The story of The Hobbit didn’t need to be stretched out to fill three feature-length films, but that’s what the studio decided to do. Personally, I enjoyed all three movies, but I would love nothing more than to be able to travel back in time and tell Peter Jackson what needed to be cut to make for a well paced adventure.
Thankfully, I don’t need to build a time machine to make this dream a reality. One astute fan has taken all three films and edited them down into a single 4-hour feature, removing a majority of the superfluous subplots that didn’t advance the plot in any meaningful way.
Here are some of the notable (and welcome) omissions from “The Tolkien Edit,” as its creator has dubbed it:
- The Tauriel-Legolas-Kili love triangle has also been removed. Indeed, Tauriel is no longer a character in the film, and Legolas only gets a brief cameo during the Mirkwood arrest. This was the next clear candidate for elimination, given how little plot value and personality these two woodland sprites added to the story. Dwarves are way more fun to hang out with anyway.
- Several of the Laketown scenes have been cut, such as Bard’s imprisonment and the superfluous orc raid. However, I’ve still left quite a bit of this story-thread intact, since I felt it succeeded in getting the audience to care about the down-beaten fisherfolk and the struggles of Bard to protect them.
- The prelude with old Bilbo is gone. As with the novel, I find the film works better if the scope starts out small (in a cosy hobbit hole), and then grows organically as Bilbo ventures out into the big, scary world. It is far more elegant to first learn about Smaug from the dwarves’ haunting ballad (rather than a bombastic CGI sequence). The prelude also undermines the real-and-present stakes of the story by framing it as one big flashback.
- A lot of filler scenes have been cut as well. These are usually harder to spot (and I’ve probably missed a couple), but once they’re gone, you’ll completely forget that they ever existed. For example, the 4-minute scene where Bard buys some fish and the dwarves gather up his pay.
It’s not the best quality edit we’ll see, but as a first attempt, we’re more than happy to give it a shot. Who knows — maybe Peter Jackson has his own fan edit lying around, waiting to be included in some overpriced Blu-ray box set in a year or two.
If you want to watch “The Tolkien Edit,” head to the link in the source and follow TolkienEditor’s instructions.