Not new, but new to me: I HAVE RECUT PETER JACKSON’S HOBBIT TRILOGY INTO A SINGLE 4-HOUR FILM
Let me start by saying that I enjoy many aspects of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. Overall, however, I felt that the story was spoiled by an interminable running time, unengaging plot tangents and constant narrative filibustering. What especially saddened me was how Bilbo (the supposed protagonist of the story) was rendered absent for large portions of the final two films. Back in 2012, I had high hopes of adding The Hobbit to my annual Lord of the Rings marathon, but in its current bloated format, I simply cannot see that happening.
So, over the weekend, I decided to condense all three installments (An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies) into a single 4-hour feature that more closely resembled Tolkien’s original novel. Well, okay, it’s closer to 4.5 hours, but those are some long-ass credits! This new version was achieved through a series of major and minor cuts, detailed below:
- The investigation of Dol Guldor has been completely excised, including the appearances of Radagast, Saruman and Galadriel. This was the most obvious cut, and the easiest to carry out (a testament to its irrelevance to the main narrative). Like the novel, Gandalf abruptly disappears on the borders of Mirkwood, and then reappears at the siege of the Lonely Mountain with tidings of an orc army.
- The Tauriel-Legolas-Kili love triangle has also been removed. Indeed, Tauriel is no longer a character in the film, and Legolas only gets a brief cameo during the Mirkwood arrest. This was the next clear candidate for elimination, given how little plot value and personality these two woodland sprites added to the story. Dwarves are way more fun to hang out with anyway.😛
- The Pale Orc subplot is vastly trimmed down. Azog is obviously still leading the attack on the Lonely Mountain at the end, but he does not appear in the film until after the company escapes the goblin tunnels (suggesting that the slaying of the Great Goblin is a factor in their vendetta, as it was in the novel).
- Several of the Laketown scenes have been cut, such as Bard’s imprisonment and the superfluous orc raid. However, I’ve still left quite a bit of this story-thread intact, since I felt it succeeded in getting the audience to care about the down-beaten fisherfolk and the struggles of Bard to protect them.
- The prelude with old Bilbo is gone. As with the novel, I find the film works better if the scope starts out small (in a cosy hobbit hole), and then grows organically as Bilbo ventures out into the big, scary world. It is far more elegant to first learn about Smaug from the dwarves’ haunting ballad (rather than a bombastic CGI sequence). The prelude also undermines the real-and-present stakes of the story by framing it as one big flashback.
H/T to Sarah Salviander on Gab.ai for the link.