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With filming about to begin in New Zealand & with Peter Jackson at the helm what are peoples thoughts now regarding the two part Hobbit film. It seems that we will be seeing a visualisation of the period of time between the start of The Hobbit and the beginning of the Lord Of The Rings as well as some back history of The Ring, Sauron, The White Council plus probably more, all mined from the Appendices of the Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit book. As someone who can detach themselves from Film and Book in regards to changes, but can understand the infuriation of some Tolkien stalwarts I am interested in Planet Tolkien's thoughts on the matter. Are you excited at the thought of returning to Middle Earth on screen?

I feel rather torn. I long to return to Middle-Earth as you say, but I want to return to Tolkien and only Tolkien's Middle-Earth, as absolutely closely as it can possibly be. So I am anxious and worried , as seeing how much they departed from what truly was in the name of entertainment, what might they do now. And also, to be brutally honest, this money thing and the so called non payment to the Tolkien family of what was due them makes me feel rather put out with and distrustful of all concerned. I hope for the best and fear the worst.

Lee Lee, the Money thing is disgusting, however its the way Hollywood works, it sucks I know, having said that the family will get the money eventually. The artists involved in the movies don't have anything to do you these issues. 

I found that many things disappointed me in the movies which have been released so far, but many more things I loved.  You can take what you want from them and they can never touch Tolkien, he and his master pieces will always be there for us.  They cannot be touched or altered so long as we continue to read love and talk about them them.  I look at it this way imagine how horrific it would have been should a production company like Jerry Bruckheimer had mad the first three films, it could have been so bad!

I found things in the films which truly moved me, in ways which the books did too.

Don't take it too seriously, its just one fans idea of a visualisation of our favourite stories.

I am excited having said that.....  I live in Australia and was considering trying to become an extra...

I was very excited about LotR series, but some changes in plot there have angered me much. It made completely different images of some characters and completely "buried" others, not to mention some "short deals" such as Saruman falling down from the top of Ortanc or elves defending Helms Deep and few (or not so few) more examples can be given. However my point is that frivolity in screen play is not good in case of Tolkien's Arda, where many things are related and weaved into the common picture of Legendarium.

Now with the Hobbit coming ahead I am not so excited. There is already too much "shout" around the cast, and "the curse'" etc., and all this PR and preliminary marketing is so annoying. I will go to see it all (hopefully if I'm healthy and in my senses), but I am much more worried about what "new plot" will pop-up out of it rather than all thrilled with joy.

p.s.: Worried: Just rumour I guess, but I've read that "Galadriel" will appear and more than once...

Bgo, how wonderful if indeed you could be cast as an extra, given your feelings about things that would be truly a treat.

Amm, I too am worried. It's just that I don't know what twist and turns will come about and it does worry me. I said somewhere that each night for over a week our little family has been reading the Hobbit, taking turns, just after supper. it is so wondrous and it seems to me that every new little scene is essential and so illuminating and the whole of the work just fits together one page upon the other masterfully.

I don't want that to change. Nothing else is needed, nothing else in essence should be taken away or it is NOT the work of Tolkien put down on celluloid. I saw the movies before I read the books, so I had no knowledge of what was correct or plain wrong and nonsensical. I cried for two days for the elves that died at Helms'Deep and then when I read the book I was some ticked! And why on earth they had Theodin and those of the whitecity at odds with each other is beyond me. That was so upsetting I could not get past it and therefore Two Towers is the least favorite of mine. And attributing things one character said to another, why, it is stupid to me. I think I need to lay down.

Oh come on, people!

Think back to the time of the LOTR films. Remember the fans, the publicity, their sheer power! And the movies themselves! The acting (Orlando Bloom owes everything to the films) was superb, the effects magnificent and beyond anything of their time (Gollum), the direction, the art, miniatures, filming locations and simply the incredible amount of work that went into them were leagues ahead of everything else.

17 Oscars won - the most for any series ever, 11 for the third film, a total never surpassed in the history of filmmaking.

A total of 12 billion US dollars gained from tickets, DVDs, merchandise and the rest.

These movies were quite simply some of the most epic made ever. Now, admittedly, they cut out bits from Tolkien's work, they added bits in - but this work has to be seen as its own masterpiece, on its own, without being constantly compared to the books. Remember, it does say 'based' on the books.

And I'm sure PJ will create yet another incredible two films for Tolkien fans and others to enjoy for years afterwards. That's all I have to say.

Awards and dollars mean nothing to me compared to faithfulness to Tolkien however.

Now, admittedly, they cut out bits from Tolkien's work, they added bits in - but this work has to be seen as its own masterpiece, on its own, without being constantly compared to the books. Remember, it does say 'based' on the books. 

 

Question: do you judge the films without any regard to faithfulness to the source?

We are all missing the point!  At the start of most if not all film adapt ions of great books are the words "Based On"

As Ive said 1000 times to all of my Tolien friends, take from the film what you love, look over what you dont, the books will always be there for us, unchanged, unaltered and eternal.

I can almost guarantee everyone will feel the same way about the Hobbit as they did LOTR. I'm sure it'll be very similar in terms of quality. Just like many book-to-movie adaptations, true fans will be torn and the rest of the people will either love it or be unable to stay seated for 3 hours.

'Based On' is a huge door to open.

If one doesn't care about faithfulness to the book then that's one approach; but if one does, then it becomes about measure -- subjective measures and opinions to be sure, but that's the nature of this beast. 

People who think Jackson's films were poor as adaptations realize that books aren't films, that the film is based on the book, and that the books are always there... these things are general, mutually agreed upon points.

That's the point of "based on" though, to have a huge opening. The Exorcist is based on a true story. Avatar is based on a true story. If you're looking for faithfulness then those are two of the worst movies ever made.

I don't think there is a winning side to this argument. The world of Tolkien is just way too big to please everyone. One of the reasons I love the idea of movies is to spread the word of Tolkien. Just look at how many dedicated users are on this site because they saw the LOTR movies. Now, almost 10 years later, a new generation will hopefully feel the same. I would rather people love the Tolkien movies than not love Tolkien at all...

That's the point of "based on" though, to have a huge opening. 

 

OK, and (and not that you said otherwise) 'based on' doesn't serve as some catch-all 'defense' of the myriad choices Peter Jackson actually made in altering the book (in the arena of faithfulness to the source).

And as far as bringing people to the books, that's a more complicated question than it seems. Sure 'it's advertising' but there are other factors to consider here... though probably better left for another thread.

For now I'll just say this much: a much better and more faithful version of the film (according to someone's opinion) would be advertising too.

