Friday, December 28, 2012

The Hobbit (2012)

I thoroughly enjoyed Peter Jackson's latest foray into Middle Earth, starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo the Hobbit. Unlike most films based upon books, The Hobbit fleshes out personalities and situations, even those which are only hinted at in the novel and its epic sequel, The Lord of the Rings. My only complaints are the long drawn out battle scenes and the gross humor which makes it a film which will go over well with teenage boys. There are, however, deeper messages and meanings delivered throughout the film; I plan on seeing it again. According to The Catholic World Report:
Bilbo lives a comfortable life, with no intention of stepping out further than the Shire. But Gandalf knows him better, and he makes Bilbo aware of how trapped he is in his comfort zone. Gandalf recalls when he knew Bilbo as a young hobbit with dreams of seeing the elves and mountains. “When did you start caring about doilies and your mother’s dishes?” Gandalf asks him. Gandalf insists that Bilbo has been “sitting still for far too long.” As Tolkien's tale comes to life on the big screen, we see that real living is a journey that pulls us out of our comfortable selves and challenges us to pursue what is good and right and truthful. 

After watching The Hobbit a second time (yes, a second time), I realized that this story calls its characters to poverty and humility—which in the end prove to be greater than power or glory. This seems most apparent not only in Bilbo’s character, but also in Thorin. The dwarves have already lost their home and their wealth, and Bilbo must learn to abandon his own home and everything and everyone he loves. His apparent lack of stature and power also prove to be more useful than Thorin or any of the dwarves originally thought. As Gandalf explains to Galadriel, it is not great power that will conquer evil, but the small and ordinary things. Gandalf chooses Bilbo, not because he is great, but precisely because of his insignificance. Hobbits are far removed from the rest of Middle-Earth, and as we well know from The Lord of the Rings, the humbleness of their race proves far more useful against the Enemy than any great army. 

Gandalf serves as the company’s conscience through the majority of the film. He is far removed from material possessions and his heart does not lay claim on any home in Middle-Earth. Some Tolkienites might argue that he considers the Shire a home. But Gandalf’s preference for good weed aside, we know he is a guardian not from this world. He stands as the voice of reason, telling them to “Run!” or “Stand and fight!” when the dwarves cannot think for themselves. He is also the most aware of Thorin’s shortcomings, reminding him of his duties and keeping him humble when the others cannot. Gandalf uses his powers only when necessary—his main duty seems to be that of a guide. We know Gandalf’s abilities reach far beyond what he reveals here, but he chooses instead to play a minor role—only giving Bilbo, Thorin, and the dwarves the “shove” they need to act when they lack conviction. 

This approach of Gandalf’s proves to be most effective for Thorin’s conversion to humility. From the beginning, we know Thorin to be a good dwarf—one who respects the loyalty and honor of his men—yet, he still lacks the humility and the willingness to sacrifice that is needed to restore his homeland. He knows from experience that the impossible can be achieved with very little—he allegedly destroyed a great orc with only an oak branch for a shield—and still, he doubts Gandalf and the wizard’s faith in Bilbo. If not for Gandalf’s prodding, Thorin’s pride would have prevented him from seeking the counsel of the elves, which would have left him unable to understand the map handed down to him by his forefathers. Good is not achieved until Thorin surrenders his pride. Only then may the dwarves take another step further on their quest. (Read entire post.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

a beautiful film but overly long.