Thursday, August 2, 2012

Three Hobbit Films for the LOTR Fans = Trouble

Fans of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings should be thrilled that The Hobbit, originally planned as two feature films, is now slated for three. More Tolkien on screen is a good thing, right?

Surely yes, if what we are getting is indeed more Tolkien. But Jackson’s “bridge” film is not going to be more Tolkien, but more Jackson. And that is not necessarily an encouraging thought.

Due to contractual issues with the Tolkien estate—Jackson is unable to use material from The Silmarillion, The History of Middle-Earth, or Unfinished Tales—this “bridge” film will come from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. Wrote Jackson on his Facebook page:

 “We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance. The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.” 

The appendices are certainly a mine of information, but the stories they tell are scattered, patchy in places, and not written as straightforward narrative. To bridge the events of The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings in a film that neatly connects a series of disparate dots, Jackson must fill in gaps, construct dialogue from scratch, and so on. And that could spell trouble.

To read the rest of this post, visit The Black Gate website.

10 comments:

Seth said...

This is my concern as well. The scenes and dialogue that Peter Jackson and Company contrived to fill in the gaps in the Lord of the Rings trilogy weren't necessarily bad per se, but they were certainly a notch or two below Tolkien's usually high aesthetic and linguistic standards. I was already worried about this happening in two films, and now with three films I'm afraid even the material of the appendices will feel "like butter scraped over too much bread", to steal Bilbo's phrase.

Still, Jackson & Co. have proved themselves to be worthy guardians of Tolkien's vision, so although I'm expecting more jarring moments as details clash with the source material, I'm confident the films will stay true to Tolkien's imaginative spirit. I think in the end I prefer a creative team that's willing to take risks to a coterie of Tolkien fanatics scripting a page-for-page adaptation.

Fred said...

Count me in as being proud to be a member of that "coterie of Tolkien fanatics scripting a page-for-page adaptation."

Brer said...

From Jackson's pronouncements it seems fairly clear that the idea of a "bridge" movie has been cancelled, and that he will instead be "plumping up" whatever material he already has and then cutting it into three portions to serve to the public, choosing different dramatic moments at which to end the films.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I think the term we want is fan fiction...

Dale James Nelson said...

Well, let's see. To go by the three Jackson movies so far, we may look forward to relishing scenes of

-- Dwarves drinking and belching
-- Hobbits sticking their fingers in their ears and pulling out a rich lode of earwax
-- Wizards doing martial arts-style hand-to-hand combat

and stuff like that. In other words, garbage.

Fred said...

And either a warrior princess or one of the dwarves turns out to be female.

Eric D. Lehman said...

Yeah...the Lord of the Rings had plenty to work with. The Hobbit and Appendices...well, frankly, I'm worried. I think just one 4 hour film would have been just fine, actually.

Dave Cesarano said...

Uuuugggghhhh....

Just... just... uuuugggghhhh....

Jackson is a great director... but of shlock horror. Although the LotR trilogy films (especially extended versions) are incredible accomplishments... they could have been much better if Jackson had cleaved closer to the source material. Ralph Bakshi, for example, does the entire Moria bit much better than Jackson, from the Watcher in the Water to the fall of Gandalf. And he did it because he cleaved closely to Tolkien's narrative, pacing, and tone.

Jackson doesn't seem to comprehend Tolkien's sense of pacing, suspense, and tone.

noisms said...

I'm sort of okay with the Jackson LOTR trilogy, because I really liked the first one - but they went way off track after that and became near-parodies. The scene where the elves of Lothlorien suddenly appear at Helm's Deep was a particular kick in the teeth for me: it just screamed to me, "These people don't get it".

I am sincerely worried at the prospect of the new Hobbit films. I really wish Guillermo del Toro had stuck around, because I think we would have seen something genuinely unique and interesting at the very least. I have the feeling that with Jackson at the helm we will get more of the same but *more so* - which means more idiotic patronising crap, more misguided political correctness, and more made up nonsense.

Eric D. Lehman said...

I didn't mind the elves at Helm's Deep. In fact, I didn't mind a few things that went away from the original story. What I minded was crappy filmaking caused by going away from the original story. And with The Hobbit...well, that is a clean, tight plot with all the makings of a fantastic stand-alone film. Drawing it out to three is going to take away from that perfectly structured narrative. There are very few books in which the writer has built the perfect adventure story, with rises to climax with intervening quiet moments. Treasure Island, The Hobbit, King Solomon's Mines...very few. Why mess with something that is ALREADY perfectly made for film?