Over the weekend I finally got the chance to see the final Hobbit movie, The Battle of Five Armies. In a strange mirror to my experience with the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, I only watched the last two parts at the cinema. I think that the cinema experience adds to films like these. They are lent an additional depth as you sit in a vast, quiet, dark space and focus on the movie and nothing else for the best part of three hours. You can almost imagine yourself seated in a hall in the depths of Erebor, peering out at events unfolding on the surface.
But today I don’t want to talk about movies, as such. I want to talk about a very important theme that Tolkien’s work seems to invoke. A theme that the movies by Peter Jackson replicate perfectly, and perhaps even convey better than the books.
I’m referring to the adventure, the journey, and how we are made to lament their coming to an end.
Who would have thought back when The Fellowship of the Ring came out in cinemas, how popular and how far-reaching that movie series would become? Who would have thought that a movie based on a book written in the 50’s about elves, dwarves, magic rings and wizards would have struck such a chord with modern audiences? And, most of all, who would have ever expected that Peter Jackson could one day return to that world and adapt Tolkien’s earlier work, The Hobbit, into another trilogy of movies?
Certainly not me. And not you either (no fibbing)!
Let’s get down to the trailer, then. There was an early trailer released a while back for this movie, but it pales in comparison to this new one. What we’re greeted with here is shots of the band of dwarves who scoop up Bilbo for an epic treasure hunt, wise old Gandalf the Grey, some nice scenes of Rivendell and Elrond and tons of goblin/trollage.
The first thing that strikes me from watching this trailer is how different this trilogy is going to be from The Lord of the Rings. Where LOTR focused on the hopeless, desperate fight against Sauron, this movie looks like it’s centred on adventure, high jinks and mystery. It seems to have a great sense of humour, too; something LOTR also had in a poignant sort of way. Of course, you’d need the movie to have that humour, with a band of dwarves and a hobbit driving events.
Not just any hobbit, mind you. This one’s played by the fantastic Martin Freeman, well loved in the UK for his roles in The Office and Sherlock. This man has a natural talent for bringing warmth and a sense of reality to his characters. His face conveys every emotion known to man and he has a really likable “every man” kind of way about him. He’s going to do this character justice and it looks like he’s managed to still keep Ian Holm’s older Bilbo appearance from LOTR relevant and believable.
Now, onto the internet’s favourite Hobbit-related topic… Gollum returns! But wait, it’s not just the old CGI Gollum as you once knew him! This one’s… the precioussssss.
That’s right, Peter Jackson/WETA have ensured Gollum looks his absolute best for this movie, while not detracting from his LOTR look. Somehow, in this trailer, Gollum looks like more of a part of the world, rather than an obvious CGI creation. He has more detail in his face and seems to inherit even more personality from his real-world counterpart, Andy Serkis, who is in my view a fantastic actor. What’s more, we’re going to encounter Gollum just as Bilbo originally did and witness him within his own domain, rather than lost and worn down in the harsh world of LOTR.
With great things promised for this series, including the fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch as the dragon Smaug (who should naturally play off Martin Freeman), the Battle of Five Armies and expanded storylines following Gandalf and Legolas facing off against the Necromancer (A.K.A. Sauron Mk.I), this promises to be an unmissable trilogy of movies.
Now, if they can just develop a tie-in video game of the quality of the highly addictive Return of the King, I’ll be a very happy bunny.
Welcome to Fantasy In Motion’s first Champion Post! Fantasy In Motion Interviews… will now be one of our signature features, involving an interview with a lesser-known character from popular fantasy stories and getting their take on events. Today’s interview will be sure to appeal to Lord of the Rings fans, as we speak to Bill the Pony…
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Hi Bill, we’re glad you could join us.
Thanks, I’m excited to be here.
So, for those who don’t know you, could you explain why you’re so famous?
Sure. I had a grand life in Bree, only having to think about where my next feed was coming from. But then the Ringbearer and his little friends came along and all that changed forever. I was bought for twelve silver pennies. They tell me it’s three times what I was worth, but I can’t comment on that.
How was it traveling with the Fellowship of the Ring?
Oh, it was difficult to begin with. I wasn’t in the best shape back then and I feared they might put an arrow through my head if I didn’t keep up. That elf, Legolas; he always had it in for me.
