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Old 05-14-2012, 12:34 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Thumbs up Hobbit2 - Chapter 02 - Roast Mutton

The adventure begins: this chapter moves Bilbo and the reader from the safety - and boredom! - of Bag End to the realisation that "adventures are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine" and the first time his life and that of his comrades is in danger. It also adds a name for him that incorporates his new function with the old identity - what do you think of the burrahobbit?


(Link to the previous discussion, for those who wish to read it.)
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:35 AM   #2
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I think Roast Mutton is a lovely, and yet very somewhat unfitting chapter. That is, unfitting to the regular idea of Middle Earth - isn't there, for example, talking wallets (which is probably one of the most confusing things in the whole book, where did that come from? What is it related to?), trolls that turn into stone with sunlight, the complete lack of understanding from the side of dwarves as to what Bilbo is capable of (the owl calls are sweet and fairytale-like, but just don't match with anything else I 'know' about dwarves).

This is a very much children's book -like chapter. Things happen fast and they don't have to be fully explained. Also Gandalf's appearance and the unexpected solution for the mortal danger.
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Old 05-14-2012, 12:33 PM   #3
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I can’t recall any authentic folk tale with a talking purse or a talking wallet but it feel perfectly right to me.

In Jack and the Beanstalk the harp calls out, “Master, master!” when Jack takes it and that wakes up the giant.

Also, evil magical beings in folk tales often roam about at night but are turned to stone at dawn. Tolkien only uniquely make this a characteristic of the monsters known as trolls.

This works, for me, in part, because Tolkien presents these magical characteristics as though the reader really ought to know about them and most readers accept that, at least for this story.

The effete and city-bred character who is ridiculed because he cannot do bird calls is a common motif in tales. The point of Thorin urging that Bilbo ought to “hoot twice like a barn-owl and once like a screech-owl” is surely to point out that the dwarves have previously been involved in many adventures so that the could not imagine that anyone, especially a supposed professional burglar, could not do something so simple. But Bilbo can’t.

Bilbo makes a mess of his first adventure, and he knows it. Bilbo understands what a legendary burglar ought to do but it is simply beyond his capability. Gandalf is necessary to save the dwarves by the simple folk tale method of distracting the evil creatures until dawn comes, like the hero of the Grimm Brothers’ The Brave Little Tailor” near the end of that tale: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm020.html . The tailor tricks the giants into fighting just as Gandalf tricks the trolls.

The difference in Tolkien’s tale as compared to most (but not all) traditional tales is that usually the protagonist may start out as an apparent failure but beginning with his first adventure he triumphs over whatever he comes across. It is a more modern technique to actually show the protagonist as a failure to allow a build-up to his latter success.
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Old 05-14-2012, 02:16 PM   #4
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I think it's funny that trolls have last names. That's what "Huggins" is supposed to be, in context. In the LOTR-Middle Earth, last names are a purely hobbitish thing. Men, Elves, and Dwarves do not have them, and creatures of evil barely have first names. And here's a typical troll standing about with a last name. Seems that Tolkien had a much more "human" conception of trolls, and a more modern one.

Also, about Bilbo not knowing the "basic" skills of immitating birds -

Quote:
But there are no legends of their deeds, for it is said that they do little, and avoid the sight of men, being able to vanish in a twinkling; and they can change their voices to resemble to piping of birds. ~Theoden, The Road to Isengard
Since Merry and Pippin don't gainsay Theoden, I assumed this is true; what an author gives as a character's opinion is fact to the reader, unless contradicted by another fact or opinion. I never realized any problem here until this discussion took place. By LOTR logic Bilboo shouldn't have found it that difficult to immitate an owl. To make different owl hoots - that's understandable, this was probably added by the Professor as a hyperbole, but not to immitate birds. The "typical hobbit" of TH seems much more "modernised" and "city-people" than the LOTR hobbits...

Yeah, yeah, TH and LOTR are to be considered separate stories, they shouldn't be compared for canonicity, etc, ok, I'm going.
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:28 PM   #5
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Pipe

There are several interesting notes in Chapter 2 of the
Annotated Hobbit.

