A full day meant that I had a late night viewing of the final film in the Middle-Earth movie marathon. Perched on the bed with a late dinner as well, I enjoyed watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Not only was the Middle-Earth movie marathon part of my first today, this was also my first full viewing of the extended edition of this Hobbit film, which adds another 25 minutes to the movie. I had a sneak peek immediately after I purchased the dvd, however, I saved the full film to savor this evening.
And I did savor it. This middle film in the trilogy moves deeper into the adventure of Thorin Oakenshield and his company, made up of 13 dwarves and one hobbit. The first film is much lighter, as the characters are being introduced and established, while this one delves into the darker undertones. It is in that darkness that we begin to see who Thorin, Bilbo and the others truly are.
Beorn, the skin changer, is introduced in this film. I loved his character in the book and looked forward to meeting him on the big screen. What I thoroughly enjoyed were the additional minutes in the extended edition that focused on the mighty man who can shift into a gigantic and ferocious bear. The scene where Gandalf introduces the company to Beorn, who does not care for dwarves, is one of the most light-hearted scenes in the movie. It is unfortunate that it ended up on the editing floor, but very welcomed indeed in this longer version of the film. I confess to replaying the scene several times, to enjoy the expressions on each character’s face and Gandalf’s rare case of nervousness.
Bilbo is transforming, rapidly. No longer the timid and mild hobbit who fussed over his mother’s dishes and doilies, Bilbo tells Gandalf that he found something in the goblin caves….his courage. Although it might be noted that he was not yet courageous enough to tell Gandalf about the precious ring he found! The ring gives Bilbo a sense of courage often born out of desperation. He uses his sword, which is christened Sting. He engages in battle. He acts as the burglar he was hired to be. And he begins to show signs of leadership, as when he takes action in the musty and darkly enchanted forest of Mirkwood, home to huge spiders, and King Thranduil and the woodland elves. His cleverness shines forth as well. The barrel scene, Bilbo’s exit strategy for the company imprisoned in Thranduil’s kingdom, is one of my favorite sequences in the movie.
I watched with keen interest the growing relationship between the dwarf, Kili, and the warrior she-elf, Tauriel. I know some Tolkien purists disliked the addition of a new character in the story. I researched her a bit, and the reasoning behind Peter Jackson’s decision. He felt a strong female character would be a great counterpart to the mostly male cast, Galadriel being the only other prominent female. He kept her in alignment with Tolkien’s depiction of the woodland elves. Her name, Tauriel, means “daughter of the forest.” I like Tauriel. Although I am a huge Tolkien fan, I am not opposed to change and adaptation. I think her character is well done and I like the romantic element between her and Kili. I suppose because the final film is so near, the scenes featuring their story caused my eyes to sting with tears tonight.
This film fleshes out the titular character, Smaug, in powerful detail. I found the special effects to be as stupendous as the fire breathing dragon himself. British actor Benedict Cumberbatch lends his marvelous voice to Smaug, and actually, through stop-action filming, movements and actions as well. When I first read the story years and years ago, I wasn’t sure what I thought about a talking dragon. But of course he must speak. How else would we know his chilling thoughts? His character, like Gollum’s, is an essential computer generated character that is so important to the story. I am left wide eyed in the final scene, as Smaug flies toward Lake Town, rasping, “I am fire. I am death.” When the screen goes to black, I exhale, both in relief and disappointment that it’s over.
My final thoughts are about additional minutes and footage of Gandalf in Dol Guldur, Sauron’s stronghold where he is gathering his dark army as he gathers his strength. Very vital information ended up on the cutting room floor here too. So much about the return of Sauron and the connection between the Dark One and the dragon is revealed that I’m surprised the decision was made to remove those scenes. And, big wow for me….Thrain, Thorin’s father, is discovered, alive, by Gandalf. I’ve been waiting for him to appear and thought maybe he would be found in the final film. But no, here he is. Again, it seems so important a revelation that I wonder how it was cut from the theatrical version. I am glad to see it included here. Only a shell of who he was, he sighs to Gandalf, “I have been here a lifetime.” He gives a message to Gandalf for his son. Perhaps, since Gandalf has been apart from the company during most of film 2, he will share Thrain’s message with Thorin in the next movie by way of a flashback for the viewers.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug concludes the 5 Week Middle-Earth Movie Marathon. How fun it has been to watch all five movies as a preparation for the final film, in the Hobbit trilogy and the Middle-Earth saga, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. This defining chapter is scheduled for release December 17. I know it is only a movie. And yet, I also know, beyond a doubt, that this one is going to be very powerful for me, very emotional. Two months ago, my mind would shy away from the thought of it, whispering, “I’m not ready….I’m not ready.” This movie marathon has shifted that. I will weep. Perhaps as soon as the music starts during the opening scene. I will hurt because it is still physically painful to me to allow strong emotion to move through me. But allow it to move through, I will. I am ready.