Posts Tagged ‘Hobbit’

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit, illustrated by Jemima Catlin

Monday, December 26th, 2016

I read Tolkien’s “canon”, that is, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, every year. So also this year. There are a lot of things to say about the Hobbit, but this year, I’d just like to show off my new copy of the book, beautifully illustrated by the illustrous illustrator Jemima Catlin.

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I picked this up in a used book store, and hey, it was even signed by the illustrator!

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I really like Catlin’s style

 

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Fits nicely in my growing collection of Hobbit versions.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit, TBOFA extended ed.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

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

Not much to post about The Hobbit this year, except that I also watched the extended edition of The Battle of the Five Armies some time ago. And I enjoyed it.

There are things to say about Peter Jackson’s Hobbit project, and I’ve actually already said a bit about the theater version. The extended edition, in plain 2D on a decent TV screen is a better film. There are things to dislike. How come Galadriel is the most powerful of the White Counsil? (Or is she?) The bunny sleigh is always annoying, and Legolas running up falling rocks is still a bit too disneyish for my taste. But hey, we also got more Beorn, more Esgaroth, and more Dale. That counterweights a lot. But what gave me most in this version, compared to the theater one, is the feeling of closure. We get Thorin, Fili and Kili’s funeral. Thorin has the Arkenstone on his breast, and Daín is crowned king. This is very satisfactory, and was reason enough for me to watch the movie.

Of Balin and Thrór’s Ring (J.R.R Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings)

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

I read Tolkien’s canon (The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings) every year about christmas. This year’s pondering is over Balin and Gandalf and Thrór’s ring.

Thrór possessed one of the seven rings that the dwarves got from Sauron of old. Inherited from father to son through generations, it was an heirloom of immense value for the Durin line. It passed to Thrain, who was Thrór’s son, and Thorin Oakenshield’s father. When Sauron woke again during the Third Age, Thrain was taken captive in Dol Guldur, and the ring taken from him. He perished there before Gandalf could resuce him. All this Gandalf told in the council of Elrond.

Now, by the same council, Glóin reveals that one of Balin’s main reasons for attempting to recolonize Moria, was to find Thrór’s ring. But Gandalf knew that it was not in Moria, as it was taken from Thrain in Dol Guldur. When Gandalf knew this, it is quite obvious that Thorin knew too. Gandalf would not keep information hidden about Thrain’s condition and death from his only son. So both Gandalf and Thorin must have known that Thrór’s ring was taken. Still, Balin, did not know, even though he was a close friend and companion of both Thorin and Gandalf. Consider the last scene in the Hobbit, where Gandalf and Balin, on a journey all the way from The Lonely Mountain, visit Bilbo. It is a meeting between close friends. Yet, Balin knew not. So he went with his followers to seek for the ring, and the whole colony was killed cruelly, fighting a last stand against the orcs of Moria.

In retrospect, a bit more openess about the ring would perhaps have been advisable. But the keeping and the keeper of the ring was constantly kept a tight secret in the Durin line. No one knew for sure who had the ring, until it was given to its next keeper. The appendices tell us that the dwarven rings were treacherous. Though not making the dwarves into shadows and slaves of Sauron, the ring keepers of the dwarves became jealous, and a constant hunger for more gold was set in them. Thus, the ring was often the base for a large hoard of treasure, which in turn could cause grieves like wars and dragon plunder.

Perhaps Gandalf considered this, when he kept his knowledge about Thrór’s ring hidden. It is still a bit of a mystery to me though.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit (or The Battle of Five Armies)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

I read The Hobbit again, and this time aloud to the youngest of the kids. So now, I have to wait for grandchildren. The target for this reading was of course to complete it before watching final chapter of the Hobbit movie series, so they can proudly tell, when they grow older, of course I read the book before I saw the film.

So instead of adding a deeper analysis of this cozy children’s book, I’ll share some thoughts about the film.

First: I enjoyed the film. A lot. There are always many things that you would like to include, but I think on the whole, they kept as much of the real story as to keep at least some of the Tolkien purists content. Including myself. This is still quite a different story than The Hobbit, but the movie makers did what they had to do, I suspect.

The good:
I loved the dragon. Smaug, the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities, and his downfall was magnificent. The destruction of Lake Town and Bard’s shot was just great. Bard standing out as the real leader of the people of Esgaroth, and the heir of Dale, was heart-warming. I was again impressed by the immenseness of the halls of the Lonely Mountain. I actually enjoyed the fight of the White Council in Dol Guldur. I can even stomach the fight of Thorin and Azog. I of course loved the details of the costumes, the surroundings, the filming, all superb. I also enjoyed a lot of the action scenes, though Legolas doing a Mickey Mouse style run-up-falling-stones, was perhaps a bit too much. And the homecoming to Hobbiton, and building up the frame story was brilliant, though I missed the final visit from Gandalf and Balin.

