Respectful Insolence

Geek orgasms will ensue…

…at Elijah Wood’s elaborating on plans to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to the big screen in not one but two movies. I don’t know if he knows what he’s talking about or not, even if he is buddies with Peter Jackson, but the plans sound at the same time intriguing and worrisome.

I do have to say that I’m rather skeptical of doing two films. If reports are correct, then there will be one film that covers the entire plot of The Hobbit released in 2010, and then there will be a second film that will take place sometime during the 60 years between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and serve as a “narrative bridge” between the two. Since Tolkien himself didn’t provide much in the way of details of what happened to Bilbo, except in the appendices of LotR and vague mentions of other travels, I’m a bit worried that the second film might end up being an uninteresting and superfluous filler story that has little to do with either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.

I guess we’ll see in three years.

Comments

  1. #1 Rjaye
    January 13, 2008

    Well, at least it’s in two films, and one could ignore the second if everything gets covered nicely in the first.

    Having researched and written about Tolkien, I got a bored hair up my nose and checked out some things written by Peter Jackson and his staff regarding how in the hell he came up with the final script for LOTR.

    I can understand your concern, Orac.

    Jackson adds so much ephemeral useless twaddle, and then he edits like a maniac. As much as I hated having Liv Tyler appear just before Sarn Ford, I understood the cinematic need to trim characters, no matter how vital to the books, and to introduce a character who would not be seen otherwise in the movies and yet had influence over other characters. Frodo’s character was infantilized, and his character butchered, and the confrontation with the Nazgul at the river blew Ring wraith chunks. This was one of Frodo’s heroic scenes in the books, and a great line, and the line was given to Arwen in the movie. AGH.

    There were other outright travesties filmed, and not used, thank goodness. I hope Jackson burned them. I am just hoping he’s learned his lesson, and he does have a much smaller book to work with. Obviously the second movie is for money only. I don’t know what story he’d use, and I would be surprised he could come up with one on his own. I am hoping he consults with Christopher Tolkien on this, as I understand there’s a ton of notes not published. Perhaps this is where the story could come from.

    Or Jackson could film “Children of Hurin.” Who knows. Oy.

  2. #2 Lassi Hippeläinen
    January 13, 2008

    Tolkien did write more than what went into the LoTR. Some of the material is published in Unfinished Tales, and probably more in the 12 volume History of Middle-Earth that I haven’t read. All were edited by Christopher Tolkien, who knows them best. He was even prepared to work on the material by his father.

    The problem is that Christopher Tolkien hasn’t been seriously interested in making movies…”My own position is that The Lord Of The Rings is peculiarly unsuitable to transformation into visual dramatic form.”

  3. #3 DLC
    January 13, 2008

    Tolkien Purists will insist that none of the movies made to date are worth the name. Me, I enjoyed the Peter Jackson movies, and I’d watch them again, but knowing well that they aren’t the novels. A good Hobbit movie would still be worth watching, if you ask me. (there was a bad one that wasn’t!)

  4. #4 secularskeptic
    January 13, 2008

    I found LotR to be one of the rare instances where the movies are better than the books. That will be blasphemy to some, but Tolkien’s strength was in the imagining, not in the execution thereof. The books are actually quite tedious and written in staid, matter-of-fact prose more suited to nonfiction. The purists hate this decision or that, but they don’t realize the differential demands of the respective story-telling media. The movies that endeavor to “stick to the book” above all else are notoriously bland.

    I do wonder why Jackson made certain choices, but on the whole I can’t imagine a better treatment of the books. LotR may be the greatest accomplishment in cinematic history, so nitpicking seems unnecessary.

    I trust that he’ll provide 2 more great films.

  5. #5 Pseudonym
    January 13, 2008

    I do have to say that I’m rather skeptical of doing two films.

