*Spoilers for a 75 year old book to follow.*
I finished up my little adventure with The Hobbit a couple of weeks back. With the end of the 3rd movie I actually felt a tug a my heart thinking that there more than likely wouldn’t be any more movies. After over a decade worth of watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and then the Hobbit trilogy that just seems wrong somehow.
Stranger still is the fact that I didn’t like the Hobbit when I read it. Even walking out of the first movie I turned to a friend and asked, “Was the White Orc in the book… I don’t remember him.”
This guy, right here. How could you hate that face?
“No, they added him for the movie.”
“Oh… he should have been in the book. I would have liked it better.”
It’s terrible, terrible, terrible that I say any of these things aloud. Though it might be easier to understand if I was anti-Fantasy, but I’m not. In fact, most of my early reading was on the D&D pulp fantasy of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms. There was probably a stretch during high school where I read pretty much anything TSR put a stamp on. I borrowed books from friends, scrounged extra change to buy the latest paperback, and so on. I immersed myself in those worlds. I loved it.
And yet, I hadn’t read Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. That was wrong and something some of my friends couldn’t stand for. Here I was reading all these novels that can trace the direct line back to Tolkien and how could I say I liked fantasy when I hadn’t read the original?
(Technically I think that is an argument for a different time. I maintain that you can like something now without knowing everything about how it came to be… and it doesn’t make the experience lesser for you.)
So I broke down. I borrowed the Hobbit and set out to read this watershed novel.
I got about 100 pages in and put the book down…
for about six months.
I almost NEVER put a book down once I devote 100 pages to something. But I’m sorry, I was BORED. A level of boredom that I have only experienced one other time while reading – Interview with the Vampire where they first reach Paris (nothing happens for like 30 pages). When I finally got back to the book I settled in. I mean, they were off to kill the dragon! I can get behind that.
And then this nobody, Bard, ends up killing the dragon. Who?
What a rip-off!
So yeah, that was my experience with the Hobbit. I never bothered with Lord of the Rings because of that. So when the Jackson movies were announced I thought that I would certainly see them, but it wasn’t Star Wars or something. It would be nice to see something that was Fantasy on the big screen.
And of course I loved those three movies. And when the Hobbit was announced as three movies I didn’t growl and moan because of it… I was happy because there would be three more movies. And when he deviated from the novel I was glad again, because I didn’t like the novel.
And I liked that I could put a face on Bard and at least have some understanding of who he was and why it works if he kills Smaug. The movies add a breadth to the worlds that capture my imagination in a way the book never was able to.
And maybe I was too old to read the Hobbit, being in high school rather than at age 10 or 11 (or possibly younger). After I had finished I told my friends what I thought, and their response was that I should have read Lord of the Rings first as it was the “adult” series.
But even if I loved the novel, I have yet to figure out the reason for the vitriol that people have against the movie(s). They don’t like that certain things aren’t brought in, but then they bitch about the extra stuff. They don’t want 3 movies, but…
I’ve read plenty of books that have been turned into movies and I treat them as different entities. Just because I think movie version of X thing isn’t as good as the book… it doesn’t ruin either of them for me. If the movie was god-awful, then I would just go back and hug my copy (or Kindle nowadays). And if the movie did something better… great.
After Lord of the Rings I expected a bevy of fantasy movies, and I’m pretty much still waiting. Luckily Game of Thrones made it to tv and I was turned on to that series, but overall it is sad that in all these tomes and texts nothing else has been adapted and taken off. And a part of me wonders if it is the fanboys (and girls) who have complained it to death? More than likely that’s not the case.
So my journey through Middle Earth is at its end. I still do have on my to-do list a Saturday session where I watch all 6 extended versions of the movies and not leave my house for the day. Maybe, maybe after that day I might be ready to leave those movies behind.
But probably not.
John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.
His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!
He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!
He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.