Thread: THE HOBBIT SCRIPT
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Or, just to mess with you guys some more, what if it starts out as tolkien, giving the introductory paragraph, then we do the whole introduction thing, and then we come in on Bilbo telling his story to the little-Hobbits. And if we keep the Tolkien idea, then at the end, we could just show him sitting in his office closing a notebook or something with the story inside, and then CS Lewis could walk in!!!!!!
Whoo! sorry everyone, I hate being decisive
I say we take the risk and go with Tolkien reading the opening passages as he writes them at his desk. Neat simple opening. Plus when it comes right down to it, I am not a LotR fan, I am a [u:1wghsm0k][b:1wghsm0k]Tolkien[/b:1wghsm0k][/u:1wghsm0k] fan. The man and his works are one and the same, I rather like the idea of showing the audience the man himself and them being led by him into Middle-earth, so they know who it is that's taking them on the wonderful journey they are about to see. He deserves that.
We could start with something like this;
Exterior of the school. Ringing of the bell.
Interior of classroom as last of students hurry out.
Tolkien sitting at his desk, there's a big pile of jotters. He lights his pipe and maybe blows a cheeky smoke-ring then starts marking.
Classic shot of clock to show passing of time. Jotters pile half the size. Tolkien clearly bored.
He scores through some yet more useless work, relights his pipe and then starts to write (and talk) the opening passage.
Camera zooms down onto the words, into the ink and into a blue sky. Pan down to reveal Hobbiton etc stick in some soaring music and we are away.
Obviously we'll have to check the exact manner in which he started writing- get the setting accurate- but the above gives a general idea.
If the ink Tolkien is marking with is red, then when the camera zooms in on it and Tolkien is reading the words, it can fade down to a glorious dawn sky. The camera continues on down into Hobbiton in a continuous p.o.v. shot; being country folk there will be plenty going on, farmers in fields, the mill starting up, barrels being loaded at the Green Dragon etc. The camera continues on up the Hill, past a young Gaffer in his garden, still all in one long shot where at the Bag End gate it joins the postman who goes up to the door just as Tolkien reads the final word of the passage, "comfort," postman knocks, opens the door, calls "Mr Baggins" and the camera goes in to the splendid interior, taking in the comfort of it then Bilbo appears to collect his mail. He takes it, closes the door, puts the mail behind the clock, notices some dust on the mantelpiece and takes a cloth from his brightly coloured waistcoat and gives it a wipe and goes of to to his other domestic things which the titles and opening credits can play over.
No. Indeed, if one WERE going to involve Tolkien at all, it would be in his fictionalized conceit as TRANSLATOR of the Red Book. In which case, we find a fictional Tolkien involved in an Archaeological Dig at some old Celto-Pictish or Anglo-Saxon site. He has been called out by the Dig Administrators to translate an Ancient Red Book they've found. It is a Mystery, bound and leafed unlike any other Ancient Manuscript, and carbon-dated as being far older than it has any right to be (on the order of 300-400 thousand years).
Now THAT would be an exciting beginning .
The more I think of it, I hear Gandalf saying this (or Ian Mckellan I guess). I liked Odo's idea for Sam to narrate too but does it make sense for either he, or Bilbo, or Frodo to introduce Hobbits to us and other, younger hobbits given that they are hobbits themselves ??
I think dreadfuls a wee bit harsh .. We were discussing having Tolkien and any idea is surely welcome.
I guess it would kind of be like Princess Bride (the movie at least) where there's the grandfather telling the story and it interrupts halfway through, but minus the interuptions. We can have Tolkiens voice morph into Bilbo's maybe as he's telling his story (or maybe Frodo's because Elijah isn't as "seasoned" yet) and we do the whole shire zooming around and then when it gets to the story part, we come to Frodo telling the little hobbits about his uncle Bilbo, and then the whole mail scene (which I don't really seem to remember...)
The Tolkien idea I like. If it's a shot of him checking papers, as in Mr Tyrant's scheme, perhaps all we see is him write the words "In a hole in the ground..." I wouldn't like the Tolkien idea to become TOO intrusive - but it's a lovely idea. If the voiceover continues and has a quick flit over Hobbiton et al then straight into Bag End where the camera shows the things described at Bag End right up until we first mention Bilbo (he's dusting the mantelshelf as he takes down his morning mail from behind his clock??) All the above done quickly. The voiceover could be Tolkien's voice. I would like Bilbo to be the first Hobbit we see. (Early on, I would only want to see other Hobbits from distance. I think it is important that Bilbo is our Man... err... our Hobbit. I know he's is one of many, but I never thought of other Hobbits until he returns (Back Again) and his home is crawling with them. It was almost like Bilbo was the ONLY Hobbit (in a story sense) until then.
