Monday, March 25, 2013

"Based on The Hobbit," but it's not JRR's story.

** Update: I happened upon the beginning of the movie surfing past the PayPerViews, and saw another stupid "error" (it was a stupid choice, actually) during the prologue: Thorin's father Thrain's eye was shown as scarred over before Smaug arrived, yet, he didn't lose that eye until the battle at Moria (you know, the one where Azog was killed and Thorin got the Oakenshield added to his name?) which happened 30 years later (and 140 years before the events in The Hobbit). Jeesh. It's like they were daring people to catch stuff.

So, the Facebook conversation started with my post:

Watching The Hobbit with Trevor, and I am really not enjoying all the "liberties" Peter Jackson et al have taken with the story. If you are going to rewrite a classic story like this, here's an idea: write your own story and film that. Got that, @Peter Jackson?

Commenter 1

Here's an article about how the additional material is not Peter Jackson's ideas but taken from other stories in the Tolkien universe. It does contain some spoilers but it's a pretty interesting read.


I'll read the article as soon as I get a chance, but the Azog subplot is a total fabrication that fundamentally changes the story and introduces dramatic conflict that wasn't present, or in my mind, necessary! That's the kind if stuff that bugs me.

Commenter 2

My opinion is that the added those other elements and sub-stories to make it last through 3 movies - which the original book would not be! Quite disappointed in Peter Jackson as well..


Frankly, as soon as I saw how he was portraying Thorin, my trepidation began. Oldest most respected and regal dwarf became youngish warrior dwarf? Wth?

Commenter 3 (my brother)
Frankly, I dont understand why it is so popular! I mean, that added scene where they are sitting around a table whining for 20 minutes only for the purpose of "setting up" the LOR was not entertaining on any level (except seeing Count Dooku one last time).

So, I read the article, and I think the writer hits the main points, but is more generous than I am. I am a Tolkien fan far more than a Jackson fan, and feel like it's a case of "if you give a mouse a cookie" when we fans quietly accepted his changes t
o LOTR because we were so thrilled to see a major big screen version, so he felt justified to do whatever he wanted to tell his story, based on The Hobbit, but he's not telling Tolkien's story.

Commenter 1

To each his own. When a movie is made from a novel, regardless of the age of the story, there are going to be things that are changed/left out that are going to make the fans annoyed. I've always felt that as long as there is truth behind what is being shown then I'm happy. I'm a Tolkien fan as well as a Peter Jackson fan so I've been pretty happy with it all.

On the note of Azog, his story is definitely expanded and it was the part of the movie I could have done without but he wasn't completely fabricated. This is from the LOTR wiki page - Azog is mentioned briefly in the novel The Hobbit by Gandalf, who says to Thorin, 'Your grandfather Thrór was killed, you remember, in the mines of Moria by Azog the Goblin,' to which Thorin responds 'Curse his name, yes'.


I understand your perspective completely, he just crossed the line too much for me. I grabbed The Return of the King last night after watching so I could verify my suspicions about Azog in the appendices, and Dain killed him at that Moria battle when Thror was killed. I've always been aware of the need to cut and edit to make a novel a movie, I never get cutting, then changing, modifying characters, plots, and themes, and then adding new original material. Thats my own hangup, definitely. Like you said, to each his own!
I can't imagine a conversation like "Boo Radley is too passive, we need more conflict in reel two. Maybe he could be the one to set the house on fire, and then when his father cements up the knot in the tree, he could come out that evening and cut the tree down." I would not be okay with that, either!

Sketches of Middle Earth … Tolkien's artwork, from The Art of the Hobbit. Photograph: The Art of the Hobbit

I posted a comment on the Smithsonian article (2 actually):

I disagree with some assertions! 

"Yet those fans who went on to immerse themselves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s wider lore will find inspiration." 

Nope. I am annoyed at the misreadings, additions, and fabrications that Jackson et al included in what should have been a tightly woven, faster moving tale. Cutting actual story details to make room for additional unnecessary backstory, prologues, and brand new material out of their imagination isn't inspiring, it's bad movie-making. Seen his King Kong?

"For the most part, director Peter Jackson does not exercise an extra heaping of artistic license." 

I disagree. There are too many "additions" to list here, starting with nearly every bit of the prologue about Erebor and Smaug. 

" “Elrond could have quite easily have said, ‘Hey, thanks for bringing that back, we wondered what came of that sword over the last 7,000 years,’ but he doesn’t,” Rateliff said."

No, he couldn't, because he didn't say it in The Hobbit. Mr. Rateliff, you now have zero credibility. You can't treat characters like they are actually alive, making decisions: the author didn't have him say it, so he couldn't have said it. 

"With Jackson's obfuscation about where the many threads came from, it would be easy for even the mild Tolkien fanatic to get confused. Recognizing some of these twists may help dubious fans be more supportive of Bilbo’s tri-installment cinematic journey—and also appreciate Jackson’s own celebrated nerdery." 

No and no. I am a Tolkien nerd, and it wasn't even slightly confusing, just annoying. I knew Azog was dead. I knew Thror wasn't killed in battle. (*If I want to nitpick, I also know that) The White Council was around for a long time before the events in The Hobbit (about the time Smeagol and Deagol find the ring, in fact), but the author may know this too, she just chose the wrong word, "formed" instead of "convened." 

She nails the end, however. Peter Jackson is the one making the movies, not me or any other literalist, until the technology catches up, and so he gets to do what he wants.

The parenthetical comment is an addition I had to delete to make the character limit, one of several, but the only one I remember now.

I also posted this as a separate comment, character limit again:

The graphic is wrong, by the way: the two items attributed to the Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion are both available, either in The Hobbit, or the appendices of The Return of the King. The description of the Misty Mountains adventure is also wrong: they are all captured (except Gandalf) and Bilbo is lost, he doesn't escape. Did they even read the book?

I have a lot to say about the movie.

Here's The One Ring's list of changes, with some comments. Their comments are also much more generous than mine. I should point out that Trevor (my 13 yr old) said "hey, Slenderman" when Sauron/Necromancer was shown in Dol Guldur, and his observation is shared by the One Ring's Post!

So, I've been reading around the internet, and holy crap there are a lot of stupid people. That, and I am a bigger nerd than I thought (but not as big as a select few).

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