Riddles in the Dark: A Look at how Hollywood Changed The Hobbit

6 Jan

Changes in Bilbo’s Encounter with Gollum

After seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theaters for the second time and rereading some more of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit I felt like it was time to continue on with my series of Redesigning the Hobbit. I have already discussed the changes in Roast Mutton and Over Hill and Under Hill, so now we will pick up with Bilbo’s encounter with all of ours favorite character, Gollum.

Gollum Riddles in the Dark in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

If you remember from my last post, the way that Bilbo finds himself in the dark with Gollum is quite different in both the book and the movie version of The Hobbit. For starters will will look at the movie. Bilbo and a small goblin both fall off a bridge during a struggle in which they are knocked unconscious. Bilbo awakens in a large mushroom patch down a deep whole next to the goblin that tried to kill him. His blade, Sting, which has yet to be named, is glowing a nice hue of light blue, when Gollum comes by and snatches up the goblin and beats him over the head with a rock. Great scene and I think we all loved it. However, that is not how it happened in the book.

Instead Bilbo wakes up all alone in the dark after falling off of one of the dwarves backs and is completely disoriented for a while. After trying miserably to smoke his pipe, I know its a pity he failed, he wanders around in the dark down a sloped passageway until he ends up running into the underground lake that Gollum lives on. He doesn’t watch Gollum throttle and eat the poor little goblin, but at least both stories do line up. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s original work Gollum had also just finished eating an imp goblin, which is when he lost his “birthday present”, but Bilbo and the audience does not get the show. Instead in the movie Bilbo just manages to stumble upon the ring of power while on his way down the path toward the lake.

The meeting itself goes a little differently as well. In the movie the Hobbit, sees Gollum first. This is not at all the case in the book. In it, Gollum takes poor Bilbo by surprise moving completely quietly across the underground lake by laying down on his boat and paddling with his feet. It is not until Gollum lets out a hiss at the unsuspecting hobbit that Bilbo has any clue that he is being watched. As for the Riddles in the Dark the movie is stays fairly true to the book. There are a couple more riddles included in the the original J.R.R. Tolkien work, but the majority are included and the feel of the encounter is right. Even the wager is true, except the word “whole” is not included in how Gollum would eat Bilbo if he lost the wager. Also Hollywood seems to have slightly exaggerated Gollum’s dental hygiene. He has but six teeth, not nine as indicated in the movie.

At the conclusion of the little game there is another twist. In the movie Gollum reaches into a little pouch to try to slip on his precious, the ring of power, only for him to find that it is missing. The difference in the book is that Gollum had stopped keeping the ring in his possession a long time ago. Instead he kept it in a little crevice on the rock in the middle of his little lake. Its a minor difference, but it better portrayed the burden that the ring would be for its bearer in the Lord of the Rings. This difference also allowed for Gollum to try and deceive Bilbo, by saying that he would take him to the exit, but first had to retrieve a special item.

Even during the chase there were a few places that Hollywood decided to change how things happened. The first difference is that instead of having his jacket buttons ripped off and falling while Gollum was chasing him, instead he tripped and the ring slipped on to his finger. The next minor change occurs near the opening of the back gate, the movie makes you believe that the reason that Gollum stops and will not go further is that he spots Gandalf, Thorin, and the rest of the dwarves. Actually, what really happened is that Gollum was afraid to go any further because he could smell goblins, and without his “birthday present” he felt vulnerable.

After jumping over Gollum, in the movie version Bilbo quickly meets back up with his party and that is how the chapter ends. In the book there was a little more to Bilbo’s escape from the dark. He had one last encounter with a group of goblins standing guard at the back gate. The ring plays one last trick on its new master, and Bilbo is seen by the guards, until he manages to slip it back on. Additionally it also adds one little fact to the ring that is not mentioned in the movie. In full daylight, the wearer of the ring actually cast a slight shadow. This shadow almost gives Bilbo away as he tries to sneak out the half closed gate, and is caught up on the buttons of his jacket. This is when the dramatic cinematic scene is duplicated, and Bilbo squeezes through, leaving the goblins his nice brass buttons as a souvenir present.

My next post will continue on with the final chapter of the Hobbit that is included in the movie version, Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire. Until next time, hope you have enjoyed it. If you have noticed anything that I have missed or gotten incorrect, I would love to hear your comments.

Changes in the Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill

21 Dec


In the 4th chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit when compared to the new movie version of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey there are less differences than any of the previous chapters.  The story pretty much progesses with only a few minor differences.