1)
Quote:
It is traditional in fairy tales for the sight of the sun
to be fatal to trolls. In the Norse folk tales collected by Peter Christen
Anbjornsen and Jorgen Moe, translated into English by George Webbe
Dasent as Popular Tales from the Norse (1859), trolls caught in
the sunlight burst into pieces.
2) [QUOTE]In 1977, Tolkien's second son Michael told the Tolkien Society in
Great Britain that as children, he, his two brothers, and his sister had each,
at some point in their development, thought that the Troll chapter was the
best chapter in the book. He continued, "We thought there was something
rather nice about Trolls, and it was a pity they had to be turned to stone
at all."/QUOTE]

It's also noted that Tolkien's having the trolls use lower class speech is akin to
that of Chaucer using the Middle English northern dialect as a source of humor for his
southern English audience, in a 1931 paper presented to the Philological Society
of Oxford, entitled "Chaucer as a philologist: The Reeve's Tale."
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Old 05-15-2012, 09:08 AM   #6
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“Hoot twice like a barn-owl and once like a screech-owl”.

Barn owl and screech-owl are two different names for the same bird.
They don't hoot, they screech.

Does this explain Bilbo's confusion or is Bilbo ignorant of all things pertaining to owls?
Is Thorin also ignorant or is it all down to a lapse of memory on Bilbo's part when he wrote down the story some years later?

Or, horror of horrors, is Tolkien wrong?

.
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Old 05-15-2012, 01:16 PM   #7
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See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screech_owl .

Screech owl is sometimes used to mean barn owl but usually denotes a separate kind of owl from the barn owl. Unfortunately this kind of owl is a kind of American owl.

I suspect that Tolkien borrowed this distinction from some account associated with the New World and himself did not know the distinction.

The barn owl (Tyto alba) is found almost worldwide. The screech owl, (Strigidae) belonging to the genus Megascops, is limited to the Americas.

See http://www.inkart.com/pages/nature/owls.html

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Old 05-15-2012, 05:00 PM   #8
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It's interesting reading this story after all the years of reading LOTR several times. The light, comedic tone (I think especially prevalent in Roast Mutton) was a bit jarring when compared to digging Tolkien's other works.

Although, I haven't always agreed with LOTR being strictly a dark/serious/adult story. The heavy moments are certainly more serious and terrifying than anything in The Hobbit. LOTR also flows like a roller coaster, it starts with a light and fun party atmosphere in The Shire, then Frodo's own adventure begins. But it continues with moments of rest and recovery (sometimes coming in the form of humor) and then gets heavier/more dangerous. My memory of The Hobbit may be completely off, but I think it follows the same roller coaster pattern.

TH-Bilbo doesn't jar with LOTR-Bilbo to me. I would even say Gandalf in LOTR still maintains some of his clever and light Hobbitish character. Of all the races Gandalf seemed most fond of Hobbits (even though he may have been compared more similarly to the Elves), and certainly with Hobbits (particularly with Bilbo) his personality is different, different than say when he's with Aragorn or Elrond.

It's the dwarves who may be the most jarring, and different from LOTR. Although, the only dwarf we get to know in LOTR is Gimli. And really TH-dwarves prove the essential personality trait in LOTR. LOTR tells us Dwarves are tough to tame, don't easily forget those who have aggrieved them, but also remember proven friends. The Dwarves never abandon Bilbo's friendship (even when Sauron's messenger comes looking for information from them in LOTR) and Gloin extends kindness to Frodo based on being Bilbo's relative.

