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The directions were clear

A lot of people go to Luzern (or, Lucerne, for the Francophones) to see the famous wooden bridge (Kapellbrücke). And indeed, we saw the bridge…but Luzern has other things to offer the intrepid explorer. Not that much exploring is necessary. The directions were clear.

Luzern is an old city, strategically located, surrounded by its lake, and mountains. The city quickly developed an independent identity, and as with all medieval cities with an independent identity, it quickly established a need for walls. The canton of Luzern was one of the original members of the Eternal Swiss Confederacy, and its importance as a trade centre meant that it has long been an important regional hub, a role that continues today. Of course, such cities are often the focus of rivals, seeking greater influence, and it is Luzern’s city walls which we climbed to on this beautifully sunny Swiss day.

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Now that’s one photogenic city

In the weeks leading up to Wellington’s most recent world premiere, I was getting pretty excited, to be part of the spectacle (as a spectator!) and to soak up the atmosphere of the whole “Wellywood” celebration. But then work decided to rain on my parade and notify me that I would be needed in Auckland on the day of the premiere. What?! Nooooo! Disappointing, sure, but at least I got to experience it vicariously via PJD’s most excellent coverage here on foldedcranes. Seeing the way the city got into the spirit of the occasion and the joie de vivre shown by the city’s people has had me reflecting (from afar, up the island!) on what a truly lovely city Wellington is, and these photos, taken during the course of a long walk that we took together last weekend up Mount Victoria (one of the best vantage points from which to view the city panorama – and incidentally, a Lord of the Rings location site!), are a reminder that Wellington has a whole lot more going for it than just the odd world premiere or two. But those sure are cool, when they do happen. So, keep bringing it on Wellington, the world’s coolest little capital city for sure.

Halfway up Mount Victoria – looking towards Oriental Bay

Picnic in the long-grass? – further up Mount Victoria, looking towards Newtown, Brooklyn

At the summit – looking towards our compact little city

Look at that harbour! Beautiful.

CIA

Photos by CIA, Wellington, New Zealand, 24 November 2012.

On the red carpet

Everything reached its peak this afternoon, as 100,000 people (about a quarter of the Greater Wellington population!) gathered in and around Courtenay Place. Last night, the set up was in full flight, and quickly joining those who stayed out overnight, dedicated fans snapped up the barrier spaces so that by 7:00 am, all those spaces were taken. When I arrived, a  little before 3:00 pm, my first impression was one of wry amusement, overtaken quickly by a more generalised “good mood” – so many fans, looking so happy – it’s a nice thing to have seen.

The weather was exceptionally good. I should probably pretend (for those of you who’ve never been here) that it’s always like this, but the truth is, is often isn’t. Kia ora weather, kia ora. The trolls looked lovely, having already been seen at Comic Con in San Diego, and matched the Gollum statue at Wellington Airport and the enormous Gandalf above the Embassy Theatre itself.

Trolls

The atmosphere was very relaxed, friendly and egalitarian. Hierarchy did not seem quite so important as fairness, and people were often willing to stand aside so everyone could get some pictures. The fans were very diverse – the people around me were from Romania, Germany and elsewhere – and I saw signs showing people hailing from France and Mexico.

Neil Finn performed, he quipped that this song was the reason he got the job. Nevertheless, it was his rendition of the Misty Mountains song (sung by the dwarves in the film) which roused the largest cheer.

After this, the stars started arriving, but I was some 300 metres down the red carpet from them. Instead the next highlight was the flyover of the Air New Zealand 777 (complete with largest decal ever!). It’s in the details!

Air New Zealand 777 Flyover

So, we waited patiently, for our first sight of the films stars. Before they made their way down from the beginning of the carpet, we saw instead some of the guests. Local actors, musicians, politicians, footballers. And then? Peter Jackson himself! Among others, there was Sylvester McCoy (the first Doctor I remember!), Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, Hugo Weaving. Sadly, there was nothing to be seen of Cate Blanchett, Richard Armitage, or Barry Humphries all of whom I’d have like to see (albeit each for different reasons). Evidently there was more than one path down the carpet, meaning not everyone saw everyone – but that minor quibble aside, it was just with a little bit of excitement I snapped the following pictures

Wellington really knows how to turn it on for these events – and it’s great to leave this kind of impression on the world. Even if Wellington won’t be the Middle of Middle-Earth for much longer, it’s been a lot of fun. New Zealand might well be 100% Pure, but as I have said before, you can’t beat Wellington on a good day.

PJD

Photos by PJD, at the World Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He had an unexpectedly good time, and would love to hear from anyone else who was there, or who wanted to be there…

If you happen to be caught short…

…they have you covered.

 

PJD

Photo by PJD, because a little levity is a good thing.

Dedication?

The hours are counting down, and the preparation is proceeding at pace. The final touches have been made to the film, the actors have arrived, the red carpet is being rolled out, fans are already lining up. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey* is premiering tomorrow.

I was in Australia when the other movies provided Wellington with its last moment in the world’s filmy glare. No big deal. I’m here now. And trying to make the most of it. So check it out, the night before the night before the morning after.

Even my hard-bitten cynicism is being chipped away by enthusiasm and dedication.

PJD

Photos taken just now, minutes ago, by PJD, Wellington (the Middle of Middle-Earth).

* Not to say the first of unexpected parts

Look upon my works…

Foot, Arc de TriompheInside Napoleon’s monument, the Arc de Triomphe, I saw a foot. The foot stood (if one foot can stand, disembodied) on a small plinth. It had a carved date, 1836.

Looking back through these photos, I was struck by a memory. In primary school one of the first poems I remember reading was ‘Ozymandius‘, by Percy Bysshe Shelley. I suppose I was ten years old, or thereabouts. But what a poem to read.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

"whose frown And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command"Napoleon himself, of course, brought many things to France from the deserts of Egypt, so the memory is all the more poignant. But what I recall the most is the blinding and powerful understanding of what irony really means, how deep and profound it can be.

Where can one begin? To analyse the poem so rarely does it justice. If Ozymandias is the cause of despair, it is the transitory nature of his worldy empire that would engender the feeling. His works are gone, but what we see, mediated by Shelley’s words are the sculptor’s tribute, the work of “The hand that mocked”. The words carved into the base of the statue have a permanence that the conquests of the Pharaoh did not have – echoed further by Shelley’s own words which still evoke such responses.

To a bookish child (was I?), with an avid interest in ancient items (I still have a handle from an amphora, a gift from my grandmother, who used to dig things up) this engagement with the ostentatious deployment of irony was all but revelatory.

And to a bookish adult (am I?), it still is.

PJD

Photo by PJD, Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Do you remember your first taste of irony? Indeed, of any literary device? Metaphor perhaps, metonymy*, simile? Has poetry of prose ever suddenly struck you, a bolt from nowhere? Would you like to tell us about it? We’d like to hear…*we are all ears.

A little Wellington Graffiti

There’s more to the Middle of Middle-Earth than Hobbit-related paraphernalia and activities. So, to continue our series of found street art, here’s some graffiti from the skate park nearby. A little Middle-Earth graffiti I guess…

Graffiti is better at night.

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