Peter Jackson still holds the director's reins for 'Rings' prequel 'The Hobbit'

Jackson talks about his initial reluctance to direct again and the complications he faced in adapting Tolkien's lighter and larkier 1937 book.
by Dennis King Published: December 14, 2012

“But once we started to develop the scenes — and plus we wanted to do a little character development and conflict, plus the fact that we also adapted the appendices from ‘The Return of the King,' which is a hundred-odd pages of material that Tolkien developed that takes place around the time of ‘The Hobbit' — we decided to expand the story. Tolkien himself wrote that material to tie it in more with ‘The Lord of the Rings,' which he wrote 17 or 18 years after ‘The Hobbit.' So all of those elements combined give us the more than enough material to (make three films).”

Additionally, Jackson said, from the director's chair he's been able to attend to many finer details of continuity that will help tie the six films of the “Hobbit” and “Rings” trilogies into a coherent whole.

“One of the things that made this film so enjoyable to me was being able to connect little things from ‘The Lord of the Rings' to ‘The Hobbit,'” he said. “For instance, there was a scene from ‘The Fellowship of the Rings,' where they stop at a crossroads and there's a quiet moment when Gandalf is talking to Frodo, and he's talking about the events in ‘The Hobbit' and about the fate of Bilbo, ‘the pity of Bilbo rules the fate of all,' meaning that Bilbo had the chance to kill Gollum but he didn't. And the fact that he didn't is now directing the story; it's now created the story of ‘The Lord of the Rings' for good or for bad.”

In “An Unexpected Journey,” Jackson and company recreate that intense, extended sequence in which Bilbo Baggins first encounters Gollum (Andy Serkis) beside an eerie, underground lake in the Misty Mountains. There, Bilbo seizes the “precious,” cursed golden ring and does fierce battle with the wild-eyed Gollum.

“So it was really interesting, 10 or 12 years after we'd shot that scene (in ‘Fellowship of the Rings”), to go come back and actually show the moment where Bilbo stays his hand,” the director said. “And also the reason that he doesn't kill Gollum at that moment when he has the opportunity to is that Gandalf has said to him that true courage is deciding when not to kill rather than to kill. Just completing those little circles was one of the most interesting things about this.

“And in a way, if we hadn't shot the films in this order we might not have been able to do that,” Jackson said. “Because I'm much aware that once these three movies are done and have had their theatrical life, they'll be seen as part of a six-movie set, which is the way they will exist from that point on. So I am very conscious of making it feel like a very organic story with synergy and everything clicking together.”

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by Dennis King
Movie Critic (Contributor)
King spent 31 years as an ink-stained wretch working for newspapers in Seminole, Ada, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. He holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of Central Oklahoma and for 16 years served as an adjunct instructor in journalism...
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