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Imagining Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: Part One

November 24, 2012 at 5:19 am by newsfrombree  - 

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

The Morgul-blade revealed!

Now that we’ve dispensed with the preliminaries, let’s get to the good stuff. In my humble opinion, the best of these questions is: who lost the Morgul-blade? Because a mere Morgul-blade doesn’t mean much. Consider, for example, the obvious and common guess that the blade is found in the troll’s treasure along with Orcrist, Glamdring, and a Sting to be named later. (Never mind that that’s bad storytelling, as it fails to make the finding of the blade special in any way.) Elrond tells us that the trolls must have “plundered other plunderers” in a succession that reaches all the way back to the fall of Gondolin in the First Age. And in fact there’s no reason why a Morgul-Blade from a thousand years ago, before the Witch-king was defeated, couldn’t be found in any treasure-hoard. Nope, you can’t just find a Morgul-blade. You have to know it was recently used by an enemy.

And who could that be? Who might be wielding a Morgul-blade, other than a Nazgûl?

A barrow-wight, that’s who. A barrow-wight, as in a spirit re-animated by necromancy.

That’s right, Gandalf, Bilbo, and the Dwarves must unexpectedly encounter and defeat a wight—and this discovery of necromancy is itself possible evidence that Sauron the Necromancer has returned to Middle-Earth. The White Council meeting is probably as much about the encounter with the barrow-wight as it is about the retrieval of the Morgul-blade from him; we’ve been shown the latter to whet our appetites while the former has been kept under wraps. Yet the Morgul-blade is far from trivial. To create the proper level of uncertainty within the Council, necromancy of this simple sort must be rare but not unheard of in Jackson’s version of the history; presumably Sauron taught the art to other, lesser practitioners, and that knowledge has been passed down through the ages. That the corpses in the barrows of the ancient kingdom of Cardolan (I’m guessing this happens somewhere east of Bree) have become reanimated does not necessarily point to the Necromancer as the culprit. But if they have been armed with Morgul-blades, that makes it far more likely.

We may see a diversion to the Barrow-downs before the Company reaches the Trollshaws. Artwork: John Howe.

I’ve been advocating for the insertion of “Fog on the Barrow-Downs” since the movie was announced, with the idea that wight activity would be one of the reasons the Council decided to attack Dol Guldur. And that’s because adding such an episode would serve no less than four other purposes.

First, and most importantly, it inserts an adventure between Hobbiton and the Trollshaws. In FOTR that journey fills nearly twenty-five minutes of action (in thirty-four of running time, the other nine being three Saruman sequences). Without an added adventure, The Hobbit would likely cover the same territory in a fifty-second montage of walking and running to the tunes of Howard Shore, a la the Ring going south in FOTR. And that would seem odd and abrupt to everyone familiar with the FOTR version of this journey.

Second, if Gandalf stays behind to further investigate signs of barrow-wight activity, it provides a much more satisfying reason than the book’s for his absence when they encounter the trolls, and hence a much more dramatic reappearance (and of course explains why he is missing from all of the walking and running footage in the second trailer).

A diversion to the Barrow-downs brings in action before the Trollshaws.

Third, you can provide an early, important hero moment for Thorin, by making him the only dwarf who can overcome the spell and battle the wight, thus keeping the rest of the party alive until Gandalf can open the tomb.

And fourth, it would break up the comic tone that dominates the story from the Unexpected Party through the Trolls. (I was thrilled to see Thomas Monteath make the same guess in his September 5 piece on the figurine character biographies, and I hope I’ve provided the rationale that he mostly left missing.)

Oh, and “Fog on the Barrow-Downs” rocks. (Or “standing stones,” if we can make that a verb.)

Posted in Characters, Green Books, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit on November 24, 2012 by
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20 responses to “Imagining Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: Part One”

  1. baasf@gmail.com says:

    This is amazing.Thank you!

