Posts Tagged ‘Bilbo’

The Rivendell Resort for the Resting (J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings)

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

I read Tolkien’s “Canon”, that is, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, every year about Christmas. So also this year.

What was Bilbo up to after he left Hobbiton, and until Frodo met him again in Rivendell. While there are few explicit mentions, there are some cues that we may explore.

First, when Bilbo was packing and leaving Bag End after his long expected party, he was again going with dwarves. They are not named, but it seems likely that they are the same who delivered goods from Dale to the party, and have probably stayed in the guest rooms of Bag End since. No dwarves were mentioned at the party, and I guess they would have, had they been present. So Bilbo goes with the dwarves, and as he tells to Frodo later, he goes on his last journey all the way to The Mountain, that is, Erebor, and to Dale. He comes too late to visit his old friend Balin – he had left for Moria. Then Bilbo returned to Rivendell. No more is told about his travels back, though it is easy to speculate. When he left the Mountain, returning homewards the previous time, he was invited to the halls of his friend the Elven King, that is Thranduil of Mirkwood/Greenwood the Great, but gently rejected the offer. It would be natural to pay him a visit on his second return westwards. The elves would give him safe journey through the forest. By legend, he was probably well known to the Beornings too, and I would guess he got a safe and well escorted journey back over the Misty Mountains.

Back in Rivendell, Frodo got acquainted to Aragorn the Ranger. If Bilbo uses one year on his journey to Erebor and back to Rivendell, he is 112, and Aragorn would be at the frisky age of 71. While Aragorn is often away, helping in the watch of the Shire, or on errantry for Gandalf, like going hunting for Gollum, he is probably often back in Rivendell. Bilbo speaks of him as his good friend, the Dùnadan, and when they sneak away in the Hall of Fire, it sounds like it is not the first time they redraw to look over his verses.

So what has Bilbo done over the next 16 years? Like the Asbjørnsen and Moe, or the Grimm brothers, he has literally collected fairy tales. The Red Book of Westmarch that goes from Bilbo and Frodo to Sam at the end of the story, contains several long stories and verse translated from Elvish by Bilbo. Within this frame, this is what we may call the Silmarillion Traditions. And based on this, he may have written quite a few verses of his own. When he recites for Erestor and other elves in the Hall of Fire, it is clear that this is not the first time he does this, though he does not often get asked for a second hearing.

Finally in Rivendell, Bilbo got his own parlor. After Frodo’s reception dinner, and all the singing and reciting of verse in the Hall of Fire, we are told that Frodo and Bilbo retreats to Bilbo’s room, where they can exit to a veranda that looks out over a garden and the river. We know Bilbo was always fond of his garden, and it is nice to know that the elves of Rivendell provided him with one just outside his room.

If I had to grow old in solitude, I’d like a room at the Rivendell Resort for the Resting, please.

J.R.R Tolkien: The Hobbit

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Since it’s that time of the year again, I’m reading Tolkien’s “canon”. And since the Internet is full of posts about the book, I’d rather post a few comments on the new Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug, which I watched just before Christmas. (Yes, the Internet is full of those posts too, I know.)

I was a bit surprised by this film. I quite enjoyed last year’s chapter of the story, but this time I was a bit baffled. I mean, yeah, this is a cool film, and I kind of liked it, but this is … another story. It could be described as “loosely based on a story by J.R.R. Tolkien”. But while watching it, I thought, well, OK, let’s see what happens. I might be surprised. And as beeing one that knows the original story, well, let’s say, in more detail than the average, that’s probably a good thing, isn’t it? And with that, I found the film quite entertaining.

There were a few things to note, though, if I may.

First, the meeting of Gandalf and Thorin in Bree, in retrospect. That part is fetched from the appendixes of The Lord of the Rings. I very much liked that part. And perhaps especially because it picks one of the main weaknesses of the book: What is the mission of the dwarves? They should understand that addressing a dragon, and go burglaring for several hundred tons of treasure is just a mad quest. Making the Arkenstone the primary target, as it gives royal power over the rest of the dwarvish clans, see that’s a quest that might be possible to achieve using a smart and quiet burglar. And it also shows Gandalf’s master plan: To get rid of the dragon before Sauron may use it for his own purposes. Nice!

Beorn and his house. Gone is the rather comical encounter of Gandalf and his story, and the dwarves popping up like jack-in-a-boxes. Gone is the laughing, jolly huge man, and his wonderful animals. In his place, a dreadful beast, and a rather mystical, dreamlike figure. I missed the children’s book’s Beorn.

Gandalf finds that the Necromancer has released the Úlari, the nine Nazgûl from their well bolted up tombs in the mountains. A bit far fetched, I think. According to legend, the ring wraiths never died. The rings made them live forever, under Sauron’s dominion. They did not have to rise from death. But this is what happens when one tries to combine the stories. The Nazgûl did not exist yet in Tolkien’s mind when he wrote about the Necromancer in Dol Guldur. Actually making him Sauron, as Gandalf discovers, did not appear to Tolkien before he had started writing The Lord of the Rings.

Bilbo’s heroism against the spiders in the forest is rather ignored. That’s sad. Instead, the general fight, and the fierceness of the elves, and in particular this totally new character, Tauriel, is emphasized.

Tauriel, I actually quite liked, but why was she there? In the compulsory discussion with a colleague, the obvious suspecion appeared: There is no women at all in the original book. And this far in the films, the only female figure that has appeared has been Galadriel. Nice, but quite remote. So here is a heroine for our female audience. Good for them. This is our fight!. Ah, of course, this is evil speculation on the motives of the film’s creators, I know, I just couldn’t resist.

Then, the elven king. With the looks and temper of Lucius Malfoy. ‘nough said. I didn’t like that at all.

An action movie needs action scenes. Legolas jumping from dwarf to dwarf on the river while constantly beheading orcs. It’s a laugh! And that surfing-on-a-shield detail from The two Towers was revisited twice, or was it three times? Or four?

Making Bard a kind of agent for People’s Liberation Front against the Tyrant, was an interesting move, I think. At least more than the original variant of an acid-stomached watchman. But again, Bilbo’s rôle and heroism is ignored. It should be Bilbo that discovers the weakness of the dragon. It should not be a well-known fact from the stories from Dale. Why is Bilbo’s courage diminished for this?

An elf-dwarf love story. Now that’s way too far fetched. Sorry, that would never happen. Orcs attacking Esgaroth? Uhm, well, okay. But parting some of the dwarves from the rest of the company. Now that was a strange move. Didn’t see that coming.

I loved the scene where the keyhole is found. It almost gave me goosebumps. The dragon was great. The dwarves try to fight the dragon using dwarvish tech. Well, there had been at least four minutes without an action scene, and if you have to fill up a film, why not go for the spectacular. I can stomach that.

All in all, while making quite a different story than Tolkien’s own Hobbit, I enjoyed this. And to quote a Norwegian ex-politician, caught while lying about so-called facts: “But it could have happened” * **.