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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Would the film have worked without Azog's revenge plot?
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The Shire

Jan 19 2013, 1:09pm

Post #26 of 42 (260 views)
I doubt it [In reply to] Can't Post

No. The first Hobbit film would have been a complete disaster as a stand-alone film without Azog.

Jackson was in a bind. In order to cover everything he wanted to cover, he needed three films. However, that means the first movie needs it's own story arc.

What would that be exactly? They decided to bump up Bilbo's bravery and acceptance into the group earlier than in the book and to give them a bad guy pursuing them the whole time to help tie everything together.

The only failing I see with the Azog storyline is the movie doesn't explain how Azog found them to begin with. I think the movie would have been improved by making it implicit that the Necromancer is out to stop Thorin and Co. and has turned Azog loose on them, knowing Azog's vendetta against Thorin.

While Gandalf hints at all this at the White Council, I would have liked to have seen a flashback of what happened, perhaps narrated with Gandalf's conjecture of that very event.

Al Carondas

Jan 19 2013, 1:14pm

Post #27 of 42 (248 views)
*mods up* [In reply to] Can't Post

(did I do that right? Smile) Well said, moreorless!

I write "it would have worked for me", because I realize that it may not have worked as well for others. All your points are well taken. But for me Bilbo is a strong enough link between adventures, even though I know not too many others will find his personal development as gripping a story to hang onto throughout the quest. I have always gotten more out of Bilbo's story than just that he is a fish out of water. He's not just a simple, sedentary hobbit, representative of hobbits in general; he's really quite an extraordinary individual. Picking a troll's pocket! (for instance) Why Bilbo Baggins, you really are "not quite so prosy as he liked to believe." For me, Bilbo's personal quest of self-discovery is as interesting as that of the company, although I have to acknowledge that a wider audience will be more compelled by the grander tale of war and revenge.

Also, I always felt (while reading the book) that Thorin was a co-lead in the story. The Dragon (and with him the return of the King Under The Mountain) always loomed and kept my interest. I think that adding Azog distracts not only rom Bilbo's story, but from Thorin's rivalry with Smaug as well, and that the pace of AUJ feels slow to many because the main story (the quest) keeps getting interrupted by the added side story.

In the end, I think the filmmakers primarily wanted to bring more of Tolkien's world to the screen. They've done a great job. Fans love it! and I'm glad for that. I certainly enjoyed it myself. I just can't help wondering if the simpler, more boring, yet somewhow nevertheless extremely popular and beloved tale of Bilbo Baggins - as it was originally written - might have fared better than many suspect.

"Good Morning!"


Jan 19 2013, 1:32pm

Post #28 of 42 (255 views)
True, but [In reply to] Can't Post

Ian McKellen won out over Jackson when PJ suggested that Gandalf got drunk in Bag End, so it's possible that Lee might have had the chance to make that sort of input (and would have done no doubt, being such a huge J.R.R. fan as he is). Anyhow, I at least doubt that Jackson would tell him to "get on with it": whatever his faults as a film-maker he seems to be a genuinely nice guy, as everyone who works with him will reiterate.

"These are Gundabad Wargs! They will outrun you!"

"THESE are Rhosgobel Rabbits! I'd like to see them try...."


Jan 19 2013, 1:46pm

Post #29 of 42 (235 views)
my gosh protective of PJ much? lol. [In reply to] Can't Post

It wasn't meant as an insult to anyone saying get on with it. It is simply stating, get on with your job nothing horrible implied in that - perhaps it's because you read it rather than heard someone say it, they are all adults, they can take someone being less than sunshine to them.

On the other note, did Gandalf get drunk or just have a little drink? I cant remember him slurring his words or falling over. Depends on ones definition of drunk of course. But yes i imagine he did go to them just as other people who were present - experts in Tolkien and his writings were present and consulted but then had their ideas if not ignored not done - ultimately it's PJ's film for better or worse and as someone said above it sounds like C.Lee is not too picky - though i thought he might voice some opinion but then he is an old man now and maybe cant be bothered, especially after being edited out of ROTK.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jan 19 2013, 1:48pm

Post #30 of 42 (246 views)
I'm not sure that's fair [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Philippa Boyens, and indeed her co-writers, is a fan of the books just as we are. She's also an Oscar-winning screenwriter so I suspect knows something about how to put a movie together.