What if the actor who plays Tolkien is the same one who plays Bilbo, and he also does the voiceover? A fifty year old actor. That's how old T was when he wrote TH (or thereabouts).
Loved your idea GB - but we would be pushing the envelope with that!
Cause we need to make a decision at some point.
I'll list the choices again and hope I don't miss any.
1. No voice over.
2. Tolkien as he wrote it.
3. Sam reading it to children.
4. Frodo reading it to children.
5. Bilbo reading it to children.
6. Gandalf reading it to children.
7. Bilbo as he wrote it.
8. Tolkien finding the red book on a dig site and translating it.
Maybe we should vote.
[color=#8000BF:8c5ltq12] I would opt for NO voiceover. Aerial shot zooming over Hobbiton and then into Bag End showing what Tolkien described. We find Bilbo at his dusting. So: Hobbiton, Bag End outside/inside, and middleaged middleclass Bachelor in his habitat. Opening credits roll through it. [/color:8c5ltq12]
Anyone else? Be brief.
Credits/overview of Hobbiton. Catch sight of Bilbos door, (zooming in on it) a voice says -'in a hole in the ground....' We see Bilbo from above - open the door to the warm spring breeze (no need for postie?) - and go back in just as the voice gets to '...comfort'. We follow in and around as Odo described before catching up with him again at the mantlepiece...clock... back to door... pipe....
As to the voice... Tolkien unseen (no-one seems to want Gandalf , but how will we know it's T ?)
ps: The warm breeze thing occurs later, so he obviously does that !
Actually, I'm surprised (and pleased) you actually liked my version of the Tolkien idea Odo . And if I'm not mistaken, you kinda liked it too Petty . Honestly not 100% sure enough to really settle on a vote, but I still think Bilbo should narrate the opening paragraphs. Beyond that I cannot say.
This is a perfect example in microcosm of what can go wrong with democracy- we have a vote and what we end up with is as many opening ideas as there are people who voted!
Good to be crabbity GB- good for the blood.
The thing about ideas that don't work is they often spark new ideas that might- like your idea GB- so always worth exploring all the options.
There. Any disagreements?
(A sudden thought. Aerial shot over Hobbiton heading toward Bilbo's. Tiny figure of Gandalf walking along road up toward Bagshot Lane!)
Do you want to write it up and the doorstep scene with Gandalf Odo or should I? No-one else seems currently inclined.
Ps what sort of clock do you see in your minds eye; a cukoo clock, a grandfather clock etc?
Although the dresser with the dishes is pretty much how I envision Bilbo's with his precious crockery on display.
NB Nice picture, Noom! I don't think your flyover is a problem, Mr Tyrant.
[i:ij7m4fs0]A glorious early morning sky over Hobbiton. There are farmers in fields, the mill wheel is turning in The Water, barrels are being loaded at the Green Dragon. Ahead is The Hill, its road winding up passed the Party Field with its single tall tree and on passed young Gaffer working in his garden, a single figure with a pointed hat is making his way up The HIll. [/i:ij7m4fs0]
Voice Of Sam Gamgee Reading (over above flyover)
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
[i:ij7m4fs0]The round green door of Bag End is opened by Bilbo who takes in a deep breath of morning air and goes back inside his hole.
The hallway of Bag End is oak panelled, luxurious and comfortable. A hat stand and umbrella stand are by the door, cloaks hang on a long row of pegs. There is a large map of the Shire on the wall with everything beyond the borders blank, Bilbo's favourite walks are marked in red upon it and he has put a question mark over the blank areas. Bilbo wanders into a room on the right and it is full of brightly coloured clothing. He selects a suitable yellow waistcoat and puts it on over his shirt. He goes into a pantry and takes a cake to nibble on then goes into his kitchen, where he puts his breakfast dishes away into the dresser with pride.
He goes into the parlour. Out of the parlour window can be seen the bright flowers of his garden and a section of the road, walking steadily up the Hill is the figure in a pointed hat.
