John’s Big Day Out… or a Few Days in Middle-Earth.
Just returned from New Zealand. Had a free day in Wellington, and the privilege of seeing the Lord of the Rings Exhibition at Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. (Unless my memory is totally shot, “Te Papa Tongarewa” means “Our well loved repository and showcase of treasured things and people that spring from Mother Earth here in New Zealand.” )
It is extraordinary. Hero costumes, weaponry and props are perfectly displayed so close you can practically touch them. The walls are crowded with film artwork. A full-size cave troll smashes his way into the Chamber of Mazarbul with a leering orc about to leap from his perch on the wall full at you, Sauron’s armour is on a full-size mannequin, so well displayed it’s like being in the film. Maquettes and miniatures make up the rest of the show, which is also peppered with video screens offering insights into the making of practically everything. You can touch the chain mail, try to guess which swords are which between the steel, aluminium and poly models, even go on screen Hobbit-size thanks to an interactive video installation that lets you sit in Gandalf’s cart. The show is vast, ambitious, informative, visually exciting. (Which explains the lo-o-ong lines outside, but lucky for me, I got in free.) It has to be the best ever exhibition about a movie project and it’s nearly enough to warrant a trip to New Zealand for that alone. I spent over two hours in there and I KNOW all this stuff, so if it’s your first visit, then count at least twice that. It’s been extended to March 30, but there is talk of it going to the US and Canada, so keep your eyes peeled. The museum site is: http://www.tepapa.govt.nz
Also managed a couple of days in Wellington to catch up with the familiar faces and meet a sea of new ones. Work on the Return of the King is in full swing and it promises to be grander than anything you’ve ever seen, so be ready to be swept away on a journey like no other you’ve ever taken!
I even got someone to take a picture of me at the entrance to the museum, just to prove I was there… they’ll go up as soon as I get them back from the shop. Speaking of photos, I finally have pictures of the opening of the show in Paris. I’ll get them up in the next post.