News is coming thick and fast on Peter Jackson’s epic imagining of Tolkien’s 300 or so page novel, The Hobbit, the synopsis of which the official site beautifully summarises thus:
“The Hobbit follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakensheild. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.
Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever … Gollum.
Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.”
The first instalment, which is due out at Christmas this year, is now going to be a trilogy if Peter Jackson has anything to do with it. Along with partner Fran Walsh, he is an avid fan of the world Tolkien created, and is seizing the chance to draw on material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings series which neatly fill in the period between the events depicted in The Hobbit and the later books.
Given that he and his producing partners are such uber-fans, it’s not surprising they are going all out to produce the definitive cinematic depiction of this much-loved of novels. While it’s not in the bag yet since Peter Jackson still has to convince the studio it’s a great idea, this quote gives you some idea how hard he will fight to make it happen.
“We have an incredible source material with the appendices. The Hobbit is obviously a novel, but we also have the rights to use this 125 pages of additional notes, where Tolkien expanded the world of The Hobbit published at the end of Return of the King.
“[Hobbit producer] Fran Walsh and I have been talking to the studio about other things we haven’t been able to shoot, and seeing if we could persuade them to do a few more weeks of shooting – probably more than a few weeks, actually, next year – and what form that would actually end up taking. The discussions are pretty early. So there isn’t really anything to report, but there’s other parts of the story that we’d like to tell that we haven’t been able to tell yet.”
In another piece of news, it turns out that September 22 is Hobbit Day, or at least has been since 1978 when the Tolkien society declared it to be so (with no doubt the requisite amount of Gandalfian pomp and ceremony) – apparently because both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, though born many years apart, share the same birthday.
Peter Jackson used this auspicious day to launch a new extended trailer for the movie, which has not one but five – count ’em, five – endings depending on whether you choose Gandalf, Bilbo, Sting, Gollum or the Dwarves. It’s like a modern version of the Write Your Own Adventure books of old, and frankly if you’re anything like me, you will choose all five endings.
After all, as Peter Jackson has shown with his ambitious plans for a trilogy, an excess of Tolkien, especially re-imagined by Peter Jackson and his talented team, is never enough.