This summer the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds will be showcasing the weapons and armour from some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters of recent years including The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (the second instalment, Prince Caspian opened in the UK 26 June).
Craftsman-made by the world-famous, Oscar-winning WETA workshops in Wellington, New Zealand, many of the 230+ props have never been displayed in public before. The free exhibition Arms and Armour from the Movies: The Wonderful World of WETA (*see ‘notes to editors’) opens 12 July (daily 10am – 5pm) and runs until 16 November – it will be the only opportunity for movie buffs and the general public to see these exquisite items in the UK.
The exhibition will feature some of the most iconic props from the films including Aragorn’s sword and Sauron’s helmet (The Lord of the Rings); the White Witch’s wand and Lucy’s dagger (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe); one of the plane-mounted Lewis machine guns that killed King Kong (King Kong); and Hellboy’s Samaritan revolver (Hellboy).
Arms and Armour from the Movies: The Wonderful World of WETA has come about because of a personal friendship developed between the Armouries Senior Curator of Historic Edged Weapons, Bob Woosnam-Savage, and Richard Taylor who, along with the director Peter Jackson, is one of the co-directors of WETA.
Many of WETA’s weapons and armour are based on medieval European and Eastern designs and are bespoke items individually built for both ‘beauty’ shots and for stunt-combat, often using contemporary techniques. Curator Bob Woosnam-Savage has advised on weaponry for a number of movies including Rob Roy and Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, for which WETA made the mail armour.
The exhibition will feature objects from The Lord of the Rings trilogy; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; The Last Samurai; King Kong and Hellboy (Hellboy II released August 2008) and includes visits and workshops by key WETA designers from New Zealand including master sword-smith Peter Lyon.