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I just want to throw my two cents in before you read about the edit.
The Hobbit did not have to be made into 3 films, two films would have been fine but 3 seriously Mr. Jackson The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was just a show off film and to milk out this franchise. I am happy that the Tolkien Estate won’t let you make another film.
One day my son is going to watch these movies and I hope he reads the book first, but if he doesn’t and he sees your movies first he will be greatly disappointed In J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. I am going to do my best as a farther to make sure when he is old enough i will read him The Hobbit and buy him the Lord of the Rings, so he can enjoy a true masterpiece.
This new version was achieved through a series of major and minor cuts, detailed below:
- The investigation of Dol Guldor has been completely excised, including the appearances of Radagast, Saruman and Galadriel. This was the most obvious cut, and the easiest to carry out (a testament to its irrelevance to the main narrative).Like the novel, Gandalf abruptly disappears on the borders of Mirkwood, and then reappears at the siege of the Lonely Mountain with tidings of an orc army.
- The Tauriel-Legolas-Kili love triangle has also been removed. Indeed, Tauriel is no longer a character in the film, and Legolas only gets a brief cameo during the Mirkwood arrest. This was the next clear candidate for elimination, given how little plot value and personality these two woodland sprites added to the story. Dwarves are way more fun to hang out with anyway. 😛
- The Pale Orc subplot is vastly trimmed down. Azog is obviously still leading the attack on the Lonely Mountain at the end, but he does not appear in the film until after the company escapes the goblin tunnels (suggesting that the slaying of the Great Goblin is a factor in their vendetta, as it was in the novel).
- Several of the Laketown scenes have been cut, such as Bard’s imprisonment and the superfluous orc raid. However, I’ve still left quite a bit of this story-thread intact, since I felt it succeeded in getting the audience to care about the down-beaten fisherfolk and the struggles of Bard to protect them.
- The prelude with old Bilbo is gone. As with the novel, I find the film works better if the scope starts out small (in a cosy hobbit hole), and then grows organically as Bilbo ventures out into the big, scary world. It is far more elegant to first learn about Smaug from the dwarves’ haunting ballad (rather than a bombastic CGI sequence). The prelude also undermines the real-and-present stakes of the story by framing it as one big flashback.
- Several of the orc skirmishes have been cut. I felt that the Battle of the Five Armies provided more than enough orc mayhem. If you pack in too much before then, they just become monotonous, and it lessons their menace in the audience’s mind. I was tempted to leave in the very first Azog confrontation (since it resembles a chapter from the novel), but decided to cut it for a variety of reasons. Specifically, I found it tonally jarring to jump from the emotional crescendo of Thorin being saved by Bilbo (and the sense of safety the company feels after being rescued by the eagles), straight back into another chase sequence. Plus, I think the film works better if Bilbo is still trying to earn Thorin’s respect the entire journey, as he was in the novel. Not to mention the absurdity of Bilbo suddenly turning into John McClane with a sword!
- Several of the action scenes have been tightened up, such as the barrel-ride, the fight between Smaug and the dwarves (no molten gold in this version), and the Battle of the Five Armies. Though, it should be noted that Bilbo’s key scenes—the encounter with Gollum, the battle against the Mirkwood spiders, and the conversation with Smaug—have not been tampered with, since they proved to be excellent adaptions (in no small part due to Freeman’s performance), and serve to refocus the film on Bilbo’s arc.
- A lot of filler scenes have been cut as well. These are usually harder to spot (and I’ve probably missed a couple), but once they’re gone, you’ll completely forget that they ever existed. For example, the 4-minute scene where Bard buys some fish and the dwarves gather up his pay.
My main goals in undertaking this edit were to re-centre the story on Bilbo, and to have the narrative move at a much brisker pace (though not so fast that the audience lost grasp of what was going on). Creating smooth transitions between scenes was of particular importance in this regard. I even reordered a few moments in the film to make it flow better. The toughest parts to edit were the barrel-ride and the fight on Ravenhill (since Legolas and Tauriel kept bursting in with their gymnastics routine). If you have any further questions over what was taken out and what was left in, please post them in the comment’s section.
Go check out TolkienEditor site for more info about his recut…