Ramblings on The Hobbit, Film Adaptations and Rereading

There is something about Peter Jackson’s vision of Tolkien’s world that works really well for me. I think we all develop strong visuals of the books we read, especially such richly penned works like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Often movies disappoint if the director and cinematographer have a vastly different vision than what we readers conjure up. Yet sometimes they delight us with such a vastly different vision that it is like gaining more depth or another perspective on the same story. Director Peter Jackson and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie strike a great balance for me sometimes with a match…but not always. They create a world evocative of Tolkien such that even when my inner vision of a character or landscape or dwelling or cave is different, the Jackson/Lesnie vision we see on that big screen still works. It might not be a match, but it works, it fits, it’s right enough somehow that I can grin and nod and think “Oh, yeah…I get it”.

I first read The Hobbit when I was in Jr. High living in Alaska. I don’t even remember how the book came into my hands, but there it was and there I was confined to the couch in the living room during one of my childhood bouts with strep throat. This turned out to be such a wonderful book in so many ways, providing a mythical place of escape and a whole new wealth of friends and foes to take my mind off the searing burning in my throat. When I was done reading it, I felt the kind of wistful sadness one feels saying goodbye. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Lord of the Rings. I have reread all of the books many times over and our copies are just about to fall apart at the binding.

Yes, I am an avid reader and rereader. I get it that many people feel there are too many good books out there and for each time you reread, there is something wonderful out there you are NOT reading. Well sometimes I am seeking a mood, a known atmosphere, a favorite vacation spot when I reread, but also each time I do feel like it is a new experience. In her foreword to Hotel Evangeline: A Novel in 36 Voices, Nancy Pearl writes “Incidentally, that’s why I think there’s really no such thing as rereading, since each time we pick up a book we are, in some incalculable way, a different person, and therefore a different reader, with the result that it turns out to be a different book.” Incidentally I find this to be true of film, art music…

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