A Good Fit

Why all the hate for the name change of the third Hobbit film? I think “The Battle of the Five Armies” is a good fit for the overall storyline of this last installment, but I am also one of the few Tolkien fans who has never had a problem with Peter Jackson’s interpretations. He’s made these movies his own, he’s explored these characters and given them depth; you can’t do that and stick to the original storyline:

because these characters aren’t in that book.

you’ll get your blue hood back later, Kili, quit crying about it!

The title There and Back Again sounds soothing to me, like a comfy blanket that you wrap yourself up in when settling down to read a good book. That title makes me feel safe: we went, and we’re eventually going to make our way back again. But that’s not what this movie, on it’s own, is going to be about. It’s going to be gritty, it’s going to be rough emotionally, it’s going to be filled to the brim with battle cries and clashing weapons; that blanket just ain’t gonna cut it, my friend! Peter Jackson needs to draw in the people who are not already fans, as well. “There and Back Again” sounds like a poem, The Battle of the Five Armies sounds like action, it sounds intense; battles (both physical and emotional) are brutal and there is no guarantee that you will make it back alive.

we’ll have you home by suppertime tomorrow= B-O-R-I-N-G

“There and Back Again” was the title that Bilbo gave his book, telling the story of his adventures after he made it back home. So in that respect I think it will be a nice, sentimental title to use for the three movies as a whole. But this upcoming movie isn’t even here yet, the story yet untold. Fans of Tolkien have a good idea who is going to make it back home and who isn’t but the general public does not. I know the concept is hard to grasp but there are people out there in the world who have no knowledge of Hobbity things.

don’t know of Hobbits? is this true?

So I, for one, am behind the name change. I’ve learned through the years to enjoy adaptations for what they are, not what they should be. When I want Tolkein’s version, I’ll reread the book; right now I’m interested to see what Peter Jackson has to offer. Either I’ll like it or I won’t but it will be exciting either way, because I’ve never heard this version before.


33 thoughts on “A Good Fit

  1. re: PJ as independent agent — Yes. I kind of want to hug you. πŸ™‚

    Note TORn just published their interpretation, which I think is dubious: they think that PJ didn’t like TABA anymore and the fans hated Into the Fire so that left them TBOFA. My read is that they’ve realized that the international markets are where they’re making their money and they looked at that context when making the decision. I went out with friends last night who were aware and my friend said, this is a title for the Chinese market and videogamers.


    1. I much rather prefer hugs than stones! everyone seems so angry about the name change, but it makes perfect sense to me. not only from a story standpoint and what this last part will be about, but also from the marketing angle. if PJ went the traditional route and stuck to the book, Smaug would not have been much better than the play-version that Richard was in πŸ˜› the quality of film that PJ gives us needs financing, and in order to get that money you have to appeal to the mass market. I personally like to see different interpretations of the same story, it gives me that “first time” feeling that I’ll never get back, with characters that I already love 😎


      1. On adaptations, I have mixed feelings — I have read a few reviews of the new “Fargo” and I still think I’m sticking with the original, i.e., I’m not going to see these — and I’m weary of remakes — but that doesn’t delegitimate them as an artistic product per se.


        1. the trend as of late seems to be: remake! remake! remake! whether you have anything new to add or not :/ I don’t love all remakes/adaptations, not by a long shot, but I do find it exciting to see what others try to do. you’ve touched upon an important point for me though: if you already have a feeling that you’re not going to like something or that keeping the original untouched is very important to you, then don’t see the new one! the preconceived notions and scathing complaints that follow, have me constantly shaking my head.


  2. If they were staying true to the book and having Bilbo sleep through the whole battle then There and Back Again would have been a perfect title. But let’s face it, this movie is going to be two hours of fighting and a half hour of epilogue. This title fits better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s refreshing to hear from a Tolkien fan who is also OK with the franchise. Personally, I think BOFA is a little dull for a name, but I also think the reasoning behind why TABA was imperfect makes sense. In the end, the very end, it won’t make a difference because the boxed set will have the right name and that’s what people will remember. I have to say, I had some fun teasing about the change of title when Black Sky became Into the Storm, and I understand the fervency of Tolkien fans, but in the end, it’s the man’s movie and he can call it what he wants. And he probably enjoys the whole scandal over the name change


    1. I thought the Five Armies title sounded a bit too literal at first but I liked it better as a separate representation of part three, instead of “there and back again”, where it would get lost. I saw you made a comment somewhere that they should just name it “Black Sky” and that gave me a laugh! πŸ˜€


  4. I think ‘There And Back Again’ was always going to be a hard sell to the general movie goer- it doesn’t conjure up images of anything in particular, considering we already know Bilbo went off on an unexpected journey. A big battle in a fantasy genre promises all sorts of exciting action with surprising twists, so anyone who goes for that in itself, is already won over without even needing more details.

    I have no particulate sentimental attachment to the original title, so I don’t mind at all that it’s been set aside as a catch-all trilogy name- it fits that spot perfectly.


    1. I agree with this. I also think that the movie is basically going to largely consist of this battle since they have gone so much into the other plotlines with Smaug already.


  5. Admittedly, as someone who’s always been aware of Tolkien but never been heavily invested in his world, I was a bit perplexed by all of the hoopla over the title change. The cynical side of me says that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” and that everyone who’s raging about the title now, will still be in the theaters in December (if only to find reasons to continue to rage). A ticket sold is a ticket sold…score another one for Peter Jackson’s “disastrous” marketing senses πŸ™‚


    1. yeah, I think that’s right. PJ et al have to realize by now that there’s a huge group of fans who primarily consume his product either although or even because it angers them — but that doesn’t have to impact the decisionmaking. They’re smiling all the way to the bank …


  6. The story of the title change has been picked up by media outlets all round the world, so it’s great free publicity, and it starts to bring the final film into public focus ahead of the first trailers and photos. I’m sure WB are thrilled.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am simply grateful to Peter Jackson and his team for bringing The Hobbit to life. Anyone with an iota of common sense should understand why the movies could not be a play by play retelling of the book. To my knowledge, the only movie that has ever successfully achieved the feat of bringing a novel to life practically exactly as it was written is Gone With The Wind, and it was possible because it was a historical novel with a fantastic array of characters and an excellently written, compelling plot.

