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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey--the unrepresented audience; or, will someone please think of the children!
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Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 22 2013, 4:34pm

Post #1 of 34 (1093 views)
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey--the unrepresented audience; or, will someone please think of the children! Can't Post

In reading all the reviews and opinions that people have shared here on the forum, there is one voice (or many small voices) we don't hear. The Hobbit was written for children, but not just as a static unchanging book--just like children are not static and unchanging, but grow and learn over time--The Hobbit evolves the same way. Beginning as rather childlike and occasionally silly, it then evolves and grows just like children do. It never completely loses that childlike and whimsical perspective, but by the end the child has grown and the whimsy becomes a bittersweet memory of the past.

In this perspective, it is interesting that the audience for whom this book was mainly written are those whose voices are not heard here, many of whom have seen the movie. We argue and debate whether Radagast is too silly, with his stick insect and crazy bunny sled and eye-crossing; we groan over the exaggerated and over-the-top portrayal of the stone-giants; we shake our heads over the endless running and falling bridges and the "civilized grotesqueness" of the Goblin King. And yet...

I can't speak for all children who have seen the movie, but I've asked some of my friend's children what they thought; as well as my own daughter. Interesting answers!

One of the universally liked scenes is Gollum and Bilbo. There's certainly threat and danger--Gollum kills the goblin that has fallen down with Bilbo. Bilbo both hears and sees this happen, and Sting's glowing stops when the goblin dies--showing Bilbo that not only is Gollum deadly, but that Gollum is an unknown enemy and not a goblin. But there are also parts that are more whimsical and even touching: Gollum's excitement at the Riddle-game, perching his chin on a rock while listening to Bilbo's riddle, his hilarious faces when trying to think of the answers; his sorrow at losing the one thing most Precious to him--what child has not lost a beloved toy and cried, making parents look frantically for the missing object?

Most of the children I've talked to loved the Stone Giants! What is "over-the-top" to us is both entertaining and heart-stopping anticipation to them. Will they be hit by the flying rocks? Will the Dwarves find each other again? Will Bilbo be rescued from the cliff?

Radagast is another favorite, and here the words of children makes me realize that Radagast isn't just for us adults, but for children as well. Most loved the stick insect, the wild bunny sled, the care for which he shows to Sebastian in trying to heal him--and almost in tears when he realizes nothing is helping. This softens the danger that Radagast faces when he follows the spiders to Dul Guldur and faces the Witch-King; and his blind fear in running away from the Necromancer is countered somewhat by the rabbits starting to run with the sled, almost leaving Radagast behind! Danger contrasted with silliness, this is what the children I've talked to enjoyed. My daughter in particular loved Radagast because of his "charm and personality". I have a feeling we'll see more of Radagast, and his charm and personality will be needed in the very real dangers he will face.

The Great Goblin's final line-which many of us found distracting--again lessens the graphic impact of the death of the Great Goblin by Gandalf's sword. Would him screaming in pain, or being decapitated be more effective? You would have a theater full of children gasping in horror. And the final fall of the Goblin King onto the Dwarves again softens the gritty reality of his death.

I think many of us would have liked the more serious tone of Lord of the Rings, which is the adult version of the adventure which began in the childhood of the Hobbit. However, I feel that AUJ has kept very well the tone of the book, as well as the spirit in which it was written, and especially the audience--both old and young. There is already a lot of frightening scenes and characters in the movie (which has given it a PG-13 rating), including Azog, the Trolls, Smaug! Gollum. Without some lighter tones in the movie, it would be too strong for one of the audiences for which the book was intended.

So! This wasn't meant to be a disagreement of others opinions, this was meant to show that there are other perspectives that we don't always hear. I would like to ask others here, do you have a child that watched this? Or know children who have? What do they think? Did they like it, or was it too silly, or too scary?

Thanks!

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 22 2013, 4:43pm

Post #2 of 34 (503 views)
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Good thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

Children today are more used to spectacle, but they are still children. Sure, there are people who will even take their kids to Saw V, and for me those parents are part of the problem, not the solution to the uncivil society we have at times, but you're right: Many children get to see this film, and the humor is necessary.


andwise
Rivendell

Jan 22 2013, 5:08pm

Post #3 of 34 (483 views)
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through the eyes of children [In reply to] Can't Post

Quite right my friend,I've just posted something along very similar lines.its a magical thing watching them become interested in something we hold so dear.I've come to the conclusion that the hobbit is every bit as good as rings and saying that its inferior just because it has a lighter tone or whatever is not a viable argument.if someone doesn't like it that's fair enough but it has to be viewed with the 'children's story' roots in mind.I love it,my kids love,I hope others and their kids do too.well said Smile


Kassandros
Rohan


Jan 22 2013, 5:13pm

Post #4 of 34 (432 views)
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This was a great read. Thank you. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us...


arithmancer
Grey Havens

Jan 22 2013, 5:16pm

Post #5 of 34 (457 views)
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Thanks for starting this thread! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been intermittently posting this same tyoe of thing on assorted threads criticizing particular aspects of the film. But yours is a great post and I'd love to see a discussion of these points in one place!

