In Defence of Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug'Maggie Jankuloska

Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the famous J.R.R Tolkien novels have brought me a lot of joy over the years.  It is because of Peter Jackson’s 2001 film Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring that I even learned of Tolkien as a 13-year-old and became engrossed in the world of elves, dwarves and hobbits. Naturally, I had a raging crush on Orlando Bloom, who played blonde Elf prince Legolas and back then was a relatively unknown actor.

My brother and I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy years ago and do today. Linking the LOTR with another trilogy prequel of The Hobbit, made me feel giddy, and excited to be teleported again to The Shire, Rivendell and picturesque landscapes of Middle Earth. The Hobbit adaptations have given my brother and I a chance to bond and remember equally good times, during Frodo’s quest to destroy the ring.

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Despite his brilliance as a director and his years of hard work, Peter Jackson is receiving criticism from Tolkien purists for altering and embellishing the original plot. Fans have been against Jackson’s links between The Hobbit and LOTR as well as the introduction of new characters, such as Tauriel, a wood-elf from the Mirkwood, played by Evangeline Lily. Similarly, The Hobbit saw the return of Orlando Bloom’s character Legolas, who is not present in the novel.

What would have happened if Peter Jackson did not stray from Tolkien’s vision? The Hobbit films would have been shorter, without rich subplots and would have been predictable. Tolkien was a genius and all fans feel much respect and gratitude towards him, although his novels at times feel drawn-out and the readers at times feel removed from the action. Yet Tolkien’s stories contain much love and it is this love and heart which is rejuvenated in Peter Jackson’s films.

Viewers can feel the cosy home of Bilbo Baggins, they feel shivers as the dwarves sing about their far away home and they too face Smaug, the vile dragon. Peter Jackson’s attention to detail and perfection shows his own admiration for Tolkien and the world once thought impossible to bring to the big screen. As a visionary, it would have been impossible for Jackson not to put his own spin on the work of Tolkien, which has been a part of his career for many years.  Is it necessarily wrong that Jackson rejuvenated the fantastical world of Tolkien? No.

Because of Peter Jackson, fans can see Legolas as a character with a love interest and fans will laugh at Legolas’ first impression of a young Gimli. Jackson has given many characters depth and admirable bonds to others.  Peter Jackson also makes splendid distinctions between the many dwarves, which make them memorable in the mind of the audience.

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Similarly, by showing links to events that are to come in LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, Jackson makes viewers feel like they are all in on what is about to happen. They have been on Frodo’s journey and they know how it started and ended, now they are on Bilbo’s journey and they see how the quests are related.  Also, what is wrong with seeing a bit of wizard banter between Gandalf and fellow wizard Radagast?

The Hobbit- Desolation of Smaug was a masterpiece, as have been Jackson’s previous Tolkien adaptations.  They have a sentimental value to me, as would the books to others.  Both the films and novels are brilliant in their own right and personally I love the translation from print to film. Tolkien’s stories have endured and they have been invigorated by a brilliant director who has shared Tolkien’s world with a legion of new fans.

Images via flicksandbits.com

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  1. My one big problem with this movie is the Tauriel-Kili thing. I’m all for the strong female character, but why on Earth did he have to turn into a love-triangle? It just seemed so pointless, as if he was trying to draw more attention to the film by giving the audience a love scene. We didn’t need all of that, the film was perfectly fine without it.

  2. I just found that everything was so over the top all the time! I really enjoyed watching it, but I was disappointed with how Jackson handled the character of Beorn. Also the Mirkwood scene. I understand, spending a lot of time in Mirkwood would have been dull after a while, but it could have been explored further and I felt a lot of the atmosphere of Mirkwood, which I always liked, was lost because they spent all of five minutes wandering around.
    And the whole Orc chasing the dwarves subplot is a little dumb. It could have been completely removed. Jackson seems to lack an understanding that the Orcs are technically the Goblins as well. They don’t need to be chasing the dwarves to make it to the Battle of the Five Armies, they end up there anyway because they are Goblins that come down from the mountain who feel hard done to after their king is slain.
    The Hobbit would have been perfectly fine if it was more condensed and didn’t have the orcs.

  3. “without rich subplots” and “Jackson has given many characters depth”? Have you even read the books? Jackson’s adaptations have given us beautiful visuals of Middle Earth, but he has simply missed the boat when it comes to the depth and nobility of Tolkien’s characters. Sam Gamgee’s brotherly love and steadfast servitude to Frodo was a more beautiful story of affection and devotion than anything Jackson has contrived. As for subplots, Jackson chose to discard some of Tolkien’s most beautiful nuances of the four books, such as Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, the story of Beorn, the humor of the Hobbits’ pony Bob and their attachment to him.

    I am not a fan of Jackson’s adaptations (they are just shiny effects and fight scenes to me), but if they spur fans to pick up the books and really experience the passion, beauty and genius of J.R.R. Tolkien, then they are worth the mediocrity.

  4. I’ve been a fan of Tolkien since I read The Hobbit at the age of 11 and I love the LOTR movies. I agree with what you say that sticking religiously to the book would have probably made the movie predictable and somehow would have shown a more boring view of the Middle Earth. I don’t disagree with all of the changes made by Jackson and I praise Lily’s character and the return of my first crush ever, Legolas. Also, having Lee Pace as sassy Elvenking Thranduil was the best choice ever, cheers for Jackson! But the love triangle. . . I mean, no. The only romance allowed in the Tolkien world is between Legolas and Gimli. Also, I felt that the fighting scenes were full of visual effects, not that they were not good, but they weren’t natural. There were a lot of visual effects, too much for my taste. All in all, it’s a great film, but I didn’t feel I was drawn back to Middle Earth as with LOTR

  5. I didn’t really mind any of the changes except for the love triangle. I thought that was a bit unnecessary. I loved the rest of it, though. :)

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