Meandering Thoughts on the Hobbit Movie

by DoctorGamgee

Well, this has not been addressed in a while, so I would like to throw the door open for a discussion on THE HOBBIT were it made into a movie.

The folks that made LOTR would of course be expected to be involved. They did such a great job on our movie that it is almost impossible not to picture the opening in the Shire without the N.Z. landscape and our own well remembered #9 Bagshot Row. They have the knowledge, the experience and the dedication, so who better to do this than WETA, PJ and Crew.

And yet . . . I have a few concerns if this were the case. Feel free to argue -- I don't know anything really. Just meandering thoughts that keep me curious about such a project.

If PJ were the director of this earlier story (which is much more light-hearted) I fear that there would be such a disparity between the two that it would be almost impossible to accept any of it as truth. Not in terms of charactors/casting -- Bilbo was younger, so another Bilbo rather than Ian would not bother me in the least. We are all familiar with the convention of different actors playing the same person at different times in their lives (picture Ya-Ya Sisterhood, for example). There are, however, other continuity problems that I fear I would not be able to reconcile. The Ring is the big one.

In LOTR, PJ made the RING to have an evil presence right from the start. From the flash of the eye when Gandalf touched it, to the distortion of the room in the Pony when Frodo slips it on his finger for the first time. This was, afterall, his reasoning for making Faramir different from the book. So how shall we reconcile the light-hearted romp of Bilbo and the Spiders in Mirkwood (only a few leagues from the Necromancer's/Sauron's hideout) if every time the Ring is on, the picture now remains the same?

The Ring was alwasy evil, certainly. But I have always thought it was a bit less direct in its coersion (at least until it gets to Mordor) more like a subtle evil; a friend who gives really bad advice -- not an enemy who dominates from the beginning. A sort of 'Bling-Bling Wormtongue.' Who would put a Ring on that made everthing so much different. Certainly not Bilbo, and he goes ON and OFF with this thing all over the Hobbit.

Now, had the Hobbit been made first, we would have taken the natural progression of intesity as the result of Sauron's return to power. However, as we have already been exposed to these images, can we truly ever return to a simpler time and NOT see them?

What are your thoughts?

Anna Estel:

Good questions Dr. G! I think the main thing to convey to non-reader movie audiences would be that the events of the Hobbit happen much earlier, and that Sauron here is barely more than a whisp yet of what he will be. I mean, yes, Gandalf traipses off to deal with him but Sauron's not a truly huge threat if Gandalf has time to mess with a band of dwarves in the first place.

My fear would be that PJ does love his battle scenes. I can see an inordinate amount of time spent in the goblin cave and with the Battle of Five Armies and such. As you say, the Hobbit is much more light hearted, and I'm afraid PJ might make it too dark and serious.

I would like to think that folks today understand the concept of a prequel. I don't think it would be too hard for them to grasp that as time passes the malignancy of the ring increases, but it would not necessarily have been so overwhelmingly dark at the start. A few well placed voiceovers could cover that. And there is no reason why at the very end some hint couldn't be made of things to come (say, show a closeup of Bilbo fingering the ring in his pocket the way he does in LOTR as he waves goodbye to Balin at the end of the Hobbit).

I really can't imagine anyone other than PJ and Weta doing the Hobbit. My only visual of that book is drawn from the Rankin/Bass cartoon (I don't visualize well off a book alone, and since I saw the cartoon first I'm ruined), and frankly I don't mind the thought of having that visual replaced!!


I think Sauron's return to power is the key here.

The only hint of Sauron mentioned in The Hobbit is as the Necromancer to the south of Mirkwood in Dol Guldur. By the time of The Lord of the Rings, fifty years later, Sauron had only mustered enough strength to take the form of the Lidless Eye as well as gather his forces in to Mordor. Inferring from the text, it was at this point that the Ring really gets randy!

Fifty years earlier when Bilbo first "found" it, The Ring had only felt a stirring in the East and an urge to leave hiding. After some three thousand years of sleepy hiding, fifty years might just be the time it took the Ring to really wake up and get serious.

But you asked about an average movie goer's perception. Could the public accept a watered-down version of this very evil Ring?

That's a toughie. I think we could, those of us who have known and loved Middle Earth for so long. It would be like remembering what our old friends were doing twenty years ago. We know their history and see no disparity between our best friends as they were in grade school and how they are today. We were there to see the changes. But how would a stranger see those changes? Could they connect the dots?

I really don't know. I have been an inhabitant of Middle Earth for more than half my life and can hardly remember the time before. I don't even know who to ask. They would have to actually read The Hobbit to know enough to answer the question.

I look forward to other contributions to this thread! Maybe we can form an answer together.

Pi :

Hi Doc,
Regarding just who works on it rather than the ring issues you raised, I'd actually like to see a different director than PJ. PJ seemed to always ramp up the indecision, uncertainty, and "cliffhanger" status to so many scenes in LOTR, which were not in the book.
Regardless of how they represent the ring and its effects on the wearer, I'd much prefer a movie more true to the written text - I want them to be true to the source!

