We’ve come full circle. For some people, the journey started in 2001 with Peter Jackson. For others, it was in 1977 with Ralph Bakshi. But that pales in comparison to those who saw the bright dawn of MiddleEarth in 1937. Generations have long passed, reading, rereading, and loving the magic; never to see it on silver screen. To us, this seems like a shame, but I have no doubt that the magic was just as real for them as it is for us today.
But no matter how you where brought into its company, MiddleEarth came into our lives much like the Grey Wizard, bidding us ‘Good Morning’. Before we knew it we where hosts to parties we weren’t aware of, characters we didn’t know, hatching plans, promises of treasure, tales of ancient evils long gone, whisked out the door on some crazy adventure. And all whilst cozy under the covers, tucked into a corner armchair, or front and center in the theater.
Honestly, I feel a comparison to the books is a fruitless effort. Tolkien’s works have always been of a spiritual nature, and this tone resonates within the film. The same pains, the same joys, sorrows and triumphs are felt, the grandeur of dwarven stone, the allure of dragon’s gold; for a moment, you’re there, and you realize just how small you are. A hobbit of sorts. Bilbo’s tale, is our tale.
We all live our day to day lives, wake up for school, punch the clock, care taking things at home, fitting our hobbies and pastimes in where we can before our heads hit the pillow to do it all again on the morrow. It’s routine. We live as hobbits, we can’t be bothered by any great adventure, we have our afternoon tea, gardens to weed, spoons to polish. But then life decides its our turn for ‘Good Morning’, and we find ourselves on an unexpected journey.
Far too often do we look back to our warm beds, familiar faces and our cozy places. We turn around and say ‘I can’t be a burglar , I’m just a hobbit!’ We go home. ‘Sure the treasure would be nice, but I’m fine where I’m at, thank you very much!’ It’s Tolkien’s way of saying there’s so much more without actually saying it. But it’s never the Grey Wizard or the dwarven king who saves the day, but the efforts of a small creature who came from a hole in some unknown place in the world. Tolkien’s way of saying it’s the little things that matter. The greatest evils are undone by the small acts of goodness we pass on to others. The Ring of Power was never large in stature.
Bilbo’s story is really one about life. As whimsical as it is, we are captivated, memorized even. It’s hard not to be. But Bilbo always finds a way, he’s our hero, he has to, and we love him for it. As he steps out into the world, his courage grows, and his companions come to depend on him. We do too, repeatedly going back to dust off our copies of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Simarillion. We want to see our personal rings of power destroyed so badly, if only we had a little bit of hobbit in us.
“If you should ever find yourself passing Bag End… Tea is at four. Don’t… don’t bother knocking.”
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is symbolically the most important film for all MiddleEarth; the metaphorical Arkenstone of it all. It is the ending film, no matter where you started. With it, the trilogy is over, bringing us back to the hole in the ground. For some it bears the first memories the first memories of a 111th birthday party, with fireworks never to be forgotten. Perhaps it serves best as the more polished version of what Bakshi tried to do back in the 70’s. But forever will it be the final hymn over those lost passed.
Put aside the disdain for fabricated characters, opinions of love triangles, and irregularities separate from the novels and what do you have? Something the entire audience can relate to. Friends are made along the way and lost. Memories scar, and heal. Never will we forget the fires of Mordor, the sting of a moraphon blade, or the feeling of being invisible. Nor should we, as long as we make it back home in one piece.