The Title, That’s the Problem

I just read yet another frothing-at-the-mouth pan of The Hobbit, bitterly complaining about all the ways that the movie has added “unnecessary” things to the novel. And it occurs to me now that perhaps the real problem with the movie is its title.

Because the movie is not in fact an adaptation of The Hobbit. It’s based on both that book and the appendices from The Lord of the Rings. It’s a retelling that places the events of The Hobbit in the context of the other, larger events that were happening in Middle Earth at the same time — events that The Hobbit rarely says anything explicit about, yet that are closely intertwined with the story of The Hobbit all the same.

Which is explained in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings.

Perhaps if the movie were given a different title like, oh, The Rise of the Necromancer, reviewers would not be so single-mindedly measuring the movie against the ideal they’re carrying in their heads of what a faithful adaptation of The Hobbit ought to look like. Because that’s so not what this movie is.

Meanwhile, here’s an essay that says what I’ve been thinking, that an awful lot of the huffy criticism of the movie, although posturing as purism in defense of Tolkien, is actually based on considerable ignorance of how The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are connected according to Tolkien himself.

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