me + the Hobbit extended editions: An Unexpected Journey

I was in a generally teary mood yesterday and so I cried at the theater, too. Another one of those weird conjunctions between life and art had manifested, and I had thought a great deal about journeys during the day.

I didn’t cry because of the attendance, although they told me they had only sold seven advance tickets for the showing (and there ended up being something like fifteen people in 124-seat room, which has to have been a disappointment for the promoters. I was there early anticipating a line to enter and cosplayers and there was nothing of the kind). I think that because of that I laughed less than I might have with a bigger audience. For me, though, it was neat to sit in the sweet spot of the theater and feel very alone with the film, as if all of that art had been created just for me. The “special greeting” from Peter Jackson was kind of lame — it was essentially just, “thanks for coming to the film.”

I cried — I don’t know. For the journey? The one that the dwarves were on, certainly. I think I’ve become so involved in their fates myself, even beyond my identifications with Thorin Oakenshield as a character, that I’ve become very sensitive to their homelessness, their ragtag quality, but also to their sheer perseverance and refusal to abandon each other. It’s more than anxious attachment now; rather, it’s become love, and inevitably, grief. Now that I’ve seen the end of the trilogy, I’m much more conscious that this is just as much “Thorin’s last journey,” as it is an unexpected journey for Bilbo, aware that I know something about Thorin fate that he doesn’t know at this point, and which makes his struggles more poignant to me.

I looked through this blog and think I never posted about the effect that the extended edition of this film had on me. At three hours and five minutes (I didn’t stay for all the credits), it’s too long, still — but at the same time, I feel like the extended edition humanizes the film a great deal. We get more cameos of several of the dwarves, for instance. The singing of the Goblin King restores humor to the narrative at a very dramatic moment and makes the film more childlike — one of the chief critique points of those who viewed the film as a whole negatively. We see the fauntling Bilbo; we get a better sense of the vibe in the Shire. The world is fleshed out more fully. I am left in a quandary about which version I enjoy more, for I do like the dramatic pace of the theater version as well. In the end, I always resolve the problem by going to the bathroom during the White Council scenes, and I did that again this time. And I continue to watch with rapt attention during the fight scene as the dwarves escape Goblin Town. Maybe I’m crying for that — that my opportunities to see that on the big screen in all its glory will be rare in the future. I will have to seek them out. I still feel like I discover new moments every time I see those sequences.

Also, the extended edition holds that particular scene where Bilbo eavesdrops on Elrond and Thorin notices Bilbo eavesdropping and we see him react as Elrond notes Thorin’s heritage of madness. This moment is tremendously heartbreaking — and also sets up the tragedy of the later chapters more effectively. Here, again, I found myself crying — for Thorin? for me? I wonder if we will ever see the scene Armitage referred to where Thorin explains to Bilbo what it was like to grow up inside a mountain. But this moment is also valuable for the way that it inserts Thorin’s vulnerability back into the story.

The scene mentioned above. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins.

The scene mentioned above, in the extended edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins.

The film is so rich — there is so much to see — and the extended edition displays Jackson’s churrigueresque qualities as filmmaker, his need to overdecorate every scene, often to the breaking point, his control freak tendencies. But I’ve bought in, so in the words of the German hymn, ich kann mich nicht satt sehen — I can’t see myself full, or I can’t see enough to satisfy myself. I am always looking for more, wanting to see more, understand more of this film. The sheer richness of the film overwhelmed me and reminded me of everything I still want to think about — rejoice in.

The miraculousness of the dwarves’ ongoing survival — as I watched it this time — underlined their vulnerability for me. What I used to sense in the final confrontation in this film between Thorin and Azog (I see I never published that post, either — I’ve got work to do! and seeing Richard Armitage work makes me want to work again, as well) is now heightened. Because I’m aware of the short thread of Thorin’s life, I see more acutely the pressure he feels toward the end of the film — his awareness that it is now or never, that now is the point at which he needs to confront his fears, even if he is smaller, more vulnerable, and outnumbered.

He steps up to face his destiny, bring it what it may. This, too, made me cry.

~ by Servetus on October 7, 2015.

30 Responses to “me + the Hobbit extended editions: An Unexpected Journey”

  1. I saw the AUJ EE in the movie theaters too. There was a pitifully small audience, but like you, I was glad to be able to have the movie all to myself (and my son, who came with me).
    I didn’t cry, but I felt satisfied — the extended edition is the “real” version for me, and I felt as if I’d seen the movie properly for the first time. The whole thing, as it ought to be, in the theater and not on my little laptop.
    We’re going to see the DOS EE tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it.
    Sometimes I wish that I could see it again, see the whole trilogy again, for the first time. I know it too well now. I wish the excitement could be new again, but that feeling is tempered by knowing that it’s there. It will always be there for me from now on.
    After the BOTFA EE is shown, I’ll put the whole trilogy away for a few years. Like with my favorite books, when I come back to it I know I’ll marvel at it again.

