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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
A new argument
 

Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Oct 18 2020, 10:13am

Post #1 of 22 (3594 views)
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A new argument Can't Post

Just as the title says. My question for you guys today is, does the production of the Hobbit even matter in the slightest in ''evaluating'' whether it's a good movie or not? PJ's declaration's of ''winging it'' are really relevant? If so, in what sense? I quote from another reviewer:

''So eventually we may get some straight stories, after all the hype has faded, and maybe I will be able to collect some bets then, but really it doesn't affect the end product or my response to it: that stands or falls on its own, and the rationale behind it is irrelevant, just as the stories of on-set and screenwriting chaos behind Casablanca may or may not be legend or truth, but do not make it any less of a masterpiece''. [emphasis mine]

Link: https://web.archive.org/web/20080828014316/http://oddlots.digitalspace.net/arthedain/promises/promises_kept.html

The reviewer, incidentally, is critically assessing The Return of the King, a movie some of us may be familiar with. Wink

So, just as supposed flaws in the production of Casablanca DO NOT, as she says, make it less of a masterpiece, we could make an argument that the production of ''The Hobbit'', even if rushed, troubled or whatever, really doesn't have any value in telling us if the trilogy is any good.

So it's a fallacy for the detractors to pretend that they do (i.e., that they ARE the reason why the movie(s) falied). I do not think I can make myself any clearer than that. What do you think?

Do you agree that it's a fallacy as well? To what point can ''out-of-universe'' reasons be our arguments for why any given production ''failed'', as it were?

Thank you for your time!

EDIT: 300th post. Yayyyyyyy! Wink


(This post was edited by Paulo Gabriel on Oct 18 2020, 10:17am)


2ndBreffest
Fantastic Four


Oct 18 2020, 11:03am

Post #2 of 22 (3519 views)
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well... [In reply to] Can't Post

I held the opinion that these were terrible movies long before I ever heard PJ comment on "winging it". It's only relevant if I wanted to understand perhaps why it may have turned out the way it did. But overall no, the production doesn't matter that much to me...My judgement is based solely on the finished product.


Chen G.
Defender

Oct 18 2020, 7:29pm

Post #3 of 22 (3458 views)
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Hmmm... [In reply to] Can't Post

No, production woes shouldn't play a part in the critical assesment of a movie: a movie is judged on its cinematic merits and as an end-product. Is it well-shot, well-performed and well-plotted - these are the questions one should ask in watching a movie. Looking into the history of a production can teach you WHY a movie is the way it is, good or bad.

The notion that this trilogy was rushed is not untrue, but also widely exaggerated. The documentary from which it is taken plays-up the situation for the audience quite a bit. So lets put that documentary out of our mind and try to have a new look at the "whinging it" comments.

First, in a VFX-heavy project, much of the shooting process is inevitably an exercise in whinging it. When you shoot the company fighting Smaug in the forges, a lot of what you'll be shooting would be reaction shots of actors for...effects that will be placed later. That doesn't mean that the sequences are unplanned: in fact, listening to how Jackson directed the sequence it seems he had a pretty clear image of it in his mind.

Second, a Peter Jackson film - ANY Peter Jackson film - could be said to be in a constant state of "whinging it" simply because he and his co-writers are constantly revising the scripts and storyboards, modifying the blocking, allowing the actors to ad-lib, etcetra.

The real question is whether there was any "whinging" on the level of the main story beats. Obviously, with the main storyline this isn't an issue since its charted quite clearly by the book. Its mostly with original elements and additional subplots that "whinging it" could have taken place and yet, there's no evidence of such things.

It seems pretty clear that, when Jackson introduced Tauriel, he intended for her romance with Kili to end in tragedy. "The relationship that forms between them", Philippa Boyens remarks, "its doomed right from the beginning." The Dol Guldur subplot was obviously always building towards the reveal of Sauron, and its pretty clear that to have Azog be subservient to him was decided on in the beginning, too.

Going back to the documentary from which the "whinging it" comment is taken, its clearly referencing the battle sequences more so than the film (much less the trilogy) in its entirety. It seems that Jackson and his co-writers went through the script chronologically, and so by the time production was gearing-up they had yet to come to grips with the final chapters, namely the battle sequences.

Even this is a simplication. The fighting in the streets of Dale, with Bard, his family and Alfrid seemed to have been more easily figured out. Its mostly the battle out in the Long Valley and up on Ravenhill that were still in a very rough state during production, and so it was decided to postpone dealing with them until the pickups.

