Pioppio, New Zealand Thanks to Ringer Nienna for the heads-up on this little BBC feature about the starring role that New Zealand’s landscapes play in many of its films.

If a country could be eligible for a best actor award, New Zealand could be in the running for every gong going, with its contrasting moods showcased most recently in The Hobbit and Top Of The Lake. Is the scenery more than just a dramatic backdrop?

“Sinister… the heart of a demon” – the Guardian

“Majestic menace” – Slate

“Bleak, forbidding or just plain murderous” – Daily Mail

“Unspoiled and unruly” – Variety

These are not reviews of an actor’s performance in the BBC Two mystery Top of the Lake – well, not any of the human actors – but the part played by the landscape. “The geography is really another brooding character,” says the Australian in its review, praising its “angularities, shadows and dark moods”.

It’s not the first time New Zealand’s scenery has muscled its way into reviews and water-cooler conversations. The same happened with Peter Jackson’s Tolkien trilogies – first Lord of the Rings and now The Hobbit – in which the country’s dramatic terrain itself “plays the mythical world of Middle-earth” according to the New Zealand Tourism website.

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