Mr. Jackson's Christmas Gift


The original plan was to go back and do some posts on the cart-load of photos that have been released up to this point . . . but the first trailer was released last Tuesday and I decided commenting on it just couldn't wait. Of course, Christmas happened in between now and then, so I'm probably getting to this later than the rest of world, but hey–better late than never, right?

I won't call this post a "frame-by-frame" analysis . . . but I've gone through the trailer and selected what I thought were the most interesting/exciting/disappointing/intriguing things revealed. Rather than present the images in the order they appear in the trailer, I'll post and comment on them in their chronological order (as far as I can make it out, anyways). So, here goes:

1. Bilbo and Frodo

I have to admit, this is the part of the trailer and the upcoming movies that I'm struggling with the most. Pretty much the entire world is excited about the appearance of old characters like Frodo in the movies . . . and I get that–there's a sense of nostalgia that comes with seeing Frodo in his pre-crap-hits-the-fan Hobbit attire. But at the same time, part of me is screaming that the Hobbit wasn't a prequel. It was the original, the beginning of the story, and everything that comes after it just builds on what the Hobbit lays out. Using Frodo and Old Bilbo to introduce the story makes it feel like a prequel, and I don't like that. Now, I know there's some basis for doing it this way . . . after all, Bilbo wrote his adventures down in the Red Book and presumably that's how Frodo learned of his uncle's adventures (and us, since Tolkien was just 'translating' from the Red Book), but still . . . it doesn't feel quite right to me.

2. Bilbo Baggins

Here's the first close-up we get of Bilbo. He looks great, right down to his pipe. Nicely done. The look he's shooting at Gandalf is classic, kind of a "who is this guy and how long is he going to keep pestering me" sort of look.

One of the first bits of story expansion we get is this shot of Bilbo going to market. More than anything else, I expect this is a fun shot intended to help the audience establish a connection between the Shire as seen in FOTR and Bilbo's Shire in the Hobbit.

3. Gandalf the Gray

Classic Gandalf. There's been a lot of buzz about his staff, which is different from the original films (I'm gonna try really hard not to say "older films", just seems sort of disrespectful). Personally, I like the little detail, but I hope that not too much of a fuss is made about it, since its a Jackson detail and not a Tolkien detail. Last note: I love the mystery infused in Gandalf's voice as he invites Bilbo to join him on "an adventure".

4. An Unexpected Party

Here's Bilbo opening his door for the arriving (and unexpected) dwarves. Mostly I included this just for the look on his face. Classic. I don't plan on discussing casting choices too much, but I have to say, so far, Martin Freeman seems like the perfect (if slightly underweight) choice for Bilbo Baggins.

Dwarves tumbling through the hobbit-hole . . . one of my favorite scenes in the trailer, just because I think it shows that Mr. Jackson is trying to stay true to the spirit of the Hobbit, which is undeniably a lighter, more child-like story than the Lord of the Rings. One thing I find really interesting is that it looks like the dwarves arrive at Bag End during the night. In the book they arrive in the morning, several days after Gandalf had first appeared, Now, speaking of dwarves:


Fili. The most controversial of the dwarves 'cause he's "hot". Definitely my least favorite take on a dwarf so far, but I'm trying hard to withhold judgement. I'm glad he's using a bow . . . where the heck did this idea that dwarves can't use bows come from?

Oin. Is that a dwarf-made hearing-aid I see?

Gloin. Gimli's father covered in spider webs. They've done a great job of making him look a lot like Gimli from the original films. I've read different ideas on who's face that is in the small picture someone (Bilbo?) is holding on the left, the most popular being either Bilbo's father or Gimli. Judging from the small nose and distinct lack of beard, my money is on Bilbo's pa.

Dwalin. Is this our first glimpse of Goblin Town?

Balin. I can't explain why, but this guy is my favorite of the dwarves. Maybe its his severely drooping nose.

Bifur. Crazy hair and what looks to be an axe embedded in his forehead. Anybody got an explanation for that?

