September 22nd is Bilbo’s birthday (and Frodo's too), a perfect day to revisit The Hobbit, prequel to The Lord of the Rings, a fantasy series by British author J. R. R. Tolkien.
Whereas The Fellowship of the Ring begins with “a long expected party,” a party of special magnificence for Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday, The Hobbit begins some sixty years earlier with “an unexpected party,” when a wizard drops in for tea and brings a few friends. Say a dozen or so. The year is 2941 of the Third Age of Middle-earth, and Bilbo is only 50 as this story begins--barely of age, in hobbit years.
Bilbo may be half our size and live in a hole in the ground, but I think most of us can relate to the creatures known as hobbits. They like to eat. They like creature comforts. They like to stay home and stay out of trouble. Adventures? No thank you. Adventures, after all, are “nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things” that make you late for dinner. But when courage and quick thinking are called for, hobbits can surprise even themselves by stepping up to save the day.
|Creating a Hobbit Hole for film. . . .|
|Smaug falling into the lake, by Zsófia Ziaja|
And this year, there's even more to celebrate. Fans of the Tolkien fantasy stories are looking forward to the December release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first movie in a trilogy that brings The Hobbit to the big screen. And who better to direct this epic adventure than Peter Jackson, who did an amazing job directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy a decade ago?
The part of young Bilbo will be played by Martin Freeman, the actor who plays Dr Watson in Sherlock, the new BBC adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. And some of our favorites from The Fellowship will be back as well—Ian Holm as the older Bilbo, Ian McKellan as Gandalf, Elijah Wood as Frodo, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
For Tolkien fans, the release of the first Hobbit film is indeed a long expected party! In fact, there’s not a moment to waste. We only have three months to make our costumes, pack our snacks, and bone up on our Elvish runes. Um, did I mention packing our snacks?
And of course, the best way to prepare for the movie is to reread The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, another Tolkien work that provides important background information. And in the true hobbit spirit, allow extra snacks for reading times--especially cakes and raspberry jam and apple tart, mince pies and cheese, pork pie and salad, cold chicken and pickles, and while you're up, you may as well put on some eggs. . .
Meanwhile, here's the trailer for your enjoyment. (Click bottom right to view full screen.)