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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
"All Good Stories Deserve A Little Embellishment"
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Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 9 2013, 4:06am

Post #1 of 39 (1266 views)
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"All Good Stories Deserve A Little Embellishment" Can't Post

As Gandalf the Grey told Bilbo, “All good stories deserve a little embellishment. And in the case of Peter Jackson's retelling of Tolkien’s children’s tale, The Hobbit, there are a number of examples of the film version enhancing the original story. Here are mine:

The Theme of Destiny. The film significantly enhances the concept of destiny that Tolkien later expanded upon in LOTR in Gandalf’s classic line, "Bilbo was meant to find the ring."

Bilbo's Decision. The film gave Bilbo more ownership in his ultimate decision to leave Bag End and join the dwarves on their adventure.

The Dignity of Thorin Oakenshield
. The film's portrayal of the dwarf leader is more well-rounded than the book and gives Thorin a greater sense of honor and dignity than readers got in the early chapters of the Hobbit. Not only did the film make Thorin a stronger character, the film's portrayal will enhance the emotion of the story’s ending.

The Appearance of the Dwarves at Bag End. I thought it was a major enhancement to Thorin’s character to have him appear AFTER the dwarves have had their fun and games. Thorin’s appearance immediately changed the tone and set the stage for ‘dark business.’

The Finding of the Ring
. By showing the audience how Gollum lost it, the film made Bilbo’s finding of the ring more meaningful for a film audience. It also enhanced the concept that the ring "abandoned" Gollum.

Bilbo's Brass Buttons. Although the scene was different from the book, the symbolism of Bilbo losing his brass buttons was enhanced by having it linked to his putting on the ring for the first time.

The Theme of Home. The film significantly expanded on the theme of home. Bilbo's explanation to Thorin and the Company as to why he returned is one of the film's more emotionally powerful scenes.

The Theme of Revenge. Not only does the introduction of Azog into the story give Thorin an antagonist and give the journey a sense of urgency, it enhances the story’s revenge theme.

The Start of the Riddle Game
. I thought it was incredibly clever to have Bilbo suggest a riddle game “just between us” with the good side of the crazy creature Gollum in an effort to keep his nasty side at bay.

What are yours?

(This post was edited by Black Breathalizer on Jan 9 2013, 4:07am)


Ave Moria
Rivendell


Jan 9 2013, 5:47am

Post #2 of 39 (660 views)
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Brilliant post [In reply to] Can't Post

First, I would agree with your list, particularly Thorin and Azog.

The people that complain about Azog seem to forget a few things.

1. Without Azog pursuing the Company, the quest is a safe little hike up until The Goblin Conflict. Where is the drama there? The stakes fall considerably when there is nothing hunting the group. With Azog ever on their heels, as you say, urgency is injected into the story, and the general theme of hatred between the Dwarves and the Orcs is enhanced and fleshed out. This theme is true to the book, and actually strengthens the story.

Again, I'll repeat myself. If Azog was not there, the Company's journey would be essentially a scenic adventure most of the way and would jar with the warlike atmosphere that comes later. For The Hobbit to tonally relate to Rings, we do need a sense of drama, and even a hint of doom, because after all, the ring is central to the Hobbit in many ways.

2. The other small changes you mention add greatly to the overall story/film. An example would be the fact that they show Gollum lose the ring. The ring is given a gravity (literal and metaphorical) when we see it fall, and the impact of the scene in terms of the sound design, shot composition and so forth, ties the doom of the ring into Rings perfectly. Small additions go a long way, and as long as it is true to the spirit of the book, then fantastic.

For me, a few extra things:

Bolg getting wounded by Dwalin.

This sets up his anger towards the Dwarves as he is not only disfigured and maimed, but has to stitch his face back together with steel and scrap. This adds to the later battle drama, and creates more of a sense of importance for Bolg and his connection to the company. In this small way, he is much more than just another big Orc.

Galadriel offering aid to Gandalf sets up the battle of Dol Guldur in a subtle but large way, as well as humanizing her to the audience in a way that we can relate to (always being there for your friends). Plus, her distrust of Saruman played subtly with framing etc, foreshadows later events. Also, the fact that she allows the company to continue after learning of Gandalf's scheme (with a knowing smile) re-enforces their bond and her great sense of perspective and compassion.

