There and Back Again: The Shortest Middle-earth film?

Legolas and Bard TABAPerhaps the most intriguing point Richard Armitage made in a recent interview during the Empire Awards ceremony last week, was that the third film will most likely be shorter than the rest.

A shocking statement for some, no doubt!

I was taken aback as well by this comment; but after a while I tried to consider the reasons for this – if it turns out to be true.

(skip to between 0:25-0:27 – some spoilers may follow later on)

Then again, his exact words are: “I think it will be a shorter film” … that word “think”.

Of course Peter Jackson still has over 8 months of post-production to do and much can be altered.

Nonetheless, it won’t do any harm to speculate on the possibility of There and Back Again being the shortest of all six films.

I was instantly reminded of the last Harry Potter movie (Deathly Hallows Part II) and interviews that emerged a few weeks or months before its release – claiming that it would be the shortest of all the Potter movies.

battle of five armiesPotterheads worldwide were not so much looking forward to the last film in the franchise and a shorter running time felt definitely worse.

As it turned out, the film really worked in terms of pacing the story. Any unnecessary scenes were omitted, leaving only the heart and soul of the journey to make its way to a triumphant conclusion.

If this is the case with There and Back Again, it eases the headache for Peter Jackson in reducing the gap leading up to the Battle of Five Armies – (even though we’ve learnt that he knows how to fill his gaps with impressive, and sometimes over-the-top, action scenes).

It’s no mystery that the three main sequences in the third film will involve Smaug’s attack on Lake-town, the assault on Dol Guldur, and the aforementioned battle.

If the film spans the length of two hours, much more focus can be made on each of these major moments; each successively leading to the next – throwing audiences in a race against time – which is ultimately one of the elements that makes the story of The Hobbit so effective.

In such a ‘short time’, Peter Jackson can really focus on the main characters and their stories – completing their story-arcs and avoid Smaug the Stupendousgoing into unnecessary plots.

Yes, I certainly wouldn’t mind watching a Middle-earth film where every conversation takes five or more minutes to conduct.

I literally want to explore every nook and cranny of the cinematic Middle-earth.

But I also recognize the general film audience and the dangers of a long-drawn conclusion. For us die-hard fans, we’ll have to make do with the Extended Editions – leaving the theatrical cut to be as carefully constructed and polished as possible.

An Unexpected Journey was considered by many as running for too long, but I adored the lengthy scenes: especially, the unexpected Party (am still secretly waiting for a 2-hourUnexpectedParty cut of that sequence).

The Desolation of Smaug, which was definitely more urgent and well-paced, left me slightly disappointed at the lack of proper introductions to characters and locations – until I realized the importance of satisfying the general audience and keeping only the essential elements of the narrative.

There and Back Again, not having the lack of post-production time like An Unexpected Journey – nor any more necessary explanations to the story – should prove to be the best in The Hobbit Trilogy.

As long as the essence of every major moment is there, this could be the strong link between the two Trilogies.

Who knows, it might even top one of The Lord of the Rings films too.

We’re all waiting with bated breath…

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4 thoughts on “There and Back Again: The Shortest Middle-earth film?

  1. I can’t wait, to be honest. I’ve enjoyed both of the Hobbit films so far, I can see why it may not be everybody’s cup of tea but I just really enjoy getting immersed in the cinematic wonder of Middle-Earth. Tolkien’s world has a magical feel to it and Peter Jackson has managed to lift that from the book and have it fully realised in every one of these films, it’s why I’m totally fine with An Unexpected Journey not starting the quest for about 45 minutes because it’s just such a joy to get wrapped up in the atmosphere of the Shire again.

    I’ll be very sad when There and Back Again is done with, but at the same time I am REALLY looking forward to seeing the conclusion of this story visually depicted.

    • Thanks for the feedback! It’s true, re-seeing the Shire in AUJ was one of the highlights of the film (especially the much more expanded Bag-End sets and just the fresh angles of Hobbiton from what we’ve memorized from The Lord of the Rings).

      As to TABA, yes it’s really a mixture of both joy and sadness. I’m pretty sure that once December comes, we’d all wish we were still where we are now – expecting the final film’s release 🙂 … so I guess we just have to enjoy the wait while we can!

  2. I hope TABA will be a long film, the final film to rule them all (this trilogy, I mean. Nothing beats LOTR. Nothing!!!). I loved the AUJ scenes (though many complained it was too slow and boring) as I felt it was rather in tune with the book, but was actually quite disappointed with its extended version. Just 13 minutes of extra footage 😦 I’m hoping DOS extended will feature much more.

    • I agree about the extended version of AUJ – I expected much more. DoS should certainly contain more, considering what we’ve seen in trailers and other online news.

      I’m expecting some announcement to be made about the speculated running time of the EEs soon … 🙂

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