We here at LeakyNews have noticed that a lot of you are uncertain about the recent announcement that The Hobbit is going to be split into three movies. The consensus seems to be that three films for one movie is just simply too much. Well dear readers, I disagree! And I’m here to tell you why.
So the first thing to address is- why three films? Two, okay, but three? Why do they need that many?
Well the answer is two-pronged. First, there is a recent trend in cinema that has really changed the way that major Hollywood studios go about producing novel-adaptations for theaters. This trend first began, ironically enough, with Peter Jackson’s previous love, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The extreme popularity of the extended editions has proven to production companies that audiences are very interested in getting a more complete adaptation, so much so that they would either wait for the extended editions to come out ages after the initial DVD/bluray release, or that they would be willing to shell out twice to get the extended edition once it’s released. This was further explored with the two-parter Deathly Hallows, and now two-part novel adaptations have become all the rage in Hollywood.
Splitting The Hobbit into two parts makes sense, because it gives Peter Jackson nearly unlimited space to properly tell the story. I think that audiences sometimes forget just how large books are! The Hobbit clocks in at 320 pages, which is hefty, but not massive. Still, converting all of that into film without cutting anything is a challenge that every screenwriter faces. Now they have the room to spread it over two films, making the screenwriter’s job that much easier, and leaving audiences that much more satisfied.
Secondly, and more importantly, is that there is a great wealth of material that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that was not published until after his death. We’re talking thousands of pages here, people. Tolkien’s work is famous for being incredibly detailed in its back-story and lore. That is because Tolkien literally fleshed out every imaginable detail in the history of his world. It’s been covered. There are very, very few things that have not been explained about Middle Earth and its inhabitants in Tolkien’s extended writings.
So naturally, The Hobbit, being a part of Tolkien’s body of work, has a great deal written about it (nearly all of it after it was published) that readers would never know about just by reading the novel. All of this writing, since it did come directly from Tolkien’s brain, is canon! Therefor Peter Jackson can and will and should use it to make The Hobbit a better and more complete film.
‘But!’ you might say, ‘The Hobbit is fine the way it is! If Tolkien had wanted to include those things in the story, he would have!’ To which my reply is, not necessarily.
You see, The Hobbit, as many people know, started life as a bedtime story that Tolkien wrote for his children. In its first edition, it was not related to Middle Earth, and Lord of the Rings was not even on the radar yet (it only came about because his publisher asked for a sequel, his true love was The Silmarillion, which he revised endlessly until his death).
The novel was revised three times in published form, and his unpublished additions and commentary were included in the fourth and fifth editions. The Hobbit is a tale that grew in the telling, and Tolkien’s problem with it (that he never solved in published form) was getting it to mesh with the rest of Middle Earth.
So how will Jackson find a way to include this material? Well it’s actually a fairly natural process. Anyone who has read The Hobbit knows that there is quite a lot going on in the wide world outside of Bilbo’s sphere of knowledge. After all, he’s only just been introduced to life outside the Shire and so anything that is not immediately relevant to his quest is only mentioned in passing. But since we are fans of LotR, these things become much more important.
An example, if you will, is Gandalf. In The Hobbit, Gandalf is a sort of guiding character, the adult to help the child in Bilbo along, giving him prodding where needed and giving advice where words will do better. He disappears for great swaths of the novel, however, and as we find out, it is very important that he does. Even though Bilbo is our protagonist, we, as viewers of LotR, know that what Gandalf is doing is at least as important (if not moreso) than Bilbo’s adventure.
By focusing on the journeys of the different characters (not just Bilbo), and looking at the wider world outside of Bilbo’s travels (and the wider consequences of his actions outside of the novel) Peter Jackson gives us the opportunity to experience a true prequel to The Lord of the Rings. The very reason Tolkien had so many problems adapting The Hobbit to Middle Earth is because the story, unlike the rest of his writing, is so consumed with just one character, and one who has no knowledge outside of his own tiny, quiet corner of Middle Earth. Peter Jackson is going to change this by incorporating the stories of many of the other characters that appear in The Hobbit, some only anecdotaly such as Radagast, because even if they aren’t terribly important to Bilbo’s quest, they are incredibly important to the lead-up to The Lord of the Rings, which became the rock that the rest of Tolkien’s mythos revolves around.
For those of you worried about the purity of the work, relax. I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that Jackson is adding anything that is not canon. And as a result I am thoroughly convinced we will get a better movie more in line with Tolkien’s final vision for The Hobbit.
What do you think, Hobbit fans? Does this make any sense?