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The Hobbit and the Restoration of Modern Civilization

January 16, 2013

(Okay, that title’s a little heavy-handed and certainly overstated, but hang with me and see what you think)


I was planning on going to see The Hobbit again tonight after work but timing of showings and levels of fatigue conflicted with one another.


So I’ll just talk about it.


It’s a fantastic movie!! I can scarcely wait for the sequels and I’m so glad it’s three movies, because I had such a good time with the first one, I want this sucker to be drawn out. I only, only, only hope that Jackson doesn’t do with this story what he did with The Lord of the Rings.


Don’t get me wrong – I love me some LOTR – extended editions no less (I own the SD and HD versions). But I felt like after Fellowship it just…meh.


Fellowship is the strongest of the films because it’s the most faithful to the spirit of its source. And that’s what you have to go with when you adapt a story from book to screen – go for the spirit of it all. Some stuff doesn’t translate well at all from page to film (or nowadays, data). But if you can capture the essence of the narrative and communicate it through visuals then you’ve succeeded.


And of course we’re talking about a wholly subjective experience here so everyone’s going to have a different take on it. I’ve already gotten some flack for voicing my appreciation of The Hobbit over LOTR on Facebook. Oh well. That’s the Realm of Opinion for ya.


Anyway, The Two Towers starts to fall apart when Jackson and co. started mucking about with the story. The elves do not fight at Helm’s Deep. There is no battle with the warg riders. Yet, and it’s explicitly stated on the appendix disc for the film, they added the warg battle simply because they could. The thought goes something along the lines of: We were filming this scene and we came across this patch of grass and thought, ‘Hey, why don’t we add in fight with the Warg riders?’ Doing something with a story simply because you can…yeah, I find that disrespectful to the source and to the fans.


And adding the elves to Helm’s Deep…and they were going to have Arwen fight in that battle, too! What the haystubble, Peter?!


I’d say The Two Towers is the weakest of the film trilogy with Return of the King not that far above it.

But I’m not here to rag on the LOTR trilogy – for all the criticisms I may have of it, I enjoy the heck out of it. In spite of everything, it is fun.


…but not as fun as The Hobbit promises to be if An Unexpected Journey is any indication.


You know, I actually enjoy the book version of The Hobbit more than LOTR, too. It’s just more fun and thus easier to read.


Anyway – the film. They’ve nailed the character of Bilbo. Cheers, Martin Freeman!


And this time they didn’t leave out the songs that are so integral to the narrative! The dwarves singing about Bilbo’s annoyances is brilliant and the melody they’ve come up with for the song of the Misty Mountains and seeking the Arkenstone…haunting, inspiring, adventurous!!


That’s what I’m talking about, playa! ADVENTURE – that’s something that’s lacking from most modern adventure movies. Shucks, are there any modern adventure movies? Let’s think…


There are some pretty great action flicks out there, some good sci-fi (oh, Looper, you’ve really thrown me for a loop)… Actually, Wreck-It Ralph is a pretty good adventure film. Reaching back, The Incredibles fits that bill rather well, too.


But what about live-action? Has there been anything since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to fill that billet? Kingdom of the Crystal Turd, er, Skull has its moments, but it lacks spirit.


Ah, yes! The Avengers! There’s a bright spot on the adventure genre. And some of the films leading up to it – Captain America being my personal favorite. The Iron Man films feel more like action flicks to me, and Thor…well, maybe an adventure film, but not a very good one. It’s alright and it gives him some backstory for his appearance in The Avengers, but otherwise…meh.


Okay – I could keep going on and on with this, but the point I’m trying to make is, it feels as though it’s been awhile since there’s been a proper run of adventure flicks. Maybe that’s why Doctor Who is so popular – every week the Doctor takes the audience on a grand, sweeping adventure through time and space, but most effectively are those that go through the heart.


THAT’S the essence of a grand, fun, effective adventure story – the heart of it. What journey are we going on with the characters? Where are we following them? How will they change and how will we when it’s all said and done? How will we view the world differently when the credits roll and it’s time to go home?


And so we see our dear Mr. Baggins thrust from the comfort of his hobbit-hole out into the big, scary world.


Haven’t we as a society gotten quite comfortable in our organized, little lives? Everything we could possibly need is a click or walk across the living room away. Even when we’re outside of our homes we take our personal world with us in our iPhones and Droids and all of our friends fit in our pockets courtesy of the Facebook app.


Things starting to get uncomfortable and you need a distraction? Just start playing a game on your mobile device, or bring up an eBook. Don’t worry about needing to carry anything else with you – it all fits effortlessly in the palm of your hand.


And there it is – “effortlessly.” No effort required. “Appreciation not included.” You don’t appreciate anything you don’t strive for, sweat for, bleed for.


We’re granted so much by technology and so we take so much for granted.


Shucks, I take my iPhone with me wherever I go. I check my email more regularly than I’d care to admit.


So I gladly join up with Bilbo and the dwarves in their grand adventure. There’s absolutely no trace of the modern world in that story. It’s the representation, albeit a fantastical one, of a bygone era.


Should we just shun technology then and become Luddites as a culture? Nooo…that’s the other extreme. Extremes are only good in short doses.


Balance, brother; moderation, sister. Let’s just switch off the tech every now and then, pick up an actual book and go off to Neverland that way. Turn off the stereo in your car every now and then, roll down the windows and listen to the music of the wind, of traffic, etc.


Go outside, hike into the woods, take a stroll through the park and leave the mp3s alone. Listen with your ears, not your earbuds.


Go on an adventure!



…and the film score…!  Don’t even get me started on how much I love the film score….

SONG PLAYING WHEN THE MUSE STRUCK: Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus – Gloria – Appalachian Christmas Quartet


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