Bilbo picks up his mail from behind the clock on the mantelpiece. The clock displays 9.05 and the day on it is 'Tuesday'. On the mail as Bilbo takes it down can clearly be seen his name and address. Bilbo takes down his pipe, which has a very long stem-as long as the mantelpiece itself. He goes out his front door and lights his pipe, standing in the sunshine on his front step.
A shadow falls across him and he looks up. Silhouetted against the bright morning sun is an old man with a staff. The old man has a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak and a silver scarf and immense black boots on his feet. His name is Gandalf.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
What do you mean? Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?
All of them at once. And a very fine morning for a pipe out of doors, into the bargain. If you have a pipe about you, sit down. There's no hurry, we have all the day before us.
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo sits on his porch seat, he crosses his legs and blows a smoke ring that the breeze catches and takes up over the hill, Bilbo looks quite pleased with himself at it.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Very pretty! But I have no time to blow smoke rings this morning. I am looking for someone to share an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone.
I should think so- in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and I have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for diner! I can't think what anybody sees in them.
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo opens his mail and pointedly begins to read clearly hoping Gandalf will go away, but Gandalf remains staring at him. Bilbo uncomfortably shifts his body so he is turned as far as politeness allows away from Gandalf, but still Gandalf stares at him.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Good morning! We don't want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water.
What a lot of things you do use good morning for! Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won't be good till I move off.
Not at all, not at all, my dear sir! Let me see, I don't think I know your name?
Yes, yes, my dear sir- and I do know your name, Mr Bilbo Baggins. And you do know my name, though you don't remember that I belong to it. I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means me! To think that I should have lived to be good-morninged by Belladonna Took's son, as if I were selling buttons at the door!
Gandalf, Gandalf! Not the wandering wizard that gave Old Took a pair of magic diamond studs that fastened themselves and never came undone till ordered? Not the fellow who used to tell such wonderful tales at parties, about dragons and goblins and giants? Not the Gandalf that used to make such excellent fireworks! I remember those! Old Took used to have them on Midsummer's Eve. Not the Gandalf who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures? Bless me, life used to be quite inter-I mean, you used to upset things badly in these parts once upon a time. I had no idea you were still in business.
Where else should I be? All the same I am pleased to find you remember something about me. You seem to remember my fireworks kindly, at any rate, and that is not without hope. Indeed for your old grandfather Took's sake, and for the sake of poor Belladonna, I will give you what you ask for.
I beg your pardon, I haven't asked for anything!
Yes, you have! Twice now. My pardon. I give it you. In fact I will go so far as to send you to this adventure. Very amusing for me, very good for you- and profitable too, very likely, if you ever get over it.
Sorry!! I don't want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea- any time you like! Why not tomorrow! Come tomorrow! Goodbye!
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo scuttles inside his hole and slams the door. Outside Gandalf remains staring at the door, leaning on his staff and chuckling. After a moment he composes himself and using the pointed tip of his staff cuts a mark into Bilbo green front door and strides away.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
[i:ij7m4fs0]Inside his hall Bilbo leans with his back against the front door looking troubled.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Now why did I invite him for tea?
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo goes through to his parlour and deposits his mail back behind the clock. Fade out on the clock.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
[i:ij7m4fs0]Fade in on the clock. The hands read 5 and the day reads Wednesday. The clock chimes the hour. Bilbo is dozing in a comfortable chair beneath the window. The early evening light is fast fading in the sky outside the window. Suddenly the door bell clangs and rings violently and Bilbo's eyes snap open. He stares at the clock and at the date.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo rushes into his kitchen and comes back with a pot of tea, an extra cup and saucer and a plate of seed-cakes. The door rings again and Bilbo rushes down the hall to answer it.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Bilbo (opening door)
I am so sorry to keep you wait....
[i:ij7m4fs0]There is a dwarf with a blue beard tucked into his golden belt, and very bright eyes under a dark-green hood standing on the doorstep. The dwarf immediately walks in as if expected and hangs his hood up.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Dwalin at your service!
Bilbo (looking confused)
Bilbo Baggins at yours!
[i:ij7m4fs0]The two stand and stare at one another for an awkward moment.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
I am just about to take tea: come and have some with me."
