Journey 280: Here There Be Dragons

Tonight Dayan and I continued our journey through Middle Earth with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition. We learned Monday that we didn’t need to arrive so early at the theater, which allowed for time to grab dinner with Greg at Five Guys Burgers. We enjoyed the freshly grilled burgers and the conversation before heading to Regal Theater, with just enough time to settle into our seats. 


As with the last Hobbit movie, I’ve written a great deal about The Desolation of Smaug. However, it was so good to see this one again on the big screen, and especially to see the additional footage. I marvel at the editing team, in knowing what to cut from the film and what to leave in. These scenes that ended up on the editing room floor seem so vital to the story. I’m grateful that Peter Jackson sees the value in doing an extended edition and adding the cut footage back into the movie, creating a seamless longer version. 

One of my favorite additional scenes in TDOS takes place as Gandalf gingerly introduces the company of dwarves to the skin changer, Beorn. Known to have both an unpredictable temper and a dislike for dwarves, Beorn must be approached with caution. I love how Gandalf uncharacteristicly stumbles over his words as the dwarves appear from within Beorn’s house, in pairs. It’s a moment of comedy in an otherwise intense film. 


There are additional minutes added to the scene in Mirkwood, as the dwarves attempt to find their way through the dark forest. The enchantment aspect is played up more and includes Bombur’s fall into the river and his surrender to a sleeping spell. Dayan was grateful that there was not additional footage of the giant spiders that lurk within the woods, as he strongly dislikes spiders! 

One of the most significant inclusions is the long sequence that reveals that Thrain, Thorin’s father, is still alive. He went missing after the battle at Moria and most thought him to be dead. But Thorin never gave up the belief that his father was alive. Gandalf finds him, confused and a shadow of his former self, imprisoned in Dol Guldur, the old fortress now inhabited by evil. This scene is tragic to me, as Thorin never gets to see his father, but we do. And we hear Thrain’s request of Gandalf, to tell his son that he loves him. 

Although the word “journey” is not in the title of this middle film in the trilogy, journey is what the movie is about. The first film establishes the characters and sets them on their paths. In The Desolation of Smaug, we get to see the real journey taking place as the characters discover who they are, at a deep level, and offer out of that place of knowing. 

I saw more clearly tonight those strengths and something else that I had not noted before. Each being….man, dwarf, hobbit, wizard, even the orcs…offered to each other wholly from who they were, no matter what the expectations were of the company around them. And so Thorin acted from his heart and his purpose, in spite of the warnings of Gandalf and Bard. And Bilbo behaved as Bilbo, no matter what Thorin demanded of him. Tauriel followed her heart, against the advice of Legolas, who in turn had to be his own Elf and not a copy of his father, Thranduil. 
Some faced dragons. Some conquered fears. Some found what had been lost, whether it was courage or jewels or their own worth. They journeyed together, all of them, a great company of companions, offering their hearts, lending their strength, contributing beautifully to the ongoing story of their shared adventure, while being absolutely true to who they were, individually. It was deeply inspiring to me, and an aspect of the movie that I had not pondered until tonight. 

Perhaps my favorite scene of all in this second movie is the river footage as the dwarves are carried along in the current, riding in their barrels. There are exciting moments and dangerous ones, waterfalls, rapids and calm stretches of water, and the journeyers keep moving, keeping going where the flow takes them, handling what they must. I love that snapshot of life, of the journey. I see myself, sure of who I am and what I have to offer, bobbing along, down the river of life, companions coming alongside, challenges and calm stretches and joy all mingled together as I stay in the flow. I know I am going exactly where I am meant to go. Is it crazy that I see myself in a barrel, rather than a boat? I don’t think so! 


Journey 278: Riddles…and Selfies…in the Dark

Tonight my grandson Dayan and I had the joy of journeying through Middle Earth again. Fathom Events is hosting the extended editions of all three Hobbit movies, at our local theater. Tonight was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of the trilogy. 


I have written several blog posts about the impact the Tolkien stories have had on my life. So I will not go into detail about the movie, except to say, every time I watch The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, I see something new, something fresh. My heart and soul expands because of the bigness of the story and I am inspired to live a larger life because of that expansiveness. Like Bilbo, I long for adventure and a significant role in a meaningful story. I love that toward the end of An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo, who has already experienced growth because of his adventure, says that he is not a hero, not even a burglar, which is what the Company sees him as. Bilbo is himself, and for the first time in his life, he is discovering exactly what that means. 

Dayan and I enjoyed the additional footage, 20 extra minutes of Middle Earth goodness. The majority of those extra scenes were in Rivendell, which made me smile. My grandson and I discussed the symbolism of Rivendell and many other deeper truths  behind Tolkien’s epic stories, a conversation that I enjoyed as much as the movie, which is saying a great deal. 


There was an on screen trivia game to play, as the minutes ticked down to show time. We only missed one question, out of 20, and had fun testing our knowledge. Most of all this evening, I enjoyed spending time with this remarkable young man, who so graciously accompanied me on this adventure. We chatted. And we laughed. A lot. 

Not knowing how many people would be in attendance, we arrived early, and discovered we were the first arrivals. The theater was already in semi darkness. We attempted to take a selfie, to commemorate our evening, and the hilarity began. My first selfie looked like this, after much editing:


Dayan did better with his phone, except we discovered that selfies in the dark cause the flash to come on, and it is difficult to keep your eyes open when the light flashes in your face. Each pic sent us into peals of laughter. 


I experienced a first today. I resorted to using a cane to help me walk easier, as my left leg is healing from a very inflamed sciatic nerve. I warned Dayan that I had a cane tonight, so he wouldn’t be concerned or surprised. After making sure I was going to be okay, and that the cane wasn’t a permanent accessory for me, he gently and relentlessly teased me about it the rest of the evening. From threatening to buy me a life alert necklace in case I “fell and couldn’t get up”, to including the cane in a selfie, to rescuing my cane when I fumbled and dropped it, Dayan’s good natured ribbing raised my spirits and reminded me that in the largeness of my life, this is a small matter. I appreciate him so much and I am grateful that we travel together on our current adventure. We look forward to the next two movies, Wednesday evening and next Tuesday, when we will see the extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies for the first time. I hope by then the cane is parked in a corner. If not, perhaps I’ll trade it for a staff, like Gandalf has.