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The Hobbit: Roadshow Edition

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The Hobbit: Roadshow Edition
a fan edit by Roccondil Rínon

So I’m back to editing. I hadn’t touched my 3-in-1 Hobbit edit in quite a while, but I’ve been inspired to get back and finish the damn thing.

I liked eldusto84’s edit, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, very much, but there are a number of things I want to do differently, many of which involve shortening the film even further, but some of which involve reinstating scenes. Mamman’s The Little Hobbit managed to make the film coherent, if rushed at some points, in under 3 hours, which is also the length I’m aiming for. If I can’t get it that short and be happy with it, I’ll be content with under 208 minutes, the length of the shortest Lord of the Rings Extended Edition.

In my first passes, I managed to get the first two movies down to 100 minutes each, and since watching Mamman’s edit I’ve confirmed that I can get rid of plenty more of both of them, probably down to 80 if not 60 minutes each. (My first passes kept Azog, Radagast, Tauriel and Kili’s subplots mostly intact, as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep things coherent without them; the third movie hadn’t come out yet by that point. They’re now definitely all for the chop.)

It won’t be a strict attempt at a book cut, but so long as it’s no less faithful than the LOTR movies, and a suitable prelude to them, I’ll be content. I want to keep it light-hearted and whimsical, without being childish or silly. I find that a lot of edits (not just of this movie, either) go too far in removing whimsy, while leaving in action scenes that could safely be excised. So I’ll be keeping “Blunt the Knives” and some of the dwarvish trolling in Rivendell, as well as Gandalf’s trolling of Beorn from the Extended Edition, while completely eliminating the interminable chase scenes (all three of them) and reducing the Battle of Five Armies itself to maybe five or ten minutes. In fact, I’ll be adding in a few gags that are in neither the book nor the trilogy, such as a smash cut from the dwarves charging the trolls to the trolls cooking the dwarves, and adding some narration from the book (about Rivendell being a perfect place for eating, singing, or just sitting and thinking) over scenes of the dwarves testing the elves’ patience.

For three reasons, I’m going with a roadshow format for this edit.

  • Any movie this long needs an intermission. I did once sit through a LOTR Extended Edition marathon at the Astor Theatre (Melbourne’s premier cinema), which was a fantastic experience, not least because (in addition to breaks between the movies themselves) they added proper intermissions at appropriate points.
  • I want to be able to release it on single-layer Blu Ray and DVD with maximum quality, which will almost certainly require making a 2-disc set. This also necessitates an intermission. I do have a drive capable of burning BD-50s (got it especially to make my copy of NJVC’s Despecialized set), but I know a lot of people don’t, and the discs themselves are rare and expensive. It also means it will match the Extended Editions of the LOTR trilogy, which all come on two discs.
  • Once that was decided, the idea of including an overture, entr’acte and full opening credits was too attractive to resist. I simply love old movies that were made in this format, like Ben-Hur, 2001 and so on (both of which, among others, I also saw in the format at the Astor). I’ve already found (or in one instance, composed) music I want to use for them. They’ll be easily skippable for party-poopers or those in a rush.

JEDIT: I was going to be doing this in 720p, but my equipment can handle 1080p after all, and I can upscale the handful of cropped shots just fine.

Below I’ll post a (more or less) sequence-by-sequence description of the planned project.

Progress:
Vanity plates and opening titles are rendered and complete, including executive producer credits for Johnny Ringo and a friend from university who bugged me to get back into the project, as well as an “additional visual effects” credit for eldusto84. End titles are composed but not yet rendered (I expect I’ll want to include thanks to some more people on here). Act one (ie. An Unexpected Journey/The Desolation of Smaug) exists in rough draft form, but requires further cutting. Act two hasn’t been started yet.

This post has been edited.

The Hobbit: Roadshow Edition

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(NB. not everything referred to in the past tense is completed; I’m just used to writing that way.)

Overture:
Overture of themes, courtesy youtube user saysnobody.

