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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Say, Anybody Going to See "The Hobbit?"

   
Author Topic: Say, Anybody Going to See "The Hobbit?"
Robert Nowall
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Me...I'd like to, but what with my work-that-pays eating up my time...probably not till sometime after Christmas, maybe not till January.

Some early reviews put things down...I don't know...Peter Jackson did a pretty good (if not always authentic) job on The Lord of the Rings, and this one, now, is a trilogy, too...

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Meredith
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I'll have to wait to hear what people say. Me, that trilogy thing worries me a little. There's more than enough material for a movie trilogy in LotR. THE HOBBIT just doesn't seem to have that much story to me. So what is he filling the rest of the time with?
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History
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Going Monday. IMAX.
A must.

Ever since Ralph Bakshi's animated The Lord of the Rings movie, and the Rankin/Bass's animated The Hobbit, I've listened to people complain and complain "that's not how I pictured...".

Never bothered me.

I enjoy seeing others' interpretations.

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Foste
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I've seen it.

Wasn't enthused. The pacing was all over the place.

I am miffed about how they chose to handle it. The Hobbit is a children's book - to my mind at least - while they tried to make it more like LOTR.

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Grumpy old guy
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While The Hobbit may be written in the style of a children's book, so were the fairy tales of the brothers Grimm. By modern psychological standards, the brothers Grimm could be characterised as psychopaths. Tolkein, not so much. But,he was enamoured of the darker side of Scandinavian and Icelandic myth, take Beowulf as an example.

But, I must agree with Meredith, a trilogy for The Hobbit? No, no, no. A money making adventure? Yes, yes, yes.

And, as for LotR? The writers missed most of the 'heroic' mythic themes of the story. Part of the power of LotR was that Aragorn, propelled by destiny was always questioning his fitness for the role. Never did he question his destiny, as in the movie, but he did doubt his ability to live up to his forefather's ideals; to stand against evil, no matter the personal cost.

The Silmarilion deals more poignantly with this hero dilemma, and gives no answers to the readers other than to say that, the power to resist evil lies in the heart of the individual, and such a one must rise above all those that have come before them to succeed. Specifics? None of the stories provide any. It is a personal journey the reader must undertake, and in doing so, arrive at their own conclusions about what is right.

A morality tale? No, not that simple. LotR and The Hobbit, are not simple tales of doing what is right and what is wrong, they are explorations of, in the case of LotR, what is evil, and in The Hobbit, what is good.

Just my take on it. I'll wait for the extended DVD.

Phil.

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Robert Nowall
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Some of the reviews are out...some seem to think Peter Jackson got Lucasitis, others think it was dull or just went on too long...nearly all found something to praise in it.

I don't know about reviews. One of the reviews of The Return of the King said it had too many false endings---but it had as many endings as the book did (minus "The Scouring of the Shire.") Should I believe it?

I think it's something that's strongly up my alley, so to speak---the vast bulk of theatrical movies are not---so I'll probably go see it. In January.

(Also I think it's much like The Lord of the Rings movie, in the sense that it's one ginormous long movie broken into (at last report) three parts. Maybe with extended versions on video release, too.)

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redux
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I just wanted to touch upon the topic of children's books.

Sometimes children's books are quickly dismissed as being simplistic, full of platitudes and lacking substance. I consider this unfortunate given that children's literature is typically anything but trivial. Children's literature is often full of meaning, themes, and hard truths.

But, what most notably differentiates a children's book from an adult book is length.

I am personally hesitant to go see Jackson's The Hobbit because he is making a trilogy out of what is roughly a 300 page book.

Also, to say that The Hobbit isn't a children's book is to ignore that Tolkien specifically wrote the story for his children. So I consider it a disservice for Jackson to make a movie based on a children's book that children might find unwatchable.

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Robert Nowall
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There's an extant MS, reprinted in a recent posthumous Tolkien edition, whose name I forget even though I read it several times...anyway, long about 1960, Tolkien decided to rewrite The Hobbit to take into account all that had gone down and evolved while writing The Lord of the Rings. Philosophy, the Ring and everything about it, and details like the Brandywine River and Bree.

Don't know what would have happened---Tolkien only got as far as just before Rivendell before thinking better of it---but, I fear, some of this kind of thought may have infiltrated Peter Jackson's versions. According to the media reports, Saruman and Galadriel show up in this version. Though by subsequent implication they were around, there's no indication from the book that they exist...

