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EE Commentary Transcripts
The Shire

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<< Concerning Hobbits

Peter (cont.): [Shot of Frodo reading under a tree] This is a shot we did when we were doing pick-ups; we felt that we hadn’t really go the ideal introduction for Frodo, and we found this really pretty forest about an hour’s drive north of where we were based and we thought that just this moment of Frodo reading a book under a tree would be a really great way to introduce his character.

Philippa: It was funny seeing him standing there after four months or so, and he was standing there with his feet on, and the costume, with the hair on, just laughing and laughing that was back in Frodo again.

Peter: [Gandalf: “A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins”] This was a very important scene because it’s the first time we see the size of Hobbits compared to a human, or, in this case, a wizard, Gandalf; and we used really simple tricks for this scene: there’s no computer special effects at all, we simply used a big Gandalf – an eight-foot tall person called Paul – and a very small Frodo – a four foot high person called Kieran. That’s Paul catching –. That’s Kieran being cuddled by Ian; that’s Paul cuddling Elijah; and just between, cutting between the big and the small stand-ins if you like – big and small doubles – we were sort of able to create the illusion without any complicated tricks at all. (beat) In this version of the opening, the dialogue in the cart between Gandalf and Frodo is a little different; we just used different pieces of dialogue, and we were able to establish the mystery of the Ring a little bit more – the fact that… Not so much the Ring, because we don’t know it’s the Ring yet, but the fact that Bilbo Baggins has been acting kind of strange, that was something that we wanted to get a sense of: the fact that he’s got an unusual behaviour going on that we ultimately later find is the Ring, but at this moment it’s concerning Frodo. (beat) [Bilbo’s frenzy over the Ring] I know one of the concerns that Fran had when we were contemplating this version for the theatrical release of the film was that she was worried that it would establish Bilbo as a slightly darker character that –. Bilbo is obviously a very loveable, cute Hobbit, but the fact that we would first see him introduced in this way being a little bit weird and, sort of, you know, acting in a slightly compulsive, unusual way… I know Fran was concerned that it would just… it would not really… you know, it would lead to expectations of who Bilbo was that is not really true, that obviously he’s just having a little… a strange little episode here because of the way that this Ring is affecting him, but he is, basically, obviously his usual, loveable self. It’s possibly not the best way to introduce the character by seeing him in this manner first. (beat) [Frodo: “He’s up to something…”] The shots here of Gandalf and Frodo talking were done after the original Hobbiton scenes were shot. One of the difficult things with the beginning of the film was the fact that we have to talk about Bilbo – a character who we don’t really know – we have to talk about the fact that he’s leaving, and there’s something strange going on, and just the concept of setting all of that stuff up was a little bit tricky.

Philippa: We didn’t want to be too dark and too ominous too early, because there’s so much of that in the film; we wanted to show Frodo, especially this –. Part of what we’re trying to do here is show this young boy who has a very carefree life: we worked quite hard to do that.

Peter: Hobbiton is a location in Matamata, in the North Island of New Zealand, and we spent at least a year before we were due to shoot, in building Hobbiton: the bridge was completely fabricated – it was built by the New Zealand Army out of polystyrene; the Green Dragon pub was just constructed on the side of a small lake. (beat) The fireworks on the back of the cart are done by a computer; we just had the little smoke-bombs going off, and they were computer fizzy-effects. (beat) All of our Hobbit extras were gathered from the local farming community at Matamata; we just looked for the best hobbit-faces we could, because we knew, kind of, what Hobbits should look like: they had to be sort of short and squat, and have large eyes and round faces.

Philippa: A couple of those extras got married, did you know that?

Peter: No.

Philippa: They met on set and got married.

Peter: Right, okay. (beat) [wide shot of Hobbiton with Gandalf’s cart, screen cap] This shot shows the size of the location – it was literally a huge area of land, probably at least a mile – a mile and a half square – that we landscaped; all of the roads were built, the Hobbit-holes were built, the trees… often the trees were planted, the gardens were planted – none of this existed. There’s a lot of work to go on for what’s a relatively short amount of screen time, really, that we see the exterior of Hobbiton, but we felt that you just had to sell it: it couldn’t look artificial or fake in any way possible.

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The Lord of the Rings and its content does not belong to me, it is property of the Tolkien Estate;  the commentaries transcribed here, as well as the images used, are the property of New Line Cinema.