Revisiting Middle Earth before The Hobbit hits the big screen

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Revisiting Middle Earth before The Hobbit hits the big screen

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Editado: Nov 30, 2012, 2:49pm

Several of us are (or are planning to) reread or listen (or re-listen, in my case) to The Hobbit before the movie gets released. Thought it might be good to have a dedicated thread for this.

I'm really enjoying the audio version, again. I've remarked elsewhere that I think Tolkien had a bit of a bacon obsession. :o)

Nov 30, 2012, 3:27pm

He was definitely into comfort and comfort food.

Editado: Nov 30, 2012, 3:44pm

My favourite part is definitely the first chapter, with the descriptions of hobbits and hobbit holes and hobbit habits and hobbit foods. Such a nice warm cozy atmosphere, and then, *whump*, mix in a baker's dozen of dwarfs and see what you get.

I just finished a re-read of this and I really noticed this time how easily the dwarfs get into trouble and how often little Bilbo helps them out of the scrapes. I always thought of dwarfs as tough and gruff and battle-hardened, but they could barely turn around without getting captured by something.

Nov 30, 2012, 5:00pm

We also have a thread for The Hobbit over on Hogwarts Express -- feel free to drop by there as well!

Nov 30, 2012, 5:01pm

I had forgotten how nicely Gandalf sneaks the company into Beorn's home. That's such a classic Gandalf moment, and I am really looking forward to seeing that monologue onscreen as the numbers of dwarves keeps popping up and up and up.

Nov 30, 2012, 5:11pm

Heh, I just realized that Gandalf did to Bilbo what he did to Beorn. I can see he probably had the dwarves knock and introduce themselves to Bilbo a few at a time so as not to alarm him. Galdalf is a sneaky one isn't he?

Nov 30, 2012, 6:26pm

#5 - Yes, I love that bit.

#6 - You're right! He's sneaky and wise.

#4 - Thanks, foggi. :o)

Nov 30, 2012, 9:02pm

Actually, what has come to me about Gandalf is his constant association with light in a magical sense. We know that Gandalf is great with fireworks, but reading in the chapter where the dwarves and Bilbo are caught by the goblins, I realized that it's also kind of Gandalf's stock in trade. Flashes of light, lights going out, "things that glow". It's an interesting aspect to the character that I don't think I had really absorbed before.

Dez 1, 2012, 1:38am

8 - That can also be linked to his wielding Narya, the ring of fire.

Dez 1, 2012, 2:12am

>8 jillmwo:,9 I think he also describes himself as "wielder of the flame of Anor", or something like that (fighting the Balrog, I believe).

Dez 1, 2012, 3:27am

I am now reading the graphic version of The Hobbit by Charles Dixon & David Wenzel as I read the original a few months ago & I have also been looking at the annotated Hobbit to get 'the rest of the story'.
The other day on Facebook I found a link for an interview of Peter Jackson by an NZ radio station. In the interview he said that some of the material he put in the 'flashbacks' came from the indicies in The Return of the King. He also said that the Tolkien family would not have allowed him to use any stories from any books other than The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit. So, I guess The Silmarillion will never be a movie! 8^)

Dez 1, 2012, 4:19am

10 - Ainur, I think, but I'm not sure either.

Dez 1, 2012, 8:24am

OK, I'm in. Got my own self a copy of The Hobbit on to my venerable old version 1 Kindle. I'll miss the woodcuts I associate with the real life book, but I'll be able to have the Kindle with me more often. I'll start reading in it sometime today, no doubt!

Dez 1, 2012, 9:58am

Yay! The more the merrier. I'm going to contact foggi and see if she has any ideas on how to handle the shared read with HE. We might resort to cross-posting.

Dez 1, 2012, 11:51am

That's another thing I hadn't realised, or maybe forgotten, that Gandalf has a ring of power as well. Is this mentioned in LotR? I have a vague memory of it but I can't remember where I may have read it.

Dez 1, 2012, 12:28pm

At one point in The Hobbit, Gandalf remembers that he was once called Olorin, during his now-forgotten youth in the West.

