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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Do the Hobbit movies capture the "spirit" of the book?
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Dame Ioreth
Tol Eressea


Apr 24 2016, 5:08pm

Post #76 of 275 (2934 views)
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My dear dormouse, let me whake your hand. [In reply to] Can't Post

This is exactly how I saw this adaptation. How do you manage to read my thoughts the write them out more concisely than I ever could? Smile

Brava, m'dear. Brava!

_


Heed WBA when building blanket forts.
ITLs don't get enough FAS. :)

Where there's life there's hope, and need of vittles.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings






Avandel
Half-elven


Apr 24 2016, 5:15pm

Post #77 of 275 (2925 views)
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But [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
somehow managed to forget that this is supposed to be a story where the main focus is the character of Bilbo. Its not about how awesome and exciting battles are, or how dwarves can be sexy with a little grooming, or that women can be like Legolas and defy the laws of gravity with the best of them. The story is supposed to illustrate the pointlessness and stupidity of war, but PJ being the big epic battle fan that he is, put so much emphasis on his battle of five armies, and pulled every stop to make it as "Cool" as he thought possible.


I suppose it's looking like any painting and what that work evokes for you. I'm not seeing where the films lose any of that; in that there's a scene of Bilbo trying to get through to Thorin and another where Bilbo is trying to stop things; Gandalf describes the differences between everyone as "petty"; we see the affects of dwarf, men's and elvish stubbornness, we see them put that aside and fight together.

And you know, just sayin', the last scene of Bilbo and Thorin tears me up, and I don't ever remember thinking at that point how "sexy" Thorin is (nor with Aragorn and Boromir, either...) so IMO it does some disservice to the actors to not even be able to look past their "good looks" (keeping in mind that a person who may be thought of as attractive by many isn't to allCool). You know, good looks or not, a lot of folks won't care at all if the PERFORMANCE isn't there. I remember watching a sci-fi film one time and a secondary character - very beautiful - gets killed off and the whole audience cheered (ok, it wasn't nice, but she was just SO bad...EvilEvilEvil)

I think the Hobbit films worked overtime to KEEP the focus on Bilbo - just think of PJ in the Appendices fretting over the choice of actor, and Philippa talking about it. Because Bilbo was IMPORTANT, and remained so. Even Thorin's last words - changed from the book but IMO very beautiful "plant your trees...watch them grow..." painted a whole picture for me (and I think, importantly, here, a DWARF as well had seen and taken in where Bilbo had come from, and who he was, and remembered, even at the last).

And BTW, why wouldn't the Battle of Five Armies be big and epic? Because, it's FIVE armies clashing.

Sure, PJ did some stuff in these films I personally am less fond of, but then again, IMO, he did some things that improved the original material for a VISUAL presentation - and flat-out filled in some gaps, too.


BlackFox
Half-elven


Apr 24 2016, 6:28pm

Post #78 of 275 (2910 views)
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Also, La traviata [In reply to] Can't Post

Or, at least, they were both inspired by La Dame aux camélias.



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Apr 25 2016, 12:35am

Post #79 of 275 (2886 views)
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Interesting that you and Darkstone quote the same passage. [In reply to] Can't Post

As being the heart, or as he once described it, the "spine" of the book, that any adaption true to the book must capture:

"This is the story of how a Baggins has an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours' respect, but he gained--well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end."

But where you feel the films do represent that essence, Darkstone feels it self-evident they do not.

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CaptainObvious
Rivendell

Apr 25 2016, 12:47am

Post #80 of 275 (2876 views)
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The teaser trailer did. [In reply to] Can't Post

Man, if only the Hobbit films had lived up to the teaser trailer it would have been a worthy follow up to Lord of the Rings. I strongly believe that Peter Jackson shot enough to make a good Hobbit movie. He also shot enough to make three medicore ones (albeit with moments of greatness).

Never fear, a Captain Obvious edited Hobbit film is on the way to make things right.

