May 30 2011, 8:17am
Yes, a child's book manages a single perspective story fine, but we won't be watching a book on the big screen. With all the story elements in the book, the only way to make it simpler for children to read and understand, was to simplify how many voices they heard, so we only see things through Bilbo's eyes. The point here being, this is a very hard affect to achieve. Similar to how Cloverfield was shot, all from the perspective of that camcorder. And over the course of two movies, this becomes so much harder. So, we will get parts told from Gandalf's perspective, and from Thorin's perspective, and Thranduil, and Bard and Smaug, and many others. And yes, all those perspectives could still just be things directly from the Hobbit text, or actions somewhat hinted at but not precisely spelled out. But it also leaves things open to expanding what everyone is doing, or has done, or will do. And when it comes to things like the White Council or Dol Goldur, Tolkien did write about that, did think it important to fill in, even if he didn't include it into a children's book.
I think you just negated your own argument
Example: In the book, after Bilbo's encounter with Smaug, the dragon goes on a rampage and leaves the cavern and starts shooting flames at the Lonely Mountain looking for the Thief and his secret entrance. Bilbo and the dwarves hide inside the cave after shutting the door behind them, and hear Smaug smashing the side of the mountain, shooting flames, looking for the Thief and the secret entrance, but they never see it. After not finding them, Smaug leaves. They huddle there for a hours and hours, with no idea where Smaug is, whether he's come back or not and finally decide to head down the tunnel and into the main cavern in hopes of possibly sneaking past a very angry dragon. It is only later, once the armies besiege the dwarves that Bilbo is told that Smaug flew to Laketown, set it alight and that Bard finally shot an arrow into the one small open spot on his chest and felled the dragon. It's possible in the filmed version, this is exactly how it's played out and that during Bard's story we see Smaug approaching the town, scorching everything in his path, the burning of the town, the men fighting back, and the fateful shot that brings him down. But if we stick to Bilbo's perspective, we don't get to see Smaug looking for the Dwarves and Bilbo or his battering of the side of the mountain, because as written, we only hear that, not see it, because Bilbo is stuck in that pitch black cave. Boring, I want to see Smaug, not hear him.
I can't imagine this is how it will play out in the films. I'm quite sure we will see Smaug battering the side of the mountain,bringing down boulders and trees and setting it all on fire before we follow him across the lake once he decides he can't find the Thief on the mountainside. We will see him laying waste to the whole countryside as he goes, and people will run and scream and it will be mayhem. We will also see the militia try to fight back, and some will die, and the bowmen will start to loose their arrows. At this point, it's a coin toss as to whether we will see Bard fell Smaug at this point in the story, or whether we will cut back to the dwarves and Bilbo trying to determine what to do and gambling that a trip down the tunnel is the best idea, followed by Bilbo learning of Smaug's fate directly from Bard.
In the end, I'm convinced we will see something that Bilbo doesn't witness, and yet, it is something directly from the book. It's all about point of view and I personally can't wait to see the coolest dragon in fiction literature live up to his press.
Your Star Wars theory is a great example of a main character's journey, but Luke is not the only perspective we see. We have numerous sequences that are just the Droids, just Han and Chewie, just Leia and her captors, just Darth and Tarkin and other imperial troops and just Obi Wan, all sequences needed to help move Luke's story of self discovery along, and all sequences he never witnesses. So not quite as similar to The Hobbit as you would think, Bilbo is never really off stage, as it were. With the possible exception of when he's unconscious during the Battle of Five Armies, and even then, he's still onstage but not witnessing the story. But then, it's been 2 years since I last read the story, so maybe there is some other time that the story is happening and Bilbo is either not part of it nor witnessing it.
And just because you are not curious to see some of the storylines that Tolkien did write to fill in the backstory is not justification to leave it out either. I agree the proposed storyline of Itaril is made up, but the White Council and Dol Goldur are part of Tolkien's canon and therefore not made up. And while a lot of stuff happens in the Hobbit, and takes a while to read, on screen much of that will happen much quicker than you think. Sure, they could have decided to keep it just one movie, because that's about all the action the book would actually cover, but they decided not to leave plot holes. And yes, Gandalf's absence is a plot hole. Showing that background of where he goes doesn't have to change what happens to Bilbo and the dwarves. He leaves, they get lost, captured, escape, etc, and he goes off and meets with the White Council, they battle the Necromancer, and both storylines stay separate. I really don't see how including where Gandalf goes and what he does as hindering Bilbo's growth as a reluctant hero because it never actually affects Bilbo at all. You couldn't do that in a child's book, but you can do that in an adults movie.
Peace, Love and Rock & Roll,
The orange stripey One
Cruise to Middle-earth