Bowing to the Inevitable

by wjw on November 27, 2012

One thing I’ve learned about New Zealand is that there is one Great Inevitable: Peter Jackson.  You just can’t avoid the guy.

For one thing, the North Island was covered with posters having to do with the premiere of The Hobbit, which happens Wednesday in Wellington— the rest of you have to wait till December, I believe.  The newspapers are full of articles about the movie, and the bookstores are full of Hobbit-related material.

(My thought was that on Wednesday I’d go to a really popular destination, confident there would be no crowds because all the locals would be at the pictures.)

Also, Jackson used many of New Zealand’s most striking sights for his movies, and if you’re traveling around seeing the sights, well, there you are.  We went to Hobbiton deliberately, but today I drove through the Misty Mountains because, well, I wanted to drive through the Southern Alps, whether there were orcs in them or not.  I’ve seen Mt. Doom.  When I was in Wellington I somehow avoided going up Hutt Valley to see Helm’s Deep, but that was only by chance.

Plus, Peter Jackson apparently knows everybody.  I constantly run into people who have worked on his movies, know Jackson or some of his partners, have been extras in the films, or Was a Person Friend of Peter Jackson Before He Was Famous.

And then sometimes you run across one of his hobbies.  I went to the aircraft museum in Blenheim only to find that Peter Jackson was the museum’s major benefactor.

Turns out he’s a huge collector of First World War aircraft and air memorabilia, and was a major contributor to the museum.  He built an aircraft replica shop at WETA because it turned out to be cheaper than buying the actual aircraft.  (Not that the replicas don’t have a lot of period stuff on them— not a lot of people are making 180-horse Obersel rotary engines these days.)  There replicas actually fly, and in fact there’s a whole flight of seven working Fokker Dr.1 triplanes.

Plus WETA got busy on the aircraft dioramas, including the one shown in the photo, which features the crew of a Erdrich Taube defending their plane with, well, a rifle.  (Hey, it was early in the war.  Plus the Taube was one of the most successful of the aircraft with bird-shaped wings ever.)

The museum, by the way, was pretty nifty, because it helps to be financed by someone with more money than Morgoth.  It had Eddie Rickenbacker’s flight suit, Werner Voss’s Blue Max, and a couple of the silver cups that Manfred von Richthofen awarded himself when he shot something down.  (Turns out there was a whole tradition behind this I didn’t realize: he’d already won a lot of silver cups hunting and riding, and when a German officer got major decoration, he generally got a whacking great silver goblet to go with it.)

I’m taking a boat down Milford Sound tomorrow, and I’m expecting to find that Peter Jackson knows all the dolphins personally.  Because that seems to be, well, inevitable.

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