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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
"The Burglar" Bilbo Baggins Takes On a Whole New Meaning in AUJ
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Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Dec 29 2012, 4:34am

Post #1 of 29 (1152 views)
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"The Burglar" Bilbo Baggins Takes On a Whole New Meaning in AUJ Can't Post

One of the most inspired screenwriting decisions of AUJ was to have Bilbo witness Gollum dropping his ring rather than accidentally finding it in the dark as in the book. When Gollum left and Bilbo snatched the ring up from the cave floor, it gave Bilbo's role as the Company's "burglar" a dramatic new meaning. It was an unexpected--and some might say radical--departure from Tolkien, but each time I've watched that scene, the more I'm convinced of its brilliance.

How to present Bilbo's 'magic ring' always going to be a problem for Pete, Fran, and Phillipa. Because their film characterization of the One Ring was so much more corruptive than in Tolkien's books, they'd put themselves in a potential bind. How could they depict it in the new Hobbit films as simply a magic ring when it would take on a radical new characterization in the LOTR? It seemed to me prior to seeing the first film that while they had no choice but to depict it exactly as Tolkien depicted it--however---I thought there still needed to be at least some subtle foreshadowing of its evil for an audience.

By having Bilbo Baggins, who publicly declared earlier in the film that, " I've never stolen anything in my entire life," steal the golden ring he observed fall from Gollum's pocket, the audience was given its first clue that our good-hearted Hobbit hero was doing something that was not in character for him.

It's the type of retroactive alterations that Tolkien himself made to his Riddles in the Dark chapter of the Hobbit after he was well on his way to finishing his master work, the Lord of the Rings. With their own Riddles in the Dark revisions--highlighted by their depiction of "Thief Baggins"--Pete, Fran, and Phillipa have successfully followed in the Professor's footsteps.

Agree? Disagree? Your thoughts?


Mooseboy018
Gondor


Dec 29 2012, 4:45am

Post #2 of 29 (572 views)
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I agree. [In reply to] Can't Post

I wasn't really sure how I felt about this change at first. But the more I think about it, the more I like it. Especially because it was done so subtly.

What do you think about the whole thing with Bilbo not using the Ring to help him save Thorin from Azog? Do you think he was just trying to prove that he's part of the group and show that he can be "fierce", or do you think there was something a little deeper going on involving the Ring?


jtarkey
Rohan


Dec 29 2012, 4:45am

Post #3 of 29 (584 views)
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He didn't witness it... [In reply to] Can't Post

It's emphasized for the sake of the viewer, but he doesn't see it happen as we do. He doesn't come out of hiding and go straight for the ring. He gets up, looks around, and notices it on the floor.

He did, however, seem to catch on to the fact that he had taken something very valuable from gollum. But that's pretty much how it goes in the book.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


stoutfiles
Rohan

Dec 29 2012, 4:50am

Post #4 of 29 (526 views)
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He tries to steal the Troll's knife [In reply to] Can't Post

It's only his first successful time.

However, this doesn't depart from the book at all, both eventually have Bilbo in the predicament where he realizes he stole Gollum's Ring, and decides to run instead of give it up. Seeing it fall off of Gollum is just for the casual audience.


stoutfiles
Rohan

Dec 29 2012, 4:53am

Post #5 of 29 (638 views)
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That scene was insanity [In reply to] Can't Post

In the book, Bilbo uses the Ring nonstop after he finds it, it is his courage. He should have used it there if he had to save Thorin, especially considering he was rolling around. Good way to have a ring slip out of your pocket.

They only had Bilbo do that nonsensical act so Thorin could witness it and they could have the Hollywood friendship ending for Act 1.


Mahtion
Rivendell

Dec 29 2012, 4:53am

Post #6 of 29 (571 views)
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Bilbo not using invisibility [In reply to] Can't Post

Two reasons why:

Bilbo was driven like Thorin by quick emotional impulses, he didn't have time to think about using the ring. Like the scene with the Trolls, Bilbo acts out of courage and by standing up to Azog it is as if Thorin is now the ponies. It doesn't matter to Bilbo, he is kind hearted and has good instincts.

