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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Remembering Linda

Michael brought home the DVD for “The Hobbit.”  Of course I watched it.  I’ve written of the Tolkien stories before in these blogs

I first found The Hobbit when I was in about the sixth or seventh grade, perhaps 1957.  It may have been before that because I began reading from the adult section as soon as I was allowed.  I believe that was at the beginning of the eight grade.  I found The Hobbit in the children’s section of the library.  I can even remember exactly where I was standing when I found it—in the front left hand corner of the library.  There was a shelf section of about eight feet or so between the corner and the window.  The hobbit was on the second or third shelf in about the middle.  I remember because I went back there to pick up The Hobbit again several times even after I graduated to the adult section.  It was considered a “children’s book.”

The Trilogy of the Rings did not become widely available in the US until later in the 1950’s and I probably found it in 1959 or ‘60.  I devoured that as soon as I discovered it on the adult shelves.

When Peter Jackson presented his movie version of the Trilogy I was excited to see it, even though many of the exciting portions had to be cut in order to keep it from becoming a long running series instead of three movies.  In the end of 2012, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opened and just a few days ago it came out on DVD.   Michael and Rachael surprised me with it Friday evening.  Saturday morning (March 23) I watched The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey.  It was ‘okay’ but only because I had read the book before.  If I hadn’t known the story I would have said the movie was great.  This morning I watched the second disc.  It was a compilation of ‘extras”—scenes of New Zealand, video blogs about production, and copies of the trailers as well as previews of the games the movie has spawned.

The blogs were what impressed me the most.  They were made to give fans insights into the production and shooting of the movie. 

When I was director of the day care, my head teacher for quite a few years was Linda Mitchell.  I’m not sure how she became involved in day care but she was an excellent early childhood teacher without the degree in early childhood education.  Her first love however was the theater and movies.  Her bachelor’s degree was in Theater, I believe.  She was involved the local little theater group, interested in movies and sci fi conventions. We spent a lot of time, in between the business of caring for children and the needs of the day care, talking about the little theater.  Linda was seldom involved in the on-stage aspects of the productions, the acting, singing, dancing, etc.  She was interested in the back stage production.

 These video blogs have brought memories of her back in force.  How she would have loved the scope and wonder of the Rings and the Hobbit!  The intricacies involved in costuming especially would have drawn her in.  I was amazed to see the actors and then the dwarves they became.  Because there were 13 of them and they were the ‘stars’ of the show, their costumes involved foot after foot after foot of costumes for the myriad of scenes and actions.  Transforming them from men into dwarves required several hours of make-up.  I enjoyed watching the process.  Linda would have loved the wigs and prosthetics and actual make-up to achieve coloring that would film correctly!

The set requirements were extensive.  Hobbiton was built of polystyrene for the Rings movies.  For The Hobbit it was built of real materials on site then left for tourists to experience.  The intricate planning and construction was breath taking.  And of course, not everything could be filmed on site so there were acres it seemed of sites constructed on the production lots—the goblin caves, Elrond’s house, the interior of Bilbo’s hobbit-hole.  And they were all intricate to the last detail. It took my breath away.  I could envision Linda involved in each and every part of it, whichever allowed her talents for drawing, painting and creating effects.

For the very first time I caught a glimpse of the reason for her fascination with behind the scenes work for the theater and, by extension, movies. 

Linda Mitchell, you were loved and remembered fondly.

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