Since I have begun blogging, people who have come by here from time to time have doubtless found out quite a bit about me – married, three daughters, feminist, atheist, interested in political theory, a reader, and generally opinionated.
Today I am about to reveal another identity – I am a Tolkien nerd. I first read The Hobbit when I was about eight, and The Lord of the Rings when I was ten. I read The Silmarillion as soon as it was published. I spent my teenage years obsessively reading and rereading all these books, as well as The Book of Lost Tales and all the other books that Christopher Tolkien brought out. I can still quote great chunks of the books. I loved, and still love, Tolkien’s works.
I was nervous about The Lord of the Rings movies. Would Peter Jackson do justice to the wonderful books? But within minutes of the start of the first movie, I relaxed. The movies were wonderful, and in many ways, even better than the books.
So he seems like a natural choice to make a movie of The Hobbit. This morning, some good news: Jackson has sorted out his stoush with New Line, and will be executive producer on The Hobbit.
But now I am nervous all over again. He won’t be making just one movie, but two.
I just can’t see how you can get two movies out of The Hobbit. It’s a lovely tale, but it’s trite, at least in comparison to The Lord of the Rings, and episodic. The best character, Gandalf, is absent for a good part of the story, and the elves are childish and homogenous. The Hobbit has none of the mythic scope of The Lord of the Rings, and only the barest hints of a larger history into which it might fit. Add to that the complete lack of women in the book. Looking through the book, I can find no individual female characters taking part in the action, and just one individual female character referred to, and then, very obliquely.
‘And who are these?’ [the Master] asked, pointing to Fili and Kili and Bilbo.
‘The sons of my father’s daughter,’ answered Thorin…
And that’s it.
There is one further reference to women, in the account of Smaug’s attack on Laketown.
Already men were jumping into the water on every side. Women and children were being huddled into laden boats…
The only way that I can see Jackson making the material in The Hobbit last for two whole movies, and the only way I can see him including any proper parts for women at all, is to enlarge on some of the back history that is revealed in The Book of Lost Tales and the other works published postumously by Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien. But, that won’t be The Hobbit.