As it turns out, the Hutt Hobbit saw a lot of what happened at Helm’s Deep, and has described it to us.
“I, The Hutt Hobbit, was woken from my slumber by the thunder of hooves. After rubbing the sleep from my eyes I poked my head out of my hobbit hole and peered up at Dry Creek Quarry, the location of the Helms Deep set, to see what all the fuss was about. I couldn’t believe my eyes, for there, riding down a steep bank followed by about 20 other horsemen, was none other than Gandalf himself!
I grabbed my trusty binoculars, and after cunningly disguising myself as a member of the public so as not to draw attention, I made my way to the quarry and set up a discreet observation point from where I could observe the goings-on in comfort and secret.
I looked over the set through my binoculars and took in all the details. There, about 30 meters in front of the Castle Door that has been often photographed, a ramp had been constructed out of rock, dirt, and gravel. This ramp was about 45 or so degrees steep, about 10 metres wide and 50 metres long. The sides were built up a few feet. The ramp was covered in a layer of loose gravel and bits of tussock had been planted at random.
I heard the magic word, “Action!” and there he was – Gandalf came over the top of the ramp on Shadowfax, resplendent in white, cantering down, no saddle, no bridle, his staff held high in his right hand, his beard flying, his white cloak flapping. Behind him were about 20 others, in soldier-like outfits complete with swords, helmets and long flowing cloaks. Their horses were mostly dark brown, with a couple of greys. The dust flew from the horses’ hooves as they came down, the camera rolling, following them the whole way. At the bottom after the take, Gandalf and the soldiers regrouped, right in the middle of the front part of the quarry (Wow! Close up view!) then rode up around the right hand side of the quarry, back to the top of the ramp.
The crew got straight to work. A quad bike towing a large brush-like attachment came down the ramp, brushing over the hoofprints. Several props people went down the ramp replanting the tussock, brushing out their tracks as they went. Gandalf and the Riders were lined up at the top of the ramp, outfits were adjusted, the camera on the extended boom was reset, and the ramp was ready for the next take, with no sign that 2 dozen horses had just come charging down.
The front of the quarry is a bulk cement plant, so large trucks were moving about right in front of the ramp and in and out of the main gate as all this was taking place. This was no problem during takes, as the cement company trucks all stopped whenever there was a take. How considerate of them.
I stayed around long enough to watch a few takes. In between takes I observed the behaviour of the humans. People driving past were slowing down and rubbernecking to get a better look. I saw some of the regular spectators talking to security. A woman carrying a clipboard came down to the main gate and talked to the security guard and some members of the public there.
Apparently she thought people should not be watching. Well lady, if you have 2 dozen Middle-earth characters on horses in full view of two busy highways, a railway line and a railway station, what do you expect??
Anyway, this Hobbit’s stomach was starting to rumble, the vision of a Big Mac appeared before my eyes, so it was time for me to slip away quietly and leave Gandalf and company.
Until next time,
The Hutt Hobbit