  2. mildred snitzer says:

    the barrow-downs speculation is pretty hair brained. i think its safe to say the blade is either found in the troll shaws or found by radagast

  3. Claude Allen says:

    We see Gandalf in Dol Guldur holding Glamdring. But we don’t see Gandalf holding Glamdring when he’s fighting Thrain.
    Maybe I’m guilty of wishful thinking, but Gandalf might have found Thrain way before he ever acquired Glamdring, like it was written by Tolkien. After all, we do see the key to Erebor’s secret entrance in Thorin’s hand before they encountered the trolls. I’ve heard plenty of people jump to the conclusion that Gandalf went into Dol Guldur and found Thrain in the present tense of the movie, like with Glamdring. Hopefully that’s wrong.

  4. Goattrider says:

    Great analysis can’t wait to see whether it plays out pike this. BTW we dont actually see Denethor look in the Palanthir but it’s implied in the movie and confirmed in the extras of the extended edition

  5. Ian K. says:

    I think the Barrow-downs idea could work, but I don’t believe that anyone but Gandalf will enter. Frodo and company only entered the Barrow-downs because they wanted to keep off the road and avoid the Nazgul, which are in no way a threat to the dwarves at this point. They will likely stick to the main road on their way to Rivendell. But this doesn’t mean Gandalf won’t be doing some barrow investigations, and he may find a Morgul-blade within.

  6. ericmvan says:

    They already botched, oops, I mean changed the history of Glamdring in LOTR, by not having it glow blue for orcs, meaning it’s not a sword made in Gondolin. (I understand the rationale for that — they wanted to make Sting unique.) So there’s no point in having Gandalf acquire it as Orcrist’s mate in this movie. Therefore, he’s probably had Glamdring all along, and had it when he found Thrain in the dungeons, 91 years ago. Eliminating Glamdring from the Troll-hoard will make Thorin’s acquisition of Orcrist more special. In fact, they could throw in a bit about Glamdring having been made many years later (by, say, Celebrimbor) as essentially a knock-off of, and companion to Orcrist. So finding the original after which it was modeled — and one that still has the magic
    glow-blue power, which art was lost in later years — would be really cool.

    Thanks for pointing this out — one of the main reasons I did this was to have people pose new puzzles to solve!

  7. Rune says:

    would’nt Rhadaghast be responsible for sending the eagles to the aid of Ghadalf the dwarves and Bilbo? I’m no expert but this would give him some credibility other than being a buffoon?

    Are you suggesting in your article that the lord of the Eagle’s get’s arrow shot and gandalf heals him upon whisking them away… Good speculation and all but there really is no way of knowing the end of the movie until we see it but some good calls in here.

    I hope the Nazgul tombs get pushed over to the second movie as you say as this makes sense. but have the party split just like FOTR

  8. ericmvan says:

    Again, you have to think of this in terms of authorial / screenwriter purposes rather than the existing internal logic of the story. When you’re constructing a plot, it’s completely common that you need to have your characters do something, think something, or be somewhere that they simply wouldn’t, given the existing status of the plot. So you make up something that forces them into it! If the screenwriters think it would be good for the story to trap the company in a barrow, then you need an excuse to get them off the road. They might, for instance, have a mishap with their food or water supplies that forces them to leave the road and hunt for game, or find a spring. (Part 3 will discuss why those kind of mundane travel adventures will be good to add to the story, in any case.) And the reader or viewer doesn’t perceive the mishap as an event contrived to get them into the greater peril. Instead, it plays as if they made a small mistake, that led them into big trouble — as small mistakes often do. It plays as nicely dramatic and ironic. Like life!

  9. ericmvan says:

    I love the idea of Radagast summoning the Eagles! That, in fact, could be a real moment of heroism for him — underscoring why it needs to be hard for him to send messages. (You would not let on *who* he was sending the message to, so that the Eagles showing up would still be a surprise to many viewers.*) Radagast having a big hero moment in this Battle would make his resignation from further active participation in the War of the Rings much easier to accept by the Council. In fact, maybe he’s wounded because he has to hold his ground in order to get his messenger off. Of course, he’s immortal, but he still suffers the pains of the flesh when incarnate.

