(Posted October 31, 2012)

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will be the first film in a trilogy based on J. R. R. Tolkien's novel "The Hobbit." As the film prepares to magically appear in theaters next week, Peter Goldstein, professor of English, gives his opinions on the book as well as his expectations for the movie:

Q: How does the book "The Hobbit" compare to "The Lord of the Rings?"
A: "The Hobbit" is closer to being a children's book than "Lord of the Rings." "Lord of the Rings" is a lot more serious. Not that "The Hobbit" isn't serious in spots, but it's not as deep. The issues involved aren't as thoroughly explored, but it is a very entertaining story.

Q: What do you think it is about "The Hobbit" that has made it so popular?
A: I think it's a great story. You've got an interesting hero who is sympathetic but isn't perfect, and you've got the whole good and evil thing, and you've got the dwarves who are sometimes amusing, sometimes serious and more complex. It's just a good story, and it's well-told.

Q: How has "The Hobbit" influenced fantasy?
A: Well, with "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" together, fantasy has never been the same. The two of them together, especially "Lord of the Rings," have more or less defined what high fantasy is and has been. Heroic fantasy, I guess, is the phrase that has been used for the past 50 years. Wizards, magic, dragons, elves, dwarves, quests, those kinds of things. Modern heroic fantasy derives from Tolkien. There's nothing I can imagine that could be more influential.

Q: Do you think that "The Hobbit" can work as its own trilogy of films?
A: Anything can work as film if you make it well. I see no reason why "The Hobbit" can't be a good trilogy of films. The only problem is that the person who is making it made the "Lord of the Rings" movies, and the "Lord of the Rings" movies were rotten. They sucked. So, I'm assuming that the Hobbit movies will also suck.

Q: How did you feel about the "Lord of the Rings" movies?
A: The "Lord of the Rings" movies were big, loud action pictures with no soul. That's it.

Q: What aspects of "The Hobbit" would you be interested in seeing in film?
A: I would love to see the whole thing if it were done well, but I don't expect it to be. I think the most interesting thing in The Hobbit is the character of Thorin Oakenshield. I think that has a certain amount of depth and nuance, and would make something very interesting for a good movie. I think also simply the growth in Bilbo from the beginning of the story to the end would make for very good film. I think Martin Freeman, the guy who plays Bilbo, is a very good actor, and if he is given a chance to act rather than be a background for special effects, it might be worth watching in part.

~Laura Bitely '14, Juniata Online Journalist

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