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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Cracking the code of The Hobbit
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Chen G.
Bree

Feb 3, 3:28pm

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Cracking the code of The Hobbit Can't Post

Among one of the chief complaints I hear about The Hobbit is that, as an adaptation, it doesn't "feel" like the book. That's certainly very true, especially of the later two entries: The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies. Both feature grim visuals (think, the burnt Dwarves in the Western guard-room), muted color palettes, dark music, low-key lighting and muddled morals.

That's the complaint I've struggled with the most because that's actually my favorite aspect of the these films and in fact of any Peter Jackson film - that whether they are about giant apes or little hairy-footed people, they are never escapist adventure films - rather, they are films that have danger and tragedy. That's what allows them to transcend their potential for mere "popcorn entertainment" and become something of a higher form of drama.

And yet, here its an element that stands, largely, in contrast to the source material. Now, a film adaptation can do away with just about any plot element or character outside of the most rudimentary contour of the plot and still be regarded faithful, as long as it retains the tone of the source material, which as I described, is untrue of The Hobbit. So, is The Hobbit trilogy a faithful adaptation? Or is it best to treat it as a re-interpretation of the novel?

And then, it struck me: While it shares the name of the novel "The Hobbit", the trilogy isn't really an adaptation of that novel. Rather, it is an adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings." Now, here's what I mean by that: Its an adaptation of whatever elements of the Hobbit that are mentioned in The Lord of the Rings (especially an extended section of the prologue that retells Bilbo's finding of the ring) and, more specifically, the appendix "Durin's Folk", with The Hobbit only used to fill in the plot. Looking at it like that, the trilogy suddenly makes much more sense as an adaptation.

"Durin's Folk" focuses on the backstory and aftermath of the events of "The Hobbit." But unlike "The Hobbit", it does so from a point of view that is: a) distinctly adult, b) dwarf-centric and c) one that ties into The Lord of the Rings. Well, that's The Hobbit trilogy in a nutshell for you: Its evolved beyond the children story that is The Hobbit book, and into a more mature, grandiose quest of reclamation and vengeance - themes that are very much present in "Durin's Folk" - and ends up becoming a somber political thriller and a grim war epic in its later stages; Its real protagonist is not Bilbo, but Thorin; and it serves as a precursor (and a very organic one, I should say) to The Lord of the Rings.

There are of course other, fascinating issues to discuss regarding the craft of these films, as adaptations or otherwise: whether embellishing certain narrative elements payed off, whether inventing new narrative elements did, or whether the craft of the production was up to snuff - and I do hope we have a chance to discuss those in the near future - but from the point of view of maintaining the "feel" of the adapted source material, The Hobbit trilogy decidedly does; its just not the tone of the book called "The Hobbit" but of another, related work called "Durin's Folk."


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 3, 3:38pm)


Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 5, 2:30am

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Jackson acknowledged this... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in an interview during the DOS press junket (my emphasis in the below quote).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcG2GeCAqLA


Quote
Interviewer: As a fan I'm looking back to the background, and 15 years ago you said in an interview with Ain't It Cool News, perhaps you remember it, that it would be pretty hard to make a movie out of The Hobbit, or a satisfying movie. What changed?

Peter Jackson: Well I mean, I always thought that The Hobbit was written in such a particular style, that Tolkien wrote it like a children's bedside story, that it was always going to be very difficult to adapt because it's just such a different … it's connected to The Lord of the Rings, but it's such a different sort of way of telling a story. And it always made me nervous, it really made me kind of unsure of how to do it. And it wasn't really until I started to work on it myself and started to really think about it, and really what ultimately changed things was saying rather than adapting just The Hobbit as the 1936 [sic] novel, we would be taking the Appendices and notes that Tolkien wrote much later on where he was connecting The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and to treat these as three movies that are basically going to lead into the three Lord of the Rings films. Because that was really the point, that's what I am doing and that's the reason why I'm doing it really, is to say okay, well after these next couple of years we're not going to be releasing one of these movies each year anymore, what's going to be the case from that point on for decades to come, hopefully for decades, is gonna be six movies that have an overriding sort of an arc. So it was connecting it to The Lord of the Rings and saying we're going to tell it not in the style of Tolkien with the bedtime story, we're going to actually tell it as the filmmakers who did The Lord of the Rings. So we're coming at it from a different direction for sure.


Although I hasten to add that Jackson is wrong about the Appendices being written "much later" than LOTR. They were published with the first edition of The Return of the King and have nothing to do with either of Tolkien's later revisions of the TH (the more drastic of which was quickly abandoned when Tolkien decided not to significantly change the tone of TH).


(This post was edited by Eldorion on Feb 5, 2:31am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 5, 4:17am

Post #3 of 30 (3526 views)
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If only Jackson had stopped with incorporating the Appendices. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Although I hasten to add that Jackson is wrong about the Appendices being written "much later" than LOTR. They were published with the first edition of The Return of the King and have nothing to do with either of Tolkien's later revisions of the TH (the more drastic of which was quickly abandoned when Tolkien decided not to significantly change the tone of TH).


The LotR Appendices inform The Hobbit by placing it in a larger context. I would have been very happy if Jackson has more-or-less been satisfied with that. But, no, he needed to insert his own additions and make changes that were arguably not always necessary or advisable. Your mileage may vary.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 5, 5:54am

Post #4 of 30 (3506 views)
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Agreed. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Chen G.
Bree

Feb 5, 8:48am

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Nah. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I would have been very happy if Jackson has more-or-less been satisfied with that. But, no, he needed to insert his own additions and make changes that were arguably not always necessary or advisable. Your mileage may vary.


When you adapt a novel to film, you have to make changes. The flow of a book almost never matches the kind of flow that a screenplay need. You almost always have to not only abberivate the novel but also move stuff around, create new stuff, etc... As long as you keep the rudimentary contuor of the plot, its still a good adaptation. In fact, its only a better adaptation because it makes it possible for the work to truly succed onscreen.

If anything, my issue at least with the theatrical cut of An Unexpected Journey, is that it didn't change enough. I would have edited out the Troll sequence in its entirety: it does very little in terms of pushing the quest forward, and its part of what makes the first half of this film feel very long.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 5, 3:42pm

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Ch-ch-ch-changes! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
When you adapt a novel to film, you have to make changes. The flow of a book almost never matches the kind of flow that a screenplay need. You almost always have to not only abberivate the novel but also move stuff around, create new stuff, etc... As long as you keep the rudimentary contuor of the plot, its still a good adaptation. In fact, its only a better adaptation because it makes it possible for the work to truly succed onscreen.


Yes, of course. I fully understand what you are saying, though Peter Jackson did not have to face the problem here of having to condense the plot. It is the nature of Jackson's changes that can be discussed and debated. However, I disagree with this: "As long as you keep the rudimentary [contour] of the plot, its still a good adaptation." That oversimplifies the situation. The filmmaker can do this, but still introduce alterations that fundamentally damage the adaptation.


In Reply To
If anything, my issue at least with the theatrical cut of An Unexpected Journey, is that it didn't change enough. I would have edited out the Troll sequence in its entirety: it does very little in terms of pushing the quest forward, and its part of what makes the first half of this film feel very long.

Here is where we will have to agree to disagree. Wink

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Chen G.
Bree

Feb 5, 6:06pm

Post #7 of 30 (3429 views)
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Adaptations should serve the film, not the novel [In reply to] Can't Post

Ultimately, the plot of The Hobbit trilogy IS the plot of Durin’s Folk: Thorin And his Dwarf compatriots, along with Bilbo, brave a series of obstacles, reach the mountain, reclaim it from the dragon with the help of Bard, and participate in a battle in which Thorin and his nephews die. Also, when I watch it, it feels like reading Durin’s Folk feels.

So it IS a faithful adaptation.

If you come at the films from the point of view of an enthusiast of books, you will obviously want it to stick to the book much closer than that, but I choose to
enjoy books for what they are, and films for what they are. I studied quite a lot of film theory and, to my mind, adaptations should serve the film over the source material.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 5, 6:41pm

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I agree. [In reply to] Can't Post


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Adaptations should serve the film, not the novel

Yes, though ideally a film adaptation should be able to do both to some degree (and I think Peter Jackson's Hobbit films do so). And I've already stated that I appreciate the borrowings from the LotR Appendices as they enhance the story for me. My issues come from Jackson's additions where they feel awkward or ill-thought out to me, or seem completely unnecessary. Some of that is represented by physical gags that take me out of the story, such as the catwalk-drop in Goblin Town that rightfully should have killed all of the Dwarves and Gandalf. Then there is Bard turning his broken bow into an improvised ballista, which doesn't look like it should have worked in a million years. I will refrain from commenting on the Kili/Tauriel relationship as this one is very subjective and folks have strong feelings about it.

There is more, but I think I've made my own thoughts and feelings clear.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Feb 5, 6:41pm)


Chen G.
Bree

Feb 5, 7:50pm

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Ah, I see [In reply to] Can't Post

Here I was thinking you were talking about the more major deviations. Most of these things are done in the favor of making the action scenes more inventive and, to my mind, they work, if only because of the speed of the narrative during those parts of the story.

But if we’re talking the bigger scheme, than I think keeping Azog around payed off; I think introducing Legolas - while I could stand to see a couple of his minutes of screen-time and stunts removed - payed off; I think letting the Dwarves at least take a shot at killing Smaug rather than entering Erebor only to find it empty - payed off, even if some of the effects shots in that sequence weren’t on par with the rest of the film.

As for Tauriel, I think we need to distinguish the character and the love story. Tauriel is actually a sympathetic, well-written female character. She’s not a perfect “marry sue” - she’s reckless, headstrong and incapable of besting Bolg in combat - but she has got a moral compass and a sense of curiosity that make her intriguing.

