White Mountain The Movie – Part II Filming Locations

Taking a slight break from the Distant Worlds author interview series, hopefully this will be a visual treat for all those who love travelling (in real life or in the imagination) and film addicts like me!

As an avid film fan, back in January I had a bit of fun and shared my vision of White Mountain – The Movie, specifically focusing on my dream cast and director.

So, with visionary Ridley Scott directing, Christopher Plumber as Mr. Agyk, Rufus Sewell as the voice of Gralen, either Natalie Portman or Gemma Arterton as Wendya, a possible Henry Cavill or Aidan Turner as Korrun and charismatic Michael Fassbender as evil villain Morreck, the cast is ready.

For the full cast and character profiles, check out my original post: https://sophieetallis.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/white-mountain-the-movie/

Next we shift our cinematic focus to filming locations for White Mountain – The Movie! 😀

*(Please note that apart from my illustrations and a few of my own photographs, most of the images used to show places/locations are NOT my own unless otherwise stated. Many thanks to their various creators. :D)

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In order of book locations, first up, Mr. Agyk and Gralen’s home, White Mountain itself! Real location: Mont Blanc, Switzerland. (My inspiration: Mount Cook ‘Aoraki’, New Zealand).

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The living room.

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The map room, think of a pyramid room covered in maps and star charts with a central dais and the ‘tapestry of time’ shifting world map on it. (Lol, little bit like the map room in Raiders of the Lost Ark!) 😀

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Next, the ice city of Ïssätun, high up within the Arctic circle. Real location: the Arctic, Svarlbard, and Greenland. (My inspiration: the Franz Josef glacier and glacier terminus, New Zealand).

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The ice dungeons below the city.

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Back to White Mountain and the great library ( I love my libraries!).

Photo of Mount Cook aka White Mountain - CopyWhite Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then travel to the Grey Forest deep within the Russian boreal forest or ‘taiga’. Real location: Russian Urals/Siberia. (My inspiration: Forest of Dean, UK and Wistman’s Woods, Dartmoor, UK).

B5C2A8 Russia Siberia Sayan Mountains And Taiga. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.

Russia Siberia Sayan Mountains And Taiga. Image shot 2007.

 

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The pancake rocks that Mr. Agyk & Gralen spent the night on, as hunting firewolves draw near. Real location: Russian taiga/Siberia. (My inspiration: Combestone Tor, Dartmoor, UK & Punakaiki, South Island, New Zealand).

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Grey Forest clearing

Wendya’s home – a tumble down cottage in the heart of the forest (less Bavarian fairytale and more decrepit than this though).

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Wendya’s summer retreat, high up in the Llrinaru trees – a treetop sanctuary. Real location: Siberia. (My inspiration: the giant Kauri trees of New Zealand).

View over the Grey Forest from Wendya's summer home.

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The Amazon jungle, following the great river and its tributaries deeper into the rainforest.

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The path to the Oracle.

016Jungle path to the 'Oracle of the West'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dead gully.

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The Oracle’s Lair.

chislehurst_03[1]Then cross the Atlantic to the heart of Africa, the Congo Rainforest, home of the most ancient city in the world, Kallorm (Dwellum of old or Silverden in the Ǽllfr tongue). Real location: Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. (My inspiration: the Waipoa rainforest, North Island of New Zealand and Abel Tasman rainforest, South Island of New Zealand).

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The oldest and largest Dworllian realm, Kallorm – the ‘City of Light’ – a bustling subterranean metropolis of crowded honey coloured sandstone buildings, viaducts, bridges, rivers, forums and market squares deep beneath the jungles of the Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). Real locations: Sandstone buildings of Petra, Cairo, Nairobi, Kolcatta, Dwarka. (My inspiration: the narrow crowded architectural streets of Rome, particularly the Roman Forum and the market squares of Florence, Italy).

Firstly, one of the many ancient bridges to cross into Kallorm.

