The Hobbit: Movie vs. Book
I’ve now passed the point in The Hobbit where the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey leaves off. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first in a series of three films based on the book, so it only covers about a third of the plot. As I read this portion of the book, I couldn’t help comparing it to the movie at every turn, and I found that there are actually significant differences.
I mentioned in my last post that I only gave the Lord of the Rings series two stars when I read it a couple years ago. That was because there were large portions of the book that just bored me. In my thread on LibraryThing, I cited some possible reasons for this: the many long songs and poems, the pages and pages of falling action, and the fact that the narration seemed so far removed from the characters. I got very caught up in Sam and Frodo’s journey to destroy the ring, but couldn’t care less about the battles and such that the other characters were going through, in the third book, particularly.
Now, as I read The Hobbit, I realized that many things I had seen in the movie were just not in the book, and most of these were plot points that ramped up the tension or increased the characters’ motivations, both things that really kept me from getting bored. Even little things like the way the movie played up the fact that the dwarves don’t think very highly of Bilbo initially or the fact that the dwarves aren’t very fond of the elves (resulting in the fact that they almost didn’t go to Rivendell at all) went a long way in my estimation. I actually prefer these sorts of conflicts to all the action and adventure and fight scenes, so that really helped. I also feel that the book emphasizes their journey as an attempt to reclaim stolen treasure, while the movie depicts it as an attempt to win back the dwarves’ rightful home, without which they are separated and scattered across the land. Treasure hunts are fine, but give me the second one any day.
I actually think that these elements from the movie have carried over into the way I think about the book, and I think it would be fair to say that they’ve increased my enjoyment of it. It also helps me to see the sorts of things that might have helped me to enjoy the Lord of the Rings trilogy more. For example, why is it important that they win those battles? Really show me. Give me background, personal stories, zero in on the personal motivation of one or two important characters, whatever will make me want to root them on instead of sitting back and waiting for it to be over.
Given all these things, I think we may actually have found a rare example of a movie that I like better than the book that it’s based on, an honor which has previously applied only to books and musicals (Wicked, anyone?). Amazing, since I overwhelmingly prefer the imaginative power of books and normally hate when Hollywood changes even the littlest detail from the source material. But I suppose that now we know anything is possible.
Where do you stand on books vs. movies? Do you prefer the books, like me? Do you watch movies based on books that you would never want to actually read? If anybody out there is actually reading this (and cares), feel free to jump in! Or bring up a different but slightly related topic. Ah, who am I kidding? I don’t care as long as you comment. Anything goes!