Bofur, dwarf of the Yukon.

Bombur. Second favorite dwarf, so far. This guy is captured perfectly. And, since apparently some people have never cooked before, that is a sausage he's holding.



Ori. Third favorite of the dwarves, and this time I definitely know why. Of all the dwarves, Ori's wardrobe most closely resembles what Tolkien describes in the book. More on that in a later post.

Thorin Oakenshield. Possibly the second least-dwarfy looking dwarf of the bunch, but I'm slowly getting acclimated. There's no denying his armor is sweet, but he should be older, in my humble opinion.

5. Misty Mountains Cold

Beautiful shot of Gandalf and the gathered dwarves, reminiscent of the shot in FOTR where Frodo enters Bag End to find Bilbo gone, the Ring on the floor and Gandalf whispering creepily to himself.

Finally, a new version of the dwarves' song. I can get the Rankin Bass one out of my head.

This shot does a great job of showing how emotional this quest is for the dwarves and Thorin in particular.

This shot might be why I like Balin so much. You can just see how the poor guy has been weighed down with cares and is being eaten up by the memory of all he's lost.

The segment with all the dwarves joining in the chant was awesome . . . that's about all I can say.

6. Chip the Glasses, Crack the Plates

Here Thorin is telling Gandalf that Bilbo's fate is not his problem. Some have complained that Thorin acts so cold towards Bilbo, but if you ask me, thats exactly how he acts towards the hobbit in the book.

The trailer gives us a glimpse of expanded conversation between Bilbo and Gandalf during the night of the party.

Do you think the dwarves will sing during this part? I sure hope so . . . just another opportunity to get the Rankin Bass songs out of my head.

Hmmm . . . I wonder whats happening during this image. Bilbo looks pretty proud of himself, which I don't remember from the book. Maybe the dwarves have just finished washing without breaking a single thing?

7. Bilbo catching up with the Dwarves

These scenes of Bilbo running through the Shire, trying to catch up to the dwarves are great. Notice the huge Contract he's carrying with him.

Two dwarves hauling the poor hobbit up? Apparently Bilbo can't get on a horse by himself.

This shot of Bilbo on his pony cracks me up. Not only does Bilbo clearly not know what he's doing, but by the looks of it, the dwarves have put him in charge of cooking. Probably not a bad choice, come to think of it . . .

8. The Troll Shaws

I'm a little surprised no one has caught this yet, or at least mentioned it. One of the biggest questions remaining about the Hobbit is whether or not the Trolls, Eagles and other animals will talk like they do in the books. Seems like people are split fifty-fifty, though I recently read this post on, in which the author predicts that none of the creatures will talk. Now, I think that'd be a tragedy . . . Tolkien made them talk, so they should talk. And, as evidence that the Trolls, at least, will talk, take a look at the image above. You can see one of the troll's face between the two center-most dwarves. Notice how human it looks compared to the cave troll in FOTR. It's got ears, a well-formed nose and pretty human-like teeth. That ugly nutter looks like a talker to me.

"Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!"

Bilbo claims Sting, and looks like he's seeing a whole new side of himself.

9. The Last Homely House

This scene looks awesome, but the fierce looking elves suggest that we'll see quite a departure from the way the dwarves enter Rivendell in the book. Could these two guys be Elrond's sons?

Bilbo explores a very familiar place.

The Shards of Narsil.

Two members of the White Council meet in Rivendell. This scene likely begins the set-up for the extra-textual parts of the movie (i.e., the parts that Tolkien only hinted at, but that Jackson is going to explore in more depth).

10. The Journey

Some part of the journey, pre-Goblin Town.

Some part of the journey, post-Goblin Town (note that our heroes are on foot now, not riding).

11. Riddles in the Dark

This scene gave me chills. Both actors executed it perfectly, and you could practically feel Bilbo's terror. I'll be interested to see how this whole part of the movie is handled. Because LOTR came first in the movie world, Gollum is already a huge character in the audience's mind, even though in the book he's not really more than an oddity.