In Reply To


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Apr 25 2016, 1:37am

Post #81 of 275 (2873 views)
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"And BTW, why wouldn't the Battle of Five Armies be big and epic?" [In reply to] Can't Post

Given that we're discussing whether Jackson's films are true to the spirit of the book, I would say: because Tolkien underplays the actual battle in the book and doesn't dwell on it like the film does. For instance: he doesn't try to tug our heartstrings by sticking a bunch of civilians in the middle of the action.

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StingingFly
Lorien

Apr 25 2016, 2:36am

Post #82 of 275 (2854 views)
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...one example [In reply to] Can't Post

I offer this example, the Thranduil interrogation scene.
We have a captured Orc, on his knees, with a blade to his throat, and his hands bound behind his back, being interrogated by three elves. After promising to free the Orc, the elf king decides to violently decapitate him, leaving his body twitching on the ground.
Could this scene be written into JRR Tolkien's Hobbit?
It cannot, because the "tone" is completely incongruent with the book.
As are many other scenes. Though, as I stated before, there are several very good scenes where the tone is near perfect. These movies were just far too inconsistent in their presentation.


Sarahbor
Lorien


Apr 25 2016, 2:52am

Post #83 of 275 (2844 views)
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Agreed there [In reply to] Can't Post

I completely agree with you about the orc interrogation scene. It was entirely against the tone and spirit of the story, as I said earlier.

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Sarahbor
Lorien


Apr 25 2016, 3:04am

Post #84 of 275 (2842 views)
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I would add [In reply to] Can't Post

that the message of the story was not the pointless of war per se, but the destructive power of greed, which led to a needless war and deaths. Not all war is pointless; I'd hardly call Helm's Deep or Pelennor Fields or any defensive conflict, real or imaginary, where you fight to protect all you hold dear "pointless." There are plenty of instances throughout the first half of the movie where the pointlessness of fighting over gold and gems is reinforced over and over ("You would go to war over a handful of gems?" "Is gold so important to you? Would you buy it with the blood of dwarves?" "You cannot go to war" "Thranduil, this is madness" "Stand your army down" "This treasure will be your death" "There is no need for war between dwarves, men, and elves" and so on). The tragedy was the needless death of Thorin and his nephews in the battle that was meant to prevent the free peoples from fighting one another. Had Thorin been reasonable, no battle would have occurred and he would've lived. We see that in the film, just as in the book. However, I would agree with the OP that there were instances in the battle (especially in the EE) that were gory and ridiculous just for the sake of being gory and ridiculous that did detract from the message and spirit of the book.

Little OT, but about the claim that Bilbo was underused: Bilbo did every major thing he did in the book and more. I think the issue is more the playing up of secondary and invented characters that it made it seem like Bilbo was underplayed. There is something to be said for that; we didn't need Tauriel, and we should've had less Legolas and Alfrid. That said, even if these roles were deleted or kept to a minimum, other roles such as Bard, Thranduil, the dwarves, and the Master of Laketown need to be fleshed out in the films; not to shove Bilbo aside, but to fill in gaps that need to be filled in on screen. The Hobbit is about the adventure and development of Bilbo Baggins, and the value that the simplest and smallest person can bring that sometimes the great cannot. The films capture all of this. But as we later learn, Bilbo's adventures are part of larger designs, and there's no harm in showing these larger designs. After all, as Gandalf says, Bilbo is "quite a little fellow, in a wide world after all."

Hobbit/LOTR cartoons & humor: http://www.sarahbor.com/


Gianna
Rohan


Apr 25 2016, 4:22am

Post #85 of 275 (2824 views)
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To be fair to Narnia... [In reply to] Can't Post

It was really thanks to Aslan that the battle was won, not to Peter or the others. Has been a while since I read the book, but in the movie at least, it does show that Peter and Edmund get a lot of coaching before the battle.

