Tolkien Geek

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


Reconfiguring and Other Miscellany

The first order of business is a reshuffling of the sidebar menu.  I have now broken the main project (From Book To Script) into three sections, corresponding - as best as I can estimate - with each film.  I have looked through the book to try and determine where each breaking point would be.  Based on the cast listing on the Internet Movie Data Base ( for each movie, the track listing for the official soundtrack and the trailers that have been released, I can guess that the first part will end with the rescue of Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves by the Eagles and their arrival at the Carrock (or through Chapter Six).

Each film will need a climactic event at the end, bringing the characters to the next phase of the story.  In the process, there will likely be some additional material brought in from other texts such as Christopher Tolkien’s “The History of Middle-Earth” compilation, the volume of “Unfinished Tales” and various bits from the Appendices of “The Lord of the Rings”.

I would think that the breakdown per film would look something like this:

Film One: “An Unexpected Journey”
Approximate Chapters: 1-6
Major Events:           
Unexpected Party at Bag End
The Stay at Rivendell
The Trolls
Goblin Capture/Fight in the Misty Mountains
The Finding of the Ring and the Riddle Game
Goblin/Warg Attack & Rescue by the Eagles
Extra Material:        
Interactions of Older Bilbo and Frodo (Narration)
Gandalf’s Story Concerning Thror’s Map and Key
Back story of the Orc/Goblin Wars with the Dwarves
Flashbacks to Prior White Council Meeting  

Film Two: “The Desolation of Smaug”
Approximate Chapters: 7-14
Major Events:
Encounter with Beorn
Journey Into Mirkwood
Capture by the Wood Elves
Escape from the Wood Elves/Arrival at Laketown
Journey to and Exploration of Erebor
Encounter With Smaug
Smaug’s Attack on Laketown and Death
Extra Material:        
Additional Back story of the Orc/Goblin Wars 
  with the Dwarves
Film Three: “There and Back Again”
Approximate Chapters: 15-19
Major Events:           
Arrival of Wood Elves & Alliance with Men of Laketown
Siege of Erebor & Arrival of Dain and the Dwarf Army
Bilbo’s Secret Parlay with Bard and Thranduil
Battle of the Five Armies
The Aftermath of the Battle & Death of Thorin
Return to Bag End, Set Up for LOTR Trilogy
Extra Material:        
Driving Out or the Necromancer from Dol Guldur
Gollum Leaving the Misty Mountains, searching for “Baggins”
Final meeting (as flash forward?) of White Council

The next subject I’ve been pondering has to do with motivation for Peter Jackson’s decision to expand the series from two parts to a trilogy.  Certainly the cynic would chalk this up to a desire on the part of New Line Cinema and Warner Bros to milk this franchise for all its worth.  And I don’t argue against the fact that the second installment could easily have been called “The Hobbit: The Quest for Greater Box Office Receipts”.  But based on Peter Jackson’s treatment of The Lord of the Rings I’m guessing there is something more to it.

Jackson’s style with the previous trilogy seemed to be to film as much material as possible and work out the theatrical version in the editing process.  Although there are some parts of that story that he decided to forego altogether (like Tom Bombadil, the Barrow Downs and the Scouring of the Shire) I conclude that everything that ended up in the Extended Edition DVDs would have been included in the theatrical version if time allowed.

However, understanding how impractical it is to expect an audience comprised of more than just Tolkien die-hards to sit in a theater for more than three hours (though they did push the envelope with The Return of the King).  About a year and a half ago, I attended screenings of the Extended Versions at my local multiplex – one film at a time.  Admittedly, as much as I loved them on the big screen I found it very difficult to sit still through each – needing at least once strategic opportunity to leave the theater to go relieve my bladder.

It could very well be that Jackson felt that there was nothing contained in the original novel that didn’t need to be translated to film (contrary to my original assumptions).  And, of course, how many complaints did Jackson get from fans about particular moments from the books that were left out of the final version?

The other point to be made is that the rhythm of the story does in fact lend itself to three acts.  Recall that PJ’s original pitch to New Line for The Lord of the Rings was a two film presentation.  It was actually Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne, the studio’s executives, who pointed out to Jackson that it should be three films.  Perhaps reflecting on that experience the Director looked at the all the “extra” scenes he had filmed (principal photography concluded on July 6) and decided, rather than reserve them for Extended Editions, to retain most of them and round out three full installments.  Indeed, as outlined above, it’s not hard to see that the book actually divides neatly into three acts.

So, the first of these installments will premiere on December 14th.  My next post will be a review of the film, followed by a separate analysis of my predictions for the chapters that were covered in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

Enjoy the show!!


At 10:47 AM, Blogger padre.woodall said...

Great analysis.
After reading it through again myself this last month or so I think another division is also likely. I think the first film will go through chapter 7, when Gandalf leaves the company.

chps 1-7 Unexpected Party
chps 8-14 + extra stuff
chps 15-19, expanded war scenes and Gandalf's return given extra weight + extra stuff.

PJ et al will have plenty to do with the wars at the end and, as you show, extra material that seems abundant.


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