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Re: [eldil] Tolkien's vs. Jackson's Bilbo

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  • Carolyn Janson
    Thanks for a thoughtful and interesting review, Steve. It makes me wish modern producers - and writers - would focus less on conflict; it certainly was not
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 3, 2013
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      Thanks for a thoughtful and interesting review, Steve. It makes me wish
      modern producers - and writers - would focus less on conflict; it
      certainly was not Tolkien's focus.
      This is not an artistic critique, but as a devoted animal activist, I
      was not pleased by the poor record of care for the animals involved in
      the film: 27 were killed or injured in the making of the film. That is
      not a record any film-maker should be proud of.

      I keep returning to my first love - reading. Somehow, I don't feel the
      need to immortalize great books on film. That is entirely subjective, I


      On 02/01/2013 13:41, Steve Hayes wrote:
      > The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
      > A New Year, Another Look
      > The 2D difference, and Tolkien's vs. Jackson's Bilbo
      > Mark Sommer | 01/01/13 |
      > Jackson's Bilbo
      > Last night I took my wife to see the Hobbit movie. She was not able to
      > accompany me to the screening, and has been wanting to see it. I also have
      > been wanting to see the movie in 2D. As much as I wanted to just sit back and
      > enjoy the movie, I had a hard time removing the critic’s hat. Watching it
      > without the 3D distractions was helpful, but it didn’t take away what I found
      > most disturbing about the film. The eruptions of laughter around me at
      > various points in the film reminded me that this is probably a much more
      > enjoyable film than my “expertise” often allows, so I will try to keep that
      > in mind as I share a few more thoughts about the movie. I also feel a bit
      > more free to discuss details of the film, since many have been able to see
      > the movie now. So beware; there are some spoilers below. (You can find my
      > previous comments in my review and preview of the film.)
      > I must say that this time I actually enjoyed much of the first sequence with
      > the destruction of Dale and Smaug’s takeover of The Lonely Mountain. During
      > my first viewing of the film, I was too distracted trying to get used to the
      > 3D, and I missed much of what was going on. Yes, it was that distracting for
      > me. I was able to take in a few more details this time. I’m pretty sure I saw
      > some bearded female dwarves, something Lord of the Rings fans have been
      > looking for since Gimli made his famous comment in The Two Towers film.
      > I have said previously that I appreciate that Peter Jackson is including some
      > of this background information, but I don’t like the emphasis on battles
      > instead of the character development of the main protagonist, Bilbo. As I
      > said in my review:
      > In dividing the story into three parts, the writers had to make choices
      > on how to make each part complete—an entire story within a story. This
      > affects the character arc of the protagonist. Specifically for An Unexpected
      > Journey, by the end of the movie Bilbo reaches a point of being admired by
      > the dwarves that he does not attain by that point in the book. Which is not
      > so bad in itself, if it were not for the way in which he attains it.
      > Tolkien’s Bilbo is no warrior, and he never becomes one. He earns the
      > dwarves’ respect in more subtle ways. Jackson’s Bilbo, on the other hand, has
      > a rather berserker-like moment, gaining him the admiration of Thorin.
      > It is true that in the book Bilbo does play the hero later with the giant
      > spiders. But he has also gained the use of the ring at that point, so it is
      > not quite as heroic an act as Jackson’s Bilbo taking on an orc. The sequence
      > has some other problems, such as the inconsistency of Azog telling one of his
      > orcs to cut off Thorin’s head after specifically telling his cohorts that
      > Thorin was his to kill. Jackson and crew rightly decided Bilbo was not ready
      > to tackle Azog, but the way this plays out just does not make sense.
      > Part of what has made The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings so great, in my
      > opinion, is the “everyman” character of Biblo, Sam, and, to a lesser extent,
      > Frodo. I was reminded of this as I was reading the fifth chapter of Colin
      > Duriez’ new biography of Tolkien, "The Making of a Legend". He comments how
      > Tolkien was pleased with (fellow-Inkling) Charles Williams’ evaluation of
