10 MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE BOOK ‘HOBBIT’ AND THE ‘HOBBIT’ MOVIES

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I am sure that all bookworms have read Tolkien’s classic ‘The Hobbit’ and its sequel “Lord Of The Rings’, so I am not going into the summarization and analysation of this book. I have been influenced by the various books vs. movies comparison, and I am going to try it out now with ‘The Hobbit’. However, to those who have not read this series nor seen them, there are spoilers, and please do give this a read AFTER you have read and seen them.

  1. Tolkien intended ‘The Hobbit’ to be a children’s book

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 J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel is a brisk, light adventure story consisting of a single volume that is shorter than any one of the three volumes of his Lord of the Rings trilogy. First published in 1937, it is recognized as a classic in children’s literature. Its narrative structure includes an omniscient narrator who frequently speaks directly to the reader, and characters to whom children can relate.

The Hobbit trilogy consists of three films- An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle Of The Five Armies. The changes brought about by Peter Jackson, director of the Hobbit trilogy, add depth to the story and more or less meet the expectations of fans of the Lord of the Rings films. However, these films are too long, mature and violent for what is meant to be a children’s story adaptation.

  1. Azog the Defiler
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Manu Bennett as Azog

In the book, Azog, the Chief of the Orcs of Moria, is said to have killed  Thrór, the Dwarf King Under The Mountain, when he desires to revisit and perhaps refound the mines of  Khazad-dûm, now housing the orcs. This sparked off the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs which went on for 9 years before Azog was slayed by Dáin, the cousin of Thorin Oakenshield. Azog’s son Bolg becomes the new leader of the Orcs of Moria before dying in the Battle of the Five Armies.

In the first film, however, Jackson does not kill off Azog entirely; Azog survives Thorin Oakenshield’s blow and has become more powerful than ever. Learning about Thorin’s plan to recapture Erebor (which had been captured and destroyed by Smaug, the dragon) he begins hunting down Thorin and his company again and again before he is finally killed off in film ‘The Battle of The Five Armies’ by none other than Thorin himself. There is no mention of Dáin here whatsoever. This however adds more urgency to the Company’s journey and is a catalyst for the film’s climax.

  1. Galadriel and Saruman at Rivendell
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Cate Blanchett as Lady Galadriel

Tolkien never explicitly mentions Lady Galadriel and Saruman the White travelling to Rivendell for the White Council meeting.

However, in the first film, Jackson introduces both of them at the meeting which isn’t surprising as they are both members of the Council.

What is rad is Galadriel holding a   telepathic conversation with Gandalf while Saruman droned on and on.

  1. Introduction of Tauriel
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Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel

There is NO Tauriel in Tolkien’s book, whatsoever.Actually, to be honest, there is absolutely NO strong female character in ‘The Hobbit’ book. Maybe that is a reason why Peter Jackson felt the need to introduce this character in the films. She is a major badass who defies her King and goes to help her dwarf love interest Kili, and is basically the Hawk-Eye of the films (when she is fighting off the bad guys).

5. Gandalf presents Bilbo with the Sting

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

In the film ‘An Unexpected Journey’, Gandalf finds a short bladed weapon while searching the troll’s cave. He gives it to Bilbo, but the hobbit is reluctant to accept it. Gandalf then tells him, “True courage is not about knowing when to take a life… but when to spare one.”

But in the book, Bilbo himself finds and takes the weapon, a knife in a leather sheath and names it Sting after killing                                                                                                              off a giant spider.

  1. Battle with Azog after escaping the Goblins-
RICHARD ARMITAGE as Thorin Oakenshield in New Line Cinema’s and MGM's fantasy adventure “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
RICHARD ARMITAGE as Thorin Oakenshield in New Line Cinema’s and MGM’s fantasy adventure “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

In the film ‘An Unexpected Journey’, Azog and his Warg-riding orcs finally track down Thorin as he and the rest of the Company have escaped Goblin Town.  The Company climbs up some trees to get beyond their reach, but when escape seems impossible, Thorin climbs down to confront Azog. When it appears that Thorin is about to be killed, Bilbo jumps to his aid and rescue him.

In the book, Azog does not appear in the Hobbit, having been killed by Dáin II Ironfoot many years earlier in the story.  The Company is instead trapped by a group of Wargs who live in the area.  The Company tries to escape from the Wargs by climbing some trees, but then the Warg’s howling attracts the goblins from whom the Company has just escaped. The entire company remains in the trees until rescued by the Eagles.

This movie scene is important as Thorin finally comes to respect Bilbo for the hobbit’s bravery.

  1. The Love between Kili and Tauriel-
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Aidan Turner as Kili with Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel

Tolkien’s 12 dwarves were mostly featureless, indistinguishable characters, but in the prior two movies (the 1st and the 2nd movies) Jackson gave each a clear personality and individual moments for them to shine on-screen.” (Michael Drout). Jackson introduces the love angle between Kili and Tauriel to give them more share of the limelight.

The bittersweet romance between Kili the dwarf and Tauriel the elf shows that love knows no boundaries and all, but I don’t understand why a strong female character cannot be left alone without making her hook up with someone (personal opinion).

  1. Legolas in Mirkwood-
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Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf

 There is no mention of Legolas, the son of the Elvenking Thranduil, in the Hobbit book.

But in the films, Legolas plays a role as a loyal admirer of Tauriel, a hater of dwarves and a skilled warrior killing off the orcs in ‘The Desolation Of Smaug’ and ‘The Battle Of The Five Armies’ movies.

  1. Smaug, the chiefest and greatest of calamities
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Smaug

Smaug the dragon, brilliantly played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Hats off!) is a better improvement to Tolkien’s Smaug. Its much bigger, more menacing and terrifying. The film Smaug holds you breathless because it is so magnificently terrifying. The book Smaug is not as frightening as the film’s.

  1. The deaths of Thorin, Kili and Fili
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(L-R) Aidan Turner as Kili, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, and Dean O’Gorman as Fili

In Tolkien’s version, Thorin and his dwarves make a heroic charge into the thick of the battle, even though they know their efforts are doomed to fail. Both Fili and Kili die defending their king, and Thorin also breathes his last as a hero, surrounded by his kin.

In The Battle Of The Five Armies, on the other hand, Thorin leads three of his dwarves on a clandestine ambush mission. This is certainly entertaining, but I prefer the way Tolkien made martyrs of Thorin and his nephews, as heroes of the battle, and not victims of an ambush. Fili met a pretty horrifying end in the movie.

Jackson excels at creating stunning, exceptionally detailed visuals and he captures the spirit of Bilbo’s  transformation from a sheltered member of the bourgeoisie to a capable hobbit who can navigate the heroic world. But some additional scenes put in by Jackson were really not required. On a whole, though, the movies are pretty good in their cinematic value.

Fin!

-Bhaswati

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