The bad:
As in the previous movies, I hated the attempts to make comic relief based on plat jokes. The added figure Alfrid was on the whole unnecessary. There are enough comic points to fetch from the original story. Making up some coward dressing in drag to avoid battle, that’s not even funny.

Giant monster-worms eating rock? What? What?

Where was the good old thrush! As I lamented in the previous movie, it should be Bilbo that finds the weak point in Smaug’s armour, and the thrush retelling this to Bard, so he is able to slay the dragon. This makes Bilbo (again) the real hero of the original story. Why this point was neglected by the movie makers is hard to understand. It was used in The desolation of Smaug to build up the tension between Bard and the leaders of the city in Stephen Fry’s speech to the public, announcing a warm welcome to the dwarves, but still, this could easily be dealt with in other ways.

One of the most important parts of the battle in the original story was the eucatastrophe, when the Eagles and Beorn comes and turns the battle. That Beorn, this wild creature, and not overfond of dwarves, joins in on the dwarves’ side, wrecks havoc to the orc armies, and rescues Thorin from being hacked by the orcs of Bolg, is a major point. He goes from being a wild creature, at no one’s side, to being a chieftain of a woodland folk, joining in on the good side. Showing him for, what was it, 2.5 seconds, was a huge disappointment. Social media said it concisely, hashtag #blinkorbeorn.

Foul British language from a hog riding dwarf? Give me a break. Again, this is not funny (at least, not to my taste). Daín was a great leader of dwarves, and close kin to the kingship of Durin. Give him some credit, please.

The coldness of the king of the elves is strange to me. While it must be hard to him to watch the slaying of his folk by the orcs, suggesting to just give up and go away seems strange. The elves were valiant warriors, and should be in front of the battle, as their hatred for the orcs was cold and bitter. Also, the king’s attitude against Gandalf is strange. Gandalf was a long time friend of the wood-elves of Mirkwood, and surely, the king knew him well.

That thing about Legolas unable to go home after the battle did not give any meaning to me. Why was this so? One reason was of course his sorrow for Tauriel? But what more? For revenge? For lonely mourning? Please, we need more information here. And even much stranger was the comment from Thranduil, go check out this man called Strider. What?? Why? This may be just a silly attempt to bind the movie forward to the Lord of the Rings series but in the context it gave no meaning at all. I guess we will get the full meaning in the directors cut, when it hit the blue ray players in a year or three.

But all this are just details. What disappointed me most was the lack of character building. One of the really strong points in the original Hobbit, is Bilbo’s change. He starts out as a respectable Baggins, but listening to his Took genes, he joins in this wild adventure. In the end, it is his Baggins’ side, wanting to negotiate peace on simple financial Baggins style respectable terms. This joining his Took and Baggins personalities to a whole is almost completely missed. Similar, the only person that actually has a character change during the movie is Thorin, winning over the bewitchment of the treasure, and running to the help of his natural allies.

And finally, when Bilbo leaves the Mountain, what is there? No funerals. No consolidation of the peoples of wood, mountain, and town. No new king under the mountain. No coronation in Dale. Only a very, very few words from Balin, and then just a wave goodbye. I need more closure.

We saw The Battle of Five Armies in 2D. Sitting for several hours with 3D glasses gives me headache, and we also thought the impact would be lessened on the smaller of the kids (the Norwegian age limit was set to 11 years). So we missed all the fancy 3D stuff. When using 3D as much as they used in the previous films, the movie makers tend to loose, at least in my opinion, a lot of other story telling effects. Too close shots of faces because the 3D effect would disturb the dialog with wider shots. Dwelling on effects that turns the stomach of the viewers, instead of larger scenery. But perhaps I’m just old fashioned.

After six movies, I’m content that this was the final chapter of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien adventures. If anyone should bring Tolkien to the big screen again, I hope it will be something completely different.

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” * **.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

I read through Tolkien’s canon every Christmas. So I of course reread The Hobbit this year as well. And I have written about it several times before, so I’d rather say a couple of words about the new Hobbit film, “An unexpected Journey”, which I saw just before Christmas.

First: I enjoyed the film. And as one, well, let’s say, a bit over the average interested in Tolkien and his works, that’s probably a good thing. Obviously, the film’s creators had to make a choice: Should they follow the book, and make a story for children, or should they follow the success of The Lord of the Rings, and continue with an action packed medieval romance for grown-ups? Of course, they went for the latter, and that was probably a wise move, though lots of the comical points and pedagogical build-ups from the book have been lost in the process, and replaced with more scary stuff, like the coming of the Necromancer, and the terror of the orcs of Moria.

I was concerned the film would be too long or too short, to bite over too much, or take a tour too fast over the events, skipping important bits, or drown in special effects. But I really think the final product has been well done.