~There's some good left in this world. And it's worth fighting for.~
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My website...
...my fantasy novel Seascape...
...and my fantasy novel Starscape.


dormouse
Half-elven


Apr 25 2016, 7:34am

Post #86 of 275 (2820 views)
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Yes, I noticed that.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...and wondered for a few moments whether to duck quoting the passage, but I had every confidence Darkstone wouldn't mind. For me the films really do represent that essence. It's Bilbo who shines from them - Bilbo, Gandalf, the dwarves.... Everything else - design, music, landscapes, characters known and unknown, unexpected moments of sheer magic (and the occasional unexpected moments of "er...what??") - everything is incidental to that. If I hadn't found that to be the heart of the films I couldn't have enjoyed them as I do.

But peace to you, and Darkstone. I enjoy your posts even when I don't agree with them and have every respect for your views. We're all part of life's rich what'sit - and in our own ways, we've all grasped our own little part of the elephant!

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


KW
Rivendell

Apr 25 2016, 2:45pm

Post #87 of 275 (2780 views)
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I'm not sure I would use "spirit" [In reply to] Can't Post

because it seems too vague a term to me.

On paragraph #1, I won't get really into it other than to express my opinion, somewhat sardonically (towards the movies, not you) that yeah the movies say a lot of things..

But if not "spirit" I might say that the story has certain important characteristics that identify it for me. It isn't checking off a list of plot events or putting particular "themes" into the mouths of characters for me.

I'd lead into it with Beowulf. That is a story about a violent warrior and so naturally one told directly about and through battles. And the final battle is between Beowulf and a dragon that was angered by the theft of a gold cup. Beowulf assembles a party of twelve guided by a thirteenth member, the thief, to the dragon.

The Hobbit is sort of like Tolkien flipped the plot. Instead of the thief being a minor character in a story about the dragon slayer, the dragon slayer is a minor character to the thief. But it isn't just the same story from a different POV. It is more like Tolkien remixes the elements and builds an entirely original story around that POV. It is the story of this one little thief, who he is, how he gets onto this adventure and what he experiences, how he sets off a dragon and how he redeems himself and the sort of personal challenges and moral battles he encounters along the way. THERE IS NO LARGER DESIGN FOR THE STORY.

Ok, let me explain that last bit I emphasized and where I am coming from. The Hobbit reminds me of Gene Wolfe's books. In Wolfe's books there is usually a larger context and shape of events but because the reader experiences the story of a particular narrator who does not fully comprehend or is even aware of that larger context, that shape is only partially revealed in vague bits and pieces that the reader must then put together themselves later on. The contrast between what the reader actually experiences through the protagonist what they can later infer is essential to the composition.

Yes, there is a larger context involving the wizards and necromancer the goblins and eagles and men but it is one that Bilbo is largely oblivious to. He and his group are repeatedly affected by its consequences and they repeatedly stumble in and out of it but largely unwittingly on their own agenda and the reader is right there with them. So they have an encounter and then move on. Meanwhile, off stage that encounter sets of a chain reaction that they are clueless about until suddenly it explodes back on stage later on in the story. Being surprised and then piecing back the logical chain of events that lead to this moment is part of the fun of the story that is created by its focused POV. And it helps emphasize the personal nature of Bilbo's decisions, specific to his direct circumstances rather than as a component part to a larger plot. Those decisions later affect things good and bad in ways that he did not design which further emphasizes a world that is much bigger and complex than his understanding or ability to control it. And yet his personal actions do not happen in a vacuum. They still have some ripple effect. The POV is what creates this artistic effect. It controls what the audience experiences and how they experience it. By putting so much composition emphasis on Bilbo it lends weight to his story over the usual heroic warrior type by totally eclipsing such characters.

The POV is the entire expression of the story. That is where the critique of war and greed comes from and that is why and how these events are presented the way they are. It is where the small observation details come from that also form the character of the work (as opposed to the bombastic approach of Jackson). It is an also a POV that presents a little Hobbit with a foolish fantasy of being a sword-weilding bad-ass and is wise enough to not only point out how silly that is but that there are other greater things to be gained.

