Part 4: Mise-en-scène – Settings and Sets

[Fig. 4.1] Hobbiton (“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Part 1” still)

[Fig. 4.1] Hobbiton (“The Hobbit – Part 1″ still)

Sets and settings are the most fundamental elements of mise-en-scène, whether they be of real origin or a fictional world. It is where the events and action occur; combining constructed and natural features. “Settings and sets contribute to a film’s mise-en-scène by establishing scenic realism and atmosphere.” (Corrigan and White, 70). Unlike many other film directors, Peter Jackson creates films in his native country: New Zealand. This worked especially well for The Hobbit trilogy, which included many locations from all over the country; such as ‘Hobbiton’ which is situated in Matamata [Fig. 4.1].

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.

[Fig. 4.2b] A still of Elrond’s Chambers taken from “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

[Fig. 4.2b] A still of Elrond’s Chambers taken from “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

[Fig. 4.2a] Elrond’s Chambers rebuilt on “The Hobbit” (Production Diary 1 still)

[Fig. 4.2a] Elrond’s Chambers rebuilt on “The Hobbit” (Production Diary 1 still)

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.

[Fig. 4.4] The New York City set in Wellington (Wake)

[Fig. 4.4] The New York City set in Wellington (Wake)

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


References:

  • 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>.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s