I love The Hobbit. I took a trip through the Appalachian Mountains in an expensive German car and my girlfriend and I took turns driving and reading the book to aloud. We rented old cabins and sat around fires and The Hobbit was with us all the way. The Hobbit is, to my mind, a far superior book to any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They are fine (don’t send me hate mail because I very likely have read them more than you), but the hobbit is a perfect fairy tale. It is subtle, it is smart and it is magic.
I hate the Lord of the Rings films. Oh I enjoyed the first one. No Tom Bombadil? I get that and I forgive it. Bombadil would be a diversion in the films that wasn’t vital. Replace Glorfindel with Arwen after Frodo gets stuck with the morgul blade? Okay, I understand; you want Arwen to have a more active and heroic role in what is a boys’ club of a narrative. But let’s be honest, this trilogy suffered from some major narrative drift away from the source material. I mean that car chase in the second movie? What the hell was up with that? Sure it was Wargs instead of Fords, but hell’s bells, that was so silly! I felt like I had been transported back to the pod race from Phantom Menace. My fantasy/science fiction film disappointments start with Highlander II and I’m afraid they will continue into the Hobbit. Here are my fears:
Legolas, our dear, pretty wood elf prince. Fans of the Rings trilogy love Legolas. His initial disposition toward Gimli the dwarf and their budding friendship are one of the finer subplots in those books. Students of deep Tolkien lore (those of us that have read The Silmarillion, the letters, and the various arcana of Middle Earth) know that Legolas is the son of the King that held Bilbo and the Dwarves prisoner in his hall in Mirkwood. It is likely that Legolas was present during this chapter of the Hobbit, but let’s not kid ourselves, Orlando Bloom is not going to be a quiet background character.
Galadriel: queen and Noldor rebel. Gladriel is going to be in the movie and she just ain’t in the book. All I can figure is that Jackson is mining the appendices for narrative substance. The events in The Hobbit take place while great goings-on are happening elsewhere. The white council (Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel, Elrond and others of the mighty in Middle Earth) were making a move against a villain that had risen in Mirkwood known as the Necromancer who turns out to be Sauron returned. So the film could be telling more of the story of Middle Earth than was specifically covered in the book.
Three films. The Hobbit is a short book- just over 90k words. The Trilogy comes in at well over half a million words. So what is happening that The Hobbit film is getting three films to tell a story that is only 20% as long as the LotR? Even if you dive in to including appendices there seems to be a lot more time than is needed.
Peter Jackson. I like Pete. Really, I’m not kidding. He has made several films that I adore, the Lord of the Rings trilogy however is not three of them. Oh I don’t mind the first one, but the second and third suck. He just ignored the books. He added crap that had nothing to do with the original narrative. He took out some of the most important subplots and added ridiculous twists that just weren’t needed. And frankly, Gimli was a stupid caricature of the very serious and noble character that appeared in the books. Gimli in the books was an austere, honorable and faithful character. In the films he was comic relief. Gimli was not comic relief!!! He was the only dwarf ever named “Elf-Friend,” and in one of the time-line appendices it says that Gimli, alone among the race of dwarves, was allowed to pass into the west with his friend Legolas. Jackson puts this line into Gimli’s mouth, “No one tosses a dwarf!” Thanks Pete, thanks a lot.
So here is my prediction for The Hobbit– A bunch of special effects and a bunch of deviations. Most of you will love it. As a Tolkien black belt, I will probably stay home.*
*editor’s note: I will not stay home and nothing could keep me from seeing this movie… possibly twice, but I reserve the right to complain in a rambling barely coherent way.
The science of fiction
Screw you Peter Jackson!