#ContactForm1 { display: none ! important; }

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Desolation of Smaug -or- The Unexpected Ship

I'll try to keep this spoiler free...

You know how kids have imaginary friends? Sometimes it's a spooky dead kid, sometimes they imagine going to Sesame Street or wherever. My imaginary friends as a little kid were Gimli and Legolas from THE LORD OF THE RINGS. I'd go run around the backyard with a stick as my sword as I slew orcs and saved Middle Earth.

One of the first stories I wrote (and that won an award) was a story of dwarf twins living in the Lonely Mountain and chasing down a stolen, jewel-encrusted, baby rattle. I was in third grade and I wrote it for a Young Authors competition.

I own every Lord Of The Rings movie ever made, including the really old animated Return Of The King which no one seems to remember. I took my hardcover copy of THE HOBBIT (which my aunt and uncle gave me in 1983) to kindergarten for show and tell. I still have that book (although the cover was nibbled on by my cockatiel in high school so it's not quite as pristine as it could be).

My point is... I really love Tolkien's books and I was really worried about Peter Jackson breaking THE HOBBIT into three movies. The original text was meant as a children's book, it's not written in the same style as the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and it doesn't have enough meat in the canon text to be three movies. Now, if you follow me on Tumblr and Twitter you already know what I think about this movie. I loved it.

And because it came up on Twitter I have to talk about why it's okay for movie adaptations to leave the book...

Generally, I'm against this practice. Most books are flawless the way they are and no movie can improve on them. The problem is that most books make terrible movies. Absolutely awful drek. Books that are written to make good movies are usually terrible books. The two formats don't work together nearly as well as people think.

In the cases where adaptations of the book have worked (Harry Potter anyone?) it's because either the author gave input or the filmmaker was able to translate Book Speak to Movie Lingo. Some filmmakers have the gift of taking all the nuance and meaning and translating it into a dialog that the actors then add to.

I think Peter Jackson et al managed that. It's not a purist adaption. It's not without it's flaws. But I laughed, and you know how highly I prize humor. A good thing - movie, book, or person - will make you laugh.

And that Unexpected Ship?

I ship it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm mixed on the idea of whether or not movie adaptations are better or worse than the books. Some have been better, some have been worse. Harry Potter has both verdicts from me, depending on the movie. In general, though, I tend to prefer the book over the movie just because there are usually nuances in the book that don't transfer to film easily.

    Lords of the Rings has been a series I've wanted to see for years. I also saw the little known animated film and was disappointed that they didn't do the whole series. It wasn't the greatest animated film but it was the story in action. So when Peter Jackson took it on, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it.

    I resented him leaving out some things, especially Tom Bombadil, and changing others, like the battle at Helm's Deep, but loved how he brought the tale to life. So when he did The Hobbit, I knew there would be departures from the book. I haven't seen Smaug yet but so far I can say that I think this time round, Peter Jackson did better with the story than Tolkien did.

    There are few people that I grant the title of genius to but in this case Peter Jackson and the script writers for The Hobbit get the accolade from me. I'm looking forward to seeing Smaug and the final Hobbit movie when it comes out.