Even though I had already decided that The Hobbit definitely didn’t need three films, I just want to reiterate that position; having seen the final installment, I remain utterly convinced that it never should have become a trilogy. The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies is entertaining for sure, but like in a “let’s get drunk and watch it with friends while we make sarcastic comments” kind of way. Remember how the last one failed to include the desolating of a certain dragon, even though that was the title? And originally the third film was supposed to be called “There and Back Again”, but it became “Battle of the Five Armies” in a change that Jackson called “completely appropriate.” I have some suggestions of my own for alternative titles that I believe would have also been completely appropriate:
The Hobbit: More Thranduil Please!
The Hobbit: Every Creature In Middle Earth Is Probably A Mount: A Pig, A Moose, A Goat, A Bat, You Name It!
The Hobbit: My Strange Addiction: Dragon Sickness
The Hobbit: Do I Have To Try To Melt A Dragon To Get A Solid Gold Floor Like That? Because It Looks Awesome
The Hobbit: Everything In Middle Earth Has Been Bred For A Single Purpose (And That Purpose Is War)
The Hobbit: The Laws Of Physics Don’t Apply To Legolas
The Hobbit: Only Half Of The Dwarves Get Speaking Roles
The Hobbit: Martin Freeman Is A Treasure In Every One Of His Scenes Even In This Stupid Movie
The Hobbit: Thirteen Dwarves Without Helmets Make All The Difference In A Literal Battle With FIVE F–KING ARMIES!
The Hobbit: Elvish Fathers And Sons Are Too Pretty To Hug It Out
The Hobbit: It’s Always Eagles To The Rescue At The End Of A Middle Earth Story. IT’S ALWAYS F–KING EAGLES!
MY FAVE! He’s so gloriously disdainful of everyone else.
(Seriously, can we get a story that is just an exploration of the eagles inner politics and why they never get involved until the last dire minute?) I did like seeing Galadriel wield her ring of power, I LOVED Thranduil and his ostentatious moose, Smaug was terrific, and the credits sequence was beautiful. But all the good, necessary parts in this bloated, fan-fictiony trilogy could have easily fit into two films, An Unexpected Adventure and There and Back Again. And the titles would have made more sense.
I was finally able to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for a second time, and I have to admit it was better watching it again. Whether that was because I knew what would happen so the disappointment/annoyance wasn’t fresh, or I was able to focus on the elements that I did enjoy since I’d already cataloged the things I didn’t like, I don’t know. And I did notice a few new things that I didn’t like. But I don’t want to let my first reaction to the movie be my last post about it, because I neglected to include any of the things that I did like about the film in that post, and there were some really great moments.
I still think the movie is way too long, and there are inclusions that I will never understand–like, do we really need so many lingering shots of the giant bumblebees at Beorn’s house? And how are the orcs so fast they can keep up with and at times run ahead of the dwarves, who are traveling at the speed of the rushing river? (And how is there a seemingly never-ending supply of orcs anyway?)
Thranduil is PERFECT, though. He might be my favorite thing about this movie. I know I already said that but it was just doubly reinforced watching his scenes a second time. He’s majestic and petty and knowledgeable but sassy and selfish and beautiful.
When you read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, did you think, “yeah this is a great story and all, but my favorite things are the character and place names! Everything else could be changed,”? If so, then Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the movie for you!
I suppose that summation may be a little overly harsh. But for the last two weeks I’ve been feeling guilty about deciding I wasn’t going to be able to do a whole spectacular costume and line party like I did last year for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and as I sat in the theater last night I kept thinking wow, I’m glad I didn’t go all out for this one, because it would have been an embarrassing waste of time and energy and made the film an even more bitter disappointment. After the first Hobbit film came out I said I would reserve judgment on splitting the 300-page book into three extra-long films until I’d seen them all, but that’s no longer necessary. I can definitively state that it was a bad decision, and no matter how glorious the final installment may end up being, this middle movie, in which no substantial plot progress is made and there are no character arcs, should never have been made.
Biblo is terrified the movie will end before he gets substantial character development.
This week we got to see the first trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Sometimes I feel like I’m just a puppet of the people who work in movie marketing, because I was totally focused on looking forward to Man of Steel this week and then Catching Fire in the fall, but about five seconds into watching this trailer all I could think about was “December can’t come fast enough! I need to start working on my costume! I need to start thinking of themed snacks I can bring to have while we wait in line for the midnight showing!” And then I listened to the soundtrack to the first film for the rest of the day and re-watched the trailer dozens of times. I mean, I’m not complaining, it was a glorious day, I just feel like I’m too easily manipulated into excitement over these things. But I don’t care! I love it!
