Saturday, 25 July 2009

"I Shall Take the Mighty Stone and Leave the Dwarves Behind..."

The title of this post, though it did not appear as such in the good professor's book, is indicative of how much this particular work has influenced me. Let me clarify: the lines come from Blind Guardian's "The Bard's Song (The Hobbit)", from the album "Somewhere Far Beyond". The lines illustrate a most pivotal moment in Professor Tolkien's book, "The Hobbit", in Chapter XVI: A Thief In the Night.

"Somewhere Far Beyond" [1992].

I couldn't have been more then 8-9 years old, when my as yet unborn sister's godmother-to-be, suggested I read "The Hobbit", knowing of my inclination towards epic fantasy even then (although being asked, I could not have put it that way). It seems that, even at the time, I kept that piece of advice somewhere in the back of my head. So one day, when I was in the midst of my habitual mining through the piles, racks and shelves of stuff in my father's work room, I came across a 1978 edition of "The Hobbit", translated in Greek, by Kedros Publishing.

"Dad can I have this?"

"Sure, go ahead."

That was about the extent of the dialog exchanged between us concerning the book. I have said in the past that I do not believe in events and lives being written in some unreachable, cosmic stone and what's laid out for us is merely choices, some rather inconsequential, some decisive for our whole future existence: to me, picking up this book is one of those pivotal moments in my life, where the path forked, presenting the possibility of a child who did not, in fact, read the book and forgot all about it and that of a child who picked up the book in amazement and did not put it back down until it was finished. That second child grew up to be the person now feverishly typing these words.

The Greek Cover of the 1978 edition.

Reading "The Hobbit" had a profound effect on me and shaped me in more ways than my then impressionable mind could have ever imagined, like listening to epic metal as a teenager, playing Role-Playing Games, developing an insatiable curiosity about the myths and legends of diverse civilizations, writing and above all, desiring nothing in life so much as telling stories. There was a bit of biological hard-wiring in place, what with my keeping things in memory, though several years may have passed (even decades now!) and those things, seen in the light of the mind at different ages, becoming tales to be told and embellished upon. Even now, I can remember with perfect clarity (and even a measure of heartache) lying on an old sofa, reading:

"Farewell, good thief"


"Farewell, King under the Mountain!"

Thorin Oakenshield, by John Howe.

...with tears flowing from my eyes and down my cheeks, my chest in so much pain from sudden sorrow as if (God forbid) a dear friend or relative had passed away. Thinking back on the actual passing of relatives and the events surrounding it, years later and more than once, that deep and uncompromising sadness has now aged into the sweet taste of reminiscence, of innocence, of discovering truths about friendship, honor and forgiveness in the pages of a book as a child, more than I ever did in real life as an adult.

Therefore it was not easy for me not to squeal with delight when Kyoshiro sent me the following...

Granted, it's not much but you DO catch a glimpse of Bob Hoskins (at least, I think) and many glimpses of the Dragon, Smaug. Although I have known for quite some time (I first mentioned it here around the end of the article) that Guillermo Del Toro would direct the film, as well as the fact that there would be a second one, bridging the 60-year gap between "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" (probably material from "Lost Tales" and "Forgotten Tales"), this is the first actual peek into the production, so I am pretty elated to see it. I have high hopes for this film, based on my conclusions from his other works ("Pan's Labyrinth", "Hellboy II", "El Orfanato"), even more so because he really respects the source material. Although it was amazing seeing "The Lord of the Rings" on the big screen, Peter Jackson had done a number of unforgivable fumbles and changes, not the least of which was making Gimli, son of Gloin, a comic relief.

So far "The Hobbit" will have Ian McKellen again as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving (unfortunately) as Elrond, Andy Serkis as Gollum, Ron Pearlman probably as Beorn and Doug Jones ("Hellboy"'s Abe Sapien) as... well, I don't know. Of course, rumours abound concerning Bob Hoskins (as mentioned above), James McAvoy (who said it was sadly just unfounded internet talk) and Paul Giamatti.

Digging through del Toro's current projects, I also noticed he is working on Neil Gaiman's "Death: The High Cost of Living", a tricky business involving one of the most celebrated comic book characters of all time. The film adaptation has gone through a number of rough tumbles, but now its coming into existence actually seems feasible.

Death, Second of the Endless.

Here's to looking forward for SOME movies in the future: at the very least, movies that will be directed with respect.



1 comment:

kyoshiro said...

Love ittttt ...
My prrrresious...