One particularly dedicated J.R.R. Tolkien fan took Peter Jackson’s bloated Hobbit trilogy into his own hands last week and edited it down into a much more manageable four hour long film. By cutting out several of the things that Jackson added in order to make the series span three films instead of two, the editor (who simply goes by TolkienEditor) was able to create a much more coherent and fluid experience.
Ever since it was revealed that Peter Jackson’s re-entry into the world of Middle-earth would be turning The Hobbit into a trilogy, fans have been worried about excessive bloat and horrid pacing. Even in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which all are fantastic films, Jackson had trouble editing himself down to a reasonable length which inevitably lead to huge extended editions being released that total over a dozen hours of runtime. There have even been talks that Jackson only planned to have The Hobbit be two movies, but decided on three. The reason depends on how cynical you want to be, but the telltale signs are there and something is clearly off with how the films are split up.
But thanks to this mysterious TolkienEditor, we more or less have the Hobbit film we’ve always wanted.
The most obvious aspect of the trilogy to get the axe was the love triangle between Tauriel, Legolas, and Kili. Tauriel has been removed altogether, and Legolas – who was never even mentioned in the actual The Hobbit novel – is relegated to a small appearance during the Mirkwood arrest. As well, the Pale Orc Azog had his sections in the trilogy trimmed down considerably, and retrofitted to work better with his original role in the novel.
He also removed and slimmed down part of the barrel sequence from the film, which was greatly exaggerated from its book origins. As you can see in the sample clip that TolkienEditor posted below (assuming it doesn’t get a copyright strike within the next 10 minutes), the bit with Legolas the other elves is removed entirely, and instead the sequence focuses on the actual escape of Frodo and the dwarves. In general, this edit makes the Hobbit movies much more about, well, the hobbit.
One of the more interesting edits by TolkienEditor was removing the prelude sections with Bilbo. Of all the issues I, and many others, have had with Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, I never noticed just how much of a difference it makes to remove that bit of fluff which is arguably just an excuse to get Lord of the Rings characters to have more screen time. As TolkienEditor put it:
As with the novel, I find the film works better if the scope starts out small (in a cosy hobbit hole), and then grows organically as Bilbo ventures out into the big, scary world. It is far more elegant to first learn about Smaug from the dwarves’ haunting ballad (rather than a bombastic CGI sequence). The prelude also undermines the real-and-present stakes of the story by framing it as one big flashback.
The picture quality isn’t perfect, but if you walked away from the Hobbit films feeling less than impressed and want something that feels like a much more elegant and true-to-its-source way of telling the Hobbit tale, it’s definitely worth checking out. I’m not going to post the link directly to the video here, but there are instructions at the bottom of the original post on how to find it. So far the post – and the video – have been up for more than a week without issue, and it is also currently on several torrent sites, which is also detailed in the original post.
And of course, if you haven’t already seen the original Hobbit trilogy, please consider giving them a watch as well. Not only so you can support the original artists that created the film (and also because stealing is sort of bad), but also just to see how much of a difference the edit makes and how much work TolkienEditor put into it.