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Fal J. M. Skywalker

The Hobbit Recut - The Fan Edits thread

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34 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Hmm, interesting.

 

I think we have just enough of Bard, Gandalf and Bilbo. I like this trilogy as a Thorin-centric narrative. For all the callbacks and returning characters, focusing on Thorin keeps the narrative unique and distinct from The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo is just yet another character on a Hero's Journey. Thorin is a tragic hero and those tended to be quite fleeting in The Lord of the Rings.

 

Again, I'm not against Thorin's significance. However the book is specifically presented from Bilbo's perspective and so should the film. Frodo's quest is quite tragic, his whole life is uprooted by it to the point that he can no longer have a fulfilling life! 

 

34 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

I don't mind Legolas in these films. These are prequels and they needn't be apologetic about being prequels. The way I look at it, Legolas' inclusion is more engaging in The Desolation of Smaug than in The Battle of the Five Armies. In the former, he achieves several purposes: one, he infuses the film with action: without Legolas there'd be nary an action sequence in the whole movie; and two, he keeps Thranduil in the loop of the plot. Both fuctions are no longer necessary in the Battle of the Five Armies, and of course I think his stunts needed to be pull back just a little bit.

We can still have the action sans Legolas and nor should it be dependant upon his appearance, and most of the time he's flipping around in CG form taking a backseat to the action performed by the Dwarves, particularly in the Barrel Sequence. 

 

 

 

 

6 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

I don't think the concept of having a female character in the film is something to be scuffed at.

 

And like I said, I like how she reflects on the theme of the film: "Are we not part of this world?"

The insinuation my remarks were sexist is silly. If it were the reverse and Tolkien's story hadn't included a male character I wouldn't have been wondering where they were. 

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Frodo's story transmutes itself from a Hero's Journey to a tragic hero. But he still doesn't possess the kind of character flaws that the best tragic heroes do: he's just placed in an unfortunate situation. Thorin is much more comparable to characters like Boromir, Isildur and Denethor (in that they all bring the unfortunate situation on themselves) except he's the main character across all three films, not a side-character present in one half of a movie.

 

We do experience The Hobbit trilogy through Bilbo's point of view: he's the audience surrogate. Doesn't make him the protagonist, though. The prologue establishes this very dynamic, whereby Bilbo is telling the story, but the story itself is about Thorin. Its unlike the book, but it works.

 

Gives the trilogy a good structure, too:

 

FILM ONE: Thorin loses his homeland and suffers great personal loses. He sets out heroically to reclaim his homeland, in spite of warnings of what it might do to him.

 

FILM TWO: The closer Thorin gets to reclaiming what he's lost, the more he loses himself. The need to fulfill the quest becomes all-consuming for him, to the point that he's willing to disregard to fate of bystanders like the people of Laketown, and later that of his own kin and companions such as Kili and Bilbo.

 

FILM THREE: Having reclaimed his homeland, Thorin is now at his lowest. He ultimately recovers, but only too late to save himself. Nevertheless, in his dying act he does win a battle, and reconciles with Bilbo.

 

42 minutes ago, Arpy said:

The insinuation my remarks were sexist is silly.

 

Not what I was getting at, at all, I assure you.

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18 hours ago, Chen G. said:

But clearly there was a vision: almost the entire plot was preconcieved, as was the scope of the project. Tonally, it seems films one would have been relativelly lighthearted, and film two far less so, so the change of tone was also planned all along.


You misunderstand. I don’t mean that film 2 is darker than film 1. I mean that all three films can’t decide if they’re lighthearted adventures or grim fantasies. They try to be both and as a result fail at both, IMO of course.

