So I read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien for the first time this month. I’d been wanting to read it, but unlike many classics, it wasn’t free on my Kindle, so I put it off. Then I heard about the movie, and decided to wait until after seeing part 1 before reading.
As soon as I watched the movie, I downloaded the book and began it. And I was over half done (more than past the first movie) when I went to see it again.
There are those people out there who want movies to be identical to the books that they are based on. I have heard many grumblings from LotR fans about the differences between the books and the movies. And the Hobbit movie is very different from the book. I described it to my dad like this: “It’s as if they received an outline of what happens in the book, and followed the outline to the letter, but had to fill in all the details themselves.” That is exactly what it’s like to compare the two.
All the events in the book are there in the movie. Direct dialogue from the book makes it to the movie too, but, quite frankly, most of the conversations in the book are told to us, not shown. I remember remarking in Goodreads, about a third of the way in, that the longest conversation anyone had had so far in the book was between Gollum/Smeagol and himself. But screenwriters like dialogue, so naturally they made it up. Scenes are expanded. Battles are more epic. Scenes were added. Hey, what’s this ex-Doctor brown wizard doing in here? He’s clearly setting up the battle that we’re inevitably going to see Gandalf have in a later movie (only mentioned in the book).
But it all worked. Peter Jackson took a thirdish of the book and made it into a full-length movie that was had it’s own plot arc. In the book, Bilbo doesn’t become part of the gang until they deal with the spiders. The plot arc for this movie is Bilbo coming into his own, becoming part of the gang, going from a guy who wants to go back for his hanky to a guy who throws himself between an orc and a dying dwarf. And I dare say, I was more impressed with his arc in the movie (where he doesn’t use the ring to do his most heroic bits) than in the book.
Some parts in the movie do go overboard in their quest to be epic. The battle against the goblins requires just too much suspension of disbelief. I mean, really, what could possibly be a challenge to fight after 14 people take on millions of goblins. On the other hand, the troll battle was perfectly done, IMO. And I liked how Bilbo got to actually help in the solution to the troll problem.
Pretty much all the dwarf history, including the intro does not exist in the book, but it’s a gorgeous set-up to the movie.
Having just read the book, I can easily see where the line is drawn between movies 2 and 3. It’s spiders and wood elves for 2 and Smaug and Five Armies (or will it be Six with the pale orc involved?) for 3. Plus Gandalf will be off doing stuff and I’m sure we’ll get to see that added to it. And who knows what else will be added.
If you haven’t read The Hobbit yet, I do recommend seeing the movie first, then reading the book. For me, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed that first third as much without certain visuals already added for me. It’s a lot of narration, which is not my preferred style. By the time I got past the first movie, though, I was used to the style and could read the last 2/3 with ease. In general, I’ve found that if there’s a book and a movie, watching the movie first, then reading the book, leads to less disappointment than reading the book first and then watching the movie. Not always, but usually.
Overall, the movie was quite an achievement, and I look forward to the next two. I wonder if those that read and loved the book first would agree
Lots of love,