The Desolation of Tolkien: in Defense of
by DoctorGamgee with responses
OSo I went and saw The Hobbit part Deux
yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie I saw. It was highly
action packed, the interaction of the dread worm (which was
exquisite in its execution of everything draconian that one could
wish...powerful, graceful, smart, cunning, and wonderfully played
by the actor) and the burglar was witty and well played.
The action sequences with the dwarves and the spiders, the battle
between them (killing them left and right) and the barrel scenes
with their whipping/frothing waterway, constant action between the
dwarves, orcs, elves, and CGI was exciting and grabbed the
attention of the eyes. Especially loved the place where whimsy won
and the dwarves chopped through the logs subsequently to send the
orcs into the water ... delightful.
And the gripping scenes of the Dwarves battling the Worm before it
turned and headed for Lake Town was visually stunning. One would
think that having lived through the dragon attack, Gloin would
have known their plot wouldn't have worked...but they gave it a
good effort and the time spent on it was rollicking good fun.
G-Minor said he liked it much better than the first one, as it was
more action packed and less travelling. For a boy of nine and
three-quarters years, that is great praise indeed. PJ has hit his
target audience where they live and has scored a home run.
If I have one complaint, it is with the detractors of the movie
calling it nothing but "Fan Fic". Not that I disagree with what
they are suggesting. You will notice that I have heaped a good
deal of praise on the movie, but not discussed the story...mostly
because it has absolutely nothing to do with Tolkien's book for
which the movie is called "THE HOBBIT" (and thus, the Desolation
of Tolkien of which the title of this musing implies). Had the
dragon been called Dweezle, the Dwarves been Dashful, Bumpy,
Snappy, Beepy, Sleezy, Gropey and Hoc (yes, I have a penchant for
Spoonerisms), and the burglar named Bungo, then there would have
been no complaints on any level. The whole thing would have been
rollicking good fun and no feathers would have been ruffled.
And here is my difficulty: The name implies Tolkien's story being
somewhere upon the screen, and Fan Fiction implies a love for the
works of the writer and a desire to expand on the world of Middle
Earth; this film does not do this--at least not in the way I have
watched Fan Fic as it is placed in our Red Book and the Scrapbook
be developed, treated and written.
I have not read all of the fic in the Red Book. I have written
only 1.5 pieces of fan fiction (I don't have that kind of brain
that finds it productive and I need to re-read ROTK so I can
finish the last half of the second piece). But from what I have
seen, PJ's movies are not akin to what I have witnessed here. I
have watched as rodents armed with bows and arrows tell a story
which showed far more care for Tolkien's characters that what PJ
gave us. I have seen careful, reverent stories fashioned out of
the characters whom Tolkien introduced which illumined the
characters and themes presented in JRR's works. This is not what
PJ has done. He has not given us deeper understanding (even comic
takes on it); rather he has used what Tolkien wrote to secure
funding for a rollicking holiday film that bears no resemblance to
the Professor's work.
So like or hate the film as you see fit. Enjoy, detest or "Meh"
your way through it. But please don't refer to this film of PJ's
as "Fan Fic" and do a disservice to the work of our writers here
who have tried to honor the work of Tolkien. PJ clearly doesn't
deserve that sort of honored treatment as he has shown no inkling
of honoring Tolkien with this film. Fiction it is: but not Fan
Thanks for listening.
Nicely written, Doc,
but I fear I must disagree. Fan fiction takes its roots in the
original author's works and can either fill in gaps in a story
(why did Gandalf refer to Belladonna Took as remarkable), better
explain a particular character or characters (what did the
dwarves do between the fall of Erebor and their return to the
Lonely Mountain), or even branch out into something else
entirely (what would happen if Gandalf and Darth Vader got into
This latter is called alternative universe (AU) fan fiction. I'm
generally not fond of AU stories because the premise usually
pulls a character from one set of rules and reality and plops
them down into another. For example, since Gandalf has nothing
that would stop a light saber, Vader would stick him with it and
the story would end. P.J. did not go quite as far as this, but
he did take Tolkien's story into another universe where things
happened quite differently.