[i:ij7m4fs0]He leads Dwalin into the parlour but no sooner has he done so than the door bell rings again.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo hurries back to the door and opens it.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
So you have got here at......
[i:ij7m4fs0]On the doorstep is an old-looking dwarf with a white beard and a scarlet hood. He too hops inside as if expected and hangs up his hood.
Balin at your service! I see they have begun to arrive already.
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo leads Balin into the parlour and once more the door bell rings.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Fetch some more seed-cake whilst your out there.
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo hurries back to the door.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Gandalf for certain this time.
[i:ij7m4fs0]He opens the door to find two more dwarves, with blue hoods, silver belts and yellow beards. They walk straight in and hang their hoods beside the others.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
What can I do for you, my dwarves?"
Kili at your service.
Dwalin and Balin here already, I see. Let us join the throng.
Bilbo (as he leads them to the parlour)
[i:ij7m4fs0]Again the door bell rings, louder this time. Bilbo scuttles off again to answer it. This time there are five dwarfs. Each one enters, hangs their hood, gives their name and walks passed the stunned Bilbo to the parlour.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Dori at your service.
Nori at your service.
Ori at your service.
Oin at your service.
Gloin at your service.
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo follows them into his parlour which is now full of dwarves.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo hurries off into the pantry and comes back with several plates of cakes but no sooner has he given them to the dwarves when there comes a loud knock on the door. The sound of someone banging hard with a stick.
Bilbo rushes back to the front door.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
This is the most awkward Wednesday I have ever had!
[i:ij7m4fs0]The door is thumped agan and Bilbo pulls it open, much to fast for in onto the mat falls three more dwarfs. A fourth, very fat dwarf teeters behind the others then falls on top, there is series of loud groans from those beneath and the squeak of a musical instrument being squashed. Behind the pile of Dwarfs Gandalf stands, leaning on his staff and laughing.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
Carefully! It is not like you, Bilbo, to keep friends waiting on the mat, and then open the door like a pop-gun! Let me introduce you,
[i:ij7m4fs0]Gandalf helps Bombur up from atop the groaning others.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
This is Bombur, Bifur, Bofur
[i:ij7m4fs0]With the rest standing the only dwarf still on the ground, and at the bottom of the pile and not looking happy about it, is an important dwarf with a sky-blue hood with a long silver tassel. Gandalf helps him up.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
And especially Thorin Oakenshield.
I am so sorry. Really most terribly sorry.
Yes, well don't mention it.
Now we all here! Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink!
I'd like some raspberry jam and apple-tart.
And mince-pies and cheese.
And pork pie and salad.
Dwalin (from the parlour)
And more cakes-and ale- if you don't mind.
Put on a few eggs, theres a good fellow.
[i:ij7m4fs0]Bilbo, thrown by the evenings events, just nods and heads to the pantry.[/i:ij7m4fs0]
And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles.
He seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!
So does that sound like an acceptable idea to everyone?
Where do you stand GB on putting Bilbo's name into the opening paragraph? I think the other suggestions so far are just having it on his mail (which I've no problem with either) or extending the narration to cover it.
How did I miss this update until now?
Mr Tyrant, I have reservations about the word Tuesday and Wednesday on the clock. Otherwise, I reckon we should post it on its own thread. You've got my vote.
... but anyone else? What think you? We must not be presumptious!
not going to argue if you feel we need him ! Otherwise it's great. btw, won't the day be on a small calender above/below/beside the clock ?
But if you can think of what Bilbo might be doing to get him to open his door then go about his housework feel free to post it-nothing is set in stone and can easily be altered.
The calendar can indeed be beside the clock, I just kind of envisioned a clockwork 'day-flipper' as part of the clock below the clock face. The problem with a calendar is that unless there is reason to have the day marked how does the viewer know which day on the calendar it is?
I appreciate all the things you point out that your scene would accomplish in a film though . ( I still had the voice-over in my head that's out, right )?
I agree about the 'mouth full of cake' thing, I did like that bit ( or was it just Ian?) and I hope who-ever is Bilbo manages a similar manner.
[quote="pettytyrant101":3lko6aa3]The calendar can indeed be beside the clock, I just kind of envisioned a clockwork 'day-flipper' as part of the clock below the clock face.[/quote:3lko6aa3]
Yes, I think I can see that (I'm sure these would be found around ME, I bet the Dwarves made awesome ones!
