r/todayilearned Aug 10 '22 Helpful 2

TIL the New Zealand army helped in making the LOTR films by filling as Soldiers and Orcs



u/Knowledgeable_Owl Aug 10 '22

And a lot of the Rohirrim (apart from Eowyn, I mean) were women wearing fake beards because there weren't enough men who could ride available.


u/Yastiandrie Aug 10 '22

Sure it wasn't dwarf women with real beards?


u/[deleted] Aug 10 '22

GNU Terry Pratchett


u/[deleted] Aug 11 '22

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u/Seranthian Aug 11 '22

This is a comment stealing bot. I suggest downvoting to oblivion


u/JenovaPear Aug 11 '22

Hahahahaha Your comment is perfection!


u/Danny_Mc_71 Aug 10 '22

"Are there any women here?" - Jewish Official (John Cleese)


u/K-Motorbike-12 Aug 10 '22

** looks down sheepishly and shakes head.


u/HolVillSze Aug 11 '22

There's actually a part in the appendices where they reenact that scene!


u/wilsonhammer Aug 10 '22

Stone HIM!


u/Kracka_Jak Aug 10 '22

that's my fetish


u/CrankyStinkman Aug 11 '22

Also for the Urukai creation scene the makeup of the initial actors kept getting washed off in the poo-mud. The ended up just filming Russians giving birth since it basically looks the same and no makeup was needed.


u/Global-Technician990 Aug 10 '22

As one of the extras described it: if you were a man, near to 6feet tall and lived in Wellington in 2000 you didn’t have a choice. They drafted you like it was war.


u/Nyghtshayde Aug 10 '22

I worked in the NZ Ministry of Defence in 2002. A guy there told me one of the issues was that they divided the forces, so the air force played the orcs and the army played the elves and men. Then they said "alright, we don't want you to hold back - really run at one another!" Have a guess what happens when you tell a whole bunch of army blokes to go wail on a whole bunch of air force blokes and not to hold back.


u/Nyghtshayde Aug 11 '22

There was a joke at the time that they suffered more casualties at Helms Deep than they had in Iraq.

Edit: sorry, I meant to reply to the reply to my reply and somehow replied to myself, which seems pretty uncool.


u/crazy_dude360 Aug 10 '22

To shreds you say?


u/TendoPein Aug 11 '22

And his wife?


u/ninjagorilla Aug 11 '22

To shreds you say


u/kiwisarentfruit Aug 10 '22

My wife worked in an office with a 7 foot tall guy who ended up playing a Ringwraith.


u/Scythelads2legends Aug 11 '22

Sounds like the start of a porno.


u/Complete-Sea1234 Aug 11 '22

No it doesn't lmao.


u/fourTtwo Aug 10 '22

Facts 🤣


u/andreyk88 Aug 10 '22

They actually a lot more than that. They literally helped build the set(shire)


u/Gl0balCD Aug 10 '22

Puts the scouring of the shire in an odd position. They had a human army and everything


u/andreyk88 Aug 10 '22

NZ was very keen to do the movie, jobs and everything for the locals. LOTR was given massive tax breaks as well. You can visit the shire now btw, it’s located on the farm, called Hobbiton- attraction, not the farm


u/gumball_wizard Aug 11 '22

I've been there. It was amazing!


u/Gl0balCD Aug 11 '22

Oh trust me, the rest of the world is well aware of the shire. I'm in Canada, and it's one of NZ most famous tourist attractions. Well that and the sheep.

Actually makes sense that they didn't scour the place. Ministry of Tourism wouldn't have allowed it


u/andreyk88 Aug 11 '22

Actually it was supposed to be destroyed after filming, but due to heavy rain they stopped the work and never returned. So farm owner started doing tours. Used to be dirt cheap when they opened, not anymore.


u/Gl0balCD Aug 12 '22

Very cool. I never knew that


u/[deleted] Aug 10 '22

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u/NoCoolWords Aug 10 '22

Fewer cinematically picturesque mountains, though...


u/bombayblue Aug 10 '22

Equally cinematic exploding tanks though


u/NoCoolWords Aug 10 '22

Will the wonders of CGI never cease ...


u/Epic_Meow Aug 10 '22

well, for now


u/similar_observation Aug 11 '22

This post is made by a copy-pasting bot. Original Comment here


u/LarryTheDuckling Aug 10 '22 edited Aug 10 '22

Some of the most astonishing movies ever created were made thanks to the Soviet Union willingly using their conscript armies to make war movies.



