The Hobbit, The Unexpected Adventure, shows that Peter Jackson may be one of best storytellers in the cinema world today. Jackson’s brilliant take on the Lord of Rings is successful simply because he stays loyal to Tolkien’s vision. The biggest mistake that movie producers and writers make when basing a movie on a classic is to ignore the original text. A few years ago, the Movie Troy, was the perfect example of this as Wolfgang Peterson simply ignored much of Homer’s text and produced a mess of movie. Making a movie about ancient Greeks and overlooking gods is like doing a movie on the Bible and not mentioning God. Troy was terrible simply because Peterson ignored Homer. As my daughter once observed, Peterson and his writers disregarded one of history’s best story tellers and script writer in Homer.
Jackson has a unique challenge for he did the Lord of the Rings before making The Hobbit, and as one reviewer, Ross Douthat, observed, The Hobbit does take liberties with Tolkien’s world but as Douthat noted, “I have a few nerd’s quibbles with how Jackson rewrites the Middle Earth timeline but everything he adds is adapted from somewhere in the canon.”
Baggins first meeting with Gollum and his match of wits with the creature is one of those scenes that begins to prepare us for the world of the Lord of Rings. We are not sure of the significance of the golden ring that Baggins steals from Gollum or its power but Baggins catches on quickly that it can make him invisible and escape Gollum’s grasp.
In the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, two hobbits, Frodo and Sam, have the fate of Middle Earth in their hands as they take the ring to be destroyed into the pits of Mordor. These two hobbits show that ordinary people are capable of great things. Baggins is not much different as he is perfectly content to live in the shire and has no desire to go on any adventure but the wizard Gandalf convinces him otherwise. Baggins finds himself with thirteen dwarves seeking to win back their kingdom lost to the fire breathing dragon, Smaug, and throughout much of the movie, neither dwarves nor Baggins himself understand what Baggins brings to the adventure. Gandalf convinces the dwarves that Baggins would make a perfect burglar but even Baggins is puzzled over that.
As the journey proceeds, Baggins shows quick thinking and courage while demonstrating he indeed belongs. The film begins with the story of Erebor, the dwarf kingdom that is awash with wealth but the kingdom is destroyed and taken over by the dragon Smaug. The dwarves no longer have their kingdom and they begin their exodus into various communities as their past glory becomes memories. Thorin, the grandson of the King who lost the kingdom, is determined to regain his kingdom with the aid of Gangdalf.
Jackson adds characters from the original Lord of the Rings that tie the two projects including Gandalf meeting with White Council including Galadriel, Elrond, and Saruman, a meeting that determines the fate of Gandalf’s quest. The movie is three hours but because of Jackson storytelling skills, it goes by fast and you are disappointed when the movie ends. Unlike the Lord of the Rings, Jackson adds to the Hobbit story including cameos from the original Lord of the Rings trilogy to lengthen the movie and adds enough pieces to make it a trilogy. Whether the additions add or detract from the effort, the next two installments will tell. Jackson is off to a good start with the first installment and we are treated to a story on how history often sits on the shoulder of ordinary people such as Bilbo Baggins.