Peter Jackson and his production team for The Hobbit have refuted criticisms that they were wrong to split JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novel into three long movies. The comments came as studio Warner Bros issued a statement denying allegations that the 48 frames per second rate at which opening instalment An Unexpected Journey is filmed can cause nausea in the viewer.
Speaking at a press conference in New York, Jackson described Tolkien’s 1937 novel, which was followed 17 years later by the much longer Lord of the Rings trilogy, as a “breathless” text in which “very major events are covered in two or three pages”. He told reporters: “Once you start to develop the scenes … you wanted to do a little bit more character development.”
The Hobbit was initially set to be filmed in two parts, but Jackson’s team announced suddenly in July 2012 that a third movie was in the offing. Critics have suggested the move to extend the project into a trilogy – by culling material from the appendices of Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s other books about Middle-earth – was made for commercial reasons. While early reviews of An Unexpected Journey have been generally positive, some have described the film as bloated, with too many extra scenes at the beginning which only serve to slow down the story.
Philippa Boyens, Jackson’s screenwriter and co-producer, said the production team found Tolkien’s breezier approach on The Hobbit at odds with the requirements of its star-studded cast. “Great actors come to you for the material and if you give them very slight material, you’re just not going to get them. We wanted to write for these great actors,” she said. Ian McKellen, who reprises his role as wizard Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings, said there was no commercial motive behind the approach. “Anyone who thinks Peter Jackson would fall for market forces, instead of artistic imperatives, just doesn’t know him, doesn’t know the body of his work,” he said.
Shot in 3D and at 48 frames per second – though also available to view at standard 24 frames per second at many cinemas – The Hobbit has also drawn suggestions from some sources that it can cause nausea in the viewer. Studio Warner Bros yesterday issued a terse statement denying the claims.
“We have been screening the full-length HFR [high frame rate] 3D presentation of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey extensively and feedback has been extremely positive, with none of thousands who have seen the film projected in this format expressing any of the issues described by two anonymous sources in media reports,” the statement read. “We share the film-makers’ belief that by offering filmgoers the additional choice of HFR 3D, alongside traditional viewing formats, they have an opportunity to be part of a groundbreaking advancement in the moviegoing experience and we look forward to having audiences everywhere share in this new way of storytelling.”
Jackson’s film, which sees hairy-footed halfling Bilbo embark on a quest with 13 dwarves and Gandalf to wrest a priceless treasure from a dragon, currently maintains a rating of 76% “fresh” on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting that three-quarters of critics enjoyed it. Nevertheless there have been caveats issued by even the most ardent of proponents.
“Spending nearly three hours of screen time to visually represent every comma, period and semicolon in the first six chapters of the perennially popular 19-chapter book, Jackson and his colleagues have created a purist’s delight, something the millions of diehard fans of his Lord of the Rings trilogy will gorge upon,” wrote Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter. “In pure movie terms, however, it’s also a bit of a slog, with an inordinate amount of exposition and lack of strong forward movement. In Jackson’s academically fastidious telling, it’s as if The Wizard of Oz had taken nearly an hour just to get out of Kansas.”
Variety’s Peter DeBruge was less circumspect. “Bilbo’s ‘unexpected journey’ is awfully slow to start,” he wrote. “Jackson and his team seem compelled to flesh out the world of their earlier trilogy in scenes that would be better left to extended-edition DVDs (or omitted entirely), all but failing to set up a compelling reason for fans to return for the second instalment.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Seit 1996 bin ich freier Mitarbeiter der Salzgitter-Zeitung, als Experte für das Geschehen im hiesigen Kreisfußball. Daneben sind meine Kolumnen seit 2005 fester Bestandteil im Lokalteil der Salzgitter-Zeitung. Zusammen mit Frau und Tochter sowie zwei gefräßigen wie faulen Stubentigern versuche ich das zu meistern, was das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest an Absurditäten für uns bereithalten.