This may not be specifically about Roast Mutton, but generally I agree the tone of the chapter was very light and child-like...possibly jarring when compared to even the lighter chapters in LOTR. Although, I think all of the personalities of the characters...make sense/fit.
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Old 05-16-2012, 07:34 AM   #9
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dwarves and dwarves

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
...It's the dwarves who may be the most jarring, and different from LOTR. Although, the only dwarf we get to know in LOTR is Gimli. And really TH-dwarves prove the essential personality trait in LOTR. LOTR tells us Dwarves are tough to tame, don't easily forget those who have aggrieved them, but also remember proven friends. The Dwarves never abandon Bilbo's friendship (even when Sauron's messenger comes looking for information from them in LOTR) and Gloin extends kindness to Frodo based on being Bilbo's relative.
It seems to me that Gimli comes as a warrior resplendant, fresh from the gloriously rebuilt and refortified Lonely Mountain, wealthy, self-confident, and bold. In contrast, what we have in The Hobbit are a rag-tag assemblage of -- excuse me, but they admitted it-- coal-diggers and iron-miners. Thorin's thirteen are not all dwarves at the peak of their culture and glory. They are slummers; survivors; stubborn dreamers; and rather unlikely adventurers.

Somehow I doubt, if the timing and destiny had been otherwise, that (for instance) Bombur would have been selected as one of Frodo's nine companions. Gimli may be the token dwarf in the Fellowship, but consider the Fellowsihp's token elf is a prince, both men are heirs of great importance, and the leader is a Maia. Some of the members of Thorin's group are more like Pippin and Merry-- along for the trip whether they strictly belong or not.

TH dwarves are a motley lot; characters; unlikely; a ragtag coal-besmirched rabble, although a few of the leaders (similar to Aragorn) have some bloodlines to their name. That they have musical instruments is a good sign-- they remember their songs; they have not forgotten their heritage; they remember their culture; but by their own admission they haven't been living it for a while.

Can you imagine Gimli showing up at Rivendell with a bag of tools and a shovel?

The scene much later in the dragon's lair where the dwarves roam the treasure, fingering and hefting and studying various items, is a huge transition. It strikes me as the beginning of the end of their old life. One could assign that to the beginning of the book too, I suppose, but to me, the difference between Gimli and (say) Fili and Kili, is the transformation wrought by being a son of the Mountain, and the treasure and creativity and art and heritage-- and responsibility, and maturity, and majesty-- that goes with it.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar View Post
what do you think of the burrahobbit?
Anytime I see that word, my head has programmed me to think about the long time member of the 'Downs. So, in an attempt of being like the burrahobbit...

clumsy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark12_30
It seems to me that Gimli comes as a warrior resplendant, fresh from the gloriously rebuilt and refortified Lonely Mountain, wealthy, self-confident, and bold. In contrast, what we have in The Hobbit are a rag-tag assemblage of -- excuse me, but they admitted it-- coal-diggers and iron-miners. Thorin's thirteen are not all dwarves at the peak of their culture and glory. They are slummers; survivors; stubborn dreamers; and rather unlikely adventurers.
Wow, not joking when I say my mind has been blown, because I never paid attention to those details, and the backgrounds of the 13 dwarves. I have been so used to thinking pretty much every non-hobbit character was royalty, or had some kind of royal pedigree. Aside from hobbits, Beregond, Hama, and a few others in LOTR, the characters come from noble bloodlines. So, I've been assuming all these years it was the same for the dwarves who went with Thorin...but they are a very rag-tag bunch.

I went to bed wondering why the dwarves all approach the troll camp one at a time, because that was such a terrible strategy if they all wanted to avoid capture. I think your post has inadvertently been a partial answer, but it's still something I'm wondering. Approaching the trolls one-by-one (granted they didn't know whose camp it was) just seemed a strange way to not get everyone sacked.
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:16 AM   #11
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In contrast, what we have in The Hobbit are a rag-tag assemblage of -- excuse me, but they admitted it-- coal-diggers and iron-miners. Thorin's thirteen are not all dwarves at the peak of their culture and glory. They are slummers; survivors; stubborn dreamers; and rather unlikely adventurers.
I don’t think the dwarves are quite that bad off. Thorin refers to bad times in the past:
After that we went away, and we have had to earn our livings as best we could up and down the lands, often enough sinking as low as blacksmith-work or even coalmining.
But those days are past. Thorin refers to the present quite differently:
‘ … And even now, when I will allow we have a good bit laid by and are not so badly off’—here Thorin stroked the gold chain round his neck ….
Thorin seems to me to be referring to himself and his companions as being what someone being less casual about it would call extremely wealthy. Later in Appendix A III in The Lord of the Rings Tolkien describes the life of the dwarves at this time:
So Thráin and Thorin with what remained of their following (among whom were Balin and Glóin) remained in Dunland, and soon afterwards they removed and wandered in Eriador, until at last they made a home in exile in the east of the Ered Luin beyond the Lune. Of iron were most of the things that they forged in those days, but they prospered after a fashion and their numbers slowly increased. But as Thrór had said, the Ring needed gold to breed gold and of that or any other precious metal they had little or none.