As for the love story - remove her very last scene in The Desolation of Smaug and cut out a few lines of dialogue from The Battle of the Five Armies, and it’s much better. As it is, it really is unnecessary, but it takes too little space in the movie for it to ruin the film for me.


Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 5, 9:36pm

Post #10 of 30 (3384 views)
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So to clarify... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Ultimately, the plot of The Hobbit trilogy IS the plot of Durin’s Folk: Thorin And his Dwarf compatriots, along with Bilbo, brave a series of obstacles, reach the mountain, reclaim it from the dragon with the help of Bard, and participate in a battle in which Thorin and his nephews die.


...is your argument here that the Hobbit trilogy is a faithful adaptation of the section of LOTR Appendix A entitled "Durin's Folk"? My apologies if I've misunderstood you but that's the impression I'm getting.


In Reply To
Also, when I watch it, it feels like reading Durin’s Folk feels.

So it IS a faithful adaptation.


And when I watch the films they do not feel the same as the experience of reading either The Hobbit or the LOTR Appendices does to me, but that's an entirely subjective and therefore inarguable quality so I don't think it's a very good basis for making grand proclamations about whether the films were faithful adaptations or not.


Kilidoescartwheels
Tol Eressea


Feb 5, 10:36pm

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Well, surely he's entitled to his opinion? [In reply to] Can't Post

Just like you are entitled to yours.

I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies - this is me!

from The Greatest Showman




Eldorion
Gondor


Feb 5, 10:40pm

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Yes, which is why I said... [In reply to] Can't Post

...that I don't think subjective feelings are a very good basis for debate or discussion, and why I would not use my subjective feeling as the basis for an absolute statement like "it IS [or is NOT] a faithful adaptation". Wink


(This post was edited by Eldorion on Feb 5, 10:55pm)


Kilidoescartwheels
Tol Eressea


Feb 5, 11:06pm

Post #13 of 30 (3358 views)
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Mileage may vary - let's look at this [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a rundown in my head of those additions/changes that were made in the films; it might be interesting to go over this list and see what did or didn't work. As another poster said, this is all very subjective and probably not really quantifiable, so let me make this clear that this is MY opinion only - I expect yours and many others will not agree with everything.


OK, first up: Azog. Well, it's a head scratcher; on the one hand I can see the need for a second leader but on the other I can understand the complaints of those (like yourself) that complain such a move diminishes Dain, who was completely cut out of that battle scene. I'm not saying the film would have worked better if it were Bolg plus someone; but I'll admit it probably would have worked just as well. But I don't really lose much sleep over this one.


Next up: Legolas & Tauriel. Oh, the wailing & nashing of teeth this has caused! To me it makes sense that Legolas would be present, as the Prince of Mirkwood & all. I've got no problem with his not being mentioned in the text, because most of the Mirkwood elves weren't mentioned by name. No biggie. Nor do I have a problem with Tauriel per se, of course there would be lady elves as well. What they did with them is, of course, another matter. I completely understand why people are upset that Leggy killed Bolg instead of Beorn. I really don't think that was necessary or beneficial - granted, I don't lose much sleep over that, either, but I understand the complaints. As for the romance, yeah, I personally would have liked it better if Kili and Tauriel had just been friends, maybe wondering why their respective elders hate each other so, but that definitely falls into that subjective opinion area.


But here is my biggest alteration complaint: the Laketown four. Yes, I realize this was due to scheduling problems with James Nesbitt, but from the book prospective this would never have happened. And even in the movie, this doesn't make any sense. Thorin leaves his beloved nephew behind to fend for himself? Oin volunteers to look after the lad, and Fili insists on staying with his brother (which I think he would). But not a word from Bombur about HIS brother? I think it would have made more sense and stayed closer to the book if Bombur announced he couldn't leave without his brother, and stayed behind to find him.


Now, there are many things that, upon a rereading, I discovered were actually in the book Hobbit and were picked up in some version in the movie. Gandalf DID find Thrain in Dol Goldur, and he DID meet up with the White Council to defeat the Necromancer, which DID turn out to be Sauron. PJ definitely has a filming style, so much of this was ramped up for the movies. I would even argue that the scene at the end of AUJ, where Thorin is knocked to the ground & Fili & Kili (and Dwalin) follow Bilbo to defend their uncle, comes from the book. It just got presented at the beginning instead of the end. As for the death scenes, well honestly the book never said Fili & Kili died together, only that they died defending their uncle "with shield & body." That puts a picture in many people's minds of a scene like the aforementioned AUJ, but really IMO it could have been anything.


Of course, none of this answers the original question, which is the movie being an adaptation of Durin's Folk. I remember another poster from about a year ago saying he thought the Hobbit was actually Thorin's story as told by Bilbo. I would certainly agree with that where the movie is concerned, but maybe not so much with the book. But I don't totally agree with the OP, I think the movies were an adaptation of BOTH The Hobbit and Durin's folk; mostly because most of the events in the book are told mostly intact in the movies; particularly AUJ.

I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies - this is me!

from The Greatest Showman




Chen G.
Bree

Feb 6, 12:06pm

Post #14 of 30 (3284 views)
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YES! [In reply to] Can't Post


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is your argument here that the Hobbit trilogy is a faithful adaptation of the section of LOTR Appendix A entitled "Durin's Folk"? My apologies if I've misunderstood you but that's the impression I'm getting.


Exactly.

You see, with this discussion (and hopely others in the future) I'm trying to move the discussion on The Hobbit films from the stock criticisms ("its style over substance", "its overindulgent") and stock, faint praises ("the music is great", "Martin Freeman is excellent") and into a more nuanced discussion, of both its pros and its cons. I'm happy to have found an audience that is not entirely of one opinion or the other.

Peter Jackson often referred to the appendices as "guidelines" but I would argue that they are in fact at the heart of his adaptation. Yes, The Hobbit book was used to fill-in a lot of the details and plot mechanics, but the heart of the story, I feel, is derived much more from the Appendix "Durin's Folk", and other mentions of the events of "The Hobbit" throughout "The Lord of the Rings".

First, that this trilogy is much more dark, somber and epic than the source material. Well, it is if "The Hobbit" is the main source material. But, if we consider "Durin's Folk" to be the main source, well, than that's just what reading "Durin's Folk" evokes.

Second, that the hero of the trilogy is not really Bilbo Baggins, but rather Thorin Oakenshield. Its his story and he is the one driving it. Again, unlike "The Hobbit", but very, very much in line with "Durin's Folk."

And lastly, that its much more closely tied into The Lord of the Rings. All that stuff about The Necromancer, The White Council and Thrain - are in the appendices. Also, the idea that had the Orcs won at the Battle of the Five Armies it would have just about guaranteed Sauron's triumph in the War of the Ring, is explicit in "Durin's Folk".

As for whatever changes were made beyond what's in the Appendices, that's another discussion - but one that I am totally for having! To me, I look at those changes solely from a narrative standpoint. i.e. does the movie work? If it does, whether its like the novel or different is irrelevant.


In Reply To
As for the romance, yeah, I personally would have liked it better if Kili and Tauriel had just been friends, maybe wondering why their respective elders hate each other so, but that definitely falls into that subjective opinion area.
.



Yes.

But, really, if you watch The Desolation of Smaug, their "connection" remains very ambigious until their very last scene ("do you think she could have loved me?") going forward. So, the romance per se is really an issue with "The Battle of the Five Armies", where it thankfully takes up very little space in the film. So while I don't find it narrativelly compelling, I can look over it in terms of the trilogy as a whole.

As for the split in Laketown, while it doesn't feel entirely necessary, it does help to distinguish some of the Dwarves (hell, if it weren't for it, casual audiences wouldn't know Fili is Thorin's heir) and their ability to evade Smaug, I feel, is made a bit more palatable because they're a smaller group. It also speaks to Thorin's conviction regarding this quest, which the film already starts to paint in grey shades. Its mirrored later when he says a very similar thing about leaving Bilbo to Smaug's mercy: "I will not risk this quest" etc...


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 6, 12:19pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 6, 3:36pm

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Co-hero? [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo Baggins is the main (viewpoint) character of the book. And while Bilbo remains the main focus of the Hobbit films, I will agree that Thorin is elevated in them to co-lead character. Even so, with the multiple plot-lines of the films, we can say much the same by the end for Bard and Gandalf (and perhaps one or two others). I think that saying that 'the films become the story of the Dwarves of Erebor' is overstating the case just a bit.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Chen G.
Bree

Feb 6, 4:46pm

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Its not clear-cut, yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I would say An Unexpected Journey is Bilbo-centric. His arc (from reluctentness to adventurous) is the centerpiece of the film. On the other films, what is his character development, really?

With the other two films, and the trilogy as a whole, I would argue Thorin is the main character. Returning to the Peter Jackson interview quoted earlier, here is another: "On this movie it [the story] is the Dwarves reclaiming their homeland." So, its their story that informs the plot.

I also recall an amusing interview with him and Boyens before The Battle of the Five Armies where they go on and on about Thorin, and eventually they go "oh, right, and than there's Bilbo." That's very telling.

People who know the music of the series well, will also notice that the Dwarvish material is much more center-stage than the Hobbit material.

