I am excited about Andrew Townsend‘s next installment on our journey “there and back again.” Andrew has been working hard to get just the right photos to illustrate his article. This may well be the best of the series yet.
If you haven’t been following his featured articles here on Hollywood Jesus’ Hobbit Whole, you’ve missed some great insights. Having lived in Britain all his life, and having visited JRR Tolkien’s favorite haunts, Andrew provides a prospective that those of us in the United States would miss in reading The Hobbit.
While waiting for Andrew to finish up his analysis of chapter 3 (It hopefully should be ready to publish by the end of this week.), I thought it might be appropriate to share a few thoughts about my vision for the movies. This is all speculation on my part, so take what I have to say with a grain (or good sprinkling) of salt.
The Role of Bilbo
I have recently come to believe that the right person for the part of Bilbo is Daniel Radcliffe. After watching him as the title character in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (See my review, Love Casting Out Fear.), I am convinced he could pull it off.
First of all, at 5 foot 5, he is the right height. (See my report “Dr Who” on Hobbit Rumours.) And he bears a striking resemblance to Ian Holm, who played Bilbo in the Lord of the Rings series.
Radcliffe is currently occupied with the filming of The Deathly Hallows films. However, both Hallows films are being shot together, and filming is scheduled to wrap up in February of 2010 in plenty of time for him to join the Hobbit movies, which are slated to begin filming in the spring of 2010.
Much has been discussed by Tolkien fans on message boards around the internet about “the break.” Where will the first movie end and the second one begin? (See my recent article on Examiner.com: Two Hobbit movies: where’s the break?) One possibility is that the first movie would end after Smaug dies. Although Guillermo del Toro has indicated that this probably is the case, I wonder how the franchise will garner interest in the second movie if Smaug dies in the first. It would almost be like ending the second Lord of the Rings movie after the Ring is destroyed.
My preference for “the break” would be just after the Dwarves are captured by the Wood Elves. Whether this would be a good place to break will probably depend on what the film-makers do with the The Battle of the Five Armies.
The Battle of the Five Armies
It is not without significance that Tolkien has Bilbo sleep though most of the Battle of the Five Armies. (He gets knocked out early on.) The Battle is an important turn in the story, but the details are apparently not significant to the story Tolkien was trying to convey. I have a feeling that Peter Jackson and crew are going to turn this on its head. It may just be that the bulk of the second movie will revolve around the Battle of the Five Armies and the more “magical” battle with the Necromancer at Dol Guldur.
Gandalf’s dealings with the Necromancer are mentioned in passing in The Hobbit, but are expanded upon in Tolkien’s other works on Middle-earth. Director Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson have both indicated that the happenings at Dol Guldur will be included in the films. While this may be desirable for many in the fan base, it will also inevitably change the tone of the story.
It seems to me that Tolkien wrote The Hobbit from the vantage point of the average Joe being drawn into something much bigger than himself. The emphasis is on the decisions of that one small person in the face of danger, not on what was happening in Middle-earth at large. That is one reason why Tolkien is so successful. People are able to relate to a Hobbit muddling through the best he can. We have more trouble relating to ancient super-human creatures battling for the universe. Which is one reason why The Silmarillion was never as successful as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Could it be that the first Hobbit movie will retain the whimsical tone of the book, but the second will be much darker like the movie trilogy? We shall see.
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