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2.3.14 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Film Comments 5, “Flies and Spiders,” Part 1”)

"Entering Mirkwood" (Ted Nasmith)

“Entering Mirkwood” (Ted Nasmith)

2.3.14  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Film Comments 5, “Flies and Spiders,” Part 1)

Hello, Everybody —

As a Denver Broncos fan, I’m still reeling & very disappointed after yesterday’s Super Bowl debacle — but a huge congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for their win and coming prepared to play!  Thankfully, I’ll find some tonic for the bitter “sting” of defeat in continuing my assessment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second of a three-part film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

First, a recap of events and storyline in the original version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s bookThe Hobbit, Chapter VIII, “Flies and Spiders”

J.R.R. Tolkien, Mirkwood

J.R.R. Tolkien, Mirkwood

The company enters Mirkwood and walk for days, becoming increasingly exhausted and depressed by the march through the dark & foreboding wood.  They come to river and — thanks to Bilbo spying a boat on the other side — they find a way across with hooks and rope, but Bombur slips into the water and falls asleep, losing his memory.

Bilbo in Mirkwood (Alan Lee)

Bilbo in Mirkwood (Alan Lee)

During the next stage of the journey, the dwarves keep seeing lights and fires in the woods, tempting them off the forest path that Gandalf & Beorn warned them to stay upon, and the company becomes increasingly hungry as their supplies dwindle.  Despairing of ever reaching the end of the woods, Bilbo climbs a high tree and — relieved at breathing fresh air and cheered at the sight of hundreds of “black emperor” butterflies — he nevertheless sees no end of the trees of Mirkwood.

The Spiders of Mirkwood (Ted Nasmith)

The Spiders of Mirkwood (Ted Nasmith)

Despairing even further and beginning to starve, the company continues to hear laughter and singing in the woods, and eventually start chasing lights and fires because they can smell the aroma of food at elvish banquets.  However, upon coming to each one of them, the lights and fires always go out, and the company is drawn ever deeper into Mirkwood, straying farther from the forest path with each foray.  At the last one, the dwarves and hobbit clearly see the features of the elves, but when the lights go out the company is disbanded and Bilbo’s left alone.

The Spiders of Mirkwood (Alan Lee)

The Spiders of Mirkwood (Alan Lee)

As he sits against a tree and thinks, he realizes that his legs have been bound in webbing, and upon cutting himself free, he finds himself in a desperate battle with a giant spider.  He slays it, names his dagger “Sting,” and sets about freeing the dwarves, who have been bound by a horde of spiders.  He frees them after many brave heroics with his magic ring (keeping him invisible) and afterwards confesses to the dwarves of his discovery of the One Ring under the mountains. 

They proceed on their way again, increasingly hungry and tired, but get captured by a troop of Wood-elves, who bring them to their home on the edge of the forest — at chapter’s end, the Elf King tries to learn why the dwarves are in his realm (he’s distrustful of any dwarf because of old accusations that dwarves had stolen his treasure…).  When Thorin refuses to answer, the king orders that the company be taken to the dungeons (except for an invisible Bilbo) “…until [Thorin] feels inclined to tell the truth, even if he waits a hundred years.”

Next time:  Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of this chapter!

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