After news broke of Peter Jackson’s confirmation of a third ‘Hobbit’ film, the Internet was abuzz with fans expressing either their excitement about another trilogy, or fears that Peter Jackson has “sold out” and is going to ruin The Hobbit.
First of all, I’ll admit that although Professor Tolkien himself stated that The Lord of the Rings is an “unfilmable” book, Peter Jackson and his team did a great job bringing such a massive story to life on the big screen. Sure, it was by no means perfect – how could it be, given that so much was skipped over or simplified to appeal to those who hadn’t read the books? But it was a respectable attempt, and I think most of us can understand (and hopefully) forgive Jackson, who by now is considered the king of making lengthy films, for leaving certain things out.
I had just finished reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings about a month before The Fellowship of the Ring was released in theatres, so I never followed any of the news regarding the “making of” the films. I went into the theatre with an open mind and eager eyes.
With The Hobbit films, however, my perspective has already become slightly tainted. I am already aware of a female presence – which, by the way, I’m not happy about. I have no problem with a film including a strong female character or role model, but let’s be honest: Tolkien’s stories are mostly male-dominated. And there’s nothing wrong with the lack of a female presence. I’ve never heard anyone say, “You know, when Bilbo was off on his adventure, I always hoped he’d meet the love of his life and live Happily Ever After.” Maybe that’s because in my experience, the Tolkien Community seems to have a higher ratio of male to female fans. In any case, it’s obvious that Peter Jackson and Co. are trying to appeal to both genders and ensure that Tolkien’s world is enjoyable to all audiences. But does that make it necessary to write in new characters?
Of course, this isn’t the first time Peter Jackson has exaggerated the role of a female character in Tolkien’s world (see Arwen), but at least in those cases he was using characters already in existence. If certain bits need to be cut out of a film to make it flow more smoothly and fall within a certain time limit, why waste that precious time writing in a completely new character? (And don’t even get me started on the Elf-Dwarf romance…)
My biggest concern, however, lies with the addition of a third film. The Lord of the Rings, a three book volume, rightly deserved three individual films (one could even argue that they deserved more). The Hobbit, a three-hundred page children’s story, can maybe get away with being split into two films. But to prolong the story telling over a span of three movies? Especially in what seems to be an afterthought? Forgive me for not seeing the possible justification in that one.
Sure, audiences who loved the Lord of the Rings films would love to see another epic action/adventure film from the director who proved that Middle-earth could, in fact, be brought to life on the big screen. And sure, there’s no better person for the job. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a job worth doing. Yes, Peter Jackson and his team are undoubtedly passionate about Tolkien, but at the same time, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” I personally see this as a matter of knowing when to step away.
If you liked what you saw in The Lord of the Rings films and want to learn more about the characters within, you should probably read the books. The experience becomes richer if you allow your imagination to guide you through the journey; why let someone else define the characters and locations of Middle-earth for you? The films are just an interpretation of Tolkien’s stories – much in the same way that songs and artwork “inspired by” Tolkien are – but they do not tell the whole story.