I see it as more of a disclaimer than a defense. And I wouldn't call it advertising, just spreading the word of the Professor to a newer generation who don't work quite the same as the others. I would like to discuss this sometime though, so let me know where to find that thread when it comes

I think we can all agree that the best thing would be a faithful, awesome, epic, mindblowing, and just outstanding piece of cinematic history.

*crosses fingers*

'Advertising' is just shorthand... but is (for example) Aragorn, beheader of ambassadors, truly spreading the word of the Professor?

By the way, you can start such a thread if you like (obviously). I just started a far more important one today...

... about Eldarin hair

I see you've come to some agreement, but unfortunately for me I can't.

It is this "based on..." thing that I still can't figure out. Avatar is "inspired by" a recorded story, as for the Exorsist- debateble on how facts are treted.

While adaptation does mean someone's vision and understanding, some variation in view may be alowed. So my goal here is in fact a question: Do you think adaptation shall be considered a version of a story? And how far a versoin could stand to be still the same story?

I've no problems with omissions and additions in movie adaptations as long as they manage to maintain the spirit of the books (example: Lynch's adaptation of Dune). PJ's movies for me only captured the spirit of the books at the beginning in the Shire and at the end at the Grey Havens.

PJ's movies focused largely on action & adventure in true Hollywood fashion. They're not true to the spirit of the books. But, there is some hope for the Hobbit since it is much smaller in scope.

 

Exactly a point I wanted to make, Vir. It is also my strong belief that the LotR movies did not held entirely the spirit of the books.

I wish your words become true and we see Hobbit as it is, but who knows... All most of us can do is wait and hope.

Well, the point I really wanted to get across was this - imagine if Tolkien had never written the books (pause for gasp of horror) and Peter Jackson had created this story himself. Would not then the films be leagues ahead of everything else? Again, these films have to be seen apart from the books. Their sheer quality was mindblowing in itself.

And what do people mean when they say it has too much action and fighting in it? The Lord of the Rings is a book centered around a war, specifically the War of the Ring, and Frodo's extremely dangerous quest to destroy the aforementioned trinket. It wasn't as if Tolkien had the Fellowship sauntering through Middle Earth with no fighting along the way. Wars are tough and brutal things, and I think PJ showed it well.

And what's the definition of the spirit of LOTR? That the weakest people can make the greatest changes? The movies showed that. The boundaries between good and evil? The movies showed that magnificently (think of Gandalf driving the Nazgul away in ROTK). That nature and magic are leaving the world and industry is taking over? The movies showed that. Think of any of Tolkien's major themes within the books, and I can guarantee that the movies displayed it.

Ammornil, please describe the difference between based on and inspired by. Based on has NEVER meant a verbatim translation of one medium to another. Neither has inspired by. They're both equally as open ended as the other. I'm not quite sure how the Exorcist is debatable either. I suppose if you believe in Satan then you can look at it as a biopic, but essentially it's only based on (or inspired by) a true story. Same with Avatar. Just because it's "inspired by" the coming of the West into the New World doesn't mean that's not a true story that it's based on.

I see what you're saying, but for me, I'm looking at this issue from a different angle (similar to Fornad). There's no point in wondering what the limit of change is, the point is do the changes they make represent the themes of the book with visual elements drawn from the actual story. I thought PJ did a pretty damn good job with this. Another way to look at it is comparatively. LOTR is arguably one of the best book-to-movie adaptations. I mean, The Shining is an excellent movie, that set so many precedents, and it is COMPLETELY different from the book. Pretty much everything that movie inspired in cinematics ISN'T in the book. Point is, a movie can still be great, regardless of its faithfulness.

IF faithfulness is what you're looking for, then I can definitely completely understand not liking PJ's LOTR. However, that doesn't mean the movie itself is garbage. Hell, there were so many things in the movies that really bothered me: elves at Helms Deep? Shelob in ROTK? How lame Faramir was compared to the real Faramir? Ugh. But when it comes to film, I still thought they were extremely well done on their own. Completely different, yet the feeling was still there.

I do agree with Fornad that this movie wasn't just about action and adventure. Rather, it was a movie that revolved around typical themes of a story. I mean, the genre is technically called "epic fantasy." If the movies didn't achieve an epic scale, then surely it would have sucked. If between what Fornad and I said doesn't describe the "spirit" of the book, I would like to know its definition as well.

BTW you guys are awesome, I really hope we can continue this without any hostility. It's all about tone really, and internet sucks at translating that. This forum is incredibly unique in that aspect. I don't think I've ever been on a forum where (almost) every thread didn't have some jackass fire starter with horrible grammar. You guys rock.

The fact to me is this: Professor Tolkien spent years of his life producing this incredible work of art, just like da Vinci did his works of art. Imagine some upstart coming along and does a reproduction , changing things here and there to suit the times and to bring to the table his' thoughts and take' on the painting. The world would recoil and be horrified. This is just as important. If one of you worked that hard and created something that was in your mind magnum opus. And then say I came along, heard or saw what you had done and was terribly impresssed. And then supposing I realized the potential of money to be made on MY adaptation of what you had done. Would you sit back and say ' wow, you go for it and make a kazillion trashing much of what I have done. I'm cool about it.'

We are here on the Tolkien site because we admire and revere the man and his body of work. We appreciate all this world that he made single handedly and for my part it is pathetic that we have to 'settle' for something so below what it is meant to portray just so we can get a tiny glimpse of Middle-Earth. That is too terrible in my mind. The glory and the honor and the money and fame went to the actors, producers, etc. and not first to who should receive it in my mind. I could care less about the awards it merited. It was the flavour of the hour at that moment that is all.

I am reminded of A Man for all Seasons with Paul Scofield, not the other joke of a movie. There are still intact transcripts of the minutes of the trial, letters of witnesses, actual letters of what Sir Thomas Moore said in prison by his son-in - law and all these , to the letter were faithfully put into the film so that it was as if he was actually there. At the canonization witnesses of certain events were also free to say what he said and did and it was recorded. Nothing was messed about with and this film too swept the awards.

And I don't know of great groups of people that are happy anytime a single line of Shakespeare is stretched or played with except with the greatest of care. Jane Austen's works that have been done by the BBC as so careful, you can practically read along with the actors.

My point is this, I feel these people are not so much concerned about Tolkien and his works as they are scarfing someone's story so they don't have to do one and running with it and pretending they are honoring someone when in fact they were just too lazy to write their own great story and produce it on film.  enough said.

I must admit LeeLee's point is much better maid than what I was able to present. Thank you! Once again you are my hero (heroine)!

I am not completely disappointed with PJ's LotR movies, but do think they (scriptwriters) did to much differences from the plot (compared to my liking and I do not want to put this as only opinion possible). The qualities of the movies as art and cast-performance I will not argue.