The first main difference is that on the book the dwarves and Bilbo start out from Rivendell accompanied by Gandalf.  In the movie Gandalf is still in a council with Elrond, Saramun, and Galandriel when Thorin and Company sneak off to the Misty Mountains by themselves.  Additionally in the book the group stilll has there ponies with them when they start out on their journey over hill and under hill.

The second main change occurs when the group stops to take shelter in a cave in the Misty Mountains.  Peter Jackson would have you believe that Bilbo Baggins had decided to leave the company of Thorin in order to return to his comfy little hobbit hole.  While this notion is not out of his character, the real reason that Bilbo has trouble sleeping that night is because he is having a nightmare that the back of the cave was opening while they slept, something that was more true than he had ever imagined.  In the book Bilbo wakes just as the last of the ponies are being taken by the goblins, causing him to let out a shriek and wake Gandalf just in time.

This of course allows the wizard to defend himself with a flash of lighting, dropping the goblins trying to capture him. All of this actually brings the two stories closer together, allowing for Gandalf to eventually come to the rescue of his captured companions.

During the initial capture there is one more point of divergance. In the book all of the dwarves and Bilbo are brought before the great goblin under the mountain. However, in the new cinematic version Bilbo manages to slip away from his captors and is left behind from the very start. He is then attacked by a stray goblin and during the struggle they both fall down into the depths, which sets up Bilbo for his encounter with Gollum and the ring of power. In the book version Bilbo is not separated from the group until after Gandalf kills the great goblin and the party is fleeing from under the mountain.

The next difference is in the meeting between the great goblin and the prisoners. The movie continues to build upon the character of the pale orc. The great goblin knows of Thorin and his people, but he does not seem to have any particular hostility towards them that a goblin wouldn’t already show towards unwelcome visitors. On the other hand he is very interested in selling them to the pale orc. J.R.R. Tolkien’s work tells a different story. The book alludes to the dwarf and goblin war, which seems to have been turned into the dwarf and orc war that the movie is focused around. The hostility that the pale orc holds for Thorin is actually the great goblin’s, but the book leaves the details for a different story.

The last point of difference is hardly worth mentioning, but for completeness lets just say that the escape scene from the chamber of the great goblin is spiced up with cinematic flair that you just can’t have in a book. They kill a lot more goblins than needed in the Tolkien version and Bilbo is already having his own encounter with riddles in the dark. Where as in the book, fat Boomber is forced to carry the hobbit on his back until he is seperated from the group by goblin scouts.

All in all it seems that Peter Jackson stayed truer to the original work than other parts. Next I will be taking a look at the changes in Chapter 5: Riddles in the Dark.

Differences Between The Hobbit Movie and Book

19 Dec

How Hollywood Changed The Hobbit

image from The Hobbit Movie, goblin riding a warg

After writing my last post on Redesigning The Hobbit I decided to follow up with some other major differences that I believe need addressing. As previously mentioned there were many differences in chapter 1, The Unexpected Party, and chapter 2, Roast Mutton. This article is going to focus on chapter 3, A Short Rest, of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Hobbit and the dramatic changes made by Hollywood in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Changes in Chapter 3: A Short Rest

After the encounter with the three trolls, the Movie would have you believe that The Brown Wizard, Radagast, came to warn the Gandalf of an evil that had came of the land from a necromancer. Radagast the Brown, an animal loving wizard, had followed a couple of large spiders to the necromancer’s keep, where he was attacked by and defeated a ghost. After defeating the spirit he found an old Morgul blade, which is presented to Gandalf as proof of a new evil falling upon Mirkwood. In the movie version of the Hobbit, this little gathering is broken up by the sound of wargs, a large magical wolf like creature, under the command of the Pale Orc closing in on the group of adventurers. Radagast the Brown then leads the wargs and their orc riders on a chase with his magical rabbit pulled slay ride, while Thorin and company tries to escape. They manage to barely escape with the wargs snapping at their feet. The group is led down a winding path ending in the Hidden Valley of the Elves, a place that Thorin had wanted to avoid because of the elves’ betrayal when the King Under the Mountain lost his home to the dragon.

In the original book, this entire encounter does not happen. To start, Radagast the Brown is not even mentioned until much later in the book, and his part is much smaller than Peter Jackson would have you believe. Gandalf is not presented with a Morgul blade. There is no great chase scene with wargs and orcs. In all actuality there really is nothing dramatic going on at all during this time in the book. Actually, there is not even a mention of the Pale Orc. Instead Gandalf simply leads the group to the valley of Rivendell and into the Last Homely House before the Wild and the Misty Mountains. There are no objection about traveling to Rivendell from Thorin or any of the other Dwarves.