I'm not giving those examples as a criticism. The story of the Dwarves, as told in "Durin's Folk" and in the trilogy, is much more compelling than Bilbo's.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 6, 4:52pm)


Kilidoescartwheels
Tol Eressea


Feb 6, 10:55pm

Post #17 of 30 (3178 views)
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About that split in Laketown [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
As for the split in Laketown, while it doesn't feel entirely necessary, it does help to distinguish some of the Dwarves (hell, if it weren't for it, casual audiences wouldn't know Fili is Thorin's heir) and their ability to evade Smaug, I feel, is made a bit more palatable because they're a smaller group. It also speaks to Thorin's conviction regarding this quest, which the film already starts to paint in grey shades. Its mirrored later when he says a very similar thing about leaving Bilbo to Smaug's mercy: "I will not risk this quest" etc...





Yes it does distinguish Fili and Kili as having a family relationship with Thorin, which may not have been clear in the first movie for those not already familiar with the book. Another positive that came from the decision is that the movie had a reason to be in Laketown during Smaug's attack - because four of the characters we'd seen in the first 2 movies were right in the middle of it. Yes of course we had Bard (a very important person) and his kids, and Alfrid and the Master, but I don't think the time spent on the kids would have had the same impact as the Dwarves; especially when you have the rest of the Company on Ravenhill watching the carnage from a distance. If four of their kin weren't out there, I'm not sure anyone but Bilbo would care all that much about it (they certainly didn't in the book, did they?). And yes, I've often thought that Thorin's abandoning his injured nephew to fend for himself was possibly the effect of the dragon-sickness beginning to take hold - but what about Bombur? Didn't he care about HIS brother being left behind? (Oin volunteered, so Gloin didn't have any room to argue.) And why didn't Balin say something? All his worrying about Thorin during that very scene you mention, but not a peep in Laketown? I don't know - it had its good points & bad points.


As I said earlier, I think the movie was an adaptation of BOTH The Hobbit and Durin's Folk, and there's another reason besides tying it to LoTR: there were, after all, 13 Dwarves and only one Hobbit. The Quest was a Dwarvish undertaking, whether done in slapstick fashion as in the book, or a more stealth reconnaissance as in the movie. One of the complaints I have about the book is that the Dwarves were extremely underdeveloped, and often not shown in the best of light. But we already had Gimli in the movies, being both comic relief AND extremely competent fighter, loyal, etc. To reverse that and go with the 13 bumbling idiots of the book would have been pretty jarring, IMO. BUT, everything that happened to Bilbo in the book happened in the movie - riddles in the dark, conversation with Smaug, etc. The trilogy began and ended with Bilbo, an older Bilbo telling HIS story of HIS adventure with 13 Dwarves. So I'd argue that the trilogy was a combined adaptation of TH and Durin's Folk, and IMO a very satisfying one!




I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies - this is me!

from The Greatest Showman




Chen G.
Bree

Feb 7, 12:12pm

Post #18 of 30 (3104 views)
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Very well said! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Yes it does distinguish Fili and Kili as having a family relationship with Thorin, which may not have been clear in the first movie for those not already familiar with the book. Another positive that came from the decision is that the movie had a reason to be in Laketown during Smaug's attack - because four of the characters we'd seen in the first 2 movies were right in the middle of it. Yes of course we had Bard (a very important person) and his kids, and Alfrid and the Master, but I don't think the time spent on the kids would have had the same impact as the Dwarves; especially when you have the rest of the Company on Ravenhill watching the carnage from a distance. If four of their kin weren't out there, I'm not sure anyone but Bilbo would care all that much about it (they certainly didn't in the book, did they?). And yes, I've often thought that Thorin's abandoning his injured nephew to fend for himself was possibly the effect of the dragon-sickness beginning to take hold.


To my mind, the implication that it has to do with Thorin's growing fervor is made very clearly through the editing. The Desolation of Smaug, as a film, has a theme of desperation and subversion looming over it. Essentially, after the midpoint, the film is constantly asking: "well, is this quest a truly noble cause? what and who does it justify leaving on the wayside?"

That's why we slow down the pace to appreciate Laketown, and that's why we are made to understand Bard's point of view about this quest, rather than it being a strawman. The juxtaposition of the master basking in his newfound popularity with Kili's illness really underlines this idea. And again, the similarity in the lines. When Thorin leaves Kili behind: "I cannot risk the fate of this quest for the sake of one dwarf" and when he opts to leave Bilbo to the mercy of the dragon: "I will not risk this quest for the life of one burglar."

I think the split serves to highten tension just before the last leg of the journey and again at the end of the film, because a) some of the Dwarves are in Laketown and b) we learn that there's a close fimilial relationship between Thorin and two of the most prominently featured Dwarves.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 7, 12:14pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 7, 4:15pm

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A Sense of Urgency [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
To my mind, the implication that it has to do with Thorin's growing fervor is made very clearly through the editing. The Desolation of Smaug, as a film, has a theme of desperation and subversion looming over it. Essentially, after the midpoint, the film is constantly asking: "well, is this quest a truly noble cause? what and who does it justify leaving on the wayside?"

That's why we slow down the pace to appreciate Laketown, and that's why we are made to understand Bard's point of view about this quest, rather than it being a strawman. The juxtaposition of the master basking in his newfound popularity with Kili's illness really underlines this idea. And again, the similarity in the lines. When Thorin leaves Kili behind: "I cannot risk the fate of this quest for the sake of one dwarf" and when he opts to leave Bilbo to the mercy of the dragon: "I will not risk this quest for the life of one burglar."

I think the split serves to highten tension just before the last leg of the journey and again at the end of the film, because a) some of the Dwarves are in Laketown and b) we learn that there's a close fimilial relationship between Thorin and two of the most prominently featured Dwarves.


At the same time, Peter Jackson artificially increases the sense of urgency in The Desolation of Smaug that is not present in the book by placing the company's arrival in Lake-town much nearer to Durin's Day (two days away we are initially told, though we somehow seem to lose an additional day with no explanation). Now, Thorin cannot afford to either wait for Kili to be healed or to be slowed by his injury. He is forced to make a hard choice that is completely reasonable within the context of the film.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Feb 7, 4:16pm)


Chen G.
Bree

Feb 7, 4:59pm

Post #20 of 30 (3054 views)
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Yep [In reply to] Can't Post

The Desolation of Smaug in general is marked in the sign of urgency, as a whole. Its (part of) what gives the film its drive, but that's a whole other discussion.

Even the opening scene isn't an action opening, but its laden with a sense of foreboding: From the dark opening credits color palette and music, to the rumbling sound effects over black, to the low-key lighting and generally seedy feeling of Bree, the use of close-ups, etcetra...

I will say, though, the nature of their objective is flogged far too often throughout the film: that they need to get to the hidden door at Durin's day, is mentioned a good five times before they get to it. I get that these films throw a lot more information at the audience than the typical movie, but in this case the repitition is too heavy-handed.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 7, 5:00pm)


Laineth
Lorien

Feb 13, 4:00am

Post #21 of 30 (2910 views)
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Hello! Thank you for creating this thread. I seem to be one of the few people in the world who greatly dislikes the book The Hobbit, and loves the films because they set the story back into the larger legendarium with the tone of the legendarium.

Before I move on to talking about the films I think it's important to talk about the different texts.

When Tolkien wrote b!TH, it wasn't supposed to be part of his larger legendarium, but he borrowed a lot of names from it. The legendarium itself then went under a large re haul during/after LotR. Thus there are numerous inconsistencies that cannot be reconciled between b!TH and the rest of the legendarium.

The following is my list of issues with b!TH. I say these solely for the sake of civil and nuanced discussion!

The tone. Fans say it's whimsical, I think it's condescending, but that's subjective. What's objective is that pretty much the entire book is slapstick. I like a little bit of slapstick, but not that much!

Slapstick means “comedy based on deliberately clumsy actions and humorously embarrassing events.” Here is just one example:


Quote
This was Thorin's style. He was an important dwarf. If he had been allowed, he would probably have gone on like this until he was out of breath, without telling any one there anything that was not known already. But he was rudely interrupted. Poor Bilbo couldn't bear it any longer. At may never return he began to feel a shriek coming up inside, and very soon it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel. All the dwarves sprang up knocking over the table. Gandalf struck a blue light on the end of his magic staff, and in its firework glare the poor little hobbit could be seen kneeling on the hearth-rug, shaking like a jelly that was melting. Then he fell flat on the floor, and kept on calling out "struck by lightning, struck by lightning!" over and over again; and that was all they could get out of him for a long time.


Characterization. Most of the dwarves have no individual personalities and are just a group of bumbling idiots; Bombur is just used for fat jokes. Thorin doesn't even have much depth, he is just arrogant and greedy. Like with Bilbo, the narration expects this ineptitude to be funny – hello slapstick. This is not the ancient and hardy Khazâd race we know from the legendarium.

Likewise, the ancient Noldor of Rivendell are not going to be signing 'tra-la-la-lally' in trees; and Elrond is the greatest loremaster in Middle-earth – he would know what Durin's Day was. Especially since the Noldor always got on best with the dwarves.

Thranduil. The legendarium gives us a picture of a tormented, traumatized king. He’s been forced to watch helplessly as his kin are slaughtered, several times. His forest is being taken over by Sauron. He’s isolated and withdrawn.

And yet… he’s out having parties in said forest. Which makes no sense, considering the state of Mirkwood and Thranduil's mental state.

Then, Thranduil goes marching towards Erebor with an army, even though he believes the dwarves are dead. He helps the people of Laketown, because he’s not heartless. Then an army of elves and men marches to the mountain - to fight off thieves? We’re never given a reason for the army’s presence, and there’s no one who would make it to Erebor before them.

We get there, and Thranduil... suddenly steps down to support Bard. Says he won’t fight over gold (then why come with an army?). And, crucially, doesn’t understand the nature of dwarves at all - even though he’s had thousands of years of experience with dwarves, and not pleasant ones.

