Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Battle of the Five Armies

Well, I went to see the last Hobbit with a group of twelve Dwarves people. The previous one left me feeling quite disappointed, so my expectations had been reset. I was going to tolerate Tauriel, deviations from the book story, and silly over-the-top action sequences. With that mindset, the movie was rather entertaining (though it does not show any promise of becoming a classic). Still, leaving out pointless gripes, there are a few fundamental criticisms I have about the movie qua Tolkien adaptation:

1) Galadriel. In the book, Galadriel is an Elf-lady of great power, but her power lies in the preservation of Lothl√≥rien, the understanding of souls, and foretelling. In the movie, Galadriel is the White Council’s weapon of offence; she single-handedly drives Sauron away from Dol Guldur, while Saruman and Elrond are battling Ringwraiths (with swords – again, compare the nature of the battle between Finrod and Sauron). While expelling Sauron, she morphs into Galadriel the Green, becoming the horror that she refused to become in The Lord of the Rings. It seems odd that Galadriel should resist temptation in the original movie, but surrender to it in the prequel.

I was reminded of Tolkien’s words that upon the Virgin Mary ‘my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded’. Galadriel was a type of Mary in The Lord of the Rings; in The Hobbit, she is neither majestic nor simple, and hence not beautiful. She degrades herself because the males around her are not sufficiently equipped to handle Mystic Warfare.

2) At the end of the movie, Gandalf tells Bilbo that surely he doesn’t suppose all his escapes were due to pure luck. This could have been a wonderful oblique reference to Providence, like in the books. Unfortunately, Gandalf doesn’t stop there and tells Bilbo that he knows about the Ring. In this way, the hint at the mysterious harmony of history dissolves into a grudging tribute to cleverness plus gadgets (the sort of thing that produced The Hobbit – sorry, couldn’t resist).

3) Gandalf and Bilbo part ways in great friendship, without sentimentality. Unfortunately, Bilbo doesn’t stop there, but turns around and lies to Gandalf about the Ring. Again, -1 for the Hobbit innocence so beautifully described in the books. How is Bilbo supposed to survive sixty years of handling the Ring with his spiritual resilience intact?

Well, that was all. Not so bad now, was it? Here is a guardedly positive review of a professorial Tolkien devotee (and specialist in 10th-century English). If you want more complaints, get you to the Plaza and read the litany of Aigronding Mordagnir. The text is white and will become visible on being selected.