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
I'll wait for the extended DVD.

My understanding of one of the reasons behind making THE HOBBIT a trilogy is so that there doesn't have to be an "extended" DVD.

I also believe that Jackson is inserting a lot of things from the LOTR Appendices that were back story to LOTR but were concurrent to THE HOBBIT, and that contributes to the making of a trilogy.

Haven't seen it yet, but I can imagine that with 13 dwarves to get to know (and care about), the beginning of the first movie is probably going to be slow just to help with that.

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History
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I do not have a blog (as yet), thus I share here. Forgive me if this is an imposition.

I treated myself to seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey yesterday, in IMAX 3D (the whole shebang), and I find you are correct, Kate.

I'm not sure there is anyone who does NOT know the story of The Hobbit, but if you are finicky about "no spoilers" then do not read further.
---------

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey covers the first 6 of the 19 chapters of the novel (TA 2941-2942) and a retelling (revision) of The War of the Dwarves and Goblins (TA 2793-2799) from the LOTR Appendices. The latter additional film story provides the emotional context of the successive tragedies and indignations suffered by the dwarven people since fleeing Smaug the dragon who had conquered their kingdom in The Lonely Mountain and consumed their kin in a holocaust of fire and destruction. What is conveyed is that of a scattered, friendless, destitute, and ever-wandering people longing for their homeland. Their memories do not dim and, with the portents right, they will fight to recapture their homeland.

With Bilbo and the Shire as a reflection of what it is like to have a home, a place to belong, a land to live in peace and with the comforts of peace, the Bilbo (and the audience) comes to appreciate and understand the dwarves' tragedy and their need--and this is what finally overcomes Bilbo's self-absorption regarding his personal comfort and desire to be back in his hobbit hole. When he fully perceives his love for a safe home requires him to help the dwarves achieve the same, he finally becomes a full part of the company.

Personal aside (feel free to skip): This resonated with me with the Chanukah holiday just ending. In the last interview before his death, Tolkien stated "The dwarves of course are quite obviously, wouldn't you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic, obviously, constructed to be Semitic."[BBC, 1971]. While I need acknowledge the unfavorable yet common stereotypes of his time (and sadly today) regarding Jews and gold/money, I do not believe Tolkien intentionally meant to convey any anti-Semitic characterization. Instead, on reflection, he saw a shared tragedy of a conquered and dispersed people who never forget and forever longed for their homeland. I suspect it may be my personal religious and ethnic heritage that colors my perspective in seeing this so evident in the film, but I was completely taken unaware by it.

Additional story elements:

(1) The near lifelong mutual hatred and personal vendetta between Thorin Oakenshield (you learn how he came by that surname, btw) and Azog the Pale Orc of Moria (who it seems has been revised to replace the role of his son Bolg in The Battle of the Five Armies, much as Arwen replaced Glorfindel in The Fellowship of the Ring--but, of course, not as a love interest;), unless mutual hatred is a twisted form of shared passion).

(2) The wholly new story of Radagast the Brown, one of the five Istari (wizards), who discovers the creeping shadow upon what becomes Mirkwood where he dwells (his homeland) with the rise of "the necromancer".

(3) The meeting of the White Council (Elrond, Galadriel, and Saruman) to discuss the above.

(4) Finally, the framework that begins the film is pleasant, with Bilbo taking up his quill to write the story of his adventure. This is on the day of his birthday party that begins the first LOTR film a decade ago. A nice nod and comfortable transition from the latter trilogy of films (with both Ian Holms and Elijah Wood briefly reprising their LOTR roles) to the new one.

I felt the film dragged on occasion, but this may be because the unexpected new elements that Peter Jackson and company added imposed themselves into, and disrupting the flow, of a story I know so well.

Story elements like the rock giants of the Misty Mountains were made too concrete (no pun intended)in the film. In the novel, I preferred the possibility that they were part of Bilbo's skittish and overactive imagination since no further reference is made to "giants" throughout Tolkien's work.

Similarly, the rescue of the company by the eagles at the end of this film is a deus ex machina to anyone unfamiliar with the work (and this perhaps could have been corrected with just a bit of conversation between Gandalf and the king of the eagles).