GAH, so exciting, so lovely, so perfect!
Look, there’s Beorn in bear-form! If you recall, I predicted that the visit to his cabin would be a good place to pick up the storyline for part 2 since it’s a natural refresher for the audience of the names of all the dwarves as they come in two at a time and Gandalf introduces them all to their host.
The barrel ride escape from Mirkwood is definitely being done differently from the book, because they’re not shut inside with lids closed for a silent ride, but honesty it’s going to be a lot more fun to watch this way. I”m not totally sure why CGI-elves with bows drawn are chasing them, but I’m sure it’s for dramatic effect as I don’t recall Beorn attacking the dwarves in bear-form ever in the book, either. I am a little more concerned about the elves chasing the barrels only because it’s going to make them look like poor shots when they miss them all, and I like to imagine all my elves with the ridiculously accurate aim that Legolas epitomized in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I love what we’ve seen so far of the new character of warrior elf Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily. (I’ll be posting a preliminary analysis of her braid hairstyle later). I can’t believe I’m even hearing rumors that some fans are objecting to her inclusion;people saying that do realize that there wouldn’t be a female character other than Galadriel in the whole trilogy if she’s not in it, right? These movies, like all adaptations are not “the book” but their own version of the story, so just accept it and enjoy it. Or if you’re going to say Tauriel is non-canonical and shouldn’t be included then you’d better complain about every single other element that’s been changed or added, too.
The peek at the dragon at the end reminds me of Gollum at the end of the first trailer for the first movie. It’s the exact same format, a sinister scene right after the title. But it’s a formula that works, and I love it. I wish we could see more of Smaug’s body, because I need to start figuring out how it might be possible to make a dragon costume to wear to the midnight premiere, but I have a feeling they may want to save the full reveal for the movie. At least I know what colors to use now, and the full shape of the head which is a lot more to go on than the eyeball shot we got at the end of An Unexpected Journey.
The best thing about this new trailer, though, is that director Peter Jackson shared a youtube video of some fangirls watching it for the first time, and then he posted a video of Evangeline Lily, Orlando Bloom, and Lee Pace in their Mirkwood elves costumes, watching the fangirls reaction and fangirling over the fangirls. It might be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
I honestly think I may have watched the above video more times than I’ve watched the actual trailer so far. I get a vicarious thrill for the fangirls, (sisters who have a webseries called Happy Hobbit), being able to see that the actors truly appreciate their enthusiasm. (The sisters later posted a reaction-t0-the-reaction, which has been dubbed “Hobbitception“) The part where they thank Peter Jackson and the actors for watching their video and say “If we can give back an ounce of the joy that you give us through all of your hard work then we’re more than happy to play the part of the fool and have you laugh at us,” reminds me of the sentiment I tried to express when I posted about spending weeks crocheting dwarf beards for last year’s Unexpected Journey, and the part where they squeal “she knows we like her!” in regards to Evangeline Lily/Tauriel is delightful, and when one sister tries to calm the other’s freakout over the fact that Orlando Bloom comments on their attentive faces with “well, we’ve seen his face”, it’s all just pure fangirl gold.
I mean, this might be the only time we see Thanduril smiling, and he’s not only smiling he’s flapping his arms just like I and millions of other fans did when we watched the trailer.
I’m serious, this is my new favorite thing, like, at all. Of all books and movies and shows and songs that I love, this is my favorite. Actors fangirling fans fangirling them. In a Peter Jackson adaptation of Tolkien. It’s a delight.
I made it very similarly to the dwarf beards, but I had to tie the mustache to the side (and then hide the fact that it was tied with more “hair” on top) so that it wouldn’t fall into the wearer’s mouth. Most of the dwarves had braided mustaches so I was able to keep the hair out of the way by pulling it into braids on them.
When I added the hair on top, I tied it to the side in a similar way to the mustache so it wouldn’t fall in the wearer’s eyes. You can see the knots on the part pretty easily, but I knew they would be covered by a hat so I wasn’t too worried about it.
Completed Gandalf beard
And here’s the actor in his test fitting, wearing his stilts so he’s towering above the doorframe in the background. Not wearing his hat here, but it still looks pretty great, I think! You can see him in full-Gandalf garb in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Musicalthat I posted about earlier.