Thorin's command of Fili and Kili in the Warg battle near Rivendell foreshadows their style of fighting together and their particular strengths in war. The scene of the Moria flashback also establishes their respect of Thorin and their need to please him which will factor in later.

Lastly, the emotional catharsis of the Carrock scene (though added) is excellent. Not only does it show that Thorin is growing, by extending a warmer, more trusting side of himself to Bilbo, but that he is more accepting of outsiders, which says alot from a nomadic and hidden race that trusts almost nobody.

Lastly, this warmth will make the betrayel of the Arkenstone and Thorin's fall to Dragon-sickness all the more impactful.

That's a few things off the top of my head.

-In the Darkness, a torch we hold-


Fredeghar Wayfarer
Lorien


Jan 9 2013, 8:33am

Post #3 of 39 (623 views)
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What about the trolls? [In reply to] Can't Post

I disagree with your assessment that the quest is a safe little hike until Goblin-town. The trolls are a significant threat prior to that. They're played partially for laughs but they do intend to eat Bilbo and the Dwarves. So it's not as if there is no threat before the mountains.

I did complain about Azog and will likely continue to do so. I admit that that's partially Tolkien purism. If they'd introduced that plotline with Bolg as the villain rather than Azog, I probably would have been okay with it. I don't object to the Warg-riders having a leader. I just think Jackson chose poorly and changed the original story too drastically. Why bring back a dead character when the novel already has a character that could fill that role? It's fine now but it may make Bolg seem redundant when they eventually introduce him.


Roheryn
Grey Havens

Jan 9 2013, 9:59am

Post #4 of 39 (559 views)
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Neat thoughts! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think PJ & co have embellished quite a few things, and think pretty much all of it just adds to the depth and quality of the movie. I feel like a lot less of a purist when it comes to The Hobbit than I felt with LOTR. With LOTR, many of the changes bugged me, but here, they don't. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


In Reply To
The Theme of Destiny. The film significantly enhances the concept of destiny that Tolkien later expanded upon in LOTR in Gandalf’s classic line, "Bilbo was meant to find the ring."
You don’t mention the enhancement of destiny with regard to Thorin. I’ve got to go re-read The Hobbit now, but I don’t think it’s made clear in there that Thorin feels it’s his destiny per se to attempt revenge on Smaug and try to reclaim Erebor. I think this is made a bit more clear in “The Quest of Erebor” in Unfinished Tales, however. PJ & co have nicely embellished this: Thorin does actually say to Balin that he has no choice with regards to the Quest – it’s his fate, or destiny. I think this is fantastic; we have a lot more sympathy for someone who “has no choice”, don’t we?

The Dignity of Thorin Oakenshield. The film's portrayal of the dwarf leader is more well-rounded than the book and gives Thorin a greater sense of honor and dignity than readers got in the early chapters of the Hobbit. Not only did the film make Thorin a stronger character, the film's portrayal will enhance the emotion of the story’s ending.
This is, for me, the most dramatic and significant embellishment and is what gives the movie its huge WOW! factor. I had no idea Thorin could or would be that compelling, complex, and someone we could care about so much. I think this shift in Thorin’s character has ultimately rendered the story about Thorin just as much as it is about Bilbo. And I’m okay with that!

The Appearance of the Dwarves at Bag End. I thought it was a major enhancement to Thorin’s character to have him appear AFTER the dwarves have had their fun and games. Thorin’s appearance immediately changed the tone and set the stage for ‘dark business.’

Yes, it would have completely set the wrong tone for Thorin’s character if he’d ended up on the doormat with other Dwarves piled on top of him! His majestic entrance sets him up perfectly.




Eleniel
Grey Havens


Jan 9 2013, 10:41am

Post #5 of 39 (551 views)
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That's a good point about the Trolls... [In reply to] Can't Post

They, and the Goblin King are played for laughs more so in the film than the book, which kind of lessens the fear-factor. With the original vetriloquy sequence the tension was retained until the final moment when Dawn broke. In the move we saw how Bilbo was playing for time instead of it being suspensful.

