There and Back Again; Or, How do you get 2 movies from 1 book?

So just how, you might ask, is Peter Jackson possibly going to make two movies out of one book? You might also ask why he'd want to do that, but I don't really have an answer for that . . . although I expect New Line and Warner Bros. making more money has something to do with it. But the first question is most definitely answerable, and I, good reader, am about to reveal all. Or most of all, at least.

It won't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with The Hobbit (the book, I mean) that during Bilbo's grand adventure, Gandalf keeps disappearing . . . usually right when he'd be the most help. As mysterious as that may seem, the book does give us some hints about where the wizard was sneaking off to and what he was doing. What's more, the Appendices at the end of the ROTK fill in a lot of details about the double-life Gandalf was leading during the events of the Hobbit.

Various leaks and hints from cast and crew have revealed that The Hobbit will be expanded into two stories by including and elaborating on the busy-work that kept dragging Gandalf away from Thorin & Co. in the book. And this is where things get interesting. More after the break!

An Unexpected Party: Bilbo, Bifur, Dwalin, Bofur and Oin

Here's the newest picture from The Hobbit, featuring the Master of Bag End and several uninvited guests. This newest image comes to us from MOVIEtalk on Yahoo! Movies, and is a great look at Bilbo interacting with the dwarves.

Oin's hearing-horn cracks me up every time I see it. And I just can't get over the fact that Bifur has something lodged in his cranium. How the heck is this guy still walking around? Was it a mining accident? An orc attack? Or something else?

Fridays at the Mathom-House: Magali Villeneuve

The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a ‘mathom’.
–The Fellowship of the Ring; Prologue 

Friday is here and superb Middle-Earth art has arrived! Today we'll be showcasing the Lord of the Rings artwork of Magali Villeneuve. All of the art on display today comes from the new Lord of the Rings Card Game by Fantasy Flight Games. And if you're interested in seeing more of Magali's work once you've looked through what we have here, head on over to her blog to see a bunch of other amazing artwork.

There's a ton of pictures here, so I'm not gonna comment on each and everyone. Instead, I'll just give a brief overview of why I like this artist so much. First and foremost, Magali has real talent . . . her art looks good enough to be included in a Tolkien book, which you don't see often these days. Second, Magali's artwork is filled with detail, which is what first caught my eye. Just look at Bifur, below. There's scrollwork on his hood, breath misting in the air, and his axe looks good enough to have come straight from the armories of the Lonely Mountain.

All in all, these images are good stuff. Enjoy!

Bifur of Erebor

Bilbo Baggins, Burglar Extraordinaire

I probably owe the world an apology. So far, this blog has focused a whole lot on Thorin and his dwarves, and hasn't talked much about anything else (except Trolls, trailers and wizards who aren't falling in love), when in fact the hero of our story is most definitely not a dwarf (or a troll or wizard). Yes, it's about time we sit down and take a good look at the protagonist of this whole affair: a certain Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End, Hobbiton.

Bilbo Baggins, Esquire

Now, call me crazy, but I really like the animated version of Bilbo. My first exposure to this version of our esteemed Hobbit was from books-on-tape that my grandma had. I practically wore the tapes out listening to the story of Bilbo the Burglar over and over, and I was fascinated by the drawings of hobbits and dwarves, wizards and trolls, and especially the Dragon. And you know what? I still like the animated version. Not sure why . . . call it nostalgia, I guess.

Anyways, there's a new Bilbo on the block, take a gander after the break:

Galadriel and Gandalf: A Not So Romantic Story

Can I complain about something? Ever since the teaser trailer for The Hobbit came out last December, people have been freaking about the scene where Gandalf and Galadriel are standing on some balcony in Rivendell, and Galadriel reaches out and touches Gandalf's hair. The scene can't be more than three seconds long, but people are reading all kinds of innuendo into it.

Gandalf and Galadriel in the Trailer

*Gasp! Is Peter Jackson going to have Gandalf and Galadriel fall in love? That never happens in the book! WHAT CAN HE BE THINKING???

