You shall not pass!
Unless you’re North Vancouver student Bianca Poroliseanu, then you can come to Middle Earth, watch the uncut version of the newest “Hobbit” movie, and meet director Sir Peter Jackson.
Poroliseanu, 20, won the opportunity of a lifetime through a contest held by Warner Brothers to promote “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies,” set to be released in Canada on Dec. 17.
But one does not simply walk into such a prize. The Capilano University student had to create a video, among other tasks, to demonstrate how she was one of the biggest “Hobbit” fans in the world and to set her apart from 140,000 international entries.
Poroliseanu, who is known in her motion arts picture program as “the 'Lord Of The Rings' girl,” had her work cut out for her. She saw the first LOTR movie when she was eight years old (and re-enacted it in her backyard with her cousin), leading to a lifelong love of the characters and storylines created by author J.R.R. Tolkien in his fantasy books.
“I've loved it and just the world of filmmaking has been a huge passion for me since then," she told The Huffington Post B.C. over the phone.
"And I was really intrigued watching all of the behind-the-scenes of the 'Lord Of The Rings' and that’s what pretty much sparked by desire in becoming a filmmaker."
Poroliseanu’s passion and fan knowledge obviously got through to a judging panel; she was the only Canadian fan chosen to fly to New Zealand, along with 74 other winners from around the world. The dream prize trip, which included visiting places where the “LOTR” and “Hobbit” films were shot, was valued at more than US$15,000.
For a week in November, Poroliseanu embarked on an experience any LOTR fan would kill for.
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The winners were greeted with a traditional Maori welcome upon arrival at Rotorua, but the trip didn't hit Poroliseanu until the group visited Hobbiton, the home of the Hobbits in the Jackson-directed movies.
“I got really emotional as well everyone else that was there too. We were all crying,” said Poroliseanu. “It was the first moment that it really hit us. We’re on this amazing trip that nobody else is ever going to be able to do. It was truly a privilege.”
But the tears didn't end there.
The fans made their way to the Green Dragon Inn, frequently visited by the characters in the movies. Poroliseanu got the chance to open up the curtains to reveal the rest of the pub, and as she did, the fans were surprised to see four of the actors that played dwarves in the series.
“My brain exploded and I didn't know how to react so I just started crying.”
Poroliseanu had to hang on to those tissues, because the fans then watched the uncut version of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” — with director Peter Jackson.
“As soon as he walked in the room everybody stood up and I just started crying again,” Poroliseanu said. “To see him in real life — it was a privilege. It’s not an experience I’ll ever take for granted.”
Jackson stuck around after the screening for a Q&A and to sign autographs, something Poroliseanu said was the highlight of the trip. (She's actually heading back to New Zealand in February to continue her studies as part of Capilano University’s study abroad program.)
So how was the highly anticipated movie?
Poroliseanu said it was fairly true to the book and is a great way to conclude the series. But she didn't reveal any spoilers.
“I can tell you that there are some really awesome dwarves, and some elves, and a battle. There’s maybe a battle,” Poroliseanu told HuffPost B.C. “It’s an emotional rollercoaster.”
However, she said she noticed one continuity error that she hopes the editing team will fix. She is a future filmmaker, after all.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that the trip was valued at US$75,000. In fact, it is valued at roughly $15,000.