Part Eight ~ There & Back Again
In this part of my review, we follow Bilbo on his return to the Shire, where he discovers that he’s no longer the hobbit he once was, as we review the closing moments of the film.
In Part One of Mordor’s Review of The Hobbit: BFA, I gave a brief overview of the film. I touched on many areas of the film where I feel it succeeded and other areas was where I feel it failed. In Part Eight we come to the conclusion of The Hobbit Trilogy.
Please go HERE to our Hobbit: BFA Review for all nine parts of the Mordor Review!
Let’s begin Part Eight of our review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies by tying up all the loose ends after the final battle on Ravenhill. First we go to Tauriel, as she grieves over the lifeless form of Kili. Weeping, she places the Rune Stone given to him by his mother as a promise that he would one day return home… something he will never do again.
The Elves face death…
For me the scene of Tauriel grieving over the lifeless form of Kili, as Legolas look on, took me back to one of my favorite scene from The Desolation of Smaug… the Feast of Starlight.
Legolas then runs into Thranduil in the tunnel beneath the tower, through why he is there walking alone is unclear. Legolas looks to his father and tells him he can no longer return home to the Woodland Realm. I remembered when I first saw this scene in the theater, I thought it was because of the rift between father and son, but now it seems clear it’s really about the loss of Tauriel, that is the reason for his leaving. What do you think?
Thranduil then drops a less than subtle link to The Lord of the Rings films, by telling Legolas to seek of the Dúnedain and in particular the son of a Ranger named Arathorn. “A good man, who has a son that may one day be a great one.” How does Thranduil know this? We are not told, but when Legolas asks for he name, he receives a rather coy repose from his father. “His name in the wild is Strider, but his real name you must discover for yourself.” During this scene, when Strider’s name is mentioned, Howard Shore injects just a few bars from Aragorn’s heroic theme. A nice touch!
I sort of like this… and I sort of don’t. For now the jury is out on this. I do like the ending of the scene when Thranduil tells Legolas that his mother loved him more than life itself, you can see how difficult it is for Thranduil to speak these words. After Legolas departs, Thranduil has a final closing scene with Tauriel that wraps up her story and his. A little to conveniently? Perhaps, but it’s still is a very satisfying scene that adds depth to each of thier characters.
During this exchange, Thranduil acknowledges the love that Tauriel feels for Fili, which he had denied earlier in the film. He says… “It hurts, because it’s was real.” You know he is speaking from experience, because we were also told earlier the he suffered the loss of the one he loved to the Orcs in mount Gundabad, his wife and Legolas’s mother. For the first time we can fully comprehend the deep sorrow this caused him, which Thranduil has long buried within. By acknowledging Tauriel’s pain, he opens up a the possibility of releasing his own pain. This moment ties up very nicely the narrative arcs of these two characters. I especially like Tauriel’s dialogue during this scene.
Death for the Eldar is especially difficult, because they have been given the gift of immortality, extended to them by Ilúvatar. So they cannot fully comprehend death as the race of men do, who have a death sentence imprinted on them from birth. I expect the loss feels all the greater to them, because they might have lived forever.
Bilbo and Gandalf grieve for Thorin and all who are lost…
This is one of the scenes in The Hobbit trilogy that I anticipated the most… in reading Tolkien’s written words the scene of Thorin’s death though brief, nearly always bring tears to my eyes. Tolkien has a way of getting deep inside you and pulling out those emotions that moments before seemed far away. It’s one of his greatest gifts as a writer. As I posted in this Review Part 7, I talked about how I was disappointed in Martin Freeman’s performance in this part of the story. I can’t say I was any happier with the scene, between Gandalf and Bilbo.
I don’t necessarily lay any blame on Freeman for this… it might simply have been a bad day at work, without the chance of a pickup to fix it… or it may well have been the fault of the Direction at this juncture on the making of the film. I not sure why, but this scene feels awkward to me, which reinforces my feelings about the previous death scene with Thorin. As Gandalf cleans his pipe, making an odd scratching noise as he digs out the bowl, Bilbo sits dejectedly by his side, and nothing seems to be happening. Bilbo looks lost… confused… and Gandalf just cleans his pipe? I suppose I was hoping for something like the scene in The Return of the King with Gandalf and Pippin…
One thing that does come to mind, is that in the scene above, it is Gandalf the White who speaks to Pippin about death. He has passed through fire and water…
“Darkness took me. And I strayed out of thought and time. Stars wheeled overhead, and every day was as long as the life age of the earth. But it was not the end. I felt light in me again.” So I expect he had more to say on the subject, then he would have after the death of Thorin.