I took my two sons (8 and 10, fantasy fans but not, prior to watching, yet Tolkien readers) to see this movie twice. (After watching it once myself to ascertain the level/nature of the violence and horror shown seemed unlikely to exceed their individual tolerances for same). And I definitely agree with your point that there are a lot of moments in the films that work great for the kids in the audience.


In Reply To
Radagast is another favorite, and here the words of children makes me realize that Radagast isn't just for us adults, but for children as well.


Oh yes, both of mine loved Radagast. 10 y. o. especially, he has taken what the movie presented and built on it in his head. The "silly" stick insect and "overly cute" rabbits and hedgehogs and "disgusting" birds under his hat in my son's mind created an image of Radagast as a super-powerful wizard with great influence over beasts and nature. As far as he's concerned, whenever the Eagles show up it's because Gandalf has sent a moth-o-gram to Radagast requesting his help. (This applies even in LotR - we rewatched the trilogy over a weekend car trip and 10 y. o. kept mumbling excitedly about Radagast whenever the moth/Eagles appeared on the scene. I do hope Radagast does not die in the films...as 10 y. o.'s other big favorite is Kili. *sigh*)


In Reply To
You would have a theater full of children gasping in horror. And the final fall of the Goblin King onto the Dwarves again softens the gritty reality of his death.


Good point, I had not considered it in that way. And I can confirm that my kids also loved the fall of the King's immense body. "Well, that could have been worse" is a favorite movie quote in our household at present.

Both of my sons (but especially 8 y. o.) also loved the burping scene in Bag End. (To the detriment of 8 y. o.'s table manners, I must report. Who could have thought such a small kid could make such loud burps, without even chugging ale?) The Trolls were another favorite scene. 10 y. o. loved their dialogue, particularly their discussions on how to season horse, mutton, and Dwarf. I think 8 y. o. followed less of this dialogue but enjoyed their physicality.

I think 10 y. o. actually had the same experience some adult posters here have reported, of not liking the film "that" much the first time. He resisted going a second time (8 y. o. insisted). 8 y.o. was completely captivated by it the first time, and after the second time, came home, found my copy of the book, and has been doggedly working his way through (not an Grade 8 level reader, just stubborn/inspired). Actually I think 10 y.o. might be willing to give it a try now too, but he is currently working his way through the Harry Potter series and has some 1500 pages left to go...)


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 22 2013, 5:37pm

Post #6 of 34 (438 views)
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Thank you for sharing! [In reply to] Can't Post

One of our favorite household lines right now is "riddled with..." such as "I'm riddled with hunger!" Mostly from the Troll's scene (which "riddled with parasites" is added material), but also Dwalin's comment in Bilbo's pantry when he says the blue cheese is "riddled with mold"!

Moth-o-gram! I love this!


Quote
The "silly" stick insect and "overly cute" rabbits and hedgehogs and "disgusting" birds under his hat in my son's mind created an image of Radagast as a super-powerful wizard with great influence over beasts and nature.

What a great perspective!

When my son was a teenager he could have passed for a Dwarf (except his height lol), especially with his friends. Mountains of pizza! Gallons of soda! They could clear out my pantry before you could say "knives and forks"! And the belching...my oh my...

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


Angharad73
Rohan

Jan 22 2013, 5:55pm

Post #7 of 34 (457 views)
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I took my daughter to see the movie... [In reply to] Can't Post

My daughter is 7, and I took her to see the movie (though not the 3D version, but that was more my preference than hers). And she absolutely loved it. I asked her if there was any part that she didn't like, and she could not think of anything. It seems that she especially liked the parts that we grown-ups seem to debate the most, such as Radagast and his rabbits, and all the silly jokes. Nothing was too scary for her either. So it appears that the movie was just right for her. But then again, she watched LOTR at a rather young age and loved that, too.

