Focus on the final battle of “Return of the King”, and on a particularly risky shoot for Peter Jackson and his team, because it took place… on a minefield of the New Zealand army.
Led by Aragorn to the Gates of Mordor to allow Frodo and Sam to reach Mount Doom, the last Free Men of Gondor and Rohan prepare to do battle one last time with the formidable armies of Sauron.
Everyone remembers the epic clash that ends the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But if the characters of the saga all put their lives on the line during the final battle of the Return of the King, their performers, too, took enormous risks when shooting the scene.
Indeed, as director Peter Jackson recounts in the film’s audio commentary, the sequence was filmed in a particularly dangerous area and in an … explosive atmosphere:
“It must be said about this setting that it is the only almost flat desert in New Zealand”, explains the filmmaker. “It is near the Ruapehu on an army maneuvering ground. It has been taking bombs for 40 years. Grenades, mortar fire, aerial bombs. It is a closed area, closed to the public because everything the land is mined. We asked the military for help because it was the only place to film, the only landscape of this type in New Zealand. “
In order to guarantee maximum safety for the team during the filming, and to ensure that no rider exploded in the middle of the race, an enormous demining work was therefore carried out on the site before Peter Jackson came there. put down his cameras:
“The sluts rolled their eyes at the magnitude of the task and would surely have told us to go and show ourselves”, continues the director. “But the government asked them to give us a hand. The army carried out a demining exercise. They sent their deminers to clean up a land riddled with bombs that had never exploded.”
Despite these precautions, the risk for the actors of stepping on a mine that was still active while filming the sequence still existed, and they therefore had to be extra vigilant before starting:
“On the day of the shooting of the scene, we were treated to a lecture from an officer who listed about 10 kinds of explosives for us,” remembers Peter Jackson. “He said to us, ‘You can run into it. If so, don’t touch anything, raise your hand and a minesweeper will come to you. ”The deminers stood there during the shoot, ready to pounce if we set foot on something that looked like a bomb. . “
The screenwriter and producer Fran Walsh also adds that the filming area was marked out very precisely, and that the army declines all responsibility in the event of an accident outside this perimeter.
Like Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli, risking their lives to eradicate the hordes of Mordor, the Lord of the Rings teams therefore braved their own dangers to bring the trilogy we know to life.
(Re) discover our video dedicated to Aragorn …