Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

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.

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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.