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Jul 122013

What was the REAL story behind his leaving The Hobbit production!

I have a feeling that fate meant for Peter Jackson to direct these films… just as Frodo was meant to have the Ring… and that’s a comforting thought!

Some interesting words from Guillermo del Toro on his involvement in The Hobbit…

In an article just released on Vulture, Guillermo del Toro admits that he hasn’t seen Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Expected Journey.

When asked recently about The Hobbit films and his designs for Smaug during a press junket for Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro made a bold admission…

Vulture: You were initially supposed to direct the Hobbit films. We’ve all seen the teaser for the second one, which has a glimpse of Smaug, the dragon that you were so excited to work on. Do you know if any of your dragon designs are going to be in that movie?

Guillermo del Toro: I haven’t seen the second movie. I haven’t seen the first movie, so I don’t know. I’ve been busy making my own movies. [Laughs.]

I don’t know about you, but I sense a bit of angst in his response.

Of course it’s always difficult to know for sure without hearing a persons inflection, what the real meaning is behind their words. It may just be feelings about a lost opportunity, but maybe it’s something more? Del Toro has been very quiet about his involvement in the pre-production of The Hobbit since his departure in 201o. The stated reasons given for leaving The Hobbit have always been because the long delay to the start of  filming. The studio’s legal wranglings about the rights to the film kept The Hobbit on hold for years. Del Toro left the production just before the final agreements were made between the studios. I have always wondered if there was more to this than meets the eye.

Guillermo del Toro is a visionary auteur who might have brought a very unique and fresh perspective to The Hobbit films. However, the look and feel of his vision would have undoubtedly been very different from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Even though he was working in New Zealand with the same production crew and talent that created the first trilogy of films, his designs and visual eye would have made for a very different set of films. Even though the folks in New Zealand accepted him with open arms, I think it must have been very difficult to walk into a setting where everyone already had an idea about how these films should look… it seems to me that creatively, if must have been an uphill battle for him to bring his vision to life.

Once del Toro left the production and Peter Jackson took on the role of director in making of The Hobbit, the direction of the films changed dramatically. I have written my thoughts HERE about what I see as the six film Middle-earth Opus that I believe Peter Jackson is making. Even though PJ might have been Executive Producer on the films, if del Toro had directed these films, it would most likely have remained only two films and would not have had the same connection to The Lord of the Rings trilogy the Jackson directed. These two sets of films would have been different in visual style, story and tone.

Though no one is saying this publicly, something tells me as I read between the lines of this story, that both Jackson and del Toro realized that this wasn’t going to work. It may have been providence that the studios took so long and gave both directors an out.

Of course I might be completely wrong about this, but here is another interview with Guillermo del Toro that was posted by The Playlist earlier this year that begins to paint a different picture. Take for example this quote e from the interview…

The Playlist:

As hinted in past interviews, Del Toro says his ideas may have eventually caused friction in “The Hobbit” camp and tensions, while hard to gauge, were palpable.
Here’s an excerpt:

“The visual aspect was under my control,” Del Toro said. “There was no interference with that creation.” In collaboration with Jackson and two screenwriters, del Toro had completed drafts for Parts 1 and 2. But final revisions were still to come, and he noted that any “strong disagreements” between him and Jackson would have occurred when they debated which scenes to film and which to cut—“You know, ‘I want to keep this.’ ‘I want to keep that.’ ” But, he said, he had quit “before that impasse.”

The production delays on “The Hobbit” also caused a strain on everyone and del Toro said, he “could not distinguish between a real tension and an artificial tension.”

This makes me wonder…. hmmmm!

I suspect that on some level the team in New Zealand and del Toro realized that his directing The Hobbit films could very well turn into a creative disaster that both filmmakers would walk away from unsatisfied with. In The Playlist article, del Toro reveals more about his development on The Hobbit and in particular his visionary and controversial designs for Smaug.

The Playlist:

Del Toro’s version of “The Hobbit” would have been different from Peter Jackson’s take on “Lord Of The Rings.”

The director said he would have inevitably imposed his own sensibilities on that source material. “It’s like marrying a widow. You try to be respectful of the memory of the dead husband, but come Saturday night… bam.” Compared to Peter Jackson, he said his style would have been more “operatic”; for example, whereas Jackson’s visuals employed the gorgeous and very-real New Zealand skies, del Toro planned to use digital “sky replacement,” in his compositions for a more “painterly effect.”

Del Toro’s design for Smaug the dragon also caused some discomfort.

“I know this was not something that was popular,” he said of his aesthetic for Smaug and according to Zalewski some of the look and feel would be “audacious innovations.” “Eight hundred years of designing dragons, going back to China, and no one has done it!” Del Toro said of his unique designs, but said he could not discuss at length because he did not own the intellectual property. “I have never operated with that much secrecy,” he said of his time at Weta.

The director doesn’t think much of his visual creations or treatments, will be used in “The Hobbit.”

Del Toro said leaving the ‘Hobbit’ production hurt “like a motherfucker,” adding “not much [of what I envisioned] is going to make it. That’s my feeling.” The most difficult part? “Making peace with the fact that somebody else is going to have control of your creatures, your wardrobe, and change it, or discard it, or use it. All options are equally painful.”

His version of “The Hobbit” would have been color coded eight ways.

“The stuff I left behind is absolutely gorgeous. I’m absolutely in love with it.” he said. “I had color-coded the movie: there was a green passage, a blue passage, a crimson passage, a golden passage. In Tolkien, there is a clear season for autumn, winter, summer, spring in the journey. And I thought, I cannot just stay in four movements in two movies. It will become monotonous. So I thought of organizing the movie so you have the feeling of going into eight seasons. So a certain area of the movie was coded black and green, a certain area was crimson and gold, and when we laid out the movie in a big room, we had all the wardrobe, all the props, all the color-coded key art. When you looked and saw that beautiful rainbow, you could comprehend that there was a beautiful passage.”

I believe fate intervened and brought Peter Jackson back to the Director’s Chair on The Hobbit films.

After reading the above excerpts from the article at The Playlist, I get the distinct feeling that the right choices were made about who should direct The Hobbit!

I love the work of  Guillermo del Toro, especially Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy series of films. There’s a good possibility that I might have really enjoyed what he envisioned for The Hobbit films. I hope that someday he will share his vision for The Hobbit and show us what he had in mind for the film. However, I think if he had ended up directing The Hobbit films, there might have been a great deal of tension during the filming as both directors would have their own vision for the films. This might might well have let to a creative mess. As much concern as we might feel over the changes made to The Hobbit by the Jackson camp, I feel that del Toro would have gone even father afield from Tolkien’s writings.  We’ll never know for sure and any thoughts on this are only speculation!

After getting over my initial disappointment with the fact that Peter Jackson would not be directing The Hobbit back 2009, I was eager to see what del Toro would bring to these films and was ready to embrace his vision of Middle-earth. Now in retrospect, I’m glad that things worked out the way they did.

I love the thought that The Hobbit films and the Lord of the Rings films will create a six film master-work by Peter Jackson that will blend seamlessly to form a singular vision of Middle-earth.

Now if you are a del Toro fan you may have a differing opinion about who should be directing these films, but I think most Tolkien fans would agree that Peter Jackson was the right choice and were very happy when he took up the reigns of The Hobbit films. If you disagree or have another opinion about this please post your thoughts in the Discus Comments below! If you are not signed up for Discus please do… it’s a wonderful free and easy to to use commenting system that offers a lot interaction with the discussion here at Mordor!

 July 12, 2013  Posted by at 11:53 am
  • Bagronk

    It would have been a visual change for Middle Earth if Del Toro had remained in the chair. To me at least, in creating a unified look for the sextet of films, it would have been bad. They might have looked like two different movies aesthetically. Almost like watching Star Wars episodes 1-3 and 4-6. They look different and, for sure, technology had something to do with. But there’s a certain feel that’s missing in 1-3 that was created in 4-6. Interestingly enough, 4-6 had all had different directors….Putting that aside, however, I am a fan of Del Toro and hope that he can bring a respectability to fantasy films that Jackson initiated.
    Being an Azog fan, part of me wants to believe expanding his role was Del Toro’s idea 🙂

  • sanch

    Peter Jackson is the best thing that happened to Middle earth. AS MUCH talented del toro is , he has never worked on large scale films.. and i don’t think that would have been right..his style is towards a dark fantasy

  • sanch

    As much talented Del Toro is , i think Peter Jackson is the best thing that happened to Middle Earth. Del Toro thrives for dark fantasies, and this colour passage idea is not working. The Hobbit is not a fairy tale. It is poetic but it is not a fairy tale according to Tolkien. I think Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the world of Tolkien is as close as it can get. Del Toro’s creatures and designs are all fairy tale – like . they do not look like creatures that can exist in the world. I mean as beautiful as Pan’s labyrinth is the creatures are fantastical and fairy tale like where as Jackson’s vision is more organic . I think Tolkien was more organic in that ways

  • sanch

    Also Del toro has not made any real good movies except Pan’s Labyrinth

  • Derek Hancock

    Peter Jackson Still Is The Best Choice as Director of the Series

  • There’s no reason they cannot now have a del Toro Hobbit and LotR series. Frankly I’d like to see a shorter Hobbit, maybe 2 movies, and a longer six-movie LotR with Tolkien’s Titles for those books. Put Radagast where he belongs, make the passage of time less hurried, and for the love of the Professor, give Théoden his real dialog with Merry as he died. “You have to let me go”? What trash compared to his actual words, a few of which I offer from my poor memory. “And now I will not see her again, dearer than daughter.” “Grieve it not. It is forgiven…. Live in blessedness….” “I go to my fathers, and even in their mighty company I will not now be ashamed.” And Éomer’s reaction, and “Death” battle cry. Find a director who can capture the end of Book 3, as Merry falls asleep dreaming of sitting astride the statue of a horse as the world spins underneath.

  • I would like to see Clint Eastwood’s work on this. Christopher Lee called him “an absolutely brilliant director.”