It’s official – Peter Jackson’s long-awaited prequel to The Lord of the Rings is now going to be even longer, with yet another film added to the works.
According to a statement on the director’s Facebook page, Jackson stated that:
“We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance. The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.”
It’s no secret that most of Peter Jackson’s films (even the ones not set in the world of J.R.R. Tolkein) are as enormous and bloated as an elephant that’s retaining water. But even the three-and-a-half hour extended versions had to cut things out – they would have been insufferable otherwise.
And there’s really no need to even go to that kind of length – The Fellowship of the Ring, a novel of about 390 pages, managed perfectly well with one film. A novel that has about 30 fewer pages does not require two extra films.
It’s good that Jackson wants to make an immersive and faithful account of the novel, but there comes a point where you stop making a motion picture and start considering a TV series à la Game of Thrones. That way you’d solve all of the problems of pacing, and Martin Freeman would look much less like a goldfish that’s been dropped in the Atlantic.
Of course, any cynic will tell you that the real reason this adaptation – like so many others – has been split up is for the sake of money. More advertising, more bums on more seats, more moolah for the fat cats. But at least they’re using something that’s part of a rich canon, unlike the Twilight saga.
Still, you never know with these things – if anyone can make it work, it’s Peter Jackson, and come the end of film three I may be eating these words with a particularly large and bitter slice of humble pie. But let’s hope that this obsession of stretching books to breaking point abates sooner rather than later.
If it doesn’t, God only knows how many Fifty Shades of Grey films we’ll be forced to sit through.