The closing scene on Ravenhill is very effective however, when Gandalf and Bilbo look at the dwarves gathered on the ice around the dead body of Thorin Oakenshield. It looks a bit heavy on CGI, but I’m pretty sure the individual dwarves are all the real actors, likely on a green screen stage. However, you can feel their strong performances through all the digital haze and ice. A wonderful ending to this scene.
The Horn of Dale blows a sad lament…
The next scene is simple and yet very emotional, as we see the people of Dale looking out upon the field of battle, as the character of Percy blows the Horn of Dale. It’s obvious, that this one horn could not possibly make the sounds we are hearing, which is probably created with the entire brass section of an orchestra. Still the scene is very effective in instilling the gravity and emotion after the great battle. We see the Gate of Erebor amid the ruin and smoke upon the battlefield, as the people of Laketown look on.
We get several heroic shots of the people standing in the ruins of Dale, including Bard and his family. The camera pans over them, as they remove their hats and look on with sorrow, and we get several close-up shot of Bard and his children that are visually stunning.
My only complaint with this scene, is why only the people of Laketown? I would have expected a round of shots of the Elves and the Dwarves also. Hmmmm. I know that in the extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, this scene cuts right to the funeral of Thorin, Fili and Kili, but even so, it would have been nice to see all the free people of Middle-earth represented at the close of the battle. Regardless of this one point, I still think this is a powerful scene with emotional impact.
Bilbo says a fond farewell…
Now we come to the moment when Bibio must say farewell to the dwarves. In the theatrical version of the film it seems like an abrupt departure for Bilbo, literally right after the battle. In the extended cut, the insertion of the funeral scene adds a needed break between the end of the battle and Bilbo’s departure.
Here we see Bilbo and Balin saying goodby. This is a lovey scene and makes up for any lack in Bilbo’s emotional scenes that came before. We see Bilbo and Balin walking over the bridge from the broken gate of Erebor. Balin is telling Bilbo… “There’s to be a great feast tonight. Songs will be sung, tales will be told, and Thorin Oakenshield will pass into legend.” He looks back at the wall of Erebor and you can see the acute sadness at the loss of his dear friend and King.
Bilbo then says… “I know that is how you must honor him, but to me he was never that… he was… to me, he was…”
You can feel the deep, authentic emotion in this scene, as Bilbo is unable to say the word ‘friend,’ because for him he grief is still too near. Balin reaction as he watches Bilbo trying to say these words is priceless. Ken Stott and Martin Freeman, both shine as actors in this moment.
Finally Bilbo tell Balin that he justs want to slip away, unnoticed asking him to tell the others goodbye, but all the dwarves are there waiting. Bilbo turns surprised and tells them that they are always welcome, the Tea is at four and to not bother knocking. They all laugh as the remember the unexpected party at Bag End, but none of them say a word. In this moment, silence really works for this scene. This entire sequence on the makeshift bridge before Erebor is a perfect conclusion to the Company… which is now broken forever, with the terrible loss of Thorin, Fili and Kili.
The scene ends as Bilbo walks off to meet up with Gandalf, who is waiting for him, The camera turns back to Balin and the Dwarves and Peter Jackson gives us one final look at the company, as the camera pulls out slowly and they recede into Bilbo’s past. A beautifully orchestrated scene, visually, musically and emotionally. Well done PJ!
The return journey to Bag End…
There is a wonderful set of transition scenes from wilderland to the pastoral fields of The Shire. We see Gandalf on Radagast’s horse and Bilbo on a pony, as they travel through three landscape, each one becoming more tamed and ordered.
The only thing missing here is the return to the Troll hoard, where Gandalf and Bilbo dig up the gold left by the dwarves, but it’s scene I didn’t particularly miss. An besides, Bilbo is carry a wooden chest, that presumably holds some of the gold. Finally, they reach the borders of The Shire as Gandalf and Bilbo walk over the brow of a hill. Gandalf announces that he must now depart.
What follows is a nice closing scene with Gandalf. Most of the dialogue from this scene comes right out of the book. There is a bit of a heavy handed dialogue about the Ring, but it fits nicely into Peter Jackson’s version of events. There is no mention of Gollum or the changing of the story about how he got his Ring, but that is covered in The Fellowship of the Ring. I suppose Bilbo saying he lost the Ring during the battle, makes up for the missing lie about Gollum. After they say farewell, Gandalf turns back and watch Bilbo and gives him a long measured look… he knows that all is not as it should be concerning Bilbo’s ring!
