This is a reflection on a traditional fantasy film that I recently watched. Beware: spoilers are hiding in the shadows of every letter waiting to spill forth a word. Throughout 2014, I’ll post several of these reflections/reviews after watching a film.
Gandalf: It’s a dangerous business, walking out one’s front door.
I’ve discovered I’m a Bilbo Baggins. No, I don’t have big feet, unusually shaped ears or live in a grassy mound with a round door (though I think I might like a dwelling like his). I have however become accustomed to keeping safe, staying home and avoiding things that disrupt my world.
The description of Bilbo in The Hobbit films was released by the studio (Tolkien Gateway): Like all Hobbits, Bilbo Baggins is fond of his comfortable existence; all he needs to be happy is a full pantry and a good book.
Also like Mr. Baggins, when encouraged or coerced into taking on an adventure, I’m caught up in the magic of it all, and I wonder why in the world had I settled for the quiet, safety of my home with books.
Settle. That’s what many of us do. Settle into the familiar things of everyday life. We bury our adventurous spirit until we no longer recognise it, no longer wish to take it out and play with it and discover the thrill of going into the unknown, travelling that road less travelled.
It is the mundane life of adulthood that I feared even when I was twenty-five. And now I live it.
Gandalf: The world is not in your books and maps; it’s out there.
And this is where The Hobbit begins: In the settled life of Bilbo Baggins. Except he was a lucky hobbit because Gandalf, the wizard, recruits him for a most unusual adventure, one that will take him far from home and far from familiarity, to where he finds himself again.
After all, who should worry about tea cups and doilies? Where do they fit into living?
Bilbo Baggins: Good morning.
Gandalf: What do you mean? Do you wish me a good morning or do you mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not? Or perhaps you mean to say that you feel good on this particular morning? Or are you simply stating that this is a morning to be a good on? Hm?
Bilbo Baggins: All of them at once, I suppose.
And so the adventure begins and takes Bilbo, Gandalf and thirteen dwarves away from The Shire and towards Lonely Mountain, the home of the great dwarves before Smaug, the dragon, claimed it as his own.
Gandalf: May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.
Along the way, the band of men (no women, by the way) encounter trolls, goblins and orcs. While under capture of a hoard of goblins, Bilbo comes upon Gollum and Precious. After a game of riddles and accidentally putting on The Ring, Bilbo escapes by turning invisible. He rejoins Gandalf and the dwarves where they are then chased by the orcs.
Bilbo Baggins: I have never used a sword in my life.
Gandalf: And I hope you never have to. But if you do, remember…true courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one. (my favourite quote)
Elves also play a small part in the journey towards Lonely Mountain. A few other wizards, besides Gandalf have short parts in the film too.
Galadriel: Mithrandir…Why the hafling?
Gandalf: Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? I don’t know. Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.
After a miraculous escape from orcs and their savage wolf-like creatures (wargs), the party finds themselves on top of a plateau where they see Lonely Mountain in the distance.
Thorin: Loyalty, honour, a willing heart; I can ask for no more than that.
And that’s where the film stopped, and I realised this to be only the beginning: with the thrush banging a nut against the great mountain, awakening the sleeping Smaug and gold shimmering in the great dwarf kingdom.
There is much sword fighting ahead.
Bilbo: [looks at his sword]
Balin: I wouldn’t bother, laddie. Swords are named for great things they do in battle. That’s more of a…letter opener.
And then my search began for when the next hobbit movie would be released. To my surprise it was this month, December 2013. It is in theatres, and now my only task is to find a way across snow-laden highways and escape the everyday routine and watch it—The Desolation of Smaug—on the big screen.
Gandalf: All good stories deserve embellishment!
I agree whole-heartedly.
Tolkien Gateway possesses interesting information on Bilbo Baggins, including his family tree. This revealed a most unusual fact: Frodo’s mother’s name is Primula. Why does this interest me? This is the closest name I’ve ever found throughout all my genealogical research that even comes close to my grandmother’s name: Primadine. I’ve read thousands of names and have not found one Prim…anything. It makes me wonder where Tolkien found this particular one.
In honour of my grandmother, I have used this name—Primadine—in my youth novel, Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove.