December 27, 2012
MarkBernstein.org
 
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The Hobbit

Despite all the criticism, this film does exactly what it sets out to do. It’s a re-imagination of The Hobbit as if it had been written by the author of The Lord Of The Rings.

The Tolkien who wrote The Hobbit was a very different writer, pursuing very different ends. I used to think — we all used to think, once — that Tolkien had deepened and darkened his mythos after The Hobbit, that the appendices to The Lord Of The Rings are a fixup to repair mistakes in the older story. But that interpretation, I understand, is no longer tenable: the personal mythos was there all along, and it must always have had scale and darkness.

In The Hobbit, Tolkien takes that mythos and applies an Instagram filter tuned to the late Victorian imagination of the English cottage tale. In Lord of the Rings, he switches filters and tunes to Beowulf. The film tells the older story but uses the later filter, reproducing the language and style of the later epic to re-imagine the earlier.