 

9 hours ago, Chen G. said:

I feel two things are missing:

  1. a stronger resolution for Thranduil. I like that he stops being the isolationist (a central theme of the trilogy), but I would have liked it had he managed to patch things up with Thorin just a little bit. I would have had him climbing up Ravenhill just in time to see Thorin's final sacrifice.
  2. Establishing more clearly that Erebor is to be restored and repopulated by Thorin's folk. I would put a scene into the denoument where, on their way back, Gandalf and Bilbo encounter Dwarves from the Blue Mountains goint east and asking about Erebor's reclamation and their king.

 

But otherwise? Damn fine filmmaking, in my mind.

 


i think those are both decent ideas. I would definitely have been interested in seeing PJ try them out, even if only in like a deleted scene or something.

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31 minutes ago, A. A. Ron said:


You misunderstand. I don’t mean that film 2 is darker than film 1. I mean that all three films can’t decide if they’re lighthearted adventures or grim fantasies. They try to be both and as a result fail at both, IMO of course.

 

Like I said, up to Laketown, it’s a lighthearted adventure. It’s not quite as lighthearted as the book, and it has darker passages, and the promise of more grimness to come, but it’s still mostly just light action-adventure.

 

Once Thorin sails out of Laketown, it morphs into a grim fantasy. There are lighter passages, just as with any movie, but the overall gist is very grim.

 

It evolves through its runtime.

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Well I suppose we have a fundamental disagreement about how naturally the light and dark elements fit together in these movies. It feels horribly disjointed to me.

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The only moment where I felt the films were whipping back and forth between two tones too abruptly was when Radagast was relaying his ordeal in Dol Guldur to Gandalf.

 

Dol Guldur is positively creepy, and Shore’s music is as menacing as it gets. But cutting back to Radagast smoking through his ears just doesn’t fit. Otherwise, it’s fine for me.

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A very fine character. Her curiosity of the outside world, born out of repressed feelings of being trapped in the underground realm, will never fail to pull me in. But she’s also reckless for that very reason: her failing is woven into her virtue.

 

Its the romance that doesn’t quite click.

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Her character and backstory is all paper-thin. If she displayed any of the virtues you claim she has, it's only in service of justifying her character in her relation to the Company and not born of any representation of Elves in Middle-earth. If she was removed from the films, we could think of any number of good substitutes which could serve to convince the Elves to join the battle. If they wanted to make her a fully-realized character with as much resonance as possible, she would need to have a role that had greater impact on the overall story. I like her character and several of her scenes as a way of injecting the Elves with some humanity, even if it doesn't jibe with the otherworldly distance the Elves usually portray. I just wish they had gone further or dropped greatly reduced her role. 

 

I like seeing races in Middle-earth who aren't beholden to the typical customs of man, dwarf etc., and the Woodland Elves (and Thranduil's stoicism in particular) are just one of them. They can be a pain to deal with, but that was but one of the factors that was drawn together in the final battle - all these opposing forces coming together to fight. The Eagles are another such culture, albeit more mysterious, who don't answer to the whim of any other race and hold their own customs and culture. Even Beorn represents a lost or forgotten race who won't readily treat with Gandalf or the Company which asks us to consider the wider world drawn into the conflict with Sauron. 

 

 

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She has more backstory than a lot of the members of the company, or The Fellowship, for that matter. Doesn't make her characterization bad any more than it does theirs.

 

Above all, her humanism really appealed to me: she isn't looking for the benefit of the Woodland Realm: she's looking for the benefit of the world. Its like she says to Legolas: "Are we not part of this world?"

 

Its also why she falls in love with a Dwarf.

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Thranduil isn't a silvan Elf. Besides, its not like his stance on this is entirely unsympathetic. Most leaders are like that: he's understandable in his position.

 

But that's a major theme of the films. In the first film, we see the Dwarves' patriotism and yearning as admirable and sympathetic. Indeed, its probably what drew me into this story the most. But, as we get closer to the destination, it becomes tainted with isolationistic undertones.

