Friday, March 22, 2013

Thoughts on viewing the HOBBIT dvd

So, now I've seen THE HOBBIT again, for the sixth time, this time at home on dvd.

I still like it. A lot.

I was good this time and let it go at its own speed, but I suspect in many future viewings I'll fast-forward through least-favorite scenes and perhaps replay favorite bits. Once again I'm surprised how much of Tolkien's book they got into the movie, how little screen time the non-Tolkienian bits (orcs) took up, and how impressive most of the performances are (esp Freeman's Bilbo and, once again, Serkis's Gollum).

The extras are different this time around; aside from a relatively brief (six-minute) documentary on the natural New Zealand scenery they used, which is flat-out spectacular, it's mostly the trailers (two different ones, with the second coming in a number of variants with the final few seconds different each time) and the production blogs. I'd seen most but not all of these as they were released online; it's nice to have them preserved in more permanent and readily accessible form. Seeing them and the trailers, I saw bits from several scenes not in the first movie, most of which are still to come but a few of which must belong to a planned expanded edition of the first film.

In this category must fall the scene from the first trailer of Bilbo exploring Rivendell and coming across the shards of Narsil. The actor who plays Bofur also talks about having sung the Man-in-the-Moon/ Merry Old Inn song, which could come later (e.g., at Lake Town) but sounds as if it belongs somewhere early on.

In the still-to-come category is obviously Gandalf's exploration of sinister ruins --originally I'd believed these to be Dol Guldur; now I think they must be the Witch-King's tomb described by Galadriel and Elrond at the Council. Presumably it will be to explore these, rather than attend the White Council, that he leaves Bilbo and the dwarves at the edge of Mirkwood to go and do. We also in the production blogs see the dwarves all trussed us in spider-silk, Bilbo in the treetop (the butterflies episode, I presume), Beorn's hall from the inside (w. giant-sized furniture), and especially the barrel-scene. In this it's clear they've changed things so that rather than hidden inside closed barrels floating horizontally the dwarves are riding in barrels floating vertically and open on the top, so their heads and arms can stick out. This isn't how Tolkien described (or drew) the scene, but I understand the cinematic logic behind the change: closed barrels from which you might hear a muffled groan or shout is far less interesting to see than a barrel going down a rapid river with the actors at least partially in sight. So, that looks to be a changed scene, but not radically changed.

My favorite detail from the dvd extras: one props person explaining that they ran out of gold paint for Smaug's hoard, using up the entire available Asian supply and had to send to Germany for more.

There was something in the extras related to the computer games that gave me considerable pause, but since that's a tangential point I'll save it for another post.

--John R.











6 comments:

grodog said...

Good to hear about the extras, thanks John!

To be clear: the film version included in the DVD is the theatrical release vs. a director's cut/extended addition/with bonus scenes added to the theatrical release, correct? If so, have you heard anything about the timing of such a release?---I don't recall if they released the extended LOTR versions only after all three films were released, for example, or if they released the extended versions in between each film's DVD release?

Allan.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Allan.
Yes, this is the theatrical release; sorry if I didn't make that clear. The version I picked up has both a blue-ray disk and a standard dvd, with the Extras (some video blogs and trailers) being on a third disk.
Folks on the internet are certain there will be an extended edition, but I have not seen confirmation of that. Presumably it will come out around November/ December, as was their practice with the three LotR films.
--JDR

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David Bratman said...

When I talked with Judy Ann Ford at Valparaiso, she sounded pretty confident that there would be an extended edition. Since the theatrical version already goes through the book at a considerably slower page rate than even the extended editions of the LOTR movies did to their corresponding book, I find the prospect of an extended edition of The Hobbit rather astonishing. But it's Jackson's movie; he can do what he wants.

Magister said...

Ian McKellen mentioned in an interview that there'd be a new scene of Gandalf meeting Bilbo as a child (That's Bilbo as a child, not Gandalf ;) ). PJ also mentioned the Extended Version in some interview I saw online a while back.

Found this link also: http://www.hypable.com/2012/12/08/hobbit-unexpected-journey-extended-edition-run-time/

Doug Kane said...

Jackson has in fact confirmed that there will be an extended edition, and that it is likely to include 20-25 minutes of additional material.