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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Azog's Original Barrel Ride
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skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Apr 4, 1:38pm

Post #1 of 255 (3367 views)
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Azog's Original Barrel Ride Can't Post

Does anyone know Azog's original role in AUJ's barrel climax in the two film structure? We know he was present, and that the whole film would have built up to some confrontation between him and Thorin, but was something similar to Thorin's flaming tree charge originally planned for the barrel chase?


Chen G.
Rohan

Apr 4, 5:22pm

Post #2 of 255 (3067 views)
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I don't know [In reply to] Can't Post

That the first film of the two-film version would have ended with a confrontation with Azog. I mean, he was going to be present during the barrel chase, but his confrontation with Thorin would still have been on the slopes of the Misty Mountains.

Its partially why the climax of the first film in the two-film version sounds so anti-climactic. That, and the stinger with Bard.


Paulo Gabriel
Lorien

Apr 5, 11:21pm

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What? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
That, and the stinger with Bard.


Stinger wIth Bard?


Chen G.
Rohan

Apr 5, 11:38pm

Post #4 of 255 (2941 views)
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In the two film version [In reply to] Can't Post

The first film would end with the sillhuette of Bard aiming his bow at the company. It IS a cliffhanger, but unlike the cliffhanger we got at the end of The Desolation of Smaug, its more of a stinger.

The cliffhanger of The Desolation of Smaug is a direct outcome of the climax of the movie: the company tries to slay Smaug and fail and there's your cliffhanger.

The cliffhanger of the original An Unexpected Journey, back when it was two films, was the company escaping Azog and the Silvan Elves in barrels. They succeed, and then the character of Bard, completely unrelated to this event, stumbles into them.

That's what I call a stinger, and in my mind it is inherently a less compelling form of a cliffhanger ending, because the film does have an ending and even a coda, and then you get a cliffhanger on-top of that. The Desolation of Smaug took the cliffhanger concept to the extreme, and I love that.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Apr 5, 11:43pm)


Noria
Gondor

Apr 11, 1:20pm

Post #5 of 255 (2478 views)
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Ah yes, the disappearing Azog [In reply to] Can't Post

LOL, I remember the DOS trailer in which Azog leapt up onto the wall at the Woodland river gate and then was replaced by a random Orc in the actual movie. Is there any reason to suppose that the sequence would have played out too much differently if Bolg had not replaced Azog?

I think the original ending of AUJ in the two-movie adaptation would have worked OK. Barrels Out of Bond would have been the big action climax with the riverbank scene as the denouement and Bardís split second appearance at the very as a teaser or stinger as Chen calls it. But for me the way in which these events played out in the three-movie version is much better. After the action sequence Out of the Frying Pan, the emotional climax of AUJ is Bilboís heroic attempt to defend Thorin and the reconciliation and avowal of friendship between Thorin and Bilbo. Then the Companyís relief and optimism are leavened for the audience by a foreboding glimpse of the sleeping dragon Ė is that a stinger?

I think too that DOS plays better as a stand-alone movie. Itís difficult for me to see how Smaugís attack on Laketown and, more importantly, his death would have worked in There and Back Again, the original second film. Itís such a significant event, the thing that kicks off the entire climatic section of the story, that I don't see it working in the middle of a movie.

PJ could have had ended DOS with the attack on Esgaroth simply as the result of the Dwarvesí incursion into Erebor, as in the book. But he chose instead to have these fighting Dwarves try to kill Smaug themselves instead of cowering in hiding while he wreaked havoc on the town, IMO the correct decision. I feel that the emotional climax of DOS is the face-off between Thorin and Smaug and then Bilboís vain effort to keep Smaug from attacking Laketown. Of course Smaug heading off for Esgaroth is the cliffhanger, a great one.