I know there are many who want to see all the blanks filled in and expanded (and I can appreciate that interest) but for me those changes turn the work into something far less interesting because it all seems like boiler plate pop fantasy writing to me and robs the story of many of the things that make it stand out as unique.


(This post was edited by KW on Apr 25 2016, 2:49pm)


Avandel
Half-elven


Apr 25 2016, 3:09pm

Post #88 of 275 (2761 views)
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But [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Given that we're discussing whether Jackson's films are true to the spirit of the book, I would say: because Tolkien underplays the actual battle in the book and doesn't dwell on it like the film does. For instance: he doesn't try to tug our heartstrings by sticking a bunch of civilians in the middle of the action.

Re Tolkien, I never felt it was "underplaying", and that was true even having read the Hobbit as a child. Although I didn't use the words, I would have said "thinly sketchedUnsure" or a more "fairy tale" tone that doesn't necessarily go into rich verbal detail, but just rolls along as fairy tales often do (like glossing over a witch being shoved in an oven and so on). Certainly Bilbo just being unconscious through the whole battle made me uneasy, as telling a story goes, so I think BOFA handled that well.

Not sure which action you mean? - either the citizens of Laketown or folks fighting in Dale, but given that in more ancient times folks more or less ended up fighting for the lords or kings or as militia (whether they may have wanted to or not), and towns and cities fell to battles and invasions, I didn't see anything incongruous - especially as these were hard-scrabble residents of Laketown. Also, of course, children were expected to grow up fast in more ancient times.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 25 2016, 3:42pm

Post #89 of 275 (2753 views)
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Citizens of Lake-town at BoFA [In reply to] Can't Post

The difference between the book and the film is that Tolkien left the bulk of the Esgaroth survivors at the shore of the Long Lake; Bard only led a volunteer force to the Mountain. Peter Jackson, by contrast, brought all of the survivors to Dale where they could be endangered by Azog's army. Now, whether that was an improvement is certainly up for debate.

"Things need not to have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."


- Dream of the Endless


(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Apr 25 2016, 3:46pm)


Avandel
Half-elven


Apr 25 2016, 3:42pm

Post #90 of 275 (2757 views)
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And I would add [In reply to] Can't Post

Since it's a favorite element I think the films ADDED, for me the film relationship of Thorin and Bilbo; and the relationships of the dwarves (not that the films couldn't have use more fleshing out of those). But Bilbo and Thorin in particularHeart, IMO thanks again in no small part to the actors involved and I assume something of PJ & co. vision for these parts. And also ADDED to Bard as a character, and even the Master.Heart For me these were improvements over the book presentation, which again of course doesn't have huge amounts of details.

So the films IMO added more than just the pointlessness of war, and I think it was to the better. Even having characters like Hilda Bianca and Percy IMO was to the better, other than having more or less faceless Laketowners as in the book. Balin, Dwalin - IMO the dwarves are amazing as characters.Heart

And for me, re the gore (the chopped off troll heads in the BOFA EE often being mentionedCool) I personally was very happy to see some "goo" and was ridiculously happy to see Orcrist smeared with blackish blood in that magnificent shot of Thorin on the ice (- acknowledging Legolas in the only way he could, I think.) I think the cart + trolls in the BOFA EE is hilariousLaugh, personally - love the whole battle cart scenes.Heart

(Just sayin' the lack of a reasonable bit of blood smeared here and there - and this is true for LOTR as well, for me - it is more grating than anything else, for meUnimpressed. I never saw anything in the Hobbit films re gore that I'd consider offensive, tho I can't even watch horror films because it's too disturbing.Shocked But when Thorin pulls Orcrist free of a warg body, I don't expect Orcrist to be shiny clean.Unimpressed)

AnywayCool I would hardly say that Bilbo is underused; Martin Freeman is marvelous in his solo scenes but Bilbo needed to be interacting with Gandalf, the dwarves, Bard, Smaug...if anything I'd have to kick the hornet's nest of the underused dwarves (most of them).Unimpressed But that's another thread.Evil

Re:

Quote
But as we later learn, Bilbo's adventures are part of larger designs, and there's no harm in showing these larger designs. After all, as Gandalf says, Bilbo is "quite a little fellow, in a wide world after all."


