Greetings all, Quickbeam here.
Rumors are flying as far as the Great Eagle’s sight that our newest wizard, Radagast the Brown, will have a more prominent role in the first installment of THE HOBBIT: ‘An Unexpected Journey.’ I am very excited by what Sylvester McCoy may bring to the role. The rumors are strongly suggesting Radagast’s rustic home on the eaves of Mirkwood Forest — Rhosgobel — will be more heavily featured than first suspected.
Color me intrigued! This kind of “newly added” material in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation is not canonical, strictly speaking, within the pages of “The Hobbit.” Yet it is canon from another Tolkien book! This stuff comes from the Appendices in the hinter-lands of “The Return of the King,” and therefore the most intriguing as to how it’ll play out in the new films. Among purists it might be cause for alarm.
Let’s investigate what we know from Tolkien — keeping in mind what the Professor seemed to be confused about himself may leave us with a minor mystery. Let’s also speculate on how P.J. is going to make Rhosgobel fit into the narrative of his first HOBBIT installment.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS WARNING
- Radagast seems to have been the fourth (of a total five) Istar, or Wizard, to arrive in Middle-earth sometime in the early Third Age.
- Back in the Undying Lands, before he became the animal-friendly Brown Wizard, he was a Maia of Yavanna, with the original name Aiwendil: “Lover of Birds.”
- Gandalf said of his friend: “he is a master of shapes and changes of hue.” This gives us tantalizing ideas as to what powers Radagast could employ within the Hobbit story.
- Saruman did not shy from showing open contempt for poor Radagast, calling him “a fool.” Indeed it seems he didn’t accomplish too much during the War of the Ring, seemingly distracted as he was by his love of animals and birds — yes, it’s that Yavanna thing.
- He settled in Rhosgobel (Sindarin for “russet town” or “enclosure”) which was on the western edges of Mirkwood.
- During the Quest of Erebor (what Middle-earth historians call Bilbo’s journey) the White Council, made up of decision-makers Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman, Gandalf, and Radagast, implemented a military attack against the Necromancer (Sauron) who was nestled down in the southern tip of Mirkwood.
- Radagast at some point abandoned his home, we don’t know when or why.
Okay, we all get the gist of how an avian-friendly Maia ended up becoming the Doctor Doolittle of Middle-earth. But where *exactly* did he live? Was his home, Rhosgobel, within the boundaries of Mirkwood right by the Carrock and our friendly Bear Guy Beorn? Or was it hundreds of miles to the south within range of an orc-infested Dol Guldur? Why does it show up in two different places when we look it up on the Encyclopedia of Arda? Heck, even in “The Atlas of Middle-earth,” we see it marked in two locations.
Well, according to the Gandalf/Beorn conversation in Chapter 7 of “The Hobbit,” Radagast “lives near the southern border of Mirkwood.” And then in “Fellowship of the Ring” we learn that Elrond’s scouts “had come down into Wilderland and over the Gladden Fields and so at length had reached the old home of Radagast at Rhosgobel.”
That is uncomfortably close to Benedict Cumberbatch. Err, I mean, close to the evil Necromancer. Here’s where we get our panties in a twist: a much later note published by Christopher Tolkien in “Unfinished Tales” says Rhosgobel was located ‘in the forest borders between the Carrock and the Old Road.’ That’s a totally different spot that would change everything about Radagast’s ability to navigate from place to place and how viable he could be at certain times of the story.
What gives? Why would Tolkien be so confused himself? We are not really sure, but what survives in the actual pages of “The Hobbit” and “LOTR” says this feathery-friended fellow was much closer to the threat of Sauron than anyone else during the time of Bilbo’s journey…. And that is KEY!
THE SPECULATION, FINE-TUNED:
If Rhosgobel was indeed located that far south, we are immediately clued into what might happen on movie screens this December. It seems to make certain decisions easier for the screenwriters. Put this character within strategic distance of the Enemy, and look what we’ve got! A viable way to show the White Council’s attack on the Necromancer, which happened concurrently with Bilbo traipsing around with the spiders away to the north.
Going a but further, if P.J. decides to put Rhosgobel that far south, it’s also within range of a lovely blonde neighbor to the immediate west, Our Lady of Galadriel. Yes, she could be on-hand so much easier this way if she decides to put on battle-armor herself and bring some Galadhrim into the fray of battle!
Yes, that’s right, I said FRAY of BATTLE. You think P.J. is going to let the whole first Hobbit movie go by without epic fight scenes? You don’t really believe he’ll save all the axe-clashing and goblin-decapitations for the Battle of Five Armies only to be witnessed in the second installment in 2013? That’s not how you build a better blockbuster. I think we’re definitely gonna see a good scrape in the first film, and I predict Radagast will be there with bells on. This narrative speculation is the kind of material P.J. can cull from the Appendices in the back of “LOTR.”
On the other hand, if P.J. decides to put the movie-version-Rhosgobel way up near the Old Forest Road and Beorn, then the Character-Who-Can-Speak-Bird could end up critical to the story in a wholly different way. Imagine that Radagast can change “hue and shape” and gets involved while Bilbo and the Dwarves are caught in spiders’ webs? Wouldn’t that be something if he crashes the dinner party at Beorn’s bachelor pad?
It seems likely in this scenario the rescuing Eagles might carry Thorin & Company (and Gandalf) from the burning pine trees and Goblin/Warg attack right over to Rhosgobel first, and the Carrock won’t appear at all. With Radagast this close to Beorn, maybe the traveling heroes get some advice on how to deal with a were-bear and then go sauntering up to visit him later on.
For my money, I would bet on the southern placement of Radagast’s russet enclosure. Of course, take all this with a chunky grain of salt, as we all know when one assumes it makes an ass out of you and me.
GOOD NIGHT, SWEET BIRDMAN:
There’s plenty of hard-arguing still going on with Ringer fans about whether the animals/ eagles/ spiders will be shown onscreen speaking any dialogue. Most people say at this point there are no actors announced to play any voices for such creatures. To which I say, *drat* and double-drat, simply because the voiceover actor in me would’ve loved to provide a spidery voice. With no casting announcement, there’s not going to be any talking Eagles onscreen, sorry.
Methinks that’s what we have Radagast there for — he might be the one character shown speaking to the animals, albeit in secret or silent “off mic.” I am fully convinced in the 2nd movie ‘There and Back Again’ we will see Radagast sending a certain thrush to watch over a certain Bilbo and accompany him within the dragon’s chamber. It makes so much sense to me. It also allows the writers to condense characters and does away with the need for the Roäc/Thorin talking-bird scene. Why bother having to establish how Dwarves can also communicate with birds, which may just confuse the uninitiated audience? Well, if Radagast is the one behind all the avian allies, that gives the character much more to do.
I’m still left wondering, however, exactly how Bard will understand a critical message that comes to his ear, but we will see how that plays out. Radagast can’t be everywhere at all times deciphering every tweet! Hmmmm. Tweet….
Wait and see what clever bits (in less than 140 characters) come out of the Twitterverse in relation to this character. “I just flew in from Rhosgobel and boy, are my arms tired!” Ah, comedy for the picking.
Much too hasty,