Also Bilbo doesn't understand how the ring works, he simply could have forgotten he even had it in that moment. These changes are also alluding to further changes like in BOFA. No way that Bilbo will spend the entire battle either invisible or unconscious, just don't see how that will work. Many would see this as a pitiful copout.


Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Dec 29 2012, 4:54am

Post #7 of 29 (530 views)
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Stolen or found? [In reply to] Can't Post

jtarkey wrote: He didn't witness it. It's emphasized for the sake of the viewer, but he doesn't see it happen as we do. He doesn't come out of hiding and go straight for the ring. He gets up, looks around, and notices it on the floor.

I disagree with you on this one. The audience sees Bilbo peeking out from behind a rock as Gollum drags away the orc and loses his golden ring when the orc fights back. Once Gollum leaves, Bilbo retrieves Sting and then uses the blade's light to locate the fallen ring. Getting the ring looked pretty deliberate to me.


duats
Grey Havens

Dec 29 2012, 4:55am

Post #8 of 29 (523 views)
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He doesn't seek the ring out [In reply to] Can't Post

He does a sort of double-take when he notices it on the floor.


Joe-Mathews
Rivendell


Dec 29 2012, 5:07am

Post #9 of 29 (503 views)
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Pocketses [In reply to] Can't Post

I also noticed that Gollum kept the Ring in his own little pocket, unlike the book where he went back to his island to get it. It's a small point, but I think it added to the whole "What's in my pocket?" riddle question and Gollum's eventual realization where the Ring went.

But I have to disagree with your point about it adding to Bilbo's character progression into a burglar. He still finds the ring. He doesn't steal it. Given the situation, being pursued by orcs and encountering a violent creature, no one would just walk up to Gollum and say, "Pardon me, sir, I think you dropped this." Bilbo had no reason to think it had any value. If you want to call it burglary, it then becomes implausible that Bilbo would risk mentioning it in front of the burgled.

I don't think the change is radical or dramatic, but it is smart. In neither the book or film does Bilbo consider himself more of a burglar. In both, Gollum thinks of Bilbo as a burglar. In the end, I think the changes in that scene were merely to move the action along. It combined the separate losing and finding scenes in the book into one quick change of possession in the film.

'It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.' ... '[Yet their seed] will lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for.'


Bladerunner
Gondor


Dec 29 2012, 5:45am

Post #10 of 29 (481 views)
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I agree that Bilbo doesn't put two and two together until Gollum makes a big deal about having lost something. [In reply to] Can't Post

I just watched the movie again and can say that Bilbo doesn't notice the ring until after he retrieves Sting.

The movie makes a big deal about the ring falling for the audiences benefit, but you can tell from Bilbo's "what's this?" reaction, that he doesn't notice the ring until after he has Sting.

Later, when Gollum is searching frantically, you notice the light-bulb moment in Bilbo's expression, as he is thinking to himself "oh crap, I guess I better not tell him what have I got in my pocket."


Lissuin
Tol Eressea


Dec 29 2012, 9:57am

Post #11 of 29 (428 views)
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I looked for this the last time I saw the film [In reply to] Can't Post

after reading your or someone else's earlier comment on this. I don't agree that he saw Gollum drop it; the audience sees it drop, but Gollum is out of Bilbo's line of sight at that point. Bilbo doesn't use Sting to look for it, either; there is an instant when the light from the sword shines on the ring and Bilbo's attention is drawn to it because of that, and I believe he even says "What's this?", or was that Bilbo in the FOTR prologue? Whether he says something in surprise or not, he looks surprised to me.

