Today we went to visit Hobbiton, the film set of the Hobbit village in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. What I am instantly going to say is that I wish I could be a hobbit now, and live there. The little houses were all so cute and squat, and they were built right into the hillside, all sporting round doors and nice gardens. A few were much smaller than others, to use what is known as forced perspective. Basically, they place taller characters like wizards, elves, and orcs by smaller houses to make them look taller, and shorter characters like hobbits by the larger houses to make them look bigger.
Several of the houses also had themes which related to their profession, including fisherman, honey seller, baker, potter, painter, and town drunk. If you’ve read the books, I’m sure you know that in the center of the hobbit village there is a clear, open space with a pond in the middle called the Dell, which is a bit like a sociable meeting place for hobbits. The Dell in the movie set did have a pond, a calm blue one with lots of lily pads. Apparently, when they first did it, the frogs that lived there were so loud that they were all you could hear on set sometimes. To fix that little problem, they caught all the frogs and ‘frog marched’ (ha ha ha) them to the other side of the farm (yes, it was filmed on a farm), where they released them. However, the frogs kept coming back to the pond, so when they got them to the other side it was a race against the frogs to film it.
Another story was about the fireworks party in one of the movies. Every single one of those fireworks was real, except for the dragon one at the end. However, they made it look very real by filling a tent with gunpowder and blowing it up. Unfortunately, they didn’t mention the fact they were planning to blow up a tent on set to the actors (they very helpfully forgot that little tidbit) so some of the screams in that scene were actually real.
Also, in that scene when Gandalf and Bilbo are both smoking their pipes in Bilbo’s doorway and watching the sunset, that didn’t go quite the way you thought it did. From the direction Bilbo’s house (and what a house it was!) faced, the sunset was actually behind it. So they filmed it at sunrise and reversed the entire scene. Also, the tree above Bilbo’s house, that was an actual tree in The Lord of the Rings, but when The Hobbit was filmed later on, the director wanted a version of the tree that was sixty years younger. So they dug up the original tree and sent it to some sculptors, and asked them to make a tree that looked sixty years younger. And they did. And the tree in the Hobbit is fake.
The Green Dragon Inn was brilliant, too. In it we each got a complimentary drink, as part of our ticket. There were four choices, but the only non-alcoholic drink was non-alcoholic ginger ale, so I got that, obviously. In the pub there were big leather chairs and old-fashioned tables, and there was a huge carving of, wait for it… A green dragon.