Just as I hoped and was pretty sure would happen, someone has cut a fan edit--calling itself the "Tolkien Edit"--of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, trimming out scenes Jackson added to his adaptation of the book in order to make a single four and a half hour film that more strictly adheres to events and characters described in Tolkien's novel. You can download the new version for yourself either directly or via torrent here. When I downloaded from the torrent last week there were already over five thousand seeds--meaning that many people had already downloaded or were in the process of downloading it and sharing the video to support a speedier download for all. Fans have chipped in on the creator of the Tolkien Edit's blog to create a DVD cover for the edit and French subtitles.
It is a remarkably smooth edit though the resolution is slightly muddy--I suspect it'll be better once the third film is released on Blu-Ray, I think this edit was made from a leaked screener of the third film. But it is indeed a superior experience and I'm saying that as someone who doesn't wholly hate Jackson's additions. To me, it's more an issue of narrative focus, particularly the dilution of Bilbo's story. The scenes with Radagast, Galadriel, Saruman, Tauriel, and Legolas might have been perfectly fine in their own film. To put it another way, I like Star Wars: Rebels but I would hate to have scenes from Star Wars: Rebels edited into the first Star Wars film. If Jackson wants to come up with his own stories for Middle Earth, I think he ought to be allowed to. Despite the stinginess of the Tolkien estate on granting rights for that sort of thing, I think it would ultimately be in keeping with what Tolkien himself intended when creating his fantasy world, to create his own mythology. I don't think anyone should have a monopoly on Middle Earth any more than anyone has a monopoly on nymphs or gorgons. But I guess that's why so many fantasy books of the 80s and 90s are thinly veiled version of Middle Earth.
I have some problems with the edit. I understand the editor's explanation for removing the confrontation with Azog at the end of the first film--that it didn't fit tonally with the scenes before and after. But cutting it meant removing some bits from the book like the burning pine cones and the introduction of the eagles. I was also sorry to note the absence of the scene where Bilbo receives his mithril coat. But I'm sure there will be further editions--as it stands, this one really is the best.
Twitter Sonnet #710
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