Take another look or wait for the dvd, but for now I think basing your praise of the writers' "radical departure" from Tolkien's type of Burglar Bilbo is unfounded. I'm not basing my comments on your theory as to why the writers might need to do it for the sake of this film; I simply think you are seeing something that isn't there.Unsure


DanielLB
Immortal


Dec 29 2012, 10:13am

Post #12 of 29 (404 views)
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This [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo didn't see the Ring fall out. He was watching Gollum, while the audience was shown the Ring falling out of his pocket.

You can tell this by Bilbo's expression as he first sees the Ring.

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Xanaseb
Tol Eressea


Dec 29 2012, 11:01am

Post #13 of 29 (408 views)
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This is one thing I find a bit disconcerting, as it removes some of Bilbo's innocence here, and thus changes many principles surrounding the occasion :s // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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jtarkey
Rohan


Dec 29 2012, 11:16am

Post #14 of 29 (389 views)
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You can rest easy [In reply to] Can't Post

Because Bilbo, 100 percent, did not steal the ring knowingly.

He realizes once Gollum begins asking him what is in his pocket. And he might as well keep it at that point, since Gollum was starting to go crazy and likely would have tried to kill him either way.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


RalphDamiani
Rivendell

Dec 29 2012, 12:00pm

Post #15 of 29 (363 views)
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Movies vs books [In reply to] Can't Post

You can't have true darkness in cinema because you need to show the actors, you need to show the environment. That's why Moria was not pitch dark, and the same can be said of Shelob's lair and Gollum's cave. Especially in HFR when the amount of light you need is much greater than in regular cameras.

It's not good photography. You need light. Especially in a character driven moment like Riddles. And then if you have light you can't have a character stumbling around as if he were blind, it looks weird to the audience.

Everything was adapted to suit the medium.


(This post was edited by RalphDamiani on Dec 29 2012, 12:01pm)


Ruxendil_Thoorg
Grey Havens


Dec 29 2012, 2:01pm

Post #16 of 29 (357 views)
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"Thief! Baggins!" [In reply to] Can't Post

Apparently there is disagreement on whether Bilbo saw the Ring drop from Gollum. While watching the movie I had the impression that Bilbo saw it, but maybe I'll have to watch again to check.

But one thing's for sure: Bilbo kept it, even after having reason to know that it belonged to Gollum. When Gollum screams "You stole it from us!!!" that is an accurate accusation--albeit morally justifiable and excusable for Bilbo to have done, as the movie shows that he was trying to save his own life and escape, and we know that if he had not used and kept the Ring, he would have been done for. Gollum's threatening actions throughout the scene pretty forced Bilbo to keep it and use it.

My movie viewing companion pointed out, and I agree, that the screenwriters drew a sharp contrast between "I've never stolen a thing in my entire life" in the beginning and "You stole it from us!!!!!" toward the end. Quite a "Before" and "After" comparison isn't it? I would think it was probably intentional, because it works very well.

A bag is like a hole that you can carry with you.

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Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Dec 29 2012, 2:06pm

Post #17 of 29 (339 views)
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oops [In reply to] Can't Post

DanielLB wrote: Bilbo didn't see the Ring fall out.

Sorry everyone. I stand corrected. Since people have seen the movie since my post and are adamant that Bilbo's expression is one of surprise, I'll accept I was wrong.

This is an example of someone specifically looking during the film for 'forewarning' clues and ...ta-DAAA....'finding' one. Oh well... Smile


DanielLB
Immortal


Dec 29 2012, 4:30pm

Post #18 of 29 (304 views)
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Question is .... [In reply to] Can't Post

Why did Gollum not have the Ring on (a bit careless, no?), and why hadn't he lost it before this event?

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dormouse
Half-elven


Dec 29 2012, 5:04pm

Post #19 of 29 (296 views)
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Because Bilbo was meant to find it.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...and not by its maker. Wink


sauget.diblosio
Tol Eressea

Dec 29 2012, 5:23pm

Post #20 of 29 (282 views)
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Put me in the [In reply to] Can't Post

“Bilbo did -not- see the ring fall out of Bilbo's pocket” camp. At first i thought he saw it drop, but then he clearly does a double take when he first sees it.