I never got the impression from reading The Hobbit that the GG was a cartoonish buffoon. The humour is in Tolkien's voice as narrator, and the way the characters interact in a comedy of manners. Yes, the Trolls speak in Cockney accents, and one can imagine Tolkien enjoying doing the voices whilst reading the tale aloud to his kids, but you still get the impression that said kids were meant to be on the edge of their seats wondering how Bilbo and the Dwarves were going to get out of trouble each time. Classic bedtime fare, written episodically so that the danger was resolved momentarily at the end of each instalment before the Company plunged headlong into the next mishap.

I also agree that using Bolg in the Azog role would have irked me less - from reading the screenwriters comments it's as though they think the casual viewer can't cope with any part of the story that doesn't play out in front of them. Apparently having the son and grandson continue the vengeance of their ancestors is "too layered", and "too far removed!"


"Choosing Trust over Doubt gets me burned once in a while, but I'd rather be singed than hardened."
¯ Victoria Monfort






(This post was edited by Eleniel on Jan 9 2013, 10:45am)


BoromirOfWinterfell
Rohan


Jan 9 2013, 10:43am

Post #6 of 39 (547 views)
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What you say about Azog is a really good point [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think the problem is the idea of making it more exciting by having a main antagonist, it's just that Azog himself seemed poorly executed. As I said, other than that I do see the point of having him in the film.

Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg - that has passed, so may this.


jtarkey
Rohan


Jan 9 2013, 11:22am

Post #7 of 39 (567 views)
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This is my main problem with the film... [In reply to] Can't Post

The Hobbit could have been executed as a slow moving road film. I feel that would have been a better representation of the novel than an amped up action/fantasy film.

The urgency isn't the problem. It's the way in which it is executed. I'm not saying that PJ lost site of the story amidst all the visuals and action sequences, but he certainly didn't put as much emphasis on it as he could have.

If the production spent more time perfecting character moments, and quiet meaningfull conversations, the film would have been much stronger.

It's still a great film, but I don't think a lighter tone means ditching depth. There are plenty of childrens cartoons and films that do a great job of finding the balance between light heart and depth. Think myazaki, pixar, secret of nimh, land before time...

I really feel the film missed the mark in that aspect. I still love it though.

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


pulpfiction16
Rivendell

Jan 9 2013, 12:58pm

Post #8 of 39 (487 views)
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Slow moving? [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought the general reaction to the film is that it is very slow moving, until the last hour or so? I love the film, and even I feel the first half is a bit of a slog. And not because I don't like character moments, because I eat that stuff up. Even with Azog, which I agree with the OP, is meant to give more of a sense of urgency to the travel (because, really, minus the blip with the trolls, which is a self contained, it is pretty easy sailing in the novel).

I'm just not sure where this idea that the Hobbit is a slow paced novel, when it's anything but, came from. You're indicating that the short novel being turned into a trilogy is still not slow enough ..

In terms of on screen action, I think it's comparable to Fellowship in that regard. (Action opening, trolls + weathertop, nazgul chase + warg chase, Watcher + Stone Giants, Goblin town + Moria, Amon Hen + Warg fight_.


arithmancer
Grey Havens

Jan 9 2013, 1:26pm

Post #9 of 39 (489 views)
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Backstory in a film [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I also agree that using Bolg in the Azog role would have irked me less - from reading the screenwriters comments it's as though they think the casual viewer can't cope with any part of the story that doesn't play out in front of them. Apparently having the son and grandson continue the vengeance of their ancestors is "too layered", and "too far removed!"


I don't think their reasoning is that viewers "cannot cope". I think their reasoning is that they want to show some of the past events that have led to the present-day bad feeling. And if that is the case, it will certainly be more impactful to show those past events as involving characters the viewers are getting to know, and will continue to get to know, better.

Hence Azog still being around (rather than Bolg wanting revenge for his father's death, though I would not rule that out as a motivation of Bolg by then end of Movie 3!). And hence Thorin, and not Dain, having the fight in the Asanulbizar flashback Dain will be someone to introduce to us in later movies, when he has things to do in the present-day that will interest the audience.


arithmancer
Grey Havens

Jan 9 2013, 1:31pm

Post #10 of 39 (469 views)
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Which characters? [In reply to] Can't Post

I am curious which characters you feel needed to have more character moments and slow meaningful conversations, in this film.