The dialog of the King of the Goblins of the Misty Mountains was also a challenge for Jackson, being a bit stilted and unbelievable where it was most accurate with that in the novel, thus it is hard to fault. There are other samples of dialog, particularly by Gandalf, that are taken in whole from the book, and these work very well.

The film's faster frame rate and 3D takes a few minutes to get used to. In one of the initial scenes, the swooping camera angles inside the Lonely Mountain appear blurry and is a bit disorienting. Overall, however, the film is a visual feast.

The music by Howard Shore, incorporating old LOTR themes with new ones, is superb--as are the brief rendition of the songs from the novel.

All in all, the film is hours well-spent, especially if you love Tolkien. Peter Jackson and company added a number of elements that deepen the characters and storyline, even if the mix of the more child-focused The Hobbit and the more adult tenor of The LOTR Appendices jar at times.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[ December 18, 2012, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: History ]

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Robert Nowall
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quote:
...as are the brief rendition of the songs from the novel.
Yup. That was one of the downchecks for me for Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies---the absence of the songs. What is Bree without "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon"?
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LDWriter2
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Sounds powerful.

I need to discuss it with my wife...I want to see it!


An aside here but Dr. Bob did you see the film clip from the new Star Trek movie?

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Robert Nowall
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Say, also, one thing I was wondering...you guys who have seen it, just how far into the story of The Hobbit did this movie actually get? (I really don't think we have to worry about spoilers with a book-to-movie like this...)
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I hear it ends after they get through the mountains.
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History
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LD,
Yes, The "preview" of the new ST movie seemed like 10 minutes long. For a minute I thought they were showing the film. [Wink] It was a great clip with a montage of elements that evoked (purposefully?) memoris of ST 2: The Wrath of Khan.

Kathleen,
SPOILER ALERT
.
.
.

Yes. The movie ends with the company atop "the carrack" upon the Anduin east of the Misty mountains. From there they can see, far away over Mirkwood, their destination: the Lonely Mountain.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Robert Nowall
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Trying to remember...haven't got a copy in front of me...but that seems like more than a third of the way into the book. Still, if they are inserting LOTR stuff into it, then there'll be more of that coming up---Legolas comes to mind...
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, Legolas is the son of the Elven King and should certainly show up when they get to the other side of Mirkwood.
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LDWriter2
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quote:
Originally posted by History:
LD,
Yes, The "preview" of the new ST movie seemed like 10 minutes long. For a minute I thought they were showing the film. [Wink] It was a great clip with a montage of elements that evoked (purposefully?) memoris of ST 2: The Wrath of Khan.


Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

You were close, it is suppose to be nine minutes long.

But it was a montage not a scene? There seemed to be some confusion of if it was a trailer or nine minutes from one scene.
But the bad guy is Khan???


Okay, sorry for the interruption from the Hobbit.

I may have to go by myself. My wife doesn't have as much time off as I do after all and she going to it may not be the same big deal even though she wouldn't mind seeing it.

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mbwood
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Saw the movie, but refer you to History's comments above. The special effects (in 3D) were over-done, especially the fight within the mountain against the goblins (where did they all come from?). Loved Radagast's special rabbits - lots of fun watching them in action / being chased. Great entertainment as long as you don't hold it too tightly to the original Hobbit.

Saw Life of Pi, which was more enjoyable, more thoughtful.

Happy New Year.
mbwood

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Crystal Stevens
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I thoroughly enjoyed The Hobbit; Unexpected Journey. Being a horse person and a trail rider, I kept thinking how I'd love to ride my mare through the countryside and forests seen in the first part of the movie. Just beautiful. I think I read somewhere that parts were filmed in Ireland.

One thing though that another movie-goer suggested to me on leaving the theatre: Why not just summon the eagles to the Shire and fly everyone to the Lonely Mountain? I have to admit it makes sense. Of course there wouldn't be much of a story left if they did that [Big Grin] .

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Pyre Dynasty
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The eagle idea comes from How It Should Have Ended. The answer of why they didn't is of course that the Eagles are a sentient and majestic race not a taxi service. If I remember right they consider themselves the highest form of life on middle earth and help out once in a while out of the goodness of their hearts. I was disappointed in the movie that they didn't talk to them. That's an important scene in the book. (I remember it that way anyway I haven't read the Hobbit in a long time.)

