Finally, finally, Peter Jackson’s epic six-film project based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth novels has wrapped, and extended edition versions have been released. Here, Bard the Bowman defeats Smaug the Dragon; Thorin the dwarf loses his mind; orcs, elves, men, goblins, and dwarves battle. And we’re all set to find ourselves back watching The Fellowship of the Ring with Elijah Wood again.
While there are more dynamics going on here than seem humanly (pun intended) possible, the root of the problem is money or stuff. When Thorin refuses to honor his promises about wealth that Smaug had horded, it’s pretty classic – power corrupts, money corrupts, winning corrupts. While we know that there’s good in Thorin, this is one more time where Tolkien shows us how there’s evil to be avoided and good to be done when we are properly friended within Christian community.
But if you love Tolkien, you already know all of that. You want to know instead, what’s in this special collection (which is sure not to be the last time The Hobbit is repackaged!)
In Disc 2, Appendices Part 11, we see “The Gathering Storm” as the cast and crew share their experiences from making the film and putting together the action, effects, and backdrops that set the stage for this battle. In Disc 3, Appendices Part 12, we see “Here At Journey’s End,” what it was like for the filmmakers to wrap their extensive time spent in Middle Earth in one explosive battle to determine the future of several ‘clans’.
Some day, I’ll spend a week rewatching these films in order – chronological not production – and marvel that Peter Jackson could stay so focused, for so long. It’s an epic story about sin and grace, power and weakness, friendship and loneliness, responsibility and cowardice. Few other stories cover quite the gamut of the human experience, making this one of the most powerful narratives of faith and life ever made into film.