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    • I’m always bothered by this … by knowing too much. Also the releases of these films, seeing the “whole” film after seeing part of it, really confuses stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I got teary eyed a few times as well last night. The extended version is well worth it just for the scene you mentioned, where Bilbo and Thorin overhear Elrond’s discussion of the madness and questionable trustworthiness of the Durin line… heartbreaking! I teared up there, and every time the concept of the dwarves not having a home/not belonging anywhere came up. And when Thorin fell at the end, I teared up because it brought back the inevitable ending. For some reason, even though I like Kili and Fili (a lot!) and their fate is tragic, too… they still fill me with smiles. Thorin on the other hand makes my eyes well up with tears. I never considered myself in love with Thorin, despite my appreciation of the fine job Armitage did portraying him… until I saw that new scene in Rivendale. Something just clicked there and I realized I somehow just adore him. What you said- that vulnerability… rarely something Thorin ever shows. These showings will be my first time to see the EE’s of any of the Hobbit films.

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    • I really wish we had the scene I referred to above — Armitage is the only one who’s ever mentioned it. I think that would fill out the picture of the vulnerable, wanting Thorin.

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  3. I attended a screening with a maximum of 7 people in the audience. There was a filmed Hobbit trivia quiz for five to ten minutes prior to PJ’ s thank you. Sat with pop Thorin on my lap for company. I did not get teary but I Was overwhelmed with trying to absorb all the beautiful details that disappear on a small screen (even if it is a high Def 60 inch.) I am familiar with the added material but what struck me last night was the flashback to Erebor. Thranduil has the jewels he desires practically snatched out if his grasp with the lid of the jewel chest slammed in his face. For less than a second young Thorin looks shocked at his grandfather’s rude behaviour. To me, it planted the first foreshadowing Thorin knew his life in the mountain was not going to be easy. If Smaug had not come, insanity would have claimed his grandfather and perhaps even himself. In a way his exIile saved him from that. But his determination to lead his people back to the mountain despite his doubts about how it might affect him is heroic. Like Frodo he set out to save his home, but not for himself. I will see DOS tomorrow. Thorin is my date.

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    • That same moment hit me, too, and I thought, I had forgotten that Thorin was that emotional. Also, I noticed this time that he has braids in his beard when he’s fighting the dragon in Erebor …

      This is a good point you make about the exile saving him (hits home for me) and I think that is really underlined by the second film, where Thrain insists that Thorin must never go anywhere near Erebor.

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  4. Thank you for describing your experience. I have been eagerly waiting for impressions of the EE experience in the cinema from people who are lucky enough to have that available to them. I was going to rant and rave why they are not showing the extended cut in cinemas in Europe, but I am getting the reason why – (to my surprise) it doesn’t seem draw the crowds. Who would’ve thought?
    So, just for clarification: the EE shown in the cinema is identical with the EE DVD? So no new stuff (apart from PJ’s message to the audience)? Well, I guess I can put on the DVD again, then. Mind you, watching it on the big screen has much more impact than on the box in the living room. And I wouldn’t mind having that experience, one last time… And with the added benefits of hindsight, of knowing the trajectory of Thorin’s story arc (as interpreted by PJ). I can easily see how that has had an impact on your emotional response to the film. When we saw it in the cinema for the first time, i.e. when it came out, I bet our emotions were influenced by the great joy of finally seeing the film (and Richard as Thorin) after anticipating it for such a long time…
    Looking forward to hearing you describe how DOS and BOTFA fared in the EE. I have seen neither extended versions of instalment 2 and 3 yet – never bought the DVDs. At this point, I am waiting for the ultimate TH EE box set 😀

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    • Thank you for describing/telling of your experiences – all of you. I’m with Guylty on this one – somewhat miffed that the EE of all three movies are not shown in Europe – so please enjoy it for all of us 🙂

      I’m looking forward to the BOFA EE DVD. I got the first two for Christmas (a gift to my son ;-)) But nothing beats the whole movie-going experience; nothing beats the 3D on the big screen, and if you’ve got IMAX on top of it, nothing beats that.

      When I watched BOFA in December, the hurried feel to the story annoyed me slightly. I felt there was something missing. Hopefully, that’s remedied in the EE, and those three EEs constitute the ‘real’ films to me. Nevertheless, not on the big screen here – sadly.

