Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sometimes Less Is More

I finished the first book of my "Monthly Motif" reading challenge today (just in time). The motif for this month was "Book to Movie." Since the last installment of the Hobbit movie was still in theaters, and since everyone in my family has read The Hobbit except me, I decided to make it my book for the month. The reading challenge also encouraged going to see the movie as a bonus, which we did one evening. My husband, sort of out of the blue, said, "Let's go see The Hobbit tonight," so I abandoned all my plans for cooking supper, we ate scrambled egg sandwiches, and we made it to the theater just as the previews were starting.

I have to admit, I wasn't too impressed. My husband and daughter, being Tolkien purists, were outraged at the liberties Peter Jackson took with the book in making the series of three movies. They kept leaning over to me and saying (in the middle of the movie), "That doesn't happen in the book." Now that I've finished the book, I see what they mean. I'm not upset the same way they are upset, but I do think making three movies from this book was pretty ridiculous.

This character never existed in the book;
in fact, there are no women in The Hobbit!
This may sound like a dumb reason, but honestly, I couldn't remember some of the plot points from one movie to the next. When we saw the movie, I hadn't yet read the part about the Arkenstone, which is introduced in the second movie. So I spent part of the time in the third movie trying to remember what the big deal about that stone was. Is there something about reading the information that makes it stick in the mind (at least my mind) better than seeing it presented visually? Is it that so much else was going on in the movie that the Arkenstone becomes less important than it is in the book? For example, I could remember some of the details about the elf-woman and Legolas from the second movie - but they aren't even in the books! (That's one of the things that burned my husband the most.) In some ways, the narrative emphasis switched from Bilbo's "theft" of the Arkenstone as the key plot element, to the intrigue and doomed romance of the elf-woman (sorry, I remember her name, but I don't want to spell it wrong) and the dwarf Kili. (Another thing that my husband hated). As an author, I wouldn't be ok with it if someone made a change of such substance to my work.

Another thing that bugged me was the blatant commercialism of the movie. I like to think I'm a person who pretty willingly suspends disbelief to give a work a chance, but there were several times when I found myself scoffing during the movie and saying, "This is just ridiculous." Usually that was during some particularly "exciting" part, with impressive special effects and high-action stunt performances -- all the things that make a movie a holiday-season blockbuster.

To borrow a phrase from the book, I think the studio and Peter Jackson were struck with the "bewilderment of the treasure" and created the three installments of the movie to maximize their opportunities to cash in on Tolkien mania one last time. As a result, I think they, like Thorin, lost sight of the integrity of their commitment to the hobbit. Thorin managed to redeem himself before he died; I'm not so sure that's possible for the makers of this series of movies.

On to next month's challenge: An award-winning book.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I never read book so I don't know what all was changed - I liked the first 3 movies that were out sometime ago and finally saw the 1st in this second set of Hobbit movies last week - I wasn't impressed with it.
I am not a fan of things being changed from a book to a movie to the point that they do at times - one book that I read a book that was turned into a movie stands out so much in my mind - in the book it is so pointed out that the main character is of French Canadian decent and has sparkly deep blue eyes and a black actor played the part - what's with that - he didn't look anything like the character was supposed to look - other movies have done similiar things with characters or plots.

Ephemera said...

Maybe hate is too strong of a word but suffice it to say I haven't gone to see the third movie and don't plan to.

Kelana said...

That last paragraph about the "bewilderment of the treasure" is so beautifully put.

In regards to mom's post... I DO hate these movies! haha I personally love the Lord of the Rings books and movies, but they just ruined The Hobbit completely for me. I, too, refuse to see the third... haha.