The Big Picture: Is The Hobbit Too Long?

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I found this Big Picture extremely confusing, because Bob didn't even bring up the previous adaptation of the Hobbit, which told the story in only 90 minutes. (He must be aware of it, he used stills from it.) And in discussing if the story was too long, he didn't bring up all the added bits, such as the Necromancer story-line, which could have been cut. By not addressing these two points, it makes his argument that, "It's not too long" a superficial one.

I'm in the camp of thinking the movie ran a big too long, mostly because in the last 40 minutes I kept thinking every 10 minutes "Okay, this has to be the final scene," and then another event would go down. It started to feel incredibly drawn out to me, even if they are potentially important scenes.

Though, I don't care what anyone says, I viewed giving the pale orc more of an impact and character to be really stupid.

Lord Hosk:

MetalMagpie:

Lord Hosk:
There are only 12 dwarves, Fili Kili Thorin Dwalin Ori Gloin Nori Dori Oin Bombur and Balin make for 11, Bifur Bofur are the same dwarf everyone just kept forgetting if it was a I or a O in his name and called him by both names, even Tolkin screwed this up but no one wanted to admit their mistake, Good catch Bob.

Really? I always thought the entire reason for Bilbo coming along was that there were 13 dwarves! As I remember it, they don't want to have a party of 13 because it's an unlucky number. Gandalf isn't part of their party (as he isn't going to accompany them all the way) so he doesn't get counted. Adding Bilbo to the party brings it up to a nice, safe 14.

EDIT Well, there are certainly 13 in the film. Here are pictures of them all: http://americablog.com/2012/12/the-13-hobbit-dwarves-ranked-by-hotness.html

I think you are mistaken, you just have to look at the crew photo to see the subtle trick they did to make you THINK there were 13 dwarves.

image
http://i46.tinypic.com/19wif4.jpg

That photo doesn't have Thorin in it. Thorin is most certainly a dwarf!

It also looks like the picture may have been edited to give Bifur and Bofur the same face (hard to tell because of the low resolution). But if you look in the top row of photos here you can see they're different people. Bofur is played by James Nesbitt and Bifur is played by William Kircher.

EDIT I think I've found the original source for part of that image. (William Kircher as Bifur is on the right.)
image

Flunk:
If you look at it without any context 2001 A Space Odyssey is a terribly boring movie.

It's boring if you look at it WITH context too. Most overrated film ever.

Can't help but feel like Bob is trying too hard again to defend something he liked. Luckily, it is worth liking. The movie itself is good and indeed, while it's long it magically doesn't feel too long. It fits. What is my problem however is that this is still a tale set in three movies. That's basically too long! As complex as The Hobbit is, it's still just a basic tale of a hobbit going on an adventure. It has all the stuff you need to blend into a decent fun movie. When I heard there were gonna be 2 movies, I thought "They want MONEY!", when I heard there were gonna be 3 movies, I thought "They want EVEN MORE MONEY!!!". The reason behind these movies is plain stupid and is a movie-thing that we see more and more (like the harry potter & twilight part 1-2).

However, Peter Jackson and his crew aren't fools. They made this movie work and I'm sure the second and the third will do this too and make this trilogy as a whole work. Just because it's a dirty cash-in trick for the movie business, they at least make some effort in making this all not suck...

What sucks though is seeing the 'hype' of the spiders meaning that in the next movie, these awful creatures will get plenty of screen-time to reign terror. And I bloody hate spiders and that chapter almost scared the crap out of me...if it weren't for the fact that the spiders talked and I image them talking in a very very silly voice.

When people bring up that the movie is too long and too much time was spent with the Dwarf characters I get to thinking that people have forgotten or don't know how the book ends. All the time getting to know the characters will pay off once the dust settles from the Battle of Five Armies.

Right now I think the best example of a movie that was too long is Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. Just too many things in the film that pad the run time out instead of contributing something positive to the film. The Battle of Egypt is also the only time I've considered leaving a movie during a big action scene because I'm bored to death and something more exciting has to be going on in the real world.

