There Is A Fox On The Red Carpet
Due to loading times only a few of the total 121 photographs I took at the The Hobbit DoS Premiere are shown below. Chose from the sub galleries below to see more photographs. Clicking on any of the shown thumbs gets you to the respective subgallery.
Berlin (Germany), December 9th, 2013
It's been 10 years almost to the day (just 1 day short) since I went to the Lord of the Rings, Return of the King premiere at Berlin on December 10th, 2003. Being a big Tolkien fan, first the books way before anyone thought of making a film and now the movies, it was natural to go to the Hobbit premiere. I got a note of the date while I was roaming Southern Wales and without knowing who'd come and who'd not I booked a flight and hotel via my smart phone. I knew the atmosphere would be fabulous. No matter how old you get, there is always something you do for the first time in life.
The plan had been to fly from Cologne to Berlin on Sunday and return on Tuesday morning. Well, I threw that overboard and took the car to make my almost 7 hour ride up to the northeast on Saturday. Why I still make plans is just beyond me since most of the time I change everything to go spontaneously with the flow.
Just like 10 years ago I checked into the Mandala hotel, which was an Embassy hotel all those years back, and to my utter surprise got upgraded to a garden suite. The friendly hotel employee who brought me to my room was kind of flabbergasted when I declined her offer to explain how to operate the technology in the room. I'm a tech nerd, no need for explanations. :-D
The advantage of the Mandala hotel is obvious. It is located directly opposite the Sony Center where the premiere should take place. Just across the road; perfect for loo breaks or to get warmed up once you have secured your spot behind the barriers and made friends with the people around you.
The first thing to do was of course to have a look and check out the situation at the Sony Center on Saturday. It was busy, not just with tourists, but also with building what seems to become a dragon for the premiere. Thus I stayed, had my supper at the Josty's restaurant from where you can overlook the entire place. It was kind of a déjà vu because I did the very same those 10 years ago.
I also had the opportunity to talk to the people who were working on the dragon and funnily it turned out that the very same people had made the One Ring in 2003 for the Lord of the Rings premiere. They told me that none of them were aware at that time that the ring's writing had been upside down, only later on fan web pages they had learnt about that fact. "But it got approved that way", the responsible person for the dragon said apologetically. No need to apologise. I thought it had its very own charm.
They had started to bring the dragon in on Friday, right during unfriendly storm Xaver and got almost blown away. Nothing could stop them to continue in bringing their work to live. I told him it was a pity that after the premiere the dragon would be ripped to pieces; all the hard work. He smiled back at me, "well, the dragon stays until the mid of January as some kind of an exhibition", he said. Good!
While the painting and grooming of the dragon continued I circled the center to find out where to stand at the premiere. The barriers were already in place (nice Berlin!!) So it was a lot easier to assume where fans were allowed and were not. There was obviously a special place for Facebook "winners" and I had to laugh when I spotted the sign that said "Facebook fan cave" right in front of the Josty restaurant. It does bear some kind of humour because it is exactly like that when you stand behind the barriers.
I had planned to check upon the amount of fans gathering at 3am on the premier morning. I woke up at two. And since I follow intuition, I joined in on the fun at 2:25 am. It turned out that quite a few fans had made up camp, despite the nasty wet conditions; now sleeping on the ground with plastic planes left and right to have at least a somewhat dry place.
It was not long when I spotted some fans in awesome costumes and I chatted up the lovely Arabic security guy who had a look at the safety of the already built up decorations. At 3.30 am, I did not believe what my eyes were seeing. There was a fox on the red carpet, no kidding. I've seen documentaries about the foxes in the cities, but only had seen some in Dublin and that did not count since at that time I was on the outskirts. True and behold, a real fox and despite so many people surrounding that place, it took its time to inspect even the dragon! Sadly enough another security guy made loud noises to chase it away - idiot! By the time I had the camera out the fox had vanished. For some sort of reason I thought then and still think it had something of Tolkien's spirit visiting that place to give it his blessings.
Around 10 am the local Starbucks finally opened. Coffee!!!!!!!!! And they too had prepared for the occasion. "For Warmth and Comfort" said the sales sign inside Starbucks offering a Sméagol Mocha and a Legolas and Thranduil Latte (LOL). Not just that, they also ran around with tanks on the back, filled with coffee, to make fans happy that were not coming into their store.
Normally the time is dragging at any movie premiere. But not this time. The action started early. Air New Zealand stewards and stewardesses were handing out New Zealand coffee and hot chocolate. I have no idea how many times they went inside the cinema so even the last fan in the last row could get something. Not only that, they also handed out a lovely Din A-4-sized picture with autograph space on the back for the ones unfortunate enough to not have brought own signing material.
