The Hobbit

Published 2012-12-08

We tried reading The Hobbit a few months ago but got bogged down by all the words. We put it away for awhile, but this week Orion wanted to pick it up again. I started cutting about a third of the narrative text (pretty much at random); surprisingly the story holds together with mostly dialogue, and now it moves fast enough to keep a four-year-old entertained. It helps that we’ve already talked through several major plot points, mostly those depicted by Lego models. We also stop every so often and recap together what has happened so far. Orion can remember story details surprisingly well but the sequence of events, causality, and general Gestalt sometimes elude him.

A couple of days ago I fired up my LoTR DVDs and we watched the “Concerning Hobbits” scene and Bilbo’s birthday party. Orion can relate to Hobbits. They’re his size, like food, and hate shoes. He said “I bet their feet are really dirty,” which echoes something a coworker in China said when I compared Oregon to the Shire. We also watched the first Hobbit trailer, where we meet the dwarves and they sing. I like the design of the movie dwarves. The filmmakers are obviously trying to give them actual personalities, quite a challenge with thirteen characters. But I’m bummed they’re no longer color-coded.

Orion has a lot of trouble with dramatic tension as depicted in movies/TV; I never realized how emotionally manipulative musical and camera cues are until I saw them played out on someone with no defense against them. But he has no problem reading about trolls squashing dwarves or Gollumn throttling goblins for supper.

Both Orion and Iris request “Hobbit music” now, which means Howard Shore’s LoTR soundtrack, particularly the tracks with the Shire leitmotif. Which is unsurprising, I thought one of the most effective things about that soundtrack was the way the Shire motif picked up damn near every time Sam spoke, even on Mt. Fricking Doom. Sam is the best thing about Lord of the Rings,. (Eowyn runs a close second.) Sam’s superpowers are friendship and guilelessness. The world could use more of those things. (I’m a little more conflicted about Sam in the books, what with all the English class system stuff. Eowyn is even better in the books.)

We took a trip out to McMinnville for my dad’s birthday today, and we brought The Hobbit with us. We read in the car all the way there and back again, at the restaurant during lunch, at the playground, and again at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. In a few days of reading we’re through the Misty Mountains and to the scene where the wargs tree Thorin and Company.