Wait... what? Three movies? I thought there were only going to be two... I heard ages ago that it was only going to be TWO movies, not three. O.o

MetalMagpie:

Lord Hosk:

MetalMagpie:

Really? I always thought the entire reason for Bilbo coming along was that there were 13 dwarves! As I remember it, they don't want to have a party of 13 because it's an unlucky number. Gandalf isn't part of their party (as he isn't going to accompany them all the way) so he doesn't get counted. Adding Bilbo to the party brings it up to a nice, safe 14.

EDIT Well, there are certainly 13 in the film. Here are pictures of them all: http://americablog.com/2012/12/the-13-hobbit-dwarves-ranked-by-hotness.html

I think you are mistaken, you just have to look at the crew photo to see the subtle trick they did to make you THINK there were 13 dwarves.

image
http://i46.tinypic.com/19wif4.jpg

That photo doesn't have Thorin in it. Thorin is most certainly a dwarf!

It also looks like the picture may have been edited to give Bifur and Bofur the same face (hard to tell because of the low resolution). But if you look in the top row of photos here you can see they're different people. Bofur is played by James Nesbitt and Bifur is played by William Kircher.

EDIT I think I've found the original source for part of that image. (William Kircher as Bifur is on the right.)
image

William Kircher is James Nesbitts stage name, its a very elaborate rues the producers of the film have used to cover up for Tolkins error.

Which do you want to believe that there has been a massive 75 year conspiracy to cover up a error in what started out as a fairly small book that then became part of a massive series, or that Movie bob misspoke and didnt catch it. I think the answer is clear, multi-billion dollar coverup.

(also my comments were CLEARLY satirical, playing off the fact that the dwarves were intentionally muddled in names and descriptions the edited photo isnt even that good)

This guy explains in which way The Hobbit is too long:

Norman Rafferty:
I found this Big Picture extremely confusing, because Bob didn't even bring up the previous adaptation of the Hobbit, which told the story in only 90 minutes. (He must be aware of it, he used stills from it.) And in discussing if the story was too long, he didn't bring up all the added bits, such as the Necromancer story-line, which could have been cut. By not addressing these two points, it makes his argument that, "It's not too long" a superficial one.

The 70s animated feature didn't even come close to telling the entire story. I'd rather have three movies that 'over tell' the story then the 'highlight reel' of a movie Rankin/Bass produced.

Lord Hosk:

MetalMagpie:

Lord Hosk:

I think you are mistaken, you just have to look at the crew photo to see the subtle trick they did to make you THINK there were 13 dwarves.

image
http://i46.tinypic.com/19wif4.jpg

That photo doesn't have Thorin in it. Thorin is most certainly a dwarf!

It also looks like the picture may have been edited to give Bifur and Bofur the same face (hard to tell because of the low resolution). But if you look in the top row of photos here you can see they're different people. Bofur is played by James Nesbitt and Bifur is played by William Kircher.

EDIT I think I've found the original source for part of that image. (William Kircher as Bifur is on the right.)
image

William Kircher is James Nesbitts stage name, its a very elaborate rues the producers of the film have used to cover up for Tolkins error.

Which do you want to believe that there has been a massive 75 year conspiracy to cover up a error in what started out as a fairly small book that then became part of a massive series, or that Movie bob misspoke and didnt catch it. I think the answer is clear, multi-billion dollar coverup.

(also my comments were CLEARLY satirical, playing off the fact that the dwarves were intentionally muddled in names and descriptions the edited photo isnt even that good)

I'm sorry. Sarcasm doesn't always transfer well in pure text, and there are some very weird people on the internet. If there are people who believe that the Earth is hollow, then I'm sure there are people who believe that William Kircher and James Nesbitt are the same person!

As a side thought, it seems a bit unfair to get sarky with Movie Bob for getting a number wrong. Considering the context, I suspect he meant 12 "general dwarves", as Thorin is a major character and not just one of the vast bunch we need to memorise.

