I thought hobbits were short
By David Weinshilboum
I just got back from watching the movie “The Hobbit.” It was good. But jeeeeeez. It was long, longer than my spelling of “jeez.” In fact, I attended last month’s premiere, and I just got home. OK, I made that last part up. The movie wasn’t THAT long. But still, 169 minutes?! Nearly THREE HOURS!?
Since many of you are unaware, here is a list of things that are shorter than “The Hobbit, an unexpectedly long-ass journey”:
— Conversations with my mother* (60-90 minutes)
— Removal of the gallbladder# (approximately 120 minutes)
— My father’s Passover Seder** (about 120 minutes)
— A marathon, if run by someone from Kenya## (130 minutes, give or take a few)
“Titanic,” the movie***(My bad—the movie’s run-time is 194 minutes)
Titanic, the actually sinking of the freakin’ boat(Again, my bad. It took about the same amount of time as the movie)
— A flight from Chicago to Miami (150 minutes)
Why is “The Hobbit” so long?
J.R.R. Tolkien’s book “The Hobbit” is short. My copy is a mere 255 pages. But that’s not all. The movie only covers one third of the book. ONE THIRD! Do the math. The movie is only about the first 85 PAGES of the book. That’s not long. The movie? It lasts 169 minutes. That’s almost three hours! Hells, I could easily READ the first third of the book in 169 minutes.
I must admit, the 85 pages of source material cover a substantial amount of information. For example, there are a significant number of characters. There’s Bilbo and Gandalf and Gollum and a litany of dwarves. The dwarves number so many that it’s not worth getting into their names — otherwise you’d turn into one of two dwarves out of Snow White: Grumpy or Sleepy.
But let’s face it. The book just doesn’t have enough excitement for the average patience-deprived audience.
We want destruction, eviscerations, decapitations — and we want them before we have to pop another Ritalin! Tolkien’s book only has troll attacks, goblin mutilations, an angry dragon, a goblin-killing wizard, a frightfully schizoid creature named Gollum, a ring of power, and a dragon. I mean (yawn), how on earth are we expected to remain interested?
Luckily, Peter Jackson, the moviemaker behind this cinematic “War and Peace,” realized that the content of this tale simply wasn’t engaging enough. Thus, he added stuff. He added a bloody prologue. He added a prologue to the bloody prologue. Also, he added a mean, white orc hell-bent of revenge.
I’m all for creative license, and I’m usually a big fan of goblin decapitations. But as I watched “The Hobbit,” I felt as if I were in Las Vegas: it was all about excess and taking my money.
But if you like Vegas, you should plan on seeing the next installments of “The Hobbit.” If you haven’t already figured it out, Mr. Jackson has two more movies to make. Word is the run time of the next two films is about seven hours, approximately the time it takes to receive a full-frontal lobotomy.
* I love my mother; however, phone calls last over an hour because of my mother’s propensity for long stories. Also, she tends to take salutations of “How are you?” quite literally and often responds something like this: “Oh, I am ok, but I did not get much sleep last night because I had abdominal cramping.” Then she recounts her cramping in graphic detail.
# I am not sure whether this time estimate includes pre- and post-op anesthesia. I just didn’t feel comfortable calling a hospital to inquire and confirm details.
** Incredibly, this also includes the meal. What’s to say? My dad loves Passover, but he hurries through the first portion of the reading so we can get to the food quickly.
##The 2012 Boston Marathon was won by Kenyan Wesley Korir at a time of 2 hours and 12 minutes.
*** OK, now I’m worried about you. You’re reading an endnote about a redacted portion of the column. If you like details this much, perhaps “The Hobbit” is the movie for you!
David Weinshilboum, who is still trying to comprehend David Foster Wallace’s fascination with footnotes, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.