I grew up breathing middle earth into my psyche day in and day out since I was as young as I can remember. Yesterday I went to see Part I of The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey. I loved it. It did a good job recasting the Hobbit in a more Lord of the Rings style of telling (more “grown-up”), and added in some nice stuff from Unfinished Tales and elsewhere, that I always wanted to see portrayed more fully. Of course some surgery had to be done to add in that stuff. But as Gandalf says, “every good tale deserves embellishment.”
Sure there are some little nitpicks to make here and there. But the important thing is that it was 3 hours spent transported to a happy world, in the midst of a depressing winter.
Here is something interesting I wanted to post about. Tolkien was a British-er living during the British occupation of India. British were notoriously egocentric and snooty. But obviously the Mahabharata and Puranas and Sanskrit were floating around academic circles in those days and while the official line was “lets explain how we are superior to all of this”, among the intelligent (such as Tolkien, and Oxford professor) there was certainly a great deal of, “holy shit, this stuff is amazing!”
Tolkien himself once said – I wish I could give the source for it, but I don’t have time to research my memory banks right now – that he felt Europe lacked a really impressive mythology (comparable to what they were pulling out of India), and he created his Middle-Earth like a European Purana or Mahabharata – to fill that void.
Everyone who is really into Tolkien has already commented up and down that his middle earth is a proto-Europe. The shire is what would become the British Isles. Spain is Gondor. To the south is Africa. To the east is Asia.
Tolkien’s mythology has 8 gods (Valar). Vedic mythology has 8 gods (Adityas – expanded to 12 later on). If you just watch the movies you dont hear about these gods. You do hear about the 5 wizards, though, in the hobbit (I loved that part). These are, imo, the equivalent of the 7 sages of Indian lore (the saptarishi).
The movie mentions that 2 blue wizards, whose names were forgotten, went to the east. The idea, to me, is that these two blue wizards founded Indian culture. I think its cool that there are two important blue gods in India: Shiva and Vishnu. That is probably just a coincidence, but its fun.
Anyway, I love Tolkien’s work and the world he created, and how Peter Jackson and crew are portraying it. Looking forward to the next installment, There and Back Again.