But if nerds can't be picky then the internet is good for nothing! ;)

Twilight_guy:

Certain elements, such as the key and the side door, are important and were in the hobbit. Other elements are not important and were in other books. Some things contribute to the story and other will never contribute to the main story unless they deviate far and away from he book. For example, everything to do with "the White Council" will not influence the main story because it has nothing to do with Bilbo and the dwarfs. The only way to make it important is to fuck around with the story of the hobbit. For example, the pale orc wasn't in the hobbit. He was added to give the movie a villain (and probably was in one of the other Middle Earth books besides the Hobbit or the LotR). The actual role that this plays in the events of the rest of the story is... none outside of shadowy people influencing the situation at best. It has nothing to do with Smog, his death, the dwarfs or the war of five sides (though I'm guessing that Mr. white orc will probably be leading the orcs in that battle now). It would take some epic story rewrites to make any of the characters at the council (aside from Gandalf) relevant. The movies have stayed more or less on target so far so I have no reason to think they're going to shoe-horn in some reworking here to make certain elements like Sauron relevant.

Even if they do though, those elements still are unnecessary. Having story elements that are not relevant until much later on in this section is unnecessary. They should be introduced and explained in the section where they are relevant. For example, having more or less an introduction of Sauron and the Nazgul in the first movie of the Hobbit is like people talking about Han Solo in episode 1. Even if you mention him again in episode 2 and 3, there is such a huge stretch of time before he becomes relevant in any way that all it does 3 movie before-hand is distract. A movie has to be striped of irrelevant elements and many of the elements like the council and Radagast have nothing to do with the main story besides being foreboding and introducing things that are important in the Lord of the Rings. Sauron is a distraction since the villain is Smog talking about Mr. ominous only takes away form the story by taking the threat away from Smog since the big bad is no longer this dragon but this mystery guy who scares even Gandalf while smog only make him a little worried.

Also, I have no idea why they couldn't just identify Sting. Is there any reason for not naming it until later? What possible reason could they have for not identifying it when it is in the book, at the same time as the other swords.

But the key point is that introducing things that have no relevance to the current issues just so you can use them later is terrible story telling.

Funny. I haven't read a rambling post like that since I was at starwars.com forums when the LotR movies came out 10 years ago. It's always funny to watch some Star Wars fan (which you seem to be with your Han "example") trying to wrap his mind around Tolkien's lore. If you're not a Star Wars fan, it'll do you good anyway.

So let me enlighten your poor mind by giving some pointers:

- in the book Gandalf continuously disappears during the journey. Peter Jackson made a promise that viewers won't be left in the dark and with unanswered questions about what Gandalf does or where he goes.

- of course the key to Erebor is important, but where do you think Gandalf got it? Or should I ask from whom?

- The Hobbit is a part of a grander story. We all know to whom that ring really belongs to. Jackson won't simply ignore this. Why is Gandalf so interested in dwarves slaying the dragon? Think.

- The White Council is important in establishing the relationship between Galadriel and Gandalf. Remember the promise she made? It will very likely pay off big time in the third movie. It also establishes the guardians of Middle-earth.

- Azog will pay a big role in the Battle of Five Armies. Setting up your villains and introducing their motivations to the viewer is very important. Peter Jackson knows this. It has to be done already in the first movie. I can understand if this is beyond you, since George Lucas was inept when it came to fleshing out the motivations of HIS villains (Darth Maul comes to mind).

- we need to keep in mind that even Gandalf has his motivations to help the dwarves. If viewers are made privy about what they are, there really is no way around SAURON. I for one had no clue what Obi-Wan's motivations where in the prequels, other than being a boring stiff and knowing how to follow orders.

- Sauron does not take anything away from Smaug - trust me.

- terrible story telling is not knowing enough or caring about your heroes and villains. It's one thing if you do it in a book (like Tolkien did by introducing irrelevant characters and then never using them again or not telling the reader where Gandalf went), it's quite different if you do it in a movie. I believe they call it a plothole.

Just to recap.

1) Desolation of Smaug will end with the death of Smaug.
2) There and Back Again will climax with the Battle of Five Armies and the "banishing" of the Necromancer.
3) An Unexpected Journey was just a taste - the main course is yet to come.

Markunator:
This guy explains in which way The Hobbit is too long:

No he doesn't.