In the 2011 scripts, Ravenhill is part of the battle, but it isn't necessarily the location of the final showdown. Instead, it seems a part of the army is there, fighting Orcs. The decision to move Azog's command post and Thorin's infiltration of it to Ravenhill was made in early 2013 for the pickups in which those scenes were shot.

By way of rushed productions, scripting the scenes for the climactic showdown of your third film before you even cut the second film doesn't count as "rushed." In fact, compared to most film trilogies it is incredible story foresight. I mean, look at Star Wars by comparison...


Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Oct 23 2020, 6:50am

Post #4 of 22 (3130 views)
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Thank you for your input. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Oct 23 2020, 6:53am

Post #5 of 22 (3131 views)
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Yeah, I pretty much agree with everything. [In reply to] Can't Post

But this is especially important:


Quote
Going back to the documentary from which the "whinging it" comment is taken, its clearly referencing the battle sequences more so than the film (much less the trilogy) in its entirety. It seems that Jackson and his co-writers went through the script chronologically, and so by the time production was gearing-up they had yet to come to grips with the final chapters, namely the battle sequences.


I second wholeheartedly.


(This post was edited by Paulo Gabriel on Oct 23 2020, 6:55am)


FrogmortonJustice65
Fantastic Four


Nov 3 2020, 12:53am

Post #6 of 22 (2844 views)
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No [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sure there many great movies with somewhat chaotic production: the original LOTR trilogy for instance (although LOTR was less chaotic than the Hobbit trilogy).

And there are undoubtedly many movies with 100% professional, slick, organized production that are awful. See: Disney's masterful but soulless live-action reproductions of their animated classics.

So to me, it's about the content of the movie rather than the process.


Omnigeek
Fantastic Four


Nov 4 2020, 2:33am

Post #7 of 22 (2780 views)
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Agreed, you can evaluate a product wuthout looking at its production [In reply to] Can't Post

The project started looking to me like it was going off the rails as soon as I saw the costuming for the dwarves. That was an element of production but hardly one caused by "winging it". I remained hopeful and indeed was DELIGHTED at the Good Morning scene. However, excuses of "winging it" strike me as a bit of whinging after the fact.


Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Nov 13 2020, 9:29am

Post #8 of 22 (2557 views)
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Fair point. I agree. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I'm sure there many great movies with somewhat chaotic production: the original LOTR trilogy for instance (although LOTR was less chaotic than the Hobbit trilogy).


People often underestimate how chaotic the production of LOTR was.


Intergalactic Lawman
Defender


Nov 21 2020, 1:36pm

Post #9 of 22 (2334 views)
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Ummm... [In reply to] Can't Post

They were terrible films made by a man who indulged in all his worst ideas - The finished product proved that.


Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Nov 25 2020, 6:08am

Post #10 of 22 (2264 views)
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And... [In reply to] Can't Post

what does that opinion have anything to do with the question I posed?


Hasuwandil
Fantastic Four


Nov 27 2020, 5:27pm

Post #11 of 22 (2187 views)
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Won't fly [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not sure I see the point of this argument. You may be of the opinion that Pee-wee's Big Adventure is the greatest movie ever made. Someone else may refuse to watch it because they saw it once when they were little and got frightened during a certain scene. Their refusal to agree with you doesn't by itself invalidate your opinion, but it's probably pointless for you to try to convince them of your rightness.

But anyway, if you need a larger data set, I'm at your service:

I wasn't very aware of the Hobbit movies before they came out. I don't think I was even aware that Guillermo del Toro had been the director at one point. The main thing I was aware of was that it was going to be three movies. So I was almost completely unbiased (or rather, favorably inclined) with the exception that I was skeptical of the idea of stretching The Hobbit out into three feature films. That skepticism has remain unchanged.

I rather enjoyed the first film at first, but I did have a few issues with it. The beginning felt a little too drawn out, and I didn't see why Frodo had to be in it. Watching it again recently, perhaps my impression was overstated, but I still do think it starts a bit slow.

I didn't care for the design of the thirteen Dwarves. Their clothing seemed fairly nondescript, yet some of them had outlandish hairstyles, and one had an axe embedded in his skull for no apparent reason. I didn't care for Radagest, either. He seemed more like a cartoon character than a wizard who might belong in Middle-earth.