Hear, hear. And this "little fellow" becomes the friend of an exiled, angry, mistrustful warrior KING of another race, and as the films depicted it, I thought that was beautiful - that completely unlikely friendshipHeart, and Bilbo's friendships with the dwarves. All those marvelous scenes with the dwarves, Thorin, Balin, Bofur.TongueHeart As well as the wonderful scenes with Gandalf.Heart


Avandel
Half-elven


Apr 25 2016, 3:53pm

Post #91 of 275 (2749 views)
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Not sure that's "better" tho re the book [In reply to] Can't Post

Er - well, I suppose you could leave the women/children/wounded/elderly at the scorched Laketown, but in thinking about it...you still have a situation with winter coming on, and apparently re the book a poisoned water supply...Unsure

I suppose one could scavenge supplies and find other water sources, but it would still be hard slog if a lot of your hunters were gone IMO, in winter - plus the possibility of predators. Or wandering orcs and wargs "their numbers are growing"....Shocked

Besides, thought that no-one knew there was an orc army on the move????


Sarahbor
Lorien


Apr 25 2016, 4:23pm

Post #92 of 275 (2735 views)
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Yep, I know [In reply to] Can't Post

But the children still helped, and a few days of coaching realistically isn't enough by any means. I'm not criticizing Narnia (I enjoyed the books!), I'm just pointing out that you're not really supposed to think about the little details like this, you're just supposed to enjoy the story and learn from the moral, so it's irrelevant whether they are completely believable or not.

Hobbit/LOTR cartoons & humor: http://www.sarahbor.com/


Sarahbor
Lorien


Apr 25 2016, 4:27pm

Post #93 of 275 (2734 views)
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True [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that a certain amount of blood is needed (it is a battle, after all), because if all the weapons come out shiny clean it starts to look fake and loses its impact. What I didn't like was the gratuitous mass-troll decapitation and blood spurting from orc body parts on the ground--not because it's not realistic (it is a war, after all), but because it seemed like they were only there to elicit laughs.

Hobbit/LOTR cartoons & humor: http://www.sarahbor.com/


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 25 2016, 4:49pm

Post #94 of 275 (2723 views)
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Survivors of Lake-town [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Er - well, I suppose you could leave the women/children/wounded/elderly at the scorched Laketown, but in thinking about it...you still have a situation with winter coming on, and apparently re the book a poisoned water supply...Unsure

I suppose one could scavenge supplies and find other water sources, but it would still be hard slog if a lot of your hunters were gone IMO, in winter - plus the possibility of predators. Or wandering orcs and wargs "their numbers are growing"....Shocked

Besides, thought that no-one knew there was an orc army on the move????


No, no one had advance word in the book about any approaching armies of Orcs. Keep in mind that the situation in the book is very different from how it is presented in the movie. The Master of Lake-town is still alive and the Elves have come to the lake to aid the survivors. Temporary shelters are being constructed while Bard (as the representative of the Master) and his force accompany the Elvenking to Erebor. The short-term plan seems to be to use some of the treasure from Smaug's hoard to purchase food and supplies (in Dorwinion?) to see the survivors through the winter. I don't recall any mention of a poisoned water supply, but surely the Elves could help with that. And it isn't as though the men who went with Bard weren't expected to return.

"Things need not to have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."


- Dream of the Endless


Avandel
Half-elven


Apr 25 2016, 10:06pm

Post #95 of 275 (2679 views)
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aaah - my bad.... [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
and the Elves have come to the lake to aid the survivors....