To find out if these two old folks are really about to "share a moment" read on:

Linking The Hobbit to LOTR: Peter Jackson's Take

Here's a quick interview by MTV with The Hobbit director, Peter Jackson. A lot of folks have been wondering what the style of the new Hobbit films will be like . . . are they going to stick close to the book and have a lighter, more humorous tone than the Lord of the Rings books and movies? Or will Peter Jackson try and tie the style of these new movies to the feel that was established in the original films?

In my opinion, the teaser trailer feels like a good mix of both . . . there is clearly more singing and humor than in the original films, but it still feels like the Middle-Earth we were introduced to on the big screen almost eleven years ago. But don't take my word for it . . . here's the director's own thoughts on the subject:

Fridays at the Mathom-House: Otis Frampton

The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a ‘mathom’.
–The Fellowship of the Ring; Prologue 

Friday! Another week is over, the weekend is looming and its time to head on over to take a pit-stop here at the Mathom-House, where there's a whole lot of awesome-ness in a hole in the ground to celebrate! This week we'll be looking at the Hobbit/LOTR artwork of Otis Frampton. I stumbled on this guy's work a few months ago and couldn't get over just how good it is. His art has an amazing, stylized look, yet the details don't suffer for it. Frampton also does a great job of imbuing his images with atmosphere. Take a look for yourself:

Bilbo and the Dragon

The thing I like best about this first image is the sheer size of Smaug . . . the guy is HUGE, and Frampton did a great job of making the dragon's tail disappear into the haze of the chamber. Like I mentioned above, effects like that lend a sense of depth and atmosphere that make this picture really fun.

More great art after the break:

The Strange History of Thror's Key

"Also," went on Gandalf, "I forgot to mention that with the map went a key, a small and curious key. Here it is!" he said, and handed to Thorin a key with a long barrel and intricate wards, made of silver. "Keep it safe!"
––The Hobbit; Ch. 1: An Unexpected Party; p29

It's easy to forget that in the beginning, the quest to the Lonely Mountain depended entirely on a single key and a secret door that the Dragon didn't know about. In fact, without the key, Bilbo wouldn't have been able to get into the mountain, Smaug never would have been ticked off enough by the little hobbit to fly out and attack Lake Town, and Bard the Bowman wouldn't have had the chance to shoot him (did I mention that there would be spoilers?).

So what is this all important key, and where did it come from? That, good reader, is what we'll be talking about today.

The quote above describes the moment when Gandalf first produces the key and gives it to Thorin (who, as usual, is the picture of gratitude). Along with the key came a map, a copy of which is posted right after the break:

To Talk or Not to Talk: Should Trolls Even Ask that Question?

Almost since it was announced that there would be a Hobbit movie, there's been a lot of speculation about whether or not the Trolls, Eagles and animals would talk like they do in the book, or whether they'd be like the Trolls and Eagles in the LOTR movies . . . non-speaking, in other words. People seem to be pretty divided in their opinions, with Tolkien purists asking "How on earth could they not speak if they do in the books?" and the movie-lovers complaining that making the Trolls and what not talk would make the new movies too different from the original trilogy . . . too juvenile, I guess.

So, the big question is, are the Trolls gonna be more like this:

Bert (or maybe Tom . . . or possibly Bill)

Or more like this:

The Cave Troll

Read on after the break, where there'll be more cool pics and some compelling evidence:

Fridays at the Mathom-House: Turner Mohan

The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a ‘mathom’.
–The Fellowship of the Ring; Prologue 

Friday is here, its the end of the week, and to make it just that much better for you, a new weekly post series is starting up! Welcome, good reader, to the Mathom-House! Each Friday I'll feature the work of a new artist who's turning out particularly fantastic work focusing on Middle-Earth and its inhabitants.

This first week, we'll be looking at the excellent pencil-work of Turner Mohan. Turner has done some awesome renditions of several dwarves, an elf, Bilbo, Beorn and Smaug. You can find more of Turner's work at DeviantArt, or at his personal website.

