I’ve just read a review of The Hobbit–not the book, but Peter Jackson’s new prequel to his Lord of the Rings movies. The reviewer objected that the movie is too long; but I think he took a wrong turn there.

I don’t think many of the movie’s fans will find it too long. I very much doubt anyone will say to himself, “Well, that’s enough of Elves and Hobbits and Dwarves. Back to Harry Reid! Back to the Fiscal Cliff! Back to watching my taxes and all my bills go up while my wages stay the same!”

After all, why would anybody want to see a fantasy movie in the first place? To escape! To escape into Middle-Earth, or Narnia, or the world of The Princess Bride–where problems actually get solved (one way or another) and the villains don’t win. No rigged voting machines to keep the Dark Lord from being destroyed once the Ring goes into the fire! And best of all, the heroes stay heroes–they don’t turn against you the moment they come to power.

Besides which, a good fantasy has true, albeit subtle, things to say about our own world and our own problems. We may not easily get rid of the White Witches that trouble our world; but once we’ve been to Narnia, we may have learned to see those witches for what they are.

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