He just suggests that what Tolkien wrote about the events in Shire was boring and therefore Jackson should have left it out. He doesn't even recommend what the acceptable improvement should be.

Dr Killpatient:

Twilight_guy:

Certain elements, such as the key and the side door, are important and were in the hobbit. Other elements are not important and were in other books. Some things contribute to the story and other will never contribute to the main story unless they deviate far and away from he book. For example, everything to do with "the White Council" will not influence the main story because it has nothing to do with Bilbo and the dwarfs. The only way to make it important is to fuck around with the story of the hobbit. For example, the pale orc wasn't in the hobbit. He was added to give the movie a villain (and probably was in one of the other Middle Earth books besides the Hobbit or the LotR). The actual role that this plays in the events of the rest of the story is... none outside of shadowy people influencing the situation at best. It has nothing to do with Smog, his death, the dwarfs or the war of five sides (though I'm guessing that Mr. white orc will probably be leading the orcs in that battle now). It would take some epic story rewrites to make any of the characters at the council (aside from Gandalf) relevant. The movies have stayed more or less on target so far so I have no reason to think they're going to shoe-horn in some reworking here to make certain elements like Sauron relevant.

Even if they do though, those elements still are unnecessary. Having story elements that are not relevant until much later on in this section is unnecessary. They should be introduced and explained in the section where they are relevant. For example, having more or less an introduction of Sauron and the Nazgul in the first movie of the Hobbit is like people talking about Han Solo in episode 1. Even if you mention him again in episode 2 and 3, there is such a huge stretch of time before he becomes relevant in any way that all it does 3 movie before-hand is distract. A movie has to be striped of irrelevant elements and many of the elements like the council and Radagast have nothing to do with the main story besides being foreboding and introducing things that are important in the Lord of the Rings. Sauron is a distraction since the villain is Smog talking about Mr. ominous only takes away form the story by taking the threat away from Smog since the big bad is no longer this dragon but this mystery guy who scares even Gandalf while smog only make him a little worried.

Also, I have no idea why they couldn't just identify Sting. Is there any reason for not naming it until later? What possible reason could they have for not identifying it when it is in the book, at the same time as the other swords.

But the key point is that introducing things that have no relevance to the current issues just so you can use them later is terrible story telling.

Funny. I haven't read a rambling post like that since I was at starwars.com forums when the LotR movies came out 10 years ago. It's always funny to watch some Star Wars fan (which you seem to be with your Han "example") trying to wrap his mind around Tolkien's lore. If you're not a Star Wars fan, it'll do you good anyway.

So let me enlighten your poor mind by giving some pointers:

- in the book Gandalf continuously disappears during the journey. Peter Jackson made a promise that viewers won't be left in the dark and with unanswered questions about what Gandalf does or where he goes.

- of course the key to Erebor is important, but where do you think Gandalf got it? Or should I ask from whom?

- The Hobbit is a part of a grander story. We all know to whom that ring really belongs to. Jackson won't simply ignore this. Why is Gandalf so interested in dwarves slaying the dragon? Think.

- The White Council is important in establishing the relationship between Galadriel and Gandalf. Remember the promise she made? It will very likely pay off big time in the third movie. It also establishes the guardians of Middle-earth.

- Azog will pay a big role in the Battle of Five Armies. Setting up your villains and introducing their motivations to the viewer is very important. Peter Jackson knows this. It has to be done already in the first movie. I can understand if this is beyond you, since George Lucas was inept when it came to fleshing out the motivations of HIS villains (Darth Maul comes to mind).

- we need to keep in mind that even Gandalf has his motivations to help the dwarves. If viewers are made privy about what they are, there really is no way around SAURON. I for one had no clue what Obi-Wan's motivations where in the prequels, other than being a boring stiff and knowing how to follow orders.

- Sauron does not take anything away from Smaug - trust me.

- terrible story telling is not knowing enough or caring about your heroes and villains. It's one thing if you do it in a book (like Tolkien did by introducing irrelevant characters and then never using them again or not telling the reader where Gandalf went), it's quite different if you do it in a movie. I believe they call it a plothole.

