I have been following the casting of The Hobbit, and I don't get it. Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom--they're all going to be in the movie, but none of their characters are in that book! It's blasphemy.--Kio, via the inbox
Sit down, my son, for I am about to outnerd you on such an epic scale that your ears will ring evermore like the echoes of Horn of Gondor. According to Middle Earth scholars--oh yes, I hath dug them up--Hobbit director Peter Jackson knows very much what he's doing...
In fact, his interpretation of The Hobbit may be more accurate than mainstream quasi-nerds will ever give him credit for. Yes, technically, Blanchett's elven queen appears only in The Lord of the Rings trilogy; ditto with Legolas, who is played by Bloom, and Frodo Baggins, aka Elijah Wood.
But according to Corey Olsen, who teaches J.R.R. Tolkien and medieval literature at Washington College in Maryland, all three of those characters are, actually, very much a part of The Hobbit story.
Proof? You got it. We'll start with a key plot point in The Hobbit: A big fight known as the Battle of the Five Armies. One of the characters who brings the hurt during that battle is the elven king of Mirkwood. And according to Middle Earth lore, that king has an adult son.
That's right: Legolas. So, even though Legolas is years away from lending his bow in the fight against Sauron--and even though he gets nary a mention in The Hobbit--there's no reason he wouldn't be slinging arrows in the Battle of the Five Armies.
"The idea that the king would go to war and the son would not be there? Legolas must be there," Olsen reveals. "Otherwise it would be a violation of the integrity of the story. You would have to invent a reason for Legolas of be out of town that day."
Indeed. And don't let his long Blake Lively coif fool you; Legolas is no coward. He loves peace, but he also does seem to like getting his war on.
On to Galadriel, the elven queen played by Blanchett. Again, no mention of her in The Hobbit. But at one point in that story, the wizard Gandalf disappears on a mysterious errand. It's later revealed that he was attending a key meeting with a powerful group called the White Council.
Guess who's on the council.
Given that info, Olsen says, "not only is it not a stretch" to include Galadriel in the upcoming movie, but, really, "you can't get around it."
Finally: Frodo. This casting decision seems like the hardest to explain. After all, Frodo isn't even supposed to be born when Bilbo has his big burglar adventure. But look closer: in the Middle Earth universe, the only way the world really learns about Bilbo's story is through a tome called The Red Book of Westmarch. And guess who was charged with maintaining and updating that tale.
Sense a pattern here? So do other fans. Per reports on the fan site TheOneRing.net, Jackson plans to use Frodo in The Hobbit's opening scenes as a sort of bridge into this prequel, perhaps showing him with this book, or, at least, recalling the story his uncle Bilbo first recorded.
(Originally published Jan. 11, 2011, at 7 p.m. PT)