If you haven’t heard yet, the NEW HOBBIT TRAILER has just been released. Haven’t seen it yet? Go.
Okay, my initial reaction was just plain excitement.
Now please bear with me while I give you some background. It’s been ten years since Fellowship of the Ring was released and it was a huge deal to me back then. Lord of the Rings has always been one of my favorite series of books, I think in large part because it was my first set of “grown-up” books. In fact, I remember being in fifth grade and reading The Hobbit and my mother telling me I wasn’t quite old enough for the trilogy, so (sorry, mom…) I snuck them out of her room and read them anyway. When I got to the end of The Two Towers I quite literally threw the book across the room (it was my oddly shaped green room in Florida) and ran into my parents’ room to get The Return of the King. And when that was finished, I picked up Fellowship and read them all over again. All told, I think I read them about four times in a row (within a couple of weeks over Christmas break that year). I carried them everywhere– to school, to church, on vacation… And for years I didn’t know anyone else who loved the books like I did. I was thrilled in high school to discover they were actually somewhat popular (little did I know just how popular…) and as snippets about the movies began to leak, I got more and more excited.
The thing that frustrated me most about the Lord of the Rings movies at the time they were released were the liberal changes made to the story. I saw Fellowship no less than eight times in theaters (not exaggerating) and was always annoyed by the addition of Arwen, the skipping of Bombadil, and the other changes made to adapt the story for film. My excitement for seeing the world I loved so much on a big screen overwhelmed that annoyance, though (the ticket stubs should prove that), and it helped teach me that the movie does not have to be the same as the book. This is an important lesson to learn. Movies are movies and books are books and they can be similar, but if the spirit of the book is captured, that should be enough to enjoy the movie for what it is. Of course a movie can’t capture the amazing things in my imagination!
So all of that being said, we arrive after much waiting at The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
I love the way all of the dwarves look, first of all. Thorin Oakenshield is especially well cast and costumed. He doesn’t look at all the way I pictured him in my head but, and I must stress this, that is not a bad thing. When I first read the books and how old the dwarves were (they live a very long time), I imagined old men; Thorin in my head was round and had a long white beard and long white hair. This Thorin is much younger than that, and strong, and princely, just as he should be. We must buy that these dwarves are the adventurers. They are the young ones that have set out to reclaim their grandparents’ land. It is good.
Oh. When the dwarves started to sing was when I got the most excited.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo is perfect casting. He not only is a fantastic actor, and can carry Bilbo perfectly, he looks like a younger version of Sir Ian Holm. The casting was wonderful for this pair of Hobbit movies, really. My guess is that they didn’t need a well know lead (i.e. Elijah Wood) because they know now the movies will be successful.
Speaking of Elijah Wood, he and a couple of other actors are reprising their roles in this movie, even though they didn’t appear in the book. The reason this is okay is, as I said before, a movie is a movie and a book is a book, but also because of the way in which they are presented. The setup is somewhat like in Oedipus Rex or Episode One: you know more about what’s happening than the characters themselves because you know what happens next. And the elves that appear in the movie but weren’t in the book? Well, the places they live are in the book and the book can’t help that it was written before the Lord of the Rings trilogy; therefore it makes perfect sense that you’d at least see these other characters. It enriches a world that was not yet fully developed for the novel form when The Hobbit was written.
The thing to keep in mind is that The Hobbit was very much written as a children’s book, while The Lord of the Rings was not. This means that the story isn’t as deep, though there are references to many other, deeper things that J.R.R. Tolkien had in the back of his mind. After all, The Hobbit is set in Middle Earth and he was working on the mythology of Middle Earth the entire time. Glimpses we get in The Hobbit mean more if you know more of the story, and so we as the audience can appreciate more of the seemingly inconsequential things happening in peripheral to Bilbo.
So at the end of all this, what do I think?
It’s going to be an enjoyable and exciting movie. I can’t wait to go back to Middle Earth with technology that’s had ten years to do nothing but get better, and to experience the magic of it all over again.
I’m also looking forward to being the knowledgeable geek again, who can answer questions about “What does that mean?” again, too. ^_^