“We’re going to need a trailer for the trailer!”
— Nicky Collini (Desi “Ricky Ricardo” Arnaz), in The Long, Long Trailer (1953)
Seen it yet? Of course I refer to the second trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and of course you have seen it. As I write this, I actually haven’t seen it myself! So if I make any sight-unseen predictions for the film(s), they may also apply to the trailer.
- The films will now number three instead of two; this is a whole new trilogy, based not only on The Hobbit but Tolkien’s own supplementary details in The Appendices of The Return of the King. Example: read Appendix A, section III, for more details on Durin’s Folk, the Dwarves, and particularly what motivated Thorin Oakenshield.Of note: the films will not include details from The Silmarillion. The filmmakers retain rights only to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; the J.R.R. Tolkien estate is keeping a firm grip on all other materials by the famous professor.
- Now the films are titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, global release on Friday, Dec. 14; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013; and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, breaking the year-end rhythm by releasing July 18, 2014.
- Viewing options should include faster — potentially lusher, more “realistic” — frame rates, 48 frames per second, and 3D, versus a more traditional 2D version. (I haven’t read whether you will be able to see four permutations of those two factors: 3D and original frame rate, 3D and faster frame rate, or 2D of each frame rate.)
For reference, here is the second and likely final trailer, in all its fantastic glory:
This also leads to a Speculative Faith announcement: that beginning this afternoon, we will publish the first of a new SF Reading Group series, based on The Hobbit. Already for two weeks I’ve been facilitating this group at my church, after a successful reading group for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. By contrast, The Hobbit will be much longer and more complex. We’re even bringing in details from The Appendices, to begin exploring Tolkien’s languages, worlds, cultures, and quests in-depth. All questions will be available here on Speculative Faith, thanks to featured articles published about every week.
Re-reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring simultaneously, I’m finding much more that I had forgotten since the last time I enjoyed these classics. Yes, I’m a relative late-comer to Middle-earth; you Elves have been here a long time, but I only just arrived, a mortal Man (though I hope you Elves never leave!). So this time I’m blessed to experience the joy of wondering which parts will be adapted for the films, and just a little bit of dread, which true fans had before 2001, of favorite parts the films may alter or ignore.
This leads me to a few predictions, some based on reliable web-rumors, some based on intuition. After all, much of Tolkien’s work is already cinematic enough without change:
So Thorin Oakenshield became the Heir or Durin, but an heir without hope. […] The years lengthened. The embers in the heart of Thorin grew hot again, as he brooded on the wrongs of his House and the vengeance upon the Dragon that he had inherited. He thought of weapons and armies and alliances, as his great hammer rang in his forge; but the armies were dispersed and the alliances broken and the axes of his people were few; and a great anger without hope burned him as he smote the red iron on the anvil.
— from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Appendix A, section III (page 1051)
Prediction 1: We’ll see that cinematic visual adapted verbatim in a flashback sequence.
Prediction 2: Peter Jackson will almost certainly show the Goblin King Azog’s murder of the dwarf Thrór at the gates of Moria, after which the goblins tear the victim’s body apart.
Prediction 3: Based on this amazing photo, The Hobbit, at least the first part, will not be devoid of the singing, raucous, fun-loving nature of the Dwarves. In the first trailer, we heard their somber “Misty Mountains Cold” song, adapted from Tolkien’s original. In this photo (and likely in the second trailer) we see them clearly singing the “crack the plates!” song as good-natured mockery of Bilbo, as they kindly help with dinner cleanup.
Prediction 4: Thorin, as the “very important Dwarf,” won’t be entirely above this Dwarvish fun, but won’t like it very much. Either when he’s pinned beneath fallen Dwarves at Bilbo’s hobbit-hole door, and/or at some other time, we will see him give at least one hilarious and over-brooding eye-roll. (Actor Richard Armitage is very good at over-brooding eye-rolls.)
Prediction 5: Based on the first version of the “film scroll” (as of July 9) and the updated version, film 1 originally ended with the Dwarves escaping Mirkwood in their barrels. The film now ends with the group escaping Orcs and Wargs in the forest, inaugurating the war.
Prediction 6: Only a little of the Necromancer’s (Sauron’s) potential menace will be seen and discussed in film 1. We will also see only some of the White Council’s work, maybe in flashback, in film 1, as Gandalf will not have left the Dwarves and Bilbo until the start of film 2. The Dark Lord’s renewed threat will grow in film 2, which will focus on the battle against Smaug, and culminate in the Battle of Five Armies in film 3. That enables the story to focus first on Smaug (such as with Saruman in The Two Towers), then on the greater war.
Prediction 7: These films will break records.
What are your hopes and predictions for The Hobbit film series?