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Apr 13, 6:26am

Post #6 of 255 (2425 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

Because in its original construction, the barrels sequence acted as the climax for three hours of story, not the end of act 1 of a second story, There is every reason to suppose that some physical / emotional climax between Azog and the line of Durin would be reached. It could be as simple as Azog firing the arrow that hits Kili, but I imagine there was more to it than that.

Smaugís attack in a 2-film structure would act as a dramatic fulcrum, the culmination of everything before it and the causation of everything after. In this light, he functions rather like Titanicís iceberg. He occupies a similar function in the book, so I see no reason why he couldnít in a film duology. The Hobbit is a very interesting book, structurally- one could make a dramatic argument for a single adaptation, or a duology, a trilogy, even four films, and there is enough structural division in the text to support any of those dramatic choices.


Paulo Gabriel
Lorien

Apr 15, 4:56pm

Post #7 of 255 (2252 views)
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I once suggested four films... [In reply to] Can't Post

but don't you think that 4 films would have been quite difficult to do if at least some of the material wasn't pulled from additional sources, like LOTR's Appendices or other supplementary material? I can see The Hobbit itself being pushed to three movies at the most, but not four. Crazy


Solicitr
Gondor


Apr 15, 5:47pm

Post #8 of 255 (2247 views)
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What [In reply to] Can't Post

would have been wrong with one film?


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Apr 15, 6:09pm

Post #9 of 255 (2240 views)
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In my mind [In reply to] Can't Post

Nothing is wrong with one film, though there isn't really room for Rivendell, the Eagles, or Beorn if you want to fully flesh out Bilbo's story and maintain a solid sense of pace and movement.

I also think nothing is inherently wrong with a four film structure, or perhaps an eight episode miniseries. As they exist, the films already have enough material for nearly four films, with the only gaps existing with a lack of content for Beorn, Mirkwood, and Thranduil's halls. Ultimately, this all boils down to structure, the execution of the writing, and the talent that the production brings. I don't believe that three hundred pages of story necessarily means it's well suited for one hundred and fifty minutes of film, and I don't believe that the only reason one might want to make multiple movies out of one book is because it's a cash grab (even though, from the studio's perspective, of course it is).

To Paulo's point, Jackson's trilogy is half-baked with lore and world-building. If those elements were brought to the surface and the geo-political subplots that exist in Laketown, Mirkwood, and Dol Guldor were carried to their logical conclusion, you'd have a solid structure for 4 films, though it is probably fair to say that it's no longer The Hobbit as Tolkien wrote, but something much closer to the tone and scale of The Lord of the Rings, which would no doubt bring many objections. If I were in that writer's room, I would be asking this question every day: How can we bring Bilbo into the story in a way that makes sense for his character? For Gandalf and the White Council, that answer is almost always, "You can't," but in pretty much every other subplot, there are ways to expand Bilbo's story in a way that's true to Tolkien's character as written.

None of this has anything to do, really, with what Azog's role in the absurd barrel chase was, but that's fine. :P


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 15, 6:40pm

Post #10 of 255 (2236 views)
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The LotR Appendices [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...don't you think that 4 films would have been quite difficult to do if at least some of the material wasn't pulled from additional sources, like LOTR's Appendices or other supplementary material? I can see The Hobbit itself being pushed to three movies at the most, but not four. Crazy


Well, I'd say that Peter Jackson did draw extensively from the appendices, though he also took many liberties with completely original additions. Even so, I think that four Hobbit movies would have felt needlessly padded out (we might say the same for the three we got).

#FidelityToTolkien


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 15, 6:44pm

Post #11 of 255 (2237 views)
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One Movie [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Nothing is wrong with one film, though there isn't really room for Rivendell, the Eagles, or Beorn if you want to fully flesh out Bilbo's story and maintain a solid sense of pace and movement.


Oh, I think a single film could have included all of the major plot-points, locations and events of the book, though it doubtless would have still felt rushed. What the Rankin/Bass adaptation left out could have been included with a longer running time (it was only meant to be broadcast in a 90-minute time slot), but it would have still felt like a Reader's Digest retelling of the story.

