Was that awesome timing or what? The week after I post an article saying “I don’t actually believe there’ll be a third movie coming,” Peter Jackson announces that they’re splitting The Hobbit into 3 movies. I felt…yeah…pretty silly, really. Oh, well. At least my article turned out to be timely!
As one person put it, however, this announcement answers one question and opens up about a zillion more. Will the titles of the movies remain the same? Is the third movie the so-called “bridge” movie? Where will the breaks be in the story now? What could they possibly be adding to stretch this into three movies?
Well, despite the fact that my skills at predicting what Mr. Jackson has up his sleeves have recently been shown to be somewhat askew, I thought it might be fun to try and analyze what we know. Fair warning, this article is spoiler-tastic if you haven’t read the book.
A Sense of Entitlement
The best clue we have to what the films may now be entitled comes from two things. Recently, New Line and Warner Brothers registered a bunch of new names. Specifically, the two that stand out are “The Desolation of Smaug” and “The Battle of Five Armies.”
The other clue is that, in their press release about the third movie, New Line still refers to the first movie as “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, but nowhere does it mention a film called “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”.
I’m not sure what to think of this. Certainly, we can expect movie 1 to be An Unexpected Journey. There and Back Again works as a third movie title, but it seems incompatible with the others, since both Smaug & the Battle of Five Armies are events that happen nearish to the end of the book.
If I were going to bet, I would set Desolation of Smaug as being the title of the second movie and the Battle of Five Armies as being the title of the third. But I’m not much of a betting man, especially where PJ is concerned.
A Bridge to Nowhere
I am now 100% sure that the third movie will not be a movie bridging the events between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. PJ has pretty much confirmed this with his Facebook announcement. About the need for a third movie, he said, “we know how much of the tale of Bilbo Baggins, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur would remain untold if we did not fully realize this complex and wonderful adventure.”
This, to me, says that he’s not planning on drawing in young Aragorn. He may touch on Bilbo’s adoption of Frodo, but I doubt it’ll be much more than a way to explain why Frodo lives with his Uncle Bilbo. Not a major bridging piece there, but an important one to set up the characters and their relationships.
Breaking Us Apart
With the split to 3 movies, one wonders where the movies will break the action of the book up. I will guess that Movie #1 will end in Mirkwood. I like the idea of Bilbo, having found his courage from slaying a giant spider, will end movie #1 sprinting off to aid the captured dwarves at the mercy of the spiders. Having said that, however, I’m sure Jackson will want to get Orlando Bloom and our new elven character Tauriel in there as early as possible, so maybe Movie 1 will end with the Dwarves being captured by the Elves.
If Movie #2 is entitled The Desolation of Smaug, then I’m guessing it will largely focus on the attempt to slay the dragon of that name. It may even not actually resolve the death of Smaug. I can easily imagine Movie #2 ending on a series of cliffhangers with Smaug smashing and burning the door on the side of the Lonely Mountain and flying off to destroy Laketown, leaving the audience to wonder whether anyone survived, if Smaug will be defeated.
That will leave movie #3 to chronicle the death of Smaug, the Battle of Five Armies (which would make sense for its title), and then the return journey. Just as Frodo’s return from having saved the world is trumped in the Shire by big pumpkins, poor Bilbo has to come back and contend with the auction of his house after having more or less saved the lands of the North. Oh well. Heroic hobbits never get recognition from other hobbits.
Which leaves only one big, glaring question. What can PJ have unearthed that makes him feel The Hobbit would be better served by being three movies? After all, The Lord of the Rings was almost three times as long and got only three movies.
The big clue is what PJ himself said in a press conference at San Diego Comiccon. “The Hobbit is obviously the novel, but we also have the rights to use this 125 pages of additional notes that Tolkien expanded the world of “The Hobbit” that’s published at the end of “Return of the King.”” This is what he was referencing when he was talking about doing further filming. Also, he specifically mentioned in his Facebook announcement that a lot of information about (amongst other things) the dwarves of Erebor would be lost if they didn’t make a third film.
Armed with these clues, I took a look at the back of The Return of the King. I’ve read the appendices there many times, but let’s review for those who haven’t done so.
Appendix A is the “Annals of the Kings and Rulers”. Tolkien lays out a great deal of detail about the Kings of Numenor and their descendants, the Kingdom of Gondor and its fall, the tale of Aragorn & Arwen, the Kings of Rohan, and a section called “Durin’s Folk”. I think all but the last part are likely to be irrelevant to these films. After this, the other appendices are anything from timelines to language notes to family trees. I doubt much if anything will come from these.
The section on Durin’s Folk is clearly the most valuable for expanding the events of The Hobbit. After giving a brief mention of the delving too deep in Moria, this section talks about the foundation of Erebor (the Lonely Mountain), the coming of Smaug, Thror (grandfather of Thorin) and his failed attempt to retake Moria, the Battle of Azanulbizar, where Dain Ironfoot slew the goblin lord Azog (and where Thorin earned his name of Oakenshield), and the founding of the dwarven lands that Thorin ruled in Ered Luin. It also relates a meeting between Gandalf & Thorin in Bree where Gandalf first considers aiding the dwarves, to try and get rid of Smaug before Sauron can use him as a weapon in any future war. Obviously, all of this relates keenly to events in The Hobbit, and it seems likely the vast majority of new material will come from here.
Obviously, until the summer of 2014, when the last movie comes out, we won’t know for sure exactly what form these films will take. I’m cautiously excited; I loved the material that was re-edited into the Expanded version of the movie, much of which included some favorite details from the books. I’m hoping that stretching into three movies will allow PJ to really focus on the details of this many-nuanced story and expand on it without inventing whole cloth.
One thing I’m absolutely sure about – it’ll be worth the wait.
Do you think I’m totally off-base with my guesses? Do you have stronger ideas for what may be in the films and where the breaks will be? Let us all know.