… There he [Thorin] laboured long and trafficked, and gained such wealth as he could; and his people were increased by many of the wandering folk of Durin who heard of his dwelling in the west and came to him. Now they had fair halls in the mountains, and store of goods, and their days did not seem so hard, though in their songs they spoke ever of the Lonely Mountain far away.
No reason is given as to why Thrór, Thráin, and Thorin did not join their folk with the folk of their kinsfolk in the Grey Mountains.
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:35 PM   #12
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First of all, even if Thorin had considerable wealth for exile standarts, it was still meager in comparison to the former wealth of the Dwarves:
"Call them [halls] so, if you will," said Thorin. "They are only poor lodgings in exile." (Appendix A, III, Durin's Folk)
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Originally Posted by jallanite
No reason is given as to why Thrór, Thráin, and Thorin did not join their folk with the folk of their kinsfolk in the Grey Mountains.
Firstly, because the Dwarves abandoned the Grey Mountains after Dain's (the first one) death, due to the constant threat of dragons. Secondly, for sentimental reasons. No mountain can be as good as home, and no success can really replace revenge in a Dwarve's heart.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:21 PM   #13
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First of all, even if Thorin had considerable wealth for exile standarts, it was still meager in comparison to the former wealth of the Dwarves:
"Call them [halls] so, if you will," said Thorin. "They are only poor lodgings in exile." (Appendix A, III, Durin's Folk)
I fully agree.

The point I was apparently failing to make was that the coalmining and scavaging days of Thorin and his folk belonged to an earlier period than the point at which The Hobbit begins.

Quote:
Firstly, because the Dwarves abandoned the Grey Mountains after Dain's (the first one) death, due to the constant threat of dragons. Secondly, for sentimental reasons. No mountain can be as good as home, and no success can really replace revenge in a Dwarve's heart.
I meant to type the Iron Hills not the Grey Mountains. Good catch!

To expand on this: if the Iron Hills settlement was going strong at the time, why would most refugees from Erebor not go there rather than to Dunland in the south? I have no trouble inventing several reasons why Thrór and his descendants did not do so, but Tolkien doesn’t indicate which of my reasons were correct ones or whether reasons I have not thought of might (also?) have a bearing on the matter.

The party who followed Thrór and his descendants would doubtless have longed for a return to the Lonely Mountain and their own land regardless of where they went.
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:10 AM   #14
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I've been thinking how best I can make a contribution to these discussions, seeing as I have demands on my time that might limit my participation. So, I've read the first two chapters and thought long and hard about how to approach a chapter-by-chapter reading in time for the release of The Hobbit movie.

I've decided that, for my part, a way to respond is to consider what aspects of the chapter are likely to be ignored by Peter Jackson. Not that I'm taking bets or anything. But it seems a unique way to go about thinking of the text with the upcoming movie/movies in mind.

So, as for the chapter "Roast Mutton", what here might PJ excise? Now, I know that, with a book this small or short, and a two movie extravaganza in the making, it is possible that PJ will want to use all available action and material. But in the case that he and the other writers might choose to add their own materials and not require the use of Tolkien's original story, perhaps, just perhaps . . . well, let's consider past behaviour . . . .

In the LotR movie trilogy, the chapters concerning The House of Bombadil and the Barrow Downs were omitted from the movie, the justification given that, in an action story about the ring, nothing in these chapters was really essential to the plot. (Never mind of course what we learn about the Ring from Tom . . . .) How does this criterion fit the chapter "Roast Mutton"?

