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December 05, 2002 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-05

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"1* 0 !"

10B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, December 5, 2002

Continued from Page 7B
book or pictured in the film and occupies an amor-
phous, explicative position is appropriately voiced by
folk singer Glenn Yarbrough. His rich and soothing
voice melodically animates more-narrative ditties like
"Roads Go Ever, Ever On" while hearty choruses
often enliven the songs and verses of the elves,
dwarves, and goblins.
The film's music helps it ensnare viewers by
enhancing the emotions that the work aims to create.
The story can feel both exciting and ominous at vari-
ous moments due to the songs - the strong male
chorus turns the hobbit and dwarves' rescue from

wolf-riding goblins into an adventure while a sub-
dued, echoing, female voice makes Bilbo's sojourn
into Gollum's pit seem lonely and dangerous. After
enough viewings of the involved account of Bilbo's
journey and its accompanying, moving music, The
Hobbit begins to resemble an animated rendering of a
history long forgotten yet still enrapturing.
This captivating nature also owes to how well the
movie establishes the nuances of its characters, as
enumerated in the book. The wood elves appear slen-
der and in a camouflage that both protects them in
Mirkwood Forest and is in accordance with their the-
oretical connection to nature; Elrond possesses his
characteristically pointed ears; Gandalf's face is
weathered by age and experience.

The only character not portrayed as accurately as
possible is Gollum, who more closely resembles an
anthropomorphic lizard than a hobbit who has grown
haggard from years of owning the poisonous ring. Yet
this shortcoming is in some ways forgivable because
"The Hobbit" richly shows Gollum as the petty,
decrepit, frightful sociopath that he is.
An unfortunate drawback of the film is the editing.
Viewers watching "The Hobbit" on VHS or DVD will
notice the glaring cuts originally made to accommo-
date the film's original televised format. These breaks
in the action can at times detract from the movie's
quality. Additionally, while the animation is better
than that on "South Park," it will not make anyone
forget "Toy Story" any time soon. Of course this

shortcoming arises from the production's age (it is
now 25 years old), yet those who watch it for the first
time tomorrow will still initially laugh at its seeming
No shortcoming should wholly diminish "The
Hobbit", however. The film is a wonderful adapta-
tion of a classic story, and it deftly blends action,
drama, tenderness and humor (Gandalf, upon
hearing Bilbo's tale about Gollum, responds with
a wink, "Your story, Bilbo, has the ring the of
truth. Yes, it rings true").
With Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers" set for release in 13 days
(watch out, Harry), viewers owe it to them-
selves to discover the story's origins.

The Michigan Daily - Weeken Magazine -
Before 'Towers,' peep 'The Hobbit'

By Joseph Litman
Daily Arts Writer



Neemejari, MusiDirector


an engineer in

the U.

S .

Air Force,
no telling what

Only the hopelessly misguided could
possibly contend that Peter Jackson's
"Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the
Ring" was not the best film of last year
and in recent memory. However, that
does not make the movie immune from
criticism, and with all due respect to
Jackson and his otherwise fantastic mas-
terpiece, the film's exposition left much
to be desired.
Notably absent was
a detailed account of
how the ring that
caused so much com-
motion came to be in
the possession of the
Baggins family. Yes,
the movie mentioned that Bilbo found the
ring while in Gollum's cave, yet it neg-
lected how Bilbo got to that dank and
dreary place, and how he came to learn of
the ring's mysterious powers.
J.R.R. Tolkien's books on which the
movie and its forthcoming sequels are
based remedy this problem by providing
more information. However, Tolkien
wrote "The Hobbit," the ultimate prede-
cessor to his LOTR trilogy; that preced-
ing work was adroitly adapted to
television as an animated feature in 1977
by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
"The Hobbit" is a story about a gentle-
man named Bilbo Baggins who lives in
Hobbiton and is quite content living at
home and going about his usual, bucolio
hobbit business. This changes when a
wizard named Gandalf and a band of 13
dwarves recruit Baggins for an adventure
to reclaim treasure historically belonging
to Thorin, the leader of the diminutive
dwarf group. The treasure has been
seized by a dragon named Smaug who
lives in Misty Mountain and terrorizes
any folk who disturb him.
Characteristic of all Tolkien works is a

meticulous detailing of Middle Earth's
inhabitants, a list that includes elves,
dwarves, hobbits, trolls, goblins, and men
among others. Each race of creature
comes with a history and a set of defining
characteristics that make the stories won-
derfully enchanting yet also difficult to
recreate on screen. The challenge is
always to succinctly incorporate the
plethora of crucial identity elements with-
out making the story stale or plodding.
Jackson has been praised for his true-
to-the-text representa-
tions of the fictitious
Fo Middle Earth, where
the "The Hobbit" and
Vauk LOTR take place, and
he has accordingly
credited Ralph Bak-
shi's 1978 cartoon
version of Fellowship for having provided
him with a visual basis for his concep-
tion of the hobbit world. However, Bass
and Rankin's work has to have influ-
enced Jackson as well-given how similar
their representation of Hobbiton is to
Jackson's. While the exceptional authen-
ticity of both films may ultimately owe
to Tolkien's evocative writing, the simi-
larities between the representations of
Bag End are remarkable, from the hob-
bit hole's surrounding topography to the
layout of its liv-
ing room. Thus,
"The Hobbit
is worthy of
praise if
how __
f ~Y .

closely it mirrors Tolkien's original,
vivid depictions.
However in some ways, the animated
film does stray from its literary progeni-
tor. Critics of the '77 work have cited its
omission of some plot elements and
characters like Beorn as damning short-
comings, but these complaints are easily
disregarded because the movie manages
to include all of the critical elements of
the book.
No one who watches The Hobbit will
lack sufficient knowledge of the original
story, and given that the cartoon was

limited by television to a 90-minute
duration, it should instead be commend-
ed for still being as thorough as it is.
How closely does "The Hobbit" follow
its corresponding text? Many of the lines
spoken by the characters are directly
taken off of Tolkien's pages, and the film
includes a bevy of the songs written by
Tolkien as having been sung by his won-
derfully eclectic characters.
This latter feature of the film is
one of its strongest and most defin-
ing. A scop who is not present in the
See HOBBIT, Page 1OB


there s

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Mon., Dec. 9 at 8 p.m.
(the DSO does not appear on this concert)

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Experience for yourself the sheer delight
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Bernard Labadie, conductor
Christine Brandes, soprano
Katharina Kammerloher, mezzo-soprano
Steve Davislim, tenor / Stephen Powell, bass
Michigan State University Chorale
The holiday season is not complete without
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the "Hallelujah Chorus."

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