To me, it seems we have in the movie, Bilbo as the main character, and two other "major" characters - Thorin, and Gandalf. And they actually do have quite a number of meaningful interactions, quiet or otherwise, which give us a sense of them and their relationships to one another (and how those evolve through the events of the film). Did you feel any of these three did not get the needed attention, or is it someone else you were missing?


nobofthepony
Lorien


Jan 9 2013, 2:06pm

Post #11 of 39 (472 views)
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Are you the Tolkien Professor?? [In reply to] Can't Post

These are all expounded upon by Corey Olson on his latest podcast.

If not, good catch. There are some fascinating themes being set up in AUJ.


Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 9 2013, 2:22pm

Post #12 of 39 (480 views)
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The Arkenstone [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the enhancements I forgot to mention was the way the film makers treated the Arkenstone. By highlighting it early in the story and by linking it to the legitimacy of Thror's line to rule as King Under the Mountain, it makes possession of the "King's Jewel" more critical to Thorin than it was in the Professor's original story.


burrahobbit
Rohan


Jan 9 2013, 3:16pm

Post #13 of 39 (458 views)
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Book themes lost in the film adaptation [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry to go all negative on y'all as usual, but I really felt the film missed some important themes from The Hobbit story in it's attempt to go all Lord of the Rings-esque.

Enchantment
This is an important theme later on in fairy Mirkwood and to an extent with Bilbo's encounter with Smaug. In the book, Rivendell on Midsummer's eve is very enchanting and musical. Bilbo's wonder at Rivendell shows his curiosity, and contrasts with the dwarves' animosity with elven magic. With AUJ's uninspiring warg chase and questionable Figwit cameo, this theme was absent from AUJ Rivendell (though did come through the dwarven song at Bagend). It's possible that it could be rescued in DoS in Mirkwood, but seems it's not part of the style adopted.

Darkness, dream space and courage
Strangely while the tone of the The Hobbit is significantly darker in AUJ, they missed the very dark, claustrophobic scene that occurs in the goblin tunnels, and is repeated in Mirkwood and the entrance to Smaug's lair. These spaces are essentially spaces of Bilbo's imagination, where he has to face-down his fear and find his courage. Although the book is too internal to be adapted directly, I'm sure there are lots of ways that an imaginative director could translate the emotional experience to film.

That's a big reason why I found the last scene in AUJ so disappointing. Bilbo by surprise rushes at Azog. Apart from me finding this quite unconvincing, we also completely miss the emotional experience where he has to overcome his fear.


It wasn't all bad! Wink I agree the home theme worked quite well, as it was a good way for Bilbo to connect with the dwarves. I think it would have been even stronger if we'd been given some cosy images of Bilbo being at home in the Shire (the main one in the book is him cooking breakfast). Maybe will appear in the EE.


Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 9 2013, 3:57pm

Post #14 of 39 (423 views)
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When we see the Ring fall [In reply to] Can't Post

2. The other small changes you mention add greatly to the overall story/film. An example would be the fact that they show Gollum lose the ring. The ring is given a gravity (literal and metaphorical) when we see it fall, and the impact of the scene in terms of the sound design, shot composition and so forth, ties the doom of the ring into Rings perfectly. Small additions go a long way, and as long as it is true to the spirit of the book, then fantastic.
________________________________

Agree on all your points, but in particular I wanted to mention: I've seen the film 5 times, and in almost every instance, at the moment the Ring flies out of Gollum's pocket, people in audience audibly gasp, and it rivets the audience's attention until it finishes moving and lies still. I think t
he way it was depicted (as you mentioned, the sound, the camera, movement, etc.) added an enormous impact to the film version.




Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 9 2013, 4:02pm

Post #15 of 39 (402 views)
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All excellent observations [In reply to] Can't Post

I agreed with all your points and also with this one about the Arkenstone.

Given that he sees being in possession of the key means it's his destiny to return to Erebor, he's going to have to attach a similar meaning to the Arkenstone and his destiny to rule it.


