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Hobbits, rings and New Zealand: 5 films to inspire your studies abroad

The Hobbit 2 is released this month around the world. Read about how Peter Jackson's films have inspired more people to visit and study in New Zealand. What other films have paid tribute to the beauty and wonder of specific cities?


The Hobbit 2 was released in cinemas this month. This got us thinking about how we get an idea of a location in the world through what we see of it in films. Hopefully this is a positive representation; or it opens our eyes to a place we have never really thought about or never knew was so magical.


New Zealand's explosion in popularity

Director Peter Jackson has chosen New Zealand as the backdrop for his Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and now The Hobbit trilogy works. A native himself, Jackson has done more for tourism in New Zealand than anyone could have imagined; the country's breathtaking landscapes acting as a backdrop to almighty clashes between humans, orcs, elves and giant apes. A whole generation has discovered New Zealand making journeys to there as a result – including those who aren't fans of the films themselves! More eyes have been brought to the country, which is great news for international education in the country.


Benefit for local graduates

A country like New Zealand really benefits from being the location of choice for such films, especially its film and television industry. Hollywood studios are more likely to hire local production crews and actors if they look outside America for filming locations. For example recently, the BBC’s recent drama series Top of the Lake was set in New Zealand, and saw big name actors from America and the UK travel to film there. For those graduating from Film and Television courses, such as Film/Video Production, Film/Video Lighting and Film/Video Direction, you can be hired to work with the biggest names without moving all the way to America. However, countries like New Zealand and Australia do have their own respected film industries even if they don't quite compare in size and scope to America's; each year, these produce smaller, but acclaimed works which do get seen by those who appreciate independent filmmaking, abroad.


More films to inspire you to go abroad...

Below are 5 more film-love letters to cities. If you haven't seen them, do so now and consider these as possible future study destinations...


Manhattan - New York

One of the great American film auteurs, Woody Allen has placed entire cities at the heart of several of his films over the last 50 years; in fact, these cities are characters in their own right because of the loving way he frames them. Allen is a proud New Yorker, and has used the city as a setting to tell stories of love, romance, sex and gender relations for decades. Manhattan begins with a series of prolonged, uninterrupted shots of the city, in all its hustle and bustle. Meanwhile, the film's iconic shot of the Queensboro Bridge at dawn is a staple in American film history.

Study a course in America

Study at a university or college in New York

For students of: Screenwriting

Courtesy of United Artists


Love, Actually - London

London at Christmas is magical. Whether you favour the commercial aspect of the holidays (i.e. the presents), or the opportunity to spend time with loved ones over food and drinks, England's capital has it all. Love, Actually sees several stories interconnected throughout the city, with Oxford Street, the riverbank, Westminster Yacht Club and Downing Street all featured significantly. You really get a sense of the diversity which London is heralded for, with arcs revolving around characters from many socio-economic backgrounds in the story.

Study a course in the UK

Study at a university or college in London

For students of: Politics



Midnight in Paris - Paris

Midnight in Paris sees Woody Allen branch out to Europe, to focus on themes of expatriation and nostalgia. The lead character, who desires to live in Paris as an author and ditch his life as a Hollywood writer, travels through time each night to Paris of the past, meeting various literary and art greats in the process. You'll wish you were walking the serene paths of the city at night too! Allen has also highlighted London and Rome in recent years (in Match Point and To Rome with Love, respectively).

For students of: Creative Writing

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics


The Descendents - Hawaii

Hawaii and its heritage is a central theme in this recent Oscar-winning drama about a lawyer who discovers his wife was having an affair before she slipped into a coma. Characters move between the various islands throughout the film, showcasing why a diverse location like Hawaii has been used as a single location for multiple settings in the past – whether coastal, rural or urban, east or west, Hawaii is quickly becoming a choice location for filmmakers working on ambitious and expansive projects.

Study a course in America

Study at a university or college in Hawaii

For students of: Law



Before Sunrise - Vienna

The first in a trilogy, Before Sunrise is the tale of an American man and a French woman, who meet by chance on a train in Europe, and decide to spend a single day together in Vienna. The film is largely just the pair learning about one another – differences and all – as they take in the city around them, both outsiders in a new place and revealing themselves intimately to someone they have just met. The two sequels would retain this continental flair, being set in Paris and Greece.

For students of: Languages

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures


Interested in studying a Film & Television course in New Zealand? Here are a few universities to look in to...



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'5 Famous faces who studied abroad'

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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.