I spent the whole of my life calling Fili and Kili fy-lee and ky-lee instead of the fi-lee and ki-lee in the films, but am informed by Draupne (who should know, being Norwegian and having studied a bit of Norse and Icelandic, where the names come from) that the film pronunciation is correct. Does that make me any less of a fan, or any less passionate about Tolkien? Of course not.

For my own part, I think Azog would have been superfluous in a one-movie Hobbit. However in AUJ there's a lack of a single antangonist - they go from one situation to another - Azog is a linking villain, a threat through most of the film, and as such works reasonably well, for me. I don't much mind that it's Azog and not Bolg, I don't think the "revision" of that particular bit of Dwarven-Orcish history really matters. In the film it gives Thorin another motivation, and it avoids the filmmakers having to later explain who Bolg is as well. There are already enough characters to keep track of in TH without adding another!

Storm clouds


Jan 19 2013, 2:03pm

Post #31 of 42 (248 views)
Did they pronounce Dain the correct way in the film? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think they said it like Dane for Dain.

Remember though you never had a tolkien expert sit beside you and tell you how to pronounce the names correctly as they did for the films Tongue

As for Azog (more a general reply) i dont see this film as a standalone film - it doesnt seem like it could do that as well as lotr trilogy but to me it doesnt matter as i will probably only ever watch them in one go from 1-3 once all are released.

I think it would have been harder to make the movie without a central villian but i think could have been done, but as others said, would have felt even less like a standalone film. I really dont know, i dislike the character but can see why they added him.

Someone will do another adaptation of the hobbit and maybe they wont have an Azog type character?


Jan 19 2013, 2:22pm

Post #32 of 42 (234 views)
Perfectly said Eledhwen! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that Azog was put in the story partly in order to personify a villain (though there is obviously more going on with him) and I donít care if it was Azog or Bolg. Unlike the book, the movies are in three parts and each needs something of a story and some closure for our heroes. Even so, a friend who hasn't read the books but very much liked LotR and AUJ movies told me that to her the story of The Hobbit was not quite as interesting as that of LotR because itís basically a series of predicaments and narrow escapes. A least Azog is a consistent thread.

I actually believe that Boyens and Walsh were a restraining influence on Jackson in making LotR. I like and respect PJ and love his LotR movies almost as much as I love the books, but we all know that heís prone to excess, juvenile humour, and images that look cool but make no sense. He also has a huge amount of determination and confidence in his artistic vision, which is why and how the LotR movies got made. In the end, the director rules.

It is obvious from the LotR EE commentaries and interviews that Boyens has a deep love and respect for Tolkien and his works. She also mentioned that during the filming they learned, often too late, that when something they had devised wasnít working, bringing the story back closer to the book was the solution. Most of the changes were made because the filmmakers thought, rightly or wrongly, that it made the story more cinematic. I donít agree with all the changes but they were made for specific reasons. There are one or two instances in which Boyens says they improved on the book but I canít remember the specifics so it canít have bothered me, whether I agreed or not.

Maybe I can sympathize with the filmmakers because, though Iíve read LotR, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales etc. many times and love them deeply, I donít think that they or Tolkienís writing style are above criticism.

(This post was edited by Noria on Jan 19 2013, 2:24pm)

Superuser / Moderator

Jan 19 2013, 5:33pm

Post #33 of 42 (217 views)
Tolkien rolled his rs [In reply to] Can't Post

Nothing pretentious about rolling rs. If you've ever listened to Tolkien read his own works, he definitely rolled his rs, especially with proper names. It was a great touch when Aragorn was letting Frodo go at the end of the FOTR movie that Viggo rolled his rs when he said Mordor.