"Based on"- means preserved main characters and the original ideas of the author, whereas "inspired by"- "I read it and I came up with the idea of...". There is difference in this for sure and that I can stand for. So as LeeLee pointed, the movies were more like "inspired by" JRRTolkien's "Lord of the Rings", rather than "based on" it (them). Ecceptions can sometimes be found though.

My religious understandings have nothing to do with my previous statements in this and other thread's I've made. A fantasy movie can hardly be "based on a real story" in the light of the meaning I put in "based on" as I stated herein before. It is terminology that I am aware of and I beg you pardon for not presenting my "definitions" before.

By their deed you shall know them, so Great is one who does Great, and in this reference no weak people did anything grate in LotR. All great things were done by great people. And people of Rohan in this matter did not needed the help of the Elves at Helm's deep safe the one provided by Legolas (Laegolas).

The spirit of LotR (and Tolkien's Legendarium in general as I see it from Tolkien's published materials I've read so far) is about goals and means to achieve them.

War is a bad thing- true it is, but sometimes war comes upon us and we must fight back. The point is to know your priorities and hold to them, know your friends and stand for them, know your weaknesses and do your duty despite them. In most of these the movies were accurate, but not the way they were presented by Tolkien. And therefor I said the movies did not held entirely the spirit of the books.

Fonrad, you cannot guarantee for something beyond your own choices and understanding, and neither can I. I understand your position and I am sorry if anything of my sayings has been offensive personally to the actors, director or other members of the staff, or to someone in these forums. It has never been my intention to put my own opinion above all others. I am however concerned as a "book's fan" about how the narrative of the books will come up to the mass consumer. I do take J.R.R.Tolkien's books (and works in general) as masterpieces and I hope PJ will prove my worries wrong with the Hobbit.

Nai i estel nin maar naa! (May my hope be good)

Well in all fairness LeeLee I don't feel like I had to "settle." I actually enjoyed the movies. Possibly because I had 0 expectations from it and it turned out much better than I thought it would (seeing Fellowship was such a breakthrough film experience, few had come even close). So I was pretty happy. And I think I read somewhere on here that Tolkien once said something along the lines of he encourages newer generations to expand upon his work (not sure if it was true or not or where I read it). So he just might be ok with someone who would come up to him and ask if he could write a screenplay "based on" his work.

Also, I really don't think it's as much about money as you think. Yeah sure the fatcat movie corporations want money, but the people behind the movie are the ones you should be looking at. If you read interviews with PJ, who was the producer and director, he talks about how he read LOTR when he was 18 and loved it. Then he became a filmmaker and technology was getting better so he thought what can he do that hasn't been possible before, and he decided "why not combine two things I love."

It just seems like people say something is all about money just because it made a lot of money and as someone who respects aspiring directors tremendously I just don't think that's fair. Definitely not denying the existence of corporate idiots who like to complicate things and make it about money. But that's going to happen anywhere, anytime, always and forever. I sincerely doubt PJ was just sitting around, wondering how to exploit the people, and thought LOTR movies would work.

From an interview with PJ: What was the biggest challenge about adapting The Lord of the Rings to the screen?
Well, the book is incredibly long. We overcame that to some degree by being able to do three movies, which was the greatest thing that could ever happen to this project. But even so, it's a very complicated book. Tolkien fleshed out the characters and the events with all this backstory. That's fine for a book, but it's really hard to put into screen. Except without it, you can't really tell the story properly. So, how much detail we gave as opposed to how little detail we could get away with was very important.

Ammornil, you're right, there is a difference. Though I think LOTR would be "based on" wouldn't it? Since based on means it draws actual elements from the story, including characters and settings, whereas "inspired by" does mean "I read it and came up with the idea of..." But since I didn't know there was such a subtle difference, I still stand by my point that The Exorcist is inspired by a true story, I didn't mean to hint at your religion personally. Though, like you said, it is debatable.

Question for both of you - Fan fiction. Do you support it? What exactly would be the difference of fan faction and PJ's movies? Would you both have liked it more had it been presented as "Peter Jackson presents J.R.R. Tolkiens Lord of the Rings: A fan fiction film inspired by the original trilogy?"

And what about fan fiction that deviates way off the plot, adds in events that really could never have happened and is written in a way not even CLOSE to Tolkien's ability etc etc. Does that mean they don't know the true spirit of Tolkien? That they didn't try to simply express their love for his works in a way they know best?

Honestly you guys, when it comes down to it, it's all about perspective. As everything in life. If I was looking at how faithful the movies were, I'd be with you in thinking they failed miserably. I think we can all agree that if PJ messes up the Hobbit there will be Hell to pay. I actually do like the fact that the second movie is going to be based on the appendices of the LOTR and The Hobbit, which have some of my favorite middle-earth moments. I was skeptical at first, but if they pull it off I think it's going to blow the world away.

Well, the point I really wanted to get across was this - imagine if Tolkien had never written the books (pause for gasp of horror) and Peter Jackson had created this story himself. Would not then the films be leagues ahead of everything else?

 

Not in my opinion anyway; but looking at these films as films could be another long digression of my opinions, so onward for the moment...

 Again, these films have to be seen apart from the books.

 

I disagree that they have to be. They can be, surely, but if ones cares about faithfulness they don’t have to be (and I'm not saying you don't care). I sometimes bring up Frank Frazetta's illustration of Eowyn because I think it represents a fairly notable injection of the artist at the expense of the source.

Sure I could look at Frazetta's take purely in terms of how good it is, or is not, as an illustration, and it's a different medium than a book of course. The artist has every right to depict a scene his way, and as 'woman fighting monster' I'll have no great cause to complain her attire is necessarily problematic.

Yet Frazetta called this particular woman Eowyn, and I'm a Tolkien fan... a Tolkien fan wondering what it is about the medium of black and white illustration that meant that Eowyn needed to be half-naked.

 

Or, what if an artist depicted Snowmane black for example, because the medium of black and white illustration arguably called for a needed contrast within a given composition  -- well, now we are dealing with a noticeable but arguably 'lesser' departure from the books, as well as a medium based reason to depart from the book to the bettering of the illustration itself.

Yet still one could argue that the needs of black and white illustration can be manipulated from the start -- that is, considering contrast, why not plan a white horse against some sort of blackness (landscape, dark cloud), and thus we would have an arguably better Snowmane -- to a Tolkien fan --  because it's more faithful to the book.

Simply because Jackson or a member of his team says something like: 'we altered X and Y because in film...' doesn't necessarily mean X or Y needed to be done, especially in the way it was done.

