Scientists, clever wizards that they are, have informed us that the Shire shares the same climate as Dunedin. Well, that’s obviously wrong because we all know Hobbits live in Matamata.
As someone who lives just over the hill from the Shire, I’ve always felt that the director of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings should pay a bit more attention to us locals.
If Peter Jackson were a true hobbit he would invite all of us to a big party and give everyone presents. Thus far, no party. Just another movie that I have to pay to go and see for myself. It’s as though I’m international box office fodder instead of a local who lives more or less next door to Bilbo Baggins.
Perhaps it’s for the best. After all, did you see the first Hobbit film? If Peter Jackson were to treat us the way he treats his main characters, we’d be mistaken for cartoons. He’d chase us up Mauao and have us all thrown off the edge, expecting us to tumble and thump from rock to rock with barely a scratch.
Where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was grounded in gravitas, those roller coaster escapes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey were just silly. Bilbo and his dwarf friends bounced from ridiculous heights like crash test dummies with no apparent consequence. Scientists should calculate the bone density of Middle Earth inhabitants. I think they’ll find more in common with Looney Tunes.
If nothing else, Peter Jackson has taught us the correct pronunciation of Smaug. I’ve spent my whole life saying “Smorg” which turns out to be wrong. It’s more like “Smowg”, which sounds like you’re jamming your fingers in a door, which is what I would rather do than watch cartoon dwarves tumble down nonsense cliffs again.
To be fair, my journey there and back again with the first Hobbit film was not a great experience; I came out of the cinema to find a $40 parking ticket poking its tongue at me from my windscreen. This was in Whangarei. They don’t look after Middle Earth locals there either.
It was my own silly fault for not seeing the pay and display sign, but still, there’s nothing quite like a parking fine to bring out the orc in you. It feels like Sauron just spat into your cornflakes. The whole world becomes tainted with injustice and makes you want to squash flowers out of spite. A year later I’m apparently still bitter. The Hobbit never stood a chance that day.
However, early buzz on the new film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is quite positive so maybe I’ll need to check my attitude at the door. I’ve decided to set aside my grumbles about fidelity to the source material and give in to the spectacle. If Peter Jackson wants to create a fun park ride through a variety of Middle Earth set pieces, then yay for him. Even better if it all holds together as a film.
It bothers me less now anyway. I’ve already seen my favourite film for 2013, which was Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. I loved Gravity so much I went twice. Not since I first watched The Matrix has a trip to the movies made me go “Woah!” as though I’d just swallowed the red pill. Gravity makes up for all the bad CGI and shonky 3D movies of the past decade. If you ever get a chance to see it on the big screen, go.
In the meantime, might as well catch up with our neighbour Bilbo. I know Peter Jackson doesn’t owe me anything, but I’d still like to see my name in the credits. “The film makers acknowledge that guy who lives over the hill from the Shire.” That, or a refund for my parking ticket. Call me a Sackville-Baggins, I’ll take what I can get.
First published in Bay of Plenty Times Friday 13 December. Reproduced with permission.