New Zealand Landscape Plays Active Role in Films
“If a country could be eligible for a best actor award, New Zealand could be in the running for every gong going,” writes Megan Lane. In the piece for BBC News Magazine, Lane explores New Zealand’s role, not just as the scenery, but often as a brooding character in films and television shot in the country.
Victoria University of Wellington lecturer in film studies, Alfio Leotta, agrees with the sentiment saying that the country plays an ‘active role’ in films such as The Piano and Lord of the Rings and recent television show, Top of the Lake, where the characters deal with obstacles created by the environment.
“One of the main challenges faced by Frodo in his journey is the interaction with a natural environment that can be both friendly and hostile (depending on the circumstances),” says Leotta.
“The same can be said about The Piano, as the main obstacle to retrieve the piano is the thick bush. The opposition between civilised and primitive worlds is central to the narrative.”
Photographer Ian Brodie also agrees with idea of New Zealand as a key character.
“The Sam Neill film Perfect Strangers involved a murder and an unruly West Coast beach played an integral part in setting the mood. I’d liken it to the big house in The Shining. But in New Zealand, rather than use a building, you use the landscape.”
Indeed, the country is mentioned in reviews for films and television shot here. Such as Variety’s review for Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake which described the country as “Unspoiled and unruly”.