Just to recap.

1) Desolation of Smaug will end with the death of Smaug.
2) There and Back Again will climax with the Battle of Five Armies and the "banishing" of the Necromancer.
3) An Unexpected Journey was just a taste - the main course is yet to come.

Markunator:
This guy explains in which way The Hobbit is too long:

No he doesn't.

He just suggests that what Tolkien wrote about the events in Shire was boring and therefore Jackson should have left it out. He doesn't even recommend what the acceptable improvement should be.

You called my post rambling... that hurts man, That hurts. It was abnormally long but I like to think it has some coherency to it. Then again I usually don't plan out my forum posts because I don't care enough to.

Actually, I'm really not that much of a fan. I just used Star Wars as a metaphor because I know other people will get it. As a general rule if I don't know who I am speaking to, I try to use metaphors that have items that are as widely known as possible.

"poor mind"? That sounds like an insult but nobody is that forward with an insult on the Escapist. Are you trying to make a satirical post?

Actually I don't think where Gandalf got the key is that important. Neither did Peter Jackson or Tolkien since not that much time is devoted to discussing it. They mention it, then they move on.

When the hobbit was originally written, I don't think Tolkien had any of the grander plans for his world set. The One Ring especially seems retconed from what it was like in the Hobbit. Of course Gandalf's motives for wanted the dragon dead are interesting for character exploration but there are far faster ways of conveying them then what is used in the movie. Peter Jackson could easily have had the movie rewritten to cut the council scene and deliver Gandalf's Motive some other way while cutting 10 minutes of film.

Um, how is Galadriel important to this story. Or the guardians of Middle Earth? Maybe I'm missing something but I don't remember them being important int he book and thus they may be something that could be cut. I honestly don't remember if they were significant so if you could explain what they do later int he story I'd appreciate it.

I don't have a problem with Azog. I like him. I think the viewer probably needs to be able to associate each army in the battle of five sides with a face or a person. The book doesn't really have that so I feel that is an improvement (assuming the prediction that he is important is true).

Not necessarily. Gandalf's motives are never explained in the Hobbit and it doesn't really detract from the book. He's a kindly wizard who helps the dwarfs (and Bilbo) on their journey. Sometimes that works in a story. Even if it doesn't work, there are easier ways to convey "kill dragon, could be bad for fight with great evil" then the extended scenes that Peter Jackson is doing. Hell, you could convey it with a few lines of dialogue and some interesting cinematography in less then five minutes. It's one way to cut time off a very long movie without losing much. That''s my point is that its long and could be much shorter because some scenes aren't absolutely necessarily.

Yes, he does. He is a second villain (and implied to be much more baddass) in the movie. Assuming the audience knows nothing, that means they will have him on their mind despite the fact that he isn't a major part of the Hobbit. That is a distraction since the villain is the dragon (and then sort of everyone because everyone gets kind of greedy). Introducing and putting a good deal of time on a villain who isn't a part of the story and is only tangentially related is a bad idea. It's good world building but detracts from the story. That's the same reason why they didn't spend twenty minutes during the Lord of the Rings explaining what a Balrog was and who the Balrog in Moria is. They mentioned it briefly to give the audience an idea that is a bad dude that can kick the ass of anyone and then they have it show up and do its business. You don't dwell on things that aren't central to your story despite their important in the world.

Yeah and caring too much can also cause you to tell a bad story. For example, it's possible to be so fixated on one element that you bore the audience. Imagine some hypothetical writer who is so transfixed with his own protagonist that he spends several chapters describing his morning ritual from getting out of bed to breakfast to brushing his teeth, etc, during which nothing note-while happens. That story runs the risk of boring the audience. Another example, if the author gets caught up in a subplot and drops the main plot to follow the side plot for several chapters, maybe never returning to the main plot, that would be bad. The author loves the characters but wrote a bad story. Story telling is more complex then simply "caring about your heroes and villains".
It has many levels. It's not as binary as good and bad. For example, I feel The Hobbit (the movie) is a good movie but it and has sections of story that needed to be cut to create a more streamlined and fluid narrative. It's still leagues above many other movies. (Some people get easily offended and think any time you criticize anything you must hate it, even if you say its near perfect rather then perfect).