Morgul blade found by Radagast the Brown and presented to Elrond in the Movie the Hobbit

Upon arriving at Rivendell and the Last Homely House, the movie once again adds to the story to make it more dramatic. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey not only does the group arrive in Rivendell only after being chased into a hole by wargs, but also the meeting itself has more tension built in. Gandalf is meet by Elrond who informs him that there are people that do not believe his quest is wise. This leads to a Lord of the Rings style war council with Gandalf, Elrond, Galandriel, and Suruman the White. Suruman does not support Gandalf’s little quest and tells him that they are going to have to abandon the adventure to take back the Lonely Mountain. When Galandriel uses telepathy to convince Gandalf to present the Morgul Blade he had acquired, there is much debate about its meaning. It is obvious that there is a great deal of foreshadowing going on here about what is going to occur later. Even after being presented with all of the evidence of the looming evil, the sword, the evil happenings in Mirkwood, the necromancer occupying an old elvish keep, Saruman does not find the adventure prudent. At that very moment he would have made Gandalf, the dwarves, and Bilbo abandon their quest, but the group had already left off for the Misty Mountains.

Saruman the White in the Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

As great as all of this sounds for cinematic effect, the truth remains that there was a lot less drama and tension in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. When the company enters Rivendell, they are greeted by elvish singing, which Bilbo Baggins loves, and not by being chased by wargs. The meeting between Gandalf and Elrond is just that. Suruman and Galandriel are not present. Elrond does show some displeasure upon learning about the dwarves quest, but this is just because he does not much like dragons or the way dwarves lust for gold. No one tries to stop the quest what so ever. The only swords that are presented are the ones that Gandalf and Thorin had taken from the trolls, which Elrond names as Orcist, The Goblin Cleaver, and Glamdring, Foehammer, a blade of the king of Gondolin. Elrond does mention the Dwarf and Goblin Wars in the Mines of Moria, which is possibly a source of inspiration for the embellished back-story that the movie provides.

If you enjoyed this post, my next article will continue with the differences between the book and movie version of the Hobbit in Chapter 4, Over Hill and Under Hill.

Redesigning The Hobbit

16 Dec

The Hobbit Movie: Golem

How Hollywood Redefined The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

When I sat down in the theater to watch “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” I was in for a surprise. Peter Jackson did a spectacular job on making J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth come to life in breathtaking 3D. Many of the characters from the Lord of the Rings movies were back to include Gandalf, Frodo Baggins, and even the old version of Bilbo Baggins from the trilogy. Thorin and Company came to life and I’m sure many old fans of the book were glad to hear them singing about what Bilbo Baggins hates.

There were many areas and aspects of the Hobbit that Hollywood got right, but there were also many inconsistencies, surprises, twist, turns, and one major cliffhanger. My purpose is not to give away all of the little details that the director got a little creative with, but I will point out a few.

To start the movie adds about 10 minutes of background knowledge and sets the story up before it heads into where the book starts with Bilbo Baggins sitting outside of his nice little hobbit hole blowing smoke rings when Gandalf comes calling. The conversation follows along well with the book, but it is a bit abbreviated at the end. In the book Bilbo sets a date with the wizard for tea on the following Wednesday, but Hollywood left that little detail out. Instead it appeared that the dwarves just started showing up for supper that night.

The party followed along with the book pretty well with a few minor changes, but the one big difference is that in the book Bilbo actually accepts the contract that very night, giving into his Tookish side. In the movie Bilbo flat out refused to join the party upon reading the contract and did not actually decide to join up with the adventure until the next day when the dwarves had already departed.

The Hobbit Movie: Roast Mutton Trolls

In chapter two, Roast Mutton, there were tons of changes between the book and the movie. Both versions the crew encounters a band of three mountain trolls during their journey and both had Bilbo investigate the group, but that is about where the similarities end. The movie, being slanted toward keeping the action going, had the dwarves come to the rescue of their burgler in a epic battle with the trolls. Thorin and Co. would have probably even won, if it hadn’t been for their hobbit getting captured and almost torn to limbs. The book version instead has Bilbo initially getting caught trying to pick one of the troll’s pockets for loot, unlike the movie in which he was attempting to free the ponies, but ends up escaping and watching the dwarves come up one by one and get stuffed into bags like food.

The next major difference is in how they get out of trouble. In both cases they are turned to stone by the daylight and in both accounts Gandalf is a major player. Where they differ is in the role of Bilbo. In the theatrical version he uses his wits to delay the trolls from cooking the dwarves in order to push them into the daylight, Gandalf merely helps bring in the light. The book version it is all Gandalf. Looks like Peter wanted to show that Bilbo was a little more useful than he was a coward, a theme that is repeated multiple times throughout the movie.

