Eric writes: Ohakune was our destination and was to serve as two locations within Middle Earth. One of these locations was up on Mount Ruapehu, which is the tallest mountain in the North Island and very sacred lands to the local Maori Iwi (tribes). They filmed quite a lot of the Mount Doom scenes in Lord of the Rings, such as Sam carrying Frodo up the cliffs, on other parts of the mountain, but this particular area was new ground for the production. That’s not to say that Ruapehu is Mt. Doom, which is a common misunderstanding amongst touring LOTR geeks.

It’s considered disrespectful to photograph the distinctive peaks of Ruapehu, so while they filmed much of the prologue battle and the slopes of Mt. Doom scenes on Ruapehu they had to digitally construct the imposing Middle Earth landmark out of a hodgepodge of other mountains, including active Hawaiian volcanoes.

UPDATE: There are a couple of film spoiler tidbits in this report. TORn staffer Demosthenes has written some analysis after the cut, but if you want to read Quint’s report in full, then head here. If you want Demosthenes’ SPOILER analysis, head beyond the cut! You’ve been warned!

First, Quint writes: “This wooded area was to represent the outskirts of The Shire and featured Bilbo catching up to Gandalf and the dwarves. They’re riding on horseback so you can imagine the circus that day. Thirteen dwarves and a Wizard and horses for them all!”

And then:

“The day was spent mostly getting wider shots of troop on horseback riding through the woods as Bilbo catches up to the party, but there was one shot in particular that you can actually glimpse in the trailer that had Fili and Kili picking up Mr. Baggins (from horseback) and putting him up onto his pony.”

I think you’ll agree with me that it’s this shot below from the trailer.

So now we know that the day after the Unexpected Party, Bilbo realises he’s late for a very important date (as it were). Jumping fences and dashing into the fields, he finally catches up with the company somewhere on the road in the Shire. This is very different to the book where he runs to the Green Dragon Inn.

Very puffed he was, when he got to Bywater just on the stroke of eleven, and found he had come without a pocket-handkerchief!

“Bravo!” said Balin who was standing at the inn door looking out for him.

Just then all the others came round the corner of the road from the village. They were on ponies, and each pony was slung about with all kinds of baggage, packages, parcels, and paraphernalia. There was a very small pony, apparently for Bilbo.

“Up you two get, and off we go!” said Thorin. The Hobbit, Roast Mutton.

Then, later in the report, Quint writes:

“This location [Beech Paddocks] was visually stunning and I understand this place also plays a very important role in the journey. I know there is going to be a giant statue put into this location digitally. All the dwarves and Bilbo were down there looking for something. I can say no more!”

A giant statue? The valley is quite barren. Where could this be meant to be? I don’t recall any giant statues from the Hobbit in scenes involving the Company. Anyone have any ideas, or is this pure Peter Jackson invention at work?

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