 

And what do people mean when they say it has too much action and fighting in it? The Lord of the Rings is a book centered around a war, specifically the War of the Ring, and Frodo's extremely dangerous quest to destroy the aforementioned trinket. It wasn't as if Tolkien had the Fellowship sauntering through Middle Earth with no fighting along the way. Wars are tough and brutal things, and I think PJ showed it well.

 

There is action and danger and battles in the books, and ‘too much’ can be, once again, a subjective or tricky perception, but if something is in the book in some sense, a given focus with respect to the film as a whole can still become an issue. 

For example, David Bratman writes: ‘Many people were perplexed by the scene of Sam nearly drowning at the end of the first movie. This is actually straight from the book, but by including it at full length where so many other things were cut, Jackson placed a strange and unwarranted emphasis on it.’

I’ve run into enough opinions that the films could have used better pacing and toned down the battles. And Jackson added action sequences that don’t actually occur in the books, or drew them longer -- the battle in the chamber in Moria for example, or the (to my mind) unnecessary falling stairs routine (also in Moria).
 

And what's the definition of the spirit of LOTR? That the weakest people can make the greatest changes? The movies showed that. The boundaries between good and evil? The movies showed that magnificently (think of Gandalf driving the Nazgul away in ROTK). That nature and magic are leaving the world and industry is taking over? The movies showed that. Think of any of Tolkien's major themes within the books, and I can guarantee that the movies displayed it.

 

I could post Carl Hostetter's list of themes for example (his comes to mind because he's already made a nice list in my opinion) -- a list of things Carl thinks were not illustrated in the films, or not illustrated there in enough measure. And if I did, you or someone will possibly disagree with him on many, if not all his points -- especially as to whether or not Jackson illustrated the themes well enough in the films to tip them towards the faithful category.

But can you guarantee that Carl or anyone who agrees with him will necessarily change their minds? not only accept all your opinions -- but as weighed against your personal tipping point of 'faithful enough'?

Peter Jackson chose to manipulate dialog with his Gandalf 'explaining' death to Pippin (and thus to the audience) in a way that Tolkien never did. To some (including me) this is a notable misstep about something important to JRRT -- others defend it as a nice enough movie moment, Gandalf trying to comfort a Hobbit.

And if we get very general about themes one could arguably raise films that have nothing to do with The Lord of the Rings as being 'faithful' to it in some sense.  

 

That's why I say this particular beastie is opinion-laden. It's a very complex thing! Not like posting whether or not Hobbits have hairy feet, for instance.

And I think I read somewhere on here that Tolkien once said something along the lines of he encourages newer generations to expand upon his work (not sure if it was true or not or where I read it). So he just might be ok with someone who would come up to him and ask if he could write a screenplay "based on" his work. 

 

In general, and at least initially, Tolkien wasn't against someone making a film; but have you read his commentary in Letters about the specific alterations proposed for an early film treatment? JRRT is not happy; and some of the commentary seems (to me) like he could be reacting to Peter Jackson's work (of course, I've also seen the same comments raised in defense of Jackson's films).

In any case, to my mind JRRT has some interesting things to note about adaptation between books and films (see 'Zimmerman' in Letters).

Being exposed to a filmmaker's treatment might have altered Tolkien's view here to a degree (though need of cash was in the mix early on as well). Around the time when the film rights were being sold at last, Tolkien said:

‘No film nor any “version” in another medium could appear satisfactory to any devoted and attentive reader. On the other hand some of the greater pictorial and dramatic scenes could, with modern resources, be a moving experience. All possible precautions have been taken that the story should be presented without serious mutilation and without alteration or alterations’ 

JRRT, Chronology, Hammond and Scull

 

For myself, I don't think an older JRRT would have sold the film rights if not for A) the tax situation in England at the time, and B) his promise made to Stanley Unwin years before.

I've no idea what Tolkien refers to about 'precautions' and the story here, but maybe he thought there was something in the contract that spoke to this.

Very interesting, Galin. Again, I apologize ahead of time, but I just simply don't agree with what you said in your post to Fornad. However I FULLY agree with your very last line, which could be an explanation for my disagreement :p

I love that Tolkien quote you added. Very, very interesting to me. I can't help but wonder if PJ read that. I feel like he personally didn't, but it's not like he was the only writer. I'm sure someone on the staff was a Tolkien fanatic like us who knew what he was talking about. Also, I'm pretty sure the script was presented to good ol' Chris Tolkien for approval, and if I remember correctly, he said he doesn't see how it can be done but doesn't disapprove. I know they screwed them over about the money, but again, that's the fatcats in their suits with their contracts in control of that, not the people who made the movie.

I just don't know if "mutilate" is the word I'd use here. Alteration, however, works. If you just look at the history of book-to-movie adaptation, you'll notice similarities in what had to be taken out and replaced with something else. Like how the elves were in Helms Deep. They knew that people loved elves. They wanted to show elves in action. People loved seeing elves in action at the beginning of FOTR. They had no other way to really emphasize the pact between elves/humans without going into major backstory which could be another 3 hour movie, so to show this they just had the elves show up at the hornberg to make audiences feel special since elves like humans. That first part of the quote correlates 100% with this.

However, it's the mutilation and alteration part that turns it all into gray area. And I just think that goes back to what I said: if faithfulness is what rocks your boat, then I don't think anyone can argue in defense of the movies, other than the very beginning and the very end. I actually would like to hear your explanation of why these aren't great films though. If you're going to try and compare this to classics such as Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Misfits etc then I mean....that's just not fair. Those movies were great simply because they hadn't been done before and film was only leaving its infancy. In many cases the acting is soooo over-dramatic and would be laughable by todays general audience. The LOTR movies, however, appeal to a wider audience and, just like Tolkien said, with modern resources it could make for a very moving experience.

If you really look at it, in general, the only people who don't like the movies are the hardcore fans (and maybe the really ADD people who can't handle a 3 hour movie). Just about everybody else thought they were amazing (obviously I'm generalizing here). Coincidence? I think not. I also think my point on fan fiction stands true.

A final note I want to add about myself, but I am equally confused as to why he did certain things the way he did. Like the part with Sam drowning yet the leaving out of smaller, yet more important parts and then throwing parts of the story all over the place. I guess I've just learned how to look at the film separately since I  realize it's simply impossible to translate it completely. Faramir and Theoden still could've been way cooler though...

Very interesting, Galin. Again, I apologize ahead of time, but I just simply don't agree with what you said in your post to Fornad. However I FULLY agree with your very last line, which could be an explanation for my disagreement.

 

I don't mind being disagreed with  but I'm wondering which part(s) you disagree with?

 

I love that Tolkien quote you added. Very, very interesting to me. I can't help but wonder if PJ read that. I feel like he personally didn't, but it's not like he was the only writer.

