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2.1.14 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Film Comments 3, “Queer Lodgings, Part 2”)

2.1.14  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Film Comments 3, “Queer Lodgings, Part 2”)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (New Line 2013)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (New Line 2013)

Good Morning, Everyone:

Okay, to continue:  things I loved about Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of “Chapter 7: Queer Lodgings”:

The Prancing Pony (Bree)

The Prancing Pony (Bree)

Peter Jackson's Cameo in Bree (The Hobbit, DoS)

Peter Jackson’s Cameo in Bree (The Hobbit, DoS)

The meeting between Gandalf & Thorin in The Prancing Pony.  Yes, Jackson is putting serious weight into Gandalf’s presence (moreso than in the book), but the one consistent aspect that Tolkien himself made clear about the wizard was that he was considered a “meddler,” from the head of the White Council (Saruman) all the way to the respectively ensorcelled rulers Théoden and Denethor II in Tolkien’s The Two Towers and The Return of the King.  (For those critics who have accused Jackson of padding The Hobbit so that his LoTR film trilogy makes sense, I reply:  of course, he is!  Wouldn’t you want a consistent story as a creator? At least with these developing storylines, a film-goer will walk away from these six films with a very good sense of the history of Middle Earth, a history that has taken some scholars/fans a lifetime of very fun & imaginative memorizing!)

Tolkien, The Hobbit (at the Carrock, art by Alan Lee)

Tolkien, The Hobbit (at the Carrock, art by Alan Lee)

The dynamic of Thorin & Co. being hunted by orcs and wargs:  Again, criticisms have been lobbed at introducing this element into the film because while Bilbo and the dwarves were being hunted in The Hobbit, the moment is revealed in a passing couple lines of Beorn in the cottage; in the film, Bilbo brings the viewer with him on a scouting mission in the Wild.  Which would you prefer? The company discussing the threats looming around them from the safety of Beorn’s cottage, or actually seeing that threat in action?  (Granted, in the book, the hunters are actually goblins from the Misty Mountains seeking revenge for Gandalf’s execution of the Goblin King, but I thought Jackson’s approach worked much better in a film version.)  

Tolkien, The Hobbit (at the edge of Mirkwood, Alan Lee)

Tolkien, The Hobbit (at the edge of Mirkwood, Alan Lee)

Also, if you removed this element of the company being hunted and filmed as-is the chapter “Queer Lodgings,” you’d have maybe 12 minutes of the following:  (1) eagles dropping members of the company at Carrock, (2) Thorin & Co. recuperating with Beorn, (3) the company nervously riding borrowed ponies to the edge of Mirkwood, and, finally, (4) the dwarves making lots of exclamations along the lines of, “Gandalf, don’t leave us!” when the wizard departs for “some pressing business away south.”  

INSTEAD, we have some wonderful initial scenes at the Carrock which develop Bilbo as a character, in that he now serves as point-man/scout for the dwarves, they take seriously his report of warg and orc hunting parties (what a contrast from even the last film!), and then a remarkable cut-scene that shows the return of Azog to Dol Goldur to get new instructions from the Necromancer…which leads me to my next favorite part of this departure from the original text.

What do you think of Jackson’s version of “Chapter 7, Queer Lodgings”?

Next time:  The last part of what I liked about the adaptation of Chapter VII:  Azog, Orcs, and Understanding Sauron’s hatred of Dwarves!

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