J.R.R. TOLKIEN – THE HOBBIT – TRILOGY – AN UNEXPECTED
JOURNEY, 2012 – THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, 2013 – THE BATTLE
OF THE FIVE ARMIES, 2014
I was very critical of the first
part of this trilogy that I saw in the non-extended version. You will find this
critique under the first title of this trilogy. Here I am going to consider the
I maintain the idea that it was a
bad idea to dilute the very short and dense novel by Tolkien, The Hobbit, into
a never ending trilogy. Of course we are told it is not an adaptation of the
novel but a film that is realized after the novel by Tolkien, and I must here
say the dilution is important and it does not respect the intensity of the
original work. But why not after all?
That’s just the right question to
The psychology of the characters
is very often reduced to some simple sketches that are more part of the costume
the actors wear, part of the characters and not something having any depth, any
contradictory inner voice. Even the Hobbit himself is rather sketchy. He is
predictable. He is in no way moved by deep sentiments that are expressed in a
way or another on the screen. He does not have time to do this since he is
absolutely all the time taken in a wild action that has no pause whatsoever,
reducing the dialogue to nothing most of the time, grunts and growls most of
the rest of the time, and here and there a few words often spoken in vain.
And that is the main
characteristic of this trilogy.
It all starts with a Rune written
on the Hobbit’s door by the wizard on his first visit. This Rune is “Fehu”
under its Germanic name or “Feoh” under its Anglo-Saxon name, and it is not
reversed. But we are not explained the meaning of this Rune. The basic meaning
is “cattle” which relates it to the post ice age agricultural evolution, the
domestication of the wild bovines and thus the evolution of that new species
that will provide food and comfort to human beings. It is easy to understand
then that it means “wealth” and all that can be derived from that concept, such
as ‘”fulfillment,” not only the satisfaction of one’s hunger, but also the
satisfaction of all basic needs and further on the satisfaction of one’s call
to the wild and adventure. This is basic in the whole vision provided at the
beginning, though it is not explained clearly and it is not explained again at
the end when the Hobbit arrives home and finds out all his accumulated wealth
has been sold to everyone who wanted it. Satisfied in adventure and fate since
he fulfilled his destiny, he is totally ruined in his material possessions and
his house has been legally and commercially looted. That’s the kind of meaning
we do not get and that’s how we can say that this rune represents this motto:
“Every beginning has within it the seeds of its own end.” And the seeds can be
the negation of the beginning, or its reversal because a Rune can always be
drawn upside down, reversed.
In other words it is perfectly
representative of the ambiguity of runic culture, the very culture Tolkien is
looking for in his novel. This “fehu” rune is the symbol of the call to some
fate that leads to a dragon through fire, seas, storms and all other dangers
from armies and other species and the “fehu” destiny is to kill the dragon. The
killing of Smaug was contained in that rune written on the Hobbit’s door by
this visiting wizard. I did not find one moment when this was explained. You
can tell me that’s the whole story. Sure. But in Tolkien’s mind and in his
creations, there had to be some pondering and understanding of the ambiguity of
these missions and of their greatness in their being ambiguous, hence requiring
at any moment, at any step a resourcing of oneself into the power of the
mission, into the blood of the dragon.
But my main criticism is that
action is made dominant. There is nothing but action, meaning danger and
violence. Even the Orcs must have a mind and must have some psychology. They
are reduced to an army of brutal and brutish automats, the perfect killers who
cannot die, though on the screen quite many will die at high speed.
This insistence on the warlike
aspect of the story erases the magic of the wizard and even the courage and
imagination of the dwarfs and the Hobbit. Then it is all special effects that
are supposed to be so striking that we are stunned into deafness, which
explains why there is no dialogue. Why should there be in a story that is
reduced to calamities and military fighting with in-between all types of other
fighting, always for life, always to death. And the thirteen original dwarfs,
squared up by the Hobbit who makes them fourteen, and the wizard who makes them
fifteen, will only be ten left squared up to twelve by the Hobbit and the
wizard. And that dozen is of course so symbolical of perfection that we cannot
in any way hesitate: we have reached salvation though there is no prophet, no
God, no Son of God, no Holy Virgin either. This parable of Christianity does
not find the religious and ritual dimension it could not ignore in Tolkien’s
world. This film is alas absolutely deprived of any religious and spiritual
If you like special effects,
that’s your trilogy. If you like spectacular battles, that’s your trilogy. If
you like simple people who do not question the universe too much, that’s your
trilogy. And to make it square: if you like films that do not contain anything
erotic, sexy or even simply fleshy, hence if you like puritanical human beings,
that’s your trilogy.
It does not matter if Tolkien is
betrayed in this trilogy, since Tolkien’s son made a tremendous amount of money.
To defend himself he explained that he had donated a lot to various charities.