 

I'm not sure at the moment, but I don't think this quote was published before the films began. It wasn't in Letters. As far as I know at least, it was published first (?) in 2006, in Hammond and Scull's amazing Chronology.

 

I'm sure someone on the staff was a Tolkien fanatic like us who knew what he was talking about. Also, I'm pretty sure the script was presented to good ol' Chris Tolkien for approval, and if I remember correctly, he said he doesn't see how it can be done but doesn't disapprove.

 

Hmm, I'm going to ask for citations here: that CJRT saw any treatment, or said he doesn't disapprove of a film being made.

I know they screwed them over about the money, but again, that's the fatcats in their suits with their contracts in control of that, not the people who made the movie.

 

Oh I don't blame Jackson for that. He sued the same someone(s) as did the Estate I think (or a film related someone anyway).

 I actually would like to hear your explanation of why these aren't great films though. If you're going to try and compare this to classics such as Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Misfits etc then I mean....that's just not fair.

 

Whatever I might compare them too, for now I'll wait to see what you disagree with, more specifically I mean. Parts of my post to Fornad seems (to me) to be pointing out how opinion-based this 'beastie' really is, and you appear to agree with that basic notion at least. Something about my Frazetta example?

Or are you disagreeing when I say that the films don't 'have' to be viewed only as films? That would be my guess... but if so why? Don't people who see the films as faithful in 'enough' measure view them in comparison to the books? What can they be faithful to, if not the source?

For now I'll generally say that, so far, I don't like anything Peter Jackson has directed (or even produced considering District 9) -- though granted I've only seen a few examples. This includes King Kong, which I thought would be a far better vehicle for Jackson than The Lord of the Rings; but yet, outside of certain visuals, even this didn't work for me. 

Question for both of you - Fan fiction. Do you support it?

 

I don't have anything against fan fiction, I just don't really care about it.

What exactly would be the difference of fan faction and PJ's movies?

 

If 'fan fiction' means anything as a whole written by a fan that takes place in the world of Middle-earth, then the films are fan fiction.

The films are a complicated mix of both using the books (in some way) and disregarding them, or altering them in ways (including major character differences in my opinion). If you're wondering if I think something that could be labeled fan fiction in some sense or measure could still be faithful enough to Tolkien -- then yes I think it's possible. 

Again, highly subjective in any case. 

 Would you both have liked it more had it been presented as "Peter Jackson presents J.R.R. Tolkiens Lord of the Rings: A fan fiction film inspired by the original trilogy?"

 

As I say I'm not really a fan of these films as films (and really don't care much for fan fiction). 

And what about fan fiction that deviates way off the plot, adds in events that really could never have happened and is written in a way not even CLOSE to Tolkien's ability etc etc. Does that mean they don't know the true spirit of Tolkien?

 

I wouldn't necessarily mean someone doesn't 'know' the true spirit of Tolkien. And, for instance...

I (and others) disagree with a notable Tolkien scholar on the issue of free will in Middle-earth. Who 'knows' Tolkien better on this point? and if a film (for some reason) explicitly noted that Elves don't have free will in the sense that their choices cannot alter external outcomes (which is this Tolkien scholar's opinion), would this film then be faithful to Tolkien on this issue? 

Did Jackson know that the Undying Lands are not the afterlife for mortals (includes Hobbits)? I don't know. Would he think this alteration significantly 'negative' even if he did? I don't know that either, but some Jackson fans don't seem to think so anyway. All I can say here is that I see nothing about film as film that demanded this tinkering, that it steps on something important to the author as expressed within his fictive world, and is thus not faithful to Tolkien on this (to me) notable point.

 

That they didn't try to simply express their love for his works in a way they know best? 

 

Again, doesn't necessarily mean someone didn't try...

If Jackson tried his very best, out of love, and still 'failed' at something in someone's opinion... then he still failed in someone's opinion.

Fan fiction is just that, FAN fiction. Noone is supposed to believe  for a moment that it is anything like the works of the professor. It is merely someone using the 'styles' or languages or whatever as a pupil , a mere student and admirer and writing something. It is not then put out there and called LOTR or HOBBIT and deluding the entire world , many of whom will never read the books and who will go to their graves thinking Haldir perished at the war of the two towers and that Rohan and Gondor had some sort of problem, the one deserting the other in time of need. That to me is the difference. As well , none of us who write fan fiction rake in kazillions after promising the Tolkien Foundation they would have a ton of monies if they let us 'use ' this revered body of work. Those are the germaine differences in my opinion, which you must remember is not anything but just that. Smile Smilie

Wow I hope this doesn't become too long, I'll do my best....(after finishing realized I failed)

Galin, as for your post towards Fornad, I suppose the parts I fully disagree with are what we've already been talking about: it's all about perspective and what you, as a devoted Tolkien fan, feel is acceptable. I also feel like nobody know's the full story here. I just highly doubt PJ and his friends sat around somewhere drinking beer, picking out parts at random to alter so they can make it an epic movie. I do not doubt for one second that every change he made had some sort of elaborate reasoning behind it; why it's so hard to find these explanations is what bothers me.

I just don't see a point in looking at it as "faithful enough," since It's an adaptation. If you expect faithfulness, ESPECIALLY when it comes to Tolkien, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment. I am fully empathetic with the fact many of us have been reading Tolkien our whole lives and I think that absolutely justifies having those expectations though. Which, if you want to talk about themes, is the MAIN theme of this discussion: opinion.

I will admit I don't understand why he made certain changes, those changes definitely bother me a lot since I know the lore and I can think of MUCH better ways to have altered the story. Alas, I'm a lowly American citizen with no connection to PJs writing staff. Tragic...

Now, for your first post towards me, all I can say is this: it was a different time. Like I said, film was just leaving its infancy, back then the only people who had dreamed something like the LOTR films would be possible someday are Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and H.G. Wells. So I would probably also have said "no, I don't want these to be films since I know it can't be done and it'll just suck." But let's shift generations a bit, and this conversation happened in the mid-90s or later, after things like Jurassic Park, Braveheart, Titanic and the re-release of Star Wars (not basing on quality, only on the technology). I'm definitely not saying this would undoubtedly change his opinion, but I think one could present a much more reasonable argument as to how it could work.

