Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's still not a "Trilogy".

Okay, so, I'm sure we are all very aware by now in the bowels of the geek dome that a choice has been made via Warner Brothers, Paramount and Peter Jackson to go ahead and give The Hobbit a 3rd film. This may seem strange, thinking, well, Lord of the Rings is nearly 3 times as long as The Hobbit and it only has 3 films.. that's true.. but those three films are also all enormous films, and the extended editions routinely run past 3+ hours. From a logistical standpoint, the reason why we got the two different versions of Lord of the Rings, or didn't get more than 3 films, is simply because the film making world was different then. Lord of the Rings is what clued Hollywood into the fact that people would pay to see a multi-part film and would happily come back year after year with no significant drop off. They've seen repeated it with Harry Potter and Twilight, each splitting their respective finales into extra pieces.

Another reason they've likely chosen to do this is, that it's the bottom of the barrel for Tolkien films. Once this is done, all they can do is Re-Make the Lord of the Rings, which I've already read rumours online that they are planning a 3D conversion (in reality they still have so much unused footage, they could theoretically turn the Lord of the Rings into six, 2+ hour long films, and thats sort of what the Extended Editions did anyway) of the films to follow the release of the Hobbit.. meaning that for the next 6-7 years you might just have a Hobbit on the big screen come Christmas time.

The fact they've chosen to do this, probably in lieu of releasing 'Extended' cuts of the Two Hobbit films later, and cutting down on the amount of money they could make in the process, instead having been decided to simply make three films. This isn't a big deal. The Hobbit does have enough set pieces to make this into a third film, especially when you start to add in material from the Appendices of Lord of the Rings. Which, by the way, I've got no problem with them doing. I just wish they had access to the abandoned chapters of Return of the King which are found in "Unfinished Tales".. as they really tie The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings together in a way which makes it obvious, not only how sneaky and dangerous Gandalf really is, but also how long he's be aware of the threat posed and has been trying to stop it. They alas, do not have access to that material and so we will simply have to make do with what they can manage without it.

Now for the not as good bit. My biggest problem with The Lord of the Rings, were the unneeded changes to characters, such as Faramir, Aragorn, Denethor and Theoden.  Effectively, if they were a male with power in the book, presented as noble, uncorruptable, or otherwise wise.. two of the three film makers went out of their way to make sure the audiences didn't see that. Fran Walsh and Phillapa Boyens, whatever their status to Peter Jackson, are, in my opinion, hacks. They have a political angle they wanted to push, and did so at the expense of someone elses characters. Aragorn had to be shown as dithering and weak, Faramir as covetous and jealous of his brother Boromir, Denethor shown, not as despairing but as cowardly, and Theoden as spiteful. In other words, the script writers took issue with the idea of males exhibiting only noble qualities and as such sought to drag them down a bit. Even Elrond and Frodo weren't immune from this selective personality re-writing.

They also bolstered the female characters in ways which don't really always make sense. Eowyn cooking soup is, kind of preposterous.. and she was about as strong and willful a character as you could ever want. There's a reason all those feminist bra burning hippies in the 60's named their daughters after her. In a word, Eowyn kicks 10 kinds of ass, and nothing the film makers could add could make her any better. Arwen is a totally different story though.. They not only made her into something she wasn't meant to be, but did it in a completely slipshod manner. The whole bit in Fellowship of Arwen rescuing Frodo from the ringwraiths is groan inducing. Thank goodness saner heads prevailed and we weren't treated to Arwen leading the charge to relieve Helms Deep! Yet again, poor Glorfindel gets the axe.

Beyond a few other very small things, these character changes I found to be the most grating. The look of the films was pitch perfect, (though I'll admit I've always been an Alan Lee and John Howe fan.. so for fans of the Hildebrandts or Nasmith I can see where the films wouldn't work for you, and I'm sorry) the scenery was great, the sets, locations, and 90% of the pacing made the films work for me.. but theres always that little niggling worm in my head that pulls me out of the picture when one of these character assassinations rears it's head.

With the news of a third Hobbit film, I'm more worried than ever that the extra length provided by this format will simply allow Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens to give more screen time to their Mary Sue Fanfic character Taurial. This will be the first time they've actually gone all the way and simply created a new named character out of whole cloth, the only reason for it is, the film makers felt, the movie "Needed a Vagina". This is delicate territory, since, I'll readily admit that Tolkien didn't have very many female characters, but the idea that an adaption of his work needed to have one is a bit preposterous. Yes, The Hobbit, is a kids book, but the story it tells isn't a kids story. It's an adult's story. It's a war story. That's what made Eowyn's choice so spectacular. This is like, if Ridley Scott had decided when he got down to brass tacks on filming Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down" (And it is based on the book, since it continues some of the inconsistencies that the book has) that they just really needed one of the Army Rangers or Delta Operators to be female... No logical reason for it.. just cause.

Just because we have different sensibilities today than the author did 60 years ago, doesn't give us the right to change his artistic vision, and on this note I'll not beat around the bush, in my opinion, the Author's art, is more important than the Filmmaker's art. The Filmmaker's are simply ADAPTING, some one elses art, and therefore have no rights in regards what can be changed.

So, that rant out of my system I can get down to the other thing that is bugging me.

The Hobbit, is not a Trilogy. It doesn't matter that there are 3 films. 3-films-in-1. Just like the thing that used to be on the old Transformers boxes.. 2 toys in 1! It is 3 pieces of a single film, exactly the same way that The Lord of the Rings is, by the directors own admission, he views them as a SINGLE FILM. ( I still hold out hope one day we will get a cut which reflects that, a single opening and closing credits sequence, and several intermissions) When it all finishes up, Peter Jackson will have adapted 2 books, into 2 films, each split into 3 parts.

The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, is a DUOLOGY. They are a Book, and a Sequel to that book.

If you have 3 courses in a meal, it's still just 1 meal, it's not a Trilogy of meals. It doesn't matter how many "Volumes" are present in the box set.. it's not a Quadrilogy, Trilogy, Quintology, or any thing else. Only by adding in the Silmarillion do you then get a 'Trilogy'. I realize that this is me beating a dead horse, people will never stop calling these books/films a Trilogy.. because they can't get it through their head that simply having 3 of something doesn't make it a Trilogy.

Even with all that being said, I still can't wait to see the adaption, I will probably like it more than I dislike it, and I will happily pay to go and see it.


Brian Murphy said...

Laughed out loud at this bit:

If you have 3 courses in a meal, it's still just 1 meal, it's not a Trilogy of meals

I'm a little worried about this "bridge" film too... Jackson's films are at their best when they stick closest to the script. I worry about the result of too much free rein.

Brian Murphy said...

... by "script," I of course meant Tolkien's books.

Taranaich said...

I was planning on doing a post on the Hobbit trilogy, but frankly, I think you nail all the important stuff. Might still do something on the trailer, though.

Lagomorph Rex said...

That is pretty high praise Al, I try my best but unfortunately my writing reflects my panicked brain's attempts at sorting through copious piles of information more than any real attempt at seriously scholarly work like you and Brian turn out.

I look forward to you doing a write up on the trailer.. though for the most part I've been exceedingly pleased with both the variety and appearance of the dwarves and of the tone set by the trailers..