Well the Hobbit – An unexpected journey, has had mixed reviews by critics. Many have complained that it is too long at just under 3 hours for just six chapters of a short book.
Well we took 300 people to see the Hobbit on Saturday where we took over one of the screens, so was it worth it?
The Hobbit is a very different book to the Lord of the Rings. It was the first one to be written and it was written as a children’s book (which it very much is). The book is quite short and hasn’t got the gravitas of the very much larger Lord of the Rings. So, one of the first major tasks that the Director Peter Jackson must have had was how to translate the book onto the screen where he has already shown the Lord of the Rings. How do you fit a children’s book with a very different feel into the epic that is the Lord of the Rings?
Well I have to say that I think that Peter Jackson does a brilliant job. He tells of a world that is essentially at peace but with the distant rumbling and rumour of war and conflict. He is therefore able to marry the comic and child-like nature of the book with the potential for the growing up of the genre into what will become the Lord of the Rings. For example, the fighting in the Goblin Kingdom does not have the same menace and feel of the similar situation (trapped underground in a Goblin Kingdom) in Khazad-Dum in the Fellowship of the Ring. You also have a more comic cast for some of the characters – Radagast the brown with his sled pulled by rabbits being an excellent example; or the initial scene at Bilbo’s house with the arrival and the meal with the dwarves.
But amidst the comic element there is also hints of the coming storm with added scenes around Dol Guldur and the meeting of Gandalf, Galadriel, Saruman (still the White) and Elrond. But you see the Lord of the Rings most explicitly in the scene of Bilbo gaining the Ring from Gollum. It is here that you see the Lord of the Ring peeping out from behind the curtain.
The other feature of the film that was so good was the filming. There is always an amazing, David Lean type of, epic quality to his films. It was there in the Lord of the Rings and King Kong. He has recreated the same feel in this film. The creation of the different cultures has always been a great strength of Peter Jackson and his team. So, there is a difference not just between dwarves and hobbits but also between Goblins and Orcs; there is a real feeling of a bigger backstory and depth to these cultures and peoples which I found very convincing.
So, to the length. Was it too long? Well I suspect it will depend on whether you are a Jackson/ Tolkein fan or not. Jackson’s view was that there was so much put into a few pages that he wanted to give them their full reign and to give a depth to the characters. I think that he was right to do so. If you aren’t a Jackson/ Tolkein fan then I suspect that you would find a film half the length too long. The interesting thing is that the reviewers (who have been lukewarm) are being swamped by viewers going to see it in their droves.
At the end of our performance on Saturday the cinema clapped.
I want to see it again (and some of my daughters haven’t seen it yet – so I have an excuse!)