OK well given that soon the media will be buzzing with the news that the Peter Jackson vs. New Line Cinema conflict has been basically settled and also the movie rights to the Hobbit have been put into the right hands, I feel that I should speak my piece ahead of time... we will definitely be seeing a Hobbit movie at some point in the next couple years or so (with Jackson as Executive Producer though rather than director).
My thoughts on this... I should premise this by saying I frequented one of the more noteable fan sites for Lord of the Rings (www.theonering.net) from about 1999 until the release of Return of the King late in 2003, after which my visits to the site gradually diminished. Well now with the advent of another Tolkien film I am feeling compelled to start hanging around there again. This is primarily because there are some very like minded Tolkien geeks who also hang around there which makes for good discussion.
On to the afore mentioned thoughts... I will say that I did enjoy the movies (Lord of the Rings) on many levels, but there were also many levels on which I detested them. My main beef really comes down to what is referred to as a director's 'interpretation of the source material'. Now to me what that says is "If I [the director] wrote this best selling novel... it would have been like 'this'..." But the fact remains that you did NOT write the best selling novel and the question then remains, have you the right to change things? I imagine if you could write best selling novels, you'd be doing that rather than directing fillms. I understand of course that to make a book into a movie you are changing media... you are taking what exists in the three dimentional space of the imagination and converting it to the two dimentional space of a movie screen (although granted the sound track will travel through three dimentions... as I suppose will the light before it reaches your retinas, but you hopefully understand my point). In such conversions obvious concessions will need to be made. I have no problem with tightening up a story line to accomodate the 3 hour attention span of the modern audience, and if for example all of the changes Peter Jackson made to the 'source materials' were to accomodate said span I would have no argument. But the majority of his changes were to match what he descibed as 'his vision' of Tolkien's work. That is blatent arrogance... it is a lesser artist recreating the work of a greater artist under the delusion that the lesser will make the greater 'better'. That is my rant against movie director's who do 'adaptations'.
Now that is said and done... Jackson's movies are made and further discussion won't change the fact that he changed a great book. The current debate on such sites as theonering.net is whether the hobbit film/s (yes they are talking about creating a sequal to the hobbit based on loose references from Tolkien as to what happens between "The Hobit" and "The Fellowship of the Ring"... Arggg!) should be faithful to Jackson's version of Tolkien... or Tolkien's actual material. One post in particular recently stirred a railing rebutle from my inner nerd... One individual says that "To make a hobbit movie faithful to the source material would be ludicrous because dragons and trolls DO NOT TALK!!!" He made this statement with all seriousness as if dragons and trolls in fact existed, which I hope you realize do not. His point was that in Jackson's LOTR movies the trolls don't happen to talk and seem rather stupid albeit fiecely violent. However in the LOTR books, trolls are said to be evil and cunning and in the hobbit even the 'dumb' ones can speak. Also in all of Tolkien's stories involving dragons... they are always portrayed as very intelligent, cognizant speaking creatures.
The fact is that The Hobbit was written as a children's book and the Lord of the Rings was written for adults... taking the children's story and creating a darker, slightly less fairy tale world in The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson definitely made LOTR as an adult fantasy film and in that he did well. However to create The Hobbit with the same intense dark mood as Jackson's LOTR would be to stray far beyond the source material... even further than was strayed from the LOTR source material.
Well that is how I feel... and yes I am a complete nerd when it comes to Tolkien. I am comfortable being labelled as such. Merry Christmas by the way.