Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy has been concluded for barely a month, but already one ambitious Tolkien fan has recut the bloated, eight-hour adaptation into a much more manageable affair clocking in at a little less than four and a half hours. How did the anonymous TolkienEditor do it? By cutting out the Tauriel/Legolas/Kili love triangle and by bringing us back to the movie’s star, who we forgot to care about along the way: Bilbo Baggins.
TolkienEditor smartly made major and minor cuts to the film: trimming filler scenes that audiences forgot about the moment they left the theater; removing early appearances by Lord of the Rings characters like Saruman and Galadriel; and cutting early orc fight scenes, in order to heighten the stakes of the later orc showdowns. TolkienEditor provides a point-by-point rundown of all the changes on their blog.
Their cuts also offset the “narrative filibustering” of Peter Jackson’s movies by changing the narrative from one loooong flashback to set in the present:
The prelude with old Bilbo is gone. As with the novel, I find the film works better if the scope starts out small (in a cosy hobbit hole), and then grows organically as Bilbo ventures out into the big, scary world. It is far more elegant to first learn about Smaug from the dwarves’ haunting ballad (rather than a bombastic CGI sequence). The prelude also undermines the real-and-present stakes of the story by framing it as one big flashback.
However, that doesn’t mean that TolkienEditor took a scalpel to every single of the 464 minutes of the original theatrical releases. In clarifying some scenes that they streamlined, they also highlighted the ones that they didn’t touch at all:
Several of the action scenes have been tightened up, such as the barrel-ride, the fight between Smaug and the dwarves (no molten gold in this version), and the Battle of the Five Armies. Though, it should be noted that Bilbo’s key scenes—the encounter with Gollum, the battle against the Mirkwood spiders, and the conversation with Smaug—have not been tampered with, since they proved to be excellent adaptions (in no small part due to Freeman’s performance), and serve to refocus the film on Bilbo’s arc.
Check out the tightened-up barrel ride sequence, minus Legolas and Tauriel’s “gymnastics routine.” It clocks in at a refreshingly short but well-paced three minutes:
[via The Verge; post slightly edited to reflect the fact that Tor.com in no way supports or condones piracy in any form.]