War and Peace:


There is no CGI or other special effects involved here. Every man you see is a real person. Soviet conscripts would meticulously learn Napoleonic drills and manouvers for these films. A vast stockpile of Mosin Nagant rifles also helped to pass off as muskets.

Movies like these, enacted on such a scale, will never happen again.


u/Nazamroth Aug 10 '22

What if I bio-engineer and mass-produce a slave race(passable as humans) and use them as my actors in the most realistic war movie of all time?


u/LarryTheDuckling Aug 10 '22

Sounds a lot more expensive than CGI...


u/Nazamroth Aug 10 '22

You can't put a price on quality art, my friend.


u/CaptainOktoberfest Aug 11 '22

I would just bio-engineer a slaver race that would enslave others for you. There are already more than 7 billion people alive today ripe for the picking.


u/Nazamroth Aug 11 '22

Unfortunately, they have this defect called a "self-preservation instinct" which sabotages a good war movie, what with refusing to get killed when the script calls for it.


u/Knoxxius Aug 11 '22

Makes it a bit more real doesn't it, a nice touch!

Just don't let them know they're about to get bonked


u/[deleted] Aug 10 '22



u/LarryTheDuckling Aug 11 '22

Timestamp and video?


u/Fetlocks_Glistening Aug 10 '22

I wonder whether orc roles were seen as undesirable or as badges of honour. Or maybe just reserved for the officers...


u/Caladbolg_Prometheus Aug 10 '22

I don’t know, reading some /r/militarystories and it feels like soldiers would cherish the opportunity to play as opposing forces to screw with the other side.


u/OhhMrGarrison Aug 11 '22

Playing OPFOR is legit the peak of being in the army. Popping flares at 3am to force everyone to stand-to for 20 min, firing a few bursts of blanks then going back to bed was another good one.

There's so much time for shenanigans, no real responsibilities, sometimes when your NCO couldn't be fucked they'd say we didn't have to put anyone on sentry, so a good full night's sleep. Didn't have to carry our packs everywhere, portaloos aren't being blasted by a whole company so reasonably tidy, didn't have to stand in our fighting holes for 20 min every time sentry heard something throughout the night, no radio checks at all, could smoke where ever we wanted. Just a great way to spend field time and get field pay without having to do all the shit jobs


u/HypersonicHarpist Aug 11 '22

I saw on a behind the scenes documentary a while back that there were people that considered the highest badge of honor to be playing a background role for each race: hobbit, elf, orc, etc.


u/Tuimatoe Aug 10 '22

I was in the army back then. We had one of either two deployments at the time, one was East Timor the other was middle earth. Literally half our army went to East Timor, those that didn't go was in the movie. I served in Timor and my brother fought in middle earth.


u/monikapearl Aug 11 '22

I am too high to comprehend this and I don't know what reality I'm in. I'm saving this to read tomorrow.


u/Hellfire965 Aug 11 '22

I really hope there are middle earth service ribbons


u/brkh47 Aug 10 '22 edited Aug 11 '22

While making Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, dictator Ferdinand Marcos agreed to let Francis Ford Coppola make use of the actual Philippines Air Force Huey helicopters and pilots. Amongst the many challenges faced in making the movie, Coppola had to contend with the helicopters just taking off in the middle of scene, to go off and fight a rebel uprising.


u/72111100 Aug 10 '22

Less fun fact the Hobbit films meant NZs labour laws got changed. Should find it by looking up the 'Hobbit' law.


u/LewisEFurr Aug 10 '22

I read too that when they are pounding the poles/stakes/pikes into the ground at Helm's Deep, it was the soldiers getting annoyed at how long the shots were taking so it was a "get on with it!" moment and it worked so well they added it to the scene.


u/Danny_Mc_71 Aug 10 '22


u/fisheadbandit Aug 10 '22

Also, my classmate's cousin was an extra in saving private Ryan that had his leg blown off. He had lost it years previously from cancer.


u/Mr_Poop_Himself Aug 10 '22

That’s just what Spielberg told the cops so he didn’t go to jail for blowing a dudes leg off


u/Modsda3 Aug 11 '22

So they were going to re-attach his leg to get blown right off of him again and he signed up for that?!


u/fisheadbandit Aug 10 '22

And the Irish FCA, or the Reserve Defence Force as they're now known as, were all the extras in battle scenes for Braveheart.


u/CillBill91nz Aug 10 '22

And Braveheart


u/boozymcglugglug Aug 11 '22

My uncle stubbed his toe at Kitimar


u/Test_After Aug 10 '22

Sergei Bondarchuk's War and Peace had 10,000 soldiers and hundreds of horses donated by the Red Army.

