Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Cast: Adrian Webster, Patrick O’Connor, Christopher Dingli, Gareth Brough, Rita Ramnani
Director: Chris Bouchard
Runtime: 38 min.
Rating: ****1/2
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Action, Short

        Imitation, they say, is the best form of flattery. I wonder how true it might hold for Peter Jackson, that visionary of CGI moviemaking of the grandest order, for no amount of praise and adulation for his magnificent visual sense would spill over into the region of the excess. That great awe-filled kid of the movies, Steven Spielberg, sure has an heir in this man from down under, let there be no doubt to it. Mr. Spielberg once caused three boys from Mississippi – Eric Zala, Jayson Lamb and Chris Strompolos – so inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark that they replicated the film frame by frame, and made a little fanboy wonder called Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. Mr. Jackson, whenever he sits over a bottle of beer as he discusses with Mr. Spielberg the post production details of their Tintin movie, can now proudly claim one of his own, made more expertly and to some fantastic entertainment, and it is called The Hunt for Gollum.
        This is an awesome reproduction, one which doesn’t reduce itself to mere imitation, but one which actually imbibes the very feel of Mr. Jackson’s epic renditions. You can find much about the film here, and you could very well watch it too, for this is one of those little attempts that is by us for us and of us. It has been made for little over £3000, and I suggest you have a look at the making of documentary available on the site for free viewing. This here is an example that a downpour of big budgets doesn’t necessarily confirm the presence of good production values or even as much as serviceable visual sense. It has been shot on HD camera, and I suspect a reproduction on the big screen might betray the source. But not on your computers where you shall be viewing it right through the internet.
        I shall not disclose any of the plot, except for what is revealed by the title. And maybe the timeline, which Tolkien aficionados would guess outright that it lay roughly between the time Bilbo Baggins leaves shire and Gandalf walks into Frodo little hut and asks him to run off to Rivendell. All for the better, for the pleasure here lay not in convoluted plot details, but the atmosphere of a fantastical place surrounding you. Mr. Bouchard and his crew know fully well how a viewer is arrested by the visuals, and their edits are just about the right pace. Not a single shot feels hurried, and often the woods provide for an intensely thrilling place. Aragorn walks through them, as the ranger Strider, and we feel the need to look around, for any trouble might just be round the corner.
        There’s a magnificently conceived sword fight too, not uncluttered in any way. It is not merely metal randomly clanging against metal, and one feels there’s a definite strategy in place. I might go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that The Hunt for Gollum is an extremely competent film, in terms of its performances (Mr. Webster’s eyes have a kind of tired look that say so much about Aragorn), in terms of its technical aspects and in every other way. There’re sweeping shots of mountains punctuated by a rousing score, and you might feel you’re back in the Jackson’s Tolkien universe. You could watch the trailer here, and get a sense of what I’m hinting at.
        The film though doesn’t stand on its own. Any attempt to analyze it ought to invoke Mr. Jackson’s films too. There’re certain aspects, certain moments that do not bring anything to the film, but we do appreciate them simply because we’re looking it through a certain frame of reference. One might label it a satellite-film, like this little achievement here from Miguel Mesas. And in that capacity The Hunt for Gollum so superbly demonstrates what a genius Mr. Jackson is.

Note: The film can be viewed here - http://www.thehuntforgollum.com/. More about the film can be learnt on this site.

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