    The third Hobbit movie is about the last battle, as a reflection of Gandalf’s manipulation (even if it was well intended), Thorin’s pride, Bilbo’s betrayal, the hypocrisy of several other characters’ condemnation of Thorin’s “greed”, not to mention Dain’s conveniently timed decision to help his cousin in battle once he knew Smaug was dead.

    Yes, Peter Jackson is a savvy marketer and consummate salesman. However, he is also a true artist, a genius and a lover of books and great stories. I believe he respects – nah, practically worships – Professor Tolkien’s work. I do not believe he chose the title to make it more appealing to the international market. As the director and creative genius behind this trilogy, he knows the most logical choice – given the content – is ‘The Battle of The Five Armies’.

    Of course, he could have named it “Oh, look, Bilbo turned out to be a thief and a traitor who almost drove Thorin mad and then, $%#@ happened!” ;D


    1. I don’t think PJ picked the title with no thought to marketing, but I don’t think he picked it just for marketing either. it’s simple, to the point, and clearly explains the main event in the piece, and since everyone is anticipating that event (the battle) it just makes sense to put it in the title. I would have preferred a diff’t title for the second film, but putting Smaug in the title made it clear that we were going to see the dragon; same here πŸ™‚


    2. There are movies which have been a much closer retelling of the book (lots of them, I suspect) but I’m afraid that Gone with the Wind isn’t one of them. There were bog changes to the plot. Where are Scarlett’s other children, for example? Where is the guy that Scarlett’s sister marries when Mr. Keennedy jilts her?


      1. I said, “practically exactly”, not that they included every single thing in the novel. Also, I can only speak for the movies I have seen on theaters and, therefore, I’m sure I don’t know as much as you.


        1. I’m sure you do know as much as me πŸ™‚

          I just happened to take a short course where they compared literature to movies.. Two of the films we did are were GTTW and Little Women in 3 versions (the unexpurgated book is a lot longer than people realize: 2 volumes ;-p although most people today are only familiar with the short version). I can understand why they made the cuts they made in some cases. GTTW is a case in point. If the cuts and changes are made properly, even readers of the books might not notice right away, or at all.

          That is not the case with The Hobbit, unfortunately. OTOH, I agree with you completely about Peter Jackson (and let’s not forget that Fran Walsh and Philippa have a say in this too and have to accept what praise or blame falls out). I have no problem with The Battle of Five Armies, and I don’t see what all the bellyaching is about.


          1. Thank you. Using ‘There and Back Again’ as the title of the complete trilogy is sheer genius, although I’ll wait until the EE of the BOFA comes out.

            P.S: Little Women was my favorite novel as a young girl and the subject of the first project I ever did for school. My favorite movie version is the one with June Allyson. πŸ˜‰


          2. I have seen a bunch of versions of Little Women, including one with Katherine Hepburn, and another with Winona Ryder, and of course the June Allyson ones. I liked June Allyson, but I’ve never really felt that any of them captures the “Jo” I imagined from the books. There is a BBC tv mini-series, but I have not seen it. I think it actually does the long version. I should probably look it up.


          3. I saw it when I was a kid, I think, and it was old then. I have tried to look it up but have not been able to find anything but a 1970 version, from which there are no pictures or video. That might be it, though I don’t know how it would have come to be on tv where I could see it many years later. I remember that it followed the original extended Little Women book in having two sections, one of them called ‘Little Women’ and the other called ‘Good Wives’.


  8. I thinking about RA’s interviews whenever someone asked him about the third movie he talks about the battle of the five armies. I am not surprised or bothered by the name change but I am not a Tolkien purist.


    1. I’m a Tolkien fan but not a purist, so it doesn’t bother me. my husband is a purist though, and he likes the name change. the battle of five armies is what the movie is going to be about…why disguise it as something else?


  9. Thanks so much for this post. I get so weary reading “purist” rants (I have finally stopped reading them on TORn) because to me, we are so lucky that this story fell into the hands of PJ & Co to film. I have never found PJ to make cynical decisions, but he IS a good businessman as well as an amazing creative force. I believe he chose the title because (as you say) it makes sense for the movie itself. As a longtime Tolkien fan who still reads the book (s) frequently, one of my favorite things about watching DoS in the theatre was that I did NOT know what was going to happen next. Since I know the story inside out and backwards, it was a real thrill to watch characters I know and love do things “I didn’t know they did”. Some made more sense than others (given what else we know about them) but it all made an enjoyable film. I am looking forward to more of that in tBOt5A. But, yeah, I’m gonna need a stiff drink afterwards to deal with the grief.
    Now if we could just get our darling Richard to stop saying it’s gonna be “shorter”. I want longer!


    1. The song, or the movie? πŸ˜€

      Either way, I’ll be doing it too.
      I have done this with S3 of RH and S9 of Spooks so I figure I’m an expert now πŸ™‚


    2. I am very sick of the purist rants too πŸ˜‰ it seems that there is a fear that those who are not familiar w/The traditional Hobbit story will think that these movies are the real story, while I think PJ’s productions will draw the unfamiliar in when maybe they wouldn’t have cared before πŸ™‚


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