I like the dialogue, it's true ! I can certainly see Ian Mckellan (and hopefully our Bilbo!) getting this language across to the audience no problem ( Gandalf 'qualifies' the use of 'my dear sir' immediately after anyway and that's what makes it work! (imo).
[quote="pettytyrant101":3lko6aa3]umm I would assume thats spam except there no link to anything and it doesn't seem to be selling anything (at least I hope not). On the plus side for the poster it doesn't take much to get her engine started.[/quote:3lko6aa3]
I still like the idea of the opening paragraph being read- I agree with Odo it shouldn't be Bilbo, cause then we know he survives (for non LoTR watchers or readers) but whoever is reading can be revealed only at the very end so no time is wasted on a preamble or set up. Just the opening as above but with the opening passage being read till the camera gets to the door. But I think it got voted down somewhere.
On the language I thought PJ way over modernised Tolkien's dialogue so I certainly don't want to do that, but I think the odd word change will be needed here and there for the modern ear.
I like the dear sir thing because as you say Gandalf turns it back on Bilbo immediately and its a lovely bit of fun word play, but it was the best example of an older style in that passage, and I think we should be pondering every word for a script- though that might just be me.
(erm, I still think Gandalf !)
I totally agree we should scrutinize every word in the book and try to get them in ! I know it's not
possible to have them all but we should beat it to death in the attempt !!
[quote="Tinuviel":2ijgz10y]alright, i've been gone for a little while, someone want to be curteous and quickly catch me up?[/quote:2ijgz10y]
Petty has posted the first concrete scene two pages ago on this thread. We are fine tuning before posting it on it's own
'finished script thread'. Please have a look and come back with your thoughts Tinuviel.
Just had a mad thought of the top of my head for the final scene- we see the last page as Sam reads the final words. He turns the page over and we see the front-piece of Frodo's own account- The Lord of the Rings etc-and Sam says something like "And the rest is for when you are a little older." Then closes the book. So it sort of links the two directly whilst illustrating one is a children's book the other not. And there's a sort of symmetry in Sam having the last words in both TH and LoTR.
Yes, I agree about Bilbo/Frodo. You and Odo have convinced me about Sam now too.
I quite like that ending idea too. Let's get people rushing out to buy the books !
The fact is we already see Bilbo telling his story to children in Fellowship, and we also have Bilbo narrating the segment "On Hobbits" after Galadriel narrates the opening sequence delineating some of the background history for Middle Earth. By your logic, if there is a voiceover it should be someone who actually remains in Middle Earth (why, I don't know) but that could be anyone...Aragorn, or Arwen maybe, though they likely did not have access to the Red Book (one should recall that Sam eventually leaves for Valinor after the death of his wife which he was entitled to do as a Ringbearer).
If we stick with Bilbo then we at least maintain the continuity with Bilbo narrating in LotR, not to mention "There and Back Again" is ostensibly HIS book. The next best option continues to be a fictionalized Tolkien discovering the Red Book.
The reason for having it read after F and G leave is because it seems logical to assume some time will have passed before its being read. In PJ's version in particular there is little time between returning to the Shire and leaving for F and G-and who would they be reading it to? Plus its logical Sam would read it to his own children and that would be at least 10 years after Frodo leaves for them to be old enough. He is also in possession of the book as Bilbo gives it to Frodo and Frodo to Sam- which he does in PJ's version as well so we know Sam has it. Add to that Sam's own love of stories and his love of Bilbos stories not to mention his long held hope he and Frodo would be 'put into tales' so it fits his character as well. It also helps with the films being in the wrong order. If Sam is reading it after the end of LoTR then it sort of makes sense we are getting TH second.
The only time frame I can think of for Bilbo to be the one reading it would be to a young Frodo- which would make sense but seems to boring and uninteresting a choice and it would still fall foul to Odo's objection. My vote is still for Sam.
Thus, predicating narration on whether to foreshadow the Hero's survival is kind of silly given standard accepted conventions. People often don't like (or get) films where the Hero dies; that's not why they going to see it. (The only reason Pan's Labyrinth works for me is because I believe Del Toro when he says we ARE supposed to "believe" the Fantastical ending over the "Real World" one). Ergo, everyone is going to see the film to see HOW the Hero survives; they want to witness the Journey as much (if not more than) the Destination, which they have already presumed is positive.