 

Its not just Thranduil. Thorin also doesn't care about the greater good: he's only pursuing the best interest of the Dwarves. That's why he is so quick to brush aside Bard's very reasonable (and, in retrospect, prescient) arguments against the quest. Because he doesn't care for the well-being of the people of Laketown. Even when Smaug leaves to torch it, Thorin is only shocked because members of his family are still there.

 

It feeds into his dragon sickness, too: "The treasure in this mountain does not belong to the people of Laketown." Ironic that Thorin is so much like a man (errr, Elf) he despises so. That's the thematic significance of the friendship of Bilbo and Thorin: that it transcends the seperation of the races. When Thorin reconciles with Bilbo, it is the absolution of his isolationism. That's also supposed to be the thematic significance of Tauriel's connection with Kili, but some of the cheesy dialogue kind of undermines it.

 

On the flipside, Bard doesn't care about the greater good, either: he only cares for the wellbeing of the people of Laketown, or he'd possibly be a little more sympathetic to the Dwarves endeavour. Even when the threat of Sauron presents itself, these characters don't come together immediately. At one point, Thranduil is about to leave the battlefield alltogether, and of course Bard leaves the Dwarves to fend for themselves in the valley to defend the city of Dale. Even when they do come together, it costs them dearly.

 

Its a theme that's present in the fringes of The Lord of the Rings, as well. Ted Sandyman says: "Its none of our concern what goes on beyond our borders", Galadriel urges Elrond not to "leave Middle Earth to its fate", Theoden questions whether to ride to Gondor's aid, and, perhaps most succintly, Treebeard says: "This is not our war."

 

Its a very humanistic message, and I love it. Its even perfectly in line with how Jackson's screenplay comments on treatment of immigrants in Mortal Engines, or how Del Toro (who still has a writing credit on these films) treats xenophobia in The Shape of Water.

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I read the Reddit article. Thanks for the deep-dive! But one of your arguments seems to be "if it was shot in principal photography, it was planned, so you can't say there wasn't enough prep." While I would argue that given more prep time, the filmmakers could have honed done the script more so that all the stuff that feels so added on would have been told more efficiently or scrapped altogether, making for a tighter, less bloated experience overall.

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I do think another couple of passes on the script, and especially a lot more previz work, would have benefitted these films enormously.

 

However, I don't think any script revision would have resulted in the filmmakers excising whole characters and threads like Azog or Tauriel. Those were there from the get-go, many of them even in the Del Toro version.

 

And really, when you have a film with a lot of plot elements, I think the worst thing to do is to cram them into a film that isn't long enough to accomodate them, which is what I think would have happened in the two-film version. At least in a trilogy, you don't wonder who these wood-Elves are, because they were clearly established and re-established even before we met them. Compare that with some of the crew-members on the Venture in Jackson's King Kong, where they come out of nowhere and go nowhere. 

 

Personally, if I was editing An Unexpected Journey (the only film I had pacing issues with in the theater) I would rather excise the Trollshaws sequence, rather than anything to do with Azog or Dol Guldur. Those at least set-up a conflict that pays-off later in the trilogy. All Trollshaws set-up are the Elvish blades, and that can be written around. The first leg of the journey, where the mountain is still too far off and the chase is yet to begin in earnst, is the thing that stalls the movie, and should have been cut as short as possible.

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Like I said, at least the Warg chase establishes a conflict which is important for later on. Trollshaws does not. It does put Bilbo to the test, as well as set-up the treasure and the elvish blades (which are important for later on but can be written-in in a more economical fashion) and a vague notion of “a darker power” which is also established by other elements.

 

Radagast is also important to the continuation of the story, although I’m sure his scenes could have been edited to being more economical. Ditto the framing device at the top of the film and the White Council.

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The troll sequence is so prominently referenced in The Lord of the Rings, there would be riots in the streets if they hadn't included it in The Hobbit!

