In the highly successful LEGO Movie, produced by Warner Bros., a reference to Middle-earth and New Zealand caused mixed feelings in New Zealand. In the LEGO Movie, an ordinary LEGO minifigure stumbles into an adventures to save the LEGO universe from evil. One of the places in Legoland is described as “Middle Zealand,” a “wondrous land full of knights, castles, mutton, torture weapons, poverty, leeches, illiteracy, and, um … dragons.”
The references to poverty and illiteracy stirred a debate among the audience; many were perplexed and unsure about this reference: “It was like when someone’s made a bit of an odd joke and you are not sure how to react, which was how we felt.” In the past, Warner Bros stirred controversy in New Zealand with its tax breaks of NZ$67 million. Winston Peters, the political leader of New Zealand First, who has asked Warner Bros to give back the $67m subsidy after The Hobbit topped $1billion in sales, told Herald on Sunday that he assumed The LEGO Movie makers were referring to New Zealand’s “financial illiteracy.” “It’s a Freudian joke on the New Zealand Government.”
However, The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller told the Herald on Sunday that they were satirizing Middle-earth and not New Zealand. “We called it Middle Zealand because that is where Lord of the Rings was shot, and Peter Jackson hangs out there […] We are, incidentally, huge fans of New Zealand, LOTR, Weta, island nations, and the film Eagle vs. Shark.”
Have you seen the LEGO Movie? What do you think about this reference to New Zealand and Middle-earth? Leave a comment down below!