Monday, December 30, 2013

Thoughts on "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (2013)

Or More Like a Multitude of Little Reflections

Sometimes, a source material is so good that you can’t go wrong if you make an adaptation that is in any way recognizable. That is my argument for why “The Desolation of Smaug” is likely to end up on my top ten list for 2013. In spite of my conviction that Jackson still struggles with pacing and length, I really did enjoy the second Hobbit a lot.

Pacing Issues (The Fanboy Rant)

And just to expound a bit on that length issue—which isn’t my main point in this post—the pacing in this film is off. Take a look at the first couple sequences as an example of how things should be done. The Beorn sequence and the Mirkwood sequence are two perfect examples of staying faithful to the spirit of the book while trimming things down a lot. Just read those chapters and imagine how they would have been directly translated to the screen. As written word they are great. But they would have bored movie audiences to tears. Later in the film we get the brilliant conversation between Smaug and Bilbo—as per the text. However, when the audience is ready to move onto the next plot point, we get a thirty minute, mind-numbing, butt numbing, superfluous action sequence.

Grace and Luck (The Theology in The Hobbit)

One of the things I most enjoyed about this entry is something that might have bugged a lot of fans. I loved the insane action of the barrel escape. I know it deviates quite a bit from the book, and I would have been fine with a more faithful adaptation. However, I think what Jackson achieves here (and it is also seen in the goblin chase in the first film) is something completely in keeping with the spirit of Tolkien’s world-view.

I like to call it “the grace of the sovereign hand in history.”

In the first film people might have scoffed at the sheer luck of the company as they barreled through the goblin tunnels surviving through unimaginable luck. It almost feels like a story-telling cheat. I contend what we witness is a guiding hand of Good assisting the company in their quest against Evil. The quest sure seems like a small, self-serving adventure but those who know the whole story (or whom have seen the opening to the second film) know that it is a small part of a greater, universally impactful, quest.

Here in the second film things are even more apparent due to the presence of the elves. In Tolkien’s world, elves are beings imbued with grace. That does not merely mean that they are graceful, they are literally heavenly creatures. They are beings as the Creator intended beings to be. So, the way elves are able to move and fight in the barrel chase is not surprising. In contrast, the dwarves and Bilbo are once again experiencing unbelievable luck escaping from the Goblins. Unbelievable, that is, until we recognize the parallel between the “luck” of the dwarves and the grace of the elves. This is not a case of our protagonists being too lucky. It is the grace of a sovereign hand guiding them and helping their story forward.

My Favorite Moment (The embarrassing moment where I drool on myself.)

Ultimately, though, when I think of this film what sticks in my mind and what I most look forward to revisiting is not even a part of The Hobbit proper. I love seeing the unwritten journey of Gandalf. Particularly his lone stand in Dol Guldur. This event speaks to my affinity for the lone individual facing overwhelming odds and fears to do the right thing and, in spite of their own inabilities and weaknesses, making an impact for good. Plus, Gandalf has long been one of if not my favorite characters in literature. The iconic image of the aged wizard in the seemingly abandoned ruin may be one of the most aesthetically pleasing compositions in film. Ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment

NonModernBlog written content is the copyrighted property of Jason Dietz. Header photos and photos in posts where indicated are the copyrighted property of Jason and Cheryl Dietz.
Promotional photos such as screenshots or posters and links to the trailers of reviewed content are the property of the companies that produced the original content and no copyright infringement is intended.
It is believed that the use of a limited number of such material for critical commentary and discussion qualifies as fair use under copyright law.

  © Blogger template Brownium by 2009

Back to TOP