A couple of months ago, some friends of mine (withVintage Faith Students in Manhattan, KS) demonstrated their immense creativity by writing and performing an original re-telling of the first third or so of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, as a musical. It was amazing. They modeled the aesthetic on Peter Jackson’s film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and used the beards that I had made for their dwarf costumes, and commissioned* a Gandalf beard and Bilbo wig so they would all match. They stayed a little closer to the book than Jackson’s film, and they went a little further into the book than the movie left off. No word yet on whether they plan to follow up next year with another installment, but even if they don’t, the videos I’m posting below of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Musical Journey might be my favorite adapted-from-literature performance ever.
My signed script
*By “commissioned” I mean “asked me to do for free as a favor,” since this was a production by volunteer college students for their non-paying friends. For my troubles I received a copy of the script signed by one of the masterminds behind the project, who plays Thorin, a CD of their practice songs, and the immense pride of knowing that I contributed to this awesome play.
Part 1: the dwarves arrive at Bag End where an unsuspecting Bilbo is about to be swept up into an adventure. The first song is verbatim from The Hobbit, and the second is from The Sound of Music with some lyrics changed to make it more Bilbo-y. (For each of these videos, if you click to watch them on youtube you can find all the lyrics in the video descriptions). How much do you love super-tall Gandalf?! He’s wearing stilts. Also, check out Thorin’s elaborate armor–it’s part spray-painted catcher’s leg gear, part woven placemats spray-painted silver so they look like chain mail. So creative!
Names and Faces
This was one of my favorite parts–this song kills me! It’s so funny, and so perfect! It’s to the tune of “Doe Re Mi” from The Sound of Music, but with all the lyrics changed so that it’s about teaching Bilbo the names and attributes of all 13 dwarves. It’s pure amazingness, and totally catchy. Song starts at 3 min. (Again, the lyrics are all in the video description on youtube).
Home is Behind
This scene picks up right after Bilbo rescues the dwarves from the trolls, (which happened off-stage in this production to avoid having to come up with a way to portray giant trolls that turn into stone). Bilbo misses a few lines in the song, but it’s based on “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, except instead of “cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels, doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles” he’s singing about “bacon with eggs and toast buttered like crazy, Snapdragons, lilies, laburnums and daisies.” (Song starts at 2:35).
At the end, there’s a new interruption–a tra-la-la-ing elf!
In a meeting with Elrond and Gandalf at Rivendell, Thorin finds out about the true fate of his father. Gandalf has to convince him not to try to avenge his father’s death, and to seek to reclaim his birthright at the Misty Mountain instead. The dwarves set off on their renewed quest to the tune of “Be a Man” from Mulan, but of course in this version it’s “Be a Dwarf.” This is easily my second-favorite song, after the “Names and Faces” one, and it was my favorite part of the script because of this hilarious note on the choreography:
I also loved how they told so much of the story through this song, (which starts at 3:50), like Bilbo getting the ring from Gollum, fighting the goblins, and escaping the wolves. You can see an eagle flying in to rescue them at the very end right before the lights go down.
(To be a dwarf)
You must be strong as an iron anvil!
(Be a dwarf)
Defending family with every bone!
(Be a dwarf)
And grow a beard of unrivaled thickness
Enduring the storms like polished granite stone!
This is where Jackson’s movie cuts off, but An Unexpected Musical continues, with the dwarves entering Mirkwood forest sans Gandalf, who warns them not to leave the path. Bombur falls under an enchantment, and everyone gets hungry and homesick, which they sing about to the tune of “Red/Black” from Les Miserables. Maybe I was lying earlier when I said “Be a Dwarf” was my second-favorite, because I really love this one too! The re-working of lyrics so perfectly fits the characters and their backstories as told in the book.
What would my parents think if they could see me now?
Mr Baggins was such a predictable man
But my mother the Took lived her life on the edge
And their tension continues inside of my heart
The colors that they loved, now pulling me apart
Red – the sunsets in the Shire
Black – the Burglar’s road to walk
Red – my nice chair by the fire
Black – I can’t even pick a lock!
(The song starts at the 3 minute mark, and the full lyrics are available in the video description on youtube.) In the end, the dwarves are temped to leave the path to try to crash the enchanted elvish party they think they can see in the woods, with disastrous results.
Everyone has been captured by giant spiders except Bilbo, who finds himself alone with a dazed wood-elf. The elf scampers off muttering about unwanted party guests, and it’s up to Bilbo to face his fears and rescue his friends from the spiders, which he does after reprising bits of “Be a Dwarf” and “I have Confidence”. (I so love the fishing-pole-spiders, and the leotard boss-spider!) A rescued Thorin is grateful for Bilbo’s help, and gives a rousing speech about looking forward to adventures yet to come as they continue their quest. The whole group joins in a word-for-word singing of the finale from Les Miserable, asking:
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barren waste
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
when tomorrow comes!
