Behind the Camera With ... The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
By Matt Click / November 13

Time to get a little sappy, folks. The Lord of the Rings is really important to me. Before I could read, my dad read The Hobbit to me. In middle school, I devoured The Lord of the Rings, both the novels and the films. It forever ingrained in me a love of fantasy, and to this day I draw inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien's immense world of Elves and Orcs, Men and Dragons, Hobbits and Rings of Power, dangers and triumphs. And to this day, Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films remain some of my favorite of all time.

So to have Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey looming just on the horizon — well, I'm a little beside myself with excitement. Slated for a December 14, 2012 release (thankfully we'll be able to enjoy it before the Mayan calendar runs out and we're all forced to rely on John Cusack to save us), An Unexpected Journey is the first in Jackson's trilogy of Hobbit films. Yes, that's right. The Hobbit, a single novel (and not an incredibly lengthy one at that), will be made into three movies. 

But more on that later. For now, let's take a look at what we can expect from Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth with this prequel to his Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Recounting an Epic Tale
The Hobbit tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins of Bag End, a respectable Hobbit of the shire, and kinsman to future Ringbearer Frodo Baggins. Bilbo has enjoyed many decades of typical Shire living — food, pipe weed, and quiet peace. But when Gandalf the Grey comes knocking at his door with a proposition for adventure, Bilbo joins up with a band of Dwarven warriors. The Dwarves are led by the exiled king Thorin Oakenshield, heir to the kingdom under Lonely Mountain. A great dragon, Smaug, has taken up residence in the Lonely Mountain, and the Dwarves wish to regain their homeland and reclaim their hoard.

While The Hobbit is a simple enough story, looks can be deceiving. It lacks the doom and despair of The Lord of the Rings, sure — but the events of The Hobbit also set in motion a great change in the realm of Middle Earth. For one, Bilbo recovers a magical ring from the creature Gollum, one that grants the wearer invisibility. Of course, we know that this ring is The One Ring, the last remnant of the dark lord Sauron.

It's clear that Peter Jackson intends to use this knowledge to the movie's advantage, playing up the notions of destiny, and the fast-approaching Age of Men. The result will no doubt be a film that retains its light-hearted tone of adventure, while also foreshadowing greater darkness and dread.

Treading Familiar Ground
With the completion of this Hobbit trilogy, we will have something never before attempted in movies — a seamless franchise of six films, all helmed by one director, featuring a cohesive art style and tone. Howard Shore will have composed the soundtracks for all six films, utilizing recurring themes and motifs. 

This unexpected journey takes Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves across Middle Earth, and features locations familiar to fans of Lord of the Rings, such as the Shire, Rivendell, and the Misty Mountains. These locations will appear much as they did in The Lord of the Rings, creating a cohesive feel for the entire franchise, and lending weight to these important locations.

We'll also be reunited with several vital characters from The Lord of the Rings, with Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Christopher Lee as Saruman, and Andy Serkis as Gollum all reprising their roles.

The Drawing of the Three
Now, here's what everyone is talking/bitching about. THREE MOVIES?! I know, at first, it seems ludicrous. The Hobbit is shorter a book than any one of the Lord of the Rings novels, and yet we're getting a trilogy out of it?

The trilogy will consist of An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and There and Back Again. Initially, only two films were slated. But a third has been greenlit, and will consist of new footage as well as unused footage from the first two films.

It stands to reason that the first two films will fully encompass the story of The Hobbit, with An Unexpected Journey carrying Bilbo and the Dwarves through Rivendell and the Misty Mountains (based on the trailers), and The Desolation of Smaug consisting of Mirkwood, Lake Town, the confrontation with Smaug, and the Battle of Five Armies. However, the films will also include material from Tolkien's appendices and other works, much like the Lord of the Rings trilogy did. Included in An Unexpected Journey will be a meeting of the White Council, which counts Galadriel, Saruman the White, and Radagast the Brown among its members. These extra goodies further increase the runtimes, necessitating a second film. 

The third film? Well, that will be more of a "bridge" movie, further connecting The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, leading right into The Fellowship of the Ring. Peter Jackson and screenwriter Guillermo Del Toro will once again draw from Tolkien's appendices and other Middle Earth works for the film's content. Jackson has expressed interest in telling the stories of Gollum journeying to Mordor, and Aragorn receiving the task of watching over Frodo.

It almost sounds like There and Back Again will function as sort of a "collected tales" film, rather than a traditional story arc.

The Dawn of a New Age
Not content to simply make an epic million-dollar trilogy, Peter Jackson will change the landscape of filmmaking with his Hobbit trilogy. Since the inception of cinema, movies have been shot and viewed at 24 frames-per-second. The Hobbit will be filmed at 48 frames-per-second 3D. This is a filmmaking first.

While initially watching a movie at 48 FPS may be a bit off-putting, that's only because it looks so real. A viewer can typically distance itself from a movie, because it looks like footage. But at 48 FPS, you're essentially looking through a window and seeing.

Select theaters will be showing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48 FPS 3D, Seattle's own Cinerama being one of them.

I don't know about you, but seeing Smaug in 48 FPS is going to be incredible.

No comments:

Post a Comment