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      • Unfortunately for me, these are being shown here in 24 fps 2D. I think that’s a shame for AUJ, because I think that was the film that best used the HFR technology — but I didn’t miss it at all on DOS.

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    • I think the first four times I watched AUH in the theater I was just so thrilled about Armitage’s reappearance. It really was like that (along with relief that the film was so good — there was a certain amount of fear there, as if for one’s own child).

      But yeah, so far this is turning out to be non-event. My impression is that it was poorly advertised. I should have seen it referred to in a number of places and I didn’t.

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  5. Beautiful essay! The THAUJ film–and the whole trilogy–resonated with me about the themes of displaced persons, thwarted dreams, and inescapable destiny.
    P.S. And I had to laugh at your “exit points for breaks”. Mine was riddles in the dark. I’m ducking now

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  6. […] her full essay, please visit her link): https://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/me-the-hobbit-extended-editions-an-unexpected-journey/ Grati: Beautiful essay! The THAUJ film–and the whole The Hobbit trilogy–resonated with […]

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  7. I saw “them” too, AUJ and DOS EE…Our theater was full both times, but Warner Brothers did no advance ads anywhere other than a couple of months ago..Like you, I cried as soon as Gandalf opened the door in AUJ and at the start of DOS last night…Not sure why, but thank the Lord my hubby was prepared with extra hankies and tissues…..I am not sure how I am going to get through BOFA EE next week….It was hard enough the first time around…..Some scenes will be great to see, others not so much…Heading to the tavern afterward with other fellow “Hobbiteers” was an experience as well……support in numbers I guess at taking the journey One Last Time 😦

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    • WB isn’t promoting this, as far as I know — it’s a company called Fathom Events. I’m glad your theater was full, though!

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  8. Loved reading your post by the way 🙂

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  9. Comme tout rongeur je grignote et amoncelle des provisions pour l’hiver .
    As every rodent I nibble and accumulate reserves for winter .

    Ce que je souhaiterais exprimer par cette allégorie , est que toutes les EE doivent être considérées comme des objets de grande valeur , qui ne doivent ni avoir des scènes boycottées , ni être parcourues en diagonale .
    What I would like to express through this allegory, is that all the EE must be considered as high-value objects, which must neither be boycotted , nor be skimmed through .
    Bientôt elles seront avec les annexes les seuls témoignages de ce travail de titan ( PJ , dessinateurs , acteurs etc…) auprès desquels nous pourront nous ressourcer .
    Soon they will be with Annexes the only evidences of this titanic task ( Peter J, draftsmen, actors etc.) beside of which we can get fresh ideas , with which we can recharge our batteries..
    So I cried , i cry and i shall cry … but also I laugh .

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    • et j’espère pouvoir partager ces expériences
      we have to spread the Hobbit knowledge

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    • Luckily for us there will be a lot to nibble on!

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      • Perhaps a lot , but will they be well : always eatable , or of great value , not lost in a forgotten hiding place , destroyed by predators or person not interested ?

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      • Un gland de chêne ou une noisette oubliée dans une cachette peut par la suite germer et donner un nouvel arbre . Est-ce transposable ou comparable à de la métaphysique , de l’alchimie dans l’art du cinéma ?
        An acorn or hazelnut forgotten in a hiding may subsequently germinate and give new trees. Is it transferable or comparable to metaphysics, alchemy in the art of cinema?

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  10. I have seen no promotion of this here, and I think tha because these are three hour movies being shown on a “school night” doesn’t help. If they had better promoted them, and shown them on a weekend, there would have been larger audiences. That being said, I’ll be at the BOTFA showing on Tuesday. Jackson really needs to redeem himself with the ending of that film.

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  11. I like the way you out it, i’ll always have regrets about having discovered the Hobbit only with DOS and then not really focused enough.I remember more than a year later, sometime before BOTFA finally seeing it online and thinking wow… The story and the characters have everything to pull me in, in mean the story of the dwarves and their leader. The misfortunes, the loneliness, the resilience, the courage, the determination, the flaws are all there and i wish i could have had that start into the journey.. I agree with what you point out. I was holding off seeing any of the EE because i was hoping to get to see them in the cinema.
    I’ve sadly lost that hope now, what with the extremely low attendance.. it is quite a shock considering last December i sat all 6 times or more in absolutely packed cinemas and i hardly managed to get tickets for the Imax at all..
    Seems i’ll have to go on the journey alone this time in front of my TV.. at least i have upgraded that but it is not quit the same. Silly me for getting on board way to late 😦

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    • I think that there will probably be marathon showings in specialty theaters again in a few years, when all the ire over these films has died down and people can look at them absent their resentment of PJ.

      Liked by 1 person

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