Sunday,18 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012
Sunday,18 November, 2018
Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012

Ahram Weekly

Escape to Middle-Earth

Tired of this Earth?  Take heart — for here is New Zealand director Peter Jackson to take us down the famous hole in the ground that leads us back to the wonder land of Middle-Earth, where the Hobbits live.  You do remember the Hobbits… those dwarf-like, industrious, good-natured creatures who live along with elves, goblins, wizards and humans in an enchanted world of fantasy and bliss.  Who would not replace this world for that one!  The adventure of a century awaits, in as rich a land as ever existed, where good is good and bad is bad,” and ne’er the twain shall meet!
The inhabitants of Middle-Earth were first introduced to the inhabitants of this Earth in 1937, when English author, scholar, philologist J R R. Tolkien, finally finished his book The Hobbit, started in 1930.  Two decades later, in 1954, Tolkien further delighted his fans with another strikingly beautiful tale which takes off where the Hobbit ends. It evolved into the hauntingly beloved trilogy of “Lord of the Rings”, which ranks amongst the greatest annals of literary fantasy.  With 150 million copies sold, “the Ring” was voted “Book Of The 20th Century”, in a Waterstones poll, in 1997.
 Seamlessly crafted and utterly believable, The Hobbits and their Hobbiton existed only in the realm of imagination, until Peter Jackson, a little-known New-Zealand horror-film director decided to transport his favourite childhood tales to the realm of visual imagery, the magic of film. But if Peter Jackson was ready to bring this tale of passion and adventure to the cinema, the cinema was not altogether ready for such an endeavour.  So awesome is Tolkien’s creation, it took several decades of cinematic advancement in technology to reach the necessary level of sophistication to bring it to life on the big screen.  A mastermind visionary, director Jackson displays the incredible panorama of his beloved New Zealand, its spectacular landscapes and wild virgin woods, so breathtaking, so eerie, so hypnotic, so out-of-this-world of ours. Actor John Rhys Davis who plays Gimli in” Lord of the Rings” said of Jackson:” He has created an entire film industry to serve a film”. This film, or trilogy of films, turned out to be one of the greatest of the 21st century.  “The Hobbit” promises nothing less.
Earthlings are once again invited to visit Middle-Earth since the first installment of “The Fellowship of the Ring” was released in December of 2001. The second and third books followed, “the Two Towers”, 2002, and “The Return of the King”, 2003.
Written 20 years before the “Ring’,” The Hobbit” proved to be so successful that Tolkien’s publisher kept pressing for a sequel.  With the sequel already secure as both a literary and cinematic masterpiece, Jackson turned his attention to the original story, now a prequel.  Trilogies were more attractive to Jackson, who insisted on turning that one book into three films, to do total justice to the manuscript. The first part of the screen’s “Hobbit” trilogy will be released Dec.14, just in time for holiday viewing, and the need for humans to escape from this Earth’s stress to the fantasy world of Middle-Earth.
In the “Ring”, Frodo Baggins, a shy young hobbit, inherits a ring from his cousin Bilbo. Frodo soon discovers that this ring  is an instrument of absolute power of good and evil. In the prequel Time is reversed.  Middle-Earth is 60 years younger, but all else is there, The Misty Mountains, The Hidden Valley, Goblin Town, Gollum’s Cave, and so are most of the familiar characters.
 Bilbo Baggins lived in his hobbit-hole and never went for adventures until Gandalf the wizard and the dwarves persuade him to. Sir Ian Mckellen reprises his role as wizard Gandalf, an older Elijah Wood is back as Frodo, and who can forget that wicked wretch Gollum, aptly portrayed by Andy Serkis.  Even though there is no mention of the ethereal elven queen Galadriel in The Hobbit, the divine Cate Blanchett is back to enthrall  hobbits and humans alike.
J.R.R. Tolkien, which stands for John Ronald Reuel was born in South Africa, of English parents, in 1892.  His family moved back to England after his father’s death when Ronald (as his mother called him) was only 3. They lived in a beautiful rural area at Sarhole, near Birmingham, that left an indelible mark on young Ronald, to be seen and heard later in his writings. Ronald studied the classics and specialized in medieval English, German and Scandinavian languages and literature. Their influence is evident in the Hobbit stories.
So what is a hobbit, in case you have forgotten? At first Tolkien himself, did not know what to make of him. Finally he described him thus: “ I picture a fairly human figure, a round, joyful face, ears only slightly pointed, elfish hair, short and curling, (brown), the feet from his ankles down, covered with brown, hairy fur…33 is the age of adulthood, with a lifespan of 130 years”
The prequel, “The Hobbit---An Unexpected Journey”, will astound viewers even more than the “Ring” sequel.  It is the story of 13 unique dwarves with Richard Armitage as their leader and king, on a mission to reclaim his kingdom.
The forest is clearing, the mist is disappearing, and here is the hobbit-hole that leads to Middle-Earth. The course of our future may be entwined with the triumph of the Hobbit. We are ready for the: “Unexpected Journey”!

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
                           William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

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