12. Mirkwood

I can't really decide if this shot and the next are showing Mirkwood, or the forest and cave near the Troll's fire. If its Mirkwood, why is Gandalf still with them? If memory serves me right, the company reaches the eves of the forest during the day and Gandalf bids them farewell there without setting foot beneath the trees. On the other hand, if this is showing the cave near the troll's camp, why is there no door on the cave, and where are the ponies?

Beautiful shot. I can't wait to see this part in the movie. While I want the movie to stay as true to the book as possible, one area that I've always felt could benefit from more explanation and refinement is the nature of the One Ring when Bilbo finds it. In the Hobbit, the ring is basically just a trinket that helps Bilbo get out of tight spots, while in LOTR its the mother of all evil. This shot seems like an attempt to bridge the gap between the two versions of the ring. Here it looks like Bilbo, lost and weary and confused, has dropped the ring and has suddenly–despite the danger of his situation (note the huge webs)–realized the Precious is missing and that he needs to go back and pick it up. Oh man . . .

13. The Necromancer's Tower

Gandalf's travels through the Necromancer's domain in southern Mirkwood are only hinted at in the Hobbit and only slightly expanded on in LOTR. These movies will flesh out his travels and adventures. This shot above is awesome.

Here Gandalf is fighting . . . someone. Most people seem to think its Thrain, and I'm inclined to agree. Note the patterns on the dude's clothing (pretty dwarvish, if you ask me) and his distinctly none-orc looking face.


All in all, though there are a few things I'm worried about (Frodo and Old Bilbo, mostly), this trailer looks superb. The tone of the movie seems right, balancing the more light-hearted mood of the Hobbit with the slightly darker tones that a mostly adult audience, raised on the LOTR movies, has come to expect.

December can't get here fast enough.


  1. I'd agree with the points you brought up. My biggest issue is Thorin not having a huge beard. I understand Jackson's reasoning for making the dwarves as they are.

    Read the book, then try to distinguish one from another. They're all pretty much carbon copies of each other, so Jackson had to make them all as distinct as possible. But even then, Thorin should have a beard. Maybe go super ornate on it
    but still give him a beard!

  2. I agree completely. And, I've always thought the Warhammer artists do the best dwarf pictures anywhere :L

  3. My issues lie mainly in the lack of following the details given about the dwarves. Tolkien told us that a major sign of respect and wealth as well as wisdom comes from the length and quality of a beard. All of there well-wishes are regarding beards, wishing them that their beards never thin or fall out. They are a giant part of what makes a dwarf a dwarf. When Tolkien is describing hobbits he says that they are short, about half the size of a human, but not bearded like dwarves. I fell that if Thorin doesn't have a beard he won't seem like a symbol of respect among dwarves. He even mentions Thorin's beard in the book a few times; He trips on it, singes it, tucks it into his belt. I wish Jackson had included it. Also, he should be older. He just should. If Jackson wants us to fell like he should be respected and worthy of their praises then he should at least be as old as they are.

    At any rate, those minor inaccuracies in description of the dwarves are what get me. Tolkien spent the time and effort to assign them colours that haven't been followed and qualities that I feel could have been better represented. I realize some dwarves we don't get much on and can take liberties with them, but Thorin got too much description to be inaccurate.

    But this post is fantastic. I completely agree with your analysis on the ring; there does seem to be a gap that we don't understand where the ring is harmless in The Hobbit but the most evil of evils in LOTR. I don't mind. It would just be interesting to see how they try to incorporate it.

    1. Dr. Watson>>Thanks for the great comment! And yeah, I agree with you 100% Thorin should look older and have a much longer beard. I think you're right when you point out that Tolkien gave some key descriptions of the dwarves (hood and beard colors) that wouldn't have been all that hard to incorporate into the movie. I wish they would have . . .

  4. You confused Fili with Kili, just saying might wanna fix that one haha.