Here is my first rant for my blog. It all just flooded out of me earlier after reading through a stream of angry complaints about Peter Jackson’s latest series, the Hobbit film adaptations. I’m wanting to present in this rant a non-biased, non-angry rant that weighs the reasons behind Jackson’s decisions, changes, and additions to the script. Please conserve whatever criticisms you may have unless you wish to add something both constructive and sensible. Thank you.
I’ll never understand why people insist on bitching about Peter Jackson’s recent Hobbit adaptations. Since ‘An Unexpected Journey’ came out, and now with the upcoming release of ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, all I ever seem to see in comment sections is supposed fans ragging on these films.
For a start, that’s exactly it, these movies are adaptations, they’re not carbon copy replicas of the book. No one adaptation will ever be exactly as people pictured it in their heads while reading it as everyone’s interpretation is different. Case in point, the Harry Potter series. People view the books and the films very separately.
Secondly, people always whine that we’re not getting a Silmarillion or any of Tolkien’s other writings, but the second Peter Jackson decides to add a bit more weight and depth to the book to further connect The Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings (something which, mind you, Tolkien regretted not doing in his time anyway), people start moaning about that. I honestly believe sometimes people just want to jump on the hate bandwagon without knowing anything about the actual story itself, or the motivations behind the additions and/or changes. So Legolas and an added female elf character feature in the Hobbit, even though they weren’t in the book. So what? If Tolkien had created Legolas during the time he wrote the Hobbit in 1937, he would have included Legolas anyway. Elves are immortal and live extremely long lives, and that’s not to mention the fact Legolas is the very son of Thranduil, the Elvenking, also. Having his character present in the timeline adds another dimension the films only gleaned about the animosity between dwarves and elves, and how these later come to develop into strong alliances by the time of the Lord of the Rings.
What Peter Jackson did is expand upon a storyline that wasn’t necessarily complete. When you read the Hobbit, very little about what happens to Gandalf when he ventures away for a time from the Company is told, and at the time of the Hobbit’s publication was instead only hinted at. Tolkien later wrote what happened here in the appendices at the end of the Return of the King. The scenes where Gandalf meets with the White Council, and his journey to Dol Guldur all featured in these appendices, and the movie brought to life these scenes spectacularly.
The other aspect is there a scale between people who complain about the light-heartedness of the Hobbit adaptation in comparison to Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the ones who state there isn’t enough of it. Let’s look at this from a few angles. First, Tolkien later said in his life, he wished he’d written the Hobbit more seriously. On that same token, this is what Peter brought to it. A balanced mix of light-heartedness in keeping with the book, and a measure of serious drama that suits the darkness that befalls the heroes once the Lord of the Rings begins. The Hobbit spoke of the coming of the Necromancer (who is Sauron in a weaker state). It’s ridiculous to argue that everything was all jolly and merry, and that no blackness swept over the lands during Bilbo’s journey. It’s very clear from the Middle-Earth legendarium that it did. The last point is characters like the Spiders. I’ve heard people complain that they weren’t the bickering old men from the book. Look at it from the perspective of later written characters like Ungoliant (Silmarillion) and Shelob (Lord of the Rings). These creatures represent the ‘Unlight’, the source of darkness and horror that Melkor brought to the world when he fell. While it’s good to represent the Spiders as they are in the book, there needs to be a level of realism and accuracy that’s shown through the films as to what these creatures ultimately represent (not to mention the fact it seems people conveniently forget the fact that while they bicker amongst themselves at first, when they come to find Bilbo in their midst, they’re just as horrible and aggressive as you’d expect from arachnids). Like the Orcs, the Spiders are essentially avatars of darkness and shadow, where Morgoth and Sauron were their masters.
It seems sometimes people can’t view the ‘bigger picture’ in things. What Peter Jackson has done with his adaptations is connect the two storylines, and have them intertwine as Tolkien wished, but was unable to do in his own lifetime. People state the the three parts are ‘money grabs’, but in reality, splitting them as such is the only way to fit in the entire story, and tell it as it’s meant to be told. Jackson deserves to be condoned for what he’s achieved here, not condemned.