THE HOBBIT (1977)
Viewing Date: 5-4-2012
Posting Date: 5-14-2012
Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
Featuring the voices of Orson Bean, Richard Boone, Hans Conried
What it is: Children's epic fantasy
A hobbit is recruited as a burglar for a band of dwarves intent on recovering a treasure from a dragon.
Tolkien's "The Hobbit" is in something of an odd place; it's the prelude to one of the greatest epic fantasies of all time, "The Lord of the Rings", but since "Rings" is a fairly adult fantasy while "The Hobbit" is intended for juveniles, there's an odd difference in style between the works. And since "The Hobbit" was intended for children, one of the hazards of its being adapted is for it to be made cuter and more cuddly than it is. At least this adaptation of the book avoids that; it maintains its epic fantasy feel rather well. The use of music is uneven and a little too persistent, but at least most of the lyrics come directly from the book, and the music never gets too pretty. The movie also keeps fairly faithful to the book; the only major episode missing is the encounter with Beorn, but given that very little actually happens during that part of the novel, it was no doubt the first thing to get the axe when trying to condense the story to 77 minutes. But, because of the shortness, the story sometimes feels a bit rushed, especially during the first half. All in all, I found this a good, if not great, adaptation of the Tolkien novel.