And since Sam is the mayor, why not having him read it on Bilbo and Frodo's birthday, maybe make it an annual tradition. I don't know if that's twisting what Tolkien's vision too much, but I think it would set up the story nicely and tie it in with the Trilogy.
And what if it's the last time he reads it???? so at the end of the story, we see him leaving for Valinor and passing it down to his children (was it Goldilocks?) I'll have to check the date he leaves for relevance, but what do you think of that???? then the story will really be over!
Forgive me, but I just don't think any of the reasons for Sam narrating are strong enough to push Bilbo aside. It's BILBO's story, he should read it. The fact he has already narrated bits in Fellowship is Continuity, not "we've already seen it". Barring that, a fictionalized Tolkien narrating would be more interesting.
I realize this is all rather subjective, but personally I think it would connect more the audience to have Bilbo reading it to his nieces and nephews.
I've made my case for Sam and you for Bilbo- a few more opinions from people should decide it. I'm happy to go with the majority as I'm sure you are GB.
Anyway, feel free to write it as you see fit . I'm more concerned with any potential narration in the ACTUAL film script . If I were scriptwriting or directing I wouldn't consider Sam at all as a potential Narrator (nor Frodo for that matter). He is in no way part of "There and Back Again".
Frodo is fair game as a character in an adaptation because he's Bilbo's favourite nephew, and one could easily postulate a scene in which Bilbo is telling his story to a young Frodo (which is the way I would Start and Finish the film). But as he doesn't properly factor in until LotR, I wouldn't consider Frodo for narrator at all either.
So by all means, continue as you will . I'm just putting in my tuppence on points that I differ on, and making my case as best as I can.
I should point out that having Sam narrate is the only thing I particularly object to so far. Everything else seems good.
The Hobbit ends in warmth with Bilbo, Gandalf and Balin. Seeing Balin in such a comfortable situation would prime watchers of the LotR movies to fully appreciate the Tomb scene in Moria. Sam would appreciate that and want to remember Bilbo's fondness for Balin, want to commemorate them in a lovely moment when good friends were together in better times. Also, Sams personality would demand he tell the kids his kid's version of Bilbo's story. He would appreciate that Bilbo had a sense of humour, much more than Frodo did. Also, I seem to remember Sam's thirst for stories, not so much as writer but as listener or reteller in the oral tradition. I think Odo's idea makes perfect psychological sense. (Funnily, Odo was persuaded away from the idea. Odo, you're wrong to change your mind, I think! )
I like the idea of Bilbo being the only hobbit you see (at least close up). Too much of other hobbits would diminish his role as [i:328oawmv]The[/i:328oawmv] Hobbit. He is the only hobbit really worth worrying about for this tale, the only one really worth worrying about for the movie. Other hobbits should be suggestions and hints or 'distance' shots or 'family' portraits' over mantlepieces.
As to audiences already knowing about LotR , GB, I would still not have Bilbo tell the story, not ALL audiences would know. Also, knowing he survives at the beginning of the movie (being let into the secret) would put me off for some reason. It would feel wrong and lose some of the tale's romance.
If you go with a voiceover make it Sam (not seen) talking while those first shots are made, right up until we find Bilbo doing his dusting. I would also opt that the mail be already laid out on Bilbo's dining table or mantleshelf, this with no explanation, no postman that is. People can make their own minds up as to how it gets there, just like I do when I visit someone and see their mail on a table or similar. Actually I rarely consider how mail gets to people. It's just [i:328oawmv]one of those things[/i:328oawmv]. How it gets there is just not worth worrying about, so why waste a second of precious movie time explaining it.
Anyway, these are my thoughts. :-Jane
As to you, Jane: you surely have a Beautiful Mind! (Your avatar aint half bad either! "Woof-woof!"
Sorry you couldn't get a consensus though . I just cannot agree that Sam should narrate any part of the Hobbit. If one is indeed making a Hobbit film for an audience that has no inkling of either LotR or the fact that Bilbo survives, then it makes far less sense to have Sam narrate instead of Bilbo, for then one would have to explain Sam's back-story in the film and cover material already in LotR. In such a case the most reasonable option is for a fictionalized Tolkien to narrate. So you'll have to put my vote down as a ranked vote: 1) Bilbo 2) Tolkien.