Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Greatest Adventure

When I was a kid, watching movies on TV was a special thing. Aside from the made-for-TV movies, seeing films on TV was usually something that you planned around. Among these were the standards like The Wizard of Oz and Miracle on 34th Street. They came on annually, and were kind of a family event. But for me, I always looked forward to one movie; Rankin/Bass’ animated production of The Hobbit.

Years before I had ever heard of D&D, I was enamored of the tale of Bilbo Baggins and the thirteen dwarves. I was both scared and excited by the old wyrm, Smaug, the Spiders of Mirkwood and the Dwarf-eating Trolls. I loved Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver, and Glamdring, the Foe Hammer, and Black Arrow. I wanted to be Bard the Guardsman.

My mom owned a set of books that included The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At the time I was too young to really be able to read them (I didn’t develop the necessary reading skills until sometime around junior high), but I used to look at the cover, with its image of Bilbo floating down the river on a barrel, and wonder what it would be like to live in that kind of world.  The covers of the other books were equally enchanting to me, particularly Fellowship, which depicted Hobbiton.

Then, in 6th grade, I was introduced to D&D. And the spark that Rankin/Bass had ignited was fanned into a blaze that burns bright to this day. Suddenly I could be Bard. I could wield magic weapons and slay dragons. I remember in those first years of playing the game, I always imagined the adventures looking like The Hobbit, and narrated by John Huston (who provided the voice of Gandalf).

This past weekend, on a lark, I dug out our DVD of the movie and watched it with Connor. He was somewhat interested, and paid some attention. Oddly, the scenes that most caught his attention were with Gollum. And while I was watching it, I was totally taken back to my youth.

As a kid, my life was not very easy or pleasant at times. But the music and adventure in this movie always transported me away. If I could go back, I would make my young self read The Hobbit earlier.

Suffice it to say, I am very much looking forward to Peter Jackson’s new movies. I absolutely love his version of LotR, and have watched all three extended cuts in one sitting (that’s about 12 hours of movie) on more than one occasion. And I am looking forward to being transported to Middle Earth yet again.

I have also been struck with a wonderful idea for a collector's edition of The Hobbit.  If it turns out to be somewhat doable, it could be a great gift idea for some of my fellow geeks.  More on that later, if it materializes.


Charles Gramlich said...

I never knew there was a hobbit film until I was an adult. I read the book in college and loved it. I do want to see the Jackson version.

Tom Doolan said...

The first time I read it all the way through was during a week-long field excercise in the Army at Ft. Polk. I was probably about 23 or so. It was on my literary bucket list, and I figured it was time.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I enjoyed that, as I recall.

I do remember (I was probably older) when they finally got around to 'The Return of the King.' But, Bakshi had animated 'Fellowship of the Ring' and 'The Two Towers', so Rankin/Bass had to base Return of the King on 'The Hobbit' and 'Return of the King', not even mentioning anything in between!

bowiefan said...

My love for all things fantasy started with this movie.