Like many fantasy fans out there, I was eager to see Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I had some misgivings, though, since he had had to condense the weighty Lord of the Rings in many ways to make it fit into three still-epic movies (which I enjoyed), and seemed to be doing the opposite with The Hobbit — a slight volume aimed at children — by expanding it into, well… three epic movies.
J.R.R. Tolkien may have created a vast fantasy world in which the footsteps of gods and monsters made its history tremble, but when it came down to the works he is best known for, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the choices that carried the most weight were ultimately made by some of the smallest people in it: hobbits.
Although Tolkien began his rich history, cosmology, languages, and geography of Middle-earth in the myths that would be published posthumously as The Silmarillion, he gave special attention when writing The Hobbit to a scene which could have been just one of many episodes in the story.
There are some lovely swirls as Shore conjures forth themes for the stern but beautiful people of Rohan with help from a Norwegian hardanger.
Beginning with a stirring choral piece sung in one of Tolkien’s Elvish languages, Howard Shore immerses the listener in Middle-earth. Rather than composing themes for each of the characters, as per John Williams leitmotifs, Shore adds atmosphere to a story already rich in history.
It’s just as well he eschews character-specific creations; at nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien’s cast was just getting started. The film’s score isn’t monolithic by any means.
Time has a way of changing your perspective on things, and favourite movies and books are no exception. The article below was originally published in 2004; and since then I’ve reread The Two Towers and rewatched the movie version. So rather than just tinker with this I decided to let it stand, with some second thoughts added in.
I still like both book and movie — but they are very, very different creatures.
Director Peter Jackson had a thankless task in adapting the second part of The Lord of the Rings for the big screen.
The difficulty lies in the fact that Tolkien originally intended The Lord of the Rings to be a single volume. His publisher balked at this; it was too much of a risk for a book whose only known audience consisted of readers of The Hobbit — in many ways a vastly different book. Thus the story was published in three volumes.