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Full Comparison: The Hobbit

The craft of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth has captivated readers for almost a century; featuring some of the greatest stories in classical and modern literature, such as The Silmarillion, Lord of the Rings, and most importantly, the novel that set it all in motion, The Hobbit.


And with its incredible movie trilogy (directed by Peter Jackson, who also directed the Lord of the Rings movies) released consecutively in 2012 (An Unexpected Journey), 2013 (The Desolation of Smaug), and 2014 (The Battle of the Five Armies), the legend has kept going. But despite the incredible grandeur and epic thrill these movies have produced, there is much debate on how accurate they are to the book.


In this review I will cover what I believe to be the best similarities, and some of the biggest differences, between the book and the movies for The Hobbit


BOOK VS MOVIE: Full Comparison: The Hobbit

A note about spoilers:  In this review I have tried to refrain from unnecessary spoilers, however there are some scenes that I mention in which spoilers are necessary for context. If you have read The Hobbit, none of these should surprise you.




SIMILARITIES


To start with, I want to highlight four of the best similarities I found between An Unexpected Journey and the book for The Hobbit. There are many, many more, but these four stood out to me the most.



The Good Morning Scene


For the most iconic line in all Middle Earth lore, I do believe An Unexpected Journey did the novel proud for the “good morning” scene. Captured perfectly, I found that Gandalf’s inquisitive questions and Bilbo’s surprised statements really brought to life the scene we all know well from the book. It occurred in the movie just as I had imagined while reading it.



An Unexpected Party

Image credit: Charleston City Paper


As the inciting incident of The Hobbit, the unexpected party at the beginning of the story was also made remarkably well in An Unexpected Journey. Despite some of the clear differences contrasting the book and the movie, I think the surprise of Bilbo and the introduction of all  thirteen dwarves was produced excellently.


Although I’m sure we can all agree that the two biggest letdowns of this scene were that Blunt the Knives and Misty Mountains were far too short compared to how Tolkien wrote about them!



Rivendell


While the way Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves get to Rivendell in An Unexpected Journey is certainly unlike how its done in the book, I think this scene should still be highlighted in how well it was made similar to how Tolkien imagined it.


The Last Homely House, for example, home to Elrond the Lord of Rivendell, is portrayed spectacularly if you have a look at how it was written about. What I also appreciate is that even when Peter Jackson’s creative license came into play, it still did the book proud. 



Riddles in the Dark


Another iconic scene in both the book and An Unexpected Journey is where Bilbo meets Gollum. In the novel, Tolkien names this chapter, Riddles in the Dark. And for how he described it in words, the movie has done an incredible job on bringing it to life through pictures. Not only was Gollum’s infamous voice and way of talking replicated perfectly, but so was Bilbo’s sense of nervousness and the ways both characters interacted with one another. 



ADDITIONS IN THE MOVIES



Azog the Defiler


The addition of Azog the Defiler (also known as the Pale Orc) in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit movies has brought about much debate among fans. In the book the primary antagonist is Smaug the dragon; along with other supporting antagonistic forces, including the trolls, the goblins, and the Mirkwood spiders.


In the movie, the role of primary antagonist is shared between both Smaug and Azog, the leader of the orcs. Featuring in the movie from the first few minutes, Azog’s role as the villain stands out and serves as something that Bilbo and the dwarves can consciously try to evade.



Tauriel

Image credit: Tolkien Gateway


Potentially one of the most controversial additions in the movies is Tauriel, the female captain of the Mirkwood Elven Guard. Tolkien did not write about her in The Hobbit—in fact, none of the elves but Elrond are even named in the novel—making her addition in the movies a heavily debated topic.


First appearing in The Desolation of Smaug, Tauriel was added to balance a primarily male cast, providing a strong female character, and to also interweave a bittersweet love story in the movies.


While Tauriel’s inclusion is controversial, I personally enjoyed having her feature, as I found it added another dimension to it, and it helped flesh out the wood elves a bit more—providing them with more character and backstory than just another rich civilisation.



Radagast the Brown

Image credit: Screen Rant


As one of only five wizards in the entire Hobbit and Lord of the Rings franchise—only three of which are named—Radagast the Brown is only mentioned in Tolkien’s novel, allowing us to purely have presumptions about him and his actions.


In the movies, his character makes multiple cameo appearances, along with his iconic bunny sled. His inclusion in all three of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit movies has mostly been welcomed by fans, the likeable character providing some humour to some of the more intense scenes.



Legolas


A hugely debated addition to The Hobbit’s movies is that of Legolas the elf. Appearing first in The Desolation of Smaug when the dwarves are captured by the elves in Mirkwood, the familiar face of Orlando Bloom has surprised, thrilled, and enraged fans.


Legolas only appears in The Fellowship of the Ring; book one in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As The Hobbit was written and published without follow-on novels in mind, we can have no certainty if J.R.R. Tolkien would have included Legolas in the prequel. Though considering Tolkien’s love for consistency and intriguing family ties, it wouldn’t be unlikely for him to have included Legolas in the Mirkwood scene in a rewrite of The Hobbit.



Sauron’s Appearance and Dol Gudur


The addition of Sauron—the primary antagonist in Lord of the Rings—and his awakening in all three of The Hobbit movies is an interesting one. In the book, he is only mentioned by Gandalf once or twice. Dol Gudur, being Sauron’s dark stronghold, is also only mentioned in the book.


In the movies we see both Dol Gudur and Sauron appearing numerous times throughout the story. While I think it’s an excellent way to tie in with Lord of the Rings and to set up the plot for it, I know that a lot of fans found it to be completely unnecessary. 


