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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

Radagast and the tombs of the Nazgûl

Radagast may be introduced to the audience by his absence from the White Council meeting.

This would make a good name for a standing stone group, but what can we figure out about them? The Radagast story line is predictably the toughest to parse, since it’s entirely invented. But let’s start with the background insight that Dol Guldur has been moved significantly northward, much closer to Rhosgobel. In the book, Dol Guldur is due east of Lórien, which would mean the battle of Dol Guldur would be fought by elves from there and not from the Wood-elves’ realm in northern Mirkwood.

In other words, if we stay faithful to the book’s geography, we’d see Haldir instead of Legolas at the battle—and we know we’re seeing Legolas. Furthermore, LOTR is meant to take place on a larger canvas than The Hobbit, so we want to leave some regions of Middle-earth unvisited until the later story. It thus makes sense to show us only one of the two great Elven refuges now, and that means highlighting Rivendell while writing Lórien out of the story. All of this explains why there are no reports that Lórien will be in the film, even though Galadriel will be.

Moving Dol Guldur northward also strikes me as an improvement on Tolkien; it’s always been a puzzle as to why Sauron would have built it a hundred miles due east of the home of the mightiest and most perceptive of the remaining Eldar of Middle-Earth. A location close to the middle of Mirkwood, halfway between the Old Forest Road and the Gladden Fields, makes more sense. Tolkien only located Rhosgobel in a late note, cited in Unfinished Tales (which Jackson has no rights to), but it would make sense for Jackson to put it where Tolkien did—near the Forest Road and hence on Thorin and Co.’s original intended route.

We can next ask, how can you introduce Radagast? Never mind that he’s barely in the book—he lives alone, meaning no one ever addresses him by name. The one way that’s easy and straightforward is to have the White Council introduce him by discussing his absence.

Radagast discovers that “a dark power has found its way back into the world”.

Their debate about the likelihood of Sauron’s return and the necessity of examining the Nazgûl tombs could end in a deadlock, with Gandalf and Galadriel concerned but Saruman and Elrond unconvinced. And Saruman could break the tie by reminding them that Radagast sees things the way he does, and would certainly take his side if present. Cut directly from Saruman’s assertion to Radagast discovering that “a Dark Power has found a way back into the World,” and the irony is chilling.

However it plays out, Radagast’s absence from the Council makes it clear that he and Gandalf initially have separate, independent storylines, where each finds evidence of Sauron’s return. That’s good storytelling. And like you, I am dying to find out just what Sauron can do to a hedgehog that would be as scary to Radagast as the re-animation of the dead is to Gandalf. But this invention of Jackson’s seems nicely in accord with the concern that Tolkien always shows for the natural world. A hedgehog by any other name would be a tree.

I’m guessing there’s at least one scene that escalates this initial discovery of hedgehog evil blight, before the big third act event: giant spiders attack and presumably destroy Rhosgobel. This has two related consequences: Radagast, driven out of Mirkwood, must go somewhere else, and he must relay this news to the Council as soon as possible. Now, we’re fairly certain that Radagast is a master of sending messages by animal, bird, or moth, but it would be intensely undramatic if he were able to able to pass this news along without any trouble. In terms of making things difficult for the good guys, it’s already problematical enough that Elrond and Galadriel can communicate telepathically. If Radagast never finds it a challenge to send messages, you’ve essentially given the rest of the White Council cell phones, albeit very slow ones and almost certainly running Windows. Sending messages has to take him time and effort.

Radagast must convey news to the White Council.

As we’ll see below, we can be sure that this attack is not random, but part of a plan to get Radagast. That means that a party of orcs and/or wargs will be waiting for our wizard just outside of Mirkwood—perhaps the same party (probably led by Azog) that had Thorin and Co. up in the treetops a day or two before. And this plot requirement meshes with the three we just laid out. Radagast flees; his goal is to get someplace that’s not only safe, but where he’ll have time to summon and instruct the proper messenger. The obvious destination is the nearby hall of his friend Beorn. It’s likely that Radagast’s rabbit-sled was invented (by both Radagast and the screenwriters) to make a pursuit by and escape from Wargs not just credible but exciting; rabbits and wolves run at roughly the same speed (especially true of rabbits and an imaginary species of wolf).

Jackson being Jackson, the pursuit sequence will be garnished with an especially exciting incident or two (think crumbling bridge in Moria); we’ll see below that there’s probably one such incident good enough to function as a film-ending cliffhanger. There may be dramatic tension as we wonder whether Radagast will arrive at Beorn’s before Gandalf leaves (I’m guessing he doesn’t), and downright anxiety when we see that Beorn has left to accompany his guests to the eaves of Mirkwood, and won’t be there to defend Radagast against his pursuers. (That job could be handled by ordinary bears—but at this point I’m just making wild-assed guesses, and, what’s more, probably guesses about the beginning of the second film.)

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. 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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