There and Back Again: The Hobbit’s 80th Anniversary

5fe47-hobbit_cover“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” With this one sentence, J.R.R. Tolkien impacted my life (and many other lives) in a huge way. When I was a child, my dad would usually make up stories at bed time to get me to fall asleep. It was our routine. When he was running low on creativity, he would read to me. The Hobbit was the first book I ever remember him reading to me, and I loved it. It’s is my absolute favorite book in the world, and it is celebrating its 80th anniversary!

The Hobbit was published on September 21, 1937 and has been in print ever since. It was originally published by George Allen & Unwin in London to glowing reviews and has remained a beloved book through the decades. The book appeals to adults and children alike, as it combines wry humor and wit with an adventure story like no other. The Hobbit is the forerunner for The Lord of the Rings, the epic saga that is widely acknowledged as a classic. Though related to that epic story, The Hobbit is in a class of its own. For Hobbit lovers, this day is all about the quest of a homebody hobbit-turned-burglar and his companions. Although Bilbo begins the adventure a grumpy, immature hobbit, he gains a new level of maturity and wisdom as he completes different tasks in the adventure. This beloved classic has been adapted in the following ways:

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Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: 10 Movie-Making Facts

If you haven’t heard that Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit opens on December 14, you probably haven’t had the TV on at all. I remember this time last year I saw the trailer for the first time. And now, opening night is almost here. Everyone probably knows the story of The Hobbit, a novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, but you might not know these movie facts about making the film. Enjoy The Hobbit – in theaters on Friday, December 14!

1. Daniel Radcliffe, David Tennant, Shia LaBeouf, James McAvoy, Erryn Arkin and Tobey Maguire were considered for the role of Bilbo Baggins.
2. The Hobbit is the first feature film to be shot and projected at 48 frames per second, twice as fast as theindustry standard of 24 frames. The intention of this is to provide the film smoother, more realistic motion with reduced strobing. This is particularlybeneficial when viewing the film in 3D, as the higher frame rate helps to correctly synchronize the images for each eye.
3. Christopher Lee commented that he would have loved to voice the Dragon Smaug in a film adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’. Lee, along with Ian Holm, Bilbo Baggins, both shot all of their scenes at Pinewood Studios due to fear of flying to New Zealand because of health concerns.
4. Richard Armitage who plays Thorin Oakenshield, has said that his first experience acting on stage was playing an elf in a theatrical production of The Hobbit.
5. Gollum only appears in one scene in the book. Andy Serkis, who reprises his role as Gollum, completed that scene during the first week of production, but stayed on as Second Unit Director.
6. Martin Freeman previouslyappeared in Hot Fuzz, which featured cameos by director Peter Jackson as “Santa Claus,” Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) as a CSI agent, and Bill Nighy (who played Sam Gamgee on BBC Radio) as a police officer. He also appeared in Shaun of the Dead, also opposite Nighy, as well as Penelope Wilton, who had been married to the previous Bilbo, Ian Holm.
7. This movie went through severalstages of pre-production nightmares, the first being Guillermo del Toro stepping down as the Director as a result of MGM freezing the project while it emerged out of bankruptcy, it was almost cast out of New Zealand when several unions and guilds blacklisted the project and shooting was delayed again while Peter Jackson recovered from surgery from a perforated ulcer.
8. Bill Bailey auditioned for the role of Gloin. In Spaced, a British comedy series featuring the dup of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) he plays a character named Bilbo, named after this film’s title character.
9. Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug/Necromancer) both star together in the BBC production of Sherlock; Cumberbatch plays the title role with Freeman playing Dr. Watson.
10. Evangeline Lilly appeared on Lost opposite former hobbit Dominic Monaghan (Merry). The two also dated for several years.

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.

Hobbit Day: 74 Years of Hobbits

Today is Hobbit Day, as a part of Tolkien Week! According to The One Ring, yesterday marked the 74th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit. On this day in 1937, publishers Allen & Unwin printed just 1,500 copies, which sold out by December. Since then, Bilbo’s tale of defeating the dragon Smaug and reclaiming the birthright of Thorin has sold up to 100 million copies in 40 different languages.

The One Ring summed up The Hobbit’s importance nicely:

“Numbers alone can’t tell its importance and influence on the fantasy genre. In 1937, heroic fantasy tales involving dwarves and elves barely existed. Taking inspiration from his love of fairy tales and sagas, and the work of proto-fantasists such as William Morris, Tolkien inadvertently developed and legitimised an entire genre of writing.

For, without the famous line ‘In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit,’ there would almost certainly be no Lord of the Rings.

And where would epic fantasy be without Lord of the Rings?

So raise a glass and toast The Hobbit. A most excellent and audacious book. To twist a phrase written by the professor himself: May the binding of its pages never fall out.”

Very well said. To get you in the spirit of the day, try on a hobbit name for size. Mine is Sancho Boffin of Needlehole. Or, whip up hobbit-style recipies for First Breakfast, Second Breakfast and Elevensies. Of course, all Tolkien fans and moviegoers – myself included – are very excited about the upcoming movie The Hobbit. Fellow film buffs will want to check out Peter Jackson’s video diary with behind-the-scenes interviews about the making of the new movie. If you don’t have the extended edition on DVD + Blu-Ray like me, be sure to tune in for The Lord of the Rings movie marathon on TV this weekend. 

Nevermind about no talking during the feature presentation. Enjoy your second breakfast, quote your favorite lines, have a good laugh with friends and clank the half pints of beer all you want. After all, it’s Hobbit Day! Cheers! — Jim