In addition to this, we also see that Gandalf is surprised to discover Sauron’s awakening, whereas in Tolkien’s tale of The Hobbit, Gandalf is already knowledgeable of “the necromancer” and his rising.



The White Council


Another thing that was only introduced in the Lord of the Rings books is the White Council—a council of wise and powerful elves and wizards in Middle Earth. 


The addition of this in Peter Jackson’s movies when Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves reach Rivendell has mostly been praised by readers, including the inclusion of Galadriel and Saruman the White—characters whom Tolkien only developed when writing Lord of the Rings


Fans can only assume that if Tolkien had written The Hobbit after Lord of the Rings, he would have most likely included a scene or two featuring Lady Galadriel and the White Council.



DIFFERENT PORTRAYALS



Orcs as the antagonists

Image credit: CBR


If you’ve read the book you would know that the orcs are barely even mentioned. However, in all three movies, they serve as the plot’s ubiquitous antagonists, always featuring in some way, shape, or form. 


While the book is already incredible without Azog and his army of orcs, I personally found that their addition in the movies helps the plot to have one consistent, antagonistic force in mind, rather than having multiple different oppositions like in the book. 



Thranduil the Elvenking

Image credit: CBR


Appearing as only “Elvenking” in the book, Thranduil the king of the Mirkwood elves is a strong figure who embodies Tolkien’s elvish character with a high sense of power. His elegance as an elf and strength as their king has certainly been portrayed well, first appearing fleetingly in An Unexpected Journey, and continuing more through The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies.


In the movies we discover his name is Thranduil, which I found has added more personality to him, and he is given more air time, which I think has given his character far more depth than in the novel. Through The Desolation of Smaug, and especially in The Battle of the Five Armies, we get to see more of the Elvenking’s character and his inner conflicts, as well as how he works and how he leads his people.



Kili and Tauriel

Image credit: Game Rant


I think that apart from balancing the all-male cast, the idea for Tauriel was to also produce a slightly romantic dimension to the movies. After their first interaction in The Desolation of Smaug, the dynamic with Kili the dwarf and Tauriel the elf really blossoms throughout The Battle of the Five Armies


While it’s another hot topic for these movies, I do think that including this helped to bring out more of the side characters and build side stories around the main plot.



Beorn the Skin-Changer


One thing that I was disappointed about in The Desolation of Smaug was how lightly the creators of the movie touched on Beorn the bear/human skin-changer.


The encounter with Beorn in Tolkien’s novel has a whole chapter to it, where the dwarves enter, two-by-two, into Beorn’s dining hall as to not overwhelm him. They’re invited to stay overnight and are given provisions as they head on their way to Mirkwood.


In The Desolation of Smaug, the scene with Beorn almost seemed to me like an afterthought, as it didn’t seem nearly as long or as important as it had been in the story. Instead of a lengthy dinner conversation in his hall, the dwarves merely invaded Beorn’s home and hid in the hay while they anxiously waited his return from hunting.


What I did notice, however, and what brought a smile to my face, was that during the main battle in The Battle of the Five Armies you can see the familiar bear-shape of Beorn fighting against the orcs.



The deaths of Fili, Kili, and Thorin

Image credit: Game Rant


A sad and unforgettable moment in The Hobbit is when Tolkien describes the farewells and deaths of the well-beloved dwarves; Fili, Kili, and their uncle and leader of the company, Thorin Oakenshield. Their deaths are written as heroic, described as charging into a battle they believe they won’t survive.


The Battle of the Five Armies has a different take on this scene, where they are slaughtered by Azog and his orcs on Ravehill, above the battleground in front of Erebor; the dwarves’ city under the Lonely Mountain. After Fili is killed by Azog, and Kili is killed by Bolg while defending Tauriel, the attention is turned to the age-old animosity between Azog and Thorin.


In the end Thorin dies slowly from being stabbed by Azog, but of course not before he stabs Azog too, killing the Pale Orc and defeating the antagonists. 


While this conclusion for Thorin and his nephews was very unlike that in the book—again something many fans have debated—I found this tragic ending beautiful, and an excellent way to wrap up the loose ends of the story.




CONCLUSION



With Tolkien raising the bar very high by captivating readers and fans for nearly ninety years, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit movie trilogy has done an astounding job with it all. While even the slightest differences have been noticed—and heavily debated ad nauseum—, I think we must keep in mind the masterpiece they were intended to bring to life, and to realise the high standard they had to live up to.


Quite frankly, I think that Peter Jackson and his team of creators did an incredible job on this trilogy, with all three The Hobbit movies earning their rightful spots in the list of my Top 5 favourite movies of all time. 


What about you?



 

written by Christopher J. Watt

Christopher J. Watt author

Christopher J. Watt is a passionate young South African writer now living in Australia. He has co-authored two historical fiction novels in the Epic Story of America series and is currently working on his own projects. When he's not writing, you can find him doing graphic design, drawing animals, film editing, or swimming. Find out more at www.christopherjwattauthor.com.

3 коментарі


Lori Scharf
Lori Scharf
5 days ago

While I prefer the book, the visuals of the movie were epic, and the story was pretty good too, even if it wasn't as true to the source material as the other movies. As a movie, 10/10. As a Hobbit adaptation, 4/10 for me.

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Wow, this is an awesome post, Christopher! I love the way you wrote it, it was very easy to read, yet it was packed with detail! (Things I never noticed!) Well done, and I look forward to hopefully your comparison post on LOTR! ;)

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Коментар для:

Thank you so much, Ella! I'm glad you so thoroughly enjoyed my post. And I will definitely consider writing a post for LOTR, once I finish The Return of the King! 😉

Huzzah!

~Christopher

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