This is more of a speculative post than actual fact – but it’s good to speculate nonetheless … 🙂
What follows will try to list some of the “missing” scenes/shots/images that have been posted through the later part of 2013 as part of the marketing for ‘The Desolation of Smaug’.
If you have not seen the second film yet, you may want to stop here. There are no story spoilers (except for Gandalf fighting someone in Dol Guldur), simply which shots have not made the cut in the final film.
This will also be linked with an in-depth review of the film coming very very soon …
Many of the shots listed below may come across as simply “last-minute” changes and will surely make their way towards an Extended Edition release. Fair enough – I certainly wouldn’t mind!
However, there just seems to be such a wealth of material that we were “promised” and emphasized on, that it makes me wonder whether some significant editing changes were made for some unknown reason(s).
That said, I found the film to be highly entertaining and very well edited and paced. As I said, this is all just speculative 🙂
So, let’s begin …
After much anticipation, a few months back, a couple of images from ‘The Hobbit’ calendar made their way online – giving us a clear glimpse of Beorn’s appearance in the film. Whilst these are clearly promotional images, it might make you wonder why there’s no axe featured in ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, nor is the “wood-cutting” scene.
Again, the image does look promotional – rather than an actual shot taken from the film. However, it seems to indicate a scene in which the dwarves and the hobbit are staying at Beorn and are watching this character’s way of life over the course of a day or two.
Indeed, there seems to have been more material for Beorn shot which didn’t make it into the final film – and the reason for this may be related to time constraints and the advancement of the story unto the next stage.
Remember the massive promotional “scroll” that was released before ‘An Unexpected Journey’? It contained a “scene” taking place at night, were Gandalf meets Beorn in bear form. This sequence seems to have made it right until a few months before the release of the second film, as the studios released another image of the two characters (this time Beorn as a man). Undoubtedly, both images appear to stem from the same scene and yet, as you may have noticed by watching ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, this scene doesn’t exist in the film.
What’s more, there seems to have been a lot of time and effort put into building the exterior of Beorn’s house – which was only shown for one or two brief shots.
No doubt that come the Extended Edition next year, we’ll see much more of Beorn and his role in the film.
Three “absent” scenes seem to stand out from this sequence. The first being the lack of an enchanted River and Bombur’s unfortunate slip into the water, rendering him a useless baggage for the Dwarves to carry.
Surely this scene was filmed due to it being present in a number of vlogs and promotional images. In the fourth video diary, when Peter Jackson is talking about the Forest of Mirkwood, we get a shot of the Dwarves walking up a log looming over a sickly-looking stream. Furthermore, an image was released clearly showing the Company carrying a make-shift stretcher – on top of which, Bombur was placed.
This moment was also briefly shown in some other behind-the-scenes video, with some of the Dwarves carrying Bombur on the stretcher. Again, time may have been the issue for it not being present in the final film.
The concept of the River appears also in the edited version of the Live Event done back in March this year. Peter Jackson displays some concept art for Mirkwood, and one illustration (as Jackson himself comments) contains the Dwarves on a broken bridge, trying to find a way across.
Going back to a few moments just before Bombur falls into the River and drops to sleep, in the book the Company encounters a white stag running towards them and jumping over the River – whilst the dwarves try in vain to shoot it down with their bows and arrows.
Again, in the fourth video diary, we get a glimpse of a take that sees Bilbo and Thorin looking at an object – the hobbit seemingly entranced, whilst the Dwarf sternly pulls back his bow and fires. As to the true nature of the scene, one can only speculate, but it strongly seems to point towards that particular moment in the book – which leads to Bombur’s fall into the water.
A shot which seems almost certain (considering it was shown in the most recent trailers) was of Azog climbing up battlements in Mirkwood, whilst the Orcs are engaged in fighting the Elves. This attack is present in the film, whilst the shot isn’t.
However, it’s not the absence of the shot that intrigues me (after all, many film trailers usually contain shots that are either not in the final film, or different takes – it happens all the time); but rather the change in character – from Azog to Bolg. It seemed clear that Azog would lead the attack on the Elves, however, as seen in ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, this task was left in the hands of Bolg.
Azog seems to have been “removed” from these sequences, in order to fuel the Dol Guldur subplot and most probably, the events that will be the climax in film 3. So for now, all we have to do is wait another year to understand this change …
Dol Guldur *minor story spoilers*
Which leads us to the old fortress itself. Perhaps, if you’ve seen the second film (and have been following the marketing for ‘The Hobbit’ in the past two years), you may have noticed the lack of a particular scene.
Right from the start, when the first teaser for ‘An Unexpected Journey’ was released, we got a (perhaps at first) ambiguous look at Gandalf fighting Thrain in Dol Guldur. After the change from two to three films, the scene appeared to have been shifted to the second film and indeed, the trailers which followed, gave us further glimpses of this engagement.
However, having seen ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, there is absolutely no evidence of this – nowhere. Now this is probably the most interesting aspect of this whole post.
Why would Peter Jackson remove such a scene from the film? Did it perhaps conflict with the whole Gandalf/Azog/Necromancer confrontation? Why then mention the key of Erebor and Thrain during the opening scene in Bree?
Actually, at one point during Gandalf’s investigation, there are two shots (primarily from a low and high angle) showing Gandalf stopping near one of the fortress’s walls. The low angle seems to be the exact same shot we see in the main trailer of the film, but without a maddened Thrain jumping on the wizard.
Thrain’s presence in Dol Guldur was also confirmed in the 11th video diary with a brief look at the wizard following the dwarf through the mazes of the fortress.
Honestly, I’m really curious as to why this scene was omitted and as to the reasons that may have affected the editor’s and Peter Jackson’s sudden change.
Apart from being in conflict with some of the scenes in the first film, with Thorin inquiring how Gandalf acquired the map and key to Erebor, in the August edition of Empire Magazine, Peter Jackson had stated that “father and son relationships” are an important theme in Film 2 and that we would be “delving into the relationship between Thrain and Thorin” (quotes are not exact). The article even mentions the battle of Moria flashback being re-shot with Thrain – no doubt to account for his mysterious disappearance in the first film.
So, if I had the chance to ask Peter Jackson any question, this would certainly be it. Why?
Whilst the film was fast paced (as it should be), I was slightly disappointed at not having “spent” more time in certain locations along the way towards the Mountain.
Mainly, the ruins of Dale.
Considering the film is entitled ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, more time could have been spent in this area. This seems to have been the case during film, for in another video diary (no.8), we see a couple of the Dwarves in a snow-covered Dale.
Let us not forget some of the promotional images from the Calendar too – showing Thorin with an expression of nostalgia as he looks over the battlements – presumably, towards the Lonely Mountain itself.
Again, one can’t be sure as to the omission of such a scene and perhaps, like some of the others mentioned above, the reason is simply Time.
I’ll repeat again. I found the film very entertaining and much to my already-high expectations. It definitely flows better than the first film (though it still builds beautifully from ‘An Unexpected Journey’). See my previous (spoiler-free)post containing a ‘Quick Review’.
I’m just interested in collecting all the omitted scenes (and undoubtedly there are more than those listed here) to try and understand the filmmakers’ decisions in evolving the narrative. This, all the more, makes me even more excited to see the outcomes and resolutions of the plots in the third film.
[Images taken from ‘Heirs of Duin’]