Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 14th 2013 Contents A37
Saturday, December 14, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Has Peter Jackson reflected on the massive chunk
of his life that he s devoted to Hobbits?
"You re not going to make me are you?" he winces.
"It s a long time. A long time."
The 52-year-old New Zealand director still has
another movie to go, so he can be forgiven for not
wanting to ponder too deeply the 16 years he s already
spent in the service of JRR Tolkien. The latest install-
ment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is his
fifth Tolkien film (part two in the three-movie Hobbit
prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and approx-
imately hour 84 in the Middle-earth saga.
That may be a slight overestimate, but in any case,
it s been a lot of Orcs.
The journey has largely been a smooth one. Each
Lord of the Rings film was received rapturously, aver-
aging about US$1 billion a pop, and the trilogy cul-
minated in the Oscar steamrolling of The Return of
But when Jackson turned his attention to Tolkien s
first book, The Hobbit, things got bumpier. He and
New Line feuded over merchandising revenue from
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit was held up.
Initially, Jackson was to executive produce with
Guillermo del Toro directing a two-film adaptation,
but after delays raged on, del Toro dropped out and
Jackson returned to the director s chair.
When Jackson and Warner Bros opted to make
The Hobbit three films, a feeling of Hobbit over-
dose---and claims of overreaching---began to surround
the project. The first film didn t enjoy nearly as warm
a response from critics or filmgoers.
An Unexpected Journey made another US$1 billion,
but it was derided for its lengthy running time (182
minutes), its prolonged introduction of characters
and its innovative use of 48 frames-per-second, dou-
ble the industry standard. Jackson had already broken
new ground with technical effects like the motion-
capture technique used to create the hobbit mutant
Gollum, and he hailed the higher frame rate as the
future of filmmaking---a sharper image that could
attract moviegoers like 3D had.
But the 48 fps wasn t well received. Critics said
the film seemed overamplified and that the increased
clarity yielded a discombobulating hyper-realism
that contrasted poorly with the set design.
With The Desolation of Smaug, Jackson hopes to
be righting the Hobbit ship. But he s resolutely sticking
with 48 fps as the definitive way to see the movie:
"It s by far the best way to see it," he says.
Yet Jackson and Warner Bros have declined to
show film critics Jackson s preferred version, instead
only screening in advance the film in 24 frames-per-
"I was part of that decision," says Jackson. "We
did feel that last year, we split focus in a way. People
were reviewing the frame rate as well as reviewing
the movie. I felt the technology dominated."
Moviegoers will get to choose. They can see Des-
olation of Smaug in 24 or 48, as well as in 3D.
Warner Bros is increasing the number of theaters
showing the film in 48 fps: 750 theaters, up from
450 on the first Hobbit movie. Internationally, it will
play in 2,500 theaters, an increase of more than 800
The film, meanwhile, is finding much better reviews.
Along with Benedict Cumberbatch s titular dragon
created with motion-capture, Jackson has added a
notable new character to Tolkien s tale. Evangeline
Lilly plays the female elf, Tauriel, who s the fighting
equal of Orlando Bloom s Legolas.
"It honestly was a cold-blooded decision to write
a good, strong female role because there aren t any,"
Earlier this year while shooting pickups from the
original shooting of Desolation of Smaug, Jackson
also wrapped up leftover production for the third
film, There and Back Again, to be released next
December. His time with Tolkien is finally coming
to an end.
But Jackson s life is fully entwined with the films.
He makes them with his wife and creative partner
Fran Walsh. Their pugs make a cameo in "Smaug."
Jackson, too, has regularly made appearances in the
films. Since the timeline is about 60 years earlier in
the "Hobbit" movies, he says his briefly glimpsed
character in "Smaug" is the grandfather of his "Rings"
"I care so much about my cameo, I even map all
the connections between the films," he laughs. "It s
just silly fun." (AP)
Jackson ponders the end
of his time with Tolkien
Director Peter Jackson, left, during the filming of The Hobbit: The Desolation of
Smaug. AP PHOTO
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