there were no elves at Helm’s Deep: Hobbit Edition (h/t @Blastr)

Inferred from comments by Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Jackson is tweaking the storyline again. Cumberbatch said (SPOILERS below the fold) …

“I’m playing Smaug through motion-capture and voicing the Necromancer, which is a character in the Five Legions War or something which I’m meant to understand. He’s not actually in the original Hobbit. It’s something [Peter Jackson]’s taken from Lord Of The Rings that he wants to put in there.”

The Necromancer is, of course, Sauron – who takes up residence in Mirkwood and is driven out by Gandalf “off camera” during The Hobbit. Sauron did not show up at the Battle of the Five Armies, but Cumberbatch here is clearly indicating he will be present. The Blastr folks theorize,

By changing this important part, Peter Jackson will neatly combine the two story threads: the one that follows Bilbo and the dwarves in their perilous quest through the forest of Mirkwood and then against Smaug underneath the Lonely Mountain; and the one which will follow Gandalf and his own posse, thus fleshing out the original story in The Hobbit book, and providing some of the material Jackson needed to split the story into two films.

It will also (still according to Empire Magazine) give a stronger motivation for those pesky nasty globins (and Wargs) whose king’s been killed, and who are also hoping to get their dirty hands on the dragon’s treasure as well (ah, goblins, greed and gold. Such a winning combo). IF they are thus led by Sauron, it will explain their later behavior in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films.

This is the kind of change that I think is eminently justified given that the story is being told in film, not 1000 page tomes, and which of course drives Tolkien purists into white-hot rage. Another example was the bit of political tolerance that Faramir displays towards the fallen Southron:

The enemy? [indicates dead Southron] His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. I wonder what his name is… where he came from. And if he was really evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home. If he would not rather have stayed there… in peace. War will make corpses of us all.

I think this line was actually Sam’s in the book, though I’m not entirely sure. At any rate, Jackson has a duty to make the narrative fit the screen and I applaud these changes because they demonstrate a deep respect for the source material, not a flagrant disregard.

(unlike other directors I could name. ahem.)

7 thoughts on “there were no elves at Helm’s Deep: Hobbit Edition (h/t @Blastr)”

  1. Man, I really need to dig up my copy of the Hobbit and read it again before the movie comes out. Hard to believe, but it’s been… 20 years (!?) since I read it. Unlike a lot of things I read then, I feel like I have a lot of vivid memories of the Hobbit, but there’s still a lot I don’t remember…

  2. Well, what did you expect after Jackson had done the same thing with the Lord of the Rings? By rearranging the storyline, editing the plot where he felt it necessary to fit the movie production, and by – at least in one case – subverting the narrative, Jackson managed to produce (in his ‘humble’ opinion) a “second way in to Middle Earth” that runs parallel with Tolkien’s epic. It’s no surprise that he considers himself the “anointed one” to continue the quest.

  3. Kevin, I for one am quite pleased overall by Jackson’s narrative decisions. I think they show he has respect for the source material.. In some ways perhaps he really is the Anointed One!

  4. With respect, I completely disagree. Jackson is taking a story that had almost nothing to do with Sauron and making him the Big Bad, front and center. The whole point of the Hobbit is that small, incidental events can have big impacts much later.

    By making Sauron the motivating force at the Battle of the Five Armies, he’s totally changing the entire context of the book — AND the trilogy that follows.

    If it really is true that nobody can understand bad guys unless they are motivated by overpowering evil… then why bother telling any story that doesn’t have it?

    If Sauron is at the Lonely Mountain and Bilbo is right there with the ring – and USING it – don’t you think Sauron would maybe have a clue? and wouldn’t that change how all the events around the battle would happen?

    Oh, and if you think somehow there isn’t going to be a bunch of gratuitous “Gandalf kicks Sauron around a bit” in there, I think you’ve forgotten what Jackson did to Saruman. But as we saw at Minas Tirith, Gandalf can’t even hack the King of the Nazgul. .. so are you saying that just, what, 60 years earlier, Sauron will be weaker than Gandalf? And even if somehow the story manages to not have Sauron just kicking ass, how is the arrival of the eagles going to win the battle? One of them picks Sauron up and drops him in the lake?

  5. So I just have to share my son Noah’s comment on this: “So what else are they going to do – have Morgoth be riding Smaug?” 😛

  6. PM – I dont think Sauron is “front and center” – the evidence is that he will be included only at teh Battle of the Five Armies which happens at the very end of the book (and in this case, at the end of the second movie). Smaug is clearly the Big Bad and I was looking at old John Howe artwork of the beastie and man are we in for a treat if Jackson remains as faithful to the Tolkien artists’ thematics as he was with LOTR.

    Sauron provides a necessary thematic link to the LOTR trilogy which actually I think Tolkien also intended, by having Gandalf be absent dealing with him off in Mirkwood “off camera”. Since the book was intended as a children’s tale (Tolkien’s answer to Narnia, or was it the other way around? Those Inklings were a competitive bunch) it makes sense that Sauron didn’t get any time. The movie is not and should not be held to the same objective of being a kids tale.

    If it really is true that nobody can understand bad guys unless they are motivated by overpowering evil… then why bother telling any story that doesn’t have it?

    I don’t think that this is being argued by Jackson. The story of the Hobbit is the story itself of the Journey and Bilbo’s adventure. It ends with gold and a dragon. The Battle at the end is just a denouement. I think of it as similar to how Nick Fury showed up at the end of Iron Man. Its something you need to do in the context of a film series that you don’t in the context of a book or a TV show.

    BTW – Sauron was indeed MUCH weaker during the events of Hobbit than later. He fled to Mordor after he was ousted from Mirkwood and began consolidaing his power. Sauron was actuallyat his most vulnerable during that era. The Eagles turned the tide of battle against the Wargs but that doesn’t require Sauron to be defeated – he probaly just says “okay, I’m outta here” and leaves events to unfold as they will.

    This is also why Sauron wouldn’t be cognizant of the Ring either – he didn’t have the Eye at Barad Dur at that time. Though if I am not mistaken, Bilbo did not really use the Ring during the final battle. He was basically camped out on a hill until he gets hit in the head with a rock. The last time I think he used the ring was way earlier, when he stole the cup from Smaug. The Goblin and Warg armies didn’t arrive until much later, after Smaug had already been killed and the Three armies of the Free people had arrived to bicker abou the division of gold. Presumably, Sauron arrives at that point, but since the Two armies were led by Bolg, so it remains to be seen how Sauron fgures into the story. I assume either he replaces Bolg (and gets the smackdown from Beorn in his stead) or he doe sthe Wormtounge thing on the side egging Bolg on, and then runs for it when Beorn opens the can of whupass.

    So, it all works out 🙂

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