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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
The thing that bothers me most about PJ's approach
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frodolives
Lorien

Oct 8 2013, 2:03pm

Post #1 of 65 (1506 views)
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The thing that bothers me most about PJ's approach Can't Post

Not the new scenes. Not Azog. Not Tauriel. No, the stuff that grates most is PJ's penchant for making changes to moments from the book that were perfect from the get-go. Witness:

- The troll scene. In the book, this is Bilbo's first 'test' and he utterly fails at it. He's terrified and completely out of his league. He tries to impress the dwarves by picking a troll's pocket and is discovered. It is only through Gandalf's wonderful voice throwing that the trolls are defeated. In the movie... Bilbo is heroic throughout the scene. He isn't picking a pocket, he's rescuing ponies. He doesn't get caught being a poor thief, he gets caught because a troll sneezes. Gandalf doesn't trick the trolls, Bilbo does. WHY change such a wonderful scene? Why make Bilbo heroic on his first real encounter with adventure? He's supposed to earn his heroism after getting over his first few misadventures. Its like PJ and company completely misunderstood the scene and its significance to Bilbo's development.

2) The riddle scene. It is perfect up until the moment that Gollum mistakenly gives away the solution to the final riddle. In the novel, Bilbo yells "Time!" by coincidence. Its a sublime moment and, again, points to Bilbo's dumb luck and amateur status. Here, the moment is less about Bilbo than it is about Gollum.

3) Bilbo rescuing Thorin in the final scene. It is far too early for Bilbo to be gaining his prowess with Sting, and far too early to earn Thorin's respect. This doesn't happen in the book until Mirkwood when Bilbo puts on the ring and slays spiders, and even then, the dwarves complain about the barrels later on. This again points to PJ's misunderstanding of Bilbo's development. Yes, I understand the need to have a climactic moment and subsequent uplift at the end, but it puts the series in a bind, since now Bilbo has been accepted by Thorin (for a time anyways) and is now capable of killing wargs and orcs.

4) While Martin Freeman is very good, he rarely seems scared. In the novel, Bilbo is terrified until he finds joy in intimidating the spiders. In the film, he seems annoyed but never truly frightened, even by the trolls. He may seem worried as he is being held by the trolls, but not much else. He was frightened of Gollum in the book, but in the film he's (again) annoyed and frustrated.

Looking at the DOS trailers, it seems that Bilbo's heroism in Mirkwood will be undercut by elves helping fight the spiders. I'll wager that Smaug's wrath isn't lit by Bilbo stealing a cup, but by the dwarves trying to attack him with bombs (as PJ has hinted at). Even the cleverness of the barrel escape looks different since the elves clearly know the have escaped in barrels and try to recapture them.

I enjoyed the first film and I have no doubt I will enjoy the next one. But they seem to betray a frustrating lack of understanding of what makes certain moments from the book so special. I can only imagine what will happen with the Arkenstone, Beorn, and the final death of Smaug. I'll bet they're all changed.

Sorry for the rant. I really want to love these movies!


Glorfindela
Valinor


Oct 8 2013, 2:09pm

Post #2 of 65 (773 views)
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I must say none of the things mentioned in your first four points bother me [In reply to] Can't Post

But then changes from book to film don't worry me – I love the way the characters were portrayed in AUJ, and am invested emotionally in them. However, the introduction of completely new characters that could detract from the key book characters does rankle.


frodolives
Lorien

Oct 8 2013, 2:11pm

Post #3 of 65 (712 views)
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I suspect most people would agree with you [In reply to] Can't Post

My opinions about most things seldom agree with general public opinion. That's why I could never win an election! ;)


Patty
Immortal


Oct 8 2013, 2:34pm

Post #4 of 65 (779 views)
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The only thing that rankles me about the movies.. [In reply to] Can't Post

Is when they drift off into adolescent humor. Fart jokes, , bird poop, and allusions to the "floater" in the soup..all of these bring the story down IMHO. I don't prefer made up characters, but they can work when they are used to embody a theme happening in the story. Lead Orc or Uruk Lurtz..check. Gondorian mother and children fleeing from the orcs, check. Youthful lad afraid he won't last the night at Helm's Deep..check. But an inserted love story for the sake of it with Tauriel I will have to skeptically withhold judgement about.

Oh, and please don't drag out fight scenes, PJ. Helm's Deep was just right. The fight between Azog and Thorin et. al, not so much.

Let me quickly edit this to say that I am mentioning these things that I don't like so much. But I love the movies.

Permanent address: Into the West






(This post was edited by Patty on Oct 8 2013, 2:36pm)


Radagast's Lead Bunny
Rivendell

Oct 8 2013, 3:39pm

Post #5 of 65 (666 views)
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Biggest Problem IMHO [In reply to] Can't Post

Was the lack of talking purse ?