Gandalf gets hit by the mis-characterization bug too. All one of the Istari can do against trolls is talk from the trees? Really? He's the Witch-king's counterpart!

Plot. I have no issues with episodic plots. However, there are just some things that make me want to bang my head against the wall. Like why are the Stone Giants included if we only see them from a distance and they play no part in getting the Company into the cave?

But let's start with why Bilbo is needed. In Bag End:


Quote
"Yes, yes, but that was long ago," said Gloin. "I was talking about you. And I assure you there is a mark on this door-the usual one in the trade, or used to be. Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, that's how it is usually read. You can say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like. Some of them do. It's all the same to us. Gandalf told us that there was a man of the sort in these parts looking for a Job at once, and that he had arranged for a meeting here this Wednesday tea-time."
"Of course there is a mark," said Gandalf. "I put it there myself. For very good reasons. You asked me to find the fourteenth man for your expedition, and I chose Mr. Baggins. Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal."
He scowled so angrily at Gloin that the dwarf huddled back in his chair; and when Bilbo tried to open his mouth to ask a question, he turned and frowned at him and stuck oat his bushy eyebrows, till Bilbo shut his mouth tight with a snap. "That's right," said Gandalf. "Let's have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet. Now Bilbo, my boy, fetch the lamp, and let's have little light on this!"
On the table in the light of a big lamp with a red shad he spread a piece of parchment rather like a map.
[cut]
Gandalf: “That is why I settled on burglary-especially when I remembered the existence of a Side-door. And here is our little Bilbo Baggins, the burglar, the chosen and selected burglar. So now let's get on and make some plans."
"Very well then," said Thorin, "supposing the burglar-expert gives us some ideas or suggestions."He turned with mock-politeness to Bilbo.
[cut]
"Hear, hear!" said Bilbo, and accidentally said it aloud, "Hear what?" they all said turning suddenly towards him, and he was so flustered that he answered "Hear what I have got to say!" "What's that?" they asked.
"Well, I should say that you ought to go East and have a look round. After all there is the Side-door, and dragons must sleep sometimes, I suppose. If you sit on the doorstep long enough, I daresay you will think of something. And well, don't you know, I think we have talked long enough for one night, if you see what I mean. What about bed, and an early start, and all that? I will give you a good breakfast before you go."
"Before we go, I suppose you mean," said Thorin. "Aren't you the burglar? And isn't sitting on the door-step your job, not to speak of getting inside the door? But I agree about bed and breakfast. I like eggs with my ham, when starting on a journey: fried not poached, and mind you don't break 'em."


We are not given any actual reason for Bilbo's presence. And he will go on to be completely passive until Mirkwood and killing the spider, in which he will suddenly turn into the leader and hero. That's horrible character development because there was no gradual development or subtle signs of Bilbo growing.

Then we get to the Mountain. And...


Quote
"Now is the time for our esteemed Mr. Baggins, who has proved himself a good companion on our long road, and a hobbit full of courage and resource far exceeding his size, and if I may say so possessed of good luck far exceeding the usual allowance-now is the time for him to perform the service for which he was included in our Company; now is the time for him to earn his Reward."
You are familiar with Thorin's style on important occasions, so I will not give you any more of it, though he went on a good deal longer than this. It certainly was an important occasion, but Bilbo felt impatient. By now he was quite familiar with Thorin too, and he knew what be was driving at.
"If you mean you think it is my job to go into the secret passage first, O Thorin Thrain's son Oakenshield, may your beard grow ever longer," he said crossly, "say so at once and have done! I might refuse. I have got you out of two messes already, which were hardly in the original bargain, so that I am, I think, already owed some reward. But ‘third time pays for all' as my father used to say, and somehow I don't think I shall refuse. Perhaps I have begun to trust my luck more than I used to in the old days" - he meant last spring before he left his own house, but it seemed centuries ago - "but anyway I think I will go and have a peep at once and get it over. Now who is coming with me?"
He did not expect a chorus of volunteers, so he was not disappointed. Fili and Kili looked uncomfortable and stood on One leg, but the others made no pretence of offering - except old Balin, the look-out man, who was rather fond the hobbit. He said he would come inside at least and perhaps a bit of the way too, really to call for help if necessary.
[cut]
Then Bilbo fled. But the dragon did not wake - not - yet but shifted into other dreams of greed and violence, lying there in his stolen hall while the little hobbit toiled back up the long tunnel. His heart was beating and a more fevered shaking was in his legs than when he was going down, but still he clutched the cup, and his chief thought was: "I've done it! This will show them. 'More like a grocer than a burglar' indeed! Well, we'll hear no more of that."
Nor did he. Balin was overjoyed to see the hobbit again, and as delighted as he was surprised. He picked Bilbo up and carried him out into the open air. It was midnight and clouds had covered the stars, but Bilbo lay with his eyes shut, gasping and taking pleasure in the feel of the fresh air again, and hardly noticing the excitement of the dwarves, or how they praised him and patted him on the back and put themselves and all their families for generations to come at his service.
The dwarves were still passing the cup from hand to hand and talking delightedly of the recovery of their treasure, when suddenly a vast rumbling woke in the mountain underneath as if it was an old volcano that had made up its mind to start eruptions once again.
[cut]
They debated long on what was to be done, but they could think of no way of getting rid of Smaug - which had always been a weak point in their plans, as Bilbo felt inclined to point out. Then as is the nature of folk that are thoroughly perplexed, they began to grumble at the hobbit, blaming him for what had at first so pleased them: for bringing away a cup and stirring up Smaug's wrath so soon.
"What else do you suppose a burglar is to do?" asked Bilbo angrily. "I was not engaged to kill dragons, that is warrior's work, but to steal treasure. I made the best beginning I could. Did you expect me to trot back with the whole hoard of Thror on my back? If there is any grumbling to be done, I think I might have a say. You ought to have brought five hundred burglars not one. I am sure it reflects great credit on your grandfather, but you cannot pretend that you ever made the vast extent of his wealth clear to me. I should want hundreds of years to bring it all up, if I was fifty times as big, and Smaug as tame as a rabbit."
After that of course the dwarves begged his pardon.
"What then do you propose we should do, Mr. Baggins?" asked Thorin politely.
"I have no idea at the moment - if you mean about removing the treasure. That obviously depends entirely on some new turn of luck and the getting rid of Smaug.
Getting rid of dragons is not at all in my line, but I will do my best to think about it. Personally I have no hopes at all, and wish I was safe back at home."


A random cup? That Bilbo just randomly grabbed? Honestly?!

Bilbo sneaks back in and talks to Smaug, returning empty handed. This is when the Arkenstone first comes up.


Quote
But fairest of all was the great white gem, which the dwarves had found beneath the roots of the Mountain, the Heart of the Mountain, the Arkenstone of Thrain.
"The Arkenstone! The Arkenstone!" murmured Thorin in the dark, half dreaming with his chin upon his knees. "It was like a globe with a thousand facets; it shone like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars, like rain upon the Moon!"
[cut]
Thorin was not least among these; but always he searched from side to side for something which he could not find. It was the Arkenstone but he spoke of it yet to no one.
[cut]
Many of the dwarves spent their time piling and ordering the treasure; and now Thorin spoke of the Arkenstone of Thrain, and bade them eagerly to look for it in every comer.
"For the Arkenstone of my father," he said, "is worth more than a river of gold in itself, and to me it is beyond price. That stone of all the treasure I name unto myself, and I will be avenged on anyone who finds it and withholds it."
[cut]
"This is the Arkenstone of Thrain," said Bilbo, "the Heart of the Mountain; and it is also the heart of Thorin. He values it above a river of gold. I give it to you. It will aid you in your bargaining." Then Bilbo, not without a shudder, not without a glance of longing, handed the marvellous stone to Bard, and he held it in his hand, as though dazed.
[cut]
"What of the Arkenstone of Thrain?" said he, and at the same moment the old man opened the casket and held aloft the jewel. The light leapt from his hand, bright and white in the morning.
Then Thorin was stricken dumb with amazement and confusion. No one spoke for a long while. Thorin at length broke the silence, and his voice was thick with wrath. "That stone was my father's, and is mine," he said. "Why should I purchase my own?" But wonder overcame him and he added: "But how came you by the heirloom of my house-if there is need to ask such a question of thieves?"


And now suddenly the Arkenstone, which had never been mentioned before, is crucial to the story.

Also mind-boggling is the fact that Beorn, a minor character with no emotional investment in the plot, is the one to kill the Big Bad, while Thorin, Fili, and Kili are all killed by nameless and random orcs. Also, how can there be multiple tunnels around Erebor without anyone knowing or watching them?

This is also my only issue with Durin's Folk in the LotR Appendices. Azog, the Big Bad, kills Thorin's grandfather. He also kills Dain's dad, but that's because they're already in the middle of battle. So Dain, who has no reason to be on the battlefield because of his young age (“stripling”), does what no one else can and kills the Big Bad. But don't worry! Thorin also becomes a legendary hero because he uses an oak branch against a random orc.

Just... none of that makes sense, and it's incredibly convoluted. Tolkien did that twice in LotR, had a random background character play a huge and crucial role in the plot, and then disappear (which PJ changed to Arwen rescuing Frodo and Éomer leading the army to Helm's Deep).

Also, Tolkien never mentions in any of his writings why Sauron is called The Necromancer. He just is.

So. I am incredibly grateful with what PJ and co did with the films – they fixed all my issues and reset the story into the legendarium. Also, it's not just Durin's Folk they pulled inspiration from – there is also the chapter The Quest of Erebor in Unfinished Tales.

