“I have never used a sword in my life,” said Bilbo Baggins.
“And I hope you never have to. But if you do, remember this: true courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one, ” replied Gandalf in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson’s first installment in what will be his second J. R. R. Tolkien book-to-movie adaptation.
Jackson’s first three-part adaptation The Lord of The Rings is considered to be among the best movie adaptations ever made, and rightly so. Tolkien himself used to boast that the three-part book was “un-filmable,” and before the days of green screens and CGI he surely was right.
To take the three books, each of which is longer and far more complex and extensive than The Hobbit, and turn them into three long movies seems to make sense, but Jackson still had to make considerable edits and omissions to make the book fit onto the big screen. With the Lord of The Rings trilogy Jackson seemed to have tinkered with only what he had to and kept the main story arch of the books intact and thus remained very true to the original works. His success with this may have emboldened him, however, and the liberties he seems to have taken with the single book, The Hobbit, in trying to stretch it into a three-movie trilogy may mean it will never reach the upper echelons of book-to-movie adaptation success like its predecessor.
Without giving much away, if you haven’t already seen the movie, let me say that after watching only the first installment I can tell you that elements have been considerably rearranged and some characters fabricated, though I will have to consult my 50th anniversary edition of The Hobbit to be sure if some of the characters that exist in the movie actually exist in the book. Even if they do, they have been seriously rearranged in order of appearance.
Not only do I suspect that characters have been fabricated or introduced prematurely, but the roles of other characters have been completely omitted and actually result in gaps in the story line. For example, after the movie my friend says, “Why didn’t the eagles just take them all the way to The Lonely Mountain!?” Well, if you’ve read the book you know exactly why, but an entire character has been omitted while others apparently added.
Perhaps Jackson is waiting until the next installment to introduce the character I speak of, or perhaps Jackson has been forced to create and manipulate in order to make one book into what now has to be three individual story arches. By taking one book and turning it into three movies, Jackson and company have no choice but to fabricate climaxes and denouements, not to mention characters and character traits.
It makes sense that the rising actions haven’t been altered much from the book because where else would the rising actions appear? However, like the climax and resolution had to be fabricated for this first movie, I suspect rising actions will have to be fabricated for the next too.
With that being said, the movie is still awesome and worth seeing. My only regret is seeing the movie in 3D as a result of a technical error on behalf of my friend who ordered our tickets online. I am also not a fan of the 48-frames per second that it was filmed in; I find the hyper-fluid motion makes it feel like your watching the movie in fast-forward. Some scenes are worse than others, but the scenes that do appear to be moving in fast-forward are jarring and distracting. Between the 3D and the 48 FPS I found that I wasn’t able to let myself become immersed in the story or the setting or costume design or the lines being delivered by the actors — it was distracting.
All in all, I can’t wait to own a copy on Blu-ray so that I can watch it and dissect it over and over again in the comfort of my own home and I can’t wait for the other two instalments to come out so that I can lovingly complain about how different they are from the books, while still thoroughly enjoying everything about them.