Why oh why ? But maybe Tauriel will have a girly talking purse ?


Glorfindela
Valinor


Oct 8 2013, 3:45pm

Post #6 of 65 (630 views)
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I sort of agree [In reply to] Can't Post

However, the first things you mention (in AUJ) are just brief insertions, and though I don't appreciate them, I can live with them. In LOTR I thought Lurtz was fine, but the Gondorian woman and children, and the adolescent at Helm's Deep, did absolutely nothing for me. Such attempts to appeal to my emotions fall completely flat on me, I'm afraid. However, again the latter two were just brief insertions, so I could quickly forget about them and focus on the main characters.

I also love the films (so far).


In Reply To
Is when they drift off into adolescent humor. Fart jokes, , bird poop, and allusions to the "floater" in the soup..all of these bring the story down IMHO. I don't prefer made up characters, but they can work when they are used to embody a theme happening in the story. Lead Orc or Uruk Lurtz..check. Gondorian mother and children fleeing from the orcs, check. Youthful lad afraid he won't last the night at Helm's Deep..check. But an inserted love story for the sake of it with Tauriel I will have to skeptically withhold judgement about.

Let me quickly edit this to say that I am mentioning these things that I don't like so much. But I love the movies.



Patty
Immortal


Oct 8 2013, 3:53pm

Post #7 of 65 (617 views)
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Sometimes it's the little things that rankle more than the large things for me… [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's because the things that I mentioned as adolescent humor lower the tone even more then inserted storylines that attempt to appeal to your emotions. I'm probably just old and too mean to appreciate that stuff. Sentimentality is familiar and acceptable and I'm okay with it. It's probably just an elderly thing.Sly

Permanent address: Into the West






Glorfindela
Valinor


Oct 8 2013, 4:01pm

Post #8 of 65 (592 views)
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Oh, I've never appreciated gross stuff like that [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps it's something to do with the fact that I'm female? Is it the sort of thing that appeals to little boys, and men with a juvenile sense of humour?


In Reply To
I think it's because the things that I mentioned as adolescent humor lower the tone even more then inserted storylines that attempt to appeal to your emotions. I'm probably just old and too mean to appreciate that stuff. Sentimentality is familiar and acceptable and I'm okay with it. It's probably just an elderly thing.Sly



Patty
Immortal


Oct 8 2013, 4:03pm

Post #9 of 65 (582 views)
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Gross. That's the right word for it. [In reply to] Can't Post

And I don't associate Tolkien with gross out. Even among the lesser beings...the trolls, etc.

Permanent address: Into the West






JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Oct 8 2013, 4:17pm

Post #10 of 65 (629 views)
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The Usual Suspects [In reply to] Can't Post

You're giving Peter Jackson too much credit. There are others in the Coven - the writing team - that also should be given responsibility. As GdT's influence is now minimal and Fran does not put herself on public display, that just leaves Boyens whose views and motivations are well known and problematic. People say Jackson is the captain and ultimately responsible for the final product. I don't buy into that because he delegates his trust to the team. Though I would believe that he is totally responsible for every single bit of tedious juvenile humor.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Oct 8 2013, 4:20pm)


frodolives
Lorien

Oct 8 2013, 4:23pm

Post #11 of 65 (585 views)
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I agree, but... [In reply to] Can't Post

... the final word is PJ's. He ultimately can change whatever he likes. A lot of the time it strikes me as 'change for the sake of change' rather than well considered alterations.


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Oct 8 2013, 4:27pm

Post #12 of 65 (569 views)
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Change for the sake of change [In reply to] Can't Post

Totally agree. There are many posts here lamenting small changes to dialogue, for no apparent reason, which would otherwise quote Tolkien's superior wording verbatim.


frodolives
Lorien

Oct 8 2013, 4:41pm

Post #13 of 65 (548 views)
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Exactly! [In reply to] Can't Post

How was the book's solution to the "time!' answer in the riddle game somehow not good enough for PJ and PB? How was their version an improvement? It wasn't. Change for the sake of change.