#FidelityToTolkien


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Apr 15, 7:02pm

Post #12 of 255 (2234 views)
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Exactly [In reply to] Can't Post

When I say there isnít room for Rivendell, the Eagles or Beorn- these are natural cutting points for a writer interested in telling the full breadth of the text when there isnít time for more extraneous elements of it.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 16, 12:25am

Post #13 of 255 (2220 views)
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Well... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
When I say there isnít room for Rivendell, the Eagles or Beorn- these are natural cutting points for a writer interested in telling the full breadth of the text when there isnít time for more extraneous elements of it.


...I'll note that the Rankin/Bass adaption excluded neither Rivendell nor the Eagles (though it did cut out Beorn, the feast of the Wood-elves, and the entire subplot of the Arkenstone). Of course in eliminating Beorn, the animated special also creates a plot hole by not giving the company a chance to resupply before entering Mirkwood Forest.

#FidelityToTolkien


Solicitr
Gondor


Apr 16, 1:04am

Post #14 of 255 (2212 views)
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The [In reply to] Can't Post

Rankin-Bass was a mere 78 minutes long, half or less a PJ run time.


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Apr 16, 2:16am

Post #15 of 255 (2207 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

And it was hardly a CliffNotes. The Hobbit is already brisk and episodic. Rankin-Bass is running on a treadmill. Itís almost as if a musical artist adapted it for a record.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 16, 12:46pm

Post #16 of 255 (2157 views)
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That's right. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
[The] Rankin-Bass was a mere 78 minutes long, half or less a PJ run time.


Yes, but I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. If the special had been 94 minutes long (to fill a 2-hour time slot) it could have included most or all of the missing scenes and sub-plots, albeit at a break-neck pace. If Rankin/Bass could accomplish that in less than 2 hours then a longer movie (120 minutes? 2 1/2 hours? 3 hours?) could have done so at a more reasonable pace. The question is, if you are adapting The Hobbit with the intention of having a family-friendly PG rating, do you really want a running time in excess of 2 hours or do you streamline the story to shorten it? That said, Guillermo del Toro determined, after breaking down the events of the book, that he would have wanted to adapt The Hobbit in two parts even without adding new material from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Apr 16, 12:57pm)


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Apr 16, 2:14pm

Post #17 of 255 (2147 views)
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The pace [In reply to] Can't Post

Would not have been much more reasonable. There are cuts of PJís Hobbit trilogy that run at 2 hours, and some at 3. You can test the runtimes for yourself, and see what chapters run at what lengths, and what cuts are made so that it feels like a story being told, not run on a treadmill. I agree with del Toro- if you want to adapt in full and have the leisure to make original connections between story threads and tell the broader story of Middle-earth in that time period, two films is the way to go. But you can certainly tell Bilboís story in one.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 16, 2:49pm

Post #18 of 255 (2141 views)
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Pacing. [In reply to] Can't Post

If you're referring to the Rankin/Bass Hobbit then I completely agree (and said as much). A longer version would have still skimmed through events, barely touching on many of them. But it might still have felt a bit more complete.

However, I would not use Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy as any kind of arbiter for what a one-film adaptation might have been like. Jackson not only did incorporate much from the LotR appendices, he also included much entirely new material and made some massive diversions from Tolkien's legendarium. I have no objection to including the appendices material, or even to rounding out the world with some new supporting characters and environments that didn't show up in the book. My point is that a simpler approach that stuck just to the book could have made for a shorter adaptation (or not; the Mind's Eye radio drama adaptation runs at a length of something like six hours or more).

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Apr 16, 2:51pm)


Paulo Gabriel
Lorien

Apr 16, 8:26pm

Post #19 of 255 (2118 views)
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Nothing. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
[What] would have been wrong with one film?