I did some digging around and I think I may have found the EXACT article I read 11 years ago that created this memory. And I'm sure back then, when PJ was just raking in awards, he did many interviews talking about the same thing. But, 11 years later, they are lost in the annals of the internet. Interesting article too. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1697884.stm

I suppose you could say I disagree with you about how to view the films, but I just don't like to use the word disagree, it has so many connotations. I think we both realize the complexity of this issue and there is no right or wrong. Though now I want to hear your argument as to why or why not Hobbit feet are hairy....sad

Going back to what I said about how the films are just bringing Tolkien to a new generation, that's because this is a completely new generation, not just a different age. These kids today aren't the same. As much as I would LOVE for them to teach LOTR in school again, let's be realistic here: that won't happen. Maybe the Hobbit soon, but it'll just be a required reading that's going to turn a lot of people away from Tolkien just because of that. I remember reading required books that I'm almost positive I would've liked if it wasn't required. *coughjaneaustencough* Most people strongly disliked King Kong and most people loved District 9. So even though some hardcore fans may feel like I'm encouraging a bastardization of Tolkien, I think this is just the inevitable and I would rather these kids know Tolkien as an author who inspired these epic movies than not know Tolkien at all.

With the fan fiction, I wasn't asking for a definition of fan fiction, I think that's generally agreed upon. But I've read some absolutely horrible FF that almost made me feel like how some of you feel about the movies. Like the person didn't even care. The LOTR movies are essentially PJ's and his writing staff's FF on film. As for the spirit of Tolkien thing, the point I was trying to make was these are fans who DO know the spirit of Tolkien and are using what's available to them to spread the love.

Also the "what if it was called" question was just bringing up the point if it was presented ahead of time, even in the title for instance, as being an alteration of Tolkien, warning people ahead of time that it's going to be different, would this have changed anything for you? These films set the standard for production quality. I'm not sure how many people on here know a lot about the subtleties of cinema, but LOTR actually renovated quite a bit. Which is visible in King Kong...PJ tried to do the same thing, but it just wasn't the same, it was obvious he was riding on the coattails of LOTR which had done it before.

You are absolutely right about your last line though, and that's just the way it is. Without good opinions, there wouldn't be a bad opinion. We'd all be the same. But that just goes back to Orwell and Huxley...

And LeeLee, I can't stress enough that these people had NOTHING to do with the money. That shouldn't even be an issue here. As Galin said, PJ sued the same people! I know you're a fan of theater, so what differentiates PJ's success and whatever his name was who made The Wiz? That production banked when it was released and I thought it was dumb as hell! And I feel like most people didn't think it would be like the works of Tolkien, as there has never been a single movie adaptation that was (EXCEPT for maybe The Hobbit and LOTR cartoon movies of the 80s). And sometimes it is put out there with an incredibly misleading name and a total butchering of the lore.

However, again, I 100% completely and totally empathize with your stance. It's just the way of life. Gotta love it...

Here's something exciting: www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=30141 It's a picture of Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves!

I just don't see a point in looking at it as "faithful enough," since It's an adaptation.

 

This is why I asked if Fornad cares about faithfulness to the books. If a given person doesn't... well I don't disagree that this approach is valid, I disagree that this is the only valid approach.

Statements like: 'judge the films only as films' is one approach -- as long as people who say so realize the absolutely huge door it opens with respect to altering the story, tone, messages and characters of the source.

And how many Tolkien fans are putting the matter of faithfulness wholly aside?

The Jacksonian defense I hear is often enough along the lines of: the films are faithful enough, and the objections of unfans are often trivial or even 'nitpicking'. Or simply, within a given discussion about something actually in the film, someone defends X as faithful while someone else thinks X shouldn't have been done. Exchanging opinions is fine...

... but can these same Jackson fans also fairly say: 'don't bother about faithfulness, it's Jackson's art not Tolkien's, and one has to judge the films as films'. This wouldn't seem fair to me because to my mind they themselves are judging the films compared to the books... they just arrived at a different conclusion in the main (that they are faithful enough according to their perspective of things).

If you expect faithfulness, ESPECIALLY when it comes to Tolkien, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment.

 

But yet plenty of people do think the films are faithful to Tolkien.

Why should I think that making a faithful film of The Lord of the Rings is wholly impossible? Again, length and level of detail is not the issue. Tolkien himself knew a film could only translate so much, and so do Jackson's unfans. 

And I realize that no one is going to make a film exactly as I would make it, or desire it to be made.

Balrogs,you are obviously a very thoughtful and intelligent person with true convictions, and I honor you for that. We will obviously never come to a meeting of the minds and that is just fine, we each of us have our own passionate feelings about this matter.  I guess for me, JRR Tolkien made this great body of work as a labour of love pouring all he had into it. It was HIS unique world, it was he alone that created the languages, the characters, the cosmology. It is to me no less stupendous than say someone who trekked the unknown world at his or her own peril drawing the maps of precious unchartered lands, suffering sickness and disease and perhaps hostile behaviour to the aboriginals he encountered along the way. For someone else to come along later, an armchair map maker , for him to come along and change and twist things and such is abborhent to me.

If  Peter Jackson and any of the rest of them would have put down on the beginning 'Inspired by the Genius of JRR Tolkien and then called their very limited approach, no matter how brilliant the effects, some thing completely different, anything EXCEPT The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit, I would be fine with that. But in my eyes these people, however nice and intelligent are messing with pure genius and ought not to. If say one of professor Tolkien's son's peers , an oxford graduate let's say, who was also a philologist and writer and an ardent fan of all our professor's works decided to carefully , with permission and encouragement from the Tolkien foundation, if say he or she decided to do the movies and with great respect and UNDERSTANDING  and such , I would not mind the actual titles of the books being used and I would respect the completed body of work, because it would , in my opinion be true.

So in my opinion, and that is all it is, either be completely true to the work of a man's lifetime and heart and soul, or call the movies something else and use what you will if you can't think of anything else as brilliant or don't know how to create anything else as brilliant. That way, people will marvel at whatever Holly Wood or whatever does and perhaps just perhaps want now to grab a book and read the body of work that inspired this movie. Then and only then I believe JRR Tolkien would be honored as he justly deserves. Because apart from self grandizement and ego and bucks, big big bucks, I don't believe this group of people made it. I don't think, I might be wrong, but I don't think Peter Jackson himself read the books as a child or youth or adult apart from wanting to do the movies. I hope fervently I am wrong.

Leelee, I certainly understand where you are coming from, and I agree that there's quite a few changes that were made that were completely unnecessary .

But I have to agree with BRU on this, the books are still there and they will never change, any movie goers who don't in turn read the books after are obviously not readers so who really cares? but we have several peeps on this site who were so inspired by the movies that they read the books, so isn't that a good thing? 

I feel that if you can't be bothered putting some effort into reading the books then you don't deserve the richness and extraordinary talent that is the LOTRs works.

The movie is the movie and the books are the books and never the twain shall meet, that's my 2 cents anyway.