Kilidoescartwheels
Gondor

Oct 8 2013, 5:13pm

Post #14 of 65 (534 views)
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Bilbo & Gollum [In reply to] Can't Post

I have to disagree, I think Martin looked REALLY scared when he dealt with Gollum. I think that change (how he solved the riddle) is a minor one as well, too minor to really concern me, but I agree he is presenting a different Bilbo from the original book. Originally Bilbo got aggravated and agreed right off to the quest, where in the movie he originally thought the idea was crazy and didn't agree to go. And PJ is into relationships, and is clearly developing one between Thorin and Bilbo, one of trust that appears to be shattered in DoS. I will not like it if Bilbo doesn't rescue at least SOME of the Dwarves from the spiders, that's a change that is MAJOR to me. And such a change wouldn't go along with his presentation of Bilbo as perhaps a bit more clever and brave than in the book. I'll just have to wait and see.Unsure


DwellerInDale
Rohan


Oct 8 2013, 6:01pm

Post #15 of 65 (542 views)
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The Difference Between Writing and Film [In reply to] Can't Post

From the examples you present, I think you may not at times fully appreciate some of the differences between a written scene in a book and the same scene as presented on film. One of the most important differences is that in a book, we can be told by the author what a character is thinking; in film we don't know unless they use voiceovers or other such tricks. This can be a crucial factor regarding how a scene has to be modified in order to work on film.

Two examples: first, in "Riddles in The Dark". Why make the change from Bilbo blurting out "Time!" to having Gollum use the word? In the book, Bilbo is thinking that he would like to shout out "Give me more time!", but he can't get it out, except to come out with the "sudden squeal" of "Time!". If they filmed this exactly as in the book, the viewers who haven't read The Hobbit would have no clue at all as to how he found the solution, and it might seem like some cheap, contrived trick.

A second example you mention is "Barrels Out of Bond". The scene as written in the book is fine, but for the film it just doesn't work. This is because in the book, most of the writing focuses on Bilbo's thoughts and worries as he and the barrels float down the river. The fact that we don't "see" the Dwarves doesn't bother the reader, because we can imagine them inside the barrels as we read. But in the film this would be completely boring to viewers who haven't read the book. Hence the more action-filled scene in the movie, and no lids on the barrels so that we see the main characters and how they react to the danger.

Don't mess with my favorite female elf.




Brandybuckled
Lorien


Oct 8 2013, 6:10pm

Post #16 of 65 (544 views)
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What bothers me most is the second half of the troll scene [In reply to] Can't Post

1. ALL the dwarves stop fighting and meekly surrender when the trolls get Bilbo? How does that make sense?

2. If the trolls are in a hurry to cook the dwarves, why are they so high above the fire that they aren't even hot? How does that make sense?

Neither of these were in the books, so PJ went out of his way to make the scenes the way they are. Why?

NAArP: Not An Ardent purist since Arda was dented



frodolives
Lorien

Oct 8 2013, 6:19pm

Post #17 of 65 (530 views)
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I am a filmmaker [In reply to] Can't Post

I am keenly aware of these issues. I'm a professional film editor and have taken many classes on screenwriting. I often find myself defending choices made by filmmakers when it comes to adapting books. But these examples are easily and gently altered for film with minimal changes from the novel. To whit:

In regard to the riddles in the dark scene, Bilbo could (and IMHO should) have been muttering to himself about needing more time. When Gollum presses him, he then shouts out "Time!".

The barrels scene: not showing the dwarves could be used to great comic effect. It is often said that what you *don't* see is often far more interesting than what you *do* see. I imagine seeing those barrels bouncing along and hearing a bunch of grumpy dwarves, perhaps even cutting to shots inside the barrels.

Both solutions are easy, cinematic, and stay true to the book and the characters.

The Rankin Bass adaptation managed to make both scenes work, so I don't see why PJ couldn't.


In Reply To
From the examples you present, I think you may not at times fully appreciate some of the differences between a written scene in a book and the same scene as presented on film. One of the most important differences is that in a book, we can be told by the author what a character is thinking; in film we don't know unless they use voiceovers or other such tricks. This can be a crucial factor regarding how a scene has to be modified in order to work on film.

Two examples: first, in "Riddles in The Dark". Why make the change from Bilbo blurting out "Time!" to having Gollum use the word? In the book, Bilbo is thinking that he would like to shout out "Give me more time!", but he can't get it out, except to come out with the "sudden squeal" of "Time!". If they filmed this exactly as in the book, the viewers who haven't read The Hobbit would have no clue at all as to how he found the solution, and it might seem like some cheap, contrived trick.

A second example you mention is "Barrels Out of Bond". The scene as written in the book is fine, but for the film it just doesn't work. This is because in the book, most of the writing focuses on Bilbo's thoughts and worries as he and the barrels float down the river. The fact that we don't "see" the Dwarves doesn't bother the reader, because we can imagine them inside the barrels as we read. But in the film this would be completely boring to viewers who haven't read the book. Hence the more action-filled scene in the movie, and no lids on the barrels so that we see the main characters and how they react to the danger.



(This post was edited by frodolives on Oct 8 2013, 6:21pm)


Cave Troll
Rivendell

Oct 8 2013, 7:25pm

Post #18 of 65 (462 views)
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I agree... [In reply to] Can't Post

The meddling with iconic moments with no apparent reason is maddening.