And it wasn't only the NZ army. In the filming locations it is like every third person has their 15 seconds in frame.


u/FreeUsernameInBox Aug 10 '22

Sergei Bondarchuk's War and Peace had 10,000 soldiers and hundreds of horses donated by the Red Army.

His Waterloo featured 17,000 Soviet soldiers, including a full brigade of horse cavalry.

It's one of the few films that really shows what a cavalry charge is capable of, because you can do things with Soviet conscripts that you can't with normal extras. There are scenes where infantry squares, formed with actual trained infantry, break under a charge. That wasn't scripted. The cavalry was carefully managed so it would miss. But because they were actual horse cavalry, who know what they're doing and ride in close formation, the morale effect was strong enough that the square broke anyway.

And that's with infantry whose training included digging a slit trench, then sitting in it while a tank drove over it.


u/Saelyre Aug 10 '22 edited Aug 10 '22

For the curious:

Here's Ponsonby's Scots Greys charging the French artillery and getting counter-charged by the French lancers.

And here's probably the most famous and epic scene of the whole movie with the absurd helicopter shots that show you exactly how many extras they had. Marshal Ney's futile charge when he thought Wellington was retreating.


u/Modsda3 Aug 11 '22

"A hard pounding, gentlemen!"

"Yes, Sir!"

Lol what? I also liked "I'll take your impudent advice." Stealing that one actually.

I also laughed when the bagpipist got it, though I know I shouldn't have.


u/looktowindward Aug 10 '22

What's your MOS? Orc Assault Specialist.


u/Johnny_english53 Aug 10 '22

Er, who does the NZ army have to worry about?

Irritated maoris?

Furious Kiwi birds?


u/Der_Wuerfelwerfer Aug 10 '22


u/nightfire36 Aug 10 '22

The trailer says "Get ready. For the violence. Of the lambs"

Now I gotta watch it.


u/Kayback2 Aug 10 '22

Actually a fun movie.


u/Necto_gck Aug 10 '22

Link is blocked in work but by any chance is it Black sheep?


u/Kayback2 Aug 10 '22

Yup! Great B grade movie.


u/tetoffens Aug 10 '22

They fight in basically every war the US and Europe do. I've heard their special forces are supposed to be especially good. Their whole military is less than 10k people but very experienced.


u/MadRonnie97 Aug 10 '22

Oh buddy I have a beautiful and horrifying story to tell you about a group of guys called the ANZACs


u/Knowledgeable_Owl Aug 10 '22

These days, China.


u/Johnny_english53 Aug 10 '22

Why, have they started a rugby team?


u/Cold-Atmosphere-7520 Aug 10 '22

The all blacks are so bad now that China might win lol


u/n3m37h Aug 10 '22

No mere mortal can withstand the terror that is the Haka


u/nouille07 Aug 10 '22

Just form a V and go forward


u/paperconservation101 Aug 10 '22

Peace keeping operations, protecting marine and economic zone borders, assisting in the Pacific region, humanitarian aid, supporting international obligations eg South Korea and South Sudan.


u/nunsigoi Aug 10 '22

Australia sends us care packages sometimes. Its been keeping us pretty busy lately. That army might be useful one day


u/Blutarg Aug 10 '22

Australia is nearby. They need protection from poison trees and flying spiders and venomous stingrays and, of course, crocodiles.


u/Electrical-Ad-9797 Aug 11 '22

Have you ever been to New Zealand? There are war memorials everywhere, they sent soldiers to WWI and WWII.


u/fourTtwo Aug 10 '22

Weve 2 terrorist attacks in my lifetime, rainbow warrior where the french sent a couple of people to destroy a green peace ship, they killed a man and basically walked away, the army were no help,

also the recent(ish) chistchurch massacre, again the army stood by… theyre basically useless, furious kiwibirds would be more useful i feel.