It is a bit of a letdown, action-wise. Neither Bilbo nor the dwarves are really up to the challenge that the trolls represent. And both/all of them must be rescued by Gandalf, handily. The trolls know nothing about the adventure to which or on which the dwarves have invited Bilbo. There's nary a mention of the ring or the Ring or the recovery of any dwarven treasures. It's just an adventure along the way that shines to Gandalf's wizardly credit.

Wait a minute!

Wasn't that how Tolkien described the Tom chapters, that he wanted the hobbits to have an adventure along the way?

But for PJ, the fact that Merry found an important weapon in the Barrow Wight's barrow, which is to figure significantly later in the novel, is not important. Neither is the information that someone exists--Tom--who is immune to the Ring's influence, although sadly not really cognisant of the significance of this fact. So if this is a significant aspect of PJ's method, if it represents an operating principle for translating the text to celluloid, what might this suggest or even prophesy for "Roast Mutton"?

What does this chapter do to progress the plot? Or any aspect of it?

It shows Bilbo's character--somewhat. It shows the dwarves' characters, somewhat; they don't appear to be particularly wary and cautious on this adventure and are each caught rather easily and quickly by the trolls. It seems to suggest that Gandalf is the true leader here, the one with his head thinking properly about how to proceed. It provides villains in the nature of trolls who are irrelevant to the ring or Ring or the dwarven quest. They seem to provide an adventure about as significant, action-wise, as Tom's little side trip. Are the trolls interesting enough--or is the lesson learned from this adventure significant enough--that PJ will include it in the movie? Or does he have time to play, with two movies to fill?

After all, while Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves are looting the troll's cave of food and weapons, a significant weapon is discovered. Or two, actually. Bilbo finds Sting and Gandalf finds Glamdring. (Thorin one also, but that doesn't relate to LotR.) Merry found a very significant weapon in the Barrow Wight's barrow, but that didn't stop PJ from removing the scene in which it is found, did it?

So, my question is, will the chapter "Roast Mutton" likely be found in the Hobbit movie or will it likely be excised? Are the trolls going to be exciting villains or will they be ignored like the very ghastly and enigmatic Barrow Wight was?

What's the meat of this chapter that will nourish the movie?
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:00 AM   #15
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Excellent ideas to ponder and discuss for the CbC threads Bb! It is impossible to really tell what Jackson will cut, add, or alter but that doesn't make such discussions in relation to re-reading The Hobbit pointless.

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So, my question is, will the chapter "Roast Mutton" likely be found in the Hobbit movie or will it likely be excised? Are the trolls going to be exciting villains or will they be ignored like the very ghastly and enigmatic Barrow Wight was?

What's the meat of this chapter that will nourish the movie?
My response towards the movies has greatly fluctuated over the years. One thing that's been pretty consistant though is, I would prefer Jackson simply excising parts instead of trying to get creative and change it. I mean, if Jackson's not going to shoot a scene properly, I would prefer he just not shoot it at all.

It's the reason why I was fine with Bombadil and the Old Forest being skipped over. Even though if Jackson's explanation for it's lack of importance to the main ring-quest doesn't make sense (for the reasons you've pointed out), I think it was wisely handled in order to get the Hobbits from the Shire to Rivendell in a timely manner as far as movies are concerned. I know debating this point isn't pertinent to your question, but I hope using it as an example is...

I am ok with the Old Forest being removed, because I just don't trust Jackson's ability to capture the magic and greatness in that part of the book. It just meant there is one less thing that could have potentially frustrated (or disappointed) me in the films, had Jackson decided to include the Old Forest. There was no way he could have captured the same spirit of that part, and thus I'm glad (whatever his reasons were) he didn't make an attempt.

I'm afraid with Roast Mutton, it won't be the same. Even though I agree with your case this chapter has the same elements as Bombadil and the Barrow-wight, I doubt Jackson will cut it out. Why? It can be easily distorted into a fight sequence. I would prefer it to just be cut out from the films, if it's just going to become a fight scene, but for the very fact Jackson can turn it into one, I doubt it will be excised.

