Saturday, December 14, 2013


Hmm, let’s see.

  1. Catholic blogger.
  2. Asked to review new releases by Catholic website.
  3. Major motion picture being released this week based on a novel by a beloved Catholic author.

Yeah, I’d say all that makes the odds about 1000% that I reviewed The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for Aleteia this week.

Okay, so if you read the review, you know I opened it with a brief history of the very first attempt to bring The Hobbit to the big screen back in the mid-60s. Well, if that 12-minute long version of Tolken’s novel with no dwarfs and an ending wherein Bilbo marries a princess sounds like something you’d want to see, here you go…

Kind of makes the changes Peter Jackson made to his version of the story seem trivial in comparison, doesn’t it? And make no mistake, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is Jackson’s version, not Tolkien’s, not even close. If you can accept that, then it’s not impossible that you just might find you’re able to enjoy the movie for what it is, an extremely well made fantasy adventure with themes that pale in comparison to the original, but can be worth exploring in their own right. You know, it’s sort of the same thing you have to do when watching Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which is in no way the same story as Stephen King’s The Shining.

But if your well justified devotion to Tolkien doesn’t allow you to do any more than sit in the theater with a dog-eared highlighted copy of The Hobbit reading along with the movie and tsk-tsking every little deviation between the page and the screen, well, you might as well stay home. You have nothing to look forward to in Jackson’s movie except bitter disappointment.

If any of you do manage to get to the theater to see The Desolation of Smaug this weekend, be sure to drop me a note and let me know what you thought, positive or negative. Until then, I’ll be out in the backyard with my son lopping the heads off of orcs with his Nerf swords.


Scott W. said...

A frequent commenter at my blog mentioned she tried find out something about this odd thing, but can't find anything other than the makers secured permission from the "Tolkien estate", which is weird because Tolkien was still alive at the time.

EegahInc said...

You have to kind of piece it all together from various sources. For this short in particular I'd start with:

For more on the rights issue, try:

Basically, Tolkien thought his books couldn't properly be adapted without ruining them, but was worried about his family's financial future. After rejecting Forry Ackerman of all people, he finally sold the rights to Snyder for two years. One year later, America discovered The Lord of the Rings and Snyder rushed out this short to keep the rights and force Tolkien to pay a hefty sum to buy them back. Tolkien then turned around and sold the rights to United Artists, knowing even as he did so that he wasn't going to like whatever resulted from the arrangement. It was really all just a financial decision because Tolkien wasn't making any real money off the books at the time. Hard to believe, I know.