Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!
Today I want to talk about: Peter Jackson’s film versions of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
I am of the opinion that Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s well-loved classic, The Hobbit, is a wonderful thing. As with his version of The Lord of the Rings, it is a work of love, Jackson’s own spin on Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece. It is Jackson’s film version of The Hobbit, not a film of Tolkien’s version. When you adapt something with such a passionate and devoted fanbase, you’re never going to please everyone. You will most definitely piss people off in some way – their favourite character doesn’t look anything like that! What on earth possessed you to film that scene that way? When does Thranduil ever make a Mean Girls reference? And why on earth is that character in this scene?? – but that’s just how it is. On the other hand, you’ll also have a fanbase devoted to you, or in this particular case, Mr. Peter Jackson, and the way he has filmed Tolkien’s work.
The Hobbit has been a favourite book of mine for a long, long time. I remember when I was seven or eight, my mum bought me the graphic novel version, and then at the age of eight or nine I progressed onto the book proper. I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was ten, and have re-read it almost every year since, so I would say I’m a pretty big fan! So you can imagine that I was incredibly excited when the films were announced.
I want to talk mostly about one particular film today: The Desolation of Smaug. I watched it the day of release, and although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as An Unexpected Journey, I still loved it. Maybe I’m one of those types who loves it just because it’s Tolkien and Peter Jackson, I don’t know. But I just want to talk about the things that were completely new additions to the plot:
- The character of Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily, and therefore any dwarf-elf flirtations
- The presence of Legolas
- Certain events that happen in Laketown [spoiler]Kili, Fili and Bifur staying behind, orcs attacking Laketown[/spoiler]
- Pretty much anything involving Azog – he is mentioned in the book once.
But you know what?
- Tauriel is one of the few female characters in the story, AND she was an addition. She’s also a bit of a badass. So kudos to Peter Jackson for choosing to add some more women to a male-dominated story, and extra kudos for making her pretty awesome.
- Legolas is used to tie together The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, a familiar face, and also clearly shows how elves do not age. He looks exactly the same in both films (okay, apart from his eyes in The Hobbit which are super creepy.)
- Events like the extra ones in Laketown are used to demonstrate the skills of certain characters. However (book spoiler ahead): [spoiler]I’m not sure why Kili was injured and then healed. This makes me think they won’t kill him off in the Battle of Five Armies at the end? He has proven to be a fan favourite after all.[/spoiler]
- Azog gave Thorin a bit more of his own story, and also allowed Jackson to showcase the history of the character. He is also a constant threat, when Smaug is nowhere near, making the viewer expect an attack at any time.
And you can’t forget that absolutely brilliant take on the barrel scene…
Despite the fact that Peter Jackson made a lot of changes to characters and events in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I still love those films because they are products of Peter Jackson’s imagination, inspired by that of Tolkien. If you’re watching them for a totally faithful representation of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, you will most likely be disappointed. But if you go in with an open mind, you’ll end up watching some truly fantastic films by a genius director, inspired by a genius author. Personally, for me, the additions only demonstrated the skill of everyone involved in making the films.
In conclusion: I see Peter Jackson’s films as a wonderful homage to the works of Tolkien, as well as Jackson’s own home country of New Zealand.
What do you think of Jackson’s films of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings? Were you happy with his use of creative license?
Oh, and as for waiting another bloody age for the final part of The Hobbit…