The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey (part one of three we’ve now been told – treble the delight!), is set for a release date of 14th December and we thought with five months to go we’d take a little look at where we are with the journey of Mr Bilbo Baggins.
For a long pre-production period The Hobbit was to be made by Guillermo del Toro but with his departure, fans got the news they were waiting for - Peter Jackson was going to be director. This was in no way a reflection on del Toro; the Mexican director’s Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth made him a great fit for Middle Earth, it’s just that Peter Jackson IS Middle Earth. So when his production company released a statement, back in early 2011, which told us that Peter Jackson was to be director, having written the screenplay along with del Toro and frequent collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, we knew The Hobbit was in the right hands to once again wrestle with Gollum and the good and evil forces of Tolkien’s world.
With the director in place we were all set but further delays ensued. A fire at the Wellington warehouse where many of the LOTR artifacts were stored was only a minor setback when compared with the financial difficulties encountered by MGM. Thankfully the fiscal complexities didn’t prove to be insurmountable and the shoot eventually began.
The role of Bilbo Baggins has of course gone to Martin Freeman, who initially had to decline the opportunity due to filming commitments with the second Sherlock Holmes television series. Thankfully a compromise was met; the production schedule would accommodate Freeman’s Holmes commitments, with Jackson stating, “Only a few times I’ve come across one actor and I know, in that very same instant, that he was born to play a specific role. And Martin is one of those actors.”
So fast-forward a year or so and we’ve had several video production diaries on Facebook and a collection of stunning images and teaser posters released, all of which have grabbed our imaginations and created the belief that Peter Jackson is all set to equal the success of the previous three Lord of the Rings films with his forthcoming prelude.
After a mammoth 454 day shoot, post-production is in full swing. Comic Con was recently shown a selection of scenes and New Zealand is again Middle Earth; it’s hard to imagine a better locale for the films. There is a sense that we’re really coming home with the return of Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Sir Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The film was shot in revolutionary 48 frames per second digital 3D. The Facebook blogs have allowed us unprecedented access to the filmmaking challenge met by the art department. The innovative digital cameras’ ability to pick up the finest detail has meant they’ve had to adjust their colour hues to suit, for instance compensating with their choices for costumes and also with the use of a brighter red makeup to counter for the heightened skin tones. The 24 frames per second format has been the standard for some 90 years and with the move into digital and 3D, Jackson and his team have witnessed greater quality and less motion blurring with the 48 fps, which will ultimately allow for a better 3D experience. The Hobbit will be the first feature film to be offered in 48 fps so a brave new future awaits - in Jackson we trust! J