It is not Tolkien's story, but it is based on the professor's
world, pretty much follows his rules, uses his characters,
expands on what was told in the original works, and appears to
be headed in the same general direction. It is simply a
retelling of a masterpiece by a master craftsman targeted at a
common audience. In short, it is commercialization of a classic
with one sole reason for existing - make money for the
investors. In this, it appears to be doing quite well.
As many have said, it is not Tolkien but it certainly is
Alternative Universe Fan Fiction. It is crass commercialism at
its worst, but it is masterfully done and as you said, would be
marvelous if the names were changed to protect the innocent.
hanks for your
post Doc and for defending fanfiction.
I can only say, without any self interest, that you are
absolutely, utterly and entirely right.
When I first heard of Tauriel my immediate thought was 'this is
like fanfiction - making up a character to add to Tolkien's
story' But it is not like true fanfiction at all. True Tolkien
devotees, like Vison and the rest of us, were trying to get
closer to Tolkien, not go miles from the original books. We
wanted what we wrote to be what Tolkien himself predicted -
poems, stories and drama to better celebrate his incredible
Middle Earth. Tauriel, and all the other inventions to
elasticate The Hobbit and let it fit it over as many lucrative
blockbusters as possible, is not the result of that kind of
I enjoyed the Hobbit, and will probably enjoy The Hobbit part
deux when I go to see it as a Boxing Day treat next week. I have
schooled myself not to feel outrage. And to be honest, I feel a
bit ashamed that I have made myself not mind all the changes. I
suspect that Frodent, Aramouse and even Marfach would feel let
But we have to admit that the films, as films, work; G-Minor
correctly observed (is he almost 10???? ) that it is a great
romp and hits all the required targets of your average
popcorn-munching blockbuster. But no, it is not Tolkien's story.
Tolkien's world, his ideas, his Middle Earth. But not his story.
When he made the original trilogy, Peter Jackson sounded a
warning note to fans of the books; he said that his aim was to
make a successful FILM. He wanted to stay faithful to Tolkien's
book, and by and large he managed it, with some glaring
exceptions. But he is a film director and his brief was to make
a good film, not a mediocre film of a great book. He has made
good films with his Hobbit trilogy as well but critically they
are a million miles short of the LOTR trilogy and the critics
have sniffed out the differences and on this side of the pond
critical reviews have not been kind. They have pounced on the
very obvious spinning out of the story, and have voiced a
feeling that what was the material of one or at most two films
has been tugged hard to make three.
If, as seems the case, the audiences enjoy it, what harm? as
they say in Cork. The Hobbit ll, like Hobbit l, is an enjoyable
romp, and there will be even people who see it and are tempted
to pick up the books. But like you Doc I feel a sense that
something is not right. 'C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas
Tolkien'. And the strange thing is, by moving so far from
Tolkien, the films have diminished in critical value, even if
not in technical excellence and success.
Just my humble opinion, as always.
Thank you Doc!
I won't go into details (ugh). I will add only this. You could
watch the LOTR films, then read the books, and probably be
satisfied. Maybe even be drawn to try reading other books. If
you pick up The Hobbit after seeing these films, you are likely
to be worse than disappointed and never want to read again. I
think these films have done books in general a horrible
with movies like this is that The Hobbit I and II too much
pretend to be LOTR but that is impossible. LOTR was a complete
different story. Yes there were of course the famous names like
Bilbo, Gollum, Gandalf and of course some things that were
mentioned but still The Hobbit is NOT LOTR. PJ tried too hard to
make it the same. From a moviemaker's point of view I can
understand he wants to make something that works and will get
big views and stuff. But stay at least a bit to the real story.
When Tauriel was healing the dwarf I got a deja vu. Where have I
seen this before? Yes right it was Arwen (movie version) when
she saved Frodo. I forgot if it was Bard or Thorin but one of
them said something and that reminded me of Aragorn. Thorin and
Bard are NO Aragorn and neither is Tauriel Arwen. Legolas was if
I may use that word a bit jerkish. Thranduil reminded me of
Lucius Malfoy. So yes I know the feeling.
When I look at it as a movie and leave the idea of the supposed
to be Hobbit aside the movie in itself is very, very good. Great
effects, great story and absolutely brilliant GCI Dragon. And as
a movie itself I tremendously enjoyed it. But don't search for
Tolkien. He is nowhere to be found