Lightning in a Bottle, an unfilmable story.
Last year, after a decade of speculation, failed starts and mountains of expectation, Peter Jackson released The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a trilogy of films adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel, The Hobbit, for the big screen. Following in the footsteps of its bigger brother, Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the Rings, a modern film classic in its own right, The Hobbit was almost destined to disappoint. With his first trilogy, Jackson captured lightning in a bottle. He took the movie industry by storm, and revitalized mainstream excitement for fantasy to a level not seen since the ’80s. He did so, somehow, by executing an enormous passion project that seemed almost impossible under the circumstances: no major stars, a production and special effects company that no one had heard of, a story deemed unfilmable by many fans, and a film industry that had not seen anything of its scale since Lucas’ Star Wars (which, in itself, faced many challenges and doubters before it found success.)
When Jackson first approached New Line Cinema, he pitched them on an adaptation of The Hobbit, with a two-film adaptation of Lord of the Rings to follow. As these things go, film rights to The Hobbit were split between two companies (which would again later impede production of The Hobbit trilogy we know today), while Lord of the Rings was entirely under the umbrella of New Line Cinema’s owner, Saul Zaentz. Jackson, a relative unknown in the world of big budget Hollywood films, was given the reigns to one of the most revered entertainment properties in the world. Continue reading
Remember back in your younger days when the hours would fly by as you dug through your bin of LEGO, bounded only by the limits of your imagination? Grown now, Alice Finch and David Frank have taken that concept to another level with their enormous recreation of Rivendell, The Last Homely House west of the Mountains, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
“This, of course, isn’t Finch or Frank’s first LEGO project,” explains Stew Shearer of The Escapist. “Both, in the past, took part in a collaborative project based on Hobbiton, another Tolkien location. Finch has also done a recreation of Hogwarts Castle, while Frank has built several complex castles. The two chose to build Rivendell in part because they believed it to “the ultimate challenge.”
This imagining, which takes visual cues from Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, measures in at 10′ by 5′ and contains over 200,000 pieces of LEGO. Certainly puts my old childhood creations to shame. But, damnit, those had heart! This Rivendell just has… immense amounts of creative vision, talent and hardwork.
If there’s one takeaway from the first film in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit, it’s that the writer/director’s tinkering with Tolkien’s lore, ostensibly for the sake of making a more
bloated exciting theatre-going experience, was less than successful. The additions of Azog, Radagast’s plight against the Necromancer, the absurdity in the hall of the Goblin King, and anything to do with the White Council were unnecessary to Bilbo’s story (which, at the end of the day, is what The Hobbit should be about), and raised concerns about the decision to extend the series of films from two volumes into a trilogy.
On the eve of the release of the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson recently discussed the decision to add and expand on the characters of three elves, including fan favourite Legolas, played again by Orlando Bloom, and newcomer Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily. “People always ask about Evangeline’s character Tauriel and why we felt the need to create her,” Jackson said, via /Film. “But in The Hobbit novel, [the dwarves] are captured by the elves and they escape in the barrels. And it’s a memorable part of the book but the Elf King is not even named. He doesn’t have a name. And it was only later on that Tolkien decided it should be Thranduil and he also decided he should have a son when Lord of the Rings was written 18-19 years later. He created the character of the son of the king. Continue reading
Despite all my reservations about the first volume of the ‘trilogy’ of films (which, compared to the rest of the Internet, are fairly mild and positive), I can’t help but feel giddy when I watch this trailer. Yeah, it looks nothing like the book, but all hope for a faithful, irreverent adaptation were lost once Jackson announced that he was splitting the films into three parts anyway. It looks beautiful, and fun and I can’t help but become lost in Jackson’s version of Middle Earth.
The most disheartening thing is that, by all indications, the final film is going to comprise solely of the Battle of the Five Armies. Three hours of goblins, dwarves and, elves duking it out in CGI glory. I mean, that’s totally what I want from The Hobbit…
Trailer is here.
Huzzah! I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see that bit where the elves are snowboarding through the trees and shooting arrows at the Dwarves as they escape in the barrels. Nothing to see here folks, move along!
Oh, and, Smaug. Yum.