After completing the Lord of the Rings Trilogy last week, today, for the fourth week of the marathon, I began The Hobbit Trilogy. As I popped The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey into my tv/dvd player, I scrolled through my blog posts, sure that I had written about this movie before. I haven’t actually done a review of this film. I’ve mentioned it in several posts, especially as I was working on The Hobbit Fan Contest. This, then, will be my thoughts about the first Hobbit movie. As with the other Peter Jackson films, I chose to watch the extended edition version.
The LOTR movies had such a great impact on my life, that I didn’t see how The Hobbit films could possibly do the same. This prequel to the Lord of the Rings was not my favorite JRR Tolkien story. However, I admired Peter Jackson’s ability to bring to life the complex characters from Tolkien’s books and I looked forward to a return visit to Middle-Earth. Gimli the dwarf was not my favorite character. I didn’t dislike him. I just liked some of the other characters more. And, Bilbo, while important in the Lord of the Rings story, is a minor character in that film. He is nearing the end of his life. After he passes the One Ring on to Frodo, he journeys to Rivendell and we only see him a couple of other times in the trilogy.
There are references to Bilbo’s great adventure during the LOTR, including a look at the stone trolls and peeks at the book he is writing, as he records the tale for Frodo. I knew Sting the sword, and the mithril shirt were acquired during that dragon hunt. So I felt more indulgent than excited about the film as I prepared to view The Hobbit in the theater for the first time. I sat back, ready to enjoy a good story in my beloved Middle-Earth. And enjoy the story I did. To my surprise, I fell in love with another amazing cast of characters. I missed Aragron and Arwen, yet some of my other favorites from LOTR were there: Gandalf, back to being the Grey, Elrond, Galadriel, Legolas, and a cameo by Frodo.
I was impressed with Thorin Oakenshield and his company of dwarves. Fierce, stubborn, proud, warrior-like, my appreciation for this displaced band of journeyers was sincere, and strong. And Bilbo, young and uncertain of his worth, did indeed carry this movie as an unexpected hero, on a very unexpected journey. Tonight, watching the film again, I noted the scenes that stirred my own sense of adventure and took notice of the lines that were worthy quotes. Here are a few of the stand out sections that spoke to me in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Bilbo, though still young by Hobbit reckoning, has settled into a predictable and sedate lifestyle. An adventure is the last thing he wants to experience, when Gandalf comes to visit. The wizard, who is very familiar with Bilbo’s ancestry, sees the cleverness and courage lurking within the Hobbit, and calls him forth. Some of the most powerful lines in this film are spoken to Bilbo, who fainted at the thought of encountering a fire breathing dragon, and wants to sit quietly to recover. Says Gandalf, “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me, when did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you? I remember a young Hobbit who was always running off in search of Elves in the woods. He’d stay out late, come home after dark, trailing mud and twigs and fireflies. A young Hobbit who would’ve liked nothing better than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.” Gandalf’s words not only give Bilbo pause, they give me pause too. I noticed for the first time the word beyond in his dialogue. I don’t want to experience the world through books, maps or movies. I am proclaiming, like Bilbo, “I’m going on an adventure!”
When Galadriel asks Gandalf why he included the Halfling on the adventure, Gandalf tells her that having Bilbo along infuses him with courage. “I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay…small acts of kindness and love.” It is the good-hearted Bilbo who inspires Gandalf, and his small acts that have the biggest impact. I too am capable of such everyday deeds and acts of kindness and love to keep the darkness at bay. Bilbo infuses me with courage as well. This conversation takes place in Rivendell, a place of beauty and restorative peace. I have been captivated by Rivendell since LOTR and I am inspired to create Rivendell-like spaces, whether in my garden or somewhere larger. I love the additional Rivendell scenes included on the extended edition version.
Thorin Oakenshield, like Aragorn in LOTR, undergoes the most transformation. For him, though, unlike Aragorn, he must first descend into an obsessive madness. After being driven from his kingdom of Erebor and losing his grandfather, the king, and his father, Thorin becomes a homeless wanderer. “And he never forgave. And he never forgot.” His deep anger fuels his passion for reclaiming his kingdom, and his treasure. And yet, he is a noble warrior, and very protective of his nephews and his company. By the end of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, he has an awakening respect for Bilbo, his burglar who has never stolen a thing. There is a dragon involved too, of course, but more about him after the next Hobbit movie.
I have appreciated the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Middle-Earth stories and to lay aside what I thought I knew and perceive anew with fresh eyes. As a result, I’ve continued to draw life lessons from these films while also enjoying the epic adventures. One more week remains in the marathon, and with it, the chance to watch the extended edition of The Desolation of Smaug, which I have not seen in its entirety yet. And then, the short wait for the last Hobbit movie to release in theaters, mid December. I am ready!