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By now you know that the first ever trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has debuted online. If you haven't seen it yet, go here. The trailer will also be in theaters tomorrow in front of Tintin, in 3D no less, and it's just cinematic enough that buying a ticket for Tintin just to see it might not be a bad decision.
It's such a good trailer that we immediately dove into it and brought you a series of 94 amazing still photos from the trailer, and now we're digging in even deeper to figure out just what this trailer told us about director Peter Jackson's plans for this return to Middle Earth. Here a few key things we learned from the trailer, that we didn't know before we watched it. Hobbit fans… add on to the list using the comments section below.
New Material Won't Be Confined To The Second MovieWe know that Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit will actually contain more than just The Hobbit. He's written a bunch of new material, not in the book, but based on ancillary Tolkien works to pair with it. That extra material will involve a side quest in which Gandalf, Galadriel, and other great powers go to confront a dark and rising power in Mirkwood. What we didn't know until this trailer is whether that extra material would be confined to the second movie of the two being released, allowing them to focus on simply telling the story of The Hobbit here, or if they'd somehow weave it in with the other things which are supposed to be happening. The trailer though makes it clear that we're getting it all at once. Galadriel appears numerous times in the Unexpected Journey trailer, though she's not in the book version of The Hobbit at all. She'll no doubt be one of the main characters in that new, side story, and here she is in the very first film.
Middle Earth still looks like Middle EarthFor anyone concerned that all the time that's passed or shooting in 3D might have changed the way Peter Jackson approaches Tolkien's material, The Hobbit should come as a relief. Middle Earth still looks like Middle Earth. Watching Bilbo walk through Hobbiton is like sitting back down with an old, familiar friend. It just feels right, everything is as it should be, right down to Bag End and Gandalf's beard. The inclusion of actors like Elijah Wood (in the trailer very briefly here) and Ian Holm as the older Bilbo only helps that feeling along, this should feel very much like a place we know, and it does.
The Dwarves Look More Dwarfy In ContextOne of the big concerns people had early on in The Hobbit's development process was the look of the dwarves. We started getting images like this one which made it seem as though Peter Jackson was trying to make dwarves sexy. Anyone who knows anything about dwarf men, knows they aren't sexy. The truth is that only about half of the dwarf characters that showed up in the photos they released actually looked liked a dwarf at all. Luckily, it all seems to work perfectly in context. In the trailer they look like dwarves. Thorin Oakenshield looks like a particularly heroic dwarf, and he's maybe even kind of good looking as dwarf dudes go, but still a dwarf. A lot of that is perhaps because of their behavior. A dwarf just doesn't act like other people, they're gruff, they hid behind their beards, they stand up in the middle of a meal and sing a haunting song about their longed for home. All of that happens in The Hobbit trailer and you get the sense that while these are very different dwarf characters from the one John Rhys Davies played in the Lord of the Rings films, they are definitely dwarves nonetheless.
There Will Be Light In Gollum's CaveA few months ago here on Cinema Blend we talked about some of the big story problems Peter Jackson and his team would have to solve in order to turn Tolkien's book into a movie. One of the biggest on our list at the time was the problem of Gollum's cave. It's one of the most pivotal scenes in The Hobbit, and it takes place in total darkness. It's so dark in fact that Bilbo can't see anything, and his overall blindness is part of the scene. We get a glimpse of that scene at the end of the Unexpected Journey trailer and it seems clear that they've solved it simply by making it not that dark (screenshot here). It's not entirely clear how much Bilbo can or can't see in that brief footage, but the audience can see everything. I suppose that's particularly important since the movie's in 3D and 3D can't cope at all with dark images, but I still find myself wishing for the inky, impenetrable depths described in Tolkien's book.
Tolkien's Songs May Play A More Prominent RoleAll of J.R.R. Tolkien's books actually devote a great many pages to song lyrics, which the characters sing as they travel. It's pretty hard to work those into a feature film, though Lord of the Rings did it once or twice, albeit a little awkwardly. The first trailer for The Hobbit though works in the Tolkien-style music right off the bat, suggesting that it'll play a more prominent role in The Hobbit. The song the Dwarves sing in the trailer is called “Misty Mountains” and it's about the place they're going. These are the song's full lyrics:
Far over the misty mountains cold
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