So amazing. I’ve watched it dozens of times now and I still can’t believe how much work they put into this just for the fun of it, and how well it turned out. I love it, and I hope you did, too!
Now that I have seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey twice, I feel able to post a reaction. I never like to offer an official opinion based solely on a midnight showing, because sleep deprivation or distraction from noticing all the book-to-film changes can cast an unjustified negativity over the whole experience that disappears on a second, well-rested viewing. (Although with this film, I didn’t really have any criticisms from the first viewing except that it did feel more like watching an extended edition than theatrical; I didn’t mind, but I can see how some critics, especially if they’re not Middle Earth nerds, might argue that it’s too long.) My second viewing was in IMAX 3D with the high frame rate–I wasn’t wearing one of my home-made beards that time, but it was still an epic experience.
Although the 48 frames-per-second medium has been getting mixed reviews, I personally thought it was fantastic. Some critics reported that it looked “too real” or that sets looked fake in the sharp, very clear picture. I just don’t understand this perspective. One reviewer said,
“Constructed interiors look much like they do in any of The Hobbit production diaries – like sets. Bilbo’s home has gone from a comfortable and homely Hobbit hole to something quite plasticky, and Rivendell suffers the same fate. In a quest to make his world more real, Jackson has inadvertently drawn our attention to its artifice.”
“When The Hobbit looks bad, it looks really bad, chiefly during action sequences where CG creatures are featured against non-CG backdrops. One scene stands out in particular, where a group of CG wargs (giant wolf-like creatures) chase our group of non-CG heroes across a grassy plain. The wargs look like CG wargs, while the dwarves look like Richard Armitage et al running around a….well, a grassy plain.”
I wonder if those criticisms aren’t really more of an audience problem than a flaw in the film itself. For one thing, I completely disagree about the sets looking fake or “plasticky”, and I’d be very curious to see what this person’s reaction would be if they got the chance to visit the actual Bag End set, because I know they really built an actual Hobbit hole residence that Peter Jackson loved enough to keep and turn into a guest house. So I’m not sure how, in this case, seeing the incredible detail and craftsmanship that went into that construction, as clearly as if you were there, makes the experience…worse? I mean if the makeup or costumes or backgrounds were actually sloppy or of inferior quality then yes, seeing the clearer picture in a high frame rate might be a disadvantage, but that’s simply not the case here. I think it’s wonderful that you can really see and appreciate a lot of those tiny details of painstaking work that you otherwise might not notice. And as for the comment that you can tell the wargs are CGI, and the dwarves look like actors running around grass, I think that is an indication that this critic is incapable of suspending their disbelief, and maybe doesn’t exercise their imagination very much. Of course you can tell that the wargs are CGI! I can tell that Shelob is also CGI in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, but that doesn’t stop her from scaring the crap out of me every time I watch it. CGI is getting better all the time; it can be crap in some films, but I don’t think that’s the case here. The trolls, goblins, and Gollum are all excellent. Maybe the wargs look a bit less realistic, but not enough to distract me from the story. And I can’t comprehend what this statement that they look like they’re running around “…well, a grassy plain” is supposed to mean. How is that not totally perfect? Have these critics never walked around with their iPod playing the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and imagining they’re running across Middle Earth on some epic quest? Have they never looked at a patch of grass or a group of trees and pictured themselves in the movies’ setting? What exactly is not good enough for them about these shots where there’s no highway in the background, no train whistles or neighbor’s dogs, no buildings, all of which my imagination is able to block out or transform when I’m walking down the street, if I want to temporarily be an elf? Basically, I don’t get the people who don’t get 48 fps. It’s like they expect the movie to do everything for them, and at the same time they don’t want it to do too much.
One of the things I loved about this adaptation, that I hadn’t known I was missing, was the perspective that the dwarves are in a diaspora. It certainly lends more purpose and heart to their quest, and it’s easier to root for them this way than if they were just going after gold. And it’s not really an addition, it’s completely justifiable from the text, I just hadn’t ever thought of it that way before. I absolutely loved the exchange between Bofur and Bilbo, when the hobbit is considering leaving the company because he doesn’t feel like he’s useful or one of them, and he says, “You’re used to this life…never settling in one place, not belonging anywhere. I’m sorry…” and Bofur just sadly agrees, “No, you’re right. We don’t belong anywhere,” and wishes him well. (Also, Bofur’s hat is the same style as Radagast’s, which makes me think it’s not inherently dwarf-style, but Bofur just picked it up somewhere in his wanderings.) Bilbo’s later declaration that he’s sticking with the dwarves because, “[Bag End]’s where I belong. That’s home. You don’t have one. It was taken from you. And I will help you take it back if I can,” is a better explicit motivation than inner monologues of “something Tookish woke up inside him,” or “he suddenly felt he would go without bed and breakfast to be thought fierce,” such as we see in the book.
