A dreary, dark Sunday exists outside my local cinema, reminiscent of the Middle-Earth that Frodo and Sam trudge through in The Lord of The Rings, and it strikes me that Jackson’s The Hobbit is a much more colourful affair than its predecessor. The Shire is an abundance of blues and greens; Elrond is brilliant whites and sky blues, and the goblin caves an abundance of darkness and the glowing orange of torchlight. Jackson really does turn the much-loved literary world into concrete, mapped, fantastical space that is brighter and larger than that space I imagined in my head.
The film is far from perfect however; the Giant Trolls are completely ridiculous, with terrible humour rolling from their North-London tongues. Even in this realm of fantasy, this doesn’t strike me as comprehensible, and this language mapping continues throughout. For example, our gang of Dwarves are either Northern or Scottish, and the Elves speak the Queen’s, is that really necessary? Thorin Oakenshield as portrayed by Richard Armitage is a little lack-lustre; the Thorin of the novel is wonderfully interesting, cultured and powerful, even without the back story. Whilst Armitage is provided with a back-story, yet he is incredibly one-dimensional and lacking any real depth, playing the king as if somebody had already played the ace!
Furthermore, his dwarves lack the privileges of dialogue they practice in The Hobbit. Bombur, the book’s comedic focus is completely silent, as Peter Jackson diverts his comedic attentions toward his grotesque Trolls, the experience of the journey is compromised, as the interactions between the gang of Dwarves are genuinely limited in establishing any real sense of identity and I think we lose something from this.
‘Stop with all the negativity!’ cries my friend from the back seat of the car, he argues that looking at the film in direct comparison to the novel is deeply problematic, and after much deliberation I must say I agree with him. The film works as a really interesting preface to Jackson’s earlier The Lord of The Rings productions, as a series of sub-plots that are not present in the book are interwoven into the main framework of The Hobbit’s plot; this really sets up the sequel film trilogy nicely. Not present in The Hobbit are the Orc armies led by the terrifying Azog, the arch-nemesis of Oakenshield, who proves the first film’s main villain in the absence of the dragon Smaug. The addition of the Orcs is really interesting, as they symbolise the larger conflict going on in Tolkien’s world at the time and nicely set up the conflict of The Lord of The Rings and its accompanying films.
The iconic riddle scene of The Hobbit is done absolute justice in the film; Gollum is distinctly terrifying and hilarious at the same time and with his success after the first riddle, Gollum exclaims “teeth! I has nine!” bearing to the camera a mouth very sparsely decorated with incisors. I would not suggest that you should go into this film expecting an experience directly correlating with the novel, but Jackson offers so much more. One important event is the exploration of Thorin’s bloodline, which makes clear the preface of the conflict between the Dwarves, Smaug and the Orcs, this is something which makes the plot a little easier to understand than its literary complement, and I think is a wise directorial choice. Martin Freeman excellently portrays Bilbo; he is suitably stubborn and prissy whilst remaining as affable as the literary creation, willing after much persuasion to allow the Took part of his personality to overtake the Baggins. Andy Serkis falls back well into his role as Gollum, engaging with the humorous side that wasn’t really exercised too much in the original trilogy.
You can’t read The Hobbit in the same way you watch the film: Jackson filled out the plot a little more in order to make three films rather than the one film we would expect from such a slender book. Don’t go in to your local cinema expecting a childish affair, Peter Jackson has made an epic fantasy trilogy more catering to the audience of The Lord of The Rings novels than The Hobbit. The music remains the same as the original trilogy, marking a continuation of the style of film made originally by Jackson as he takes his pen and scribbles a little on Tolkien’s script in order to cater to his larger audience. I think this a very wise choice indeed, and all in all, an excellent interpretation of a classic!
What are your opinions on the film interpretation of The Hobbit? Do you perhaps prefer the film over the novel, or vice versa? Let us know by commenting below or find us on Twitter @labelonline