Thursday, December 20, 2012

Too Much of A Good Thing?

An Unexpected(ly long) Journey

I watched the movie THE HOBBIT this weekend.  I’m not as big a fan of Tolkien as some, but I have read the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, THE HOBBIT a couple of times, and watched these stories on the big screen. 

I say I’ve watched THE HOBBIT, but I’ve actually only watched about a third of what is that relatively short story.  And it took almost three hours.  That means I probably have about another six hours ahead of me to get the full story presented in all of its 48 fps glory.  (Not sure if that’s how I actually saw it, it just looked like a movie to me).

So here’s my rant.  Did Peter Jackson do this classic story a service or an injustice by stretching it out, puff it up, and possibly making it a bit bloated in his efforts to create another trilogy? 

Bottom line, yeah, just a little.

The book THE HOBBIT is very unique.  In so many ways, it’s a rough draft for the three-book saga that is THE LORD OF THE RINGS.  You can see him trying things out, playing with themes, and taking a first swipe at what would be expansive world building in his trilogy.  And I find a charm in that.  I don’t go so far as to say it’s a children’s book, but there is a fairy tale quality to it and Bilbo, I think, would be very relatable to younger adults and even preteens who feel like they are setting off on a journey into a larger world filled with Giants, Goblins, and Dragons every time they step out their front door.

In my opinion, Jackson has tried to turn THE HOBBIT into a sequel to LOTR’s, without recognizing that the story is distinctly a prequel, and is in many ways more like an extended prologue.  By adding plots, weight, and melodrama to what is a more straightforward story, he burdens it a bit.

My point is this (maybe):  When you take a beloved story, even though you are staying very true to the author’s source material, if you ignore the essence of what that story is, you may lose something in the process.  I think LOTR fans will love this movie and so will most other moviegoers. 

I don’t think anyone who ends up seeing all three movies of this new trilogy will have experienced much of what people who read the book THE HOBBIT felt in reading it, and that’s ok.  Movies are movies and books are books.  Sometimes a movie can’t accomplish what a book does, and that’s part of the magic of books.