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The White Palace, the Royal House of Kallorm and the Senate, the seat of government. Inspired by Indian and Middle Eastern architecture with some Italian Renaissance thrown in!

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The Falls of Tarro. Real location: the Victoria Falls, border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. (My inspiration: the Huka Falls, New Zealand, Lyford Gorge, Dartmoor, UK and Canonteign Falls, Devon, UK)

69b553d5b8c9dd992b0e4d3076d9469b[1]Falls of Tarro and city of Kallorm

Draellth chambers and catacombs beneath the city of Kallorm. Real location: the Hang Son Dong cave system in Vietnam. (My inspiration: the Waitomo caves, New Zealand and Wookey Hole, Somerset, UK).

The secret passageway behind the Falls of Tarro16fd69ac89d29787b641144be667124d[1]9ebb332cced0f95b3451aa960968cb9a[1]543605b2a694d0cb5add1b5411ccaab2[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ‘Resting Rooms’ of Kallorm, a peaceful sanctuary and haven to heal all wounds amidst the bustle of Kallorm.

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7b25eed066a091d9324ba17a3ebe459c[1]The journey to Fendellin, following the mighty Indus River up to the wild hills and mountains of the Hindu Kush where the demonic snow leopard attacks.

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The Himalayas, searching for the ‘Lost Kingdom of Dragons’, Fendellin.

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Fendellin, ‘The Lost Kingdom of Dragons’ – the vast hidden land within the Himalayas (the Encircling Mountains), originally an Ǽllfren stronghold, now one of the last Dworllian kingdoms and home of all dragon races…also the home of M’Sorreck himself. Real location: Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and Himalayan region. (My inspiration: the Southern Alps, South Island of New Zealand and the Tongariro National Park, North Island, New Zealand + the Tibetan legend of Shambhala).

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The ancient steles beside the iceberg lake in Fendellin.

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Mund’harr and the capital, the Golden City. Real location: Architecture of Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Spain.

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Finding a quiet cloister in the city of clouds…

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The Hanging Gardens of Mund’harr. (My inspiration: the hanging gardens of Babylon & Nineveh).

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The blue poppy fields of Fendellin.

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The Tolltek Pass and the road to Morreck.

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The Shudras – the ‘Silent Marshes’.

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Hal’Torren’s choice, the ruins of Oralam. Real location: the deserts of China.

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The salt lake and Kavok’s Peak.

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Valley of darkness, Morreck’s fortress and the stone Sentinels.

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The sentinels

The Cavern of Souls – Morreck’s lair. Real location: Basilica Cistern at Istanbul, Turkey and Petra, Jordan.

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The Flame of Fendellin.

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The cavalcade home.

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Back to White Mountain again.

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Lol, there you go, a very looong visual exploration of the cinematic locations for White Mountain – The Movie! You can tell that I’ve spent WAY too much time thinking about all this!

Next time, the beasts and creatures of White Mountain – The Movie! 😀

 

Oh, and for all you lovely White Mountain fans, there’s still a chance to vote for it in The People’s Book Prize. Voting stays open until August 31st, so if you love it please lend your support, every vote really does count! And a HUGE thank you to all the fabulous people who have already voted, White Mountain has garnered the most amazing comments and votes!

THANK YOU! 😀 xxxx

White Mountain

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Etymology – what’s in a word? Part I – Places.

Okay, I admit it, I’m a HUGE nerd and this particular post will probably only be of interest to me and about three other people on the planet! But I love etymology and the derivation of words.

This is particularly prevalent when it comes to places and place names.

I grew up learning that place names had a beauty and a power all themselves and that they weren’t just a string of random letters but actually meant something. Places had meanings. I spent my childhood in a small village named after a Saxon chief, Alwif, who came across the megalithic stones on the high hill above the village and named the settlement after himself and the largest stone, Alwif’s Stone, which later became Alves’town and then Alveston. Greenhill, just round the corner, was a green hill, Bodyce Orchard was named after the bodies supposedly buried there during the English Civil War (1642-1651). My tumbled down cottage (circa 1577) where I grew up dreaming of dragons and adventure, was on a wonderfully named road – Wolfridge Ride, named after the wolves that used to roam the area when it was forested hundreds of years before and the wolf pits that were dug to catch them along the high ridge.