I just heard that Hobbit (the movie) is actually a 2-parter. So it will be something like:

Hobbit - an unexpected journey (Part 1)

Hobbit - there and back again (Part 2)

Dez 1, 2012, 12:33pm

If anyone needs to buy a children's Christmas present, keep in mind The Father Christmas Letters, which JRR Tolkien actually wrote (and copiously illustrated) to his own children over the years. It is so beautifully done.

Dez 1, 2012, 1:22pm

#16 - Actually it's three parts, not two.

#17 - Have always wanted this but keep forgetting about it, for some weird reason.

Dez 1, 2012, 1:47pm

16- Can you tell me where in The Hobbit? I just reread it and have no memory of it. My brain must be mush.

Dez 1, 2012, 1:59pm

#19 & #16 - I believe that's from The Silmarillion and not from The Hobbit.

Dez 1, 2012, 2:37pm

Clam is right; I just ran a search on Olorin in my Kindle edition of The Hobbit and it isn't there. However, a quick and dirty search of Google turns up a Web reference that indicates that bit does appear in The Silmarillion.

I can't imagine how they're going to split a lovely single tale into three full-length movie. (I know why they want to do it. I get the business theory. I just don't think it works from any kind of narrative perspective.)

Dez 1, 2012, 3:13pm

Thanks, Clam, Jill. I'd read somewhere about Gandalf having a ring, but had absolutely no memory of him being called Olorin.

Dez 1, 2012, 4:26pm

I think they're pulling all the stuff from the appendices of LotR that explained what happened when Gandalf & Elrond 'chased' Sauron out of Mirkwood. Two movies I get, but three? Maybe they'll throw in Tom Bombadil!!! LOL :oD

Dez 1, 2012, 5:47pm

I'm not sure yet. I mean movies always throw out a minimum of half the book, so we know just this once, we'll actually be getting the entire thing on-screen, I'm pretty interested to see how that'll play out.

Dez 1, 2012, 5:51pm

10, 12 - Dangit, I remembered - it's Flame of Udun!

Dez 1, 2012, 6:06pm

"I am a servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame of Anor."

Flame of Udun is the Balrog

Dez 1, 2012, 7:25pm

I read (well, listened to) The Hobbit earlier this year. I wanted to read it again, but don't know if that will happen. However, I am loving reading this thread and jillmwo's thread as well.

I entered a contest on Facebook to win a life-size statue of Gandalf, because, well, who wouldn't? ;) Now watch, me, who never wins anything will win something like that and probably in the fine print it will tell me that I have to go pick it up and pay taxes on it. :P

Dez 1, 2012, 7:42pm

26 - That's what I get for not factchecking myself.

Dez 1, 2012, 7:51pm

I was pretty surprised to hear about it being three parts as well. I think two parts, even with the expulsion of Sauron from Mirkwood drawing on the LOTR appendices (since someone above said they are not allowed to use The Silmarillion and I assume The History of Middle Earth as well), should be enough--especially if they are 3 hour Peter Jackson epics. The story in the LOTR appendices is not even all that detailed; I suppose they'll have to flesh it out for the film.

Dez 1, 2012, 8:25pm

The audio version takes 11 and 1/2 hours to play. I think there's ample material for three movies, it's just a question of how much of that 11 and 1/2 hours is 'screen worthy.'

Dez 1, 2012, 8:30pm

I think the movies can be divided quite well into three parts. Part one most likely will end after Thorin and company's adventure with the Goblins and Wargs in the forest. Part two will take them through Mirkwood and the battle with Smuag in Laketown. Add the storyline of Gandalf meeting with the White Council and 'defeating' the Necromancer in southern Mirkwood you have a complete movie. The third part will deal with Bilbo's betrayal and the Battle of Five Armies. With a little bit of extra padding from the appendices, you have three whole movies.

Dez 1, 2012, 8:35pm

I'm joining in too. I started yesterday and felt like I was meeting up with a dear old friend I hadn't visited in far too long. I love this discussion. I am so awed by the power of Tolkien's writing, imagination and depth of detail and how it has touched so many and influenced so much. I've been dipping into The History of Middle Earth books since I received them (thank you JPB!!!) and am so glad he decided to publish. What a loss it would have been if he hadn't eh? Imagine the world with no Middle Earth! *shudder*

Dez 1, 2012, 8:47pm

*shudders too*
It would be much poorer place, indeed.