Ladyhawk Baggins:

You bring up a very good question, in particular about the Ring. Not only does the Ring reveal the Eye to Gandalf and Frodo, but the history goes back over 500 years to when Smeagol kills Deagol. Could a non-book audience grasp that Bilbo could handle the Ring without killing Gollum for it?

Gandalf the Grey:

I have thought much on this in the past and now after the P.J. trilogy has come to pass. Here are some thought on it I have dwelled upon:

~ I would like to see another director than P.J. do the movie. P.J. has a distinct style and I would simply like to see another interpretation on Middle Earth and one that does not stray from the story too far or dwell too much on battles.

~ Movie makers will have a hard time putting a love interest in the movie - something that most movies today seem to have whether it helps the story or not.

~ Also, there are no heroic-men-types in the hobbit (except for Bard, but his is a lesser part near the end), another problem that movie makers like in most movies of this type. The lead characters would be a hobbit and a bunch of dwarves with Gandalf thrown in for good measure.

~ Would it be as an adult or children’s movie? Who can say. It is certainly light-hearted enough to be a kid flick, but it could also be for adults if the spiders and the battle at the end were done vividly enough.

~Everyone is aware that there is an audience for this movie, and better to make it sooner than later.

~ In the end, it is a good adventure tale, and I can only hope that maybe they will just go-for-broke and make it for what it is and see who goes to see it. I would certainly be the first in line.

Gandalf 921:

Gandalf the Grey wrote:
~ Movie makers will have a hard time putting a love interest in the movie - something that most movies today seem to have whether it helps the story or not.

No - Since it is adapted from a text which has no "love interest", then I don't think it would be attempted.

Gandalf The Grey wrote:
~ Also, there are no heroic-men-types in the hobbit (except for Bard, but his is a lesser part near the end), another problem that movie makers like in most movies of this type. The lead characters would be a hobbit and a bunch of dwarves with Gandalf thrown in for good measure.

Well... they're not really needed. Are they?

On the issue of the Ring, I think that that PJ would be able to turn the ring into an innocent peice of jewellery. He had done that in the early scenes in the Shire in Fellowship - Most notably Bilbo's birthday. If they took out the inscription on it, and any music/lighting/atmosphere associated with the ring, then it would be possible to "pretend" that its a different ring altogether. It was really only after we see Sauron's fortress being rebuilt, and Gandalf researching at Minas Tirith that the Ring gains an entirely new presence. This is because before that Sauron had not returned. And so he would be even less powerful during The Hobbit . I think that most of the audience would be able to accept this - or at least if they understood the connection between the Ring's "ominousity" and Sauron's strength and that The Hobbit did in fact take place before Lord of the Rings .

I can't really think of any issues in the Hobbit film, apart from the audience appeal one. The Hobbit is much more lighthearted and kid-friendly than Lord of the Rings - so will the film be as well?

Lady of Light:

I would just like to see the adventures of Bilbo. It would kind of fill in the spaces somewhat ( Like when frodo talks to bilbo at Rivendell how his adventure turned out quite different and that he (frodo) was not like bilbo and when bilbo is telling the story to the children at the party . And to see more about the Elves and Dwarfs just interest me. I see a lot of things that would tie over into the LOTR which would be seen in the hobbit.I don't need to see a love interest. The adventure is enough for me. Just my opinion.


I remember Ian McKellan almost immediately started hinting to PJ that he should do The Hobbit so that Ian could play Gandalf again. But since the story was more than could be told in even a three-hour movie, Sir Ian suggested a mini-series like those that the BBC had done from time to time (Tripods, King Arthur, etc.) That way the episodic nature of the book could work for the film instead of against it. You know how it would break down...

Ep #1 The Unexpected Party
Ep #2 The Trolls
Ep #3 Rivendell
Ep #4 The Goblin Tunnels
Ep #5 Riddles in the Dark
Ep #6 Beorn
Ep #7 Mirkwood
Ep #8 Elven Hall
Ep #9 Lake Town
Ep #10 Smaug
Ep #11 Battle of Five armies
Ep #12 Road Home

The only thing I wouldn't like about that would be waiting for the time to pass between episodes. It would not be a year-long wait but still. If the meat of the story could be done well, I would be happy.

In the meantime, I will listen to Nicol Willianson read The Hobbit.


I think watching the Ring at the beginning of its "character arc" could be really interesting. You'd need a prologue, something sort of like what was at the beginning of Fellowship, to set up the creation of the Ring and its loss and hiding... establishing that it's currently "asleep" in a way, so perhaps de-emphasizing a lot of the Sauron/Elendil/battle stuff.

Doctor Gamgee:

I have been thinking long and hard over your response to this one, SS. I keep coming to the question of "If the ring is asleep while Gollum has it, then why does it so engulf him that he dares to go to Mordor in search of it?"

The problem is that the Cinematic Ring (as we know it) is a force of evil and its intent is made known at the outset (i.e. the flash of the Eye when Gandalf touches it). But when Bilbo had it, NONE of that evil intent was ever present -- a differing tale and a time simpler. Had we not seen the LOTR, we could accept it. But can we really look upon this Ring, found in the dark by an alreacy consumed Gollum, and believe that it is anything other than the pure evil we have already seen?

