‘I spent so much of the Hobbit feeling like I wasn’t on top of it …’
‘Nothing had been formulated, at all.’
I usually take a long time when deliberating movies. There is so much information to sift through and consider that it’s virtually impossible to arrive at opinions at anything faster than an Ent-like, glacial pace.
Except two questions:
1) What is your favourite movie of all time?
2) What movie-watching experience has infuriated you the most?
The answer to the first is always Heat.
And the answer to the second is, ‘It’s actually four separate experiences: Peter Jackson’s three Hobbit disasters, and Star Trek Into Darkness.’
Well, at least when it comes to the Hobbit we now perhaps finally have an explanation as to how such a misbegotten, woeful trilogy ever sprung forth into our world. The fact that it came from the mind of the man who brought us The Lord of the Rings, which — slightly wonky final chapter notwithstanding — was one of the most magical experiences of modern times, made the experience of seeing each of The Hobbit movies as baffling and heart breaking as it was infuriating. So how did Jackson follow up an almost-perfect trilogy with a series of weightless, incoherent, protagonist-insulting, meaningless, rambling, shoddy garbage-spunk movies?
The answer lies in some very honest behind-the-scenes footage included in the DVD release of The Battle of the Five Armies.
We all know that originally this was going to be Guillermo Del Toro’s project, with Jackson being brought on as a replacement late in the game. But what we weren’t aware of up until now is the conditions that Jackson had to work in — namely the fact that he and his crew essentially had to pick up where Del Toro had left off; all the while trying to deliver a completely different vision for the movie, as well as having zero pre-production time before shooting commenced!
By that I don’t mean: some of the storyboards weren’t quite finished; or not all of the props were delivered ahead of time. No, we’re talking giant action scenes being filmed without a storyboard; and the prop department doing daily deliveries for shoots set to happen that very day. We’re talking Jackson giving the crew extra-long lunch breaks so that he could actually try wrap his head around what they were meant to be shooting; as well as a months-long planning break having to be called at one point so that a battle scene could be moulded into something more than a hodgepodge of random fight footage.
Contrast that with The Lord of the Rings and its three-and-a-half-years’ worth of pre-production and planning, its meticulously worked out character arcs and action scenes, and its bewilderingly well-designed world.
There’s a reason those extended editions, with their incredible behind-the-scenes footage, were such a joy to watch. If they had been on VHS I would’ve worn out my copies several times over. The sheer amount of craft and love and joy put into that production was palpable, and it showed on screen.
But The Hobbit? Well, I think some behind-the-scenes photos from the two trilogies will tell the story better:
Behind the scenes of Lord of the Rings
Behind the scenes of The Hobbit
Check out the full video below. It really is a remarkable account of a doomed production; and it significantly lessened my rage towards Peter Jackson and his handling of the movies.