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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.

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