"1) Desolation of Smaug will end with the death of Smaug.
2) There and Back Again will climax with the Battle of Five Armies and the "banishing" of the Necromancer."
Are you writing the scripts or did they release that information while I wasn't paying attention? Last time I checked the plotting wasn't public.

Nope, I still don't get why you said I had a "poor mind". I can only assume I either didn't get the joke or you were being a condescending prick. (Don't be a prick on the Escapist, it's against the rules).

I personally didn't feel like it was long at all (I fucking love this LOTR stuff, defined my childhood) but I can see why people would complain about the length, my brother was bored throughout the whole movie, and when you're bored from the start a 2h 40min feels FUCKING LONG.

I felt a lot of scenes were a little overlong and the subplot with the White Orc was shoehorned in but I didn't care. I just love this stuff.

pointless vandalism:
Was it too long? Yes. Period. He is pulling stuff from the Similarion to pad the story on and milk money from the content. Star wars anyone?

The fact that you dare to call Tolkien's own additions and enrichment of the story, after he had actually fully fleshed out the history of Middle Earth, "padding", is truly infuriating. Why did you even go watch the movie if you are not interested in the actual story? Maybe you should stick with Michael Bay movies in the future.

To clarify, angry fan boi, re read my post. He is mixing the 2 books, the Hobbit and the Similarion, to pad the story. There are a large number of things in the Movie The hobbit that never happened the the book The Hobbit. So, if you add a significant amount of stuff to a story, it isn't the same story, is it?

YES IT WAS TOO LONG

I got bored at a few points. I thought the dinner at the beginning draggggggggggggggged. An overall decent movie, but still way too long for my taste.

endtherapture:

It sets up important plot development for the Necromancer storyline for the next two films, which a lot of people just completely don't understand at all. You being one of them.

My point still stands. It's a superfluous subplot which is being shoe-horned in to serve primarily as fan-wank, but also to account for Gandalf's absence for a considerable portion of the novel. Precisely what will the necromancer subplot contribute to the main plot of The Hobbit? Sweet fuck all, that's what, because the necromancer is relevant to the Lord of the Rings, not The Hobbit.

Urh:

endtherapture:

It sets up important plot development for the Necromancer storyline for the next two films, which a lot of people just completely don't understand at all. You being one of them.

My point still stands. It's a superfluous subplot which is being shoe-horned in to serve primarily as fan-wank, but also to account for Gandalf's absence for a considerable portion of the novel. Precisely what will the necromancer subplot contribute to the main plot of The Hobbit? Sweet fuck all, that's what, because the necromancer is relevant to the Lord of the Rings, not The Hobbit.

It serves to expand the lore and tie the two trilogies together more, give a bit more context.

More lore is good. I don't what a crap 90 minute film, seeing Dol Guldor and Radagast was awesome.

You can't have an epic adventure without length. Because epic, after all, means long.

The Hobbit held my interest the entire time. I recognised where scenes dragged on for longer than they would have in a shorter movie (Bilbo's house at the beginning and the whole Bilbo & Gollum scene jump to mind), but I never lost interest despite such extended scenes. The acting was superb, the dialogue well-written, and the cinematography was always appropriate. I can ask for nothing more from an excellent movie.

You know, you actually made me appreciate the hobbit even more as a well layed out first act to what I'd never considered to be a difficult book to adapt, but the fact that there are essentially two climaxes in the book does make it difficult to translate in to a film format and this first film, whilst long, doesn't feel long. Good work distilling those thoughts into a succinct video.

I actually do have one scene they really could have cut: The first one with Bilbo and Frodo.

The only purpose of that scene is to tie the movie back to the lord of the rings (and weather that is a good idea or not is up for debate) as the narrative device of "Bilbo writing the book" clearly isn't in play, as there are scenes he wouldn't have been told about and couldn't understand (see-scene with the council). So it exists only to say, "this is X time before the party", and I don't honestly think it was necessary- and really don't think it was necessary to be that long.

But that's just me.

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