Balin and Bilbo

Both Balin and Bilbo are rendered extremely well in the image above, but its the little details that I like best: the thrush perched on Balin's axe and Bilbo cupping his hands around something. In fact, I think Bilbo steals the show here, despite Balin's stunning armor . . . this has to be one of the best interpretations of the Burglar I've seen.

More awesome drawings after the break:

Fleshing Out the Company: Thorin Oakenshield

At last we come to the great dwarf himself, the mover and shaker of this whole affair, the heir of Durin the Deathless, leader of the Longbeards, renowned warrior and general ruckuss-maker, Thorin Oakenshield:
. . . and also a sky-blue one with a long silver tassel. This last belonged to Thorin, an enormously important dwarf, in fact no other than the great Thorin Oakenshield himself
–The Hobbit; Ch. 1: An Unexpected Party; p. 18 

From the get go, I'd better come clean and admit that I like the looks of the cartoon Thorin better. He's got the blue beard and his nose is, well . . . huge, just like a dwarf's nose should be. But, there are some cool things about the movie Thorin as well. Read on, after the break:

Fleshing Out the Company: Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur

Just four more dwarves to go, and we'll have a complete crew (not counting a certain Mr. Baggins, of course, who we have yet to review). Next up are three dwarves who seem to have come from a slightly . . . different background, then all the others we've reviewed so far. It looks like this difference is going to be played up in the movie, but for a starting reference, lets hear from Tolkien himself:
Bifur, Bofur and Bombur were descended from Dwarves of Moria but were not of Durin's line.
–The Return of the King, App. A: Durin's Folk,  p. 361 (see footnote)

These three are not, in other words, royalty, and they stand alone in Thorin's Company, since the rest of the dwarves are all of Durin's direct line and closely related to Thorin himself. So, what do normal dwarves do with their time? Find out, Brave Reader, after the break:

Fleshing Out the Company: Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin and Gloin

[His] bell rang again, as if some naughty little hobbit-boy was trying to pull the handle off. 'Someone at the door!' he said, blinking. 'Some four, I should say by the sound,' said
Fili. 'Be-sides, we saw them coming along behind us in the distance.'
 . . . Then the bell rang again louder than ever, and he had to run to the door. It was not four after all, it was FIVE.
–The Hobbit; Ch. 1: An Unexpected Party; p. 17 

You read right, Kind Reader! After the souped-up Fili and Kili trot into Bilbo's hobbit hole, not one, not two, but five dwarves show up all at once. And who might these five be, you ask? Well, assuming you've already forgot the title of this post, I'll give you a hint as to who one of them is:

Enough of a hint for you? Who might the other four uninvited dwarves be? Find out, after the break.

Fleshing Out the Company: Fili and Kili

Well, this is the review I was reluctant to do . . . but Fili and Kili showed up at Bag End right after Dwalin and Balin, so review them I shall. After all, there are some positive things to say about these guys, so it's not going to be all that bad. Really. I promise.

Let's start this post out with a look at how Tolkien described these two younger dwarves:

It was two more dwarves, both with blue hoods, silver belts, and yellow beards; and each of them carried a bag of tools and a spade.
–The Hobbit; Ch. 1: An Unexpected Party; pp. 16-17

After reading the author's description, I have to admit that the Rankin and Bass cartoon did a decent job of portraying these guys. They've got the the blue hoods (though I don't see any silver bells) and the yellow beards, and I guess those little pouches they're carrying could be bags of tools . . . though they must be pretty small tools. All in all, I like the way these two dwarves look. Of course, they're nothing like what's coming right after the break . . .

Fleshing Out the Company: Dwalin and Balin

Over the next couple of posts I'll be looking at the members of Thorin's Company (excluding our estimable hobbit, for the time being), evaluating the movie's take on the dwarves and looking at how these dwarves compare to Tolkien's descriptions in the Hobbit. Oh, and just so you know, I'll be introducing the dwarves in the order they appear in the book, not in the order their movie photos were released.

Since I'll be quoting the book from time to time, I'll just mention that the copy I'm using is The Hobbit (Green Leatherette Collector's Edition) from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1973). For consistency's sake I'll stick to this edition, so take that into consideration when I mention page numbers.

All right, on to the good stuff–