The Hobbit – Unexpected Journey

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  • December 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm #27294

    Just saw it, and had a very good time.

    I think the tone was well done, it’s appropriately more “fun and wonder” fantasy than LoTR, while hinting at the larger, more epic, story.

    There’s a good mix of canonical plot, collective lore, and really well done fanfiction. Honestly my favorite parts were all aspects that are “imaginative expansions” to the original story (Such as the meeting of the white council, or Radagast, Azog, and the Necromancer moving from whispers in the wings to characters that interact with the main story).

    Since Tolkien’s Hobbit is far more of a sketch outline than LoTR, (and he did his own retcon of the Riddles in the Dark chapter) it didn’t feel like as much of a disruption when liberties were taken to add in and tweak. The only thing I’m tempted to nitpick is the “buttons moment”, simply because I didn’t feel that there was any real purpose served by the change.

    I’d be interested to hear some other people’s impressions.

    December 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm #27328

    I assume by “buttons moment” you are referring to the moment when Bilbo escapes from Gollum only by pushing through the crack, popping all the buttons off his vest.

    I’m not too bothered by those kinds of liberties in retelling books, probably because it’s happened so often that I’ve become too cynical to consider anything else.

    I also agree with the overall tone of the movie, and I’m glad to see some of the appendix material find a home.

    I thought that the movie was a little dragging in places, but I also felt that way about the original material, especially in the six books of the main story.

    December 18, 2012 at 11:36 am #27423

    The buttons moment is poetically interesting — the way Bilbo discards the golden buttons without caring about them is a contrast to Gollum’s overpowering desire for the ring, plus it echoes the motif of the ring falling on the ground that is used throughout the LOTR series, plus it’s a moment of character development for Bilbo — remember how he wanted to turn back at first because he was missing his handkerchief; this is the closed parentheses to that open parentheses — we see how the adventure has changed his attitude to his comforting and gentlemanly possessions and self-image.

    December 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm #27433

    Agreed on all points.
    It’s interesting that you bring up the aspect of it presenting a contrast between Bilbo and Gollum, I’d say that the way that scene runs in the movie is probably intended to heighten that contrast.

    But it’s missing out on some of the “poetically interesting” features. I actually had to grab my copy of the book and skim those pages to figure out what I felt was missing in the movie version.

    In the book the entire Riddles in the Dark chapter is heavy with how isolated Bilbo is. He has become suddenly seperated from his party, and has no idea whether or not he’ll find them again even if he escapes. Steadily he just faces it one thing at a time.

    Internally chanting “I must get to the door, I must get to the door.” he has to face the challenge of trusting the ring as he walks directly past the eyes of the guards.
    Only to get stuck on the very gate between sunlight and freedom and darkness and imprisonment. He is wearing the ring and his shadow nearly betrays him. As he breaks free those little buttons fall behind, becoming visible as they hit the ground.

    In the movie (and in Tolkien’s 1937 version) it’s simply an “expression of resolve” moment.

    But it’s clear from Tolkien’s later edits that he retrospectively viewed it as a very symbolic moment. (I looked up a line by line comparison to test this statement. The doorway and buttons moment is identical in both, but everything else that clarifies the meaning of the moment is new or modified in his later revision.)

    Here’s the description of his moment of pity: “Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo’s heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering. All these thoughts passed in a flash of a second. He trembled. And then quite suddenly in another flash, as if lifted by a new strength and resolve, he leaped.”

    With a few new lines Tolkien had created a scenerio where the greatest danger is not that Biblo might have been caught and killed. But that the ring and his fear might have driven him to murder or caused him to turn back and become a slinking thing in the dark.

    It’s never a plausible fear for the reader, but still a symbolic moment when the true nature of the ring is understood.
    There’s another missing bit that hints at the Character of the ring:
    “They saw him sooner than he saw them. Yes, they saw him. Whether it was an accident, or a last trick of the ring before it took a new master, it was not on his finger. With yells of delight the goblins rushed upon him.
    A pang of fear and loss, like an echo of Gollum’s misery, smote Bilbo, and forgetting even to draw his sword he stuck his hands into his pockets. And there was the ring still, in his left pocket, and it slipped on his finger. The goblins stopped short. They could not see a sign of him. He had vanished.”

    Having the whole LoTR trilogy to describe the nature of the ring for us it may not be very necessary make much of Biblo’s first relationship to it. But I still feel that alot of who he is fails to be told when all of that gets turned into an act of urgency to catch up to his friend who are only 100 feet away.

    How’s THAT for nerdy nitpicking?

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