The Other View: The Hobbit

A Much Expected Movie…

The Hobbit has been a fundamental feature of my childhood and indeed life. I have 53 copies of the novel and can quote more of it than is deemed socially acceptable. The Hobbit is mine, my own, my precious… Suffice it to say, I love the book and was thrilled for the film.

As with any fan, there is always the trepidation of a book becoming a film – the inevitable mistakes, characters appearing completely differently to your imagined images and the general directorial mishaps that occur. Peter Jackson also stated that it was his desire to create a film that even diehard fans would watch and be surprised at, so someone like me couldn’t sit there and quote it word for word. This sounded terrible at first – one does not simply change The Hobbit – but Jackson had proved himself in Lord of the Rings and I resolved to stow my cynicism away for a while.

When I saw Martin Freeman cast as Bilbo, however, my doubts returned – he seemed more like a fool of a Took than the proud Bilbo Baggins of Bag End. Plus, I was also uncertain about Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, the Dwarfen prince who has lost his home and sworn vengeance against the dreaded firedrake Smaug. Don’t get me wrong, I love both these actors, but I had incredibly vivid images of the characters in my head and these weren’t them. I don’t think Legolas getting me a box, or indeed describing it, would have made these images any better. Imagine expecting to see Gandalf and getting Radagast instead…

Suffice it to say, when you see Armitage donning the iconic oaken shield you forget all these doubts. His deep, rich and haunting voice suits Thorin and his tumultuous past, and the ‘Misty Mountains’ song is simply exquisite. Unlike LOTR, The Hobbit has many songs written as part of the novel and thankfully Jackson did not omit these. While ‘Misty Mountains’ is certainly the strongest, there is also a lot to be said for the jovial and exceptionally fun song ‘Blunt the Knives’, sung by the dwarves during their invasion of Bilbo’s house.

Thorin Oakenshield and company
Thorin Oakenshield and company

Freeman’s depiction of Biblo is also good. By which I mean to say that it is a good depiction, or rather a good depiction whether I want it to be or not, or that I feel good about his depiction, or that this depiction is good for Freeman. His frightened nature helps portray the inner turmoil of a hobbit thrust out of the comfort of his hobbit hole and into an adventure that shall forever change the Bagginses and Middle Earth. I have to admit, I do like Freeman as Bilbo, but Aragorn, don’t tell the elf…

The film has a masterful grasp over the breathtaking panoramic shots that were so powerfully effective in LOTR, incredible visuals of thunder battles and Rivendell, as well as the light hearted mirth of dwarves and hobbits that pierces even the most ominous of scenes. While The Hobbit lacks the wonderful banter of Legolas and Gimli, there are still some quick quips and humorous scenes, the one with Gollum being particularly memorable.

Andy Serkis is back on form, revising his role as Gollum, showing him at an early point than in LOTR. The riddles scene is iconic in the novel and most certainly does not disappoint in the film. Serkis’ artful portrayal of Gollum and Sméagol generates humour, and it’s certainly better than old boneses precious. Another equally iconic scene that is rife with humour is the troll scene. Although it wasn’t entirely as I had envisaged it, I was not unhappy with it overall. The quick wit and thinking of Bilbo and the hotheadedness of the dwarves squeeze more humour out of this scene than a troll can squish jelly out of a hobbit.

The film is generally exceptional, but my largest issue is the flirtatiously few glimpses we see of Smaug. A cheeky tail flick here, a slow open of his luminous eyes there (that still only counts as one!) and a tantalising silhouette of the character who has so famously donned the cover of the novel. I can understand Jackson’s choice to do this, keep the tension and tease the viewer, but this just generally leaves me feeling stonier than a troll in the morning.

This is minor, however, and just the complaint of a fan who wants more – and more there shall be, indeed two more! To quote a hobbit: “I’m not a warrior, I’m not even a burglar.” I’m just a very happy fan and “I think the worst is behind us”…

Lauren Tildsley

Lauren's precious...
Lauren’s precious…

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