      > what would become The Lord of the Rings. In a letter to his son Christopher,
      > he comments upon the roles of Bilbo, Sam, and Frodo (Letters of J.R.R.
      > Tolkien, p. 105-6):
      > "Cert. Sam is the most closely drawn character, the successor to Bilbo of
      > the first book, the genuine hobbit. Frodo is not so interesting, because he
      > has to be highminded, and has (as it were) a vocation. The book will prob.
      > end up with Sam. Frodo will naturally become too ennobled and rarefied by the
      > achievement of the great Quest, and will pass West with all the great
      > figures; but S. will settle down to the Shire and gardens and inns. C.
      > Williams who is reading it all says the great thing is that its centre is not
      > in strife and war and heroism (though they are understood and depicted) but
      > in freedom, peace, ordinary life and good liking. Yet he agrees that these
      > very things require the existence of a great world outside the Shire – lest
      > they should grow stale by custom and turn into the humdrum…."
      > For Tolkien, war and heroism are on the periphery. They are part of the
      > story, and a catalyst for change in his protagonists, but they are never the
      > main focus. Jackson makes them the main focus, with “freedom, peace, ordinary
      > life” at the periphery. It is probably a subtle difference to many fans, but
      > I believe it is an important one. When the focus is on heroism and war, too
      > often the result is an attitude of “winning at any cost.” As Jesus said,
      > “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”
      > [Mark 8:36 NLT]
      > Jackson’s prologue, besides being a shift in emphasis from the mundane to
      > war, fails because it is not Bilbo’s story. Why does it start with Bilbo
      > saying he hadn’t told his whole story to Frodo, and then proceeding with a
      > history lesson from long ago? There is a jarring disconnect there. The later
      > flashback, continuing the dwarves’ story, works much better coming out of the
      > mouth of Balin, who was actually there. I also still felt rather
      > uncomfortable when we finally get back to where Bilbo actually comes into the
      > story. The famous first few lines of JRR Tolkien’s book, written in a
      > narrative, third-person style, sound strange coming from the Hobbit’s mouth.
      > As much as PJ and company wanted to meet fans’ expectations by including
      > those words, I should think they could have come up with a better way to
      > present them. (Would a hobbit actually call his home a “hole in the ground”?)
      > The Unexpected Party sequence of the film, despite having some brilliant
      > moments, I found to be rather tedious and drawn out. The rest of the movie is
      > rather well paced, but once Thorin arrives on the scene, the mood becomes
      > somber for too long. Even Bilbo’s fainting spell, while getting a few
      > chuckles from the audience, falls a little flat.
      > There are some other problems, like the over-the-top video-game-like fight
      > sequences in the goblin tunnels, and the anti-climatic demise of the Great
      > Goblin. Corey Olsen, “The Tolkien Professor,” sees this unfortunate scene as
      > a result of the screenwriters’ attempt to combine both the darkness of The
      > Lord of the Rings and the whimsy of The Hobbit.* I’ve said elsewhere that
      > Jackson did a great job in The Lord of the Rings providing comic relief while
      > telling a dark story. His attempt at whimsy this time around sometimes comes
      > off as childish rather then whimsical.
      > One whimsical sequence that did work rather well was the Trolls. Some fans
      > have complained a bit about the crude bathroom humor, but I didn’t really
      > find anything offensive at all. They are Trolls! The scene finds the perfect
      > balance between tension and comic relief, and gives Bilbo a chance to show
      > his quick wit, even if it was Gandalf’s wit that saved the day in the book.
      > If you are going to change things, more of this, PJ, and less of the video
      > game fluff and crazy heroics.
      > Well, I’ve been pretty negative. But I hope I’ve been fair. Peter Jackson
      > certainly has the right to change what he will to try to make the story work
      > on film. Much of what he has done works well. But I guess I have the right to
      > say when I think what he has done doesn’t work. And what doesn’t work for me
      > might work for someone else. That’s the subjective nature of art.
      > Maybe next time I write a review of this first Hobbit movie (when the DVD
      > comes out?), I’ll try to focus on what PJ and company did right.
      > Source:
      > http://live.hollywoodjesus.com/?p=11207
      > ------------------------------------
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