Why I love hanging out with Hobbit fans......
In 2012 Mr M and I joined a tour group for the World Premiere of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'. As most know, I had followed the progress of the movie production since 2008, all the time fervently hoping Richard Armitage would get a role (of Bard the Bowman … if I’m honest). I wasn’t sure what to expect from this tour. We had already made an independent tour of New Zealand the year before, at the time the cast and crew were on location. Ironically we ended up in the same places as they went to, but a week too early.
Back to 2012.. I had high expectations of actually getting my Hobbit book signed by RA and a photo of him on the Red Carpet. Well, that is another story, and suffice it to say that was one goal I never achieved. We arrived in Auckland (often known as ‘Orcland’ by some local Tolkien fans), and initially could not find our tour guides at the airport. We called the tour office, and were told to look out for ‘Grandalf’ …. Yes, and they were not exaggerating … there he was in the crowd waiting for incoming passengers.
If I thought I was skilled up on all things Tolkien, the 'Lord of the Rings' movies, Peter Jackson, Weta, and of course 'The Hobbit', it became evident at our welcome dinner that I was a mere novice. Fans had flown in from all parts of the world for this tour, making our six hour journey to NZ appear trifling. They were of all ages and from all walks of life. Students, teachers, public servants, drivers, authors, medical practitioners, parents, grandparents, retired, employed … it really made no difference what we did in real life for we all had a common interest. The world of Tolkien, Peter Jackson’s movies and of course the exploration of beautiful New Zealand were opportunities for us to all forget stresses at home and have fun. Even the 15 hour wait together beside the Red Carpet, uncomfortable though it was, was an opportunity for fellowship. Many of us are still in contact over Facebook and those of us living closer to NZ met up again last year for the midnight screening of Desolation of Smaug.
Our Fellowship of Hobbit fans (that’s what we called ourselves) travelled the length and breadth of both North and South Island discovering Matamata (Hobbiton), the River Anduin, Wellington, Lothlorien, Nelson and the site of the barrel ride, Edoras, Queenstown, and Glenorchy. There were re-enactments of scenes from Lord of the Rings (as The Hobbit had not yet been released at the time) with much laughter and fun. We travelled off road to farms where filming had taken place … the property owners often met us to reminisce about what went on. The sheer enormity of the production, the man hours and the numbers of people it took to bring these books to life for us, the fans, was astonishing. The Hobbit production vlogs released by Peter Jackson gave us a small impression of the work that went into these movies, but until I listened to presentations and visited the locations, I had no true appreciation of the immense effort that went in to making the movies.
So who and what are these ‘Hobbit fans’? Recently I have read some negative comments about poor theatre etiquette attributed to ‘Hobbit fans’ in London particularly at RIII and at stage door. Really? I believe there will be an element of inconsiderate behaviour in any large cohort of people, irrespective of whether they are fans of Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, Doctor Who, or Sherlock. I can honestly say that the vast majority are respectful and passionate people all sharing in a common interest. (MTA: Article where Martin Freeman praises the fans).
So yes, the Hobbit fans I met may be a bit crazy, they may indulge in cosplay (including women masquerading as dwarf women with beards), but they all share a love of Tolkien, a love of the work of Peter Jackson, his cast, and his crew. They appreciate the brilliance of the work of Weta, they enjoy good food, a decent party and most of all the fellowship with like minded fans.
In appreciation of the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, Sir Peter Jackson, his amazing cast and crew, Weta and of course our beautiful fellowship of ‘Hobbit fans’.
On location as we approach "Edoras"....
"‘Look!’ he cried, and they lifted their tired eyes. Before them stood the mountains of the South: white tipped and streaked with black. The grass-lands rolled against the hills that clustered at their feet, and flowed up into many valleys still dim and dark, untouched by the light of dawn, winding their way into the heart of the great mountains. Immediately before the travellers, the widest of these glens opened like a long gulf among the hills. Far inward they glimpsed a tumbled mountain-mass with one tall peak; at the mouth of the vale there stood like a sentinel a lonely height. About its feet there flowed, as a thread of silver, the stream that issued from the dale; upon its brow they caught, still far away, a glint in the rising sun, a glimpse of gold." J.R.R. Tolkien “The Two Towers”