A shame really, since I loved the part in the FOTR movie when we got a glimpse of Ian Holm telling the story about the trolls to the hobbit children. Holm was so enthusiastic and the expressions/reactions of the kids were priceless. It was a minute, almost meaningless scene, but I loved it. Unfortunately, since it was referenced in the LOTR-film, I think fans will be expecting to now see the full "story" of Bilbo's encounter with the trolls. And my pessimistic self telling me, the "full story" will be a fight scene.
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Old 05-20-2012, 07:02 AM   #16
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I like your take on a possible line of thinking for the discussion, Bb! In this particular case, however, I am very sure we will see the trolls in the movie(s) - after all, we already did! Remember the scene (extended edition FotR, iirc) where the stone trolls are depicted in the background? And as B88 says, we also had old Bilbo telling the story of that adventure to the kids.

Question is, will PJ have his more fearsome dwarves acting as simple/stupid as they do in the book? Will he use them as comical characters or give them a darker edge? We'll find out in seven months...
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Old 05-20-2012, 08:21 AM   #17
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Perhaps PJ will find that the story already has enough adventure, character/s, and other information, so he will decide to take out the hobbit - after all, what does he add to the story? Nothing much, really. Just like Tom Bombadil, he does a bit of this and a bit of that, but doesn't really affect the main plot or develop character. Roast Mutton can do well enough without him.



Edit: that was aimed at PJ, not at your speculations. (And I like your idea, Bb!)
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:10 PM   #18
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Yes, there are some troll references in the movie trilogy--are the extended editions the canonical version, or the theatrical release?--but what's a little lack of continuity to folks who put elves at Helm's Deep?

I think Boro's point about the chapter providing an opportunity for a fight sequence is, very sadly, quite likely it's selling point for PJ. The nonsense and light-hearted comedy (like that of Tom) could well be downplayed. The costumes of the dwarves in the snippets that have been released seem to me to be very dark. I had never imagined the dwarves all got up in black leather. Brown, yes, not not all black. (And miners don't get all leathered up while mining, as underground it is hot--at least the coal mines I have seen are, although weapon-making would likely require the protection of leather.) So I think Esty's question about their portrayal is significant. If the chapter stays, but its style and tone are changed . . . .

I'm glad folks like the idea of thinking how PJ will depict each chapter. I thought it was a way to provide a new approach for a repeat reading of TH. Will try to stay tuned!
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:41 PM   #19
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So you want PJ changes, eh? Well, how about the trolls pick
up the dwarves and toss them into bags, because, you see,
they're dwarves and it's so funny when you have a running gag
about "tossing" them.

And as for the talking purse...
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:52 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Bêthberry View Post
I think Boro's point about the chapter providing an opportunity for a fight sequence is, very sadly, quite likely it's selling point for PJ. The nonsense and light-hearted comedy (like that of Tom) could well be downplayed. The costumes of the dwarves in the snippets that have been released seem to me to be very dark. I had never imagined the dwarves all got up in black leather. Brown, yes, not not all black.
Well then, if you really would like to hear my doom and gloom

I think overall The Hobbit movies will get darker in tone and atmosphere, but I'm sure there will be comedic parts as well. Problem being, Jackson's style of comedy which is usually crude and lewd. Therefor, the trolls will be depicted as a slower and dumber form of Ents (movie-Ents mind you) crossed with drinking games and belching contests.

Oh man, my expectations seem really low, hopefully it's just this chapter, though? Or maybe, if I set such low expectations I will actually be more glad about the enjoyable parts in the movies?
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Old 05-20-2012, 04:05 PM   #21
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Oh man, my expectations seem really low, hopefully it's just this chapter, though? Or maybe, if I set such low expectations I will actually be more glad about the enjoyable parts in the movies?
Be prepared for the worst and never feel disappointed.
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Old 05-21-2012, 03:59 AM   #22
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Careful, folks - we don't want this to turn into a thread that has to be moved to the Movies section of the forum! Please make sure the book stays the main focus of the dicussion - as Bb suggested, talk about those parts of the books that may get neglected onscreen.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:09 AM   #23
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John Ratliff in his The History of the Hobbit: Part Two: Return to Bag End includes as The Fifth Phase a previously unpublished beginning of yet another revised version of The Hobbit. In this version Tolkien is removing all the chattiness of the narrator and attempting to fix all internal errors of chronology and contradictions with The Lord of the Rings.