Dez 1, 2012, 8:54pm

The Green Dragon has not been this crowded in a long time. Rose, set up the flagons of ale, and lets pass around some ah, what is it that Clamairy likes so much??? Oh, yes CHEESE! Lets have some cheese, and some good crusty French bread, too. Just don't tell any one ~

Dez 1, 2012, 9:37pm

I'll be re-reading the Hobbit too. Once tomorrow is over I can indulge myself in reading without guilt again.

Dez 1, 2012, 11:34pm

Kate Nepveu at is doing a re-read also, 1 chapter per week (scroll down the right bar). It's almost like doing a College literature course.

Dez 2, 2012, 2:20am

I'm catching up on this thread, now, and all I can think is, "God, I love this group!"  20, 25, and 26 are shining examples of why.  There are few places elsewhere that you can find this kind of conversation.

Dez 2, 2012, 8:27am

I just finished rereading The Hobbit. It had been 6 or 7 years since my last read and wow, I had forgotten a lot! That said, I think I can see where they might fill in parts in the movie. Several areas of The Hobbit are left vague to move the story along. For example, I expect the movie will draw out the battle of the five armies, while it was just a couple pages in the book.

Dez 2, 2012, 8:51am

That's what I am find as well, Narilka, that I had forgotten whole chunks of characterization that really enliven the action. I am reading the chapter where we meet Beorn and I must have skipped over a good part of this chapter as a kid, because I had forgotten (if I ever saw) the head of the goblin and the warg being put on spikes outside Beorn's house.

Dez 2, 2012, 1:06pm

#39 - Kind of gruesome for a children's story when you think about it. Though there was plenty of that in LotR.

#38 - Yes, my thoughts exactly.

#37 - We're special that way! :oD

Dez 2, 2012, 3:38pm

#37 - I was thinking the same thing.

We know from the LotR movies that for better or worse (opinions vary!) Peter Jackson, Phillipa ? and the rest are perfectly capable of padding, rearranging and slightly twisting our beloved tales to come up with awesome movies. I'm not terribly worried. I believe his love for the work keeps him from ruining the movies, whether I agree with all his choices or not.

You know that Christmas song, "I just Can't Wait?" I find myself humming it frequently these days, only, it isn't Christmas I'm humming it about.

Dez 2, 2012, 11:11pm

Relevant blog for this thread: - they've been posting a lot about the upcoming movies and what they think Jackson's interpretation and style will look like.

Dez 3, 2012, 3:44pm

As I've said before The Hobbit never have been a favourite book for me. As kid and in my early teens I loved LoTR, a love that has stayed with me for almost 40 years, but Hobbit always felt... cheap, somehow.
Of course, I read LoTR first. Which I think has much to do with it.

Then I reread Hobbit, was it last year, or the year before that? First the original Swedish translation, which was as wooden and boring as before, and then I scanned the English original in fast forward, mainly to check how close the translation was to the original.

Extremely close, I would say. So it all just got a big "thumbs down" from me.

Then I started a reread yesterday, inspired by Jillmwo's posts/essays, and this time I decided to read the English original from the start.

I still don't think it a great work of art but this time I do appreciate the wordplay and the way JRRT uses his language, which is both witty and fun. The wordplay is entirely lost in the translation to Swedish, nothing carries through. I'll be honest; it totally ruins the book. I also have a hunch that some bits are edited out.

If I was a true JRRT geek I'd probably do a true comparative read, to check for discrepancies, and the idea sort of appeal to me but in the "projects for my old age" kind of way ;-)

Dez 3, 2012, 8:03pm

I can see where that would be the case - the loss of the wordplay in translation. (Sad really). But do keep that project on your bucket list, Busifer!

Meanwhile I have just scared myself silly reading the chapter of them traveling through Mirkwood. I'd never have made it into Mordor. I'd still be quaking in the midst of the dark forest.

Dez 3, 2012, 8:21pm

#44 - I have to agree. As an old fart some of this stuff seems much creepier or more intimidating than it did as a teen. I think I'd just go back to sleep and dream of feasting like ol' round Bombur wanted to do.