Interestingly enough, where I live, it seems not common for children that age to watch movies like that. None of her friends at school has seen either LOTR or AUJ, and, from what I hear, her teacher was rather incredulous when my daughter told her about it.


Oscarilbo
Lorien


Jan 22 2013, 7:27pm

Post #8 of 34 (403 views)
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wow [In reply to] Can't Post

excellent thread...

you're absolutely right, I was so into the seriousness that completely forgot the original goal of not only this particular film, but of Tolkien's the Hobbit.

I'm definitely seeing it with more innocent perspective next time I watch it, because that's what it HAS to be, at least in this very first chapter of the trilogy.

"The World is Changed, I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air"


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 22 2013, 7:42pm

Post #9 of 34 (367 views)
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I'm glad she liked it! [In reply to] Can't Post

It always depends on the maturity level of the child, whether or not they should see the movie (or read the book, for that matter). I first read the Hobbit at age 8, and for me that was just right. It may not be so for others, some are ready for it at 7, others not until 10 or 11. It also depends on how the parent handles the scary bits for their child Smile

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 22 2013, 7:52pm

Post #10 of 34 (375 views)
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The Book and the Movie [In reply to] Can't Post

My first viewing, in 2-D, I sat in a bad place (right near the front on the end!), and it was difficult to watch, much less follow all the scenes. The changes to the movie from the book were very obvious and it was hard to go beyond that.

Second viewing I saw in IMAX-3-D, and although much better than the first viewing, the novelty of the 3-D experience also distracted me somewhat.

The third viewing, again in 2-D, was just right! (doesn't this sound familiar? better eat my porridge :) I was able to appreciate the movie as a whole without distractions. And guess what I found? That the wonderful book that took me into another world was, even with some changes and additions, perfectly depicted by Peter Jackson and Company. All the bits I loved--the Trolls, the Stone Giants, Goblin-town, Riddles in the Dark, the Warg and Goblin attack and the Eagle's rescue from the trees, all were still there. This time I felt the goosebumps and thrills that captivated me all those years ago. Even the addition of Azog, the White Council, and Radagast only added to, not took away from the movie.

So, I guess in a long-winded way I'm saying I agree! Let me know how your next viewing goes!

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


Angharad73
Rohan

Jan 22 2013, 7:55pm

Post #11 of 34 (349 views)
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We are reading the book now! [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I'm reading it to her. It's more fun that way because I get to hear her thoughts on everything that happens in the book. And some of her ideas what she would have done had she been in Bilbo's place are quite interesting. Of course, she compares it to the movie, but she knows that the book and the movie are not exactly the same.


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 22 2013, 7:59pm

Post #12 of 34 (351 views)
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Thank you, andwise! [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
its a magical thing watching them become interested in something we hold so dear.


Isn't it, though? Well said, too!

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 22 2013, 8:01pm

Post #13 of 34 (359 views)
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Good thoughts :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Children grow up too fast anyway. Sometimes it's good to remember that they really do see the world in a different way, without the cynicism and bias we've learned throughout our lives.

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


MasterOrc
Rivendell


Jan 22 2013, 9:38pm

Post #14 of 34 (342 views)
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Wow... [In reply to] Can't Post

Great post...


In Reply To
In reading all the reviews and opinions that people have shared here on the forum, there is one voice (or many small voices) we don't hear. The Hobbit was written for children, but not just as a static unchanging book--just like children are not static and unchanging, but grow and learn over time--The Hobbit evolves the same way. Beginning as rather childlike and occasionally silly, it then evolves and grows just like children do. It never completely loses that childlike and whimsical perspective, but by the end the child has grown and the whimsy becomes a bittersweet memory of the past.

In this perspective, it is interesting that the audience for whom this book was mainly written are those whose voices are not heard here, many of whom have seen the movie. We argue and debate whether Radagast is too silly, with his stick insect and crazy bunny sled and eye-crossing; we groan over the exaggerated and over-the-top portrayal of the stone-giants; we shake our heads over the endless running and falling bridges and the "civilized grotesqueness" of the Goblin King. And yet...

I can't speak for all children who have seen the movie, but I've asked some of my friend's children what they thought; as well as my own daughter. Interesting answers!

One of the universally liked scenes is Gollum and Bilbo. There's certainly threat and danger--Gollum kills the goblin that has fallen down with Bilbo. Bilbo both hears and sees this happen, and Sting's glowing stops when the goblin dies--showing Bilbo that not only is Gollum deadly, but that Gollum is an unknown enemy and not a goblin. But there are also parts that are more whimsical and even touching: Gollum's excitement at the Riddle-game, perching his chin on a rock while listening to Bilbo's riddle, his hilarious faces when trying to think of the answers; his sorrow at losing the one thing most Precious to him--what child has not lost a beloved toy and cried, making parents look frantically for the missing object?

