2.20.14 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Film Comments 21, “On the Doorstep,” Part 3)
Good Morning, Everyone!
Given that Peter Jackson’s 2013 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug adapted Chapters 7-12 of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 classic book, The Hobbit, I’m now at my own thoughts about the interpretation of Chapter 11’s “On the Doorstep.”
First, this was a very, very short chapter in Tolkien’s book, so there are similarly only a few things to comment upon (as opposed to next chapter, and the climax of this film). So, I really enjoyed the journey of Bilbo and the dwarves to the Front Gate, and the cinematography that captured the lands around Smaug’s domain; especially effective here were the discovery of the stairwell in the side of the dwarf statue, the perilous ascent and depiction of the hidden door, and even the departure from the book that had the moon (instead of the sun) illuminate the keyhole.
Secondly, I found that back in Lake Town, both the infiltration of Bolg’s orc troop added some great tension to the film, & Bard’s revelation of the Black Arrow as “hiding in plain sight” gave us a needful foreshadowing to the bowman’s role at the end of the story. Also, when Bard and his son are racing through Lake Town, loved getting to see more of this medieval-like village, and also the dynamic between those citizens who could care less about Bard, those (spies) allied with the Master, and, finally, the few friends whom Bard could call his own. (A nice moment when Bard went into the tapestry shop, chatted with the owner, and found the arras that detailed Thorin’s family tree!)
Lastly, I thought that the battle between Gandalf and the Necromancer was awesome; loved the magical engagement, and so glad that the CGI could bring this kind of conflict into high relief…for those critics who’ve thought it essentially a poor-man’s Harry Potter vs. Voldemort, all I can say is that Tolkien did much to invent the epic fantasy genre, and this kind of wizard’s battle should most definitely be featured in an adaptation of the work that informed much of the 20th Century imitators of Tolkien!
Next Time: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Chapter 12: Inside Information!