Have a listen to Tolkien reading the ring verse! Smile

Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.

"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase


Jan 19 2013, 6:31pm

Post #34 of 42 (205 views)
it would have been so much better without Azog. [In reply to] Can't Post

I find the fake peril of the hunt really distracting, and everytime Azog appeared on screen I felt ripped out of the story, and all I could do was check out the cgi. I was so busy staring at the details that I lost interest in what was happening. It was all so boring to watch. There were a lot of changes to LOTR as well, as people have mentioned. But non of those changes took me out of the moment, they didnt seem to destroy the atmosphere, no matter how silly I was still engaged. Azog is SO not part of the Hobbit book I remember that it jars on my nerves, its a step too far, too much, and false like those stoopid wargs..


Jan 19 2013, 6:40pm

Post #35 of 42 (193 views)
eh? [In reply to] Can't Post

"The first Hobbit film would have been a complete disaster as a stand-alone film without Azog". thirdeblue.

A complete disaster? how do you work that out? it was a disaster because of Azog. I think TH did very well without his appearance in the book. He is not there for a reason. Its because he is neither use nor ornament. PJ put him in solely to ramp up tension where it doesnt exist, nor does it need to exist. The story does not need another villain, they already have one Smaug, and they are inventing another, The Necromancer. what the heck do they need Azog for, but for cheap thrills.


Jan 19 2013, 7:07pm

Post #36 of 42 (189 views)
Fake peril? [In reply to] Can't Post

Not sure I'd want to be the quarry for that hunting pack! And what exactly is it that you find stupid about the wargs? There are wargs in the book, and most people seem to have found the Hobbit wargs a better design than the LotR ones.

Thing is, that scene does echo what is in the book. Bilbo, the dwarves and Gandalf do find themselves trapped up trees with wargs and goblins/orcs below. They do have to be rescued by eagles. It's just that for the film adaptation they've substituted the mountain goblins for this other hunting pack and put a character whose name we already know from the book at their head. And introduced the hunting pack to the story earlier. It isn't the story we know, but it was pretty much a given that they would make changes to the story - film adaptations almost always do. It worked, I think, in the context of the film - I can't believe that anyone who didn't know the book would have seen anything odd about it. It's harder when you do know the book well and are expecting a familiar sequence of events but the film is what it is - and we don't know yet how the Azog thread of their version story is going to play out.

Tol Eressea

Jan 19 2013, 8:29pm

Post #37 of 42 (181 views)
Fake peril? good thought... [In reply to] Can't Post

I would say that if anyone thinks that Azog and his hunters are needed to ramp up the tension throughout the "leisurely stroll" that I've seen the AUJ storyline described as on these boards, it's because of the approach PJ & co have taken with the Trolls scene and Goblin Town.

The lightening of the tone has turned the Trolls incident into a much lighter, comedic version of the book, where the read does not know that it is Gandalf playing for time with his ventriloquy until the sun comes ups, and the reader really does believe the Company's lives are in danger. PJ played the scene for laughs too muc, IMO.

Same with Goblin Town, and the Goblin King - a caricature who whilst exuding vile menance, was never truly frightening, and the Goblins were like lice (as Dan Hennah described them) far too easily dealt with by the Company once they retrieved their arms.

That is why they had to be replaced as a credible threat chasing the Company once they exited the tunnels.

If PJ had made us feel truly terrified for Thorin & Company, events could have played out far more like the book.

Having said all that, it seems far more likely that Azog's showdown with Thorin was the excuse the scriptwriters wanted to give Bilbo an earlier growth in his character arc - leaving it till Mirkwood and the spiders would have left AUJ with Bilbo yet to prove himself in the eyes of the Dwarves.

I still think following the book, and perhaps putting Bilbo's rejoining speech about helping the Dwarves regain their home was a strong enough character-growing moment for the first film. Plus if they re-insert the conversation seen at Comic-Con between Bilbo and Gandalf about Bilbo finding his courage in the Tunnels, that would have been even better...

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


Jan 19 2013, 8:49pm

Post #38 of 42 (186 views)
Yeah, it would have [In reply to] Can't Post

It would have gotten criticism for different reasons.

This would also mean there's less for three films. That means you'd get more Necromancer subplot, which is also added on and extrapolated as well. It's only a very little different to do that than add some action.


Jan 19 2013, 10:24pm

Post #39 of 42 (167 views)
yes I realize there were wargs in the book, [In reply to] Can't Post

and I wanted to see them in the scenes under the trees. I remember it as a very tight spot to be in for Bilbo and the Darves. I remember it as being scary, I just wasnt scared by the cgi. It makes me nostalgic for the wargs in TT, which is my least favourite bit of the whole trilogy, but at least they looked quasi-threatening. Dont know why but these wargs in TH had no sense of solid heavy muscle and teeth. They walked the walk but didnt talk the talk. Kept looking at the fur to see how it moved, wasnt really worried for the Dwarves, specially after the 'comedy' tree toppling and precipice dangling.


Jan 20 2013, 12:34am

Post #40 of 42 (151 views)
I see this... [In reply to] Can't Post

as a series of ever-increasing moments of tension. The escape from Azog seemed a bit anti-climactic, but we already know that there' much more and deadlier peril to come. Once you see the arcs of tension in all three films, this one will fit better.


Jan 20 2013, 10:02pm

Post #41 of 42 (146 views)
Writers Probably Thought Azog Necessary [In reply to] Can't Post

Remember from the commentary on the EE of LOTR that the writers felt compelled to add villains because Sauron wasn't more than a giant eye. I suspect something similar was going on here. Plus they were trying to add a darker tone to the book and the Azog piece does that. Could they have done something else to get the same effect. Sure. But as I have maintained in conversation with those who have been less then generous in their assessments of AUJ -- it's a nine hour film. Wait until you see the whole thing before pronouncing a final judgement.

The Red Avenger

Jan 28 2013, 6:34pm

Post #42 of 42 (165 views)
Azog is fine in the story. [In reply to] Can't Post

Azog is there because the film needs a protagonist. I don't see a problem with it - it brings Thorin's arc regarding Bilbo to conclusion as Thorin does not trust Bilbo or think he will survive. He is very dismissive of him. He has a history with Azog - infact Tolkien himself wrote how he was the great enemy of Durin's folk..Having him survive gives Thorin a real nemesis - we aren't getting to Smaug yet, so we need something to build up the tension. Even the Great Goblin uses the fact that Azog is alive to torment Thorin and that he sends his scribe to get a message to Azog he has him captive. The hunt on the dwarves is there to bring urgency to the journey. The final confrontation is there to show that Thorin is not strong enough yet to del with zog, the fact that Bilbo saves Thorin from death despite his size, he has a great heart. Something Thorin is forced to reconcile with att he end.

Without Azog - you have a fairly standard journey with a few mishaps. No real tension to speak of and as a standalone film (yes I know it isn't really) gives the film a proper conclusion. There are more plot strands left dangling though - the Necromancer, the Arkenstone (featured heavily in the prologue) and of course Smaug himself. They've also set up the mistrust of the dwarves and elves so when that lot meet, it will already have been explained.

My brother who had not read any of the books enjoyed it and when I told him Azog isn't in the book as he is dead, what did you make of him? He said "Well you need a villain, for Thorin to complete his emotional journey." so in that case it works for the non-book fan.

Like I said, I don't have a problem with it. It could be interesting if he is called back to the Battle of Dol Guldur and perishes, therefore leaving Bolg to take over his legacy in the Battle of Five Armies.

As for stretching the story, The Hobbit itself is tonally different from LOTR but gets closer near the end. Tolkien is less descriptive of events in The Hobbit - and hardly goes into detail where the dwarves are concerned. At least now you can name all 13 dwarves without thinking hard as they are all individually recognisable in the film.

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