I did love the “Blunt the Knives” song sequence, when the dwarves are tossing dishes around, much to Bilbo’s dismay. In light of the dwarf diaspora perspective, this joyful pastime seems almost sad in a way, like it’s an improvised way to keep a part of their culture alive. They once mined jewels and pounded silver and gold and mithril into extraordinary creations with rhythmic hammerings, but they don’t have mines anymore. They don’t have any of that anymore. They have dishes, forks and knives and feet. So they stamp them and clash them together, they use whatever they have to keep that rhythmic group effort piece of their culture alive, to link themselves to their proud heritage and to maintain a collective identity even though they are scattered, and in the words of Balin, reduced to “Merchants, miners, tinkers, toymakers. Hardly the stuff of legend.” Thorin’s response was one of my favorite lines in the film:
“I would take each and every one of these dwarves over an army from the Iron Hills. For when I called upon them they answered. Loyalty, honor, a willing heart–I can ask no more than that.”
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins was PERFECT. In every scene. There’s no other word for that performance; it was perfect.
Am I the only one who automatically, silently quoted The Lord of the Rings movies during the scene when the dwarves narrowly escape the wargs in the secret passage to Rivendell? When Gandalf shouted, “This way, you fools!” I couldn’t help but think, “Fly, you fools!” (And by the way, I’m pretty sure that Gandalf shouted for everybody to “RUN!” at least three separate times in this movie. Oh, Gandalf, you awesome wizard, you sure love bossing people/dwarves/hobbits around!) And then when the dwarves are in a heap at the bottom of the tunnel they dove into, and the wargs are just outside, and they hear a horn, I can’t help but channel my inner Helm’s Deep Legolas and think, “That is no orc horn!” Every time.
I read that Peter Jackson cameos as a dwarf running away from Smaug at Erebor, but I’m not sure I caught a glimpse of which one was supposed to be him.
I covet Elrond’s outfits, head to toe. I want that lovely long straight hair, his silver crown, his beautifully embroidered tunic, and his boots. Galadriel’s gowns are gorgeous, too. Galadriel is gorgeous, period.
I didn’t love Radagast. I mean, I liked him, especially when he was saving the little hedgehog, but it was more like I tolerated his comic-relief “I’m kind of a forgetful pothead” schtick later on. I probably wouldn’t even be commenting on it except that I had read that Phillipa Boyens thought he would be a fan favorite. And what are Rastagan (Rastafarian? Rastabad? Radagastan?) Rabbits, and are they really faster than wargs?
One very cool thing towards the end of the credits is a list of names and corresponding languages with the header “Foreign translations of the novel provided by:” I haven’t been able to find any articles about this, so I’ll have to jot down some of the names the next time I see the movie and look them up individually to be sure, but I think it’s just a list of the people that did the translating work over the years to allow more people to enjoy reading Tolkien’s work. And if that’s what it is, that’s a terrific show of respect, both for the source material and for the people that have contributed to spreading an adoration for this story, and I love it.
Anyway, now that we’ve seen the first installment, I’m curious whether people’s opinions on splitting the story into three films have changed. I’m not entirely sure where I stand myself yet; on my first viewing I thought that it did feel a little long, but I’m not sure what I would have cut. I want to say I’ll wait until all three parts are out to make an official decision, but by then I will have fallen in love with everything that was included and not be willing to make a case for leaving anything out, so I guess my unofficial position is approval.
I did it! I finished the 13 dwarf beards in time for the midnight premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It took me five and a half weeks overall, but I didn’t work on them every single day during that time. I didn’t do much of anything else in my free time, though. All the hard work was definitely worth it; they looked great, (not 100 percent accurate, but overall pretty close), and wearing them with a big group while in line for the midnight showing was just as much fun for everyone as I had hoped it would be. This is going to be an image-heavy post, but I’m just so proud of the work I put into this event, I want to be sure it’ s documented. And if anybody is planning a Hobbit- or Dwarf-themed party, maybe this will give you some ideas.