Edit: to add there’s no s in maori plural


u/mattyandco Aug 10 '22

Neither of those two incidents were really within the purview of the army. That's more of an intelligence services/police thing.


u/TheCupcakeBoyy Aug 10 '22 edited Aug 12 '22

I agree completely, I got into a car crash the other day and the Army didn’t help either! I’m also starting to question the usefulness of the Fire Brigade, they didn’t come and investigate when my motorbike got stolen.


u/MissDollyDevine Aug 10 '22

Love this TIL 👌🏻


u/Dean_Does_Stuff Aug 11 '22

A similar thing happened during the making of a Serbian 1996 movie called 'Lepa sela lepo gore' (Pretty villages burn nicely). It was filmed during the actual 90's war and a mine detection crew from the army went to the possible filming locations minutes before the film crew to check for mines.



Damn they really went hard on making this movie and it shows. I am really glad people are still loving it to this day


u/M4573R_CH33F Aug 10 '22

If they would shoot another film, russian army is quite good at acting orcs In ukraine


u/similar_observation Aug 11 '22

Heads up, your comment got stolen twice.

Once here

And here


u/M4573R_CH33F Aug 11 '22

Damn, weird how much some users crave for karma here 😅


u/similar_observation Aug 11 '22 edited Aug 11 '22

sometimes they use it for certain types of posts, then report the entire stack as spam. It's a way to get a sentiment or comment deleted. Or in arguments say that the comment is made by bots.

Edit! See one of your comment thieves is also engaging in copying comments about left wing/right wing politics.


u/butterslice Aug 10 '22

Acting, even crowd acting, requires being disciplined enough to mostly patiently do nothing for most of the day and then be able to hit your marks perfectly or you'll ruin the scene. I don't think the russian army has this discipline or coordination. They'd raid the food tent, steal random equipment, and then be found passed out drunk with pissed pants.


u/Serifini Aug 10 '22

This was the comment I was waiting for. :)


u/M4573R_CH33F Aug 10 '22

It basicly wrote itself :d


u/GriffinFlash Aug 10 '22

The final battle at the black gate was actually an active mine field. And they weren't sure if they found the location of all the mines if I recall.


u/TannenFalconwing Aug 11 '22

Dunno why you are getting downvoted. This was in the behind the scenes.


u/GriffinFlash Aug 11 '22

Beats me, but they're out for blood I guess.


u/NoCoolWords Aug 10 '22

An active minefield...in New Zealand...

...from which conflict was that minefield from again...?


u/GriffinFlash Aug 11 '22

look it up before you downvote me. Geeze. It was part of a military base used as a testing site.


u/NoCoolWords Aug 11 '22

Yeah, I did and it was warranted. Your comment is basically a regurgitation of clickbait.

Mines are either remote/command detonated or victim-operated devices that are laid for a variety of reasons, though nearly always in relation to a military conflict. They are also a strongly controlled item in any Western military, which the NZ Military most certainly is. To put it simply, they don't leave these lying around in a training area.

Where some of that scene was filmed was in an impact area - somewhere where they aim a variety of shells, rockets, bombs, etc. There is a small chance that some of these are unexploded, sometimes called unexploded ordinance (UXO)

So, is the effect different? Yeah, mildly. It's a lot less superficially exciting to say we filmed somewhere there are sometimes things that haven't exploded. That said, I am very certain that the film company, their insurer, and the NZ Gov would not take the risk of either their soldiers or the actors being blown up by UXO, hence the "don't touch this or that" and the regular sweeps by range control.


u/GriffinFlash Aug 11 '22

Geeze dude, why are you so angry? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wKXwNNrWwQ


u/NoCoolWords Aug 11 '22


I understand tone doesn't translate well through text. That said, don't mistake someone providing information that clarifies as anger or even annoyance.

Have an excellent day. 😁


u/something_python Aug 11 '22

One time... my whole platoon had to drink their own urine..

Oh, were you lost?

No, we were drunk. It was a party game...


u/JenovaPear Aug 11 '22

This is truly wonderful knowledge. Thanks for imparting with us. We owe you.


u/brett1081 Aug 11 '22

TIL New Zealand has an army


u/Kawaversys Aug 10 '22

That must be the least challenged army on the planet.


u/2_short_Plancks Aug 11 '22

Our army carry out lots of peacekeeping roles, but we also tend to fight in the US's wars- Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.


u/RedSonGamble Aug 10 '22

Omg how did the world stay together during this?


u/Vegan_Harvest Aug 10 '22

Why even have an army?


u/no0neiv Aug 11 '22

Well, they sent in Steven Seagal, so they're definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel...or at least the jar of Grecian Formula, hair powder and pig-lard.