Lol, I digress…but you understand my fascination with place names and the derivation of words, the inherent mystery and magic in them.

So, here I am lifting the curtain on my weird and wonderful world and some of the strange research I did for White Mountain and for the worldbuilding behind my Darkling Chronicles trilogy.

Despite White Mountain being an epic fantasy in the traditional ‘high fantasy’ sense, it is set now within our modern world, so in addition to my invented places I also wanted to include real places too, to ground the fantasy in reality and give the book an authentic feel for the reader.

I should state here, that having taught phonetics for the last 16years, I understand the basic structures of many Indo-European languages and syntax and so when I decided, like the true nerd that I am, to invent my own Dworllian language, I wanted to make sure that it actually worked…and yes it does!

(*My Dworllian language – actually a mixture of Maori, African Bantu & Ibo dialects, Old Norse, Old English, Celtic and Old Hindi).

Map of Fendellin (colour) (2)

The Locations of White Mountain:

  • The Arctic Tundra – location of Ïssätun*, the Ice City, high within the Arctic circle. An enormous hidden city made entirely of ice where all remaining elder tribes, dworlls and magic-casters etc., can meet, trade and gather news. A cross between a huge shopping mall, a bizarre and a covered market, full of haggling stalls, bridges and walkways, squares and forums for meeting…though it hides a dark secret.

(Ïssätun* – iss or issa meaning ‘ice’ in Old Norse + tun meaning ‘town’ in Old English and Old Norse = my Ïssätun, ‘Ice Town’)

  • The Siberian Boreal forest or ‘Taiga’ (snowforest) – location of the Grey Forest and Wendya Undokki’s home, within the magical Llrinaru* trees with their tree spirits or dryads. The boreal forest is the largest forest on earth and covers an enormous area, home to many indigenous tribes such as the Nenet, Chukchi and Evenki. Like the genus behind many ancient and Anglo-Saxon names, the Grey Forest is just that, literally a grey forest of larches, alder, spruce and ancient silver birch which appear grey when flecked with snow.

(Grey – grǣg in Old English. Llrinaru* trees or ‘The Elder Wood’ – llri meaning ‘old’ or ‘ancient’ in Dworllian + naru meaning ‘forest’ or ‘wood’)

  • The Alps (Alpes – Celtic derivation) – location of White Mountain (Mont Blanc), Mr. Agyk’s ancestral home and home of Gralen, the last Eurasian dragon in existence. (Although the real location which inspired White Mountain was actually Mount Cook ‘Aoraki’ in New Zealand during my epic four month backpacking trip there back in 1997/1998).

 

  • The Amazon – location of the ‘Oracle of the West’ (one of the nine oracles from the ancient world, which included the oracles at Delphi and Cumae) and its lair, deep within the Amazonian basin. From the aerial roots of the mangrove swamps on its Atlantic coast to the black ox-bow lakes that straddle its interior like giant boomerangs, the protagonists must follow a path deep into the heart of the jungle, past dangling lianas and bromeliads and the giant buttresses of its huge mahogany trees to a dark and dangerous power.