    My theory is this:

    The Hobbit: There

    The Hobbit: Back Again

  6. #6 Nemo
    January 13, 2008

    I am that seemingly rare fan of the books who thought the Peter Jackson movies were actually quite awful. And I’d been enthusiatic about him going in, in the face of skepticism from others, after I’d seen and loved his “Heavenly Creatures”. But I fell asleep during each of the LOTR movies. He cut all the wrong things, IMHO… And (this is where I really get heretical) I even prefer the Rankin/Bass version, by a long way. The animated “Hobbit” and “Return of the King” were my first introduction to the story, which may bias my view.* But, for instance, the climax of the Rankin/Bass RotK is much stronger than Jackson’s, IMHO.

    The idea of inserting an extra story between the Hobbit and LotR is just kind of offensive to me.

    * Similarly, I also prefer the much-maligned 1979 animated “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” over the 2005 movie.

  7. #7 RyanG
    January 13, 2008

    There’s actually a fair bit of detail about what happened between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. It’s lacking in some places, because the Hobbits and Dwarves simply weren’t doing interesting things, but Gandalf and Aragorn were busy. The timeline isn’t fleshed out to the point of having dialog written, but that isn’t much concern because PJ would just ignore the dialog anyway.

    The worry is that if they do a bridging movie, it will end up like the Star Wars prequels. Look, it’s baby Boromir! Look, Saruman’s acting like a villain but nobody can pick up on it! Legolas is here for some reason, older now than he will be in the future! Elrond is Aragorn’s real father!

    If Elijah Wood has a role, I don’t have much hope for the second one. What did Frodo do before getting the Ring that is worth making a movie about?

  8. #8 Barn Owl
    January 13, 2008

    I would describe myself reluctantly as a Tolkien purist, who disliked the Peter Jackson movies (especially the second and the third). “Reluctantly”, because many self-described purists on Tolkien-themed blogs and messageboards display levels of neurosis, egocentric thinking, and projection exceeded only by the commenters on…errrr…certain other kinds of blogs.

    I guess I wanted the PJ films to be true to the Lord of the Rings books, and they were not, from the very beginning. Some of the worst transgressions, IMO, were the Arwen/Glorfindel switcheroo, the ridiculous teenage heartthrob depiction of Legolas, the Elves at Helm’s Deep, and Sam’s near-abandonment of Frodo at the Cirith Ungol (believe that I’m a Tolkien geek, now do you?).

    Peter Jackson better not touch The Silmarillion.

    *draws sword*

  9. #9 Bartholomew Cubbins
    January 13, 2008

    I hope that he doesn’t try to wrap up every little detail to satisfy those without a little imagination. I still wonder what happened to the entwives.

  10. #10 LC
    January 13, 2008

    Well I’m in the same boat as Secularskeptic on this one – if the movies had been translated exactly as the original text – half the main cast, all the women, and all the bit characters could have been replaced by fence posts for the depth of personality they displayed.

    Though I am curious how PJ is going to handle the massive amounts of Deus-ex-machina solutions in “The Hobbit” (Got troll/Elf/Orc/Dwarf/Burning tree/Dragon problems? Don’t you worry – Deus ex solves everything!).

    It might be okay to put a little in books, but do that in a film/TV and there will be hell to pay as it comes across as a cheap out which makes people ill. Watch a few episodes of Voyager, Hawk the Slayer or Krull to experience the feeling induced by it.

  11. #11 nacky
    January 14, 2008

    The entwives are sleeping at the edges of the Shire farthest from all tumults. They wake up when the Shire is ravaged (also missing in the movie) and come to help fix things up, aiding the effects of Sam’s gift from Galadriel, (the magic Galadriel earth dust, which in the movie was something else), whacking a few roving orcs and generally going Xena on anything evil. They are sneaky about this, however, and that’s why there is no mention of them in the book. While lurking about they find out about the ents and both parties finally get together. “Hroom, Hrooom” is heard throughout the land and despite their advanced age (and with the help of wizard technology) saplings are produced. A hundred or so years later, after the entparents have separated once again due to irreconcilable differences, roving bands of “teen”-ents scourge the land, staying up late, having raves, dyeing their leaves blue, and being oh so rude. Since they have been taught abstinence only, more and more saplings ensue and Middle Earth is overrun, treeherding breaks down, and chaos reigns free.
    Well, maybe.

  12. #12 Ian
    January 14, 2008

    The second movie is about how they colonize Flores….