From that chapter:


Quote
"I was very troubled at that time," [Gandalf] said, "for Saruman was hindering all my plans. I knew that Sauron had arisen again and would soon declare himself, and I knew that he was preparing for a great war. How would he begin? Would he try first to re-occupy Mordor, or would he first attack the chief strongholds of his enemies? I thought then, and I am sure now, that to attack Lórien and Rivendell, as soon as he was strong enough was his original plan. It would have been a much better plan for him, and much worse for us.
"You may think that Rivendell was out of his reach, but I did not think so. The state of things in the North was very bad. The Kingdom under the Mountain and the strong Men of Dale were no more. To resist any force that Sauron might send to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar there were only the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, and behind them lay a desolation and a Dragon. The Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect. Often I said to myself: "I must find some means of dealing with Smaug. But a direct stroke against Dol Guldur is needed still more. We must disturb Sauron's plans. I must make the Council see that.'”
[cut]
“Time was getting short. I had to be with the White Council in August at the latest, or Saruman would have his way and nothing would be done. And quite apart from greater matters, that might prove fatal to the quest: the power in Dol Guldur would not leave any attempt on Erebor unhindered, unless he had something else to deal with.


Bold mine. The Quest starts at the end of April. That's a boat load of time for Sauron to mess with the Quest – and that's exactly what happens in the films. Likewise, were-worms are briefly mentioned in b!TH.

You've been talking about Bilbo vs Thorin in the thread, and I haven't seen anyone share this quote yet:

PJ: “I look on Bilbo and Thorin as the heart and soul of the story. If Bilbo is the heart then Thorin is the soul.” http://www.richardarmitageonline.com/...obbit-premieres.html

I agree completely. Here are some good insights from Philippa Boyens:


Quote
From a technical perspective, if you're not going to have Smaug in this movie you need a secondary antagonist. How did you decide on Azog, and what resonance did he provide for you thematically?
You hit the nail on the head because when we were first looking at this as a piece of storytelling, we wanted to get to the dragon. We did try getting to the dragon in one draft, actually. But you had to lose so much along the way. We also understood that the Necromancer is too ephemeral at this moment – too much of a shadowy character that's not fully understood. It's a great mystery story, but there's a big problem because there's no actual, physical enemy. And yet the dwarves had a very natural one and he was to be found. When Peter [Jackson] talks about taking this chance to tell more of the story, that was one of the pieces that we took — that and Moria. It's the story of the great hatred between the orcs and the dwarves, where it came from and what was informing it. And, also, I mean, Azog the Defiler. What a great name! You kind of can't beat that as a name.

Balin is telling the story of Azog and the Battle at Moria at a point in the film. I have to be honest, I half expected him to say –
I must take this back someday if I ever get the chance!
"It will be mine!" It brings up the question of – well, obviously, Tolkien wrote these sequentially. You're going the other way around. The temptation for prequelitis must have been overwhelming at times.
That's a great word. And no. But you do want some level of resonance because you know the truth is we did make Lord of the Rings first. The relationship between Gandalf and Galadriel is something I particularly loved doing. People forget that Cate Blanchett and Ian Mckellen were never in a single scene together except at the very, very end.
Gandalf was fallen by the time the company got to Lothlorien.
Yeah, and I think that moment – kids especially are gonna come to this and [The Hobbit] is going to be their first introduction to Middle Earth and then they will receive the rest of the story as a sequel. And that moment where she says 'Where is Gandalf for I very much desire to speak with him' to the Fellowship and they have to tell her that he died is going to be incredibly powerful. So…yeah, a little bit of prequelitis. Just a smidge. And Balin. Seeing Balin's tomb in Fellowship will have more resonance as well.
After two more movies especially –
And Ori! Little Ori is the one who wrote "drums, drums in the deep: they are coming.'" I think probably because we've done Lord of the Rings it wasn't that hard. We had Gollum. This wasn't Gollum that you meet for the first time. We knew him. We understood how to make that internal conflict he has with Smeagal work. We had Andy Serkis the actor. Why wouldn't you use that? It's the great gift. The fact that Gandalf disappears, we know where he goes and what he's dealing with. It was interesting – a lot of pure Tolkien fans loved in Lord of the Rings that, instead of a piece of reportage, we actually followed Gandalf to Isengard. And [showed his] one-on-one with Saruman instead of merely having Gandalf tell everybody what he's been up to at the Council of Elrond. We got to see it, and we get to do the same thing this time as he goes to Dol Godur.
[cut]
Is there an expansion that you're proudest of? Something, perhaps, that audiences wouldn't know if they'd just read The Hobbit.
The Battle of Moria. The great animosity between the dwarves and the orcs — where that came from. I think delineating the difference between Bilbo and the dwarves — that sense of the dwarves having been part of a Diaspora, the loss of the homeland, the way that they wandered in the wild, the great longing and yearning. It's not just about the gold, because it could very easily just be a treasure hunt, this story. Which would be great rollicking children's literature, but it had to be more.
It's interesting that you say it in that way, because the book is very episodic.
Totally.
And it is an adventure story. And there's a lot of deus ex machina.
Uh, hello? Eagles!
Yes! And here I feel like you made an effort to give everyone more agency. Gandalf talking to the moth. Bilbo confusing the Trolls.
Yes. We had to do that, I think. That's when you stop being such a fan of Professor Tolkien's and you actually have to put your screenwriter hat on and make the storytelling work as a film. Bilbo is too much a piece of baggage visually in the story that it becomes very hard to take his POV if he's that passive. So we had to make him more active. And, you know, Bilbo is very clever. And he's a quick thinker.
http://movieline.com/...it-the-silmarillion/


Another one:


Quote
QUESTION: With the clock ticking, and the Dwarves having no safe haven, is their journey more dangerous now?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: Yes. There is no safe haven; there’s nowhere to hide. The dangers that were present in the first film have only gotten bigger, and then, at the end of all of this, even if they should reach their destination, their greatest danger is right before them, which is an enormous fire-breathing Dragon such as you’ve never seen before. This movie was always going to be special because of that amazing confrontation between Bilbo and Smaug.
QUESTION: Could you talk a bit about the Orcs Azog and Bolg? Why are the Orcs hunting the Dwarves?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: Azog is what we call an Orc chieftain. He is the leader. As in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, we discover that the Dwarves went to war with a group of Orcs who had invaded the ancient Dwarf mines of Moria. When grandfather Thror had been driven out of The Lonely Mountain, he took his people and attempted to reclaim his old homeland of Moria. Unfortunately, it was a stalemate. In the appendices, we’re told that Azog slayed Thror and carved his initials into the Dwarf King’s head, which is why he’s called the Defiler.
Bolg is Azog’s son, and we knew we needed both of them for this film, and the reason why will become clearer when you see the film because there are two parts to this story—what’s going on in the Lonely Mountain, and what we will see in the forest fortress of Dol Guldur where this Necromancer resides.
Azog is in pursuit of Thorin and the Company, one, for revenge. Thorin cut off his arm, which was our addition to his history, I have to admit. [Laughs] Also, Azog has a psychopathic hatred
of all living things, but particularly Dwarves, especially those Dwarves of the line of Durin, of Thorin Oakenshield. He hates them for their own sake, but beyond that, he does not want them to reach the Mountain, and that is all to do with alliances he has made and with the power he now serves.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the decision to incorporate into the film the journey that Gandalf takes when he leaves the Company at the beginning of the second film, and how it relates to their Quest?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: One of the things that you get to do when you watch this film is follow some of the characters and find out what happens to them—what they did and where they are going—and you get to do it in real time, which is exactly what we did with Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, when he describes what happens when he goes to see Saruman the White. We get to see exactly what happened and why he failed to meet with Frodo in Bree. That is all told as reported in the book.
Even more frustratingly so, in The Hobbit, we don’t get any back story from Gandalf when he reappears. He simply leaves the story on urgent business that’s obviously troubling and worrying, and he returns with a hurried explanation to the Dwarves and the readers as to exactly what he was doing. We knew that wasn’t going to work particularly well on film.
We also know that Professor Tolkien knew exactly where Gandalf had gone, because he told us in the appendices, and actually within the text of The Lord of the Rings. And what Gandalf was up to was confronting, once and for all, the dark power that resides in the fortress of Dol Guldur. That is what happens in this film; we’ll get to follow Gandalf to that fortress.
How he comes to understand that he needs to do this is also part of what is shown in these films. It’s the uncovering of the secret. Galadriel says in the first film, ‘Something moves in the shadows, something hidden from our sight. It will not show itself.’ It’s a very important instinct that she has. It’s something that is very true, even today, as to how certain atrocities can exist in the world, how certain evils can come to be. That was true when Professor Tolkien was writing these stories in the 1930s and a great evil was growing in Europe, and it is true now.
[cut]
QUESTION: The next place the Dwarves find themselves is near Lake-town, where the Dwarves meet Bard. Can you talk about Bard, and what Luke Evans brings to that role?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: Bard was an interesting character to look at in terms of bringing the book to life, because he’s introduced after the fact in the book. He comes into the story after the Dwarves have left Lake-town. He then assumes an incredibly important role in the story.
When it came to adapting the book, right from the word ‘go,’ we had a very strong sense that you can’t do that in the film. We felt it was important to meet this character sooner, engage with him and give him some history with the Dwarves, especially for what comes later in the storytelling.
The other interesting thing about Bard, from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, is that he had a son. It made him distinct from, say, Aragorn [from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy]. Although they have a very similar feel in some ways, Bard is a father. We really liked the notion that Bard has children. It makes for a different kind of hero, someone who’s driven by different impulses, which are to protect those children. He’s living in a town where times are really tough, it’s really hard and he’s doing the best he can. Everything that is at stake for this character is so much higher.
It became every easy to decide that he didn’t just have one child, he had three, because just having one child, that’s not enough. [Laughs] It so happened that we had these two wonderful young actresses who came with their daddy down to New Zealand, which are James Nesbitt’s two gorgeous daughters, Peggy Nesbitt and Mary Nesbitt, who became Bard’s daughters, Sigrid and Tilda.
The other interesting piece of information that we get from the book and from the appendices is that Bard is a descendant from the Lords of Dale. We made the decision to take this wonderful thread that Bard, as we discover, has in his lineage a direct link back to the time when Smaug invaded The Lonely Mountain. That terrible tragedy is in his blood. He remembers it, as all of the descendants of Dale do.
You bring all those threads together—this widowed father who’s trying to raise his kids with very little money, but yet his ancestors were once Lords of Dale, and the terrible tragedy that happened to his people—and it makes for a really interesting character.
We also wanted him to be incredibly likeable. The first time you meet him, we didn’t want you to know who this stranger is. Is he a good guy, or is he a bad guy? But we also had an instinct
that we needed people to like and trust him. He’s got to have that quality. It’s part of the theme that runs through this film. It’s about leadership and what makes for a natural leader.
We have the wonderful Stephen Fry playing the Master of Lake-town, who is the epitome of a disastrous leader. In contrast to the Master, you have Bard, someone who people naturally turn to. There’s an instinctive quality about him. It’s not about someone who’s the biggest or the loudest or even the strongest. It’s about someone who has real courage, decency, and empathy for those around him. Luke immediately brought those qualities to this character. That is very much who he is. He’s just got that wonderful calm about him that’s very genuine. He’s an enormously likeable person.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on Stephen Fry’s performance as the Master, and why someone like him has been able to seize power over the people of Lake-town?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: The Master of Lake-town is the consummate politician and he’s managed to somehow figure out how to stay in power permanently. Even though it’s a position that’s supposed to be elected, he’s used all the powers of his office to put himself in a pretty untouchable position. Yet he will pay lip service to the notion that he serves the people, but we know that he’s serving only himself and his own ambition.
He was a great character to write for, and the brilliance of Stephen Fry just made him better. It brought him to life so immediately. Stephen relished playing that role and Pete relished directing him in that role. [Laughs] And I think you can see that.
It also gave us a chance to introduce the wonderful character of Alfrid as his off-sider. The combination of Alfrid and the Master of Lake-town pretty much sums up all that is wrong in politics. But they’re wonderful characters for all that. They are a terrible and almost lethal complication to the storytelling. Things could, in fact, go disastrously wrong because of their actions, which are driven by their greed. They represent the other strong theme that very much runs through these films, and that is greed.
QUESTION: What does it mean for Thorin to finally reach his homeland of Erebor?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: At the beginning of the films, and this again was taken from the appendices, we have the lines about the young Dwarf prince who never forgave and never forgot. That all comes to fruition when we reach the slopes of Erebor and then Thorin finally enters his homeland again. It feels very much like a noble and worthwhile Quest, and, hopefully a moment of triumph for Thorin. In many ways, you might think it was the end of his journey, but it’s not. For Thorin, it’s actually the beginning of a much darker journey.
Thorin’s intentions are very pure when he returns to his homeland. He intends to do what we say at the beginning of this film. His goal is still the same: to reclaim the King’s jewel, the Arkenstone.
This is actually a divergence from the book, but something we felt we needed to make clear, because the Arkenstone becomes very, very important in this story. We needed Bilbo to have a very strong reason for going into Erebor. What’s his goal, what’s he going in there to retrieve? And it became obvious that what it needed to be was the Arkenstone.
QUESTION: What did Richard Armitage bring to the character of Thorin that surprised you?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: Richard is an incredible actor. Every day he gives you something new. You can write a line, and he can transform it and take it far beyond what you thought it was going to be. He worked really hard to get to the heart of his character, to understand what motivates Thorin and how he feels. I think he achieves it beautifully.
One of the moments that stands out for me, and one of the choices he made, was when Thorin finally enters The Lonely Mountain—the way he played it was so understated. It was so emotional. It should be this moment of huge triumph, and instead it is this moment of quiet emotion: ‘I’m home, and I remember.’ All the things that he remembers come flooding back to him. It’s so simple. There’s a beautiful simplicity to what he did in that moment.
[cut]
There are underlying currents in the books that we wanted to make more clear, like the notion that Smaug is very subtly pumping Bilbo for information, and all the tension that goes into that. You couldn’t have a smaller person than the Hobbit, or a larger creature than the Dragon. The scale between the two is huge, and yet they engage one-on-one. It’s an incredibly deadly game of cat and mouse.
This is also the moment where you actually see the true courage of Bilbo, in that he said he would do something and he is going to try. He doesn’t renege on his contract, and you see that he has that sense of decency, that courage about him that is innate. He goes down there to try and do what he promised he would do. Even in the face of this incredible terror, this horror, he still tries. And he takes you down there with him, which is great.
QUESTION: He summons his courage to face the Dragon, but he also has the ring he found in Gollum’s cave. How does that affect him?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: Yes. All the way through this journey, since the Goblin tunnels, Bilbo has been carrying this gold ring that can turn him invisible. We needed to show the audience that it’s not just this convenient little magic trinket that can suddenly make you disappear you whenever you need it to, but that Bilbo puts it on rather reluctantly. He’s beginning to have a strange relationship with this gold ring. He’s beginning to have a sense there’s something off about it.
It was something that Martin Freeman really liked—that it was a tough thing to make that choice to put it on and disappear. It’s not a good thing. He doesn’t like wearing this ring, and he takes it off as soon as he can.
Having such a great actor as Martin Freeman play the role helps you find your way through these sorts of things—that notion that this is not just a trinket, it’s not just a ring that turns you invisible; this is a hard thing to do. Not every choice he has to make is a good choice down in those holes beneath the mountain.
http://www.warnerbroscanada.com/...riterco-producer-qa/


And there was a wonderful article that came out after DoS:


Quote
Now that Part 2: The Desolation of Smaug is being released, the fuller scope of what Jackson is attempting is coming into focus. And what’s clear is that Jackson does not lack ambition, nor does he lack understanding of the material he’s working with. For while one often thinks of adaptation as trimming back and cutting down, Jackson instead has chosen to develop, to expand themes and create a fuller world. The Hobbit is a deeply challenging book to tackle – more so than the comparatively straightforward Lord of the Rings, its surface simplicity underlying deep structural and character challenges that almost demand expansion. What’s more, especially in The Desolation of Smaug, Jackson is ruthlessly working to bring out Tolkien’s original themes in The Hobbit. He has tapped into the material, and found what resonated for him in the original work. And isn’t that what adapters are supposed to do?
First, what’s The Hobbit actually about? When you break it down, the answer to that question is a little trickier than one would imagine. The most basic answer is that it’s about a naïve individual learning to open his door to the outside world, proving his own worth, and learning some bitter lessons. Not a bad spine. The problem is, in the actual narrative, this naïve individual is rendered a rather passive observer for at least half the book – both at the beginning and at the end. It’s really only in the midsection that Bilbo Baggins does something – and his last critical-to-the-plot act in the book is not one that can be viewed entirely positively, and happens before the climax. So one has to beef up other elements of the narrative to carry the action onscreen while the Bilbo plot plays out in the background.
Let’s look at the dwarves, then – the logical next step, if one is attempting to come up with a narrative to help carry the film through. And the dwarves do provide it – both as catalyst and as driver. The Quest for Erebor is what pushes Bilbo onto the journey, and what keeps him going. But when one looks more closely at the quest it becomes rather troublesome. What do they want? Is this just a treasure hunt? Are they trying to take back their homeland? Are they so incompetent that they didn’t bring weapons at the beginning when they knew they were going to face a dragon? How about the fact that there are 13 of them? And only four – in the book – are particularly notable, and one of those is only characterized so Tolkien can make fat jokes. Several don’t even have lines after the Unexpected Party in Chapter One. And it’s not until well into the tale that the one who truly takes on considerable depth begins to do so.
What about other characters or plots? For all the personality that Tolkien invests him with, Gandalf functions as a device to get Bilbo on the road and save the dwarves a few times, and then leaves because Tolkien needs him to, because otherwise he’d solve all the problems. The trolls, the Great Goblin, the spiders, and (particularly) Gollum all pop, but have nothing to do with the actual Quest for Erebor. The Elvenking and Bard are more necessary, but Bard in particular lacks the page time a character of his importance ought to have. And yet, because of how the book is structured, it is actually spectacularly difficult to cut any of those scenes, because every one adds an essential puzzle piece to either Bilbo’s arc, the quest, or the finale – often without seeming to at the time.
Look at it this way: The Hobbit – as a book – is filled with incident. It is deeply episodic, with these scenes (the trolls, for instance) not adding a damn thing to the main plot, but without the trolls there’s no good way for Bilbo to get Sting (in the film, Jackson wisely added an element to make this scene more necessary that won’t be portrayed onscreen until the end of There and Back Again). If this were a more tightly-constructed work, the trolls would be trying to stop the dwarves from getting to the Lonely Mountain, instead of being encountered randomly on the road. But they have something necessary for Bilbo’s journey, so they need to remain. Similarly, the moonletters would probably be read right at the beginning, instead of the company going to Rivendell, but the centrality of that place in Lord of the Rings (and remember, Jackson’s task is to connect those dots as well as tell the story of The Hobbit – something Tolkien had no conception of at the time) and in Bilbo’s life makes it reasonable to show (one of the great problems of the theatrical version of An Unexpected Journey was that it did not emphasize that latter element enough, though the extended edition corrects that – and, as a side note, thus makes the film more fluidly feel like it’s all from Bilbo’s point of view). Indeed, if one were truly being ruthless in trying to advance the quest plot and keeping things focused on that, would Gollum appear? He has nothing to do with the quest, after all, except for providing Bilbo with a magic ring (a function he performed in the first release copy of the book with considerably less threat, it must be noted). Bilbo just stumbles into a cave and finds a magic ring? Shouldn’t his first adventure where he proves himself be more focused on the quest, one can picture a development executive saying. But The Hobbit without Gollum is simply unimaginable.
So there is plenty of incident. But there’s not a whole lot of overarching plot (or, at least, movement beyond the purely geographical on the quest plot which drives the whole thing) until the dwarves get caught by the Elvenking. The summary at the top of this section may have been glib, but it’s not inaccurate. Bilbo’s own character arc holds together a fair portion of the story, but simply recreating the book – which renders him far more passive in the quest plot before they reach Mirkwood, and almost entirely passive and acted upon until the Gollum scene – would make him a pretty dull protagonist, to be honest. It’s Bilbo’s thoughts that keep him active in the book to that point, and doing that onscreen wouldn’t match with the world established in Lord of the Rings, and would make the whole thing come off as fairly childish.
And, critically, the apparent nominal goal of the book is achieved two thirds of the way through by a character who appears in that scene (and, according to John Rateliff’s excellent History of the Hobbit, was supposed to die in that scene in Tolkien’s first draft, which would have made for one of the most bizarrely wonderful deus ex machinas of all time). Also, Tolkien did not invest the massive planning and years he would for The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion into The Hobbit. The first two-thirds (until they arrive at the mountain) were written smoothly and simply, and then Tolkien realized he didn’t quite know where the story was going. This accounts for the jarring turn the book takes at that point, but this turn – given that it is the true climax of the tale, putting the rest of the story into deeper moral and character context – is what any adaptation worth its salt must build towards. The book can get away with it through the charm of Tolkien’s authorial voice and the characterization of Bilbo-as-narrator. The dramatic possibilities offered by taking the time to really develop towards that plot, however – even if they seem like filler at the time – ought to be obvious to any filmmaker who truly understands the work.
So bearing all that in mind, one is confronted with a book which is deeply episodic (where each episode is incredibly necessary without apparently bearing on the main plot driver), whose protagonist doesn’t do anything in the main plot until over halfway through, whose main supporting characters are barely characters, whose story veers off the rails in the last third, and which is partially held together by the narrative voice, by the charmingly light tone, and the third-person perspective into the protagonist…why on Earth would one want the challenge of trying to adapt a book like that? It’s madness.
But then, the man who made Brain Dead and Meet the Feebles, not to mention convinced a Hollywood studio to let him make three Lawrence of Arabia-sized films at once before the first was ever released, is at least half-mad. And instead of turning away from those challenges, Jackson has looked deep into the overarching themes of the book, attempted to give each incident more bearing on the quest, and portray in more depth how the quest is shaking up Middle-Earth as the dwarves march on the mountain.
[cut]
So it might be said that Jackson’s job in capturing Bilbo’s essence was half-done when he cast Martin Freeman in the role. Freeman has been fantastic with this prickly yet compassionate bumbler, able to draw out great meaning from just his facial expressions, his reactions. Like Bilbo, he’s naturally sympathetic – a normal man in a high-fantasy world. But Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh have developed Bilbo’s tendencies in some wonderful ways, relying on Freeman’s gifts to bring a darker, more proactive, but still completely true to Tolkien version of Bilbo to the screen.
In the first film, Bilbo was characterized as a talker rather than a doer. This is particularly true before he goes on the quest. He stumbles around points, stammers, impotently rages, grumbles. It’s key, then, that his ultimate moment of decision is allowed to play out entirely on Freeman’s face. Instead of trying to talk his way through a decision, he quiets and chooses to get in touch with what he really wants. And his run down the hill may be the most purely joyous moment in any recent blockbuster. Note that Jackson had shot much of the film to that point in the tight, confined space of Bag End without many wide shots of the external world. And then, we get this big bright green glorious shot of a little hobbit running down the hill – it feels like the release of a prisoner. Howard Shore’s music is soaring, ecstatic. The camera and editing move as quickly as Freeman does, giving a wonderful sense of momentum. He’s going on an adventure indeed.
Throughout the rest of the film, until the very end, Bilbo’s character is, again, mainly portrayed through talking. His desperate attempt to distract the trolls, his extended edition conversation with Elrond, the riddle game with Gollum. And note how often in these scenes he screws up. He nearly gets the dwarves skinned alive in the troll scene, he accidentally insults Elrond (though Elrond, being a good chap, laughs it off), he nearly loses his life in the riddle game. But each time, he becomes more adept at it until he manages to fool Gollum. How Bilbo talks in this film demonstrates his character growth: the adventure is making him become more centered, more mature. And his big speech to the dwarves about why he came back is just a few short well-chosen sentences. This helps build into his final transformation from talker to doer, when he saves Thorin. He just (no pun intended) gets right to the point. When the time is done for talk, he finally steps up to the plate.
The Desolation of Smaug follows up on that. When people say that Bilbo feels more confined to the background in this film, perhaps it’s because he doesn’t talk as much as in An Unexpected Journey. But he’s constantly doing things (he is, in fact, the most proactive character in the entire film and the main driver of its forward action), and the camera is almost always finding his reaction. Bilbo is evolving into someone who can step up to the plate and deliver. He does keep messing up, but every time he takes a critical action, he corrects his error from the last time (making new ones along the way). His first moment in the film involves the company relying on him to be their eyes. When he tries this again in Mirkwood, he succeeds – he figures out where they need to go, but screws up by incautiously luring the spiders to the company. In the spider scene, he takes the proper precaution of putting on the ring, but allows himself to get distracted by it and ends up putting it ahead of the company (which allows them to be captured by the elves). When he pulls off the barrel escape, he properly handles the ring (despite nearly being caught by Thranduil) and puts the company ahead of himself, but does rather too good a job of it and leaves himself behind. With the moon runes riddle of the key, he’s the one who thinks outside the box and figures out how it works, and saves the company. And then, in the Smaug confrontation, he uses every trick in his toolbox (except trying to stab the dragon, which would clearly go nowhere), functions successfully as part of the company, is clever, is properly cautious, figures out the dragon’s physical and emotional weak spot…and yet it isn’t enough.
That’s what is truly effective about the cliffhanger ending to The Desolation of Smaug. Just as in the book, Smaug’s soaring off to Laketown is a result of Bilbo’s mistake. But the film further develops that and places the onus more squarely on Bilbo. After all his evolution, all his heroism…two little words “Barrel-Rider” are enough to condemn (as far as he knows) every innocent person in Laketown to death. Bilbo’s despairing cry, “What have we done?” is more clearly a “What have *I* done?” It’s a bold and risky choice, to shatter your lead character’s growing confidence and heroism so utterly in the last frame of your film. Bilbo has come so far from the timid little hobbit in Bag End, but he’s still just a little hobbit in a world far more dangerous than he.
Much of the above arc in Desolation of Smaug plays out without dialogue. It’s given four signposts: Bilbo’s conversation with Gandalf about finding his courage, his determination before the secret door, his conversation with Balin in Erebor, and his final line. This works because Bilbo has evolved beyond his stammering, bumbling way of talking (and acting) in the first film. He really is a hobbit of action now. Jackson trusts Freeman (with good reason) to let the emotion, and Bilbo’s development, play out on his face. Instead of telling us with dialogue, he shows us, and trusts us to get it. He lets Bilbo be the steady, beating heart of the trilogy, the simple relatable bedrock on which everything else rests. It is still very much his story, at the end of the day. But unlike in the book, he now shares more of it with Thorin Oakenshield.
Thorin, in the book, is an old, prideful, somewhat pompous and greedy fellow who, like everyone else on the quest, is something of a bumbler. There are traces of nobility there, but his ultimate turn is not as deep a fall as perhaps it could have been.
[cut]
And, indeed, Thorin’s character arc (both positive and negative) has largely been re-centered around the idea of family legacy, his responsibility to his ancestors, and his fears of falling into the same trap.
Nearly every major action Thorin takes is driven by looking back to the past and trying to right the wrongs done to his family. Note, for example, in Bag End that he emphasizes to Balin that the key and map are from his father. His injuring of Azog is direct revenge for Azog’s killing of his grandfather. When we see him in the prologue for The Desolation of Smaug, he’s looking for his father. His hatred of the elves (and Thranduil in particular) derives from the fact that they did not come to his family’s aid at either Erebor or Moria. And yet he is also highly aware of his grandfather’s madness (Jackson significantly shoots his disturbed reaction to Thror’s enjoyment of the treasure room in the AUJ prologue, and adds in scenes with both Elrond and Thranduil where this madness is emphasized). As far as Thorin’s concerned, there’s his family, then there’s the dwarves, and then there’s everyone else. And there’s the great wrong done his people – and everything can be sacrificed for righting that wrong (he even chooses to leave Kili – his nephew and one of his two heirs – behind in Laketown when Kili’s injury would slow them down. This may seem like compassion, but his subsequent conversation with his other heir Fili – who also chooses to stay behind as a result – reveals a real coldness lurking there. Thorin will throw whoever he needs to under the bus to succeed). Thorin is constantly looking back to provide himself motivation to move forward.
Contrast this with how Jackson, Boyens, and Walsh have chosen to portray Bard. In the book, Bard is something of a blank slate, so it’s very interesting that in contrast to Thorin who is concerned with his ancestors, Bard is a family man concerned with his children. His forefather fell to Smaug and lost his own city, but Bard does not feel the need to go out of his way to avenge that wrong (though, as readers of the book know, he will have to step up to the plate very shortly). Bard looks forward, Thorin looks back. And in the middle is Bilbo, who Gandalf tries to encourage with heroic tales of his ancestors, but those ultimately fail to move him. At the same time, Bilbo is also a childless middle-aged bachelor stewing alone in his home. Bilbo lives for today, rather than living for the past or future. Family is key here, and it’s the most forward-looking characters who tend to be in the right. Thorin’s looking to the past should be the first sign that, despite many people’s assertions otherwise, he is not this trilogy’s Aragorn.
[cut]
However, her relationship with Kili serves as a critical thematic anchor for one of the primary Tolkien concepts that Jackson has been developing since Fellowship of the Ring: the idea of looking outside oneself, one’s home, one’s race, the idea that we are all part of this larger world. The idea that we should empathize with each other, that we’re not particularly different when you get down to it. This, in both Tolkien and Jackson’s world, is one of the critical signs even among the heroes of whether one is a good person or not. It is this argument (quoted above in the section heading) that is the first to break through with Bilbo when Gandalf is trying to convince him to join the quest, along with listening to the dwarves’ song (again, listening to someone other than his own hobbit-sense, which is screaming at him to not do this). Later, it is Bilbo’s wonder at Rivendell that establishes, with Elrond, a friendship that will last all of Bilbo’s life, allowing him refuge in his waning days and eventual passage to Valinor himself. It is Bilbo’s awful accusation that the dwarves don’t belong anywhere that lets him realize why he is so fortunate, and why he should come back and help them. And it is Bilbo’s mercy – his ability to look outside the danger to himself and see life from Gollum’s point of view – that persuades him not to murder Gollum, the single critical act that will save Bilbo’s soul, and with it, all of Middle-Earth.
Gandalf, too, has the ability to see the world this way. His first act in The Desolation of Smaug is nothing more than sitting down with Thorin at an inn (they are strangers to each other at this point), but that act arguably saves Thorin’s life. Gandalf sticks up for the little guy. It’s what he does. His speech in the first film to Galadriel is all about this theme. It’s why he is the only one who can see the gathering darkness – because he’s not bound to one realm like Elrond or Galadriel, he’s not obsessed with his own cleverness like Saruman. This is Gandalf’s great gift – not his magic powers, not his sword-fighting ability, but his compassion and ability to put on the other person’s shoes. And this gift brings him, Thorin, and Bilbo together, thus beginning the ultimate downfall of the darkness in Middle-Earth.
In the second film, it is Tauriel who serves as the primary mouthpiece for this concept.
[cut]
But Tauriel’s insistence on saving the dwarves paints her as a step above them, and, indeed, begins cracking open the Woodland Realm to become a legitimate part of Middle-Earth (which will pay off in Film 3, when Thranduil decides not to abandon the destitute Laketowners, and even more so when Legolas eventually joins the Fellowship).
It’s amusing to note, too, that the film’s most lauded action sequence is all about this inclusiveness. The barrel escape may begin with the dwarves fleeing the elves, but when the orcs appear, Tauriel saves Kili’s life, and Thorin even saves Legolas (not that Legolas knows or would thank him if he did). The dwarves and elves may hate each other, but Jackson uses the barrel sequence to emphasize that they keep ending up on the same side, and that they really ought to try working together once in a while. Despite what Thranduil and Legolas say, or what Thorin says, Tauriel is right that they are all part of the same world. Eventually, the world’s going to break down your door whether you like it or not. One cannot shut oneself off from it. If you do, you might as well be a dragon.
In The Lord of the Rings, every member of the Fellowship was there by choice, sworn by nothing more than honor and friendship to attempt to save Middle-Earth. In The Hobbit, Bilbo is hired help.
There are few differences between the works more distinctive than that. And it crucially emphasizes the primary theme of Jackson’s take on The Hobbit: the danger of greed.
Smaug, the dragon who sleeps in a bed of gold so deeply that the coins embed themselves in his scales, is the primary visual symbol of this, but the two films are rife with images of money and sale. There is the contract for Bilbo. There is Thror’s gold-greed which brought the dragon in the first place. There is the fact that Thorin has a price on his head (an invention by Jackson/Boyens/Walsh, which we’re reminded of rather bluntly at the beginning of Desolation of Smaug – the mighty heir of Durin reduced to a commodity). The adaptation emphasizes the fact that the dispute between Thranduil and the dwarves came from a question of payment over treasure – re-upped in Desolation of Smaug when Thranduil (An elf! The pure, incorruptible bastions of good in these films!) basically asks Thorin for a bribe in exchange for aiding the dwarves on their quest. Look at how corrupt the world of Laketown is. Everything, Bard says, is tolls and bribes. And that’s how Thorin gets them on his side as well (throwing the noble Bard under the bus to do so): emphasizing all the gold from Erebor that will come through the town. Look at how often he’s directing this at the Master (Stephen Fry, tapping into his Blackadder roots) – a man Bard has been vehement about not trusting due to his greed. If friendship and love are what drive the world in Lord of the Rings, it’s commerce that drives the world of The Hobbit.
Indeed, it drives it so deeply that the noble Quest for Erebor – an epic journey to regain the dwarves’ homeland – is fully revealed in this film as Thorin’s attempt to get his hands on a jewel. Admittedly, this is a jewel that will allow him to marshal the armies of the dwarves and give them a chance to kill the dragon, but the Arkenstone is a curious thing, easily given to driving the minds of its possessors mad. Is the power it would grant him what Thorin truly wants? Or does he want the jewel itself? Even before he has it, it’s beginning to work its dreadful magic on him: witness his abandonment of Bard and the dwarves he leaves behind at Laketown (including his own nephews). Look at the chilling moment when he won’t let Bilbo flee Smaug without getting a straight answer on the Arkenstone. These, it must be emphasized, are not moments from the book. The Arkenstone granting him claim to power is not in the book. This is adaptation of the purest kind: the kind that takes what was in the book and develops it out further, taking the themes the adapter responded to and conveying them to the audience. This is especially critical given the massive turn The Hobbit takes in its third act, and this series will take in There and Back Again.
Even the more noble characters have their own prices. Bard has to be paid – at twice his normal rate – to smuggle the dwarves into Laketown. Even Bilbo himself is not immune. In parallel to Thorin and the Arkenstone, Bilbo has the Ring. And even though he does not go full Gollum with it, note the terrifying violence he unleashes on a spider-thing that wanders too close to where he’s dropped it in Mirkwood (and his guilt-ridden, horrified reaction afterwards). And note his lack of caution when confronted with the vast hoard of Thror. He’s so overwhelmed, it’s a wonder he didn’t wake up Smaug earlier.
[cut]
Instead, the dwarves try to use Smaug’s own greed against him. In the added sequence where the dwarves attempt to take back the mountain from Smaug, they use the old melted gold in the dwarven forges to try to trap Smaug – luring him in with it, then pouring it over him. And it nearly works: Smaug’s lust for gold causes him to lack caution when he should have smelled a trap, and the image of the gold pouring over him is a potent one. But just like Smaug, the dwarves too were betrayed by it: they fail, and all of Middle-Earth must now reap the consequences of Smaug’s rage. Greed cannot be trusted, and it will always destroy you in the end.
https://icsfilm.org/...-hobbit-pts-1-and-2/