    And having the Eagles essentially be asked to the Battle would further differentiate this appearance from the one in ROTK, where they just show up, completely on their own. But all this is separate from whether the Eagles *want* to help.

    I purposely didn’t speculate on what the Eagles’ beef with the company might be, or how Gandalf might fix it. I want to be surprised! I don’t think it will be just healing an arrow-wound, though.

    *I can vouch for the fact that the ability to figure out movie plots while they unfold before you does not correlate to the ability to figure them out before or afterwards! I get so lost in a story that any good twist takes me by surprise. When Selina Kyle showed up near the end of The Dark Knight Rises, I only saw that it was inevitable a moment after it happened, because I had essentially forgotten about her. So if we see Radagast send some message off as the Battle of Five Armies is just starting, sure, some viewers will figure out that he’s asking for the Eagles’ help, but many will be so caught up in the battle action that they won’t have time to think it through.

  10. Rafe Spraker says:

    Did anyone else notice in the “scroll” before the “Troll Falls” pot is Thorin before what looks like “downs” and a creature that has horns and most un-orc like creature! This may support the Wright interpretations with Thorin demonstrating some courage?

  11. me says:

    No, I don’t think so. In one of the alternative endings for the second Hobbit trailer, there is a scene where Gandalf gives his sword to Elrond, who then says “This is Glamdring, the foe-hammer, sword of the king of Gondolin.” So clearly he just acquired it. If you still doubt me, look at the photo I posted. So I am pretty sure both Thorin and Gandalf find their swords in the troll’s cave.

  12. me says:

    May I ask why it is hair brained?

  13. me says:

    What I would love to see is again the appearance of the moth before the eagles come to the rescue, both while the company is in the trees and at the battle. Then Radagast could be tied in to the LOTR movies without an actual appearance.

  14. name says:

    I also think that establishing that Radagast = the moth would be wonderful. Then, in the RotK, we would have a new perspective on the Eagles. It would show that somewhere Radagast still cares about Gandalf and his causes.

  15. ericmvan says:

    That’s correct … so Sting glows blue, but Glamdring doesn’t? Really? They’ve got some explaining to do …

    There’s also the question as to how Elrond identifies the sword so quickly, if Gandalf has been unable to. In the book, Elrond does so by reading the runes on the sword. Originally, when they find the swords,Gandalf says “*if* we can read the runes on them, we shall know more about them.” “If” was changed to “when” in 1966. But Tolkien had long been bothered by Gandalf’s illiteracy, and when he tried to rewrite the book in 1960, he had Gandalf note “But there’s black blood on them, goblin-blood. When they are cleaned and the runes on them can be read …”

  16. John Allen Reave says:

    Or Radagast could be killed in the battle of five armies. Thus depriving Gandalf of a powerful ally in LoTR.

  17. name says:

    Watch the TV spot #8 and you will clearly see Glamdring glowing blue when Gandalf swings it in the quick 1 second clip towards the end.

  18. ericmvan says:

    Whoah! Either Glamdring is revised to glow blue in the Ultimate Edition (see Part Two), or they explain in this trilogy why the sword loses its magic power! That would be a very outside-the-box solution. Hmm .. maybe in TDOS Gandalf transfers the sword’s power to some anti-Necromancer weapon?

    In the meantime, if Gandalf does have Glamdring in the Dol Guldur flashback, I believe that’s an unfixable error. Maybe this is like Gimli’s axe in FOTR — it only looks just like Glamdring.

  19. ericmvan says:

    Because if it were “hare-brained,” that would be an insult to the friends of a Wizard we’re all expecting to become very fond of!

  20. ericmvan says:

    Radagast is a Mair and hence immortal. Assuming his body was destroyed or damaged beyond repair, he would have been re-incarnated in Valinor. And If the Valar thought that he was important to the war against Sauron, they would have sent him back to Middle-Earth by ship.

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