Dez 3, 2012, 8:22pm

#43 - I also read LotR first (and probably 5 or 6 times, too) before I ever read The Hobbit. I thought it was cute. But I appreciate it a lot more now than I did back then. :o)

Dez 3, 2012, 9:12pm

Re #26 and others, I believe Anor was the Elvish name for the sun, and Udun meant hell. So we have a clear contrast between Gandalf's good fire and the Balrog's evil one.

Dez 4, 2012, 3:15am

#44/45 - As a kid I loved Mirkwood! In summers, when we lived down south, we sometimes made excursions through a wood and I always imagined it as Mirkwood, with horrors lurking.

Just now I am in the eagles' eyre, so not in Mirkwood just yet.
Until now the story is much as I remembered but this time I also appreciate the way it is told and structured, as an oral tale.

Dez 4, 2012, 4:33am

SO the big movie question: How are they going to shoehorn in some romance, becasue I bet they do. In LoTR it was just about there for them to play with, but in the Hobbit? Other than Arwen very very briefly in Rivendell I can't remember any women at all, anywhere in it. There's probably a couple you can fit in Rivertown, invent some pluky barmaids or give Bard a girlfriend?? Maybe some of the dwarves turn out to be female - after all you can never tell with dwarves?

#47 neat

Also a big Mirkwood fan - I want to see those Black Emperor butterflies.

Dez 4, 2012, 6:19am

I just arrived at the border to the Mirkwood forrest... shall I make an all-nighter or wait until tomorrow....Decisions, decisions

Dez 4, 2012, 11:46am

@49 - The captain of the guard in the elven stronghold in Mirkwood has been cast as a female. (To be fair, having just read that section, it isn't too much of a stretch to have the captain as a woman - Tolkien doesn't give any of the Mirkwood elves besides the King any personality). I believe that would make her the one that gets drunk and has her keys stolen by Bilbo.

My personal bet? She's going to be interested in Legolas, and there will be some sort of impact on that relationship.

In other speculations, I'm thinking Legolas is going to be either involved in the escape of the dwarves, or be impressed by it, leading to his later very close (and frankly odd to most elves) friendship with Gimli.

I'm also thinking since this is more of a straightforward adventure story (no kings to marry off here) that most of the female action will come from Galadriel and Gandalf being old-married-couple-ish together.

I've also heard rumors of female dwarves showing up, and we know from the merchandising that at least one of the main goblins/orcs is female as well.

So there are some women around. I just hope there are no super-shoehorned romance plots.

Dez 4, 2012, 11:59am

#51 - Legolas???? Not in the hobbit. I guess not that surprising he's been stuffed into the film though.

Dez 4, 2012, 12:06pm

#52 - Well he is a prince of the Mirkwood elves. Not that big a stretch, really. He was most likely there, even if not mentioned by name in the book.

Dez 4, 2012, 1:16pm

Legolas was the prince, and considering that he's somewhere in his 2000s during the Lord of the Rings, it's not too weird to have him be around at Mirkwood less than a century beforehand. Same with Arwen, although we're not going to see her (either at all or much) because she's canonically visiting her grandmother Galadriel in Lorien during the Hobbit, and I think they're keeping to that.

We may get to see a tween Aragorn (and possibly his mother) running around Rivendell tho - that would be vastly amusing to me at least.

Dez 4, 2012, 9:19pm

At least a brief cameo of LotR.  Even a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo (I think those are fun, though some stuffy actors find it insulting).  As long as the cameos are natural.  Ever see extras in a show/movie who look and move as though they're on camera?  Stiff, self-conscious, blocky.  Totally detracts from the scene.

Dez 5, 2012, 2:57am

I'd rather they didn't add "look who it is!" cameos that aren't directly relevant.

I got totally sick of the Stan "you know, Spiderman, wow, amazeballs" Lee making a walk past in the back of nearly all comic-book derived films. It's like in-joke smirking from 15 year olds- a lot less cool than they think it is.

Dez 5, 2012, 6:05am

I wouldn't call Dirk Benedict remotely stuffy. I've met him, he's pretty awesome, and he had legit complaints. It is bull when the movies try to lure people in with the "Oh look we've got all those people you loved from the real thing" except, NO, they don't.

