5 Ways ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Differs From the Book

We all know Peter Jackson is notorious for adding, inventing, and “œbloating up”the content of his Tolkien adaptation masterpieces, but sometimes, even if you’ve read the book, it’s hard to remember what was true to Tolkien’s written word and what’s a Fran Walsh/Peter Jackson fever dream. Whether you love the additions to these classic tales or not, here are five big ways the first installment of “œThe Hobbit”film series (“œThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”) differs from the book.

5 Radagast the Brown

If you loved the mushroom-addled, animal loving Radagast from the film, you’ll be disappointed that he wasn’t actually in the book much at all. In fact, he is only briefly mentioned within “œThe Hobbit,”and acts only as a small plot device in the “œLord of the Rings”books. According to Tolkien, Radagast was one of the five wizards (or Istari) sent to protect Middle-Earth, and in particular was a guardian of the flora and fauna of the land. The bird crap running down the side of his face and his rabbit sleigh, however, were not products of Tolkien but of Jackson and Walsh ““ and more likely than not, the six bottles of wine they consumed before a writing session.

4 The White Council

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In the book, Gandalf keeps coming and going, fairly randomly (or so it seems). However, he does mention at some point that he has met with members of his order: The White Council. This scene is never written, but in the film we get to see that meeting. Jackson/Walsh have assumed that Elrond and Galadriel make up this elite team, along with Sarumon (who is, indeed, mentioned in the book as being part of the council). Here’s a little neat fact: In the film, Gandalf mentions that he is helping the dwarves with their quest because he worries Smaug will fall into the hands of the enemy (Sauron). He hopes the dwarves can take care of the dragon before this happens. This is actually mentioned in the appendices of “œThe Lord of the Rings,”so it was a nice (and important) touch in the film.

3 Azog and his Orcs

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Nope, sorry ““ before the events of “œThe Hobbit,”Azog was actually dead. To the film’s credit, we do get the idea that Azog was killed “¦ maybe. Once we see him hunt down the dwarves, there’s no question that he’s dead at all. Oh, and all that stuff with the orcs hunting down the dwarves? It was fabricated for the film story. Azog is dead in the books, really dead.

2 Prologue, Flashbacks and a Little Bit of Wood

The film begins with a flashback of Smaug attacking Erebor. Though it’s a fair assessment of the events that took place, it was never described in the book. The flashback of Thror and Thorin battling Azog? Again, never described. But it doesn’t end there. The beginning with Bilbo writing his novel? Nope, never happened. It’s all fan service, I’m afraid. Oh, and before I forget: Elijah Wood’s cameo? Just more stuff for the fans of the first film to eat up (and perhaps help connect the trilogies a bit). I did, however, enjoy Bilbo hiding away his silver in fear that Lobelia Sackville-Baggins would steal it, because this was something mentioned at the beginning of the “œLord of the Rings”trilogy that was not seen in the original LOTR films. Call it more fan service, but it’s the details that make these films!

1 Fleshing out the Dwarves

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Any writer will tell you that it’s a nightmare to write a story (novel or screenplay) with around 15 “œmain”characters. There just isn’t enough room to flesh out personalities or stories in a 300-page book, or even a three-hour film. While Jackson/Walsh did their best, they focused in on a few dwarves particularly, whereas Tolkien’s journey is more folklore/fairytale and the dwarves are often left with small personalities (or none at all). Thorin is the main focus in the film, as Jackson/Walsh fleshed him out with a “œhatred”for elves, gave him the more personal drive of reclaiming his home (as opposed to simply treasure), and ladled on a much weightier backstory. We see small additions to the dwarves’ personalities ““ the quiet Bombur, the young and brash Ori, the aggressive Dwalin, the wise Balin, the duo that is Kili and Fili “¦ each dwarf gets a unique style and personality. These elements are something the book doesn’t describe or capture (though it doesn’t need to). In the film, these details help the audience identify a favorite dwarf.

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