2.14.14 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Film Comments 15, “A Warm Welcome,” Part 1)
Good Morning, Everyone! First, a very Happy Valentine’s Day 2014 to my wife, Sophia; for 20+ (!) years of love, friendship, & inspiration — I deeply appreciate your always keeping it “real” by way of the mental gymnastics, verbal swordplay, & genuine laughter that make any relationship worth having…daily grateful & fortunate to have you and the kids in my life!
Now, onto my assessment of how Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug cinematically adapted J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, The Hobbit. When you look at that book & compare the scenes covered in the film, you find that Jackson and his fellow screenwriters essentially adapted Chapters 7-12; we’ve reached “Chapter X, A Warm Welcome,” whose narrative in the source contains the following:
— chapter opens with Bilbo & barrel-stowed dwarves reaching end of the river that opens onto Long Lake, with the invisible hobbit espying the Lonely Mountain on the other side
— about five pages that described how floods, marshes, and earthquakes had made impassable all of the previous routes to Esgaroth (Lake Town), a description of the environs around the Lonely Mountain (w/references to Smaug’s destruction of Dale, trade networks, and the physical appearance of Lake-Town itself, how the wood-elves moor the raft and go to party in Lake-town, and then Bilbo’s prying open all of the barrels to free the wet and cold dwarves (whom are described as grumbling, but come around under Thorin’s lead to appreciate Bilbo’s actions)
— the dwarves’ arrival into a company of drinking guards and elves in Lake-Town, & the announcement by Thorin that he is “Thorin, son of Thrain son of Thror King under the Mountain!” with a demand to see the Master.
— the dwarves’ arrival to the Master’s great hall, and repeated announcement by Thorin of his identity, and demand by the Wood-elves that the entire company is to be considered escaped prisoners of the elf-king
— a two-page description of the Master’s hesitation — that is, he doesn’t want to offend the Wood-elves because of the trade network between his people and Thranduil’s folk, but a four-stanza song sung by the people of Lake-town reminds him that the people of Esgaroth had it pretty good when the dwarves were running things in the region!
— the Master grants lodging to the dwarves and Bilbo, and they remain in Lake-town recovering their strength while the Wood-elves return to Thranduil to report (the elf-king states that no one shall return through Mirkwood without paying a hefty sum)
— the chapter ends with Thorin informing the Master that his company will continue to make their way to the Lonely Mountain (an intention that confirms for the Master that these dwarves aren’t frauds, and that they really do intend to confront Smaug…)
I’ll let the Master of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien, end the chapter in his own words:
Then for the first time the Master was surprised and a little frightened; and he wondered if Thorin was after all really a descendant of the old kings. He had never thought that the dwarves would actually dare to approach Smaug, but believed that they were frauds who would sooner or later be discovered and turned out. He was wrong. Thorin, of course, was really the grandson of the King under the Mountain, and there is no knowing what a dwarf will not dare and do for revenge or the recovery of his own.
But the Master was not sorry at all to let them go. They were expensive to keep, and their arrival had turned things into a long holiday in which business was at a standstill. “Let them go and bother Smaug, and see how he welcomes them!” he thought. “Certainly, O Thorin Thrain’s son Thror’s son!” was what he said. “You must claim your own. The hour is at hand, spoken of old. What help we can offer shall be yours, and we trust to your gratitude when your kingdom is regained.”
So one day, although autumn was now getting far on, and winds were cold, and leaves were falling fast, three large boats left Lake-town, laden with rowers, dwarves, Mr. Baggins, and provisions. Horses and ponies had been sent round circuitous paths to meet them at their appointed landing-place. The Master and his councillors bade them farewell from the great steps of the town-hall that went down to the lake. People sang on the quays and out of windows. The white oars dipped and splashed, and off they went north up the lake on the last of their long journey. The only person thoroughly unhappy was Bilbo.
Next time: Peter Jacksons’ Take on adapting “Chapter X: A Warm Welcome!”