Full-length film: Middle Earth comes to Suffolk

THEY are the films which went on to become the most successful blockbusters of all time - featuring the stunning landscape of New Zealand as a backdrop.

THEY are the films which went on to become the most successful blockbusters of all time - featuring the stunning landscape of New Zealand as a backdrop.

But now an amateur prequel to the world-renowned Lord of the Rings trilogy, made on a shoestring budget and filmed in Suffolk, is winning wide acclaim on the internet.

Born of Hope has been written, directed and produced by film enthusiast Kate Madison, who decided West Stow Anglo Saxon village, near Bury St Edmunds, would be a perfect setting for her adaptation of JRR Tolkein's magical world of ogres, elves and orcs.

The 31-year-old, from Cambridge, ploughed her life savings into the project and used a plea on the internet to raise enough money to complete her dream.


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Despite the film only costing �20,000 - compared to Peter Jackson's reported �200million budget on the trilogy - it has already become an online sensation.

And the saxon village reconstructed in the heart of the west Suffolk countryside features as the fictional Dunedain settlement of Taurdal, home to Arador and his son Arathom.

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Ms Madison said the non-commercial production was made purely for entertainment purposes and to “keep the storytelling history of Middle Earth alive”.

Filming, with actors who gave up their time for free, took place in West Stow Country Park over a week in the summer of 2008.

Lance Alexander, visitor services manager at West Stow, said: “Kate contacted us because she thought the Anglo Saxon village was ideal for what she wanted to do - a storyline about rangers living in the wilderness.

“We thought it was a great project. West Stow is a real archaeological site so we always have to be very respectful of that but we realised Kate's attention to detail was very much like our attention to the heritage of the site.”

He added: “Tolkein was also inspired by Anglo Saxon mythology when he wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy so there is a very strong link. We were only too pleased to help.”

Middle Earth will be brought to life at West Stow once again this week as part of a Lord of the Rings themed treasure hunt, called Ring Quest. Families will have to collect clues hidden around the Anglo-Saxon Village and surrounding park to save the realms of dwarves, elves and men, as well as being entered into a draw for a chance to win a Lord of the Rings prize. For more information call 01284 728718.

To watch the film Born of Hope, log onto www.bornofhope.com.

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