In theory, nothing. But in reality, one movie would have to trim down the story and cut various lines and events, and thus would not have pleased purists such as yourself anyway.

May I ask in return, what is inherently wrong with TWO films?


(This post was edited by Paulo Gabriel on Apr 16, 8:27pm)


Chen G.
Rohan

Apr 16, 11:29pm

Post #20 of 255 (2094 views)
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Rankin and Bass [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
What the Rankin/Bass adaptation left out could have been included with a longer running time (it was only meant to be broadcast in a 90-minute time slot), but it would have still felt like a Reader's Digest retelling of the story.


An early script for the Rankin/Bass TV special did include everything, but it was deemed too much. Rankin wanted to cut out the spiders, but was convinced to excise Beorn instead.

I think its wrong to compare the way an animated TV special is paced with the way a live-action movie is or should. The way the Rankin/Bass TV special (which, I must say, upon rewatch is insufferably twee) is structured would have felt very rushed in live-action, and I'm not even fond of it within the context of the special.

In general, I don't think every story should be the shortest version of itself that's humany possible. That's a very reductive approach to narrative. By that approach, Lawrence of Arabia should have been around two-and-a-half hours, which is to say nothing of Titanic.

Heck, the Lord of the Rings was originally pitched as two two-and-a-half-hour movies, and Jackson even considered doing a single, four-hour film.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Apr 16, 11:31pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 17, 1:30am

Post #21 of 255 (2089 views)
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I can't disagree. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
An early script for the Rankin/Bass TV special did include everything, but it was deemed too much. Rankin wanted to cut out the spiders, but was convinced to excise Beorn instead.

I think its wrong to compare the way an animated TV special is paced with the way a live-action movie is or should. The way the Rankin/Bass TV special (which, I must say, upon rewatch is insufferably twee) is structured would have felt very rushed in live-action, and I'm not even fond of it within the context of the special.

In general, I don't think every story should be the shortest version of itself that's humany possible. That's a very reductive approach to narrative. By that approach, Lawrence of Arabia should have been around two-and-a-half hours, which is to say nothing of Titanic.


You're right, a live-action film--even one deliberately setting out to be child-friendly--is a very different beast than an animated adaptation. Though, if the Rankin/Bass Hobbit is insufferably twee, it gets some of that from the original book.

Generally, I don't think that such an adaptation should be "the shortest version of itself that's [humanly] possible" unless that serves the story as the filmmaker wants to tell it. Even so, we can see how poorly that worked with the 1966 animated short version of The Hobbit (granted, that was actually meant to be proof-of-concept for an animated feature-length film that was never made). Personally, I think that a 2-film adaptation without much of the extra stuff that Peter Jackson added (though I would still have borrowed from the LotR appendices) would have been ideal. Getting back to the book itself, the middle of the narrative comes in with either the rescue of the company by the Eagles or with their arrival at Beorn's house. Structurally, it would probably be better to end the first of two films with the rescue, and begin the second part with the introduction of Beorn.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Apr 17, 1:38am)


Chen G.
Rohan

Apr 17, 2:18pm

Post #22 of 255 (2035 views)
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My issue is Rankin's aversion of onscreen violence [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
if the Rankin/Bass Hobbit is insufferably twee, it gets some of that from the original book.


Not really. Tolkien had resented Rayner Unwin's estimation that The Hobbit should appeal to children aged 5-9, saying it was more appropriate for 10-12 year olds. The novel has macabre interludes and obviously, at the end, adventure gives way so sullen politics and greed, and eventually to the death of several main characters.

By contrast, Rankin/Bass were so worried about showing violence in their TV special: you can see it in the awful cuts when Bilbo is hacking at the spiders, or at how Glamdring flies around and seems to repel the Great Goblin rather than injure him. Of course, their solution to the climactic battle, too, was to cut away to a wideshot, all while the main character performs an act of desertion and takes a nap! Its the same with their Return of the King, for the most part.

