Ian Brodie, award winning photographer and author of The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook and forthcoming, The Hobbit Location Guidebook, has set his sights on Glastonbury for his next book project, Journey Through Somerset.
His recent trip to Somerset had a lot to do with a realization that the county certainly had the historical landscape to support a full travel guide. The best selling travel guide author, previously published by HarperCollins, believes that the county is rich beyond measure in physical and cultural beauty.
Originally it was the Arthurian myths and legends surrounding Glastonbury that brought Ian to Somerset county, that and the fact that the New Zealander traces his own family heritage to the region. Brodie explains, “I have done some pretty high profile travel books surrounding Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth and Andrew Adamson’s Narnia in New Zealand and while I love New Zealand I have always wanted to go back to the start, as it were, to research true history and what better place in Britain to focus in on than Glastonbury (or Avalon) within Somerset.”
Within Glastonbury are contained both the history and tradition that record Joseph of Arimathea’s flight from hostility in Jerusalem to his landing in Britain and his stewardship of the Holy Grail. It is an epic tale of conflict within the human spirit. The traditional story of Joseph of Arimathea has for centuries inspired vast amounts of folklore, historical accounts, poems, and music.
From ancient and modern sources alike, the legends have been retold down through the ages, from English poet and painter William Blake to musical artist Bono of U2. Glastonbury and the heart of the history surrounding Joseph of Arimathea and Holy Chalice, have been a part of this lost narrative. Gildas, Tacitus, Bede and other ancient writers are witnesses to this history and mythology. Other than Christ, no personality looms larger in English, French and German Medieval literature than Joseph of Arimathea.
Tourism operator and Visit Somerset director, John Turner was able to confirm Ian’s findings that the county is ripe with history. Just this last year the county’s visibility has expanded, emerging as one of the hottest counties in the UK, with their own Visit Somerset brand now trailing right behind Visit Scotland. The significance of these discoveries is magnified even more by the fact that the US film production company, Galatia Films, along with top international filmmakers, will be producing a movie based on the legends and history surrounding Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail at Glastonbury.
Galatia Films’ executive director Daniel McNicoll clarifies, “Glastonbury is known for it’s annual music festival, but greater still are it’s phenomenal myths and legends. Glastonbury is Britain’s Jerusalem, it is the clearest ruby in the center of a golden crown that is England.” Ian Brodie agrees and Galatia Films and Visit Somerset are fully backing a new Kickstarter campaign to help Ian raise the funds to produce Journey Through Somerset. Brodie, who has sold over a million copies of his popular travel guides to New Zealand as Middle-earth and Cameras in Narnia, will be able to visually capture Somerset in a way that it has never before been seen.
Since 2009, no less than twenty-five fictional accounts of the Arthurian cycle have been published. Glastonbury, as a predecessor to the Arthurian cycle, depicts the origin, history and legend surrounding the Holy Grail. Quite dramatically, the first recorded Welsh Poet, Maelgwyn of Llandaff, had as his first record the Joseph of Arimathea burial at Glastonbury. This above all else was chosen to be the foremost thing written in Welsh. Thus the connections to Joseph and Glastonbury are quite remarkable.
The Glastonbury movie project has garnered the support of “Star Wars” casting director, Robin Gurland, actor/producer John Rhys-Davies, academy award winning special effects director, Sir Richard Taylor (“King Kong”, “Avatar”, “The Hobbit”), along with star production talent behind some of the decade’s biggest blockbusters. McNicoll continues, “We hope to build awareness for these amazing Somerset legends as a run up to the film, informing the public of such momentous myths that could in fact be very timely and world changing. We’re encouraging people to visit our website to learn more.”
Each year sees more and more travelers visiting sites such as Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset hoping to discover the secrets of King Arthur and the Holy Grail. Readers who are unable to visit will also have the opportunity to feel as though they have been on the journey themselves. “This is where it all begins and what these pilgrims and wayfarers need is a solid travel book guiding them through the spiritual and physical journey”, explained John Turner. With the film set to begin production hopefully soon, it would appear that this is a very good opportunity for both the county and the rest of the world to find out just how significant Glastonbury is.
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