Kili. I gave him a goatee because I wasn’t sure how to crochet a five o’clock shadow, and I didn’t want him to be the only one without a beard section.
Fili. Originally wanted to untangle the yarn on top that is pulled back, because movie-Fili’s hair is kind of wavy there, but I ran out of time. Love his braided mustache, and I love this yarn color.
Oin. some of his mustache strands have craft wire in them. The lighter gray strands of unbraided mustache on top are actually hot glue-gunned onto the braid beneath them to keep them in that round shape circling the mouth. I noticed during the film that one of the dwarves had a kind of spiked curl in the back of their head, and I think it was Oin, so I might need to add that for next time.
Gloin. I realized after I finished this one that those three small bundles on either side of his mouth should actually be braids, not loops. Love this color of yarn, though–I used the same color for Nori and Ori, and working with it always made me want to eat a pumpkin muffin, because the color is called Burnt Pumpkin.
Dwalin. Couldn’t figure out how to add tattoos to the scalp part.
Balin. I curled the ends of the beard by dipping them in a mixture of water and glue and wrapping them around wax-paper-covered rolls of toilet paper to dry.
Bifur. I don’t think his beard cuffs got enough silver spray paint, and I didn’t manage to figure out how to include the axe head that is supposed to be imbedded in his forehead. Maybe I can work something out by next year.
Bofur. The braids have craft wire in them, and the mustache was formed separately with glue and let dry, then hot glue-gunned onto the upper lip crochet base. You can’t see it in this picture, but he’s got another braid hanging down in the back.
Bombur. Hard to tell in this picture but he does have a “bald” spot on top. I ended up making another, bigger neck-braid too, but that part was pretty simple. And I know for a fact that Stephen Hunter approved of this creation, because he favorited my tweets of it.
Nori. Definitely the most complicated design, so I was the most proud of how this one turned out. The cones are crocheted and stuffed with batting. He’s the only one I made eyebrows for, since they had to be braided back into his hair!
Ori. This was the first one I added extra yarn “hair” to, and I was originally planning to do this de-tangling of the yarn for all of them, to make them look more like hair. But it took way too long, so I didn’t do it on the rest of them. Adam Brown re-tweeted a picture of this, too, so it must have turned out good enough for the real Ori!
Dori. Had to show off the multiple angles! This was one of my favorites. I just think it looks so cool! I don’t have the braids replicated exactly right but I’m pleased with how it turned out. The silver cuffs on all of these were made by first squiggling designs with Elmer’s glue onto white cardstock to create texture, then after the glue dried I spray-painted the whole thing silver. If I had more time I might have tried to match the actual cuff designs, but the random glue squiggles still look pretty cool.
Thorin Oakenshield. Should have made his braids a bit longer, and I noticed while watching the movie that it looks like maybe he has a bigger braid or two in the back? But I love the gray streaks that I included at his temples and forehead.
Our company of dwarves was first in line at our chosen theater, although not all 13 dwarves were there right away. After the sun went down it was pretty cold, but the beards helped keep our faces warm, and I had arranged for a friend to deliver us hot pot pies, (because it sounded like a hobbit/dwarf-ish food), when there were still about four hours left before the show started. We also had somebody bring us hot chocolate, which we shared with the people behind us in line.
Themed activities that we did to pass the time (and to give me an excuse to hand out prizes) included an archery contest, (we shot at a goblin target with a toy bow and arrow, and the grand prize was a Kili action figure), a warrior attack contest, (charging at the same goblin target with a chosen fake weapon from our stash and seeing who had the best style), playing a dwarvish rune-based memory game (I made the cards based on the movie’s “dwarvish word of the day” from the facebook page), riddles, and trivia. And anybody that could correctly name/identify all 13 dwarves got an edible pipe. We also traded some edible pipes for lembas bread from some elves that were a few groups behind us in line. We also had an on-going burglary competition, but the caveats were that you had to be wearing your beard at the time and you couldn’t actually steal anything serious. (The winner ended up being a sneaky little dwarf who drank half of somebody else’s soda before they noticed, and the prize was a Bilbo action figure.) Other prizes were posters, some of them small ones that I made by cutting up a Hobbit movie calendar–I don’t exactly have an unlimited party-planning budget.
Front and back of Sting prize; hold it silver-spray-painted side out when all is safe, but flip to blue cardstock/candycane to signal that orcs or goblins are near!
Edible pipe, made from brownie cooked in mini-muffin pans with reese’s peanut butter cups at the center for the “tobacco.” I stuck pretzel sticks in the reese’s when they were still warm so that it would harden around the pretzel, then dipped the pipe “bowl” in almond bark to reinforce it. Tedious, but they turned out pretty well and they were a hit.
