A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 571 – The Hobbit (1977)

The Hobbit (1977) – September 22nd, 2011

I’m not sure which we bought first, this or the 1978 Lord of the Rings. This we have on VHS, so I suspect we’ve owned it for a while but I can’t say for certain. I know I bought Lord of the Rings at a library book sale, but I forget when. Regardless, we’ve been holding on to them for a while, waiting for today. Because today? Today is Hobbit Day. And since the first part of the new version is still over a year away, well, we started with this one. Happy Hobbit Day. Now, let’s sing some songs!

No, really, I’m totally serious. The songs are what I remember the most from this version. I suspect that the new one will have far less singing, even if Tolkien himself was prone to putting songs in his books. When my father read them to me he’d always skip the songs. “And then they sang a song… about breaking plates.” That’s what I got until I saw this. The song from the beginning of the movie really is in the book. I don’t think all of the songs in the movie are in the book, but they’re not all just tossed in there to make this into a musical. And hey, I have to admit, it was a successful thing for the movie if I remember the songs so clearly so long after last seeing this. It has to have been at least fifteen years.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, it’s a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, telling the story of Bilbo Baggins and how he came to have the One Ring in his possession at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. The story begins with Gandalf showing up in the Shire, maneuvering Bilbo into joining a group of Dwarves who are going on a quest to claim a huge pile of treasure from a dragon named Smaug. Gandalf claims Bilbo is a burglar, though he is no such thing, and off they all go. They have a number of little adventures on their way to the Lonely Mountain including Bilbo getting split off from the rest of the group and finding himself playing a game of riddles with a creature named Gollum. Up until then, Gollum had been the Ring’s owner, but Bilbo finds it on the ground in Gollum’s cave. Since wearing it renders one invisible, Bilbo finds it quite useful indeed as the rest of the story progresses. Eventually he faces off against Smaug, using his invisibility to make himself seem more formidable.

Towards the end there’s a big battle between the Men and Elves and the Goblins and it’s always felt a little lacking to me. I’d need to look at the book to determine if it really is, but if I’ve got three armies on a field I want grandeur and I’ve never quite gotten it from this movie. Also, I’m not entirely thrilled with the visual depictions of the Elves and Goblins. The Elves were supposed to be the first residents of Middle Earth, wisest and most beautiful and graceful. And instead we have these blueish-green dudes with spindly arms and legs, knobbly joints and oddly bulbous heads. The Goblins all remind me a little of Snarf from Thundercats, which is also a Rankin and Bass production so I suppose that at least makes sense. Come to think of it, that likeness also applies to Smaug so now it makes sense that I’ve always considered him somewhat feline in looks. Now, the Dwarves and Bilbo? I can totally get on board with all of them. Gandalf too, and Gollum. So I suppose I shouldn’t get too bogged down by the Goblins and the Elves, since the movie’s focus is on Bilbo and the Dwarves.
Overall, I do enjoy this movie. It’s cheesy and it’s got some questionable visual depictions, but it’s also got some serious nostalgia for me. I’m afraid I don’t have much more to say about it aside from that. It’s not masterfully made and despite having had the Fifteen Birds song stuck in my head since we watched it, I’d probably have to say I prefer my father’s way of dealing with the songs better. But I do like Bilbo and the Dwarves. And I do like Smaug, likeness to Snarf notwithstanding. It hits the major plot points that I remember and does do decently enough. I don’t think I’d use it to introduce any kids to the story these days, and I’m glad I was introduced to it through the book well before I watched this movie. But all that being said, I’m glad we own it.

September 22, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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