This is it for the Bagginses. At least for now, on the big screen. The Battle of the Five Armies, opening this week, is the sixth and final film in Peter Jackson's pair of Tolkien trilogies. First, in 2001–2003, Lord of the Rings was nearly 1400 pages distilled into about ten hours on film. Now Battle of Five Armies completes The Hobbit movie trilogy, which expands Tolkien's single 300-page book into almost nine hours of motion pictures. You may be able to read The Hobbit in a little over five hours, but it will take you almost twice that long to watch Jackson's rendition.
Not to add another voice with the naysayers. I'm delighted for the expansion, and Jackson's efforts to weave white orcs and other wizards into The Hobbit, in a way that Tolkien didn't, make the connections even deeper with the sequel. The Tolkien ultra-enthusiasts, including his son Christopher, have registered their frustrations — and likely would have done so with any theatrical version of the story. Their critiques can be pretty picky, and some have the smell of a musty hobbit hole.
Say what you may about Jackson, he has done Tolkien and us a great service. Whatever disappointments we may have with the details, he has introduced millions of new readers, and a whole new generation, to Middle-earth. Countless of us, without Jackson's midwifery, never would have buried ourselves in the pages of The Hobbit and its trilogy-sequel.
There's a World Out There
One of the great effects, both of Tolkien's stories and Jackson's retellings, is the expansion of the human soul. We have such a proclivity to settle into such small things over time. We were made for more than vicarious living through social media and ESPN. There is real adventure to be had in God's fantastic world, real evil to fight, real moral complexities to navigate, real sorrows to bear, real redemption to celebrate. Tolkien created Middle-earth not as an escape from the real world, but as a retreat to see our reality all the clearer and come back more wide awake to our world.
[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]