We explore the first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
After years, literally years of money worries, new directors, old directors, politicians, protests, race rows, ulcers and Orlando Bloom, the first trailer for the first part of the first of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasy novels is finally online. It’s been a long wait, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but we’re very glad you’ve made it this far.
What do you mean, you haven’t watched it yet? Get on with it, then we’ll talk:
RIGHT. First impressions: everything looks gorgeous. Hardcore LotR fans have been distressed at the prospect of Jackson’s recreation of Middle-earth being less than perfect, but there’s barely a shot in that trailer which couldn’t be seamlessly eased into one of the original films. Except, of course, that they’ll be in 3D – but we’re more or less over that now. Henceforth, BFF rules that films are allowed to be shot (NOT converted) in 3D if the director is really, really good – Scorsese’s allowed, Herzog’s allowed and Peter Jackson is definitely allowed. Besides, did you clock how dizzyingly sharp and crisp the image is? That’s 48fps, my friend – an orgasm for the eyes if ever we heard of one. The total lack of CGI-heavy shots suggests they haven’t been completed yet, but with a year to go until the film’s release nobody was expecting them to be. There will be many more trailers.
There’s an awful lot of silliness, falling over and Martin Freeman’s Tim face, but that was to be expected – The Hobbit is, after all, a kids’ book and Bilbo does spent the entire journey to the Misty Mountains being an utter pain in the arse for Thorin Oakenshield and company. However, the comedy is more than balanced with some darker-looking sequences, with particular hints that we’ll see a lot of Gandalf and Galadriel’s quest to Mirkwood (which Peter Jackson has drawn from ancillary Tolkien works to further explain Gandalf’s long absences from the dwarven band during The Hobbit), as well as the ghastly hint of a Gandalf/Galadriel romance of some kind. That is NOT allowed to happen, okay? Okay.
If anything, the thing we’re most excited about is hearing a brief snippet of ‘Over the Misty Mountains Cold’, the song which the Dwarves sing at Bag End when Bilbo is invited to join their quest. Tolkien wrote a huge number of songs and poems which appear throughout the Middle-earth books, often describing them as being sung on the books’ various ‘now we have to walk a thousand miles’ passages. The trailer contains a piffling six lines of the original (which is 110 lines long; read it here if you like) – we can assume that there will be some judicious cuts, but it’d be lovely to see more of Tolkien’s extraordinary talent as a lyricist and bard make it into the films this time round.
A couple of concerns which have been niggling at us are also neatly dispatched by the trailer. In particular, it’s a relief that Peter Jackson isn’t going to attempt to set Bilbo and Gollum’s ‘Guess what’s in my pocket?’ scene in the total darkness which is very much a part of the passage in the book. We’re also very glad to see that the Dwarves look more dwarfy than they have done in some of the posed photos that we’ve seen – nobody wants a sexy dwarf, we want misshapen noses and fuck-off axes. Having said that, YES PLEASE THORIN OAKENSHIELD. Is it so wrong for a child of Ilúvatar to love a Dwarf? It’s lovely to see momentary flashes of (in order of appearance) Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori and Ori as well, and after this bloody awful teaser poster it’s a great relief to see that they’ve been so carefully differentiated.
Inevitably, the trailer asks many more questions than it answers. Are Dwarves legally required to have dreadful table manners? What on earth is Gandalf fighting? And do you think he insisted on doing his YOU SHALL NOT PASS move again? We do. The lack of CGI scenes makes it hard to gauge where the book is going to be split, but we reckon Bilbo’s confrontation with Gollum is going to feature heavily in the last act of An Unexpected Journey before the film wraps up with the company’s arrival in Lake-town (where they are seen as the fulfillers of a prophecy regarding the demise of Smaug the dragon). Anyone offering odds on the last shot being a massive roar accompanied by a) a flicker of dragonfire on the horizon b) the shadow of wings or c) Gandalf smoking, as usual? This looks like a marvellous introduction, but the real action’s clearly going to be in There and Back Again. HELLO, Battle of Five Armies!
That’s all you’re getting, unfortunately – until there’s a new trailer at least. Until then, fish a tuning fork out of your beard and join us…
To dungeons deep and caverns old…
The pines were roaring on the heights,
The wind was moaning in the night,
The fire was red, it flaming spread,
The trees like torches blazed with light…