Hobbit Movie Poster GandalfRinger spy Hutt contacted us to tell us about an opportunity he had recently to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey screened in an exciting and appropriate setting – a cave up in the mountains! His original report, in Russian and with photos of the event, can be found here, at Henneth-Annun.ru. Below the break you will find the report in English. Many thanks to Hutt to sending it in.

What’s the most unusual location you’ve been to, on a journey to Middle-earth? Let us know in the comments!

Last Friday, on June 28th 2013, the small town of Balve in Germany became a target for a special unexpected journey. Originally I was not intending to go there, but just a day before a good friend Stefan Servos, webmaster of Herr-der-ringe-film.de, suddenly offered two extra tickets and a ride. So after work we got on a soaked wet freeway on our way to Balve.

In fact, Balve is basically famous for one thing: a great karst cave. In prehistoric times it was a settlement for Neanderthal tribes, but now it is used for cultural events: theatre plays, concerts and local festivities. So when a Cologne radio station decided to include it in their “Sektorkino” film festival (where films are screened in unusual places, e.g. a power plant or a prison), what would be more fitting for a screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey if not a mountain cave?

The movie did not start until 9pm, but the cave was already open since 7pm: there was a free seat selection, first come first serve. The screen was not too large but was placed relatively high, so the best seats would be rather in the middle of the seating area: it was separated into two floors by a small stairs. The seats were standard plastic chairs; the first row had sun loungers because the people sitting there would have to look up all the time. Also, there was a kind of a VIP lounge on a higher ground behind a stone wall.

Apart from the main hall, the cave has two chambers in the back which are beautifully illuminated by spotlights. One of them was empty and frequented by bored members of the audience , the other contained a mobile projection booth.

For two hours we drank beer, took photos and discussed the work on The Hobbit’s dubbing. But as 9pm grew nigh, the cave got filled, even the most uncomfortable seats were taken and the screening began.

The movie was played in a German dubbed version in 3D (no HFR though). It was actually nice to see the German title Eine unerwartete Reise and Elvish/Orkish subtitles in German, after the BluRay which contains English-language texts only. However, the sound was not really that good. There were only two speakers; and as the voices sounded way louder than the music, I can only assume that the projectionists used only two channels from a 5.1 multichannel setup. The sound quality was a bit compensated by a great acoustic in the cave, but as the film progressed, nobody seemed to mind the sound quality…

The audience’s reaction to the movie was quite a positive one. The loudest laughs were in the moment where Bilbo asks Gandalf: “Is he [Radagast] a great wizard, or is he… more like you?” At the final credits, someone even tried to applaud, but most of the audience just rushed out of the cave immediately. We however remained seated until the end, reading the credits: Stefan found an acquaintance of him working for WETA, and I showed him how many translations were used for the Russian Hobbit dub (four).

Anyway, the evening was quite enjoyable. Despite of rainy weather, a long way home and going to bed at 3am, it was quite amazing to see the movie in such an unusual cave atmosphere. Thanks to Stefan for this unexpected journey!