 

  • (Democratic Republic of Congo) Congolese Rainforest – location of the huge subterranean metropolis of Kallorm* known as ‘The City of Light’, largest and oldest of all Dworllian Kingdoms, known as Dwellum in Old Dworllish (similar to Sumerian cuneiform in its written language) and Silverden in the Ǽllfren tongue. Kallorm, with its three colossal underground mountains ‘The Three Pillars of Kallorm’ which support the ground above, was founded over 120,000 years ago but has been in steady decline since the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago when the human population exploded. Only the indigenous forest people, the Ba’Aka are aware of the city’s existence. Sapele and Iroko trees and hidden forest clearings called bai’s, dot the landscape and its red iron rich soils and the impatiens that blossom beneath the dappled canopy (bai’s were only recently discovered by Westerners, still hidden in the Congo’s mythic ‘heart of darkness’). Wendya Undokki grew up in the city as a child and used to play in these bai’s (open water meadows), before leaving for the Siberian north and the Grey Forest. 

(Undokki means ‘witch’ in African Bantu languages which is apt as Wendya is a witch!)

  • Himalayas – location of the hidden land of Fendellin*. Tibetan and Indian myths tell of a magical hidden land, lost in the Himalayas, called Shambhala. It was this Shambhala which inspired James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon and the land of Shangri-La. Shambhala IS my Fendellin.

“Far East beyond heart’s lost desire

The birthplace of the eldest kin,

Through rising sun on wings of fire

Lies forgotten Fendellin.”

(Fendellin* – fen meaning a low-lying land, marshy or near watercourses from Old Norse ‘fen’ + dell meaning a hollow esp. wooded hollow from Old English ‘del’ or ‘delle’ = my Fendellin* rather simple and Anglo-Saxon in its meaning!)

  • Fendellin* – location of the mountain capital of Mund’harr* and the central plateau named after it. The capital, the Golden City, sometimes referred to as the Sky or Cloud City, sits at the top of Mund’harr, amongst its pinnacles.

(Mund’harr* – mund meaning ‘mound’ in Old English similar to munt meaning ‘mount’ in Old English + harr meaning ‘high’ in Dworllian and related to hār meaning ‘high’ in Old Norse.)

(The main river in Fendellin, ‘The Great Varuna River’ – Varuna from Hinduism, the ancient sky god, later the god of waters and rain-giver.)

(The Shudras, ‘The Silent Marshes’ – Shudras from the ancient Indian Vedas, the fourth varna from one of the sacred texts from the Rig Veda. Shudras was the lowest social class, also refers to swamps and the dark serpents who inhabit them.)

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There…I think I’ve bored you all enough! But you get the idea.

Part II will look at myths and creatures – wargols, firewolves, oracles, fÿrrens (dragons), dworlls (dwarves), and the Gorrgos!

Below is a map of the world with White Mountain locations and the approximate routes taken to get there! 😀 xxx

White Mountain locations map with routes

 

 

New Zealand Odyssey Part VII – Volcanoes, Fendellin and the Road Less Travelled.

I left the bubbling visceral wonders of Rotorua and headed south, deeper into the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. Driving on long mostly empty roads in blissful sunshine with ‘The Cult’ blaring out of my rental car, I found myself with a constant smile on my face.

I headed towards Lake Taupo, a huge sunken supervolcano or caldera and not only the country’s largest  freshwater lake, but the largest in all of Australasia. The 485-square-mile caldera itself, not visible due to the lake waters, was the world’s largest known eruption in the past 70,000 years and tends to blow every 1,000 years. It’s overdue.

Stopping off first, I came to the extraordinary Huka Falls (Huka meaning ‘foam’ in Maori) and the Waikato River. One of New Zealand’s longest rivers, it suddenly narrows from 100m across to only 15m , as its squeezed into a granite canyon before dropping in a series of falls and rapids. The last waterfall being the most impressive, as approximately 220,000 litres per second tumbles over the final drop. Standing on a viewing platform perched just beside it, with the roar of the falls in my ears and the water vapour drenching me, was thrilling, but it was the astonishing colour of it which surprised me. The purest brightest blue.

I eventually left the falls, utterly soaked but gloriously happy and followed the highway south to the town of Taupo, nestling on the shores of Lake Taupo. The lake, more of an inland sea, is enormous, the town though, was small and welcoming. Cruising in an unhurried fashion along the lakefront and stopping for views, I found a cheap motel to call my base for the next few weeks. I dumped my equally enormous backpack, now getting almost too heavy with mementos to carry and checked into the Lakefront Motor Lodge. To my delight, my little room overlooked the lake and had the most stunning views.