I didn't have a problem with Tauriel per se, but when I realized that there was going to be a romantic subplot between her and a Dwarf, I found that highly improbable.

I didn't care for Alfrid, and felt like he was lazily written and pointless.

I thought it made sense for Legolas to show up, but felt he was way overused in a movie series that's supposed to be about a Hobbit and some Dwarves.

Many of those opinions may be described as "book purism", and maybe they are, but I just wasn't as won over by PJ's efforts with the Hobbit films as I was with his LOTR films, though I did have a few quibbles with those as well.

I did watch all three films the theater, but I didn't get them on DVD, and have only watched them again once recently. I may watch them again, but they're not among my favorites. I don't think I read about Jackson saying he was "winging it" until the last year or two, so I don't think that could have had any effect on my opinion.

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


(This post was edited by Hasuwandil on Nov 27 2020, 5:29pm)


Hasuwandil
Fantastic Four


Nov 27 2020, 5:39pm

Post #12 of 22 (2178 views)
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Dwarvz in the hood [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The project started looking to me like it was going off the rails as soon as I saw the costuming for the dwarves.


For some reason I keep imagining a conversation in the art department:

"These thirteen Dwarves are going to be in all three movies. We've got to find some way for the audience to tell them apart."
"I know: what about their hairstyles?"
"Yeah, and their beards!"

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


Omnigeek
Fantastic Four


Nov 27 2020, 7:41pm

Post #13 of 22 (2167 views)
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Excuses, excuses [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
The project started looking to me like it was going off the rails as soon as I saw the costuming for the dwarves.


For some reason I keep imagining a conversation in the art department:

"These thirteen Dwarves are going to be in all three movies. We've got to find some way for the audience to tell them apart."
"I know: what about their hairstyles?"
"Yeah, and their beards!"


Fans of the movie rendition of "The Hobbit" have rationalized or justified the costuming as necessary for audiences to tell the dwarves apart, giving them individuality. I say rationalized because I don't think it holds as an excuse. Tolkien didn't spend a lot of time on the dwarves (the story is told from Bilbo's viewpoint after all) but he did give them different personalities as well as different color hoods.

Taking this excuse seriously implies the audiences could never tell the difference between uniformed people in any prior movie. After all, the Dirty Dozen all wore the same uniforms. All the members of the 506th PIR, Easy Company in Band of Brothers were interchangeable, right? Not a bit of difference between the cavalrymen in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon or Fort Apache I guess.

These guys ALL look identical, right?
https://www.rotoscopers.com/...on-screen-shot-7.jpg


Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Dec 2 2020, 3:17pm

Post #14 of 22 (2057 views)
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What won't fly? [In reply to] Can't Post

Why such an agressive header? I just posted an opinion.


Hasuwandil
Fantastic Four


Dec 4 2020, 5:51pm

Post #15 of 22 (2005 views)
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Your argument [In reply to] Can't Post

I may have been a bit too hasty when originally reading your post. My understanding of your argument was that people had a bias against the Hobbit movies at the time they were released because they had been prejudiced by a knowledge of chaos during production. My point was that it's a flawed argument because probably few viewers were aware of any such thing at the time, and there are much more parsimonious hypotheses to explain the dislike or disappointment: subjective taste and book-purism.

If I understand correctly this time, your argument is that it's pointless to use any chaos in production as a reason for disliking the Hobbit movies, because movies are judged as a final products. Star Wars wasn't necessarily any better or worse because a storm wrecked some of the sets in Tunisia, and the same can be said for The Phantom Menace. I agree that it doesn't make sense to offer that as reason for disliking the Hobbit films, but I think that most people who talk about production issues are not offering it as a reason for disliking the final product, but as a possible explanation for why the final product turned out to be something they disliked. That is, they knew they disliked it before, but they didn't know why it was so disappointing to them when it was done by much the same people who worked on the LOTR films. Then they found out about certain production issues and thought, "That must be the difference!" It's an argument made in hindsight, and I don't think anyone would dispute that.

If you're arguing that the effect of production issues on the final product has been exaggerated, I would probably agree with you. To me, the decision to turn The Hobbit into three films already doomed the project from the (re-)start, at least as far as book-purism is concerned. Which is not to say that it couldn't have been done better, but at least in my opinion, Peter Jackson and crew have a very mixed record departing from Tolkien's "script". That decision, and others made during the concept design stage, were not likely inordinately rushed.

