THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
From Mirkwood to Erebor
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" showcases a wide range of New Zealand
landscapes: Turoa Skifield became the backdrop for the approach to the hidden
door to Erebor;
Paradise provided Beorn with a visually striking backyard; Canaan Downs became
Valley; Glenaray Station was used to portray the High Fells; Takaro Lodge served
as the south
borders of Mirkwood; and the Pelorus River became the Forest River. Portions of
the barrel ride
down the Forest River were shot near the Aratiatia Dam of Lake Taupo.
Martin Freeman marvels, "Every set looks like it was made by God, and they
put it all
together in about three hours. It's madness, absolute madness."
IN THE DEN OF THE SKIN-CHANGER
The home of the Skin-changer Beorn was found on location in Paradise,
Glenorchy, on the
South Island of New Zealand. The exterior for the home of the massive creature
was built as two
sets, 650 feet apart, to capture the striking views of the surrounding area
A unique combination of influences inform the design of Beorn's home,
references in the book to a Norwegian longhouse, as well as Beorn's nature as a
hundreds of years old, and has been stuck in the bush building this house, so we
thought he would
be a bit of a carver," Hennah notes. "He has carved iconic images into all his
beams, doors and
windows, so there is a whole other layer of depth in the wood."
Manifesting these carvings involved a confluence of design and the
craftsmanship of the
local artisans brought in to do the woodwork. John Howe explains, "I was heavily
Norwegian stave churches and Viking wood-carvings, with a few Norse motifs snuck
most of the carvers who built the sets were either Maori or familiar with Maori
art, and they brought
a wonderful touch of that to their work. In the end, it's familiar but
otherworldly, and fits perfectly
Interiors were built in Dwarf scale on a stage in Wellington, which
translates into a set that
was 1.8 times larger than average to create the effect of Beorn, at
10-feet-tall, looming over the
Animals bred for their large size were brought to the set to portray his
menagerie. "Pigs that
are the size of cows, cows that are the size of horses, and horses...well, they
must have been the
biggest horses in the world," McKellen remarks.
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