I walked along the lakeshore losing myself in the beauty of it all and splashed out on a restaurant for my first evening meal. To describe Taupo as picturesque, is to do it a disservice. Watching spectacular sunsets over its shifting waters night after night, with the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park clearly visible in the distance, it became like a dream world for me and…a dream I didn’t want to wake from.

I spent lazy days exploring the town itself with its marinas and harbours, little shops and lack back bistros. Venturing out I visited the aptly named, the ‘Craters of the Moon’, a geothermal and volcanic lunar landscape that brought to life once more, just how powerful mother nature is. Then I tried some of the hot springs in the area. The sensation of having a very hot bubbling public bath, is strange to say the least, but oddly liberating (…no, I kept my bathing costume on at all times!).

But always, it was the volcanoes on the horizon that kept drawing me in. Packing some small provisions, I headed south, skirting around the eastern edge of the lake, towards the National Park.

Stopping halfway, I ventured off to the Kaingaroa Forest, the largest manmade forest in the world! Made entirely of plantation pines, with a few native ferns and species struggling to survive beneath the canopy, it was the strangest, spookiest forest I have ever visited. I loved the feeling of isolation but the silence was overwhelming, no birds, no animals. So alien to the rich diversity of the Waipoua Kauri Forest in the far north, or any of the woods I had wandered in.

Following the State Highway south as it hugged the lakeshore, I passed through Turangi at the southern most tip of Lake Taupo,  and entered the Tongariro National Park, one of only 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Trying to keep my excitement in check, I left the main highway or Desert Road as it’s known and came to the much smaller Lake Rotoaira. Sitting on the lake side I had a picnic lunch, watching black swans glide effortlessly as the mountainside behind vented sulphurous steam into the air. Everywhere I went, I found myself saying the same thing over and over, “I’ve found my Fendellin, I’ve found my Fendellin, ‘Lost Kingdom of Dragons!”

“Pass now beyond the mountains white

Where frosted rivers leap and spring,

Amongst the golden grasses light

Where fÿrrens dwell and soar and sing.

 

A land as old and fair as stars

Of snowy peaks and moonlit seas,

Of darkling woods we travel far

To gaze upon its silvery leaves.

 

Far East beyond heart’s lost desire

The birthplace of the eldest kin,

Through rising sun on wings of fire

Lies forgotten Fendellin.”

As I travelled further south, nothing could have prepared me for the awe-inspiring spectacle of Tongariro National Park’s crowning glory, its three active volcanoes, Mount Tongariro, the perfect cone of Mount Ngauruhoe and the monstrous size of the explosive giant, Mount Ruapehu!

Leaving the State Highway, I took the road less travelled into a world of epic fantasy and landscapes on a grandeur I could never have imagined before. Raw, untamed, magnificent and the true stuff of imagination!

Climbing the lower slopes of Mount Ruapehu, still steaming from eruptions only a few months before, camping beneath the stars in a sea of yellow gorse as I watched the sunsets bathe the volcanoes in gold…I found myself profoundly moved and in tears so many times, yet I have never felt freer.

Little did I realise while I was immersed in the whole majesty of it, that only a few years later, a certain Peter Jackson would use the same landscapes which had become such an inspiration to me and my first novel, ‘White Mountain’. As I travelled around, I kept seeing real-life locations for my ‘Darkling Trilogy’, suddenly brought to life in front of me. Watching the ‘Lord of the Rings’, some four years later, was made even more surreal and magical as a result, not only by recognising places I had visited but by seeing parts of my Fendellin used as their Mordor, my Kallorm used for their Fangorn! Very strange but thrilling!

But my awe-inspiring and magical odyssey was not over yet…