Tolkien Geek

Blogging J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other aimless pursuits.


Chapter Four: Over Hill and Under Hill

The first thing that jumps out at me about the title of this chapter is "Under Hill". When Gandalf instructs Frodo to take the pseudonym "Underhill" in the film version of "The Fellowship of the Ring" I was reminded of that plot point from the book. At the time I attributed that name as related to the fact that Frodo lived in Bag End "under the Hill". Now as I return to the Hobbit I see Tolkien's reference (intended or not) very clearly here.

Cinematically, this part of the story accomplishes two things: first, it established the motivation for the goblins' pursuit of the party in later chapters and second, it gets Bilbo to Gollum's cave which sets up the hugely important chapter "Riddles in the Dark". Beyond that it's not really that important. On film, I would expect that the journey from Rivendell up into the Misty Mountains to be briefly shown up to taking refuge in the cave. The goblins here should probably resemble those in Moria - more animal than being. Should there be a Great Goblin and should he be given the talent of coherent speech? I kind of grapple with this one.

I don't think it's absolutely necessary for the scene to play out as it does in the book. Again, the point is to capture the company, allow them to scatter and escape and get Bilbo headed downward towards Gollum. This can all be accomplished quite simply with a lot of action and dead goblins. I point to the scene in Fellowship where the heroes escape from Balin's tomb after a full-on attack by goblins and a cave troll. Could we see another cave troll here? Based on Jackson's depiction of the events in Moria I can imagine a lot of Dwarf axes cleaving orc heads clean off and a generous supply of black blood shed all about.

In The Hobbit, Gandalf is the only character who demonstrates any leadership or heroics at this point but I think Jackson might be inclined to present the Dwarves as formidable. Imagine twelve Gimli's whipped up into a frenzy. In fact, up until the Battle of the Five Armies, the Dwarves don't really show what they're made of - constantly getting into fixes where they need to be bailed out. Here might be an exciting place for a "mini-battle" that segues directly into the finding of the Ring.

Again, not to belabor the point but I can easily see Peter Jackson turning these eleven pages of text into one and a half to two pages of script.

At this point we would probably be about one full hour into the first film. This is important to note because if any justice is to be given the the events of the next chapter, Jackson may end up editing this down to forty-five minutes (saving stuff for the Extended Edition). So, now we move on to a MAJOR plot development that will affect not only this story but the trilogy that follows in Chapter Five: Riddles In The Dark.


UPDATE: 1/17/12
Having seen the film, we can revisit Chapter Four here.


At 11:20 AM, Blogger Rohrerbot said...

I cannot wait to see this upcoming movie. I have read almost every story Tolkien has put out there and like you, I break down every little detail. Of the tails, I found the Simarillion to be the most detailed of stories. I had to create a map of bloodlines and family names to keep it all together. I currently reading the unfinished tails of Tolkien and look forward to getting into the order of the Istari and the "blue wizards". But more to your topic, I also wonder how he will have the lead Goblin speak in the caves. I can't wait to see the interpretation played out on screen.

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rohrerbot - If you're currently reading "Unfinished Tales" you might be interested in the posts listed in the sidebar right after the LOTR chapters - I touch on the entries in that work that directly involve characters featured in The Hobbit and the Trilogy. Enjoy.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Brad said...

Why not have a talking great goblin? The goblins have lines throughout the book. If your worry is how it will be managed in the movies (I realize that's the focus of this current blog series) and worry for Jackson how he'll manage the time line, well I now trust him to get it right-enough. That said, I will miss Tom Bombadil, Goldenberry, Old Man Willow, the Wight Barrows, the Cockney-Goblins, the elves in the woods, and the Wargs under the trees - if/when they are cut from the story for sake of keeping the movies to time.

By the way, in answer to a previous point I think Legolas would be a perfect fit as an extra during the scenes in the Woodland Realm. Either in the King's party, or in the halls, in the forests, etc. I hope they do not include him in some direct way - that would polute the issue.

I too feel the difference in Dwarf personalities/characterization across the books - as you mention. But, to my mind Thoren and his party of drwarves were non-warriors. A different class than we see later. This is shown through in the bumbling and repeated need for rescue (by Bilbo!!) for much of The Hobbit. That said, as a people group dwarves had suffered and lost ground to Smaug and the Orcs - they'd lived a diaspora of sorts and were less than they once were, so to speak. As the story moves into the LOTR trilogy two things occur - the dwarves remilitarize and assert themselves as a people, and/or more war-like dwarves become the focal dwarven characters.

As in all story telling across time, things develop and drift. Tolkein handled most of it very well.

Thanks for your blog, Gary!



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