But all that changed when you reached Rivendell, didn’t it?
It sure did, James, it sure did. Soon as I crossed that city’s threshold I felt like a young foal again! I could frolic about with the best of them and not have a care that my joints might give in. Those really were good times.
So, it’s understood that you left the Fellowship’s company when the Watcher in the Water attacked outside Moria. Can you explain why you abandoned your friends to an uncertain fate?
Oh, come on, that’s horse-crap! If it wasn’t for me, that creature would have killed every last one of them and ended their quest there and then. What most people wont know is that I actually possess powerful magical abilities. Forget Gandalf the Grey, it’s Bill the Brave you should watch out for! I fought hoof and er… well, hoof anyway. The Fellowship retreated inside Moria and the Watcher collapsed the door behind them. I started a tactical retreat and barely got away with my life.
But it didn’t end there, did it, Bill?
No, it did not. When I returned to Bree, I was hailed as a hero. Let me tell you, I had my pick of the ladies and got as much feed as I could eat every day. I’d had my taste of the high life and I loved it!
And what about when Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin returned to the Shire to find it overtaken by Saruman and his ruffians?
I can’t really comment on that, James. Some say I played a small part in those events, some deny I was even there. I’d prefer to keep it uncertain.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, now that those meddling elves are leaving Middle-earth and Sauron is dealt with, I can return to a life of simple pleasures. Perhaps I’ll explore the Mines of Moria someday, seeing how I didn’t get to go there. I hear Gondor’s nice in the summertime.
Bill, thank you for your time.
No problem. It’s not as if I’m busy, is it?
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If you have any questions for Bill the Pony, he’s going to be sticking with us for the rest of the day, so drop in a comment and he’ll do his best to answer!
So, here’s what I hope will be an interesting post (hopefully the first in a series) and something a little different. I’m going to post quotes from the Lord of the Rings and then talk a little about various aspects of writing that the quotes relate to in my mind.
A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to. ~ Gandalf
Now, Gandalf certainly speaks some sense here when it comes to writing. When I write, I think of the characters as all going about their own complicated lives as I am writing a scene for a different character. For instance, when you go into a butcher’s to buy some sausages, you are not a trigger which causes him to suddenly spring into life. Writing fiction is not like watching a play. Characters are not just there to drive the story onwards, they are living, breathing things that act independently of the story and the main character(s). So, getting back to the quote, when you are fitting together a scene, the characters arrive precisely when you mean them to. They are never late or early, at least in terms of your planning, they arrive at the moment that causes the story to progress.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken. A light from the shadow shall spring. Renewed shall be blade that was broken. The crownless again shall be king. ~ Arwen
This is one of my favourite quotes. It perfectly describes the steps that form a good story. First we start with ashes and shadows. From this, a hero/anti-hero comes forward (fire) and brings a promise of hope and change (light). Next, he/she sets out on their mission and usually has to gather allies/power/experience to help them face the final challenge. This is like forging a broken or incomplete blade. Finally, the world is put to rights and everything is back in a (hopefully) good place.
I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. ~ Bilbo
This is what readers might find themselves thinking if you, as a writer, fail to handle your characters well. Especially if you’re thinking of becoming the next George R. R. Martin. A badly introduced character is the same as failing to introduce someone at a party. They will mill about aimlessly, perhaps insinuating themselves into a group at some point, but they are ultimately destined to be ignored. It’s exactly the same if you create an unlikable character with no redeeming features. ‘Excuse me everyone, this is Bob and he’s a serial killer who hates parties. Enjoy!’ Make sure the reader can sympathize with some aspect of every character’s personality, or you’re setting yourself up for failure.
He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: it’s springs were at every doorstep and every path was it’s tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.” ~ Frodo
Our final quote can also apply to the way that a plot develops. I’ll twist the quote around for our purposes:
There is only one Story; it is like a great river; it’s springsare every character and every plot thread is it’s tributary. It’s a dangerous business, writing a novel. You start writing, and if you don’t have a plan, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.
What’s the message? Don’t get too caught up with a really cool idea/world before you’ve planned a basic story to go with it. It’s basic hobbit commonsense and far more hobbits survive Sauron’s onslaught than elves or men.
Next time I do this, I’ll choose a different sort of book/movie to quote from and we’ll see how that turns out. Thanks for reading.