Reading the Screen: Tolkien Adaptations Can Be Hobbit Forming
Posted by: David Pitt
You’ve probably heard that Guillermo del Toro, the director of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, is making a movie out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit (1937).
You might not know that somebody already made a movie out of the book. Rankin/Bass, the studio that brought us the Christmas classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, did a Hobbit movie for TV in 1977. The animation is good, and the movie sticks reasonably closely to Tolkien’s story.
The movie was nominated for a Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation, but, shockingly, lost to a low-budget, little-seen movie called Star Wars. Yeah, I never heard of it either.
On the other hand we have The Soddit: Or, Let’s Cash in Again (2003), a very clever parody by A.R.R.R. Roberts, who’s better known as Adam Roberts, author of some very good science fiction novels. If you’re a fan of The Hobbit you’ll recognize bits and pieces of Tolkien’s story, but I’ll warn you right now: the book is crude, warped, howlingly funny, and not especially respectful to its source material.
In case you’re interested, Roberts also wrote a parody of The Da Vinci Code, called The Va Dinci Cod, that is about a million times more entertaining than Dan Brown’s ponderous tome. And, come to think of it, a rousing parody of Star Wars (whatever that is), called Star Warped.
We can only assume del Toro’s take on Tolkien’s story will be closer to the Rankin/Bass intepretation than Roberts’. And, if you’re a fan of the director, you should check out The Strain (2009), a really creepy vampire novel del Toro wrote with Chuck Hogan.