Monday, 13 May 2013

THE Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Padded … or otherwise

10th May, 2013.

You know … 

After one night where I’ve had zero sleep — a couple of night’s ago, since you ask — to a night, like tonight, where I’m going to clamber into bed at a comparatively late hour.


Well, mostly because I wanted to get started on a post about the film I’ve just seen.

You’re PROBABLY not needing to ask what the film was, are you … ?

But just so you know … ?

It’s was the recently released DVD version of the 2012 film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

And for starters … ?

I’m going to thank an old friend, Graham, for loaning me his copy.

There’s a reason for that.

Partly that Graham’s a kindly old soul who likes being nice to people.   And PARTLY because I asked him politely.

The reason I asked … ?

Actually … is iTunes … 

Normally, I’m a huge fan of Apple products and services.   I’ve written enthusiastically about them enough, over the years to give you a clue about that.

Usually,  I’m happy to rent films through them.   Except The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Which, at standard definition, measured up at 2.92 gigabytes.   Something I, with my 40gb download, wasn’t going to contemplate doing*.

So, I, for one, was glad to borrow his copy …

Remind me to have some sleep and tell you about it.


13th May, 2013

Which — it has to be said — took a long time!

Well … to be fair, the sleeping didn’t take that long.   But the weekend did: mostly where I was help my mother shift a lot of furniture from one room to another.

Quite a lot of stuff, actually …

At ANY rate … ?

At any rate, I was going to try to sum up The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The film — the first in a trilogy based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s original novel — opens just before the famous eleventy-first Birthday Party, with Ian Holm reprising his role as Bilbo Baggins: who, in explaining how he went on his first adventure, tells us all about the Fall of the Kingdom of Erebor†, easten-most Kingdom of Dwarves.

After it gets invaded by the dragon, Smaug.

After its King, Thrain, his heir, Thror‡, are killed: either in the battle or after.

And Thorin Oakenshield, the remaining heir to the throne of the Lonely Mountain, is left exiled and wondering Middle-Earth, with the remains of his people.

Thorin, of course, is determined to win back his kingdom.   Having eventually decided on a plan to take some of his best warriors to the Lonely Mountain, he seeks out an old friend, to see what advise he has.

Those of who’ve read the story will realise … that Gandalf immediately suggests a burglar … 

Which is where the film starts … 


With, of course, a flash-back to Martin Freeman as a much younger Bilbo: calmly sitting on his porch, enjoying a pipe full of tobacco, when he … 

Well, I’d explain more: but I’d suggest seeing this.

There’s reasons: there’s also an argument to deal with, as well, as I’m very aware that some who’ve seen the film — including a couple of old friends, Graham and Kevin D — feel the film has quite excessive amounts of padding to its name.

I can see their point.

There’s a scene — late on in the film — where the Company is travelling through the Misty Mountains, and are incidental victims of some Storm Giants.

That was a completely pointless scene to watch: as it’s derived from a — literal — throw-away line in Tolkien’s original text.

I felt much the same about with a lot of the scenes with Radagast the Brown: although, in the case of Radagast, he’s only given a minor mention in one appendix.   Although, to be frank, I do like Sylvester McCoy, having felt he was rather badly scripted for in Dr Who,

On the other hand … ?

On the other hand, there’s a scene where Gandalf has to report into the White Council: consisting of him, Saruman, Galadriel and Elrond Half Elven.    Padding … ?   Possibly.   If I remember correctly, this only gets a mention in another of the Appendices to the Lord Of The Rings.

And … ?   Well: while I’m not convinced it’s a piece of padding — The Hobbit’s shift from two to three parts is well known — it’s one of the scenes that could possibly have waited for the Directors Cut.

On the other hand … ?

On the other hand, one could ALSO apply that logic to the opening scenes: those that show us the Fall of Erebor.

Again, while this is arguable padding, that could well have awaiting a Director Cut, I’m ALSO aware that not many modern movie audiences would have necessarily have seen read the original books, in which this is discussed.

Frankly … ?   Frankly, from where I’m sitting, having it at that opening part of the first film allows Jackson and company to fill us in on much needed details: with necessarily having to have read all the books.

So … 

Arguably … ?

Arguably, yes, one can say this first film in the trilogy is padded: and possibly to an excessive degree.

On the other hand … ?

On the other hand, I rather enjoyed it.

And hope that the two later films are shorter, having had much of the extraneous stuff out of the way.

Now, if you’ll excuse me … ?   I’m going to have to get the book out of the library … 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

*        I’ll be honest, here, if I may … ?   I’ve long been an advocate of using DVD-ripping software like HandBrake to make backups of all your DVDs: AND copies you can play on your iPod.   Why, after all, should you play twice … ?   At ANY rate … ?   At any rater, I did any experimental rip of the film, with HandBrake 0.9.8: at it’s default settings, that gave me a copy of the film at a resolution of 1009*426 pixels, a bit rate of 1,360 … and a size of 1.66 GB.   I have to ask what Apple are playing at, sometimes: although, to be fair, I believe they’d be doing something like this at a resolution of x by 720: a much larger height, and comparative length: that of course, would show up as a larger data-rate, and thus as a larger size file.

†        I should add, here, that the dwarves in the film are, by Tolkien’s own accounts, of the Folk of Durin: Thorin, for example, is a direct descendant of Durin 1st Deathless.   There were, as he himself mentioned in Quenta Silmarillion, six other houses.

‡        Going by the book, Gandalf is given the Key To the Secret Door of Erebor by Thrain: after the latter is captured by the Necromancer: Sauron, in other words.

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