Most of the children I've talked to loved the Stone Giants! What is "over-the-top" to us is both entertaining and heart-stopping anticipation to them. Will they be hit by the flying rocks? Will the Dwarves find each other again? Will Bilbo be rescued from the cliff?

Radagast is another favorite, and here the words of children makes me realize that Radagast isn't just for us adults, but for children as well. Most loved the stick insect, the wild bunny sled, the care for which he shows to Sebastian in trying to heal him--and almost in tears when he realizes nothing is helping. This softens the danger that Radagast faces when he follows the spiders to Dul Guldur and faces the Witch-King; and his blind fear in running away from the Necromancer is countered somewhat by the rabbits starting to run with the sled, almost leaving Radagast behind! Danger contrasted with silliness, this is what the children I've talked to enjoyed. My daughter in particular loved Radagast because of his "charm and personality". I have a feeling we'll see more of Radagast, and his charm and personality will be needed in the very real dangers he will face.

The Great Goblin's final line-which many of us found distracting--again lessens the graphic impact of the death of the Great Goblin by Gandalf's sword. Would him screaming in pain, or being decapitated be more effective? You would have a theater full of children gasping in horror. And the final fall of the Goblin King onto the Dwarves again softens the gritty reality of his death.

I think many of us would have liked the more serious tone of Lord of the Rings, which is the adult version of the adventure which began in the childhood of the Hobbit. However, I feel that AUJ has kept very well the tone of the book, as well as the spirit in which it was written, and especially the audience--both old and young. There is already a lot of frightening scenes and characters in the movie (which has given it a PG-13 rating), including Azog, the Trolls, Smaug! Gollum. Without some lighter tones in the movie, it would be too strong for one of the audiences for which the book was intended.

So! This wasn't meant to be a disagreement of others opinions, this was meant to show that there are other perspectives that we don't always hear. I would like to ask others here, do you have a child that watched this? Or know children who have? What do they think? Did they like it, or was it too silly, or too scary?

Thanks!



belfalas
Bree

Jan 22 2013, 10:18pm

Post #15 of 34 (330 views)
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Wonderful! Let's too embrace our inner child (now where did I put it?) [In reply to] Can't Post

I think this is why PJ found he enjoyed making the Hobbit more than he though, it's his inner child and sense of glee which powers his sense of humour.
Watching the film does bring back some sense of how I felt reading the book aged 10.

Brilliant post. Thanks!


IdrilofGondolin
Rohan

Jan 22 2013, 10:35pm

Post #16 of 34 (292 views)
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Delightful Read [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks. What did your kids think about Ori. He seemed the most childlike among the dwarves. That belch of his looked (and sounded) like he was trying to be like one of the big kids.


andwise
Rivendell

Jan 22 2013, 11:40pm

Post #17 of 34 (277 views)
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happy to say i think we're right! [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw it three times too and had much the same experience....1st viewing impressed but too distracted by changes etc.by the 3rd viewing I was back in FOTR mode getting goosebumps at all the right moments as my 8 year old cheered and clapped when gandalf appeared in goblin town and at the eagles rescue,brilliant.I read earlier today on another post that if you spend too much time defending or justyfying the movie then you're really kidding your self and must be in denial or something...???! Isn't this all a bit too much like self righteous psycho analytical babble?and the truth is sometimes all we have to do is take TIME to appreciate some things.I'm glad my kids have helped me do this.Smile


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 22 2013, 11:50pm

Post #18 of 34 (286 views)
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The child in all of us [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, my wife and I took our daughter who's actually seen it with friends more than even I had! Having someone young with us, we can forget our cares and just lose ourselves in this film. We were smiling the whole way through and Gollum was just amazing, we were all just sniggering at Andy's whole performance, it was just crazy fun.


Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 23 2013, 12:49am

Post #19 of 34 (262 views)
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Thanks for this topic [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm so glad someone made these points!

____________________
So! This wasn't meant to be a disagreement of others opinions, this was meant to show that there are other perspectives that we don't always hear. I would like to ask others here, do you have a child that watched this? Or know children who have? What do they think? Did they like it, or was it too silly, or too scary?
__________________

My daughter's in grade school and she really liked it. And yes, her favorite character was Radagast - she loved the stick insect, Sebastian the Hedgehog, the bunny sled - and her favorite part of the film was when the wargs chased the dwarves right before they got to Rivendell. She also thought it was creepy good when Radagast investigated Dol Guldur. After Radagast, she also liked Kili and Fili :-) and that Kili uses a bow and arrow.

And - she wanted to know why there weren't any girls in it and she was very happy when I told her there's going to be a girl Elf in the next film :-).

Lastly, since seeing the film, she has started reading the book. She's almost half through it now. I had tried to get her to read it before, but it was not happening, no way. After she saw the film, *she* asked *me* where the book was, so she could start reading it. (Alas, it's going to be tough when she gets to reading those last few pages Unsure!)

So I totally agree with you - the aspects that were meant to appeal to kids, did that, and did it very well.



Elessar
Valinor


Jan 23 2013, 1:05am

Post #20 of 34 (264 views)
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Exceptional post [In reply to] Can't Post

Over the long term I think your post shows that The Hobbit will be well liked and loved by audiences. The same way people like The Lord of the Rings.



weaver
Half-elven


Jan 23 2013, 2:17am

Post #21 of 34 (246 views)
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* mods up* -- thanks for this perspective! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think sometimes we react to the Hobbit's comic/fairy tale feel like Tolkien scholars reacted to the films -- that somehow, a non-serious approach would lessen the hard earned respect the scholars have had to win for studying Tolkien, if the LOTR became a popular film trilogy. That a film embraced and made for the masses, as well as the fans, somehow cheapened the Tale and all their scholarly work by association. So therefore there was a need to distance from the films, and to point out all the ways in which they missed the serious and deeper stuff.

For the films, I have worried that the Hobbit's lighter and more fantastic tone will alienate the very people that the LOTR films won over, in terms of non-readers who had dismissed Tolkien as silly prior to seeing them -- especially when that was exactly the reaction I got from my husband and my kids, who all loved LOTR. So all of a sudden instead of just enjoying the film, I found myself explaining, rationalizing, putting into context, etc.all of the things that they took exception to, so that their respect for something I loved would not be diminished.

But you make a good point that many of the things people take exception to actually work quite well within the context of a children's tale, which was how it started, and how those early chapters read especially. And I do think that the way the story evolves into more "serious" stuff toward the end, and the introduction of some human characters, will help to blend the two film trilogies together.

Weaver



Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 23 2013, 2:37am

Post #22 of 34 (241 views)
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Yes! [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
And I do think that the way the story evolves into more "serious" stuff toward the end, and the introduction of some human characters, will help to blend the two film trilogies together.

Exactly and perfectly stated!

If the people who feel alienated with the new material and lighthearted tones would be willing to wait until all 3 movies are out, I think it will turn out to be an enjoyable--and continuing--adventure. I'm reminded of something Philippa Boyens said, in the 13-minute video special that came out right before the movie: "The Hobbit is actually Professor Tolkien's most beloved book". I think this was certainly kept in mind when making An Unexpected Journey.

On the other hand, I enjoy reading all the comments and opinions and ideas everyone shares on this forum, even if I don't agree with all of them. If people didn't care so much, there wouldn't be all the little quibbles and differences of opinion that keeps things interesting and exciting.

There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.


Súlimë
Rivendell


Jan 23 2013, 3:38am

Post #23 of 34 (218 views)
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Excellent post! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you thank you thank you for finally saying it in such an elegant way.

I went to see The Hobbit expecting to watch a children's movie, and was both surprised and impressed by the depth and the rather serious tone. I remember thinking to myself that finally there is a movie that treats children with respect, and this is going to be a childhood favorite for this young generation. It is something fun, heartfelt, and good -- the same feeling of the 'force of good' that runs through the Lord of the Rings.

The more I think about it, the more I respect the conviction and dedication from PJ and co. in bringing The Hobbit to the big screen.


Old Toby
Gondor


Jan 23 2013, 4:44am

Post #24 of 34 (221 views)
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Exquisite post! [In reply to] Can't Post

If only we could see through the eyes of children more often, think more with our hearts than with our heads, we'd probably all be a lot happier. (And so would the people around us!)

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 23 2013, 5:00pm

Post #25 of 34 (166 views)
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The other thing that these stories always bring me [In reply to] Can't Post

Is a sense of underlying optimism, that even in the darkest moments, you can figure it out. For children, that's really important. They also have a good moral compass, mostly told through the virtues that the hobbits have. It's not about an individual -- ever. It's about being someone in a world full of people, some like you, and some unlike you.

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