I also asked what would be the best way to get oneself booked on the "dragon"-plane. Simple enough answer was to just call Air New Zealand. :-D
At 6pm Steven Gätjen started his "show" announcing that the first actors were already on the way to have enough time to sign. They also had an interview place almost right in front of my nose. The interviews were supposed to be broadcasted via the outside speakers. They tested it alright, but when the interviews happened, I at least could not hear a single word that was said. I don't know whether it was just my spot only or throughout the red carpet.
Steven also announced that there were about 260 tickets to be given away to fans to see the film. The two hobbit clad girls behind me piped up, Steven nodded, and we thought everything was alright for them; that they would get their tickets. Weeeellllllll.....
I had positioned myself directly under the Sony Center screen. At big premieres like this, they usually air the arrival of the actors and what is happening around the red carpet. And so they did this time as well. The first two to arrive were Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and James Nesbitt (Bofur). They went all the way through directly to the interview area, making signs to come back later to the fans. "Ohhh good, two to keep the press busy, while the rest can calmly sign away." Awesome idea!
While I was trying to get pictures of Martin and James through the gaps the bypassing people and the Warner Brothers bunch of important looking people left me, out of nowhere suddenly James Nesbitt stood in front of me, making small talk. So we talked about the weather, how much colder it was at the Return of the King premiere and that this was tropical compared to that. He also asked me whether his tie was looking alright. LOL, one cannot shock me! I would have bound his tie anew if it had not been alright.
I think it was the chattiest premiere I've ever had so far. Andy Serkis (Gollum / 2nd unit director) also appeared out of nowhere and I genuinely smiled all over my face. He was not announced and I thought he'd not be there. He smiled right back and said "You did not think I'd forget you". I got the on Twitter promised caramel chocolate delivered to Graham McTavish (Dwalin). Adam (Ori) waved all smiles and with Philippa Boyens (screenplay) I pondered the fact that there was not a tissue box big enough for part three to come.
John Bell (Bain) came in kilt and posed for my camera. Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Benedict Cumberbatch (voice of Smaug / Necromancer) and Luke Evans (Bard) signed until they had reached every single place where fans stood, even behind the dragon! My friend had brought the DVD cover of North & South and Richard had a really surprised look on his face when he noticed. Another friend said to Richard "thank you for brightening my life" to which he responded with a surprised "thank you". I noticed that Ken Stott (Balin) did not sign pictures only autograph books or empty papers. Very quietly and calmly Ryan Gage (Alfrid) signed along. It is always hard to be at a premiere when your character is not known to the audience yet. It brought a smile to my face when I noticed a month later that he also plays King Louis XIII in the BBC adaptation of the Musketeers.
Of course not everyone came over to us, but that lies in the nature of such big events. You miss to yell loudly when you are busy otherwise. So, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, Peter Jackson, Katie Jackson, Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly did not make it to our spot.
While the actors were still doing their interviews with the press and entering the cinema, Steven started to hand out the promised premiere tickets. Oh boy! He went everywhere and obviously had forgotten the two hobbits behind me. When all seemed lost, our entire block started calling, waving, pointing and in the end we had a happy end. Two tickets for two Hobbits. Phew!
The actors appeared of course on the Cinemaxx balcony and I had missed the opportunity to quickly change places further up front. The dragon was blocking the view of the balcony. But the tickets for the two Hobbits had been more important. Thus, I enjoyed Peter Jackson's introduction of the actors on the big screen behind me. Benedict Cumberbatch went totally overboard, waving his mobile to the fan crowd below the balcony, mouthing that his father was on the phone. LOL! It also looked like everyone was enjoying the atmosphere.
Later on television, there was a very much in awe Richard Armitage not really emotionally comprehending the fact that there was a fan clad as Thorin Oakenshield, his role. When asked whether the fan was a girl or a boy he said he could not tell. Well, it was a girl and I have taken pictures. :-D
Dean O'Gorman was in awe that the fans had called him and Aidan Turner with Mr to get their autographs "... And they are so polite! Nobody ever calls me Mr ...".
The premier was all I had hoped for. I knew it would have a special atmosphere and there was only one tiny incident that dampened the joy of it all for a brief moment and which let me completely erupt in anger (yes there resides a dragon inside me, ready to spit fire). When the actors had all left and Steven was handing out the premiere tickets to the two Hobbits, there was a Spanish speaking girl, literally elbowing her way into the front row, neglecting the fact that she stepped on and over people, waving her passport. See, I do get passion and I do get desires, but that is no reason to treat other people like that. To accept to hurt others to achieve the own goals is such an egoistic stance. If you come late you have to accept that. I, too, stood in second and third rows. It never occurred to me to stop at nothing, just to get better pictures. I deal with what I get. And in an unmistakable tone and quite loudly I made that clear to her in English. Of course she pretended not to understand me, but hell, I would not be me if I had not spoken up.