Studio logos:
Custom designed & animated OT.com vanity plate by me. I’ll make this available to anyone else who wants it, of course, in full 1080p. Original 1950s Warner Bros. fanfare and MGM lion roar with current animated logos.

Prologue:
Replaced with a short (<1min) montage of the Shire and Bag End, with a few lines of narration taken from the audiobook by Rob Inglis. Segues into:

“Good morning”:
Trimmed slightly. Cropped picture to remove “60 years earlier” caption.

An Unexpected Party:
Trimmed a little to remove pettiness, but “Blunt the Knives” stays. I may incorporate a few shots from the first film’s prologue into “Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold” as flashbacks, and possibly an extra verse or two from Clamavi De Profundis’ cover, which meshes very well with the version in the film.

Opening titles:
To follow the dwarves’ song. A full suite of opening titles, over an animated backdrop of original maps from both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books. Music by Parademics.

Roast Mutton:
Toilet humour toned down as much as possible. Action scene completely removed and replaced with a quick gag: the dwarves all charge in, followed by an immediate smash cut to them tied up and about to be roasted. I will try to remove Gandalf breaking the stone, but no promises in this regard.

Radagast and Azog:
Completely removed. Cut from the troll-hoard to arriving at Rivendell.

A Short Rest:
Rivendell and Elrond introduced with narration from the audiobook. White Council removed, but some scenes from the Extended Edition retained in whole or part, including Bofur’s song.

Over Hill and Under Hill:
Stone giants completely gone and not missed. Arrival in Goblin-town trimmed to remove references to Azog. Escape from Goblin-town cut down to a couple of beginning shots once Gandalf shows up.

Riddles in the Dark:
Gollum’s introduction altered so it doesn’t seem like we’re supposed to know him already. He doesn’t drop the Ring on-screen. Otherwise pretty much left as is.

Out of the Frying-pan, Into the Fire:
Cut down as much as possible. I considered cutting straight from the escape from the goblin tunnels to the arrival at Beorn’s (Mamman cuts all the way from the the tunnels to Mirkwood, which involves the significant continuity error of the dwarves randomly acquiring ponies only to have to leave them behind immediately), but I want to keep the Eagles in the battle at the end, and so I ought to introduce them here.

Queer Lodgings:
Gandalf’s narration over footage of the Eagles in flight (idea stolen in its entirety from eldusto84) to bridge between films 1 and 2. Arrival at Beorn’s taken from the Extended Edition. Beorn scenes trimmed to remove references to Azog and the Dol Guldur subplot.

Mirkwood:
Probably trimmed a little, but need to be mindful of pacing in this area; Mirkwood should feel like a bit of a slog. Spider sequence cut down to remove the drawn-out action and the nonsense with the Ring.

The Wood-Elves:
Legolas reduced to his first line. Thorin’s parley with Thranduil trimmed. Tauriel’s scene talking about the Feast of Starlight kept, but she’s otherwise excised.

Barrels Out of Bond:
Severely cut once they’re in the river. No Orc chase, no arrow wound, no Legolas.

A Warm Welcome:
The Master and Alfrid trimmed down considerably, but not removed entirely. References to the Black Arrow and the windlance cut. If I can, I plan to incorporate “The King Beneath The Mountain” as sung by Clamavi De Profundis. Kili’s injury, the involvement of the Elves and Orcs, and so on all cut.

On the Doorstep:
Used FX shots from eldusto84’s edit to reinstate all 13 dwarves going to the Mountain at once. A few lines from the audiobook used for narration. The actual climb to the doorstep and the drawn-out attempts to find the door are trimmed down for silliness and to avoid the glaring continuity error with the moon-runes (“the setting sun…will shine upon the keyhole”). I’ll have to see what colour-grading can achieve in this area.

Inside Information:
Cut slightly to remove the Eye of Sauron, but Bilbo’s conversation with Smaug mostly kept intact.

