Saturday, December 21, 2013


So, I'm now officially a Tolkien Expert, according to SMITHSONIAN.

As in, when they called and asked if I'd help them identify the sourcing of specific elements in Peter Jackson's new HOBBIT movie, THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, I said 'yes'. This is of course something I'm quite interested in: which details of the films come from the original book (e.g., Bilbo's climbing up to see the butterflies), which are ported over from its sequel, THE LORD OF THE RINGS (e.g., Legolas), which are expanded or extrapolated from brief mentions in either of these two (Radagast), which come from elsewhere in Tolkien's writings (the merest wisps), and which are entirely of Jackson's invention (Tauriel).

last year's article:

Reading over the piece now, I find that I came across as more negative than I intended -- after all, I did enjoy the movie, very much, as a third viewing this past Thursday (with friends Sig and Anne -- hi Sig! hi Anne!) confirmed. Now that the suspense is over and I can see what got in, what of left out, what got changed and what got invented, it's easier for me to enjoy as a whole. This is still THE HOBBIT, even if it deviates more from the original than a purest like myself would want. But then, that's why we're purists: we want our Tolkien adaptations to be as close to Tolkien's originals as possible.

I was glad to see that Janice got cited as well (albeit only as "Rateliff's wife") for what I thought was an insightful observation linking the bewilderment of Mirkwood to enchanted woods like Melian's Doriath (N.B. also "The Sea-Bell" and, from the earliest stage of the mythology, the theme of Earendel's wanderings through enchanted isles meant to baffle all who would try to navigate past them.

So, many thanks to Rachel Nuwer, the article's author, for devoting a lot of time to trying to get the details right.

Here's the link.

--John R.
current reading: bits and pieces

P.S.: For the record, I do not consider the Tolkien Estate 'libelous' or even particularly 'litigious'  -- I'd say 'vigilant' wd be a more accurate descriptor.


grodog said...

Very cool, John.

Now that you've had some time to look at TH:AUP and the extended edition too, have you formed any strong opinions on one vs. the other? I'm also curious if the Hobbit Extended adds as much to the storyline (and in many cases restores more adherence to Tolkien's original visions) as the LOTR ones did?


John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Allan
It depends: the new bits from the Shire I thought were v. well done. The dwarves-behaving-badly at Rivendell I thought over the top.
On the whole, though, I think the extendeds will be the way to go.