Imagining Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: Part One
The Ending III: alternativesIf we don’t end at the Carrock, where else might we? There’s an even more classic stopping point when they reach the eaves of Mirkwood, when Gandalf is called away to investigate the tombs of the Nazgûl and hence perhaps deal with the return of the Dark Lord himself, and Bilbo and the Dwarves must steel themselves to face the terrors of Mirkwood without him. And like the ending of FOTR, it’s the point where the characters divide into two separate storylines, where they’ll remain throughout the next film. However, as others have noted, the visit with Beorn seems weak as a penultimate sequence and likely to work much better as an opening one. Furthermore, if they’ve retained more or less intact Gandalf’s ruse for introducing all fourteen of his companions to Beorn two at a time, then the episode starts with a built-in summary of the end of the first movie in the form of Gandalf’s narration.
On the other hand, it’s quite possible that the Beorn stopover has been made more exciting, enough so that it would work perfectly well as a near-final sequence. That’s why I can’t completely dismiss the possibility that Jackson was hedging his bet here. Remember, as originally conceived, the film was supposed to end in neither of these places. I can imagine Jackson wanting to watch both versions, plus (no less importantly) each corresponding rough cut of the beginning of the next film, before making a final decision. I think it likely that it ends at the Carrock as I just outlined, complete with a bold and uncharacteristic cliffhanger in the wholly invented parallel Radagast storyline. But no-one should feel shocked or misled if it unexpectedly goes on a bit further.Finally, I also think there’s a small chance that Jackson is acutely aware that everyone is expecting one of his classic endings, and is determined to throw us a changeup. In which case, he could be going for a double cliffhanger, one with Radagast and one with the invented conflict with the Eagles. The suspense in the latter would lie in not knowing how the situation could possibly be resolved. (That, after all, is the case in any great perilous moment involving James Bond, Captain Kirk, or any other continuing character whose death is in practice impossible.)
And if Jackson has not only invented a credible threat from the Eagles but one so seemingly intractable that we’ll spend a year trying to figure out how Gandalf, Thorin and Bilbo could possibly extricate themselves from it (and, oh yeah, turn it into a friendship profound enough to figure in the climax of both trilogies) … well, I suppose I could live with that, too.
The second installment coming soon: The Initial Adaptation Challenges
About the author: Eric M. Van is well-known in the literary science fiction and fantasy community as the founding and longtime Program Chair of Readercon; in 2010 he and three colleagues became the only people ever to be nominated for the World Fantasy Award (Special Award—Non-Professional) for running an sf convention. He moderated the Tolkien panel at the only World Fantasy Convention he’s been to and has been on many Tolkien / Jackson panels at cons in the Boston area, including the Third Conference on Middle-Earth. He’s also a fanatic film buff who has seen 111 movies released in 2011 (so far), and a writer who has been working for fifteen years on a big, intricately plotted fantasy novel—so he’s thought a lot about how narratives are constructed. Like everyone else, he has a blog.
The views in this post are his own, and do not necessarily represent those of TheOneRing.net or its staff.Posted in Characters, Green Books, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit on November 24, 2012 by newsfrombree