I agree with Leelee all the way. One of the things I've always found in this type of discussion is that folk who've seen the movies have to _unlearn_ the things they see there,  when they come to read the books.

Take for example, Leelee's getting upset about the elves at Helm's Deep. it just didn't happen. What movie-goers are getting is not Tolkien - simple as that. I'm not against adaptations - I think the BBC's 1981 radio series is pretty good. Some things did have to be left out, because of time restraints (they only had 13 hours to tell the story). But then, there was nothing added, from the febrile imaginations of the adaptors; no dialogue from one character given to another; no talk of this kind of messing about being seen as a 'homage'  to Tolkien (!) Both as an adaptation of Tolkien's work, and as a radio production in its own right, it worked very well.

But  with all its flash, and heavy-handed 'humour', and excessive reliance on violence, pJ's adaptation didn't make the grade (for me). Now, if he'd left the screenplay to the guys who did the radio series - Brian Sibley and Michael Bakewell - then I think we would have had a series of films worthy of Tolkien's works.

 

In reply to the initial post and moving from LOTR to TH.

I am concerned about the two movie format in that by splitting the hobbit between the two and including the white council etc you lose the central overreaching story arc. This will essentially require a new arc to be 'crafted' to make the duo work as films. This means non Tolkien additions! You also change the whole atmosphere of the story and it's relative innocence from LOTR.

 

On the other hand I loved the visualizations of middle earth in the LOTR and am happily looking forward to more of that!

My feelings are somewhat similar to Kafria's.  I am not at all enthused about the apparent plan to make The Hobbit a typical movie prequel, instead of an adaptation of the original book (which is not a prequel).  I am hopeful that LOTR roles such as Frodo will be, as Elijah Wood says, minor, but the fact that they are being added at all suggests to me that the film-makers are just trying to shoehorn in as many familiar faces as they can.  As discouraged as I am by all the non-Tolkien material, I'm even more worried that the films will simply repeat the mistakes of so many other movie prequels of recent years.

Eldorian, I have the very same concern. The Hobbit is not a prequel, period.  It stands alone as it's own work and should be treated as such, and I would personally like all the old faces gone, only the characters that are in the book. end of story. All new faces, totally fresh and well able to lift the characters off the page on to the screen is what I long for. I personally would like to see someone else as Gandalf, and I just loved Ian. Something brand new, fresh and with no splashes of the other body  of work. And why on earth there has to be Galadriel or anyone not in this book is beyond me. Again I come to the fact it is then merely a story, but not the Hobbit and should not be called it. Alter it drastically if needs must, add whatever and call it something different. I would enjoy it for just that.  I suppose because I am a writer, formally only in newspaper and then free lance story, I cannot tolerate others 'fiddling' as it were with anyone else's creation. To me that is abominable.

I mean, I guess The Hobbit isn't a direct prequel, but it's still the events that took place prior to LOTR that led up to the conclusion of The War. I have no problems with prequels as long as it doesn't suck. Case in point: Ginger Snaps.

Only thing about your post Eldorion is I'm still not sure if the official format of the movie has been OFFICIALLY laid out. The current rumors and speculation are most likely true, but it's still not 100% confirmed. There is some good new though....

From my understanding, the first movie is going to be The Hobbit and The Hobbit alone, with content taken directly from there and nowhere else; which is good because it means they won't be trying to split it between two 3 hour movies AND it should remain pretty faithful. They also don't own the rights to any other works outside Hobbit and LOTR, so they have no choice but to take material directly from those.

Then the second movie is going to be events drawn directly from the appendices of The LOTR and The Hobbit which provide background for the events we SAW in LOTR. I'm not sure if you've read them or not, but in these appendices, there actually is A LOT of content that could easily be made into a movie since it's in a "short story" format. This also justifies having LOTR characters listed in the cast list; doesn't necessarily mean they'll be in The Hobbit. It's little scenes like where the other Black Riders were when those main 3 from the FOTR movie were looking for Bilbo at The Shire, emphasis on The Wild Men who were only shown taking orders from Saruman and then ravaging the countryside, and I'm pretty sure there was something about Gandalf meeting with the White Council...things like that.

Point being, it's not a major huge story that has no choice but to be drastically altered like LOTR was. It should actually provide the ideal framework of adapting a book to a movie. I'm very hopeful about this, it's absolutely possible for them to screw it up, but it's also going to be a lot easier  to make than LOTR so, one can only hope...

 

I mean, I guess The Hobbit isn't a direct prequel, but it's still the events that took place prior to LOTR that led up to the conclusion of The War. I have no problems with prequels as long as it doesn't suck. Case in point: Ginger Snaps.
I think the use of the word prequel is typically to mean a type of sequel, not the opposite of a sequel.  If The Hobbit is a prequel, then The Iliad is a prequel to The Odyssey because it is set earlier in the timeline.
 
Only thing about your post Eldorion is I'm still not sure if the official format of the movie has been OFFICIALLY laid out. The current rumors and speculation are most likely true, but it's still not 100% confirmed. There is some good new though....
Well we know that there will be material involving the White Council and the Necromancer, and PJ has said that he would like to "expand" The Hobbit to cover the events leading up to the War of the Ring more generally, rather than sticking to adapting the story of Bilbo Baggins.  Also, much of the confirmed cast (including reprisals by Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Christopher Lee as Saruman) lend further credence to this. 
 
From my understanding, the first movie is going to be The Hobbit and The Hobbit alone, with content taken directly from there and nowhere else; which is good because it means they won't be trying to split it between two 3 hour movies AND it should remain pretty faithful. They also don't own the rights to any other works outside Hobbit and  LOTR, so they have no choice but to take material directly from those.
That was the original plan, but GDT (who, while he stepped down as director, still helped write both screenplays) announced back in 2008 or 2009 that they had changed their plans.  Both films will cover the story of The Hobbit along with whatever additions they see fit.  The idea of making a single Hobbit film plus a semi-original 'bridge film' was abandoned quite some time ago. Wink Smilie

Hm, not from what I've seen, not to mention everything is still up in the air pretty much. Plus, like I said, nothing has really been "abandoned" because nothing has ever been official! Yeah del Toro left, but a lot of concepts remained.

Also, a prequel refers to a "sequel" that is set before the events of the original. If you've seen the X-men movies...then X-men Wolverine is a prequel. Was made after the first 3 movies, but takes place before the first.

The Odyssey/Illiad analogy is a little sketchy because it combines real events with mythology. But, let's just put this theoretically: if LOTR had been released to the public, and they loved it and wanted to know more about the ring, then Tolkien would write The Hobbit, which would be considered a prequel. Then The Silmarillion, which would be a prequel to a prequel.

