When you are reading here whether you found me intentionally or accidently, please take time to leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you are thinking. I love feed back. Vondi

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Hobbit revisited

Gandalf coming to visit Bilbo at the start of his adventures.

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots of lots of pegs for hats and coats -- the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill -- The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it -- and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, diningrooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the lefthand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river. JRR Tolkien: The Hobbit

And that is the way the story of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, begins.
I just left Bilbo sleeping on a ledge in the eagle’s eyrie after being rescued from the evil Wargs and goblins. This must be close to the dozenth time I’ve read through the Hobbit in the last, oh my goodness!, forty-five years. Tolkien’s famtasy story of the little man who fights a dragon and comes home with ponies laden with treasure never ceases to fascinate me. For several years, after I read the book at about twelve years old I had no idea that the Trilogy of the Rings even existed! Imagine my excitement when I discovered them as a high school student!
When Notah and Kerra brought me Peter Jackson’s movie version of The Lord of the Rings I did enjoy it, bur it came no where near matching the scope and richness of the panorama in my mind’s eye of Middle Earth and the characters inhabiting it.  If anyone who happens to read here has not read the books, go get them. They are vastly superior to the movie.
Of course, I’ve never yet seen a movie that came anywhere near matching the book that preceded it.
I found an artist who does fantastic representations of Middle Earth and Bilbo’s adventures in particular. He is faithful to the descriptions Tolkien gives of hobbits. I disliked Jackson’s depiction of them. He would have been much more effective to use little people, as they prefer to be called today. When I was a child we called them “midgets” meaning no disrespect but only referring to their size. That size would much more closely fit the description of Bilbo and the others Discrepancies in other features—the furry feet, the ears, any necessary body padding etc, could have been dealt with as was done to the full sized young men who portrayed Frodo, Samwise and the others in Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien said of hobbits in a review: I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg. A round, jovial face; ear: only slightly pointed and 'elvish'; hair: short and curling (brown). The feet from the ankles down, covered with brown hairy fur. Clothing: green velvet breeches; red or yellow waistcoat; brown or green jacket; gold (or brass) buttons; a dark green hood and cloak (belonging to a dwarf).
The description, with only a bit of theatrical adjustment, would much better fit a little person. But perhaps with our weird social values today, people of that diminutive size declined the roles feeling some stigma was attached to the invitation.
At any rate, check out David T Wenzel’s drawings. ((http://www.davidwenzel.com/hobbit.html ) I’ve left them ‘hot-linked’ in this post so you can go and see them all. Next to the drawings in the original Hobbit texts of Tolkien, these drawings come closest to reflecting the descriptions given in the story.

The picture at the top is Wenzel’s. This one depicts one of my favorite parts of the story. Bilbo’s quiet cozy little hole-home is invaded by a horde of dwarves and a full sized wizard. He struggles to be the good host, but hardly has room to move. Finally he succumbs, completely overwhelmed, and simply sits watching what he perceives as chaos around him. His poor sense of order is even more disrupted when the dwarves begin helping clean up! Here’s the dwarves’ song as the clean.  I love it!

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That's what Bilbo hates -

Smash the bottles and burn the corks!
Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!
Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you've finished, if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!

That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! carefully! with the plates!

(I can almost see Rachael's reaction to this knd of cleaning!  LOL She's almost OCD with her house!)
Don’t just watch the movies! Go read the books. They are so much better!

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