This post has gotten obscenely long, so I'm going to stop now. However, I do want to say that Tauriel, Kili, and their romantic relationship are my all-time favorite part of this trilogy. If anyone's interested, my Fili and Kili essay goes over their characterizations and Kili's side of Kiliel: http://theseassong.blogspot.com/...1/fili-and-kili.html and my Tauriel essay goes over her, Legolas, Thranduil and her side of Kiliel: http://theseassong.blogspot.com/...-woodland-realm.html


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 13, 4:51am

Post #22 of 30 (2896 views)
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Movie Slapstick [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't want to get into all of your specific issues with the book of The Hobbit, Laineth, but this one stood out for me: If the slapstick in the novel annoyed you then surely the copious amounts of slapstick and other physical comedy in the films must have bothered you as well, no?

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Chen G.
Bree

Feb 13, 12:17pm

Post #23 of 30 (2854 views)
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Humor [In reply to] Can't Post

Humor is the most subjective of narrative elements, so some people will enjoy the physical comedy, while others won't.

Its only an issue with An Unexpected Journey, anyway. And it only happens two times, so its not a big issue.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 13, 3:14pm

Post #24 of 30 (2832 views)
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Only twice? [In reply to] Can't Post

Did you see the same Unexpected Journey that I did (even disregarding theatrical vs. director cuts)? But I asked because Laineth specifically objected to the slapstick comedy in the book. The films were filled with such comedy and other physical/visual gags.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Chen G.
Bree

Feb 13, 5:12pm

Post #25 of 30 (2812 views)
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I was thinking more along the lines of playing with one's food [In reply to] Can't Post

In terms of physical comedy, I was mostly thinking about the scenes where the Dwarves are playing with food. Those are the only bits of humor in this trilogy (outside of Alfrid) that people might find somewhat vulgar.

Thankfully, it only happens once in the theatrical cut, and twice in the Extended cut; it doesn't happen at in the later two entries, even though the Dwarves dine at Beorn's and in Laketown.

Otherwise, I find the humor in the trilogy understated and natural to the situation. I love Bilbo crossing the enchanted river, clearly dizzy, and calling back to the Dwarves "stay where you are", turning to the camera and "oh".


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 13, 5:15pm)

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