I harp on this because, even in an animated kids film, I think the ones that stick out for kids are the ones that don't pull punches: e.g. The Lion King and some of the better vintage Disney works and, nowadays, Pixar.


In Reply To
we can see how poorly that worked with the 1966 animated short version of The Hobbit (granted, that was actually meant to be proof-of-concept for an animated feature-length film that was never made).


Not quite. It was a cannibalization of a feature-length animated film made in 1967 when time was running out on the lease to the rights. But I doubt you would have enjoyed an unabridged version, because some of the changes present in the short (namely, having a princess join the quest and marry Bilbo) were still present.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Apr 17, 3:02pm

Post #23 of 255 (2028 views)
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Book vs Animated Adaptations [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Tolkien had resented Rayner Unwin's estimation that The Hobbit should appeal to children aged 5-9, saying it was more appropriate for 10-12 year olds. The novel has macabre interludes and obviously, at the end, adventure gives way so sullen politics and greed, and eventually to the death of several main characters.


That may well be so. However, Tolkien also in a letter lamented some of the more twee elements of his book and might have toned them down if he had it to do over.


In Reply To
By contrast, Rankin/Bass were so worried about showing violence in their TV special: you can see it in the awful cuts when Bilbo is hacking at the spiders, or at how Glamdring flies around and seems to repel the Great Goblin rather than injure him. Of course, their solution to the climactic battle, too, was to cut away to a wideshot, all while the main character performs an act of desertion and takes a nap! Its the same with their Return of the King, for the most part.

I harp on this because, even in an animated kids film, I think the ones that stick out for kids are the ones that don't pull punches: e.g. The Lion King and some of the better vintage Disney works and, nowadays, Pixar.


Oh, I wholeheartedly agree!


In Reply To
Not quite. It was a cannibalization of a feature-length animated film made in 1967 when time was running out on the lease to the rights. But I doubt you would have enjoyed an unabridged version, because some of the changes present in the short (namely, having a princess join the quest and marry Bilbo) were still present.


That may be correct, but, to the best of my knowledge, the feature-length version was never completed. And I'm sure that I would have hated it. I never much liked Gene Deitch's Tom & Jerry shorts either.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Apr 17, 3:03pm)


Solicitr
Gondor


Apr 17, 3:15pm

Post #24 of 255 (2026 views)
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To me [In reply to] Can't Post

the ideal length would be "That amount of screentime required to present Tolkien's story, without rushing or dragging, and certainly without padding or extraneous material." Of course, that's incredibly vague; how does one work out the "right" length of time to spend on, say, the spider fight, or Smaug's attack on Lake Town? And what is "rushed" vs "draggy," given different tastes and attention spans? Nonetheless, it seems to me that the runtime would fall somewhere between 3 and 3-1/2 hours: one looong movie, or two normal to shortish ones.

---------------------

"Twee:"

As is well-known, ca 1960 Tolkien began and abandoned a rewritten "Hobbit," one which was somewhat more Lord of the Rings-ish, at least in terms of a day's-march-by-campsite narrative as opposed to the original's jumping from adventure to adventure, conformed the geography to LR's, and which cut back on the authorial asides. However, he stopped largely because a (nameless) friend who read it said, "But it's just not The Hobbit!"

(It seems that in netlore this version is conceived of as being wholly, radically different from the original. It's actually not all that different)


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Apr 17, 3:16pm)


Chen G.
Rohan

Apr 17, 3:32pm

Post #25 of 255 (2017 views)
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The 1960s The Hobbit [In reply to] Can't Post

We don't really know why that was abandoned, whether it was that famous remark, or rather the professor's general tendency to leave his project incomplete.

Like Otaku-sempai said, in a letter to WH Auden Tolkien certainly regretted the mode in which The Hobbit was written. Certainly, the description of the Rivendell Elves was anything and everything that Tolkien tried to dissociate his Elves from being; ditto his Dwarves.

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