The fictional world of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was shot both on location and in designed sets of mythical forests and dragon lairs – just to name a few. Many of the sets from The Lord of the Rings trilogy were re-built and reused within The Hobbit trilogy, such as Hobbiton, and Elrond’s Chambers [Fig. 4.2a-4.2b]. Whereas new sets, such as Smaug’s Lair were shot on a green screen, to enable the animators to expand the size and scale of the lair; allowing for additional room for the mighty dragon. As stated in The Film Experience, “in addition to scenic realism, the mise-en-scène of a film creates atmosphere and connotations, those feelings or meanings associated with particular sets or settings.” (pg. 71). Although expected, this recognition of sets adds to the familiarity of the films, appealing to audiences more and establishing an atmosphere. Jackson’s ability to reconnect audiences to familiar narratives and scenic realism, all whilst creating new storylines, is shown greatly in these films.Being a remake of the 1933 classic, Jackson wanted his King Kong to produce the same reactions and experiences for his audiences of the original. “I want our Skull Island to feel like it’s the same Skull Island that they used in 1933.” (qtd. in Wake, 31). They made “man-made stuff feel real” (qtd. in Wake, 32), through a combination of miniatures, live-action sets and digitals elements, all while recreating the same emotional narrative as the original film. Also set in Depression-era New York, Jackson recreated an entire world in their back-lot set. However, to really create an authentic 1930s setting, the back-lot set had to be digitally extended by building a three-dimensional digital model of the entire city [Fig. 4.3]. Unbeknown by audiences, we believed they really filmed in New York City, thus creating an authentic world and generating connections to reality. Therefore, although Peter Jackson’s well-known techniques are used throughout all of his films, in particular King Kong and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug really showcases his unique abilities to convey an authentic world. His capabilities to transport audiences to another place and time, all whilst ensuring they believe in it are clearly expressed through his use of the same film form to create the same film content.
For a behind the scenes discussion about location scouting and shooting for The Hobbit, follow this Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–U_HaRilp4
- Corrigan, Timothy and Patricia White. The Film Experience: An Introduction. 3rd Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. Print.
- King Kong. Dir. Peter Jackson. WingNut Films, 2005. Film.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Dir. Peter Jackson. New Line Cinema, 2013. Film.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Dir. Peter Jackson. WingNut Films/The Saul Zaentz Company, 2001. Film.
- “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Part 1” 30 Apr 2013. Web Video. 26 Apr 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–U_HaRilp4>.
- Wake, Jenny. The Making of King Kong: The Official Guide to the Motion Picture. New York: Pocket Books a div. of Simon and Schuster, 2005. Print.
- “The Hobbit Production Diary 1” 23 May 2012. Web Video. 26 Apr 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwYQcKK0Isg>.