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 9 2013, 4:57pm

Post #16 of 39 (390 views)
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Agreed on all points [In reply to] Can't Post

This is why weird offshoots of the story that some are proposing wont' hold up under close scrutiny of these themes. As a writer myself, there are rules to a well-rounded story. We also have to remember that there are going to be three films telling one continuou story, plus minor bookend stuff to attach it to LOTR. Every frame of the films will adhere to one of these themes, although I would add one:

Foreshadowing: The White Council; the inclusion of seemingly detached characters like Elrond, Galadriel and Radagast; the Ring; the corruption that treasure causes, etc. are all tied to the LOTR series, and carries the story along.


Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 9 2013, 6:36pm

Post #17 of 39 (367 views)
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Enchantment [In reply to] Can't Post

burrahobbit wrote: Sorry to go all negative on y'all as usual, but I really felt the film missed some important themes from The Hobbit story in it's attempt to go all Lord of the Rings-esque.

Enchantment
This is an important theme later on in fairy Mirkwood and to an extent with Bilbo's encounter with Smaug. In the book, Rivendell on Midsummer's eve is very enchanting and musical. Bilbo's wonder at Rivendell shows his curiosity, and contrasts with the dwarves' animosity with elven magic. With AUJ's uninspiring warg chase and questionable Figwit cameo, this theme was absent from AUJ Rivendel
l...

My purpose here was to point out examples where I thought Jackson's film adaptation enhanced the story. I'm not here to defend everything the film did.

However, that said, I do want to point out a brief scene that I thought beautifully illustrated Biblo's sense of wonder and awe. When Gandalf announces to the dwarves that they've entered the Secret Valley of Imladris and mentions the Last Homely House, Bilbo interrupts with "Rivendell." The look on Martin Freeman's face at that moment was priceless. What made this scene so compelling is that it was a rare example where Biblo "let his Baggins' guard down" and revealed his 'Took Side' to the audience. That scene made it clear that Gandalf's memory hadn't failed him: the Hobbit boy who was fascinated by the elves and news of the outside world was indeed Bilbo Baggins.

I suspect that we'll see more of Bilbo's wonder and awe over Rivendell in the EE version. (We know from the trailer that Bilbo visits the Sword-that-was-broken.) Unfortunately given the numerous things that the screenwriters absolutely had to accomplish during the Company's limited time in Rivendell, it's understandable that scenes showing Bilbo's awe would be cut.


Compa_Mighty
Tol Eressea


Jan 9 2013, 6:38pm

Post #18 of 39 (329 views)
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Great post. Thanks. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!



percy
The Shire

Jan 10 2013, 12:12am

Post #19 of 39 (277 views)
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Great points focusing on the positive [In reply to] Can't Post

These are the types of posts I like to read. You've done a great job highlighting and summarizing points that demonstrate to me why these filmmakers were the right people for the job of adapting these tomes into films. If we look at the changes in a positive light and try to get inside what Jackson and Co. were thinking when they made these decisions, they are much more digestible.

I've always argued that the best way to view the films is as an alternative version of the mythology of Middle-earth. To use an analogy, Jackson's movies are to Tolkien's novels what T.H. White's "The Once and Future King" is to Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur." I understand purism, I really do, but it only ends up diminishing your enjoyment of things that could otherwise be enjoyable. I think it's best to focus on the positive, to view the films for what they are rather than what they are not.

I'd also add that Bilbo's new "hero moment" of rescuing Thorin hit me particularly well. We've seen Bilbo dealing with his fear throughout the movie, and the character's personality is so well-known in the popular imagination that we are aware that he is overcoming his fear in that moment. It reminds me of some of the great moments of Hobbit courage featured in LOTR, whether it is Samwise's ascent up the Tower of Cirith Ungol to rescue Frodo, Merry's stabbing of the Witch-king of Angmar on the fields of Pelennor, Pippin's saving of Faramir from Denethor's pyre, or Frodo's accepting of the Quest of the Ring, all of which were beautifully realized on film by Peter Jackson. Yes, I know that Bilbo has other hero moments to come, but it made for a good climax to film one, complete with the few notes of the Shire theme that accompanied Bilbo's tackle. Some may call this act implausible, but let's remember that this is a fantasy movie, and that Hobbits were occasionally capable of tremendous feats, just as humans are in real life, at times, if properly motivated.


