me + The Hobbit extended editions: The Desolation of Smaug

desolationofsmaug_250x375_r5Another night in the sweet spot of the cinema almost by myself — I actually thought I would be the only one in the room this time until the last five minutes, when seven others walked in. I remembered not to drink anything this time — because I really enjoyed the theater cut, there was already no point at which I could have contemplated easily walking out to go to the bathroom — since I knew it would be extremely long. And it was. I was almost relieved that the “special greeting” from Peter Jackson was the same one from the previous evening, just because it’s so short. I own the extended edition of this film, but for some reason I never watched it or even the cut material separately, only the extras. When I saw my department chair this morning, he said, “How was it?” and I said, “It’s like the Ring of the Nibelungs, it just goes on … and on … and on …” and he said, “So what did you think about it?” and I said, “I loved every moment.”

That’s true. I am still glued to every second of the longer version of the film, even though I feel the extended edition of The Desolation of Smaug largely confuses the film rather than making it more coherent (as opposed to An Unexpected Journey, which is humanized and made more narrative and amusing in its full version). It’s a stronger film than AUJ in that it doesn’t have that dead spot right in the middle. But in Jackson’s reading of the Hobbit story in DOS, there are two stories going on — the tragedy of the line of Durin, and the dwarves’ desperate attempt to get to Erebor by Durin’s Day. The theater cut prioritized the latter at the expense of the former, downplaying or cutting the sections of the film that clarified Thorin’s worry about his father and his father’s concern about him as well as cutting a number of the funnier, more childlike moments of the film, in favor of the action / adventure triumph theme. I think this film could be even more moving than it is if it were cut to prioritize the Durins’ story line (which would make the development of Thorin’s madness much more coherent and less choppy) and cut down the action / adventure — but the extended edition is both and thus neither.

And yet, I’ll watch every second of it. It was glorious to see the barrel scene and the last hour of the film on the big screen again.

Thrain (Antony Sher) wants Thorin (Richard Armitage) to stay out of the thick of battle at Moria, in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I suppose this was green screen and they were in separate rooms but I wonder if they reminisced about Macbeth?

Thrain (Antony Sher) wants Thorin (Richard Armitage) to stay out of the thick of battle at Moria, in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I suppose this was green screen and they were in separate rooms but I wonder if they reminisced about Macbeth?

And the theater cut really needs the moment when Bilbo vouches for Thorin’s honor in Esgaroth. That scene adds an important dimension to understanding Bilbo’s motivation and reactions to Thorin’s illness and ill-fated decisions in the third film.

But I digress, because these are all critical judgments and not emotional responses. I did find myself crying again — particularly at the beginning, when Thorin’s belief that his father lives is so insistent and yet apparently so unfounded, and then again when Thrain tells Gandalf that Thorin must never go near Erebor, and asks Gandalf to let Thorin know that he loved him. My responses to those moments were more an intersection of my own issues at the moment than a reaction to the performances per se, but I love that the film targeted these themes. I found myself laughing out loud at the way the dwarves make it into Beorn’s house and then again Bofur’s misunderstanding and the gradual egress of the dwarves from Beorn’s house. I was just as moved — perhaps more moved than in the past — by Thorin’s declarations in the western guardroom. I love the ingeniousness and the derring-do of the scenes that begins in the forges and ends with the melting of the golden figure in the Gallery of the Kings, and I love how the dwarves work together to accomplish their goal. And I am chilled by Bilbo’s last glance out toward Esgaroth and his final question: “What have we done?” It’s impossible for me to list everything I love about this film.

In the end, this time I stayed to sing along with Ed Sheeran as the credits rolled. “I See Fire” is probably my favorite Hobbit film song — it seems to carry such deep meaning for me. Swing your sword one more time, Thorin — every time I see you circle with Orcrist, your grace and power leave a frisson behind it. Sing me another chorus, Mr. Jackson. Encore, encore.

~ by Servetus on October 9, 2015.

9 Responses to “me + The Hobbit extended editions: The Desolation of Smaug”

  1. My theatre had only seven as well. I had only seen the extended scenes on line, so I was blown away by the new material. Loved the father-son relationship, Beorn’ s house and especially Bilbo’ s vouching for Thorin in Laketown. I wish it had been released that way. No crying for me. Saving up for the last farewell. Actually, I am hoping repeated viewing of Thorin’ s demise on HBO will make it easier to watch. But I doubt it.


  2. I truly hope there will be a better turn-out for the final installment… we had just 2, then a 3rd showed up half-way in. I didn’t get teary in this one the way I did on AUJ. In fact, I was much more acutely angry with Thorin than when I initially saw the movie in 2013, for all the promises I know he’ll break.


    • That’s a good point. I also think there aren’t so many teary moments here — the film in the extended cut doesn’t seem to know what it wants and sort of undercuts its own power by following too many stories at once.


  3. I think part of the lack of attendance was the lack of advertising. When I bought my ticket for next week’s BOTFA showing, I didn’t know about the other showings until later. The distributors and Fathom (or whoever) have only themselves to blame.
    I have the EE versions of AUJ & DOS and loved the extended scenes with Thrain. Plus both films made much more sense in the extended versions. So looking forward to next Tuesday to see what Jackson included.


    • I agree, advertising was miserable. I should have seen this all over the place and I think I saw the ad only twice. Then, when I called the theater to confirm they were doing an EE of AUJ (because their ad didn’t say that), they denied they were doing it!


  4. I think you said in the other post this was not in 48fr , what a pity as it was only in 48fr that i was for once convinced of the 3D as well, it just made sense.
    I liked this too but it felt like a bit of a transition movie, i think you are right about it not having such a clear feeling about it like AUJ, things really only made sense for me once i saw AUJ, i could really attach myself sentimentally to the story, pick my camp so to speak 😉
    It’s probably the reason i didn’t fall for RA when i saw DOS which is the only thing of his i had seen before the Crucible, i was too ambivalent about Thorin, didn’t like him much at time and at all in others. And i just was never too drawn into the little man adventures of the hobbit himself 🙂 While i sympathised with the journey of the dwarves there were too many things in this one i disliked about their actions. And without the background of the first i just couldn’t put all my heart into it. And it was the first time i saw anything in 3D and all that.
    I saw it in a completely different light last year when i finally got a chance to do the trilogy, i am so glad i went for it as it changed things completely for me.


    • No, it wasn’t, but I’m guessing that they looked at the number of advance tickets sold and decided not to use those projectors. (Guessing, I stress.)

      I think to sympathize with Thorin much you have to have seen the last third of AUJ. He starts DOS off slightly crazy and only gets crazier. They all get increasingly desperate (not surprisingly).

      I’m really happy I saw BOTFA as part of the trilogy, too, even though it was a pain to arrange. I do think that’s how PJ has been thinking of them all along.

      re: transition movie, that was the way The Two Towers felt to me, as well. Kind of “how do we get from here to there?”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes i too hope we’ll get to see all 3 again sometime, it feels like a complete story when seen like that. I know people have had criticisms and such but since i’ve gone back to the movies for some stuff in years i found myself with little to see and the more stuff i see the more appreciation i have for the Hobbit for example.


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