This day we fight! (on a mine field)
While The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has been out since 2003, and the news that director Peter Jackson filmed a section of it on a mine field is so 12 years ago, an imgur gallery popped up on Reddit the other day that makes the subject worth digging up again.
According to the gallery, which is made up of a series of screen shots and gifs from a behind-the-scenes feature, the location scouts for the third film needed a desert-like area, that was flat without vegetation. Since the task of finding an appropriate place was so difficult, they settled on a field in New Zealand which the army uses to test bombs.
On the subject, actor Orlando Bloom (Legolas) recalled the army showing up during their breakfast to notify the actors and crew about the dangers of the location. Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) hilariously recalls the soldiers saying, “this is a bomb, this is a rocket…All these things you might find out here. Don’t touch them.” He clearly didn’t look too worried.
Those working on the film were strictly warned not to touch anything, which the actors remark was done because the military didn’t want to be responsible for blowing anyone up. Karl Urban, who plays Éowyn’s brother Éomer in the film remembers finding the fins of a bomb sticking out of the ground during one of the fights. Bloom notes that they were “churning up the earth with all of us running around jumping up and down.” Because of this, the military reportedly came to the set a couple of times a day to clear away the debris. With all of the commotion they were making, its a wonder none of them got hurt.
When Mortensen asked questions about whether the taped off areas meant they were safe, the military’s response was “No. But there’s less bombs where you are than on the other side of the tape.” While it’s a miracle that nobody was hurt during filming, Jackson remembers a day on set when Mortensen and a couple of the other actors went a little too far when they were riding on horseback towards the Black Gate. They were afraid that one of the horses was going to accidentally step on a mine and set one off which according to Mortensen just “added a little extra tension, a little more chaos to some already existing chaos”.
What do you think of shooting on a dangerous mine field just because the location is aesthetically pleasing? Let us know in the comments below.