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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 III: knitting together the story strands

The attack of the spiders upon Rhosgobel helps weave the story threads together.

And the key moment for Gandalf is now upon us. Gandalf hears Radagast’s story of the destruction of Rhosgobel by spiders. What does that remind him of? Being attacked in the Misty Mountains by stone-giants (an episode which has been expanded by Jackson not only because it’s exciting, but to contribute to this logic). The heretofore-autonomous nasty things of Middle-earth seem to be suddenly turning concertedly against the Wise, as if directed by some ruling malign force. And the point of this is not to simply ratchet up the threat of Sauron.

The purpose is to unite the two separate strands of the movie, the quest of Erebor and the return of Sauron, and it goes back to Tolkien himself.

After finishing LOTR, Tolkien was faced with a vexing plot question: if Gandalf had been sent to Middle-earth to be the enemy of Sauron, why had he invested so much time and energy to helping the dwarves recover their kingdom and treasure? The answer must have come easily. Years earlier Tolkien had written the tale of the destruction of the elven refuge Nargothrond by the dragon Glaurung, who frankly makes Smaug look as threatening as a third-grader. (If you’ve not read The Children of Húrin, stop and do so now. I’ll wait.)

Glaurung the dragon, one of the chief weapons Morogth used to defeat the Eldar in Beleriand. Artwork: John Howe.

And Glaurung, though he seems to be utterly self-willed, is at the same time a weapon of Morgoth, the original Dark Lord, in his war against the exiled Noldorin high elves. Smaug, then, could have been used by Morgoth’s old lieutenant Sauron as a weapon against Rivendell. That was Tolkien’s retcon (which you’ll find in the final section of LOTR’s Appendix A, “Durin’s Folk,” and in “The Quest of Erebor” in Unfinished Tales and The Annotated Hobbit): Gandalf aided Thorin because he hoped it would lead to the death of the dragon—and hence save Rivendell.

At the start of the movie, Gandalf no longer has this rationale consciously, but it is completely within the spirit of Tolkien to give him a foresight that he should aid Thorin, just as in “The Quest of Erebor” he has a foresight that Bilbo must join the company. And then along the way, the reason for his foresight is discovered. When that happens, the response to Sauron’s threat becomes twofold, as it is in the books: attack Dol Guldur and drive Sauron from Mirkwood, and complete the quest of Erebor to remove Smaug as a potential weapon.

While it would seem obvious to Tolkien that even a creature as intelligent and self-willed as a dragon could be used in such a fashion by a Dark Power, it wouldn’t seem anywhere as evident to film audiences who know nothing of the Glaurung story. So that’s why Jackson has the stone-giants attack Gandalf and his party, and giant spiders destroy Rhosgobel. It’s not just that it gives Gandalf the chilling insight that if Sauron has indeed returned, he is very likely planning to use Smaug in a similar fashion as a weapon against Rivendell. It’s that it makes this credible to the other members of the Council—and to us.

Gandalf’s foresight drives his aid for Thorin’s quest.

This knitting together of the two separate story threads will likely happen just after the two Wizards find the tombs empty, setting off the entire parallel storyline climaxing in the Battle of Dol Guldur. The now-homeless Radagast will clearly be an important figure throughout it; I suspect we’ll even see him at The Battle of Five Armies.

At the end of the tale, though, he will tell the rest of the Council that he’s had enough of dwarves and elves and men, and wants to devote his energy in any upcoming battle against Sauron to the protection of animals: someone has to look out for them. (And in a late note, Tolkien imagined that he was sent to Middle-earth by the Vala Yavanna for just that purpose, contradicting the statement in his essay on the Istari in Unfinished Tales that he had failed in his mission by doing so.) By this time, we will understand that the moth in LOTR was his messenger. Radagast is thus given an explicit presence in the other trilogy at the same time that his absence from it is explained.

Posted in Characters, Green Books, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit on November 24, 2012 by
Key to Erebor

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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