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

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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