The Biggest Surprise in the Hobbit

Not wanting to give away all of the differences between the two versions, there is only one more issue that really needs addressing. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is only the first half of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. With a run-time of almost three hours you would expect that they could have fit the entire book into one movie, but this is Hollywood and what is the fun in that. The movie version cuts off quite abruptly after the group escapes from their encounter with the dangers of the Misty Mountains and takes a ride on the great eagles, which is about half way through the book. The original book was not even that long.

So where does all of this extra time come from? Lets just say they added quite a bit more to the Hobbit than I have mentioned in this post. The drag out some scenes, like the first chapter, and they simply add more the the story. One area that it appears they have embellished the most is the back-story of Thorin and his relationship with both the orcs and the elves. That, and also the addition of a bird-poop covered brown wizard, who at least makes quite the character.

All that said, the movie is definetly worth seeing for both long time fan’s of the Hobbit and for those newer fans that have never even read the book. There are some dramatic changes, and they may have cut the movie into two parts, but I for one can’t wait for the second half of the Hobbit to come to the big screen.

Redefining Beauty: Women with Ink

12 Dec

inked photography by AG PhotographyPhotograph by AG Photography

Women with Tattoos

Traditional wisdom and most of the popular media today tells us what is beauty. We are bombarded with it every time we turn on the TV or go through the grocery store checkout line and see all of the beauty magazines. The ideal image is the the perfect woman is different to many, and today a new form of beauty is emerging. This is ink. Expressing yourself through tattoos can be both beautiful and creative artwork on your skin. What once was reserved for outcast and punks is now commonplace. One poll actually showed that 59 percent of women have tattoos. A number that has even surpassed men, of which only 40 percent of have.

Now that the majority of women actually have some ink on their body what does that mean for the public perception of women with tattoos, and is there a thing as too much? There really is no hard answer, but one thing is for certain, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there is a growing number of eyes that think ink is beautiful.

There are even a growing number of celebrities that are getting tattoos, such as: Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Yet the list does not stop, but even continues on to even include the former Disney stars such as Miley Cyrus. With all of this attention it mean that ink as a form of expression is growing and becoming more ingrained into the popular culture of the world. While the number of people using ink to express themselves has grown over the years, if you think back only a little while, this was not always the story. Many businesses even still discriminate against hiring people with tattoos, both legally and illegally. Just ask yourself when was the last time you saw a banker or powerful business woman with a visible tattoo, you probably can’t.

Photographing Ink

Just because tattoos may not be ideal for the woman trying to make it in the world of business, it doesn’t shut all doors. One industry in particular is now wide open for those of the fairer sex with ink. This is the fashion industry. Sure there are still a lot of gigs that want the typical model type, but there is also a growing number of publication designed specifically to show of their artwork on their skin. Obviously there some of the bigger ones are Inked Magazine or Inked Girls, but there are also tons of places on the internet for models that are not afraid to show of their ink. Also if you have a lot of tattoos and would like to get into modeling, I’m sure that there are tons of great photographers that are always looking for that edge in their work.

Does a Photographer Need an Agent

28 Nov

Does a photographer need an agent?

That depends.  Photographers come in a wide variety and range of talents.  With the immense growth of photographers since the advent of the DSLR cameras and the rise of social networking sites it really seems like everyone with an expensive camera decides to call themselves a photographer.  My first word of advice is do not listen to what everyone is telling you and take some time to really evaluate your work.  Many new photographers get an exaggerated sense of their own ability and believe that they are immediately ready for the big time. Just because your friends and family think your work is amazing don’t go out seeking an agent right away.

The department of labor reports that the average photographer earns about $29,000 a year, but this is almost surely slightly exaggerated because of the numerous photographers that probably don’t pay taxes.  That said there are a lot of starving photographers, just as there are starving actors.  It is going to take some real talent to get noticed.  Now the average photographer is probably in the business of what the industry calls meat and potato photography.  This is your typical senior portraits, weddings, events, family portraits, and even boudoir photography (which is not always that glamorous).  If this is the type of photography that you are interested in shooting then you probably don’t really need an agent, but you do need a good plan to market yourself.  When it comes to this kind of work it really seems that it is much more who you know in town than what your talent level is.  So go out shoot, and build up a base of clients that will help you with the word of mouth marketing.

So who does need an agent? 