Just curious as to your thoughts on this?


DoctorGamgee wrote:
I have been thinking long and hard over your response to this one, SS. I keep coming to the question of "If the ring is asleep while Gollum has it, then why does it so engulf him that he dares to go to Mordor in search of it?"

I always thought that Gollum went to Mordor looking for the ring because Sauron was "calling" the ring (and other wicked things) and Gollum, having possessed it for so long, was susceptible to that call.

Quoting from Tolkien:

"Then why didn't he track Bilbo further?" asked Frodo. "Why didn't he come to the Shire?"

"Ah," said Gandalf, 'now we come to it. I think Gollum tried to. He set out and came back westward, as far as the Great River. But then he turned aside. He was not daunted by the distance, I am sure. No, something else drew him away...."

"... But I am afraid there is no possible doubt: he had made his slow, sneaking way, step by step, mile by mile, south, down at last to the Land of Mordor...."

"Yes, to Mordor," said Gandalf. "Alas! Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there. The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons...."


 The Ring and Sauron are utterly unimportant in this story, so they shouldn't be the focus.

 (Shock. Horror.)

Hehe. I'll explain. Sauron is tucked away in Dol Guldur, which is in Mirkwood all right, but nowhere near the area the hobbits pass through or Thranduil inhabits. The evil presence in the forest is due to him, but the baddies are the spiders, the orcs and in particular Smaug, who should be enough in his own right.

The Ring at this stage is little more than an excuse for Bilbo to be able to overcome his limits and sneak away from the orcs and then into Smaug's lair. As has been mentioned, its pull is weak for some reason while in Gollum's possession, who only uses it to ambush orcs and vary his diet a bit. The book doesn't stress any of these two elements, so why should we?

I find it quite amusing that summing up everyone's visions here we come up with a concoction that would like to keep the light and even funny touch of the book while at the same time exploring dark themes even beyond the hints that we get in the book. If you read 'The Hobbit' without taking LOTR into account, you'll see that the Ring is just a cool trinket that makes you invisible from unpleasant people like orcs and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, and 'The Necromancer' sounds more like David Copperfield with a mask.

But I think the concoction could be done, though. For the first part I would go all comic relief, even getting in all the bad Gimli jokes that they couldn't use in LOTR - in fact, what's sillier than bring instruments all the way from the mountains? The trolls, Beorn, the spiders, the drunk elves in Mirkwood, the barrels down the river... all have the potential to be hilarious.

'You laugh and you laugh and then you stop laughing', as Tarantino says of 'Reservoir dogs'. Now we get serious: Smaug is a nasty beast, and his anger and destruction must be real, and the battle of Five Armies should have lots of intensity, WETA trademark, with real emotion in the death of Thorin and maybe Fili and Kili, who could have done the rascally-Pippin-and-Merry routine - and now that we care for them, we are moved at their passing. It's the death of the clown, you can't fail with that. It works a treat with Mercutio in 'Romeo and Juliet'. Not a dry eye in the house.

In the meantime, the mid-point climax with Bilbo and Gollum and their riddle-game could be something in between. The riddle game could be quite fun, but Gollum should convey a real sense of menace, with a hint of younger make-up - Andy Serkis should be able to do it in his sleep.

Finally, find a balanced tone to wrap up on the way back to the Shire: you have laughed, you have cried, you have been scared. No reason why it shouldn't work. But people should be made to understand that the grandeur is scaled way down from LOTR, and therefore be able to find it really satisfying anyway.


Well, Ashlyn and Rogorn have done a better job of answering you than I could!  I like very much the idea of the laugh and cry structure. R&J is an excellent analogy, it starts off as a comedy, then oops! people get killed! and it turns into a tragedy. The Hobbit goes on to recover from the battle tragedy, so that's nice.

The Ring isn't exactly asleep when it ensnares Gollum. We've see that bit in the ROTK preview. But I think being hidden under the mountains with Gollum for so long, while Sauron was also mostly inactive, did quiet it down a lot. Gollum didn't even wear it much, only sometimes held it and stroked it. In the dark, he didn't need it to catch fish very often. I think the moment when it left Gollum and was found by Bilbo, was a kind of just-beginning-to-wake up moment, as Sauron was also just beginning to stir also. But it really wasn't in an active mode yet. I agree that the Ring isn't the focus of the Hobbit, and the film won't have to spend a lot of time on it. The prologue/setup can be quite different from that for LOTR, in fact it should be. If it's made relatively soon, the film makers can almost assume their audience will have seen the LOTR films, or can go watch them at home if necessary, so they don't have to repeat a lot from that. And since LOTR was about the Ring, and the Hobbit isn't, not a lot of overlap.

It wouldn't surprise me, if it's PJ and our LOTR crew at the helm, to see stuff in the previews that isn't in the film, but which is intended to set up the film for the viewer. After all, we did see things in TT previews that didn't show up in the film, for instance. Partly that was because the film itself was still in the process of being winnowed, but part of that was because a trailer has a totally different mission in life than the whole film does.