Another snack idea that I thought of but didn’t have time for was stone trolls; I was going to make rice crispies and cut them out using a gingerbread-man cookie cutter, then dip them in white chocolate almond bark with a little bit of candy food coloring to make it gray, so that they resembled Bill, Tom, and Bert after they were turned into stone. I thought about dipping all but their feet and calling it “Trolls at Sunrise,” but I didn’t end up having time to do any of it, and that’s not a snack that will be appropriate next year for part 2 since the trolls are only in part 1. I can re-use the pipes and candy-cane Stings ideas, though.
Ori enjoys an edible pipe.
Fili sneaks up on the goblin for a surprise attack with a glowing Sting, (which I got over at thinkgeek.com). I painted the goblin based on the Grinnah action figure.
The Dwarven rune-based memory game cards; basically I copied the runes, pronunciation guides and meanings provided by the official Hobbit movie facebook page, and found pictures to match the meanings. I put the runes and the pronunciation on the cards with the pictures too so that anybody could make a match regardless of previous rune knowledge. The cards are printed on colored cardstock so that you can’t see through them when they’re flipped over to cheat, and laminated to make them more durable.
I’m definitely going to save the beards for next year when part 2 comes out, although personally I’d like to go to that one in a Smaug costume if I can, although I have no idea at this point where to begin crafting on that. I’ll probably tweak the beards to improve them before then anyway, especially now that I’ll have a lot more reference pictures from multiple angles to work with from the first film. And we didn’t have a Bilbo or a Gandalf this year, so maybe they can be added as well.
13 dwarves wearing pagelady’s beard creations and 3D glasses in the theater for the midnight showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
This project was a lot of work, and sometimes it seemed ridiculous or frustrating that I was putting so much effort into something that might seem silly or fleeting. But if you watched the Hobbit production videos like I did, you have an idea of how much work by how many people goes into making these movies that we love. And I think this is the best way to honor and appreciate the hard work that those people did–not just Peter Jackson and the cast, but also the people who did make-up, lighting, sound editing, digital enhancements, and every little step along the way, for months and months–by putting in a lot of hours myself to enjoy experiencing their work to the fullest.
And the highlight of the night for me was when the official Hobbit movie twitter account acknowledged all my hard work with a “so great!” stamp of approval.
There’s no way I’m going to reach 50,000 words in the few days remaining this November NaNoWriMo month. I’m okay with the failure, though. I intend to keep plugging away at my story on lunch breaks and weekends that aren’t already full. I just wasn’t able to get much writing done at all in the last week, because as I predicted, my dwarf beard project took over. One cannot commit to two massive time-consuming projects concurrently with any success, or at least not if one also wants to continuing such habits as “sleeping at night.” So, yes, I chose to crochet dwarf beards and sleep when I wasn’t working this last week. The beards have a December 13 deadline, and even though I did nothing but work on them through this whole four-day Thanksgiving weekend I only have 1o of the 13 crocheted, and then there’s still the additional, who-knows-how-much-time-it-will-take step of adding yarn “hair” to be braided and styled for each character. I’m pretty sick of yarn at the moment, and depressed about the likelihood I will be able to finish or that they will turn out looking great. But, extreme pessimism is a natural phase of my party planning method. I come up with great ideas, I start executing them, and in the middle I think it’s all total crap and too much work and why do I even bother, but then (usually) it turns out fine.
This is basically what the crocheted structure looks like for all of them, in various colors depending on the character. I think this is Oin’s.
This is Kili’s; I’m cheating and just giving him a goatee because, really, how does one make a 5 o’clock shadow out of yarn?!
Bless you, Balin, and your lack of a mustache, which makes it so much easier!
The one that’s worrying me the most right now is Nori, because I’m just not sure how I’m going to do the three cone things with the hair on his head. I’m also going to have to crochet eyebrows for that one since his eyebrows are braided back into his hair, which is just so…dwarfish.
Nori character poster from The Hobbit.
