Recently, I’ve been watching a series of documentaries on the making of different blockbuster films. The first set was the collection of “Making Of” addenda to the Indiana Jones DVD trilogy, in which Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas talked about the process of creating special effects without the aid of computer graphic imaging. The second set was the supplementary information accompanying The Lord of the Rings DVDs.
It’s the latter that inspired me most. Lucas and Spielberg, for all their innovative spirits, are Americans working in Hollywood, and as such they are part of the media establishment that dominates the world. But The Lord of the Rings is the product of a relatively unknown film director, Peter Jackson, from a little-known country, New Zealand. In his creative madness, he decided to take on a project that no one believed could be done: turning the seminal fantasy of twentieth-century literature into a live-action movie. And he does it! What’s more, he does it by taking hundreds of impossible things and making them possible: like shooting the trilogy as one long movie, like creating elves and hobbits and uruk-hai and ents who so are believable onscreen we never think of them as anything other than people, like shooting in locations that look the way many people imagine Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.
And I asked myself: why can’t we do that here?
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