Not sure if I misread your post, but that's pretty much the definition. In any case, I'm excited about the movie. Part of me wishes I wasn't, but the other part can't wait to see some of those memorable scenes on screen.

 

Hm, not from what I've seen, not to mention everything is still up in the air pretty much. Plus, like I said, nothing has really been "abandoned" because nothing has ever been official! Yeah del Toro left, but a lot of concepts remained.
The original plan that the film-makers announced was to make one film of The Hobbit plus a bridge film.  Later they changed their plan to make two films based on The Hobbit, with additions.  I'd say that counts as abandoning an earlier idea.  You can read about it at the below link, though it has been discussed in many places since people have tried to figure out where they would split the films.
 
 
The Odyssey/Illiad analogy is a little sketchy because it combines real events with mythology. But, let's just put this theoretically: if LOTR had been released to the public, and they loved it and wanted to know more about the ring, then Tolkien would write The Hobbit, which would be considered a prequel. Then The Silmarillion, which would be a prequel to a prequel.
I think I agree with your definition.  However, because The Hobbit was written before LOTR, I don't think it counts as a prequel.  Anyway, I'm excited about the movies too! Smile Smilie

I first read the LOTR books 25 years and while Peter Jackson's movies are different from the book, we should all remember these are different storytelling media and the books, fantastic as they are cannot be made in the exact storyline as the books, can you imagine how you could show the 17 years between Bilbo's 111 birthday and Frodo leaving the shire? 

Anyway I am quietly confident that the two movies will work and from my understanding it will bring in the story of Gandalf from the FOTR chapter Council of Elrond and Simarillion chapter on The Rings of Power and the Third Age further adding in some of the backstories and hopefully encouraging new readers to Tolkiens other works. 

I had hoped to have a role as an extra but I am too tall to be a hobbit :-( (first time I have been too tall! lol) so like everyone else I am just waiting for the movies.

(...) we should all remember these are different storytelling media and the books, fantastic as they are cannot be made in the exact storyline as the books, can you imagine how you could show the 17 years between Bilbo's 111 birthday and Frodo leaving the shire?  

 

Welcome!

Concerning this point I think people do remember, in general. Who dislikes the films and wanted a much closer translation of the book... to the detriment of the films as films?

Also, what works (or doesn't work) on film is subjective: I think many might agree that there's no great need to try to illustrate 17 years specifically, or even 'years' here... but anyway, generally speaking, passing time is actually quite easy to get across on film, and it would be someone's opinion that a film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings must conform to Jackson's specific pacing here. 

"The original plan that the film-makers announced was to make one film of The Hobbit plus a bridge film.  Later they changed their plan to make two films based on The Hobbit, with additions.  I'd say that counts as abandoning an earlier idea.  You can read about it at the below link, though it has been discussed in many places since people have tried to figure out where they would split the films."

Well, yeah, that article was from 2008 when del Toro was still part of the project. So all I'm saying is that nothing is confirmed anywhere. Sure, it's possible they're using the same script, but nowhere does it say as much and more and more characters from the appendices are appearing in cast lists. So at this point I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

And with the prequel thing, I was referring to The Hobbit movie being a prequel, not so much The Hobbit. Probably should have been more clear about thatsad Also that's not really "my" definition, it's more like "the" definition. Take Star Wars for instance: Episodes IV-VI are the originals, episodes I-III are all prequels to the original trilogy. Take place before, but were released after.

I don't think we need to worry about the changes that may or may not be made to the original storyline. Most of the people who worked on the Lord of the Rings films are huge fans of Tolkien themselves, and changes were only made if they were necessary and didn't work well in the film. The scouring of the shire for example, to be honest i find this part in the book quite unnecessary, and imagine watching a three hour film that you think is just about to end, and then having to sit through another battle. Jackson made a good call and there will be plenty of calls like this to make in The Hobbit, will the spiders and wargs speak? will the dwarves escape by hiding in barrels? I should think there will be far more necessary changes in The Hobbit than there were in LOTR. I have no doubt that The Hobbit movie is going to be just as brilliant if not more than the LOTR movies, alterations and all.

One change I'm curious about is whether they'll follow the book and call the orcs goblins. Probably not, since most people only know what an orc is from the LOTR movies and everyone has their own perception of what a "goblin" is...

I'm not sure either, i think in the lotr movies they call the creatures that climb down the pillars and surround then in moria goblins, which would suggest Peter Jackson sees a distinction between goblins and orcs. 

the thing im most worried about is how they will do smaug, I can't picture a dragon speaking looking and seeming believable any way they do it

Mmm, I don't think so. In fact, they use goblins and orcs indistinctly in the films. For example, when they enter into the mines of Moria, Legolas says: Goblins!, and then, when they are going to be attacked and lock the door, Legolas says this time: Orcs!

I think Tolkien and Jackson considered them the same.

I do not consider the omission of The Scouring of the Shire to be a good call by Jackson.  His big excuse for "adapting" the books to his ideas for the films was that there was not room for everything in the books.  So what happened?  He took out what Tolkien wrote and put in his own scenes, made completely from his own head!  For example, the scenes with the warg attack and Aragorn's falling into the river and getting lost.  And then he claimed to be devoted to the book?  (This is the point where I as Gandalf will show him exactly what fire is like.)  No, there was room in the LOTR movies for lots more of what Tolkien wrote till Jackson decided to change things.  So we can all hold our breath on what he will decide this time around for The Hobbit.  Perhaps we should be inundating New Line (or whatever company it is) with emails screaming for less "adaptation" and more of the author.

Gandalf

 The scouring of the shire for example, to be honest i find this part in the book quite unnecessary, and imagine watching a three hour film that you think is just about to end, and then having to sit through another battle. Jackson made a good call and there will be plenty of calls like this to make in The Hobbit, will the spiders and wargs speak? will the dwarves escape by hiding in barrels? I should think there will be far more necessary changes in The Hobbit than there were in LOTR.

I am one of the people horrified by the omission of the scouring. I think it is a crucial part of the story for a number of reasons. It firstly completes the hobbits arc, from innocent bystanders, to thinking the whole war of the ring was too big for them to be involved in, to trying their best to help and then expecting to return home to find their shire untouched and the same as they left it, but dealing with the reality that war effects everywhere and no where stays the same. The scouring completes their journey as they face change and loss. It also goes with the idea developed through Sam, that the people who are considered heroes are not super beings, but individuals who find themselves in extraordinary situation and continue on despite the odds stacked against them. And fundamentally this book is still about the hobbits journey, missing the scouring fails to complete this journey.

 

I am not sure what you see as necessary changes to the hobbit, I think a fairly faithful adaptation should be possible, I don't see too many unfilmable bits - and it is an adventure story with a clear arc.

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