I always felt that a lot of the LOTR book-to-film changes were forgivable because they made filmic sense (or, at least, in terms of making a money-spinning blockbuster).

Some of the changes in AUJ simply felt like they were made for the sake of it, much to the detriment of everything... case in point (and I still can't get over this) the edit to “It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort”. The metre of that line is perfect. Tolkien knew exactly what he was doing with it - it's borderline poetic and perfectly encapsulates the fusspot finality with which hobbits take comfort to be non-negotiable.

What on earth made them feel the need to fiddle with it?


Kilidoescartwheels
Gondor

Oct 8 2013, 8:46pm

Post #19 of 65 (442 views)
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The troll scene [In reply to] Can't Post

I half agree with you - I imagine the dwarves were set so high above the fire for safety precautions, but it didn't look so good visually. However, I don't think they "meekly" surrendered - Thorin looked pretty angry and even embarrassed, but he's presented as the kind of leader who puts his men first, even the men he doesn't like very much (Bilbo). And Kili was in shock, but his men follow his lead. That scene made sense to me.


Brandybuckled
Lorien


Oct 8 2013, 8:54pm

Post #20 of 65 (422 views)
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But [In reply to] Can't Post

Why (in a "deadly" sword fight with trolls) would you stop fighting and surrender everyone to be eaten -- including the person you were "rescuing" by surrendering?

And of course they couldn't put actors in the fire, but why (when you aren't following the book anyway) would you stage it in such a silly, slapstick way if you didn't have to?

NAArP: Not An Ardent purist since Arda was dented



imin
Valinor


Oct 8 2013, 9:09pm

Post #21 of 65 (416 views)
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Because they thought it was funny maybe? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
why would you stage it in such a silly, slapstick way if you didn't have to?


Would appeal to kids and adults who like slapstick humour.

'What's the matter with you?' - J.R.R. Tolkien


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Oct 8 2013, 9:46pm

Post #22 of 65 (395 views)
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Safety [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...I imagine the dwarves were set so high above the fire for safety precautions...


You don't think there was an actual fire there do you? It's all trickery of lighting and special effects. There was no fire there. The actors would have been completely safe lying in the fire pit itself. So the question remains. For example, Denethor's fire was done with mirrors. Those actors weren't even close to flames or heat.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Oct 8 2013, 9:46pm)


dormouse
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 10:13pm

Post #23 of 65 (377 views)
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Because in those circumstances.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...you would hardly go on fighting if it meant that one of your friends was going to be torn limb from limb if you did. No matter what the consequence. I find it hard to believe that you've never seen a film before in which the taking and threatening of a captive hasn't forced the captive's friends to surrender. Or that you haven't accepted that situation as perfectly reasonable in another story.

As for the slapstick, I'd say that the troll scene is pretty slapstick in the book too. Different, certainly, but it's a comic scene, not a serious one. The answer's very simple. They staged it in the way they wanted to. In the way that worked for them. Nothing can ever please everyone, and obviously that scene didn't please you, but it's a perfectly reasonable adaptation.


Arannir
Valinor


Oct 8 2013, 10:23pm

Post #24 of 65 (352 views)
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Agreed. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...you would hardly go on fighting if it meant that one of your friends was going to be torn limb from limb if you did. No matter what the consequence. I find it hard to believe that you've never seen a film before in which the taking and threatening of a captive hasn't forced the captive's friends to surrender. Or that you haven't accepted that situation as perfectly reasonable in another story.

As for the slapstick, I'd say that the troll scene is pretty slapstick in the book too. Different, certainly, but it's a comic scene, not a serious one. The answer's very simple. They staged it in the way they wanted to. In the way that worked for them. Nothing can ever please everyone, and obviously that scene didn't please you, but it's a perfectly reasonable adaptation.




“A dragon is no idle fancy. Whatever may be his origins, in fact or invention, the dragon in legend is a potent creation of men’s imagination, richer in significance than his barrow is in gold.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Words of wisdom that should be remembered - both by critics, purists and anyone in between.


RosieLass
Valinor


Oct 8 2013, 10:54pm

Post #25 of 65 (350 views)
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It was comic in the book, yes. [In reply to] Can't Post

But it didn't involve snot.

That was my biggest gripe with the scene.

I do understand Brandybuckled's frustrations, though, and I wonder if it would have been more palatable if it had been Thorin or one of the other dwarves who was being threatened with de-limbing. It would have heightened the tension, because it was a close friend/kinsman and not just the annoying burglar that dratted wizard has saddled you with.

"BOTH [political] extremes are dangerous. But more dangerous are team fanboys who think all the extremists are on the OTHER side." (CNN reader comment)

It is always those with the fewest sensible things to say who make the loudest noise in saying them. --Precious Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith)

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