The Hobbit by Janice Van Cleve


peter-jackson-announces-third-hobbit-film-on-facebook-video--1e2ebc3839The long-awaited Hobbit movie by Peter Jackson finally released yesterday – at least the first part released.  Jackson has taken one book by JRR Tolkien and expanded it into a trilogy of three movies. Some critics quoted Bilbo Baggins that “it is like butter spread over too much bread.”  The obvious mercantile motive is clear.  The huge fan base generated by the Lord Of The Rings trilogy could be counted on to fork over their money for one movie, so why not make them pay three times?

Jackson defends his triple play by pointing out that Tolkien’s Hobbit, like the rest of his work, is much deeper than the surface story.  The Hobbit was, in fact, a series of chapters Tolkien put together as a children’s story – but it drew on a vast amount of material that he only briefly touches upon in the book.  Tolkien’s appendices and notes reveal back stories and subtexts that Jackson wished to bring forward into the movie.  For example, when the dwarves are trapped in the Misty Mountains, Tolkien focuses only on Bilbo’s riddle game with Gollum.  Jackson gives the riddle game full play, but also expands upon the rescue and escape of the dwarves.

Many of the Lord Of The Rings characters are back – Frodo, Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond.  Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas and why not?  Elves are immortal and he is the son of Thranduil, king of the
woodland elves who plays a large role in the Hobbit story.  Bag End and the Shire are back. I visited Hobbiton in New Zealand on a Lord Of The Rings tour in 2006 when the set was stripped to bare bones.  I found it heartwarming to see the old sets refurbished and perhaps even more elaborate.

Elaborate is my main criticism of Jackson’s Hobbit.  He uses too much elaboration, animation, and artificial scenery.  At times the movie loses even the imaginary reality of Lord Of The Rings and becomes almost a Marvel comic.  The dwarves themselves are a case in point.  Gimli in Lord Of The Rings looks and feels and smells like a dwarf.  The characters in Hobbit with their exaggerated hair styles resemble more the weird monks in The Name Of The Rose.  The Great Goblin who ruled under the Misty Mountains comes off in Jackson’s movie as a clown and the whole tree and wolves episode was staged on an impossible cliff as unreal as it was unnecessary.

Very few people attended the matinee and nobody noticed my pointed elf ears or Nenya, the ring of adamant.  Still the movie is worth seeing and I will purchase the extended DVD trilogy when it eventually hits the market.

Janice Van Cleve is a Tolkien fan who occasionally transforms into Galadriel.  She has all of Tolkien’s books and has read through them all numerous times.


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