All year, I’ve been anticipating the release of the final movie in the Hobbit Trilogy, and the conclusion of the Middle-Earth Saga that began more than 13 years ago. The release date is Wednesday, December 17. I had plans to attend! A month or so ago, I started seeing teasers for a Hobbit Movie Marathon, playing in selected theaters. The first two Hobbit movies would be presented back to back and lead to a sneak peek of the final movie, two days ahead of the release date.
I thought it would be so cool to spend a day at the movie theater….one of my favorite places to hang out for a few hours. I didn’t expect that my Joplin theater, Regal, would be one of the selected venues for the marathon…so I hadn’t really checked on it. Last Thursday, while with my granddaughter at one of her favorite places, Chick Fil A, I was casually browsing the Regal Theater’s upcoming releases. I looked at Wednesday and smiled over the many scheduled showings of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (henceforth in this blog post TBOTFA). I backed up a day, and there were Tuesday evening showings. Wow, I thought, I might go a day early. I mistakenly thought the marathon was scheduled for Tuesday and since I didn’t see it listed that day, I didn’t think Joplin was hosting the event. Something made me back up one more day….and there it was, the Hobbit Movie Marathon. I bought my ticket an hour later.
Today, for my first, I attended the marathon, a nine hour event starting at 1:00. I was there by noon, and picked out a great seat. Knowing I’d be sitting for a long time today, I got a seat on the back wall where there is more leg room. My one concern today was that my legs would get restless. Sitting where I did, I could stretch my legs out without bumping the seat in front of me.
This was a very special time for me. No other series of movies has impacted me as much as the Middle-Earth stories have. Many life lessons appeared for me from Lord of the Rings and then the Hobbit, which I expected less from, taught me more. JRR Tolkien was an amazing story teller. And Peter Jackson so brilliantly adapted these rich stories into unforgettable films. I was thrilled to be sharing space today with 40-50 other fans who take the movies as seriously as I do. My cousin’s son, Harry, and his friend drove to Joplin to attend as well and sat next to me.
As many times as I’ve seen the first two Hobbit films, I still enjoyed seeing them both again on the big screen. The first movie is so light-hearted. I had the opportunity to fall in love with the characters when An Unexpected Journey released, and figure out which dwarf was which. Desolation of Smaug is much darker, and the characters flesh out and deepen. Thorin’s fanatical side begins to appear, and Bilbo finds the One Ring….and his courage….in this film.
I have looked forward to and dreaded the third film. I have read The Hobbit book several times, so I am very familiar with the story and how it ends. That ending created my sense of dread. A part of me didn’t want to see this story play out, and I didn’t want to see the saga come to an end. Peter Jackson has already said there can be no other Tolkien films. The family owns the rights to Tolkien’s other works and they aren’t willing at this time to release them.
I will do a full review of TBOTFA later this week, as a bonus blog post. It deserves a full posting. The movie was beautifully done, full of action right from the opening scene, and full of angst. This is Thorin’s story, really, more than Bilbo’s. I watched all of the characters complete their journeys. It was Thorin Oakenshield whose journey was the most difficult as it was primarily an inward one. Just when it appears that this new king under the mountain is destined to share the same fate as his grandfather, he reaches deep within to find his true heart. I love stories about transformation and overcoming, and this last Hobbit movie is a powerful portrayal of lives that are changed.
I watched the conclusion, being unable to stop it! As much as I would have liked a different ending to the story, Peter Jackson was faithful to Tolkien’s depiction and it was very well done. Yes….I cried. I actually teared up early in the film, several times, and felt that didn’t bode well for how I would handle the ending. But, tears are cleansing and as Gandalf himself says, in LOTR: ROTK “I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” In this case, they were honoring as well. One of the characters, weeping, asks King Thranduil, “If this is love, why does it hurt so much?”. “Because it was real,” he answers, from a place within his heart that has known loss. And I know…these characters aren’t real. But the emotions, the joy and the sorrow, are.
As the third movie ended and the credits rolled, Billy Boyd who played Pippen in LOTR, sings a moving song called appropriately “The Last Goodbye”. The audience, who after nine hours together felt like my friends and family, sat silently together, joined by our shared experience. There were soft sighs and a few sniffles and a reluctance to break the bond. At last we slowly stood and quietly left the theater.
I am so glad I got to see these three movies presented as the single story that they are. Before the third movie started, there was a short clip from Peter Jackson. He acknowledged that some of his greatest fans were present for this event, willingly devoting nine hours out of their day to see this marathon. Then he suggested putting all six Middle-Earth movies together for a mega marathon at selected theaters. “That’s for another day,” he promised. I hope that becomes a reality. If so, I’m there!