Along with the Prologue about Dale, Erebor, and Thorin, this chapter is not in the book. It serves as a second/continuing introduction to the movie before we reach the book start, with the meeting of young Bilbo and Gandalf.
1) Did you like this introduction, why or why not?
I think, structurally, the scene "has some explaining to do" as of now. I love
the scene on its own, don't get me wrong. But it does feel unnecessary in a way. I don't doubt that the framing device here will be justified by the end, but it's a little murky to think about before we see the end. It's hard for me to think about how the general audience sees this, being far from one myself. But, like usual, I'm quite optimistic.
Edit: Hmm I sound too negative here and below. I really did like this scene. I'm eagerly waiting to see how things come together. 2) How did you feel about the inclusion of Frodo in this scene?
Probably the source of my answer to #1. It's one of those situations where you know what they're doing, but curious how exactly they're planning to ties things up in the end. Like I said though, I love the scene on its own. We'll see how Frodo's inclusion works after the trilogy is complete. 3) What purpose do you feel it serves, why do you think the filmmakers chose to include this scene?
think it was placed to aid in connecting the trilogies, as well as give us--well not us
here--a reminder about who Bilbo, and Frodo, are in the story. If you have ever seen LOTR, or parts of it, you may be able to connect the trilogies in your head. Now it all comes together, seeing the grand scheme of things concerning the latter portion of the Third Age (concerning select characters, of course
) 4) Do you feel it is a problem for audience members not familiar with Middle Earth to be shown Bilbo survived?
For me, no. In a way, I see it to be more
interesting to know that he lives in the end. Now, it's a matter of 1. how does
he survive, and at what cost to everyone else on the adventure, and 2. how will he, as a character, change because of this experience.
The Prologue gave us an introduction to what Dwarves are like, and in what sorts of places and how they live. This scene does not do so for Hobbits to nearly the extent FotR (even the TE) did. 5) Did you feel a bit more on Hobbits was needed? Why or why not?
No I don't. If you've seen FOTR, you're fine on hobbits. If not, Bilbo is your first glimpse into this race. Again though, I'm not--none of us here are, exactly--part of the general audience, so, at least for me, it's hard to say whether or not more exposition on hobbits was necessary. But it's an interesting point to bring up, arithmancer.
The prologue ended with Thorin hammering at an anvil and a fade to black. This scene opens on an exterior scene of the Shire in daylight, with a view of the Hill and the Water. All we hear are birds chirping. There is no music 7) Is this an effective way to open the scene? Why or why not?
Love it. A fantastic way to calm things down after the prologue. It's so beautifully idyllic, and showing the contrast between Thorin's struggles with Erebor and Hobbiton is a great choice. I took a deep breath once I saw all of that green. I knew, for us fans, that we were coming back home to the Shire, after 10 long years.
In this scene we see Hobbiton and of Bag End, familiar sights for LotR film fans. 8) How did they look to you? Feel free to comment on what you liked or disliked about how Hobbiton and Bag End appeared.
I know some people don't particularly like the look of Hobbiton in AUJ. But...I really do. Looking at the screencaps, I think the shots of Frodo on the steps are incredible. I love the contrast between the shadowy fields in the distance--shadowy due to clouds overhead--and the bright hobbit holes glowing in the sunlight. Bag End felt as warm and cozy as ever. Nothing negative to say about it, other than I never think we're there long enough.
In this scene we see two characters very familiar to LotR film fans, Bilbo and Frodo. 9) How did they look to you? Feel free to comment on what you liked or disliked about seeing these characters, their interactions, and their appearance.
Yes, the de-aging is questionable in shots. And the wig seems off. But neither takes me out of the film. I am more than happy to see these minor issues, rather than not seeing Old Bibo at all. PJ did what he could, having MF close the gap between the two Bilbo actors by walking around--giving us the impression that that was Holm. I didn't have a problem with their interactions either.
The dialogue makes clear that we are seeing a scene from earlier in the day of the Long Expected Party in FotR. 12) Why do you think the filmmakers chose this day for this scene?
It's a very important day for both characters. In FOTR, this day has a lot of purpose within the story concerning Bilbo and the Ring. Now, we're getting more of the story, with some much-needed quiet moments between the Bagginses. 13) Do you like this choice?
I do like it.
The scene ends after Frodo leaves, with Bilbo sitting outside on the bench and smoking his pipe. He is describing himself in the days before his adventure - always on time, entirely respectable, nothing unexpected ever happened. The title “An Unexpected Journey” appears over Bilbo's smoke ring. 15) What did you think of this way of ending the scene?
Love love love this moment. I dug into my seat when this happened last December, knowing we would be in for a heck of a journey. To me this scene ends in a very helpful way for non-fans. We've established the far-away lands of Erebor, where the ultimate struggle lies. Now, we have established Bilbo and Frodo''s places in the modern day. And, finally, we're jumping through a porthole--the smoke ring, specifically--into the past. The "unexpected" part is about to happen.
Thanks, arithmancer! Great things to consider. Lots of great thoughts above me already in the thread, so I didn't have much explaining to do. Everyone else has said it wonderfully.