I hope the 12 friends that will be standing in line with me will have fun wearing these beards and keeping occupied with themed activities while we wait for midnight. I’ve started collecting Hobbit-related prizes for people to win, so I’m trying to nail down what sorts of competitions we can have to pass the time. (I’m also hoping they release some movie-merchandise stickers or buttons or some cheap tokens like that; I bought a calendar thinking I could cut it up into 12 small posters to give out as individual prizes, but the design of the calendar is making that difficult as each picture overlaps onto the date-page beneath it! Tricksy hobbitses…)
Activities I’ve thought of so far include dwarf markmsanship, (recycling my toy boy and arrow from The Hunger Games premiereand aiming at a goblin target; potential second round could be throwing a foam axe at the target, assuming I can make a foam axe in time…), riddles in the dark, (obviously! Although it probably won’t be dark, and I’ll just have people pull a random riddle out of a jar to test their opponent with so it’s fair and they’re all guessable), a rune memory game, (I’m thinking I could use the Dwarven Word of the Day posts on the official The Hobbit facebook page to create cards where you have to match the runes to a picture of their meaning; I could include the runes in smaller print on the picture cards to make it do-able for anyone regardless of rune knowledge, but people who studied up would have an advantage), and then maybe something like who can pose for the best picture or who can read a passage from The Hobbit in the best dramatic voice. I want to do something with music, too, especially since the soundtrack will be out by then, but how do you make that a game? “Describe what you think is happening during this song”, most creative answer wins? Maybe we can all just sing the Misty Mountain song from the first trailer together. And for that we all win the prize of being awesome.
As far as themed snacks, I’m trying to come up with a way to incorporate Sting with something blue, like maybe blue raspberry candy canes with handles attached to make them look like swords? I’m definitely going to have an accomplice bring us hot pot pies to eat at some point, possibly with runes carved into the tops for air vents. Maybe I could do something with the trolls or the ring, since they’re sure to be in this film and I haven’t incorporated them yet…or Gollum, for that matter. If I can’t come up with something better, I can always just make sugar cookies in whatever shape is needed, but sugar cookies are so unimaginative! Maybe there’s a way I can make dwarf axes out of, like, pretzel sticks with candy bars on top? Help me out–if you have ideas for Hobbit-related snacks, (other than the infamous Denny’s menu), let me know in the comments.
Despite the temporary depression I’m feeling due to the intimidating amount of preparation I need to accomplish during the next three weeks, I’m incredibly excited for this movie to come out. I watched the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings two and a half times each this weekend while I crocheted, first just with the film, then with cast commentary, now I’m halfway through the director and writer commentary. I love these filmmakers and I love this franchise, and I can’t wait to see their latest portrayal of Middle Earth while I sit with my face covered in a yarn beard surrounded by fellow nerd friends. It’s going to be awesome.
Here’s an update on my NaNoWriMo experience after one week of participating. Because even though I’m behind in my daily word quotas, I somehow find time for unproductive distractions like blogging.
Overall I am pleased with my progress. Yes, I’m behind, but I’m going to look on the positive side, which is that I have contributed to my manuscript every single day so far except one, (which was Tuesday because I was watching election results.) I can’t write while I’m at work, but I have managed to get 800-900 words in during most of my lunch breaks this past week. I’m actually a little surprised at how fast 1600 or so words can fly by, and therefore a little ashamed that I’m already behind, but I just have a lot of other things to do every day! I’m not going to berate myself for failing to meet quotas yet because I have been dedicating myself to this project for some period of time each day, and I haven’t been on tumblr or started reading any new books since I started. (For a reward after I finish I’m totally going to start reading A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin).
pagelady’s NaNoWriMo-ing fingers
My main concern for not being able to finish on time is another project I’m working on that competes with NaNo-ing for my free time. It’s on a similar deadline, too; I’m making dwarf-beards for me and 12 friends to wear to the midnight premiere of The Hobbit! Actually, the deadline for that project feels a little more imminent; I can always finish writing later, but it just wouldn’t be the same to go dressed up to a movie that’s already been out for a week or more.
Things I’ve learned so far in this NaNo process include:
It is easier to get a lot written when I sit down knowing what scene I’m going to work on. Even if it’s really vague, like, “she finds out” or “they talk about X”. Now I try to have two or three possible scenes in mind or on a post-it note when I start typing, just so I don’t sit there staring off into space trying to think of what happens next.
I definitely see why so many people cautioned “don’t let yourself revise, just keep writing!” It is so hard not to go back and fix things. I feel like I’m barfing bad storytelling all over the screen. I’m keeping a separate word document going in which I include notes for things I’ll definitely need to revisit or change, including names. A lot of characters don’t have real names and others have names I hate. I have a file of potential names I’ve been keeping for years but I don’t have time to comb through it right now. The story must be barfed up first! I haven’t used it yet, but I’m already thankful for the “find and replace” function.
For some reason it is easier to write when my hair is pulled back and my nails are freshly painted. I seem to be writing a “shiny black nail polish” kind of story so far.