  13. #13 Rob Knop
    January 14, 2008

    What we REALLY need:

    Muppet Lord of the Rings

    I mean, from the animated Hobbit we had “The Road Goes Ever Ever On,” a song I quite liked. But how much better would it be if it were replaced with “Movin’ Right Along”?

  14. #14 Lassi Hippeläinen
    January 14, 2008

    Barn Owl: “Peter Jackson better not touch The Silmarillion.”

    Where do you think he will get the background information about Elrond and Galadriel?

    nacky: “…saplings are produced…”

    That’s ENTINGS, you inconsiderate burárum!

    “…roving bands of “teen”-ents scourge the land…”

    ENTEENS!

    “…and Middle Earth is overrun, treeherding breaks down, and chaos reigns free.”

    OK, call them Triffids.

  15. #15 Barn Owl
    January 14, 2008

    Lassi H.-

    Where do you think he will get the background information about Elrond and Galadriel?

    He can always just invent something, with director’s license…you know, Arwen is the love-child of Elrond and Galadriel, Glorfindel is Arwen’s incompetent younger brother who lost his riding rights to Asfaloth because he neglected to feed the horse regularly, etc.

    Actually, I think there is some great film material in The Silmarillion, in terms of backbones of epic stories. The characters, however, are rather unidimensional (this is arguably true of much of Tolkien’s work), and of course they must be “fleshed out” and expanded upon for cinematic purposes. I just don’t think Peter Jackson is the one who can or will do it properly.

    I’d rather see an over-the-top, complex, psychoanalytic version of Feanor, for example-a la Werner Herzog or Peter Weir-than a simplified cartoonish version. I’m willing, and even interested, to accept a cinematic interpretation of the characters and some omission of details, as long as the narrative remains intact…which in the case of Tolkien, is in essence a Northern European-based saga or legend.

  16. #16 Doc Bushwell
    January 14, 2008

    I’m hoping Jackson will sign Quentin Tarantino as the director of The Hobbit. It could work. Here’s the cast so far:

    Bilbo – Tim Roth

    Gollum – Steve Buscemi

    Gandalf – David Carradine

    Thorin Oakenshield – Robert DeNiro

    Oin and Gloin – John Travolta & Samuel L. Jackson

    Balin – Ving Rhames

    Fili and Kili – Antonio Banderas and Raymond Cruz

    Bombur – John Goodman

    Dwalin, Bifur, Bofur, Dori, Nori, & Ori remain to be cast.

    Thranduil (the Woodland Elven King) – George Clooney

    Smaug – Harvey Keitel

    Bard the Bowman – Bruce Willis (I mean, can’t you see it? He’d flung aside the bow and arrow, grab an automatic and aim it at Smaug – “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!”)

    And since Tarantino usually makes a cameo, cast him as the Great Goblin.

  17. #17 DuWayne
    January 14, 2008

    Chalk another agreement with secularskeptic. Though both my partner and I, are also rather, err, wondering about two, we are very excited about The Hobbit.

    I have long been of the opinion that it would be nice to see a decent author actually write in middle earth. Tolkien is so dry, I have read many a history textbook that was more interesting. I mean he was brilliant in developing the history of middle earth, but was an abysmal writer with the most banal descriptives.

    Peter Jackson’s movies aren’t the novels I would prefer, but they definitely made TLotR, very, very big fun. And there isn’t an more difference between the movies and Tolkien’s novels, than one would find between histories by different historians of different times.

    Rob Knopp -

    Absolutely. My son’s first introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the muppets version (we’re working our way through the books now). My partner had the notion that it would be really exciting to see the muppets do The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, feeling that it could be nothing but a vast improvement on the recent movie version. She liked your suggestion even more.

  18. #18 Joseph T Major
    January 15, 2008

    Actually, it’s going to be The Hobbit II: Arwen, Warrior Princess!

    “Arda cried out for a hero . . .” and Arwen and her sidekick the bard the bard well we’ll think of a name, she’s fair-haired and annoying, wander around Middle-earth righting wrongs and fighting Kjarr, the evil henchman of the Necromancer . . .

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