Kiwi’s In Film: 6 New Zealand Movies

Saturday, February 11 by Irving Oala

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New Zealand is generally considered to be one of the most picturesque and magical places on the planet, so it only makes sense that a number of films would have been shot there, as it is so conducive to beautiful images. The Kiwis have been receptive to all types of films and their film industry is surprisingly strong for such a small country surrounded by ocean. Check out six New Zealand movies listed below so you can get a good idea of where you want to visit before you actually take the long, expensive trip.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

This first of the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy was shot in New Zealand and was really the first widely known blockbuster to have been shot in the small island nation. Or at least that people in the public knew about, due to the fact that Peter Jackson was from there. It shows some of the fantastical elements that are native to the New Zealand region, making it the perfect setting for an epic fantasy tale. The story of how the sets were constructed years before shooting has been widely told, but that doesn't take away from the lush greenery and epic backdrops that New Zealand provides.

"Whale Rider."

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This smaller independent film from Niki Caro that was truly beautiful to watch followed native New Zealand tribes who lived on the ocean. You can actually visit the towns where the author lived and the film was shot, if you ever get the opportunity to visit New Zealand. Riding whales in real life however is a much more dangerous proposition, so it's probably best you don't randomly dive into the ocean and start grabbing on to sea mammals. Plus, sharks seem to like that part of the south Pacific. Be that as it may, "Whale Rider" benefit immensely from its beautiful setting, and a tour of such would be pretty awesome.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

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The second installment in the epic "Lord of the Rings" trilogy stayed in New Zealand as well, showing off even more of the fantastical land. At least the parts that weren't shot within the comforts of a studio or imagined digitally on a computer, which were numerous as there were a lot of battle scenes in this second part of the trilogy. That said, the magical nature surrounding the people making the film undoubtedly inspired them. Instead of the rolling green expanses of the Shire, we were treated to thick woods, rocky crags, and deadly marshes. For such a small place, New Zealand seems to have a lot going on, eh?

"Sleeping Dogs."

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This small film made in 1977 was done by Roger Donaldson and began a modern era of films on the island nation. 200 films have been shot in the 30 plus years since this film was made, a film which kicked off the career of famous actor Sam Neil, who has since become an internationally renowned actor. Big things in cinema regularly come from this small country. You wouldn't think such a beautiful place as New Zealand would make a good setting for a movie about a fascist police state, but then again, the island seems suited to whatever the story calls for.

"North Country."

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This second film from Niki Caro in 2005 starred Charlize Therron and Jeremy Renner and was about the first ever sexual harassment case in the United States, even though it was set in New Zealand. It followed a woman working in a factory who is harassed and stalked by men. This went to prove you could shoot just about any type of film in New Zealand with the right production. In contrast to the brightly-lit palettes of

This early film from super-director Peter Jackson helped provide him the launch pad to move up in the movie business. How exactly this wacky, low-budget movie impressed people is anyone's guess. It must have had something to do with being set in New Zealand. The same movie in Randomtown, USA wouldn't have had the same bravado as a bunch of Aussie's doing battle with aliens come to Earth to kidnap people for their intergalactic fast food franchise. Seriously, that's the plot. Look it up! In actuality, the movie is pretty fun, albeit cheap and ridiculous, and the New Zealand backdrop added much-needed power to the cinematography.