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 10 2013, 12:23am

Post #20 of 39 (259 views)
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Also excellent points [In reply to] Can't Post

BB and Ave neatly summarized that nearly all of the alterations to the story are building blocks to things we haven't seen, or are for adding necessary tension, as you say.

If I wanted to see a travelogue of Middle Earth, I'd hire Rick Steves.


(This post was edited by Rostron2 on Jan 10 2013, 12:24am)


imin
Valinor


Jan 10 2013, 12:56am

Post #21 of 39 (246 views)
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If they had kept it to two films [In reply to] Can't Post

they wouldnt have needed to add invented tension, they could just have had 10 seconds of clips showing them walking through some NZ scenery then boom trolls, rivendell, this would have also had the added benefit of keeping the first half of the film more light hearted in tone with a more gradual progression of tension which would continue to build onto the next film.

It would also have given more time for dialogue and character building scenes which many people wish for and got rid of the most unpopular ME character from all 4 PJ ME films, perfect.

But they went with 3 so had to pad it out more and as you said they cant just have them walking for 1 hour with nothing happening so in a three film split i do think he is needed


Nira
Lorien


Jan 10 2013, 1:17am

Post #22 of 39 (232 views)
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Gollum suggests riddles first in movie and book [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, Gollum suggested the riddles game in the movie too. The trailer makes it appear that Bilbo first suggests it, but if you recall from the full movie, Bilbo agrees to Gollum's game by almost re-mentioning the idea. I was worried after watching the trailer that they changed it and thus changed the emotion and motivation of Gollum, but I was very happy that they kept "riddles in the dark" very much like the book- Gollum's idea.

"Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?"


Ave Moria
Rivendell


Jan 10 2013, 1:24am

Post #23 of 39 (235 views)
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Padding [In reply to] Can't Post

With respect, I think you're off base here.

There are nearly 200 pages of Hobbit related appendices in Return of the King. Tolkien himself was going to rewrite and revise the Hobbit the year that Fellowship was published.

So, having said that, there is more than enough material to not only fill out three films by adding the appendices which were TOLKIEN'S actual intention and vision, as well as the obvious requirement to tie the two film series together in a more meaningful way than simply being set in the same world.

Peter Jackson is a very straight forward guy. I know, I have been fortunate to spend a little time with the guy in real life, and he is as straight forward and without bs as they come. The last thing he is trying to do is arbitrarily "pad" ANYTHING, either to anger his own customers or to try and stretch something out of desperation.

If there was not enough material for three films, and he would need to pad things, he would never have requested a third film.

-In the Darkness, a torch we hold-

(This post was edited by Ave Moria on Jan 10 2013, 1:25am)


Ave Moria
Rivendell


Jan 10 2013, 1:31am

Post #24 of 39 (230 views)
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This is [In reply to] Can't Post

Seriously one of the best posts I have ever read on here. Nice.

-In the Darkness, a torch we hold-


imin
Valinor


Jan 10 2013, 1:40am

Post #25 of 39 (224 views)
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200 pages? [In reply to] Can't Post

the appendices in the complete length are not 200 pages, did you mean 20? Go back and have a look again there is no where near 200 pages of material, there is barely 20. Saying that 20 pages in the appendices is info heavy and of course will help give a more broad view of ME than if just using the hobbit book itself.

Also there is some kinda myth going around that the change would have been extremely drastic when Tolkien decided to rewrite the hobbit to get it closer in feel with LOTR. But guess what? He abandoned the idea of it. So no it was not his intention. I think it is you who is off base here :)

I didnt know that he had been working on having Azog come and hunt down the company from the get go. Or expand Radagast's role with chase sequences with a bunny sled.

I never was insulting PJ, but i do feel he added stuff due to changing it from a 2 film adaptation to a 3 film adaptation - the whole azog part wouldnt have been needed so much or at all if it were a two film adaptation.

Ultimately we have very different opinions on what makes the films good and what would have made them better.

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