I wince in sympathy thinking about all the meetings that must have gone on to bring these films to screen, because from book to screen, seems like every change causes ripples to something else...e.g. it's hard for me to think of Thranduil as single-mindedly determined IMO as portrayed, w. generally a haughty icy personality, when he has elves back in Laketown helping out...

and Thranduil couldn't be portrayed as someone who didn't particularly care about "mortals" then...Shocked

Re the poisoned water - that's my assumption in that from the book, I was never that concerned about the greedy shallow LaketownersEvilWink as I figured they were fisher-folk and hunters by default, able to source food from the wild, and just where did they think they were going to spend gold anyway? But apparently Smaug's body was poisoning the lake?, which I assumed was the primary water and food supply. The films don't mention any of this, but seem to emphasize it's winter coming that is the issue. Although, I suppose, one could bring up the issue of why not just drag the body out of the lake...Evil E.g IMO there has to be a real reason to leave Laketown, otherwise why not just scavenge lumber and so on, and put up shelters to get through the winter? There's fish in the lake too.



LSF
Gondor

Apr 25 2016, 10:20pm

Post #96 of 275 (2681 views)
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well... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd rather spend winter in a mostly-intact stone city than a thrown-together wooden camp. Dale is close enough to the lake that you could still send people to fish for food.

I would also say dragging Smaug out of the lake would be a monumentous task, especially for a town of people who just lost everything.


Morthoron
Gondor


Apr 25 2016, 10:31pm

Post #97 of 275 (2675 views)
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What part of Dale do you think is left.... [In reply to] Can't Post

After Smaug destroyed it nearly 200 years previously? What part was "intact"? It certainly wasn't left standing in the book.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



LSF
Gondor

Apr 25 2016, 10:34pm

Post #98 of 275 (2675 views)
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movie Dale [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm talking in the movie, where it looked like a lot of Dale was still standing. At least enough to house the Laketowners a lot more comfortably than a ramshackle camp would.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 25 2016, 11:05pm

Post #99 of 275 (2669 views)
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Long Lake [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Re the poisoned water - that's my assumption in that from the book, I was never that concerned about the greedy shallow LaketownersEvilWink as I figured they were fisher-folk and hunters by default, able to source food from the wild, and just where did they think they were going to spend gold anyway? But apparently Smaug's body was poisoning the lake?, which I assumed was the primary water and food supply.


Long Lake was huge. Smaug's body does not seem to have made it uninhabitable so I'm sure that the Lake-men could have worked around it. The new Lake-town was built a ways north of the old location. But the fear of the spot where the dragon's corpse lay seems to have been more superstitious than based on fact. Perhaps it did temporarily poison the water in the immediate vicinity.

"Things need not to have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."


- Dream of the Endless


Omnigeek
Lorien


Apr 25 2016, 11:56pm

Post #100 of 275 (2660 views)
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Agreed, it's against greed not war per se [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
that the message of the story was not the pointless of war per se, but the destructive power of greed, which led to a needless war and deaths. Not all war is pointless; I'd hardly call Helm's Deep or Pelennor Fields or any defensive conflict, real or imaginary, where you fight to protect all you hold dear "pointless." There are plenty of instances throughout the first half of the movie where the pointlessness of fighting over gold and gems is reinforced over and over ("You would go to war over a handful of gems?" "Is gold so important to you? Would you buy it with the blood of dwarves?" "You cannot go to war" "Thranduil, this is madness" "Stand your army down" "This treasure will be your death" "There is no need for war between dwarves, men, and elves" and so on). The tragedy was the needless death of Thorin and his nephews in the battle that was meant to prevent the free peoples from fighting one another. Had Thorin been reasonable, no battle would have occurred and he would've lived. We see that in the film, just as in the book.


... and this is one more reason I felt the Rankin-Bass cartoon did a better job capturing the spirit of the book. To some extent, I think having to fit everything into a single TV movie made R-B focus on the key elements of the book whereas PJ was allowed to let his imagination roam and expand.
PJ and company DID capture most of the key lines but they were diminished by all the other add-ons. The Thorin nightmare sequence brought the focus back on the destructive power of greed but again it was all about Thorin.
Attempting to end positively, I will say I liked PJ's rendition of "The Hobbit" a LOT more than I like JJ Abram's and Roberto Orci's rendition of "Star Trek".

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