Sunday, December 16, 2012

THE HOBBIT, A MOVIE REVIEW - of dragons and gold, of God, the Sufis and the human ego

The Hobbit. Last Thursday evening, I grabbed hold of Mikhail to head for the first-day screening of The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. Mikhail enjoyed himself, despite two toilet intermissions during the 3-hours plus film by Peter Jackson. But for his father (a.k.a. me), as a Tolkien geek, it was just as close to cinema nirvana as I could hope to achieve, reveling in Peter Jackson's expansive and sensitive adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's first ever book of the Lord of the Ring world. The Hobbit was written for his son, Christopher, you see. And from this humble literary effort by an Oxford Don (for Tolkien was indeed a Professor of English in Oxford - after he left my alma mater, University of Leeds), the LoTR franchise came forth and conquered the global box office with tales of Wizards and Balrogs, Rangers and the Riders of Rohan, the Hobbit Halflings, Elves, the Dwarfs, the Orcs and of course, Sauron, the Dark Lord sitting on his dark throne in Mordor... where the shadow lies.

The Book(s). Being written for a young readership, The Hobbit story is light and easy to read, and does not come near to exploring Middle Earth's history, characters and concepts later developed in Tolkien's trilogy of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. There is one more important book in his later works, and that is The Silmarillion, an even more ambitious effort which encompasses the creation of Middle Earth universe which resonates with the idea of Eru (being God), and the fallen divine favourite, Morgoth (as the Devil) who is revealed to be Sauron's master. This close resemblance to Judeo-Christian (and might I add, Muslim) lore is not unexpected, as Tolkien was a believer and a practicing Catholic. 

The Movie. Being also the shortest book of all four volumes of the Lord of the Ring world, it took us by surprise that Peter the Kiwi has managed to extend the film adaptation into a nine-butt-aching hours of three movies, the first now being The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. What this means is that Peter Jackson has a greater cinematic canvas to bring to life the story of the dwarf kingdom of Erebor and their golden horde, the priceless Arkenstone, Smaug the Dragon, his attack and capture of the Lonely Mountain and the expulsion of the dwarfs as ragged exiles, a humiliated and overthrown race. On top of this enthralling story, the director has also managed to better capture the emotion and characters of the book, the two key personalities being Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the defeated dwarf tribe of Ererbor, and of course the reluctant 'burglar' himself - Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit.

Helping the Dwarfs to return home. For myself, one of the best moments in the movie was when having escaped the Goblins, Thorin (who has always held great doubt as to the suitability of Mr. Baggins to survive the dangers and tribulation of the wild quest) confronted Bilbo and asked him why did he continue to stick with the ragtag band of dwarfs, on a foolish mission to regain their home and expel the dragon squatter currently occupying their fortress mountain of Erebor. After all, Bilbo has a cozy life and a beautiful little home for himself already in the Shire and has no need to assist the dwarfs in this foolhardy quest. To which Bilbo replied that it IS because he enjoys a home for himself that he is moved by empathy to help the Dwarfs return to their own home, far away in the Desolation of Smaug, in the place called the Lonely Mountain. For the little hobbit, having faced so many dangers and difficulties with the dwarfs, now truly understands the lonely pangs of a traveler in the wild, dreaming and yearning to return home. A sentiment that is shared by all of us, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, as we too, make our bitter sweet journey through this life, to one day return to the Divine Presence... insyaAllah...

The Hobbit & The Sufi
Each of us, Men, Elf or Hobbit,
Has a Smaug to conquer,
A Dragon to call our own
And to tame,
That is our Ego.

And each of us, of high or common birth,
Has a horde of gold to regain,
A gold without the 'L',
That is our One God by any
Other name.

In a journey to a homecoming
Blessed in the Divine Presence,
To return and to rest,
and end our tearful wandering. 

In every kernel of human thought, in every tinkering of the tireless human imagination, there is a spark of truth. In every book ever written, there is a secret door to God. And I think I found one in the Hobbit.    

I hope you have enjoyed this little review. It was unexpected!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way


Dan O. said...

If you're not a LOTR fan, you might not like this movie though. I can't wait for the next two movies, but God forbid they end up like the Star Wars prequels. Nice review.

Milky Tea said...

You are right, Dan. The movie sticks very closely to the words and the spirit of the book, and Peter Jackson has not attempted too many artistic licenses. But what freedom he took he has done very well... I like!