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23977Tom Shippey reviews Hobbit movie, books, in TLS

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  • davise@cs.nyu.edu
    Dec 24, 2012
      Review by Tom Shippey of Hobbit movie in this weeks Times Literary Supplement, mostly negative. Also mentions favorably some new books.

      Some points from movie review. He makes the same point that David did (actually I think David's formulation was sharper): "The most serious issue, though, is Jackson's insistence that characters in his movies must have some form of 'a journey'. In the Rings movies this several times amounted to rewriting the story so as to impose a change of heart on, for instance, Elrond, Theoden, and Faramir, with consequently increased roles for those who persuaded them to change, notably Galadriel and Samwise".

      "What Jackson has done ... will not, alas, please most Tolkien fans, who will conclude that this first Hobbit film vindicates the charges of vulgarization brought less forcefully against the Rings movies."

      "a general rule is that any opportunity for an extended fight scene must always be taken."

      "If only he'd been prepared to fight down the urge for the showily obvious."

      Probably more usefully for the group here, he ends the article with a favorable mention of some recent academic tie-ins (his word). I think I can reasonably quote the whole thing, as it is one sentence per book.

      Mark Atheron's "There and Back Again" concentrates on Tolkien's sources, Victorian as well as medieval, linguistic, and personal. Corey Olsen's "Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'" takes prospective students through the book carefully and meticulously; this
      is the one pedagogues will use. Lynette Porter's "The Hobbits: [The Many Lives of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin]" details the history of the many adaptations and appropriations of Tolkien's creatures, showing how they have become part of the world's popular culture. Gergory Bassham and Eric Bronson's anthology of essays, "'The Hobbit and Philosophy: [For when you've lost your dwarves, your wizard, and your way]" may have an overblown title but the authors do a good job of focusing on themes like possessiveness, providence and free will, courage and decision making. (Someone, somewhere, must be writing "Tolkien for Business Studies.") Matthew Dickerson's "A Hobbit Journey: [Discovering the enchantment of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth]" digs especially depp into issues of ethics, wisdom, stewardship, social justice: important issues for Tolkien, quite certainly, and just as compelling, even for teenagers, as chase sequences and special effects.
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