Smaug the Magnificent:
The dwarves never fight or see Smaug inside the mountain; the entire action sequence is removed. Will probably use eldusto84’s FX shot removing Smaug’s golden coating, or potentially remove it some other way.

Intermission:
Act One ends at the same point as The Desolation of Smaug. It’s by far the best point at which to do so. Entr’acte planned to include part of Clamavi De Profundis’ “Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold”, probably the part sung in the book in Beorn’s house.

Fire and Water:
Smaug’s attack on Lake-town kept mostly intact, minus the windlance and Bard using his son as a bow (borrowing Mamman’s cropped shots to achieve this).

The Gathering of the Clouds:
Kept as much politicking between the three races as possible, but continued the complete excision of the Dol Guldur subplot except for Gandalf coming with news of Orcs on the march. Thorin’s “dragon-sickness” will be downplayed but not eliminated. The battle itself will be cut very short; I want to focus on the build-up. Two more verses of “Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold” may show up here, but only if there’s a natural place for them.

The Clouds Burst:
Battle trimmed down severely to maybe five minutes. Azog, giant worms, trolls, Radagast and other nonsense removed. (Azog will probably show up in a couple of shots, but he won’t be named or shown to be important, and he won’t kill Thorin.) Bilbo’s concussion followed by a smash cut to black, followed by him waking up and finding Thorin already wounded and dying.

King Under the Mountain:
I’d like to try incorporating “The End of the Beginning”, an organ and choral piece by Pink Floyd, over the scenes of Bilbo’s grief and Thorin’s funeral. I’ll have to make sure it works in terms of timing, and I’m not 100% wedded to it, but it ought to work thematically — it was written to depict the aftermath of a great battle in the first place.

The Return Journey:
Short flashback montage to a few scenes from the battle, set to narration from the book, to make up for the fact that most of the battle itself will have been cut. Bilbo’s return home trimmed to remove references to the Ring, but the auction is kept.

Epilogue:
Montage set to narration from the book (potentially including shots from LOTR), for symmetry with the prologue and to make up for an over-rushed ending to the movie (presumably done in the first place to avoid a repeat of the complaints about the over-long ending of The Return of the King).

End credits:
Remade by me to incorporate credits for all three films and avoid duplicating new opening credits. Set to “Bilbo’s Song” from The Lord of the Rings (the one that begins “I sit beside the fire and think…”), with music written by me and planned to be recorded by David Slattery, possibly followed by a third Clamavi De Profundis recording, “Song of Durin” (also a song from LOTR, beginning “The world was young, the mountains green/No stain upon the moon was seen…”), or else one of the credit suites from the original movies.

This post has been edited.

The Hobbit: Roadshow Edition

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Sounds like a killer idea. I will check back as you progress.

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I’m not sure I agree with cutting Azog entirely and having Thorin get fatally wounded off-screen. Like, I know that’s true to the book and all, but to me the idea of having one of the central cast just suddenly show up dead seems terribly anti-climactic. Then again, I’m saying this as someone who was never overly fond of Tolkien’s writing-style to begin with… He did the same thing with Boromir in Lord of the Rings and I thought it was just as underwhelming there. So personally I’d probably keep enough of Azog to at least clearly establish him as the enemy general, probably cutting out all the backstory stuff because it’d bog the story down too much, and try to trim down the battle between them to get rid of the ridiculous stuff such as the whole part where he’s plunged underwater and somehow manages to jump back through the ice and all that.

Still, sounds like yet another promising take on making these movies more watchable. Definitely interested to see how this turns out.

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Yeah, it’s something that will be difficult to pull off. I wouldn’t mind showing it in principle, but I think the fight between Thorin and Azog is just too absurd, especially (unfortunately) the end. I’m going to see if I can get away with showing at least some of the battle in flashback; that ought to give me some more flexibility with what to show and how.

The Hobbit: Roadshow Edition

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Quick update: I’m working in 1080p after all. I may need to wait until we upgrade some equipment next year for any heavy colour grading, but otherwise my computer has proven it can handle it.

The Hobbit: Roadshow Edition

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