typifies film-making or is more obsessed by filmstars than America. Many of us recognise so many places in the USA because of TV and film.
It is hard not to get wrapped up in this a little when you visit places and indeed seek out those places you recognise but I find it fascinating that someone in Philadelphia decided to commission an actual statue to commemorate Rocky Balboa. Not far down the road you can visit a museum of Rodin’s sculptures (i.e. wonderful art) but I can well imagine that this replica of Sylvester Stallone gets more tourist visitors each year. A little peculiar how in this instance people have commissioned another form of art to commemorate art itself.
It seems that in an age when cinema seems to be producing more and more remakes (which are often far worse than the original anyway) that perhaps it is a dying art form but hopefully there will still be original stories to tell many years from now.
I have made mention previously about visiting various filming locations used in “The Lord of the Rings” films. The films have spawned a tourism industry in New Zealand which, with the release of the inferior “The Hobbit” series, shows no sign of ending. I wanted to talk about the fact that I recently re-read the novel for the first time in almost 20 years. During the intervening period I have watched the films so many times that they have become the story. So…what of the book?
I was very surprised by just how much was changed for the cinema. Not only were a number of sections missing, new storylines were added, some storylines were changed for no obvious reason, some characters (notably female ones) were given larger roles and it is curious, when you consider the rather graphic violence that is present at times in the films, how little of this Tolkien actually describes. Tolkien almost gave freedom of imagination to the movie-folk so it is a credit to them in what they achieved. But it almost feels that in many ways the films are a dumbed down version of the book…but then when has a film ever been anything else?
It is rare to love a book and a film to be able to compare the two, and to still love them both afterwards. Actors are seldom good enough to truly represent a book on film without narration and you lose so much of what made the book so great…but what you get instead is an amazing visualisation of one of the greatest books of our time.
So, for anyone who may be interested, yes, the book is better, but I must also say that I think Peter Jackson did an incredible job of turning 1000+ pages of literature into an accessible movie masterpiece.
We set off from home in search of Weathertop…another movie location from Lord of the Rings where the black riders catch up with Frodo (and friends) and Aragorn fights them off. I can only assume that Sauron, the dark lord, was not interested in us as we saw no evidence of black riders on our tails.
Just over an hour south west of Auckland, past Pukekohe to where New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato, meets the Tasman Sea you find the small village of Port Waikato…keep going 10km or so to the south to where the road is no longer paved and you are presented with a vista wherein you can see the very hill, if you look closely, which was digitally enhanced for the film. It is on private land some distance from the road You will need to use your imagination but it is clearly the place. Quite a limestone landscape.
If you do a Google search for Weathertop, you will see the film image…go from there…
My workplace is split between Auckland and Wellington and I finally had the chance to visit the capital of New Zealand…all paid for by the company! Result.
I was delighted to discover, on landing there, the sign on the outside of the Airport Terminal…”Middle of Middle Earth”…but the delight didn’t stop there. On entering the main terminal where all of the cafes and shops are I was greeted by an enormous Gollum overlooking proceedings…and then Gandalf flying on a great eagle.
What a marvellous eye-opening start to a day when you have had to get up at 4:45am to get to the airport. A journey along the coast to a compact city was pleasant as was the harbour setting…but sadly work took over then.
I have heard Wellington nicknamed Wellywood, given its association with Peter Jackson and the fact that Weta Studios is based there…there is clear continuing national pride in the success of a small country bringing such a huge series of films to life and to the world. But how long can you really live off this? Lord of the Rings is now about 11 years ago since the last one…The Hobbit has breathed new life but is not in the same league…how long until Middle Earth reverts back to the writings of Mr Tolkien and not a tourist magnet?
Time will tell…but then people still go to Philadelphia to run up the Rocky steps 37 years after the film…so maybe ultimately it is a case of art becoming a part of history.
(Apologies for photo quality here…mobile phones are not good cameras!)
“Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, more numerous formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favourite haunt.” J.R.R. Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings
Not far from Matamata in New Zealand’s north island lies the Alexander Family sheep farm – home to Hobbiton from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films. It is a large working sheep farm of some 1,200 acres which was spotted from the air as an ideal place to set The Shire in the film series’. It is some distance from the road and has a rolling landscape complete with a natural party tree which featured so prominently in “The Fellowship of the Ring”.
I love The Lord of the Rings books and films (less so The Hobbit which is more of a fairy tale in my eyes) and so for my 38th birthday, off we went. I was expecting to be slightly underwhelmed ahead of time…thankfully my expectations were well-surpassed – it really is stunning how well it is merged into the landscape.
The set was originally due to be dismantled after “The Lord of the Rings” was completed but freak weather delayed this and led to a rethink which ultimately led to the farm owners becoming tour operators. Aspects of the set was falling into disrepair and has thankfully been re-built to last as a result of The Hobbit films being made and as such we encountered a delightful view and insight into film-making, glorious countryside and perhaps just a small wish that life was actually just like that envisioned by Tolkien and latterly by Peter Jackson on the big screen. Maybe that is a part of why the books are so loved by millions.
Who would believe that the tree atop Bag End is now made of silicon and steel and has 200,000 leaves individually wired to it? How about making a distant barn look like a tree just for filming? Having the whole area as a government-enforced no-fly zone during filming? Bringing in a handful of black-faced sheep because they looked more Hobbit-related rather than the NZ Romney? How they aged wood using vinegar? Created their own lichen using (in part) yoghurt? The list is pretty long and is just a taste of things we learned. I can recommend this as a tour for any enthusiast…and perhaps just for those who love a view of what life could look like in a distant Middle Earth.
A 2-hour tour included a free drink in the Green Dragon pub and overall (complete with additional purchased ale in hand), a very satisfied customer. Enjoy some photographs of New Zealand/Middle Earth below…I will aim to bring you some more views from the films in the future!
One final word, my favourite quote from any book…
“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” Bilbo Baggins – The Lord of the Rings