The magic of cinema is creating what isn’t there. I’ve had a number of conversations recently about the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies and thought I would move them to a more permanent location.
First off I read the Lord of the Rings first in 1972. I had read all the science fiction books in the Bangkok Patana School library and the library recommended I try the books by JRR Tolkien. I was skeptical at first being that to that point I had always been a Sci-FI reader and not a fantasy reader. But I took the original English version (that published all three of the Lord of the Rings together as one large book) and started reading it. Within a day I was hooked and finished all three books within two weeks. I look for another book by the same author and got to read the Red Book of Westmarch (There and back again, a Hobbits tale). I loved those books. They to this day remain my favorite books and Tolkien my very all time favorite writer.
Returning to the US I found a great desire to read the books again and in visiting my local library was sadly disappointed to find out they had not made their way across the pond yet. I had to wait two more years before they would be available again in the US. Then they were released as four books, and edited in such a way that they were very different than the books I had read in Bangkok.
I watched every single variation of the books that were turned into movies over the years. I owned the games (what a great map of middle earth they were) and I read all of the follow on books that were slowly released after Tolkien’s death.
People tell me that Peter Jackson’s vision for both the LOTR and Hobbit movies was off. Frankly I would argue first they should look at see all the horrible movies that had been produced. Second Peter Jackson, like myself read a different version of the books than most American’s did. It wasn’t until nearly 1995 that the English published versions started appearing in the US (Penguin books destroyed the Hobbit frankly).
Peter Jackson’s vision is different than mine. But it is fun to see the what and how of Middle Earth as Mr. Jackson saw it. Certainly there are things that I would have less Hollywoodized, but the other side of his vision is he had to produce films that the mass market would go to. LOTR was really close to the books. As close in fairness I think he could go without having a billion dollar budget for special effects.
The Hobbit was something I was used to having serialized so it didn’t both me to have it broken into three parts. I would have liked the Hollywood romance part to not be included but I do understand that there was a likeability needed for the characters. Based on the Smaug actor Benedict Cumberbatch I would have liked to have more of the conversations of Bilbo and Smaug I the movie. To me those are the conversations that made the book. Innocence talking to malevolence. Bilbo’s eyes suddenly opening about Thorin Oakenshield. Certainly the hero’s tale was not complete without the tension created by Smaug. Dragons do have silver tongues and they picked the perfect actor to play the role.
Still I love the world created by Tolkien and I applaud Mr. Jackson for his vision. Would I have made the films the way he did? No. But Hollywood studios don’t often call me and say “here is 200 million dollars for your vision of The Hobbit.” It is a movie that creates conversations and gets people to read the phenomenal books. So that in the end is the best possible answer.
PS if you do watch the movies and read the books, make sure you get the English version not the imported US version of the 1970’s/ The original publication of the books was as a two volume set. Volume 1 was “There and back again, A hobbits Journey” and the LOTR trilogy published as 3 books within Volume 2.