However, the people involved in the writing/characters making a cute little appearance as a hat-tip, that I enjoy. Like Stephen King often has some very minor 5-second cameo role in the majority of his movies. It's fun to be on the lookout for it. But that's an entirely different thing than the execs wanting a big actor cameo as a draw.

Dez 5, 2012, 9:14am

57> If he doesn't want to be called stuffy he should drop the Oh-my-god-they-changed-my-character-into-a-girl bit. That was pretty lame.

Dez 5, 2012, 10:23am

#58 - Agreed. He sounds as though he takes his character (and the whole series in general) much much too seriously. In the big scheme of things it is such small potatoes, even if that was his only claim to fame. I'm not saying he's not a nice guy, but this was a short lived TV show he's talking about. The sequel was much more popular, whatever it's flaws.

Dez 5, 2012, 3:52pm

Humorous blog entry from related to the forthcoming movie:

Not rolling-in-the-aisles funny but lightly humorous.

Dez 5, 2012, 5:16pm

57:  If it's going to be a blink-and-you-miss-it situation, they should let the actors know.  Benedict has a legitimate complaint in that department.

60:  That was cute.

Dez 7, 2012, 11:34am

The Art Director of Tor Books has assembled just an OUTSTANDING collection of illustrations from an international body of artists' work Go lose about 30 minutes of your day! URL:

I'm in love (w/ almost all of them with the exception of the Rankin-Bass piece.)

Dez 7, 2012, 5:25pm

What is that illustration by Klaus Ensikat about 4/5ths of the way down the page supposed to represent? It depicts a small person, Bilbo presumably, pulling what looks like a pearl necklace out of a top hat and handing it to a tall gent with leaves sticking out from all over his body.

And who's the giant in the next picture?

Dez 7, 2012, 8:22pm

Well, I can answer your second question with some confidence. The giant in the next picture is Beorn talking to Bilbo and Gandalf and it seems very close to the text. The artist is Michael Hague.

But I'm just as perplexed as you about the Ensikat image. Perhaps that is Bilbo offering the Arkenstone to Bard?

Dez 7, 2012, 10:29pm

I think my favorite is the one of Gandalf sitting by a stream in a valley, by Roger Garland.

Dez 7, 2012, 11:13pm

#62 - I can't thank you enough for those. Going to look at them all again tomorrow. (When I am more awake than I am now!)

Dez 8, 2012, 7:49am

Late to the party! I hope you don't mind if I join you. I am in the midst of listening to the audio book of The Hobbit and just stumbled across your thread. I had no idea the The Hobbit would be a 3 parter. Good news for Hobbit fans but bad news for Sherlock fans as Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch will be tied up filming for a while. I am both. Thanks Jillmwo for the link to the illustrations. I have decided to use one of Bilbo's home as a screensaver since the beginning of the novel is my favorite scene, too.

Dez 8, 2012, 9:28am

jill, thank you so much for that link. Just wonderful! I had Hildebrandt calendars every year for ages and ages. That one of Gollum by Inger Edelfeldt is amazing, so creepy.

Dez 8, 2012, 11:42am

I too had several Hildebrandt calendars. *sigh* I think I'm missing my adolescence. I remember being so very very thrilled when The Silmarillion came out. It was a Christmas gift that year.

Dez 9, 2012, 2:09am

jjwilson61, if I remember right (having read the German version the last time about 15 years ago) That this picture was nearly at the end. It showed Bilbo giving the necklace he got as part of his share to the elvenking as payment for the food & wine he ate while hiding and trying to free the dwarves.

Fev 5, 2013, 8:18pm

So, what happened to this thread?

There is a posting party here: tonight

Just a "few" more posts and we'll hit some sort of huge milestone

let's go

Fev 20, 2015, 12:13am

I feel like Gandalf coming into a new universe with a different role than expected. Sorry I missed all your earlier posts. Mostly, I'm bemoaning the change in format for the Hobbit vs. LOTR. 3D happens in my head, so the colored glasses are a distraction. Now, while waiting for the extended version of Battle of 5 armies I am listening to the "Tales of the Perilous Realm" 3 CD set of BBC programs. Its fun hearing some favorite phrases popping up. One of the cast is Brian Sibley, author of all those "making of " books, among other things.