A Tale of Two Hobbits

Sitting in the eye doctor’s waiting room, I picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly. It had a picture of a movie Hobbit on the cover and a headline, “Farewell, Bilbo.” I’m a Tolkien fan, so I picked it up and opened it.

Actually, Hobbits aren’t going anywhere. The magazine is celebrating the release of the  supposedly final Peter Jackson movie, the third in his film trilogy of Tolkien’s not very long novel, The Hobbit. The article featured Stephen Colbert done up as various characters in the Hobbit movies.

As I perused the article, it became clear to me that neither Colbert nor the interviewer had ever actually read Tolkien’s books. They’d only seen the movies. But they talked about the movies as if the books did not exist–as if there really were a subplot dealing with a big crush between a Dwarf and an Invincible Female Elf-Warrior.

If you had put a gun to Tolkien’s head and threatened him, he still would never have written such a thing.

So now there are all these people who think they know J.R.R. Tolkien because they’ve seen movies based–sometimes, as in the case of the Elf-Dwarf romance, very, very loosely if at all–on Tolkien’s books.

I remember one of my wife’s co-workers, years ago, insisting that Napoleon was an epileptic because she’d seen it in a TV movie. He wasn’t; but the ignorant screenwriters showed him as an epileptic, so this viewer “knew” he was an epileptic.

This is a great age for knowing a lot of things that just ain’t so.

5 comments on “A Tale of Two Hobbits

    1. Movies and other “para-Tolkien” stuff seem to be replacing the books–not that anyone is noticing.

      I think I would probably enjoy the movies, but I’ve stayed away from them because I won’t put any money in Ian McKellan’s pocket. Also, I don’t like the idea of taking out characters who are in the books–Bombadil, for instance–and putting in characters and situations that aren’t in the books and dumb it all down.

  1. Sometimes the film is better than the book (Jaws) but mostly, the film loses something because of the necessities of time and keeping a story line that a generic audience is able to understand. My problem with the “Ring” movies is that in order to “entertain” the main idea behind the entire tale is if not altogether lost, then subjugated to “romance” or “action.” I was especially put off in the Ring films to see Aragorn reject his crown in order as a matter of some sort of “racial guilt” (even then, O Lord!). In the tale, Aragorn works constantly to re-establish what is left of Numenor and to be king once more NOT because he is desirous of power but because he wishes to redeem the failing of his line and recreate what was good in the past that had been overcome by Sauron and his evil.

    1. It’s true that the movie “Jaws” was about 100 times better than the book; but they did a lot of things to “improve” Tolkien’s story that didn’t improve it at all. If Tolkien had lived to see these changes, he would’ve dropped dead.

  2. Obviously, there was a lot about the film that Tolkien would have deplored, but I believe the main thrust of the “Return of the King” was lost when it appeared that Aragorn didn’t WANT to be “the King.”

Leave a Reply