 

I mostly find the exposition in An Unexpected Journey to be hindering to the pace. Never mind that it takes Bilbo a goddamn 45 minutes to start on his quest. At least those 45 minutes are evenly paced, if slow. But when he finally leaves Bag End and the movie seems to start in earnest, we get the introduction of Azog and the flashback to the fight at Moria and the movie grinds to a halt again. It is also the first time the film really can't seem to make up its mind whether it's about Bilbo or Thorin - a problem that only becomes more prominent as we progress through the trilogy.

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5 hours ago, Mr. Breathmask said:

It is also the first time the film really can't seem to make up its mind whether it's about Bilbo or Thorin - a problem that only becomes more prominent as we progress through the trilogy.

They tried to make it like LOTR on the surface level, and ended up not making it like LOTR in it's core. Sad. It should have been completely about Bilbo's perspective, like the book is.

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It is also the first time the film really can't seem to make up its mind whether it's about Bilbo or Thorin - a problem that only becomes more prominent as we progress through the trilogy.

 

Desolation Of Smaug really loses Bilbo at one point.

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1 hour ago, Modest Expectations said:

They tried to make it like LOTR on the surface level, and ended up not making it like LOTR in it's core. Sad. It should have been completely about Bilbo's perspective, like the book is.

 

It was obvious years before its making that it was never going to be The Hobbit, it was always going to be PJ’s PT.

 

A shame, chiefly because Martin Freeman talents were wasted.

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Focusing on Thorin was 100% the right decision. He is so very much more interesting, unique, engaging and well-performed than Bilbo. He’s only the best character in all six films. Who would have thought the most outsized character in the series would be a Dwarf?

 

If there was a film in a trilogy that was stuck between him and Bilbo, it’s An Unexpected Journey. The other two entries are by far the most Thorin-centric, and are all the better for it.

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By that logic, The Lord of the Rings would be about Sauron, The Two Towers would be a documentary about architecture, The Silence of the Lambs would be about cattle, etcetra. Baby Driver would have been very boring, which is to say nothing about Silence, Infinity War would have a much, much longer runtime than it does, should I go on?

 

Its not up to the title to tell you what a film is about: the title is just meant to sound intriguing enough to get you to check out the movie. Rather, it’s the opening of the movie that establishes what it is about, and the prologue of An Unexpected Journey clearly establishes Bilbo as the audience surrogate, and Thorin as the protagonist.

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9 hours ago, Chen G. said:

Focusing on Thorin was 100% the right decision. He is so very much more interesting, unique, engaging and well-performed than Bilbo. He’s only the best character in all six films.

 

Well, we're gonna have to disagree on that one.

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I'll also settle for second best, if the best character is defined as Samwise Gamgee.

 

We have very few complex characters in these films, which I'm usually fine with. Boromir is a complex character, but he's only prominently featured in the second half of The Fellowship of the Ring and as a side-character. There's only so much we explore his internal conflict. Gollum is another, but his internal conflict is all but resolved at some point during the second half of The Two Towers.

 

Thorin is the main character of the trilogy as a whole, and his internal conflict is explored throughout. Its all the more fascinating that part of his failing is the quest itself: he becomes so consumed by the need to see it through, that he's willing to risk the well-being of the people of Laketown, then of Kili and finally of Bilbo, in order to make it so. You don't see many films of this sort questioning the very moral grounding of the characters' central endeavor, but The Desolation of Smaug does, and its NOT a strawman. If anything, its Thorin's arguments for the quest are the strawman.

 

To this day, one of my all-time favourite moments of all the films is when he's ferried to Erebor, with that very imperious version of his theme. The imposing music and barren landscape make dour (but still reverent) what would have been (in a lesser movie) a triumphant moment. Just as he's on the verge of recovering everything he's lost, our hero has lost himself.

 

And as spectacular as Bilbo's conversations with Smaug are, the scenes I remember most vividly from having first seen that section of the film, are those of Thorin, outside, deliberating what is he going to do. Even when he ultimately decides to do the right thing, going in to help Bilbo, he ends up doing the wrong thing by holding Bilbo at the point of a sword.

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