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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Date Posted: 2013-01-10
Tolkien Fan Level: 9
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

Some critics, here and elsewhere, have balked at AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY's 'secret passage' to Rivendell. And yet such a passage, per Tolkienian canon, is a very real possibility, one which author John D. Rateliff ('The History of The Hobbit') acknowledges in a recent review of Jackson's film:

'[The film's creators] ... provided a plausible explanation of how Rivendell can be "hidden" when it's located in a river valley and its general location is well-known: [Jackson's] path into Rivendell was an interesting explanation for a curious feature from the original stories...' (Rateliff's 'Sacnoth's Scriptorium' blog, 22 December 2012:

This reference by Rateliff to one of Tolkien's 'curious' unexplained features in his original 1937 hobbit tale — a 'secret path' leading down into Rivendell's 'hidden' river valley — is again alluded to in Tolkien's subsequent '1960 Hobbit' (a re-writing project, ultimately abandoned, that was meant to fully harmonize the hobbit 'prequel' with its 'Lord of the Rings' sequel), where Gandalf says to Thorin & Company:

'Over there lies hidden the fair valley of Rivendell, of which no doubt some of you have heard tell, though few dwarves have ever seen it [a reference certainly also to the age-old feud between the elves and the dwarves, as that mutual ill-will surfaces again in the initially chilly relations between Gimli's people and the elves of Lórien in 'The Lord of the Rings']. There Master Elrond lives in the Last Homely House.... They were still following Gandalf ... as he searched for ... the head of the path down into Rivendell', by which finally they came to the gates of the elven stronghold, arriving at dusk ~ 'The History of The Hobbit', pp. 792-817, 819, 828, 833-35; Karen Wynn Fonstad's 'The Atlas of Middle-earth', pp. 97-98, 100-101.

Tolkien's description of Gandalf and Company's approach to the 'hidden' entrance of Imladris is a remarkably close match to Jackson's depiction of it in AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY — where a port of escape is suddenly 'revealed' to the Grey Wizard (but in Jackson's re-telling, in the Company's desperate flight from a ravenous pack of warg-riding orcs). As such, Tolkien's '1960 Hobbit' emerges also as a possible inspiration for Jackson's choice in making Rivendell truly 'hidden ... down [under]' — its 'path-head' entrance, if not indeed 'secret', then elusive and very difficult to find, for even Gandalf (as Tolkien wrote and PJ put to film) must 'search' for it.

The Ratings
The Other Ratings
Martin Freeman 's performance as Bilbo Baggins?
Richard Armitage 's performance as Thorin?
The Overall representation of The Dwarves ?
Andy Serkis' performance as Gollum?
Ian McKellen's performance as Gandalf?
Bilbo's retelling of the history of Erebor and of Thror/Thrain/Thorin
The Eagles rescue sequence?
The Goblin King ?
Initial impression of Thranduil?
Hugo Weaving's performance as Elrond?
Radagast's portrayal in the movie?
The representation of Goblintown?
Cate Blanchett's performance as Galadriel?
The Bag End Supper scene?
The scene of the Trolls?
The representation of the Arkenstone?
The Stone Giants?
Escape from the Goblin cave?
Riddles in the Dark scene?
The return to Rivendell?
The attack on the party by the Wargs
The first glimpses of Smaug?
The ending of the movie; in regards to leading well into the next film, and serving as a good ending point.
The overall pace of the film
Peter Jackson's vision in bringing the Hobbit to the big screen.

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