Good for him. But Tolkien, his father, deserved a better service, more
spiritual, more inspired by love, friendship and empathy instead of the light
sprinkling of these seven and a half hours with rare and extremely superficial
and evanescent references or simple allusions to such human feelings, certainly
not actions or behaviors. The dragon is beautiful but he is absolutely
unlovable, and actually unhatable because one cannot hate something one does
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
OLDER REVIEW OF THE FIRST FILM, “AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY.”
IMdB AND AMAZON.COM
The novel WAS a masterpiece,
Tolkien's masterpiece deserves better, 22
That's not a serious film about Tolkien and his "The
Hobbit" novel, the novel before the "Lord of the Rings" series.
That's a movie for young teenagers. Action is primary and slightly primitive
too. And what's more they cut up a one volume book into slices.
Apart from that disappointment, we have to say it is well
done and the special effects are perfect but they are nothing but special
effects and they produce no sympathy, empathy or compassion. They just produce
surprise and movement.
So what about that Hobbit Bilbon Sacquet, one of these
simple short men who live somewhere underground among the roots of some trees,
who dedicate their lives to studying and accumulating knowledge about
everything and the rest. Scholars, savants, scientists, how can he go on roads
and run after adventure? Hobbits just can't, full stop, period, endgame and
So what about this particular Hobbit who is literally
kidnapped by shame into joining an adventure in which he is not really wanted
but just opportunistically needed. But his presence is resented by some of
these dwarfs he is supposed to travel with and help re-conquer their own
kingdom out of which they have been ousted by a fiery dragon Smaug a long time
ago and are since then chased by all kinds of monsters like trolls, goblins,
orcs or whatever these monstrous monsters are.
The elves are beautiful and charming, grand and elegant,
cultivated and prudent and yet they are not used to the utmost level they could
have served. They are just nearly an obstacle on the road, along the way, that
has to be pushed aside and then a beautiful butterfly will bring the big birds
who will save the situation in its last dire strait but nothing is made as
clear as it should be. We are just piling up or stringing down one event after
another in some kind of pearl necklace.
Too bad because this novel by Tolkien is by far a
masterpiece, but not the film, in spite of its length for just a first slice.
J’attendais beaucoup mieux de ce
court roman, l’ancêtre du Seigneur des Anneaux, par Tolkien, le grand Tolkien,
et ce court roman est un chef d’œuvre qui devient un film pour jeunes ados pas
même encore boutonneux.
S’il n’y avait pas les effets
spéciaux, ce serait un bien pauvre film. Les effets spéciaux sauve la chose
mais ils ne donnent ni profondeur ni densité au film et ils ne créent ni
sympathie, ni empathie, ni compassion. Ils n’apportent que de l’action et de la
vitesse. Rien de bien sublime pour les spectateurs qui aiment les émotions
humaines et fortes.
Ce Hobbit Bilbon Sacquet, un petit
homme qui vit dans les racines de quelque arbre, en totale isolation du monde,
ou presque, consacrant sa vie au savoir et à sa collecte, un savant, un lettré,
un érudit, un maître de l’esprit, un philosophe, et quoi encore ? Tout le
reste. Il n’a aucune envie d’aller à l’aventure mais il est piégé par une bande
de nains qui le provoquent dans sa dignité et sa vanité.
Et en plus il n’est pas vraiment
désiré. Il est simplement nécessaire dans la mission de ces nains qui se sont
fixé l’objectif de reconquérir leur royaume perdu sous les flammes d’un dragon
Smaug il y a longtemps et qui sont pourchassés par des gobelins, des orques et
quelques wargs sans compter les toutes nouvelles araignées géantes et quelques
sorciers maléfiques, ainsi risquant de mourir sous les dents de ces êtres
monstrueux qui n’ont d’esprit que de grandes gueules et de cerveau que de
grandes dents, et je ne dirait rien de leur psychisme réduit à leur salive et
leurs crachats de morve mortelle et vénéneuse.
Et c’est pourtant ce petit voleur de
Hobbit qui va donner une leçon de courage aux nains trop rapidement découragés
devant l’hostilité du monde.
Mais ce que je regrette le plus
c’est que malgré la longueur du film le réalisateur a réussi à couper un petit
roman en tranches et vous n’aurez donc que la première étape cette année, en
espérant que celle de l’an prochain sera la dernière, mais je n’en jurerait pas
si j’étais vous.
Alors allez jouir des effets
spéciaux et des cabrioles numériques et numérisées, et d’ailleurs fort
nombreuses, sorties tout droit des ordinateurs des studios d’Hollywood. Même
les beaux (et enfin une femme dans tout ce film, on ne peut pas dire que l’on
soit envahi par la sexualité et le désir), graciles, légers, élégants mais
aussi prudents qu’une bande d’ermites au fond de leur caverne dorée ne sont pas
utilisés comme ils le devraient et le papillon qui va chercher les grands
oiseaux qui sauvent la mise n’est ni clair ni expliqué. Dommage. On aurait pu
faire tellement mieux sur ce chef d’œuvre de littérature fantastique.