Bilbo comes home to Hobbiton, only to find his things being auctioned off! We are treated to a spectacular closing shot of the Hill and Bag End, from the set in New Zealand. Probably one of the most elaborate sets ever created for a series of films… and it was done twice! As Bilbo crest the hill, the camera zooms up to give a final look at Hobbiton!
Martin Freeman delivers a final bit of his classic hobbit humor, as he stomps up the hill, incredulous that hobbits of all sorts are making off with his precious belongings and family heirlooms. “Put down that pouf!” He confronts Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and grabs back his spoons! Her hat is a bit of whimsical comedy all on it’s own! The scene is wonderfully played by Freeman, and give a break from the sorrow and death we have just witnessed.
Finally Bilbo is given the chance to deliver the line he’s been trying to say since the death of Thorin, but has been unable to, because of deep emotion that overwhelms him. After the auctioneer looks over the contract Bilbo signed with Thorin as burglar, he turns to Bilbo and ask who this Thorin Oakenshield is… Bilbo is finally able to say the words…
“He was my friend.”
There is a nice emotional release here, the doesn’t fall into sentimentality and delivers us right in o the final moments of the film.
Bilbo enter Bag End which is forlorn, dark and empty… piles of small unwanted items litter the floor. Bilbo begins to realize just how much he has lost, even here in his safe haven of The Shire. This image of an empty Bag End in a way mirrors both the end of The Hobbit trilogy and also the end of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth saga and the journey we have all taken together.
The light have gone out… the actors have gone home… and it time to break down the set for good. sigh…
Bilbo walks through empty hallways looking los. He bends down and picks up one of his handkerchiefs, famously left behind at the beginning of his unexpected journey. A smile spreads across his face at the memory and the gloom is dispelled. Bilbo then reaches for the portrait of his mother and places it back over the mantle along with the one of his father.
Here is a bit or trivia… some might not realize this, but the two portraits are actually of Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, who counted this as his camo for the final film in his Middle earth saga. As most of you know, PJ has appeared in everyone one of these film as different character. A carrot eating man in Bree in The Fellowship of the Ring. A spear throwing soldier at Helms Deep in The Two Towers. An evil Corsair of Umbar getting an arrow to the chest in The Return of the King. A dwarf of Erebor in An Unexpected Journey. Once more a carrot eating man of Bree in The Desolation of Smaug, and finally with Fran Walsh as Bilbo’s parents, Belladonna Took & Bungo Baggins in The Battle of the Five Armies.
It’s a nice touch and you can see the obvious likeness to both of them.
We then come to the closing scene of the film, which is one of my favorite moments in the entire trilogy. As Bilbo looks at the portrait on the wall, he suddenly feels the pull of the One Ring. He tries it ignore it, but overall succumbs to it alure. He give it a one-eyed grimace, that turns to a smile only an addict getting his fix can truly appreciate. The camera shifts to a shot of Bilbo’s hand holding the Ring… but it’s not Martin Freeman’s hand. The Ring is being held by the elder Bilbo played by Sir Ian Holm.
We see Bilbo sitting in a chair, looking down at the Ring in his hand… troubled by it’s hold over him. We are now back in the comfortable Bag End from the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, with all it finer appointments and we hear a knock on the door. Bilbo shouts out the familiar phrase from the opening scenes from The Lord of the Rings, but this time we are inside Bag End. We then hear Gandalf deliverer his now familiar line…
“And what about very old friends!”
Biblo jumps up to get the door and the camera swings around , landing on the framed map of the Lonely Mountain. Wee know that Gandalf will soon pick it up and look it over after he enters Bag End. I remember grinning from ear to ear in the darkness of the theater the first time I saw this scene, which mirrors nicely with the opening scene of both The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. A perfect ending to the entire Middle-earth Saga!
The credits begin to roll and the journey to Middle-earth is finally over, as well as this long ass review!!! We almost anyway…
In Part Nine of Mordor’s Hobbit: BFA Review ~ Closing Thoughts, we deliver a final summation and rating for this film in The Hobbit trilogy. I promise it will be short and sweet!
Please go HERE to our Hobbit: BFA Review for all nine parts of the Mordor Review!