canon

Shipping all the Gandalf rarepairs

I have finally seen The Hobbit Episode I The Phantom Dragon, so I am feeling more like a fully-topped-up member of this fandom. (I still have not finished my The Hobbit reread, however. Shhh, don't tell anyone.)

I quite liked it! On one hand, it doesn't stand on its own very well and I wouldn't even recommend it to introduce someone to the LOTR movieverse, much less to Tolkien fandom generally. On the other hand, if I had that kind of budget to produce a fanwork and I knew it was going to be my last opportunity to do so, I would indulge all of my whims and fancies, too.

So, I liked the opening sequence that sets up the relevant history; that worked well in FOTR and it's useful here. Honestly, reading the beginning of The Hobbit, it is not even recognizably set in Middle Earth as I know it, so some background information is good.

I liked Ian Holm and Elijah Wood reprising the bit at the beginning of FOTR in a nostalgic sort of way, even though the narrative basically foundered on the shoals there. Not enough happening, or what was happening wasn't serving enough different purposes, much as I enjoyed seeing Frodo putting up the "NO ADMITTANCE EXCEPT ON PARTY BUSINESS" sign and Bilbo complaining about the Sackville-Bagginses. Also, I realize that "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" is an iconic first line, but even if you are working from the Red Book of Westmarch hypothesis this has to be an interpolation by Tolkien or one of the editors or copyists who transmitted the document to him, as Bilbo is very unlikely to find himself explaining to Frodo what hobbits are and the precise nature of the holes in which they live, having shared the aforementioned hole with him for twenty-two years at the alleged composition of this sentence. Ahem.

As far as things that were in the movie that were actually meant to be there, I quite like the dwarves' songs. And their beards.

The story pretty much grinds to a halt again when we cut to Radagast the Brown, and I can't bring myself to even remotely care because everything about him is so fabulous. In Tolkien fandom (and for that matter in Tolkien canon) Radagast the Brown is pretty much always brought up as a sort of punchline, so I find it amusing to write him in and have him be a bit of a badass with his bunny sledge. Yeah, it's pretty much straight-up fanfic, but it's awesome fanfic. With bunnies. So I approve.

Having stuff actually happen in Rivendell was kind of great. I love that there's finally more detail about the fraught relationship between elves and dwarves in the movieverse, because I think the lack thereof previously hurt movieverse Legolas/Gimli, which I still shipped but not anywhere near as monogamously as in bookverse. Also, I could never say no to any appearances of Elrond, Galadriel or Saruman, who are all looking as awesome as ever. I kind of seriously ship Galadriel/Gandalf now. They can bicker telepathically and hook up every hundred years or so. Ringbearers with benefits.

After the movie was over, my mom, who is a strictly movie verse-only fan, asked me why Bilbo had been brought along in the first place. I said that as far as I knew the movie came closer to answering this than the book, that answer being that apparently hobbits are like teddy bears for Gandalf and he feels better when he's carrying one around with him. This actually is almost working for me; but then, I still massively ship Gandalf/Pippin.

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Bilbo is very unlikely to find himself explaining to Frodo what hobbits are and the precise nature of the holes in which they live

YES, THIS. PJ, you can have all the nudge-nudge fun of playing with the audience's detailed knowledge of the LOTR films, or you can have the fun of recreating absolutely as much as possible directly from the page, including narration, but you cannot have both at once.
I know! It's such a massively stupid clunker that I wanted to facepalm right in the theatre.

I mean, if you're absolutely wedded to the idea that Bilbo composes that line himself, you can have that, I suppose. You just have to not repeatedly and unnecessarily stress in what is already a weirdly slow scene that what he is in the process of composing is a memoir whose primary intended audience is Frodo, a hobbit, who is standing in a hobbit hole as Bilbo is writing this. Middle Earth is a large place filled with peoples who know little to nothing about hobbits and tend to underestimate them when they meet them, a recurring theme in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Maybe Bilbo is writing for them! Maybe he could even say something to that effect, and it could tie thematically into the big Thorin/Bilbo hug scene at the end!

Really, all I'm asking for here is a tiny bit of internal consistency and logic. Grr.