When Tolkien sent the beginnings of this rewriting to an unnamed friend for comment she responded with something like “this is wonderful, but it’s not The Hobbit.” Tolkien, presumably aware of other authorial attempts to revise a work which to most readers did not improve it, stopped work on the project.

But apparently someone had pointed out to Tolkien that his two owl calls reference is in error.

The original text says:
‘Now scuttle off, and come back quickly if all is well. If not, come back if you can! If you can’t, hoot twice like a barn owl and once like a screech-owl, and we will do what we can.’

     Off Bilbo had to go, before he could explain that he could not hoot even once like any kind of owl any more than fly like a bat.
Tolkien’s intended revision was:
‘Off you go, stealthy mind you! Come back quick, if all is well. If not, come back, if you can. If you can’t, give a signal: the cry of a night-hawk, and two hoots like an owl, and we will do what we can’. With that he pushed the hobbit forward.

     So off Bilbo had to go, before he could explain that he had never heard a night-hawk. ‘I wish I could fly like a bat’, he thought.
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Old 11-20-2017, 12:50 PM   #24
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I agree with the previous discussions that this is a bleak and dreary chapter. It starts off light and humorous. Bilbo gets his handkerchief after all, and the beginning of the adventure Bilbo thinks adventuring isn't all that bad. But then things take a turn for the worst, when the weather turns and they can't find a dry place to get cover from the rain. Gandalf mysteriously disappears and I wonder is this going to be a recurring thing for the wizard?

I do think Bilbo is mostly to blame for the plight with the trolls in this chapter. It is in the previous chapter when we learn about a hobbits ability to conceal and get past trouble unnoticed:
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There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off.~An Unexpected Party
And Bilbo (as do all hobbits it seems) takes pride in being able to move through woods quickly and quietly.
Quote:
Off Bilbo had to go, before he could explain that he could not hoot even once like any kind of owl any more than fly like a bat. But at any rate hobbits can move quietly in woods, absolutely quietly. They take pride in it, and Bilbo has sniffed more than once at what he called "all this dwarven racket," as they went along, though I don't suppose you or I would have noticed anything at all on a windy night, not if the whole cavalcade had passed two feet off. As for Bilbo walking primly towards the red light, I don't suppose even a weasel would have stirred a whisker at it. So, naturally he got right up to the fire -...~Roast Mutton
Thorin just asks Bilbo to find out about the fire and come back after doing so. After all, it is how Bilbo fits/the services as the company's burglar. He quite successfully gets right up to the fire and the trolls. It's entirely his fault he gets over confident to try his hand at showing the dwarves that he's an excellent burglar.

Now yes, it is the dwarves fault that they themselves get captured too, as the only one that finds something off and prepared for trouble was Thorin.

The continuing log of dwarves...

Balin is always the look out dwarf, he's the oldest dwarf, but must have the sharpest eyes. He is the first dwarf to come into the campfire and get captured by the trolls. It's also noted that his concern is to find where Bilbo is in the commotion of the trolls fighting each other. This is I believe the first dwarf to show concern for our hobbit.

Oin and Gloin can build the best fires, and quarrel a lot. Twice in this chapter it mentions the two arguing/quarrelling.

Dori and Nori shared Bilbo's opinion of meals "plenty and often."

Thorin, his leadership so far appears to be he's too important to risk himself on tasks of the common folk...he doesn't cook the meals, he doesn't start fires, he doesn't investigate the fire. However, he is the only one who approached the fire cautiously, wasn't caught off guard and put up a fight with a tree branch until he gets sacked.
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