Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oh, no, Peter Jackson!

I'm extremely disappointed to hear that Peter Jackson and the companies involved have decided to release three, not two, instalments of the movie version of J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit".  I can't think of a single valid reason for this move other than particularly crass hucksterism.  Others appear to have similar views (see, for example, this comment in the Los Angeles Times).

I absolutely don't believe Mr. Jackson's protestations that:

We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance.  The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.

(More at the link.  Italic print is my emphasis.)

Professor Tolkien wrote "The Hobbit" as a children's book.  It ended up much less complex than his "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, and probably less than a quarter as long as the later, more developed work.  I simply can't see any logical, rational reason from an artistic perspective to take an earlier, less developed story and bloat it into a movie series of similar length to that based on the later, much more intricate story.  I don't care what extra material Mr. Jackson wants to include from other sources.  The resulting film won't be faithful to "The Hobbit" as Professor Tolkien conceived and created it.  It'll be something else entirely.  (For example, the 'Battle of Dol Guldur' to which Jackson refers is nothing more than a footnote in Tolkien's work - and Bilbo Baggins has no involvement in it whatsoever - but I bet it'll become a major setpiece in the movie version, grossly distorting its place in the story, just as Jackson did with the Battle of Helm's Deep in his movie version of "The Two Towers".)

I believe this is about money, pure and simple.  In fact, let's be honest and call it greed.  I can't think of a better name for it.  My high opinion of Mr. Jackson's artistic merits (which are considerable) has now been diluted with a very large dose of cynicism and disappointment.  I think he's done Professor Tolkien's work, and the movie-going public in general, a grave disservice.



Noons said...

Aye! Indeed...

Dragon said...

Nah...I'm going to respectfully disagree here, and chalk it up to the old saw "You can't please everyone"...

I think he made this move in light of the beating he took at the hands of purists who practically rose up with torches and pitchforks because he completely ignored Tom Bombadil when he did the LotR trilogy...and lets face it, including that part of the story would have made it a 4-movie series.

So in learning from his mistake with that, he's trying to cast a wider net and tell ALL of the Hobbit story, with footnotes pulled in and woven into the work to provide a better context for the way in which he's telling the story; I'm not so sure thats a bad thing. :-)

Fly To Your Dreams said...

I'd call it both: Peter Jackson wants to make the biggest, deepest movies he can, and was encouraged by a Warner Brothers movie funding department that is desperate for some additional tent-pole franchise movies.

A friend of mine used to work for a studio in WB's game division. He told me that during the Harry Potter movie era, quarterly meetings would frequently include talking points about WB Films' three tentpole IPs - Batman, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. There's no more HP movies, Nolan won't do any more Batman movies, so what's left?

The same friend also told me about a massive marketing poster he saw that charted out the track of the two Hobbit movies, including schedules for associated video games, collector's edition releases, Special edition releases, etc.

In short, there's literally billions of dollars in merchandising revenue to be had from a third movie.

Anonymous said...

Going to agree with Dragon on this one.

perlhaqr said...

Since I'd have been happy with a 12 movie version of LoTR, I'm just glad to hear there's going to be more of The Hobbit, whatever Jackson's motivations for it are.

Mad Jack said...

Does he want to make more money? Sure, but so what? I think he's trying to avoid the unfair criticism he got with LOTR by including everything he can. And, if the film isn't true to the book, so what? Who's to say it won't be better?

Jenny said...

I think I'm with Dragon here - there's a *wealth* of stuff Tolkien wrote that runs back and forth through this period, and it's all tucked away in footnotes and appendices and scraps of paper Christopher published for him posthumously.

... I'd *love* to see it dramatized.

(Heresy time)

Personally, while I think Middle Earth is the most amazing fantasy world ever put to paper, and that its depth comes from him being probably the brightest, most educated bulb to ever build a fantasy world - Tolkien's story telling I think is uneven at best.

"Hobbit" just doesn't *fit* the rest of the world, stylistically. It's fun, it's clever, it's cute - I LOVED it growing up, and it was my introduction to Fantasy. It was great.
... but put up against everything else he did, it's kind of out place.

Further, there's some parts of the Jackson films I think that actually improved the storytelling in the books.

Anyhow, assuming he's using the same production team and screen writers, I can't wait to see what Jackson's team does with the Hobbit.

... and I'll be paying my admission, and hope they all get very very wealthy. :)