‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Five Film Facts
Martin Freeman in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". Photo courtesy of New Line.
More than a decade ago, before Peter Jackson unveiled his "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, millions of diehard J.R.R. Tolkien fans waited with tempered anticipation, just waiting to pounce on Jackson for any mistreatment of their beloved text. Three films, seventeen Oscars, and over three billion dollars in box office receipts later, those same fans can hardly stand to wait another moment for the LOTR prequel, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". And starting today, they won't have to. We all know "The Hobbit" will be another great adventure, but here are Five Facts about the film you might not know.
1. Tolkien first imagined "The Hobbit, or There and Back Again" while telling bedtime stories to his kids. In fact, when the story was originally published in 1937, it was done so as a children's book. Obviously, some of the 100 million odd copies sold in over 50 languages around the world have been purchased and devoured by grownups (or at least by people who have successfully aged), but it wasn't actually written for them. The story takes place 60 years prior to the Rings trilogy, and revolves around a genial Hobbit, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), a mischievous wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), and a rambunctious company of 13 Dwarves looking to reclaim their homeland from the dragon Smaug. Like the book, the tone of the film is noticeably lighter than that of "The Lord of the Rings," and the stakes are significantly lower. Of course, knowing what we know about the "one ring to rule them all," the darkness lingers. You can get a good feel for the tone in the trailer above.
Cate Blanchett in New Line Cinema's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey".
Three Films from One Book
2. The first edition of "The Hobbit" covers the span of a singular 310 page book. Yet "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is but the first film of another trilogy, and a nearly three hour film at that. So how the heck did Jackson develop the story enough to fill up such a plethora of screen time? By relying heavily on the 125 pages of appendices Tolkien developed over the years that greatly expand and complicate the world of Middle Earth, which he included at the end of "The Return of the King." The screenwriting team also brought back some popular characters from LOTR who don't actually show up in the text of "The Hobbit" -- including Galadriel (Cate Blanchet), and in the next film, the sure-shot Elvin archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom) -- while creating entirely new characters at the same time, like Tauriel, a female elf played by Evangeline Lilly.