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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
It's very interesting, what you say about

The Shire

Dec 9 2013, 7:39pm

Views: 298
It's very interesting, what you say about [In reply to] Can't Post

the first edition of The Hobbit. I enjoyed it.

I do think that the Hobbit's treatment of the Ring is perfectly pitched. The fact that it confers invisibility is on its own enough to make the point about corruption, with no need for anything more explicit. Forget Sauron for a moment: it's a magic power, or an advanced technology, so of course its first effect is to turn you into a liar, a hoarder of secrets. In itself it's an evil which separates its owner from his/her fellow creatures. Tokien has perfect instincts about this: Gollum's terrible agony, Bilbo's dishonesty about it, even perhaps the troubled dream he has in the Eagles' eyrie, his unhappiness about having to give up his secret - all these touches are unusual moments which a child reading the story will immediately pick up as peculiar and unsettling: the brow-furrowing places where the meaning of the story really lies.

I also think that, even if it seems to fade out of the foreground, Tolkien sustains the Ring story right til the end. There's that lovely growing sense that Bilbo isn't seeing the whole picture, and that even the narration is withholding things you're better off not knowing - as if the book itself has gone a little strange and not entirely honest, like Gandalf. The implicit pay-off to the ring story is of course the Arkenstone, which teaches Bilbo everything he needs to know about possessiveness and the power of giving away. But there's obviously something of a different order of seriousness about this ring: back home, Bilbo spends most of his gold and silver on presents - he gives it away once again. (The other thing he's gained is the mithril shirt - because it was freely given as a gift by Thorin, and which, brilliantly, Bilbo lends out to a museum.) But the ring remains a "great secret". I like "he chiefly used it when unpleasant visitors came calling" very much - you can't read that "chiefly" without wondering just how many other times the Ring goes on the finger. And, given Bilbo's unpopularity, you wonder how many other hobbits end up in the category of "unpleasant visitors"- most people, you'd guess. Put it another way - the Ring becomes Bilbo's best (only?) friend (apart from young Tooks), and adopting cousin Frodo is his attempt to combat it. We're supposed to laugh at the small-minded hobbits who think Bilbo's cracked or 'don't believe his stories' - but they're spot on, in a way. He IS a liar. It's all quiet and subtle and underplayed in just the way that guilty secrets are - the way that inadvertently draws attention to itself. (Just as the Ring doesn't conceal, but reveals you to Sauron.) Above all, you see that the effect of the Ring is imperceptibly slow, like most corruptions, like your own corruptions; Bilbo may dimly intuit there is something wrong about it, but the evil never makes itself so obviously harmful that you'd cease to love and cherish the precious thing. It's seductive like tobacco, not crack-cocaine.

My point is that Bilbo triumphs over his and Thorin's own sin of greed by giving away the Arkenstone, but he can't triumph over the sin of greed itself, as represented by the indestructible Ring. Because the real evil of greed is the denial of it. (It's only 'my old ring'.) Bilbo's conscious mind can heroically give up the Arkenstone (basically his whole share in the treasure) to try and save lives, but the rest of him, the instinctual part doesn't stand a chance vs the Ring, because, well, your instincts are your instincts and we're stuck with them and their incredible power.

So let's hope Jackson, Walsh and Boyens underplay the role of the Ring. The subtler the approach (and Martin Freeman 100% has the tools to do this) the more powerful the statement about creeping, seductive evil, and the longer the through-line from Riddles in the Dark to the Crack of Doom. And the more moving Bilbo's actions with the Arkenstone. Not telling the dwarves about it is an absolutely natural, obvious move for the film. I think Balin knowing might be a nice angle to try, perhaps... The key is taking TABA seriously, I'd say: back in the Shire, we've got to see how, for a second time, Bilbo basically gives all his plunder away. He's tremendously non-materialistic - and not the guy who resents feeding dwarves and worries about his hankies. The most generous hobbit there is, apart from this one tiny little thing...

But PJ can NOT show Bilbo realising: "Woah, what a rush, this thing is way too powerful for me to control", without kind of missing the whole point. If PJ ever wanted to rebut the charge that he has a sledgehammer sensibility unable to grasp the subtleties of a children's classic, getting that right would be a good place to start. Given the shot from the trailer of Bilbo picking up the Ring, after fighting the spiders, I guess, I'm not super-optimistic.

Subject User Time
The Continuing Journey of The One Ring in The Hobbit Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful Dec 9 2013, 3:58pm
    I agree with your point of view on this. *book spoiler* arithmancer Send a private message to arithmancer Dec 9 2013, 5:03pm
        I tend to see the One Ring as having some influence - Hanzkaz Dec 9 2013, 5:33pm
    Ring / Arkenstone Lucky Luke Send a private message to Lucky Luke Dec 9 2013, 5:25pm
    Very excellent post VtF Ham_Sammy Send a private message to Ham_Sammy Dec 9 2013, 5:26pm
    It's very interesting, what you say about Reuel Send a private message to Reuel Dec 9 2013, 7:39pm
        Excellent posts Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful Dec 9 2013, 8:03pm


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