One of the major criticisms directed at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (and its predecessor) is its bloated feel and the insistence of new characters and plot points that are not inherent to Tolkien’s original novel. Many people dissatisfied with Smaug and the first Hobbit installment point their finger of blame at Warner Bros. for bringing on a third film. However, they forget that the decision to split the films from two into three came from director Peter Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.
After the screenwriters, who all won Oscars for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, had come near to finishing the films’ production, they realized that it would feel more natural to structure The Hobbit as a trilogy, with a beginning (An Unexpected Journey), middle (The Desolation of Smaug) and end (There and Back Again). As Peter Jackson revealed in a radio interview with Entertainment Weekly yesterday, this move also allowed the director to do more shooting and flesh out some of the storylines.
However, if The Hobbit had remained two original films, where would the split have been at the end of the first one?
“The split was going to occur where Bard appears on the river bank as a silhouetted figure with a bow,” Jackson revealed. “So the whole barrel sequence was going to be the climax.”
As someone who has seen the film, I can attest that the barrel sequence is terrific (even if some of the digital effects within it seemed cartoonish) and could have worked as a climax for the planned first film. However, one only wishes they knew what a truly essential, three-hour sole Hobbit film from Peter Jackson (or even that film’s original director, Guillermo Del Toro) would be like.
Oh, and in case you forgot, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is now playing in theatres.