As for the movie, I loved it. But it didn't really work as a move. It felt more like an encyclopedia of the world as it was during the Hobbit. Going into it expecting this made me enjoy it more I think.

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Robert Nowall
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Tolkien once commented on a 1950s movie treatment of "Lord of the Rings" that had the heroes transported everywhere by the Eagles---they were a device used sparingly, and the more "on-stage" they were, the less the device would work.

Should be able to get to the theater to see it sometime next week, or the week after.

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History
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My only nitpick is Professor Tolkien's repetitive use of the eagles in rescuing his heroes as a plot device/deus ex machina.

This not only occurs at the climax of The Hobbit (twice) and the LOTR (twice), but also in the story of Beren and Luthien in The Silmarillion.

The eagles, as servants of Manwe, the Lord of the Valar who oversee Middle-earth for the One Creator, one could consider the deus ex machine quite literally.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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MattLeo
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Well, of course according Tolkien's theory of fairy tales lucky coincidence isn't a fault -- it's the point. Deus ex machina is only a fault in stories that follow conventions of drama which require the hero wins by his own power. That idea is anathema to Tolkien, who writes largely about divine grace. In any event very few stories are entirely free of coincidence. What irks us about deus ex machina is when we think the author isn't working hard enough.

A much more interesting case of deus ex machina is is near the end of the story; not the eagles coming to the rescue of the allied armies of men, elves and dwarves (which Tolkien regarded as a eucatastrophe), but just before that, when the goblins attack. The irony and subtlety of The Hobbit is that killing Smaug isn't the climax of the story, it's a plot complication. After Smaug is killed, things get worse, with the "good guys" preparing to fight each other over the dragon's hoard. They are actually rescued from this calamity by the goblin attack, after which the eagles' appearance is just window dressing.

I think this was Tolkien's way of showing that a fairy tale eucatastrophe doesn't have to be a lazy, simple-mid affair.

I thought the movie's scriptwriting was generally sharp, and expanding to three movies gives them room to do a lot of interesting things, but they set themselves a serious problem, which is providing a satisfying conclusion to the first two movies, which end in the middle of the story. To do this, they have to mess with what is one of the Hobbit's superlative features: Bilbo's character arc.

The movie ends just after a turning point in Bilbo's career, the finding of the ring, but to give the film dramatic closure they have Bilbo take up Sting and win the respect of Thorin. This robs the later scene where he rescues them from the spider of its significance; it becomes just another action set-piece.

The location by the way, is the eagles' eyrie on the eastern slopes of the Misty Mountains. The Carrock is across the river in Beorn's territory.

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History
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All good insights, MattLeo.

quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
The location by the way, is the eagles' eyrie on the eastern slopes of the Misty Mountains. The Carrock is across the river in Beorn's territory.

The Carrock is in the Anduin river near its eastern bank where lies Beorn's and the Woodmen's territory.
Map: http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/File:Christopher_Tolkien_-_Map_of_Wilderland.jpg

It was my impression, based on the landscape shown and that the eagles deposit the company and them leave, that this is the setting where this first Hobbit movie ends. The novel chapter with converse with the eagles appears will be absent from the movies, which is particularly sad since the eagles will play the role of "the cavalry" in the last film.

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Carrock

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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LDWriter2
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Not going to see it with my wife anytime soon--even now her crafts are selling too much for that--but I will try to see it this week by myself.
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Pyre Dynasty
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I forgot to add that the riddles in the dark scene was well worth the price of admission. They got the danger and the pathos of the scene just right.
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Meredith
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BTW, today is JRR Tolkien's birthday.

Still not going to see this movie in the theater, though. I'll wait.

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Robert Nowall
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Well, I bit the bullet and went to see it today---some space opened up in my schedule---and I wasn't disappointed, despite the reviews and comments. Some of the scenes straight from Tolkien really worked for me (the riddle contest, the unexpected party)---what dragged were the interpolated scenes (Radagast). One thing I liked was use of some of Tolkien's poems---something I felt was missing from "Lord of the Rings." Well worth the three hours of my time and the money I spent for tickets and popcorn, though I still wish for intermissions in anything over two hours.

I look forward to watching it again on video...and have pencilled the next part in on my schedule.

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