Peter Jackson’s movies have done a great
service in making stories come to life on the big screen. One of his greatest
accomplishments has been his ability to make The Hobbit (also known as The
Hobbit, Or There and Back Again
) by
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien) accessible
to all. He has created a trilogy of movies that are visually stunning; and, in
doing so, he has opened the door to a world of wonder, adventure, battle, and
the triumph of courage over despair. Yet, I can’t help but notice that some believe
that because they have seen these movies, there is no longer a need to read the
books. I have begun to ask people if they have ever read any of Tolkien’s
books. Several, jokingly reply, “No, I don’t need to, I have seen the movies.”
I know that it is not easy to find the time
to read nearly 300 pages of intricate prose in The Hobbit and over 1200 pages in The Lord
of The Rings
; yet, I do hope that people will continue to read these two books. For all of the
hours of amazing film footage found in the 6 movies, there is still much that
cannot be covered and much descriptive language that cannot possibly be brought
to life in a movie of this nature.
Many years ago I introduced the Hobbit to my
daughters as bedtime stories; and with them I relived the wonder as they
pictured this world in their minds. We read many other books together including
The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis).
Recently, a friend told me that he was reading The Hobbit to his daughter and I felt a sense of nostalgia at this
simple joy. Reading aloud to another person is an experience in itself and
allows both people to enjoy the book at another level. I suspect that my
daughters still remember the voices of various characters and the tunes we made
up for the songs and chants. Tolkien’s prose is some of the most poetic and
evocative in the English language and speaks to deeper realities than the
simple world of hobbits, dwarves, trolls, and elves.
Lately, my wife, Maureen, and I have been
reading The Hobbit aloud to each
other. Tolkien continues to speak to us of simple pleasures, profound fears,
and great joys. Last night, as we were ending our day with the author’s description
of “The Last Homely House” in Rivendell, these words describing Elrond’s house captured
our attention. We had to go back and read them multiple times.
“His house was perfect, whether you
liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting
and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come
into that valley.”[1]
Movies are able to impress our minds with a
glorious picture of a location and may even make us want to go and experience “The
Last Homely House.” But as Maureen and I read those two sentences, we were
aware that these sentences meant more. They made us want to make our own home a
place that was perfect for food, sleep, work, story-telling, singing, sitting
and thinking, and a pleasant mixture of them all. We desired to create a place
where “evil things” do not enter.
The narrative of The Hobbit reminds us that,
“. . . it is a strange
thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are
soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are
uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a
deal of telling anyway.”[2]
I think this may also
be true of movies. The “days that are good to spend are soon told about” and
painted in the scenery of the movie. The battles, that are “uncomfortable,
palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale” and fill the content of many
a scene in the movie. I wonder, when we think of the movies, do we think of the
scenes in Rivendell, or the scenes on the battle-field? What does one remember
from reading the books?
C.S. Lewis, a man who
made a living reading, writing, and giving lectures, had this to say about his emotions
when it came to tea and books. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or
a book long enough to suit me.”[3]
Perhaps we would do well to recover this feeling. On this rainy day in Calgary,
I think I will go and put on the kettle!

[1] The Hobbit, Or There and Back
 John Ronald Reuel
Random House, New York, 1982 Revised Edition;
p. 51.
[2] The Hobbit, Or There and Back
 John Ronald Reuel
Random House, New York, 1982 Revised Edition;
p. 50.

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