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Dec 4 2020, 7:38pm

Post #16 of 22 (1998 views)
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Two Films vs. Three Films [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
To me, the decision to turn The Hobbit into three films already doomed the project from the (re-)start, at least as far as book-purism is concerned. Which is not to say that it couldn't have been done better, but at least in my opinion, Peter Jackson and crew have a very mixed record departing from Tolkien's "script". That decision, and others made during the concept design stage, were not likely inordinately rushed.


I agree, in as much as the only reason that three films were desirable was because so much extra, original material was added to the story. Guillermo del Toro correctly observed that just the book of The Hobbit alone was dense enough to make up two films once it was fleshed out. Expanding upon that with elements taken from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings solidified that assessment. It was the addition of even more characters, each with their own character arcs, and entirely new plot-points that swelled the project enough to justify turning it into a trilogy.

Sorry, if I've wandered a bit off topic.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” - Alan Moore, V for Vendetta


skyofcoffeebeans
Fantastic Four

Dec 4 2020, 8:12pm

Post #17 of 22 (1996 views)
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Agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

Even just structurally, I've always preferred the idea of 2 films, Film 1 starting on a lighter tone and ending dark with the introduction of Sauron, but also a note of hope with Thorin finally accepting Bilbo after the barrels. Film 2 as a slow-burning dread as they enter Lake-town, approach the mountain, and the madness slowly begins to consume Thorin as the dragon takes center stage, his demise acting as a fulcrum around which the film swings.

I'd even prefer four films to the three film structure that we have now. Bilbo moves too far in his character arc in Film 1, 0 in Film 2, and a little bit in Film 3. It was divided so unevenly as a consequence of the films being splitter into 3 after principal photography was (at least nearly) over.

Really, so much of the quality of these films were outside Pete's hands, and had as much to do with the hand that was dealt to him. I can't imagine taking on that production, given everything that was happening to it.


Kelly of Water's Edge
Defender

Jan 11, 2:40pm

Post #18 of 22 (1734 views)
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I'd give no as the answer to your thesis :-) [In reply to] Can't Post

Sometimes it does matter, but not always.

Apocalypse Now is probably the best known example. Few films have been so plagued by issues. A storm wiped out one of the sets. Martin Sheen had a massive heart attack. The shooting of Marlon Brando's scenes had to be altered to account for weight gain he had not disclosed prior to production. Laurence Fishburne lied about his age to get his role, which in retrospect could have caused serious legal issues. There's even a documentary about the production woes which isn't much less famous than the actual film.
And yet, if you can stomach the famously controversial scene depicting an actual animal sacrifice, it's a hauntingly beautiful nightmare fever that anyone serious about films needs to see once.


Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Jan 13, 11:31am

Post #19 of 22 (1674 views)
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Cool. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have never seen this movie...I guess I should give it a try? REAL animal sacrifice, though? That does sound like another movie...probably much worse, by the way...it was even banned in some countries, I believe...

''MEN BEHIND THE SUN''. lmao


Chen G.
Defender

Jan 13, 12:43pm

Post #20 of 22 (1669 views)
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Apocalypse Now [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I have never seen this movie...I guess I should give it a try? REAL animal sacrifice, though?


Is an outstanding film. Much better than any of Coppola's Godfather films, I think. Its one of the only times when playing a film as a fever dream worked for me. It was like a trance.

The animal sacrifice is real, but it wasn't staged by the film crew: only documented by them while the local natives did it. Its still distasteful to show, I think, but it is what it is.

Being a Coppola film, there are several cuts going around: the best version of the movie probably sits somewhere between the theatrical release and the Final Cut, and both suffice. The Redux cut is overkill.


Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Jan 29, 12:44pm

Post #21 of 22 (1377 views)
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Oh, ok. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, your reading was better the second time around. :)

However, I think that those people who criticize the Hobbit movies use the production as an excuse for citicizing the trilogy, and my point was that it's an argument which doesn't make any sense, since, as you correctly noted, ''movies are judged as final products''. I hope that clarifies. Plus, as has been said even in this thread, the LOTR trilogy ALSO had an arguably 'troubled' production, yet nobody ever brings this up-- when discussing virtues OR flaws of that trilogy.

Cheers.


Paulo Gabriel
Fantastic Four

Jan 29, 12:46pm

Post #22 of 22 (1377 views)
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Will check it out, certainly. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks!


(This post was edited by Paulo Gabriel on Jan 29, 12:47pm)

 
 
 

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