Inside Gallipoli's 'filthy hell': Sir Peter Jackson's latest World War I exhibition
A sensory overload awaits visitors to Sir Peter Jackson's latest exhibit at the Great War Exhibition in Wellington.
The Quinn's Post Trench Experience recreates what Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone of the Wellington Battalion called "a dilapidated, disorganised, filthy hell" high on a hillside above Anzac Cove at Gallipoli.
The multimillion-dollar exhibition at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park takes visitors into the darkness of the trenches – shelling, stench and all.
"Pepper's ghosts" – projected images of soldiers – build bombs, dig trenches, help wounded and duck for cover in a physical tour through an uphill warren that represents the underground home of New Zealand soldiers in 1915.
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The exhibition, launched on Thursday, coincides with the start of the Returned and Services Association's annual Poppy Appeal, entitled "Not all wounds bleed", to highlight the post-traumatic stress and mental ill-health suffered by servicemen and women.
The Hobbit actors Mark Hadlow and Jed Brophy feature as the moving, projected images that create a reality inside the trenches.
Hadlow said the experience left him feeling numb and in a state of reflection. "I'm still feeling a little bit ... discombobulated.
"It gives you this extraordinary reality, it would be nothing like being there, but it gives you a taste, a smell, an affront to all our senses, and I think that's a good thing because it makes us suddenly be aware."
Brophy said the exhibition could, for the first time, give people an idea of what the conditions of war were like, and how it changed people.
Over a 21-hour shoot for the visual component, Brophy said he stopped to realise no-one rested at war.
"The claustrophobia of the tunnel, the closeness of the Turks and the constant noise, it must have been incredibly difficult for them to remember what home was like.
"It was literally life and death."
The trenches are lined with sand-bagged walls. A dead Australian soldier is covered over with a blanket, and blood stains the walls.
The only light source are tea lights in bully beef tins that sit in cut-outs along the walls.
In parts, little can be heard except gunfire and shelling.
"They've made the pungent smells of death and war, oil and explosions," Brophy said.
* Quinn's Post Trench Experience will open to the public daily from Saturday between 9am to 6pm. Tickets for the new part of the exhibition will cost $20 for adults and $10 for children. Tickets do not include entrance to the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park's other exhibitions.
The Poppy Appeal has started to raise funds to support the New Zealand's 41,000 veterans and their families, with its main collection day on Friday, April 20.