“The Hobbit” Debuts December 14th “The Hobbit” Debuts December 14th
“The Hobbit” Debuts December 14th

“The Hobbit” Debuts December 14th

“The Hobbit” Debuts December 14th

by Steve Eastman, Faith Issues

The first time I heard about The Hobbit, I was in junior high, I believe around ninth grade.  That was the first time English teachers expected us to analyze the “theme” of a book.  It sounded scary for a science and math kid like me.  

Then I noticed some of the more intelligent, literary kids were reviewing The Hobbit, instead of The Time Machine, which was my choice.  I remember the teacher saying that the The Hobbit’s author — J.R.R. Tolkien —was a friend of C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia series.  It turns out they were both professors and belonged to a writer’s group called The Inklings in Oxford, England.  It’s common knowledge that Lewis’ evangelical faith colors Narnia.  What isn’t as well known is that Tolkien’s Catholic faith impacts his writings.

I eventually bought The Hobbit, the paperback version with the pink cover and enjoyed it one summer vacation.  I remember looking at the map of Mirkwood Forest and fantasizing about Middle Earth.

The Hobbit eventually made it to TV as a seventy-seven minute cartoon in 1977.  That’s not counting commercials.  Orson Bean played the part of Bilbo Baggins.  Up till then he was best known as a wisecracking, New England panelist on a TV game show — To Tell the Truth.

Let me tell you there’s no comparison with the new version coming out Friday, December 14th.  The director is Peter Jackson, who also directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  

Jackson says he was really panicking as it got to be six weeks before the beginning of production and the part of Bilbo Baggins still had not been cast.  He was wanting a British star, Martin Freeman, who was committed to the TV Series — Sherlock.

“I called Martin's agent in London and I asked if we could find a way to accommodate Martin's schedule for "Sherlock" in our shoot.  Would Martin be prepared to still come down to New Zealand to do Bilbo?  And fortunately the answer was, 'Yes.'  Yes, he'd love that if it could work out.  So what we did with the studio's approval, because they felt as strongly as we did about Martin, is we did something very unusual, which is we started shooting The Hobbit.  We shot for about four or five months and then Martin had to go and do the second series of Sherlock.  So, we literally stopped the shoot for two months — eight weeks.”

Altogether, the shoot took 266 days spread over eighteen months.

Now, if you really feel yourself getting into the film, don’t be surprised if you have an unexpected desire to move to New Zealand.  After all, it’s the closest place to Middle Earth on the planet.

© 2012 Faith Issues

Listen to Steve Eastman and Peter Jackson
reminisce about The Hobbit.
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