(This post was edited by sauget.diblosio on Dec 29 2012, 5:29pm)


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Dec 29 2012, 5:30pm

Post #21 of 29 (288 views)
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It really wasn't Bilbo's decision to keep the Ring, [In reply to] Can't Post

just like it really wasn't Smeagol's decision to kill his friend for the Ring. It was the Ring itself, influenced by its Maker, trying to find a way to get back to Him.

" Well well!", said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"
"Most astonishing wonderful!"


Ruxendil_Thoorg
Grey Havens


Dec 29 2012, 7:04pm

Post #22 of 29 (263 views)
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The Ring likely had influence, sure. [In reply to] Can't Post

But even if we assume the Ring was the sole reason why Bilbo kept the Ring,--i.e., he otherwise wouldn't have kept it--- I would still call it Bilbo's "decision" to keep it, albeit a morally justifiable and excusable one under the circumstances. Maybe this is just a semantic difference on what "decision" means?

Or maybe you're making a philosophical distinction as to whether one can be morally culpable for acts that were influenced by an outside force such as the Ring? Perhaps Smeagol is blameless for Deagol's murder because the Ring made him do it? Basically the same rationale as the insanity defense or involuntary intoxication defense to murder.

Those questions are open to debate and reasonable minds may differ. I would say Smeagol bears at least some culpability for Deagol's murder, just as Bilbo bears at least some responsibility for keeping the Ring, albeit for self-preservation and for personal liberty, even assuming the Ring's influence.

It should be noted the the Ring does not 100% guarantee influence on everyone's acts. The character of the person plays a role, and a "decision" is made at some point. Galadriel and Gandalf, despite each having great power, managed to resist. Boromir was unable to restrain himself, but he was a warrior and captain of great stature and bearing. But so was Aragorn (from the movie) who resisted successfully, as did Faramir (in the book more so than in the movie but both versions still resistant by the end). Bilbo and Frodo proved quite resistant, heroically so, to a limit. They were "mere" Hobbits, but made of strong heart and solid character. Smeagol was also just a Hobbit (or proto-Hobbit anyway, a Stoor). What's his excuse? He made a "decision" and the rest is history.

A bag is like a hole that you can carry with you.

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Xanaseb
Tol Eressea


Dec 29 2012, 7:12pm

Post #23 of 29 (242 views)
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ok good good. It is a -bit- hard for me to remember, haven't seen it in over a week LOL // [In reply to] Can't Post

Tongue

--I'm a victim of Bifurcation--
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Join us over at Barliman's chat all day, any day!
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Arandir
Gondor


Dec 29 2012, 7:12pm

Post #24 of 29 (282 views)
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The only thing that spoilt such a great scene was [In reply to] Can't Post

the VFX shot of the Ring tumbling through the air, until it landed on the ground.

It clearly looked faked and somehow, from the moment it tumbled through the air and realizing how "cartoonish" it was, that spoilt the moment for me.

As brilliant as the scene was, that shot was probably the only thing I felt was fake in the entire film and I couldn't believe that the scenes of Frodo with the ring at Bree were much more realistic.

Otherwise, I agree completely.

'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' Review


Rostron2
Gondor


Dec 29 2012, 10:07pm

Post #25 of 29 (205 views)
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Perspective [In reply to] Can't Post

I was rather pleased in the way they actually carried out this 'finding' Obviously they weren't going to have Bilbo blundering around in the dark for hours and end up at the bottom of the caverns and Gollum's lake. He simply took the Express route. The fact that he had sort of forgotten it was in his pocket is a crucial part of the riddle scene. I thought the whole thing, and Martin's work on the scene was great.

So, I agree with what's been said already, it didn't look deliberate, it was just a faster sequence of chance occurrence than the book describes.

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