First, I like Bilbo. In Martin Freeman’s interpretation, he’s more down to earth than Frodo seemed in the sequels. He’s more like, well, like what I would suspect from a Hobbit. He’s anxious, nervous, stammering, stressing down with a nice cup of tea, or happy enjoying a good meal, but still fantastic brave when needed.

Of couse I enjoyed Ian McKellen as Gandalf. Not much more need to be said about that. From the first meeting with Bilbo, almost to the letter after the book. That’s just brilliant.

Then it’s Thorin. Making him a young dwarf, and building the character up as a lost heir in a row of old kings, though still worthy of honour from the older dwarves is a genius move. It makes his entrance to Bag End a lot more interesting, than just letting him fall over the doorstep in the pile of the rest of his company. The other dwarves are a mixed lot. Balin is excellent, just what I would expect. Dvalin a bit too warrior-barbarian to my taste, but all right, why not. The rest of the lot; funny in their ways. Only Bombur is a failure, though not by the actor. He’s doing his very best. But why do they always have to make comic relief from heavy people falling? That’s not funny!

I liked the troll scene. I liked Rivendell. I loved that they rolled in the discussion of the White Council. Of course, fleshing out the story with stuff from the other books was necessary to make the story long enough to span over three films, but I think this was a wise move. It gives the story deeper background, and ties it forward to the sequels.

The gruesome orcs are well performed, and make the film a bit darker. Azog is not dead. Okay, so they skipped a generation, and Azog is the main foe, and makes the threat from the orcs more personal and physical. That’s an allright move as well. And of course, I loved the riddle game with Gollum. It’s almost perfect.

The shooting is state of the art, probably using camera tech that is almost not invented yet. The music is of course great. Themes known from the sequel movies, majestic music for the majestic mountain scenery, men’s choirs, boys’ choirs, they are all perfect – of course. I specially liked the dwarves’ song at Bag End. It was even better than expected.

Now, what did I not like?

Poor, poor, Radagast the Brown. In this film, he has become just what Saruman describes him as in The Lord of the Rings; a fool, and again, just a bringer of comic relief to the audience. And that’s just sad. Making him less nervous and rather strong and bitter against the change of the forest would have made him much more interesting. With his fast santa-claus-like rabbit sleigh, he’s just a clown. A sad move.

That it wasn’t Bilbo that alarmed Gandalf and the dwarves about the goblins in the cave. Except for a small detail with the trolls, this is the first (in the book) time Bilbo actually makes himself useful. In this film, he is interrupted by the goblins while trying to sneak away from the company. Why this very change? We are rewarded with some hobbity heroics at the end of the show that makes up for this. Perhaps the film makers want to make a point of the span between the coward and the hero within Bilbo, but this misses absolutely background from the book. Bilbo might a careful, boring, predictable, and lazy Baggins, but he is is not a coward.

The goblin king. While probably using Alan Lee’s drawings again (though these usually are great), he just resembles a fat, cancer-leprosy-infested goalkeeper with short temper and bad jokes. That’s just terrible. And the goblin mines. They should be narrow and dark tunnels, not open airy clefts. And the platform-video-game-like escape, ending with a bumpy roller-coaster run down through the mountain. Sorry, that was just to make use of fancy 3D effects. Why not use those to make our stomachs roll, dangling from an eagle’s foot? That’s what I would like to see.

And speaking of effects. The film was shot in 48 fps, probably to make the 3D even more realistic. But this makes the film too real. It misses the blurry effect that gives us the film feeling, that makes us believe in the unbelievable. It should not be real, it’s fantasy. the first 20 minutes or so, I have the feeling, I’m in an outdoor theatre, with actors running about me in folk costumes. Like in a live museum. Not in Middle Earth. Luckily, after some time, that effect runs off, or at least, I stopped noticing. But I should have loved to see the movie in a cinema in 2D. Now, I have to wait for the DVD.

So: Was the movie worth seeing? Absolutely. Was it worth all the hype? Perhaps not.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit

Friday, January 13th, 2012

I read Tolkien’s “canon” every christmas. This time I did The Hobbit last. Last, but not least. Nothing of Tolkien is.

A feast, as always.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Jada. Igjen. Fordi det er den tiden på året.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Det er jo den tiden på året igjen. Da leser jeg Tolkiens kanon. Først ut er Hobbiten. Tolkien anbefales til hverdags og fest.

J.R.R Tolkien: Hobbiten

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Jeg leste Hobbiten på norsk (bokmål) igjen. Anledningen var selvsagt at det var vinterferie, og jeg tok den som høytlesning for Håvar (8). Det var fengende for både liten og stor. Men man blir litt sår i halsen av å veksle mellom Balins eldgamle pipestemme, Smaugs grusomme dragestemme, Gandalf og Thorin sin dype bass, og Roàk sitt kråkemål.

Hobbiten anbefales for liten og stor, til hverdags og fest.