Fashion photographers.  If you are looking to actually make money shooting fashion photography then it is almost a must.  There are a ton of photographers on sites such as Model Mayhem and other sites that work mostly on a TF basis.  This type of work is great to help build up your portfolio, but when it comes down to it, it does not pay.  If you are a fashion photographer, lets face it your probably more artistic than you are business minded.  In order to book a top paying client you are going to need to get an agent, and they are not going to come to you.  If you want representation you are going to have to track down an agent, probably in a major city like Los Angeles, New York, or London.   Once you find one it is likely that they already have about a dozen photographers on the books so the search will be a long one, but if you are persistent and have a great portfolio you should be able to get noticed.

Let me know what your thoughts are?  Have you had any success stories with finding an Agent?

Hair and Make-up – Fashion Photography.

23 Nov

When doing a fashion shoot one thing is true, hair and make-up can make or break the shoot. Having a great fashion photographer and an outstanding model is one thing, but when you really want to kick it up a notch a photo shoot can quickly become a full scale production.  Don’t get me wrong, the photographer and model are essential, but you can get an entire different look and feel when hair and make-up are used to enhance the shoot.  Below are some pictures taken by one of my favorite photographers: AG Photography.

fashion photography by AG Photography

fashion photography by AG Photography

fashion photography by AG Photography

fashion photography by AG Photography

fashion photography by AG Photography

I just wanted to share some of these photos because I think they really show the creative side of fashion photography.  So if you are an aspiring photographer or model, just remember, taking a great picture really takes a team of people coming together to show their creativity through their own mediums.

AG Photography has moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona

20 Nov

Fashion photographer Ashley Gompert has changed locations to Sierra Vista, AZ.  If you have not already seen some of her work you must check out her fashion photography portfolio online at AG Photography.  AG has been recognized as an excellent photographer and has been published in numerous fashion magazines.  When AG is behind the camera you know that what comes out will be a work of art.  In addition to just shooting models and fashion, AG is also comfortable with weddings, senior portriats, and boudoir photography.

Here are a couple works of art from her photography portfolio:


Fashion Photography by AG


Fashion Photography by AG

How to Photoshop Yourself Into an Avatar

8 Feb

This was originally posted by my wife Ashley Gompert.

Everyone who has seen the new movie Avatar has fallen in love with the characters. Written and directed by James Cameron, the modern day Pocahontas story with 8 foot tall, sexy, blue aliens made 504,868,451 in the box office, has the critics favors, such as the Chicago Sun Times famous critic Robert Ebert called it “…an extraordinary film” , and created quite a large base of fan art. The latest rave: Photoshopping yourself into an avatar!

Fans are swarming forums trying to find out for themselves how to do this. Well, this examiner is pretty handy with photoshop, and I am going to teach you how!

Step one!

Choose a good quality photo of yourself. It should show your face clearly without pixelation or blown out portions due to lighting. Always remember, you lose pixels with photo manipulation, so when editing you want to work with as many pixels to start with as you can.

Step two!

Drag the background layer to the “new layer” icon to create a copy layer. Rename that layer “color” or simply “blue”. It’s always a good idea to get in the habit of naming your layers. Select the “brush” tool and change the brush mode from normal to color and drag the occupancy down to about 50%. Then search google for pictures or screenshots of the avatar characters, and save one to your computer so that you can open it in photoshop. Use the eyedropper tool to select the color of the real avatar, and then carefully color in your face and skin. Then use a shade of red to dye the lips, and a shade of yellow to dye the eyes.

Here’s what we got so far!

Ok, step three!

The ears can be tricky. Use the  “Polygonal Lasso Tool” to copy the ears from the screenshot you took and place it onto your image. You may have to pay a bit with the size of positioning.

Step four!

The hardest part is the nose. Open the “liquefy” tool under the “filter” menu and mold the nose using the screen shot as a reference. This can be quite difficult, so make short small changes at a time. Once you’ve got the nose to your liking, select the “brush” tool again, and change the mode to “darken” and pull the occupancy down to about 15-20%. Then carefully brush in the lower part of the nose to make it darker.

Step Five!

Flatten the image, and then create another background copy. Label this one “darken”. Then change the layer mode to “darken” and create a layer mask by clicking the layer mask button. Then, with the brush tool selected, change the color to black, and the foreground color to white. Select the layer mask, and brush back in the background, clothes, eyes, mouth, and hair, leaving only the skin darkened.

Create a new blank layer and name it stripes. Then, with the brush mode to “color” and the occupancy at about 15%, carefully brush in stripes on the skin.

Then create another new layer and name it specks. Change the brush mode to “vivid light” and pull the occupancy up to 25%. Then, sporadicly place specks around the face concentrating on the nose and cheeks.

And there you have it!  You have successfully created your “avatar!”

Author: Ashley Gompert – Anchorage Alaska Photography Examiner, Follow Ashley on twitter , become a fan of her work on Facebook , and friend her on Myspace